From In these Times:
In the late 19th century the debate turned on the questionWhat causes poverty? Advocates of public assistance blamed economic factors: Deprivation happened when the economy failed to provide jobs. Accordingly, those who profited most from the economic system had a responsibility to help those who could not find enough work. The Charity Organization Societies told a different story. Poverty, their members insisted, was a moral failure on the part of the poor. As Mrs. Glendower Evans argued at a charity conference in 1889, “Too often it will be found that the root of the evil lies in the character of the poor themselves—in habits of laziness, shiftlessness, intemperance or vice, which have reduced them to an irregular and meagre subsistence.”Shades of Reagan, Bill Schambra, Charles Murray. Against such mean-spirited moralists, where will we find our Dickens?