I see that columnist Alan Caron claims that he knows the “heart of the problem” by regurgitating the class warfare and stale political rhetoric of a hundred years ago and advocates another government taxing program (“Concentrated wealth puts our economy, democracy at risk,” Jan. 23).

I am going to suggest that the “heart of the problem” is something quite different, which another government program cannot easily solve. What Mr. Caron should have learned from the 20th century is that government actions are limited.

Society can provide a public school system, but it cannot make a child learn.

Society can provide a marriage license and family law to support it, but it cannot stop people from cohabitating without one.

Society can pass a law to punish family abuse, but cannot pass a law that makes parents love and care for their children. Only cultural norms can do that.

What is actually causing poverty is a collapsed culture.

When I was growing up in the 1930s, the cultural norms held me responsible for my actions. If I failed to do my schoolwork, I would have been held back a year.

The cultural norms told me that if I wanted something, I had to work hard to earn it. No one was going to give it to me.

The cultural norms held me responsible for my welfare and my family’s welfare. That meant I was expected to go to school, learn a trade or profession, get a job and support my family.

The “welfare state” and the breakdown of these cultural norms, with claims that the government will take care of you, are what is causing poverty, not the “filthy rich.”

Culture is the glue that holds society together, is the first line of defense against barbarism and is the path to prosperity.

Olof Anderson

Thomaston