To paraphrase Green, “in our society, how can you say that a man is free, if he cannot read and write?”
Where I part company with a lot of conservatives, and admit that many liberals are right, is here: we do not have equality of opportunity. There is no way you can compare the opportunities available to some of the kids I am teaching, who have never known what it’s like to have a neighboring family make less than six digits a year, to folks I knew growin up like we did (perfectly stable, but sometimes having to drive up to Grandma’s, b/c we didn’t have enough money for food)… to my buddy Juan, who was a migrant workers’ kid.
Then you have a gal who made it from crap poor and racially oppressed, to Secretary of State. It can be done, by unusual individuals. But is there a libertarian way to give a leg up to those who need it, without, in that process, falling prey to the zero-sum game of the socialists, who would help those who need a leg up by penalizing precisely those people who are managing to move up? A lot of those folks in middle-class neighborhoods, and even a few out in the tract-mansions, are folks who started off like my buddy Juan did, without an address to his name. Why penalize them for getting it right?
The President’s faith-based initiatives is one solution: there are tons of folks just itching to get some support for what they already want to do. But that sits badly with folks who have legitimate reasons for being suspicious of anything smacking of church-state cooperation (as well as providing grist for folks who simply hate religious people).
Modern charities help, but many of them are run like they’re one of the Big Three auto companies… not exactly responsive organizations. Can we, perhaps, do a contest? Bragging rights and or a huge prize to the organization that can graduate an entire class of fifth-graders in Detroit from college?
One way or the other, this tends to be a blind spot in American libertarianism, and until it’s crossed, the libertarians are going to be associated with precisely those parts of the Republican party that they find most distasteful in the Democratic mind. (And that counts, b/c there are many liberals who would gladly be our political allies, if only we could find that common ground).