Conservatism Is The New Black

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What has 50 years of loyalty to Democrats won for African-Americans?

If you answered “civil rights legislation,” you better look at who voted for the laws and who opposed. (Hint: Republicans yea, Democrats nay.)

Welfare? In 1967 the poverty rate was 14 percent. In 2014, the poverty rate was 14 percent. In the interim, we pissed away $22 trillion on bureaucratic sex junkets to Costa Rica and massive government office buildings in every major city. Maybe the buildings helped a few African-American union construction workers, but it did diddly for poor blacks.

In the meantime, the functional black family is about as common as a Roman Centurion as violent crime, drug abuse, obesity, and intergenerational poverty has evolved from stereotype to standard in African-American neighborhoods.

All the while, blacks held onto the Democrat dream–lies wrapped in sanctimony and sprinkled with bullshit. Smells like Hillary Clinton.

Granted, the Republican Party has seen its share of racists in the ranks. And many early conservatives were (admittedly) flat wrong about civil rights. And, sure, many conservatives today would rather discuss Constitutional theory than solutions to poverty. But the conservative prescriptions for black, urban poverty were right all along, and they’re the only hope for blacks today.

According to that hotbed of racist conservative demagoguery, Harvard, here are the top five contributors to intergenerational poverty, in order of significance, per Harvard economist Raj Chetty (in Poverty in America by American Enterprise Institute):

Family structure. Of all the factors most predictive of economic mobility in America, one factor clearly stands out in their study: family structure. By their reckoning, when it comes to mobility, “the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents.” They find that children raised in communities with high percentages of single mothers are significantly less likely to experience absolute and relative mobility. Moreover, “[ c] hildren of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents.” In other words, as the figure below indicates, it looks like a married village is more likely to raise the economic prospects of a poor child.

Racial and economic segregation. According to this new study, economic and racial segregation are also important characteristics of communities that do not foster economic mobility. Children growing up in communities that are racially segregated, or cluster lots of poor kids together, do not have a great shot at the American dream. In fact, in their study, racial segregation is one of only two key factors— the other is family structure— that is consistently associated with both absolute and relative mobility in America. The figure below illustrates the bivariate association between racial segregation and economic mobility.

School quality. Another powerful predictor of absolute mobility for lower-income children is the quality of schools in their communities. Chetty, et al. measure this in the study by looking at high-school dropout rates. Their takeaway: Poor kids are more likely to make it in America when they have access to schools that do a good job of educating them.

Social capital. In a finding that is bound to warm the heart of their colleague, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, Chetty and his team find that communities with more social capital enjoy significantly higher levels of absolute mobility for poor children. That is, communities across America that have high levels of religiosity, civic engagement, and voter involvement are more likely to lift the fortunes of their poorest members.

Income inequality. Finally, consistent with the diagnosis of Messrs. Obama and Krugman, Chetty and his team note that income inequality within communities is correlated with lower levels of mobility. However, its predictive power— measured in their study by a Gini coefficient— is comparatively weak: According to their results, in statistical models with all of the five factors they designated as most important, economic inequality was not a statistically significant predictor of absolute or relative mobility.

Brooks, Arthur; Mathur, Aparna; Strain, Michael; Doar, Robert; Wilcox, W. Bradford; Ponnuru, Ramesh; Bowman, Karlyn; Pethokoukis, James (2014-06-30). Poverty in America–and What to Do about It (Kindle Locations 798-805). American Enterprise Institute. Kindle Edition.

The study by Raj Chetty and colleagues from that other Republican citadel, Berkeley, holds existential lessons for both Republicans and African-Americans.

First, strengthening families, consisting of a mother and an involved father, is the greatest gift we can give African-American, Latino, and all other children. Nothing damns children to crime and poverty like a single, female head of household. Nothing.

Second, conservatives who deny the effects of economic and racial segregation are just flat wrong. If you want strong families and strong metropolitan areas, you need strong example families for everyone, not just those in white, middle class suburban enclaves.

Third, the teachers’ unions are flat out evil for purposefully fighting against school choice, and all Americans should treat members of the NEA and the AFT like the biggest and racists they are.

Fourth, those who’ve (successfully) relegated religious Americans to second-class status should pay reparations to African-Americans in real, painful dollars. We can quantify the damage done by anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bigots, and they owe restitution to the poor people they’ve hurt.

And fifth, wealth inequality is a problem, and it’s also a symptom of crony capitalism. Establishment political elites in both parties should be run out on a rail for stacking the deck to favor billionaire donors over America’s poorest people.

Look, I’m 52 years old. I’ve heard about poverty in the richest country in the world since I was in kindergarten, and it’s only gotten worse since then. The whole time, Democrats made poverty worse, and Republicans pretended poverty didn’t exist. Both parties failed America’s poor.

Before I die, I’d like to see blacks in America experience a decade of economic and family improvement. Same for poor whites and Latinos and everyone else who needs a hand up.

Just one damn decade of things getting better for the sons and daughters of slaves and of slave owners. Is that too much to ask?

Every American deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue happiness. Dodging bullets in your Ferguson bedroom isn’t pursuit of happiness, and an EBT card isn’t a dignified job.

In 2016, make your candidates state clearly how they intend to bring meaningful work to everyone–whether everyone wants it or not. And ask how they will guarantee the pursuit of happiness, not just a struggle for survival.

Why Welfare Reform Must Continue

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I can’t believe I missed this.

It’s the story of Marienthal Austria.

Marienthal was a town in Austria that thrived thanks to a single employer. When the flax mill went out of business in 1932, Marienthal’s population became mostly unemployed.

Thanks to Austria’s liberal unemployment programs that replaced up to 90 percent of income, no one in Marienthal plunged into economic poverty as a result of the mill’s closing. But spiritual poverty was another story. Arthur C. Brooks explains in The Conservative Heart:

Austria had generous unemployment insurance that covered the better part of a factory worker’s wages. But like many social democratic systems of wage replacement, the insurance payments strictly prohibited any work for pay, theoretically to prevent “double-dipping.” And it was in the resulting idleness, the researchers found, where the real nightmare started.

First, something strange started happening to the way Marienthal’s residents spent their time. With the factory closed but some income still flowing in, people should have had all day to participate in the leisure and social activities they loved. But these activities virtually disappeared. One citizen summed up the paradox: “I used to have less time to myself but do more for myself.” Now it was the opposite.

Most of us have heard the old principle that if you want something to get done, you should ask a busy person. Well, when work disappeared, Marienthalers couldn’t seem to find the time and energy to do much of anything— even enjoy their new leisure.

“[ One] might think that even amid the misery of unemployment, men would still benefit from having unlimited free time,” the researchers wrote. “On examination, this leisure proves to be a tragic gift. Cut off from their work,” the workers “lost the material and moral incentives to make use of their time.” They began to “drift gradually out of an ordered existence into one that is undisciplined and empty.  .  .  . [For] hours on end, the men stand around on the street, alone or in small groups, leaning against the wall of a house or the parapet of a bridge.”

“Nothing is urgent anymore,” the report observes. “They have forgotten how to hurry.”

Some other observations from Marienthal about what happens when people have money but no need to work:

  • Almost all activity stopped
  • Reading stopped, even though people had unlimited time to read and learn
  • Public buildings and parks fell into decay even though the whole town had time to devote some effort to their maintenance and repair
  • Despite not needing to be anywhere, men became habitually late for everything
  • People turned on each other

Here’s more on that last point that idle people bicker, squabble, and fight.

Marienthalers took it upon themselves to enforce the government dictum that nobody could supplement the insurance payments with earned income. One poor soul lost his unemployment benefits after he was turned in to officials by his neighbors for taking a little money while playing his harmonica on the street. Another man lost his benefits after he helped fell trees in return for a share of the firewood. A woman lost her benefits after she delivered milk and was given some for her own children. Any sense of solidarity had been shattered.

Unsurprisingly, for many, family life followed suit. “I often quarrel with my husband,” one woman vented, “because he does not care about a thing any longer and is never home.” A different husband, describing his wife: “What strangers we are to each other; we are getting visibly harder. Is it my fault that times are bad? Do I have to take all the blame in silence?” Still another woman had even sunk deeper into depression. “I couldn’t care less now. If I could hand the children over to the welfare people I would gladly do so.”

Guess where the murder rate is highest? In neighborhoods where there’s a little money and a lot of idleness.

While it’s tempting to blame anti-social behavior on the character of people in Marienthal, doing so makes no logical sense. Marienthalers were typical Austrian-Hungarians, like Ludwig Von Mises or Frederich Hayek. They worked hard, went to church, helped maintain their communities, and promoted education. In fact, industriousness and punctuality are stereotypes of Austria. It’s nonsense to say that Marienthal was full of lazy, weak characters.

Further, we know from the work of Ross and Nisbett in their indispensable book The Person and the Situation the situation is far more important that the person.

People’s inflated belief in the importance of personality traits and dispositions, together with their failure to recognize the importance of situational factors in affecting behavior, has been termed the “fundamental attribution error” (Ross, 1977; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; see also Jones, 1979; Gilbert & Jones, 1986).


People fail to recognize the extent to which observed actions and outcomes, especially surprising or atypical ones, may prove to be diagnostic not of the actor’s unique personal dispositions but rather of the objective situational factors facing the actor and of the actor’s subjective construals of those factors. In effect, people are too quick to “recompute” the person (that is, to infer that he or she is somehow different from other ordinary people) and too slow to recompute or reconstrue the situation (that is, to infer that one’s original construal of the situation was incomplete, or erroneous, or at least significantly different from that of the actor).

Combining the lessons of Marienthal with the science from The Person and the Situation, we reach a sobering conclusion: without meaningful work, we are all likely to display abhorrent behavior.

As welfare displaces work, you and I will become lazy, stupid, quarrelsome, vindictive, and mean. Add guns and drugs to monied idleness, and you have a powder keg–a powder keg that explodes every night in North St. Louis and other similar places. Skyrocketing crime rates across the country are symptoms of government failure, not character failure. America’s inner cities are simply protracted experiments in what Marienthal demonstrated: idleness destroys people and communities.

Folks, we have a moral obligation to end or at least minimize idleness in America. When I say (repeatedly) that every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue happiness, I mean that society will collapse without those two fundamental attributes of human thriving.

Moreover, as I pointed out here, when we begin with the people our solutions will help the most–the poor–we begin to shift the argument away from abstract principles and toward concrete policies that solve real problems for real human beings.

Over the past four decades, but particularly over the past eight years, America as idled millions of its people who should be working, not for our benefit, but for their own and for society’s. Eliminating idleness is a moral obligation, and we Tea Partiers have a moral duty to fulfill that obligation.

Best of all, as we work toward the elimination of idleness by providing meaningful work for all, our ideals will become the majoritarian view in America.

Isn’t that what we really want?



Why poverty is a conservative issue

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Oh but now old friends they’re acting strange,
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.
–Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now

I’ve looked at poor from both sides now.

I get a lot of grief for pushing poverty solutions. And service. Many conservatives believe Mitt Romney was right when he uttered his infamous 47 percent line.

In case you forgot:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. …These are people who pay no income tax. …and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

When I first heard the audio, I thought, “Yeah, of course. Why would anyone even question it?” I was totally on board with Mitt on that point.

I was wrong.

When you’re running for president or advancing a cause, you represent 100 percent of the people. All of them. You write no one off. As Arthur C. Brooks wrote in The Conservative Heart:

our society— through conventional welfare policies— has been all too willing to write off some subset of our neighbors, seeing them as burdens to be managed at minimal expense. We must reject this, and proclaim that all people are moral equals.

It’s silly to try to convert people who are diametrically opposed to liberty and freedom and rule of law. But they’re still people you’re obliged to protect and assist if you’re trying, like Mitt Romney, to be President or trying, like me, to advance liberty.

But Mitt and I were dead wrong about the number. I don’t know what the actual number is, but far fewer than 47 percent stand in ideological opposition to liberty and good government. Maybe 10 percent do.

Let’s Hope Romney Was Wrong

Even if Romney had been right that 47 percent will never vote Republican because they want to live on the dole forever, he was wrong to write them off. Just do the math.

In 1960, how many people wanted to live on the dole? You probably believe that whatever the 1960 figure was, it was less than 47 percent. A lot less. How about 1970? 1980? 1990? 2000?

I’ve made up some numbers (which are at least as reliable as Mitt Romney’s) to show what happens if we presume that the deadbeat population has risen over time.

You see that sometime between 2010 and 2020, the trend line crosses the point of no return: 50 percent. If Romney needed to write off a substantial minority in 2012, then the next Republican nominee might as well write off the majority of voters in 2016. Indeed, if Romney was right, then the Republican Party’s last hurrah was 2012–and it that was an anemic, hoarse hurrah at best.

If Republicans had no chance with 47 percent of voters in 2012, they will have no chance of wining the White House ever again.

There’s a Better Way

Conservatives can steal a lot of votes in 2016 by accurately claiming the moral high ground. Our solutions will lift people out of poverty and restore dignity to millions of Americans. (If you don’t believe that, you shouldn’t call yourself a conservative.) We have believe as much all along, but we don’t talk about it much. Instead, we talk about defending big companies from government regulation.

While I oppose over-regulation as much as the next guy, that’s not the issue that will win over the people who need a champion–the people who, as Brooks said, liberalism has warehoused to be managed at minimal expense.

Conservatives believe that every persons deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue happiness. We further believe that our solutions will do just that. Therefore, we have incurred a moral duty to advance our beliefs.

Part of the solution to poverty and warehoused humans might involve regulatory reform. It most definitely demands tax reform. But it also requires mindset reform on the part of conservatives.

Everybody knows what we’re against. We have been so vocal about what we’re against that many people believe we’re against things we’re actually not against. But very few people know what we’re for.

Yes, we say we’re for liberty and good government and fiscal responsibility. Those are abstract concepts. If you’re worried about tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s rent check, or next week’s layoffs, liberty and government fiscal responsibility are, at best, nice-to-haves. They’re far down on your list of priorities.

You and I know that those abstract concepts are critical to full employment in meaningful work and necessary for people to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But when the baby’s hungry, I’ll take the food first, thank you.

In 2016, we can upset the political dynamic by focusing on the people who will most benefit from conservative principles: the poor.

Since the Johnson administration, we have spent over $22 trillion on poverty programs, yet the poverty number hasn’t budged since 1967. Sure, poor people in America often have iPhones and 50-inch LED TVs. But they also live in crime-infested decay. Poor kids born today have less chance of reaching middle class than poor kids born in 1950. If upward mobility is the essence of American exceptionalism, then American exceptionalism is dead.

I realize that big business needs protection from hyperactive government. I get that the rich should keep their rewards for industry and genius and good investing. But how can anyone claim that grass roots activists should put more energy into protecting the well-off than we put into helping the poor? Why defend Warren Buffett when we can hire lobbyists to do his bidding?

You might say, “but, Bill, the poor have lobbyists, too. They’re call government workers.” Well, government workers do not lobby to make the poor productive. They lobby to make more people poor. Like a private business that wants more customers, government poverty programs want more subjects.

The way to reduce government welfare programs is not to eliminate the programs and let the people fend for themselves. The conservative solution is to make meaningful work and freedom to pursue happiness an overwhelming suction that draws poor people out of poverty and toward the American dream. The conservative solution to poverty requires tax reform and cultural renewal that emphasizes and supports two-parent families. Our solutions involves schools that educate, not just warehouse, kids. Our solutions work, if not perfectly, far better than what the left has inflicted upon the poor over the past 50 years.

And our solution must begin with our focus. 

In 2016, let’s focus not on those who’ve done wrong by us, but on those who’ve been treated even worse than ourselves. Let’s save the liberty conversation for the end of the talk, after we’ve discussed the people most injured by government “compassion”: the poor.

Conservatives have a solution for poverty, and that means we have a moral obligation to implement that solution. The more we talk about solving real human problems, the more wrong we make Romney’s 47 percent gaffe. And more wrong that gaffe, the better chances for a better America.




The Compassionate Alternative to Raising the Minimum Wage

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The headline is depressing, but I’m going to write it anyway:

America’s Slums Are Exploding

The story is in the Atlantic, a progressive publication. But they admit what so many Americans know: the welfare state has failed those who needed it most. And it’s failing those never needed it but were sucked into it nonetheless.

Half a century after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the number of Americans living in slums is rising at an extraordinary pace.

Americans supported the war on poverty because we are decent, good people who hate to see others suffer. In 1965, we trusted our leaders to do the right thing. We trusted them with huge sums of money when they assured us that experts had a solution.

Well, experts had the solution to poverty. But Johnson listened to the wrong experts.

*[olympus_highlight color=”yellow”]Fifty years and twenty-two trillion dollars later, our slums are exploding[/olympus_highlight]. Poverty in America is a growth market.

Johnson’s war on poverty is lost.

But not the opportunity of America. The opportunity to improve American lives is as strong today as it was in 1789. We just have to unleash its potential.

There is no single solution to the sufferings of the poor, but that’s no excuse not to start applying the solutions that help. I see four major problems of poverty, each with separate solutions:

Poverty of Purpose: In America’s poorest places, generations have lived with the idea that their best hope is to qualify for federal handouts. They have been lied to. That lie has distorted their purpose in life. Instead of enjoying the dignity of work and the blessings of freedom to pursue happiness, they lived chained to the whims of bureaucrats and the indecipherable documents of government rules. People in poverty need a purpose that leads them from dependency to independence, from scarcity to abundance. And their first purpose must be to stand on their own and live their own life.

Poverty of Hope: In 1965, the poor had hope in government. Long before now, they should have realized their hope was misplaced. Hope in government is like hoping to win the lottery. It’s actually debilitating. Government was never the answer to their problems; government was their problem. The poor themselves are the solution. I’m not talking about a “bootstraps” sermon. Too many poor in 1965 didn’t have bootstraps to yank. But research those hope in oneself can change lives for the better.[olympus_highlight color=”yellow”]Arthur C. Brooks says that self-hope is when we say “it can be done” and “I can do it.”[/olympus_highlight] Not the government, not the United Nations, not General Motors–me. Poverty programs steal this precious hope away by telling people to hope that Congress or the President is their only hope. We can give people real hope. It can be done, and we can do it.

Poverty of Opportunity: Too many conservatives living in beautiful, safe suburbs say “go get a job.” Despite the cheery employment reports that announce 215,000 new jobs, the reality for those out of work is far different. Most of the jobs created since 2009 are part-time positions that pay at or near minimum wage. More than 215,000 of those new jobs went to people over 55 years old, while those between 18 and 24 actually lost 8,000 jobs in July. If you’re 22-year-old college graduate who never had a baby out of wedlock but finished college in four years, you have to compete against someone my age with 30 years work experience for a job at McDonald’s. While liberals say, “so the kids get welfare,” everyone knows that welfare is degrading and deprives the recipient of the dignity of meaningful work. America doesn’t owe anyone a job, but Americans demand a country that has a job for everyone who wants to work.

Poverty of Spirit: Without your own purpose, without intrinsic hope for the future, and without meaningful opportunities to better your condition through work, your spirit would be low. The words of your preacher will eventually ring hollow if you see no one rising above the crowd to live their own life funded by the rewards of their own labor. This poverty of spirit leaves a void that’s often filled with drugs, sex, and violence. But America is a nation built on spirit. We should be ashamed and furious that any American feels the need to turn to vices.

Back to the Atlantic story:

The number of people living in high-poverty areas—defined as census tracts where 40 percent or more of families have income levels below the federal poverty threshold—[olympus_highlight color=”yellow”]nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013, to 13.8 million from 7.2 million[/olympus_highlight].

How could we let this happen? Who cares. The real question is: How do we help the poor?

We help the poor by growing the economy, of course, but that’s not enough. People trapped in multi-generational poverty need help from people like you and me–even if we’ve never been poor. We can help them in four ways:

  1. Be open to the possibility that their poverty is not their fault. Too often conservatives blame poverty on the poor. While some poor people make terrible choices that hurt them and their families, most are simply copying the behaviors that seem to work for those around. When you’re struggling just to survive, what seems to work is very different from what works to actually get ahead. When a kid becomes a drug dealer, he sees it as a viable path to survival. When a girl of 13 has her first child, she’s seen that as a means of “growing up.” I’m not saying it’s not her fault; I’m saying she’s lived in a different world than you and me.
  2. Realize that people don’t change over night. Multi-generational poor cannot drive through Chesterfield and suddenly become an upper middle-class professional family. There are many habits and mindsets they must recognize, ponder, and choose to replace with new habits and mindsets. That takes time, and there will be setbacks.

  3. Accept that poor people are focused on survival, not flourishing. This breaks my heart, but it’s true. You and I get to work on flourishing quite a bit. Growing up in a poor neighborhood with serious crime and bad examples all around means you first have to work at just staying alive and staying fed. We can give poor people who want to escape that live respites from the stress of their everyday lives. But we cannot remove them from their situations overnight. That means, they might be slow to adopt new, positive habits and mindsets. But we have the luxury of time and patience. We need to remember that.

  4. Allow the government to do what it does. Telling poor people you’d like to rip out their government support only scares the crap out of them. They don’t see any alternative to the degrading government benefits they get. No one learns or grows when they’re frightened, and saying you’re going to remove the only financial support they know scares people. Instead, we have to build on their welfare, let them experience the benefits of work and the pride of earning their own way without the threat a little income from a job will rip a hole in their safety net. That safety net has been their friend and security for a long time. They will eventually outgrow it, but only if we don’t yell at them about cutting it up and throwing it in the trash.

Yesterday, I offered one small solution–one step–in fixing the problems the war on poverty created. It’s increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for single taxpayers without dependents. We might also consider raising the EITC for those with dependents.

I realize that raising the EITC costs money, and I know our national debt is already outrageous. But the EITC is an investment in human beings and a first step off the safety net. If my taxes are going to pay poor people, I’d rather pay working poor than idle poor. And I’d rather not expose the poor to job losses from a drastic increase in the minimum wage.



Bureaucratizing Street Gangs

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Did you ever wonder why do-gooders and social planners never pay for their crimes?

Yesterday, I wrote about Jesse Jackson dressing down at the hands of activists in a McDonald’s parking lot in Ferguson. I pointed out that Martin Luther King and Dick Gregory were similarly dismissed by rioters in the 1960s. Some things never change.

One thing that has changed is the economic gap between whites and blacks. That’s gotten worse despite trillions in federal poverty programs that went mostly to “community organizing.” Those failed efforts of do-gooders and social planners have made black poverty worse, not better, while contributing to the destruction of the black family.

Notice that Hispanics were doing a lot better before the government started paying attention to them, too!

And the do-gooders of the 1960s actually wanted this effect. Again, I turn to Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers:

The police would argue that in giving all that money to gangs like the Blackstone Rangers the poverty bureaucrats were financing criminal elements and helping to destroy the community . The poverty bureaucrats would argue that they were doing just the opposite. They were bringing the gangs into the system. Back in 1911 Robert Michels, a German sociologist, wrote that the bureaucracy provides the state with a great technique for self-preservation. The bureaucracy has the instinct to expand in any direction. The bureaucracy has the instinct to get all the discontented elements of the society involved and entangled in the bureaucracy itself. In the late 1960’ s it looked like he might be right. By the end of 1968 there were no more gangs in San Francisco in the old sense of the “fighting gangs.” Everybody was into black power, brown power, yellow power, and the poverty program in one way or another. This didn’t mean that crime decreased or that a man discontinued his particular hustles . But it did mean he had a different feeling about himself. He wasn’t a hustler or a hood. He was a fighter for the people, a ghetto warrior. In the long run it may turn out that the greatest impact of the poverty program, like some of the WPA projects of the Depression, was not on poverty but on morale, on the status system on the streets. Some day the government may look back and wish it had given the Flak Catchers Distinguished Service medals, like the astronauts.

Wolfe, Tom (2010-04-01). Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (pp. 122-123). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

Maybe not on those Distinguished Service medals, Tom.

The poverty program did change the status system on the streets, but it didn’t solve poverty. Violent crime is down, but not because people have good jobs and solid families. To the contrary, we’ve simply gotten better about locking up criminals and leaving them locked up. Somewhere along the way from Nixon’s first term to Obama’s second, we’ve given up on gang leaders as civic leaders.

The poverty bureaucrats seem to have given up on blacks in general. Bureaucracy’s self-preservation instinct has evolved, perhaps because it has finally and fatally entangled the black community in its suffocating network of economic despair. Few academics even bother to highlight the African-American climber who rose from a broken home and squalid schools to become chief of surgery at Massachusetts General—if indeed that ever happened. Instead, the social academics and government bureaucrats simply dump enough buckets  of government subsidies into the broken homes and squalid schools to keep the fires of anarchy dampened.

People are capable of almost anything depending on their own personal experience, the way they construe a situation, and the situation itself. Bureaucrats have a duty to design experiences and situations that maximize the possibility of positive actions. But our bureaucrats and academics do the opposite. For fifty years, America’s social engineers have set up African Americans for failure. Massive failure. Multi-generational failure.

When you look at the economic progress of blacks since the Great Society’s launch, you can conclude only that its engineers intended to keep blacks at the bottom of America’s social and economic ladder.

The War on Poverty has intentionally taught blacks (and other minorities) that self-reliance is shameful and helpless dependency is good.

The War on Drugs has provided ambitious poor with a deadly means of escape from that dependency: drug dealing.

The Department of Education has replaced education with self-esteem lectures and tolerance classes even though every psychologist since Viktor Frankl teaches that self-esteem is a product of personal achievement, not an antecedent.

The courts and municipal police forces have emotionally and financially tortured the poor, particularly poor blacks, with obnoxious rules and ordinances that keep the poor in a constant state of violation of petty and useless laws. (I’ll have much more to say about this over the coming days, weeks, and months.)

With all of these failures of the academic and government poverty experts, why in God’s name does anyone still listen to them? Why haven’t blacks marched on the welfare offices and the schools and demanded an end to the government-created cycle of poverty? Why aren’t people holding citizens’ hearings on the abusive and illegal municipal court systems?

Why? Because the “black leaders” would go broke if black income and opportunity rose to equal whites’. Because politicians in both parties profit from the cycle and the courts and the wars on everything that war can’t fix.

In short, the income gap and opportunity gap in America results from a total leadership vacuum.

Look, I’ve been observing the decline of opportunity for blacks since I was a kid. I’ve lived through the Great Society and the War on Poverty. And, like a social work professor at Wash U, I’ve done nothing about it.

But I’m done sitting on my hands while the “experts” unravel the American Dream, first for blacks, then for Latinos, and now for everyone else. I’ve had it with the nonsense that you need a PhD and a government job to drive change.

Starting with the Ferguson BUYcott, I intend to help restore the American Dream in the hearts and minds of those who’ve been denied that dream the longest. My Tea Party friends understand the dream. They don’t need my help. I need theirs–yours. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out today when talking about the Ferguson Buycott, we won’t get help from “drive-by media.” But we will eventually get their attention. Said Rush today:

No, this is not an AP story.  Sorry.  No, no, no.  No, no.  It’s not UPI.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  It’s not CNN.  No, no, no, no, not New York Times.  No, no, no, no, no, not Washington Post.  Ah, ah, not USA Today.  Nope, CNN hasn’t covered it.  ABC, CBS, NBC, no.

This is a Heritage Foundation story.  The Drive-Bys haven’t covered this, but the Tea Party is leading a buycott in Ferguson, and they’ve been doing this since Thursday. They’re going back next weekend.  You won’t find it in the Drive-By Media.

Besides, Rush has a bigger audience than the Drive-Bys.

The American Dream, as Lee Presser says, was never about owning your own home. The American Dream is to own your own life.

When blacks, Latinos, and a lot of others feel the freedom and power of life ownership, woe betide those academics and bureaucrats who denied them their freedom the past five decades.


Exposing the Race Hustlers in Ferguson

Reading Time: 5 minutes

There’s an awesome YouTube video of Jesse Jackson getting skewered in Ferguson.

First, though, a little history.

One of the greatest books ever on race-based poverty and jobs programs is Tom Wolfe’s Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers. You won’t understand race politics in America without reading it. Twice. Four times, maybe.

If you’ve read it, you know why Jesse Jackson and Capt. Ron Johnson and all the other “black leaders” are impotent to stop riots. From Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catcher by Tom Wolfe, 1970:

Every time there was a riot, whites would call on “Negro leaders” to try to cool it, only to find out that the Negro leaders didn’t have any followers. They sent Martin Luther King into Chicago and the people ignored him. They sent Dick Gregory into Watts and the people hooted at him and threw beer cans. During the riot in Hunters Point, the mayor of San Francisco, John Shelley, went into Hunters Point with the only black member of the Board of Supervisors, and the brothers threw rocks at both of them. They sent in the middle-class black members of the Human Rights Commission, and the brothers laughed at them and called them Toms. Then they figured the leadership of the riot was “the gangs,” so they sent in the “ex-gang leaders” from groups like Youth for Service to make a “liaison with the key gang leaders.” What they didn’t know was that Hunters Point and a lot of ghettos were so disorganized, there weren’t even any “key gangs,” much less “key gang leaders,” in there. That riot finally just burnt itself out after five days, that was all.

Wolfe, Tom (2010-04-01). Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers
(pp. 104-105). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s worth pointing out the those very poverty programs from the 1960s gave us Barack Obama. Contrary to popular belief, “community organizing” wasn’t Saul Alinsky’s invention. Social workers and liberal do-gooders, believers in the perfectibility of man, trusters in the moral imperative of omnipotent government—these early Michael Harringtons invented community organizing as a novel, new, enlightened approach to ending urban poverty.

Mr. Wolfe explains:

So the poverty professionals were always on the lookout for the bad-acting dudes who were the “real leaders,” the “natural leaders,” the “charismatic figures” in the ghetto jungle. These were the kind of people the social-welfare professionals in the Kennedy Administration had in mind when they planned the poverty program in the first place. It was a truly adventurous and experimental approach they had. Instead of handing out alms, which never seemed to change anything, they would encourage the people in the ghettos to organize. They would help them become powerful enough to force the Establishment to give them what they needed. From the beginning the poverty program was aimed at helping ghetto people rise up against their oppressors. It was a scene in which the federal government came into the ghetto and said, “Here is some money and some field advisors. Now you organize your own pressure groups.” It was no accident that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale drew up the ten-point program of the Black Panther Party one night in the offices of the North Oakland Poverty Center.

Wolfe, Tom (2010-04-01). Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers
(pp. 105-106). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

Forty-four years later, black poverty is worse than it was in 1970, and race relations are at least as bad. I think we can safely declare the War on Poverty a miserable, expensive, deadly disaster like its cousin, the War on Drugs. In fact, one war could not have happened without the other, but that’s grist for a future post.

Following in the footsteps of Dick Gregory and Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson came to Ferguson last week to quell the riots. But the rioters quelled him instead:

“When you gonna stop sellin’ us out, Jesse?”

“We don’t want you here. You’re not a leader. You’re not a leader. We don’t want you here, brother. As a matter of fact, you’re not even no brother. You can keep movin’.”

Did you hear that? Did you hear the way they talked to Jesse? Priceless.

The liberal establishment still doesn’t get it, though. The social workers and bureaucrats still think Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton matter. They don’t. They’re race hustlers who move form riot to riot stirring up hatred and cashing checks. MSNBC pays the phony FBI informant Al Sharpton to lie, telling the world that we need more government programs and more PhDs descending on places like Ferguson with shiny new jobs programs. It’s no different from 1970. Wolfe’s explanation from 1970 might have been written after 9:30 Mass this morning:

To sell the poverty program, its backers had to give it the protective coloration of “jobs” and “education,” the Job Corps and Operation Head Start, things like that, things the country as a whole could accept. “Jobs” and “education” were things everybody could agree on. They were part of the free-enterprise ethic. They weren’t uncomfortable subjects like racism and the class structure— and giving the poor the money and the tools to fight City Hall. But from the first that was what the lion’s share of the poverty budget went into. It went into “community organizing,” which was the bureaucratic term for “power to the people,” the term for finding the real leaders of the ghetto and helping them organize the poor.

No one respects Jesse Jackson less than the people he hasn’t helped. As it should be. And no one can claim the PhDs’ and the Democrats have helped blacks economically.

While society has improved many racial injustices in my life, we have not improved economic life for blacks. In fact, all of the trillions of dollars spent, all of the equal opportunity laws, and all of the affirmative action plans have only widened the income gap between whites and blacks.

Business Insider’s Mandi Woodruff points out about this chart:

Here, you can see there isn’t so much a gap between black and white households as a Grand Canyon-sized void that has only gotten worse since the 1960s.

Since the 1960s, the difference in household income between black and white households ballooned from $19,000 to $27,000, meaning black households on average earn  just 59% as much as their white neighbors. Blacks enjoyed a bit of a boost from the prosperous early 2000s, when they earned 65% as much as white households, but the Great Recession made quick work of destroying those gains.

Blacks have also been the most unemployed racial group in the U.S. over the last half century, with an unemployment rate almost double the national average, according to the Urban Institute.

Black unemployment is still more than double the white unemployment rate.And how many African American children grow up in dangerous neighborhoods where single women–mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts–strive to keep little ones fed, clothed, in school, and alive?

Hoping for more crumbs form Washington’s table isn’t hope. It’s despair. It’s servitude and dependency. Lack of decent work emasculates black men. And they know Jesse Jackson isn’t doing anything to reverse that.

That’s why it’s so perversely satisfying to see Jackson excoriated in a McDonald’s parking lot in Ferguson by unemployed young men—Jackson’s supposed followers.

Jesse Jackson’s followers don’t live in Ferguson. They live in 5-million-dollar Manhattan penthouses. Poor Jesse’s nothing but an exposed, wealthy flak catcher now.