(In reply to the usual liberal complaints about my lack of sympathy for the poor in America:)
The poverty in America which liberals are always going on about is some kind of legendary myth, like the Loch Ness Monster. It has nothing to do with reality. Poverty in America exists occasionally as a temporary accident. (Or as a feature of merely being young and being a student. Students are always poor.) Those kinds of poverty can always be overcome with effort and persistence. There is plenty of opportunity in this country for those who will take it.
The other poverty, which does not go away, is really an epiphenomenon of a much more serious affliction. The real problem is a moral problem. Persistent poverty exists in America, not because of some unfairness in the system, or because of discrimination, or because of a lack of alternatives. It exists because some people will ruin their lives. Some people will not help themselves.
When I managed a real estate company in New York, I often walked through the East Village. I can recall passing the corner of 14th and 3rd Avenue, back in the 1980s one evening. As I looked around, I saw misery and squalor and degradation. There were prostitutes soliciting along the street. There were junkies and dealers trafficking. The buildings were filthy and decayed, and no one was lifting a finger to improve anything. I looked at it all, and thought what a hell on earth that corner was. And as I was feeling sorry for all the people there, along came a sixteen year old blond girl with a Midwestern accent to offer me a date. I could tell she had recently arrived from Minnesota.
And then the light bulb went off over my head, I realized that every single one of these people had come there from somewhere else. They had all chosen to be there. Nobody ever held a gun to their heads, and said, “You are condemned to be a junkie (or a whore) on 3rd Avenue at 14th Street.” There were no walls. There was no barbed wire. Everyone there could walk away, just as I was doing myself. And I stopped feeling sorry for them.