"After reading the transcript of yesterday morning's interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make. I was not implicating the culture of one community -- but of society as a whole. We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity. I also believe the government's response has inadvertently created a poverty trap that builds barriers to work. A stable, good-paying job is the best bridge out of poverty. "The broader point I was trying to make is that we cannot settle for this status quo and that government and families have to do more and rethink our approach to fighting poverty. I have witnessed amazing people fighting against great odds with impressive success in poor communities. We can learn so much from them, and that is where this conversation should begin."
Our realities are shaped by a mutually reinforcing matrix of culture, civil society, law, and individual choice (among other things). If America has a "car culture," it has as much to do with our rugged sense of individualism as it does with our sprawling geography, and a government that made highways an essential part of our transportation infrastructure. To look at the American attachment to cars and proclaim "culture" is to miss most of the story, and if you're an advocate mass transit -- for example -- it is to handicap your efforts to change the status quo. After all, culture is hard thing to change. The same goes for Ryan and poverty. Inner-city poverty didn't just happen, it was built. It's the job of a policymaker to understand the full scope of what that means, from the blueprints of past policies, to their implementation, to the forces that drove the issues to begin with. And in the case of urban poverty, the issue was racism.