Jonah Goldberg

But she also said something interesting about herself. James said her parents were smiling down from heaven as they watched her swearing-in, adding that her mother and father were "without credentials, humbled individuals more accustomed to backbreaking work than dinner parties." Later, at a reception, she said of her parents, "I made them proud. I just want to inspire others. That's why I had Dasani with me."

One has to wonder whether James missed the irony. According to liberals like James and The Times (to the extent that's a distinction with a difference), Dasani is a victim of a system that tolerates so much economic inequality.

Dasani is certainly a victim, but is the system really to blame? Dasani's biological father is utterly absent. Her mother, Chanel, a drug addict and daughter of a drug addict, has a long criminal record and has children from three men. It doesn't appear that she has ever had a job, and often ignores her parental chores because she's strung out on methadone. As Kay Hymowitz notes in a brilliant (New York) City Journal examination of Dasani's story, The Times can't distinguish between the plight of hard-working New Yorkers like James' late parents and people like Dasani's parents. "The reason for this confusion is clear: In the progressive mind, there is only one kind of poverty. It is always an impersonal force wrought by capitalism, with no way out that doesn't involve massive government help."

The data say something else. Family structure and the values that go into successful child rearing have a stronger correlation with economic mobility than income inequality. America's system is hardly flawless. But if Dasani were born to the same parents in a socialist country, she'd still be a victim -- of bad parents.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.