What I know for sure is this: as much as he’s willing to work and as earnest as he is about getting straight, Will most likely will never get his GED, never get a full-time job that pays him enough to do any more than live from week to week, and, never get free of the drugs that are all but foisted on him from all sides — from family, friends, and just about anybody he meets on the street.
The problem isn’t in Will, it’s in everything that surrounds him. As much as I dislike David Simon’s The Wire — because it’s so pessimistic — I have to grant that Simon has this much right: drugs aren’t going away. Ever.
I don’t share Tanner’s confidence about the pure exteriority of the problem this young man faces — or about practical benefits to be gained from the sweeping complex of government-administered socioeconomic measures his list of things we all ought to be able to agree on could be expected to call forth. But Tanner’s managed a direct personal & economic connection to the harshest of social realities in this part of the western world, and that puts him in a position to talk which most of the people who’d dismiss his understanding as tired leftism are far from enjoying. I’d rather know what a guy like Tanner thinks is going on, concretely, than hear many a guy to whose conclusions about healthy political and social order my own thinking perhaps comes closer. And I’d rather be a guy like Tanner, in the end.