If you've never heard this line of argument before, consider yourself lucky, because it's most often used to explain or justify the existence of a great deal of really bad things. It justifies a sort of social inertia that borders on Neo-Darwinian sociology. It says, essentially, that if an individual is unemployed, it's their fault, and that social policy and economics have very little, if anything, to do with the problem. In the midst of a period of economic difficulty, sluggishness, and widespread distrust, second only to the Great Depression, this argument is beginning to show just how ignorant it's always been.

In fact, the Great Depression itself is a terrific example of just how deluded people who make this argument actually are. Was everybody unemployed during the Great Depression essentially unskilled, lazy, or stupid? No, they were not. They were victims of economic and political forces well beyond their control. In fact, it was a combination of Big Money run amok, the failure of regulators to proceed with due caution, and the competition among nations, each instituting import tariffs to "protect" their own industries, citizens, and tax bases, that either created or magnified the destructive effects of a great proportion of the entire world's wealth, or control of that wealth, being concentrated into the hands of a minuscule number of persons.

But what's this about a Constitutional guarantee, you ask? Well, there it is above, in the form of "tax bases". The tax base of our own government is the income of the citizens. It has always been so, and can never be otherwise. Citizens who are unemployed have no income, and therefore cannot be taxed. Just as in the Great Depression, this may be something which is beyond their ability to change unaided. Saying that such persons will just have to try "a little harder", until, of course, their efforts are required to be superhuman and beyond perfection, has some very ugly effects on various parts of society.

The School System

The first seems to be the absolute destruction of many school systems, especially where poverty has already been a traditional problem. The parents of students struggle to make ends meet, have their children equipped and dressed for school, and all the other challenges that come with being both an employee and a parent simultaneously. That's in the times of economic prosperity. When the economy becomes challenging, suddenly the most caring and industrious parent in the world becomes the punching bag of a school system which has never been near an optimum since the days of 'the little red school-house".

What about the students? It's always been a struggle for any youth, embedded in poverty, to get through school, and have any sort of decent grades, but when they see their parents unemployed, and even the few jobs that might have been available to them dry up and blow away, the mature and realistic reason to pursue an education -- employment -- ceases to be any argument at all. Why then, should a student endure all the grief heaped upon any student in such a setting, much less the extra grief handed to a student aiming for academic excellence?