Monday, June 28, 2010

Personal Ethics and Wealth

“We do not lack examples of the impact that such personal traits have on the social world. Daniel Moynihan points out that a sexual ethic that places a low premium on chastity, and therefore has a high rate of births outside of marriage, is “predisposed to dependency.” Edward Banfield, a social scientist at Harvard University, finds that poverty is related to time orientation. The lower classes tend to be present-oriented, less willing to forego present benefits in order to secure future ones. Thus, they choose a way of living that finds little value in work, self-improvement, or self-sacrifice. Banfield believes this is the most realistic explanation of class, but, whether or not that is so, it is a reasonable explanation of why some people are poor. Harrington concludes that only the federal government was capable of bringing an end to slums, and that it should undertake a massive new housing program. But a few pages earlier he had shown that moving slum people into new housing creates new slums instantly. That is a graphic example of how culture is more than, and more powerful than, material circumstances.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 63-64).

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