Are good country people not as good as they used to be?
Rod Dreher writes today about Terry Teachout writing about J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy:
My own late grandparents were more or less the same generation as Terry’s Gracie and Albert, and equally humbled by circumstance. But they had dignity and self-discipline and character. The only thing they lacked was money, and opportunity.
How is it that when America had far less in the way of material wealth, and families of the poor — black and white both — had far more pressures on them, they did not succumb to self-degradation as so many of the poor do today?
Why are today's poor more desperate than yesterday's despite the fact that yesterday's poor were poorer than today's? The first answer is dependence. If you look at Eastern Kentucky, for example, what you see is a culture that, having once been ravaged by poverty is now ravaged by a dependency mentality that has robbed people of their dignity and made them vulnerable to all the secondary social pathologies that go along with the destruction of dignity, chief among them, drugs.
People in the Appalachia have served only to enrich the liberal government bureaucracies that feed off of their plight and the private industries--especially the health industry--that feed off of the government bureaucracies that feed off the plight of the poor. The very welfare programs that were designed to help these people have enslaved them.
The second answer is provided by Charles Murray, who has pointed out again and again that the wages of the permissivist values of the upper class are paid by the lower class. The limousine liberals who spout their lax views of sexual promiscuity and drug use can easily afford single motherhood (or abortion) and have no trouble paying for the drug rehab program.
But the members of the underclass are not so lucky. Single motherhood throws them into poverty and if they get hooked on meth, they're on their own.
Children of broken marriages and those born out of wedlock altogether in a wealthy family have a support system that the poor do not have. If you doubt it, go down to your local family court and see what life is like now among the underclass.
Peter Burger said that we are "a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes." The trouble is that there are things Swedes can do that Indians can't--at least without serious repercussions.