NICHOLAS KRISTOF last weekend wrote a touching remembrance of a recently deceased school friend, Kevin Green, a kind, hard-working man whose economic struggles took a toll on his health. "The doctors say he died at age 54 of multiple organ failure," Mr Kristof writes, "but in a deeper sense he died of inequality and a lack of good jobs". He goes on:
Lots of Americans would have seen Kevin—obese with a huge gray beard, surviving on disability and food stamps—as a moocher. They would have been harshly judgmental: Why don’t you look after your health? Why did you father two kids outside of marriage?
That acerbic condescension reflects one of this country’s fundamental problems: an empathy gap. It reflects the delusion on the part of many affluent Americans that those like Kevin are lazy or living cushy lives. A poll released this month by the Pew Research Center found that wealthy Americans mostly agree that “poor people today have it easy because they can get...Continue reading