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Comments by YACCS
Friday, September 01, 2006

Shut yer festerin' gob, will ya.

Y'all need to get past this

Getting Past Katrina

Published: September 1, 2006



A year later, the best the national political class can do with American poverty is to renew stalemated conversations about increasing the minimum wage. The will to create innovative programs is missing because of a national consensus few people dare to say out loud: Americans believe that the poor can help themselves.

A Pew Research Center poll (conducted the week after Hurricane Katrina) found that two-thirds of black Americans and three-quarters of white Americans believe that too many poor people are overly dependent on government aid. Inside those numbers is the sense that welfare programs meant to help the poor create a dependency on handouts, draining people of the confidence, will to work and values that are crucial to success.

This is telling, because people of color and especially black Americans are more likely than whites to know someone who is struggling with poverty. According to the Census Bureau, 24.7 percent of black Americans and 21.9 percent of Hispanics lived in poverty in 2004, as compared to 8.6 percent of whites. Interestingly, the same proportion of black Americans who say the black poor need to do more to help themselves also told pollsters that they felt the government would have done more to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina had those victims been white. But it’s clear that even with a strong racial consciousness, black people believe that the poor bear some responsibility for their troubles.

There is good reason for a majority of Americans to hold that belief. For anyone who wants to get out of poverty, the prescription is clear.

Finish high school, at least. Wait until your 20’s before marrying, and wait until you’re married before having children. Once you’re in the work force, stay in: take any job, because building on the experience will prepare you for a better job. Any American who follows that prescription will be at almost no risk of falling into extreme poverty. Statistics show it.

The suspicion that the poor cause problems for themselves was at the heart of President Clinton’s effort to “end welfare as we know it.” It is also the guiding principle in the latest wave of poverty programs. Backed by private dollars from nonprofits and foundations, these programs encourage individual responsibility by rewarding the poor for getting high school diplomas, finding jobs and being good parents. There are programs to help determined inner-city residents find good jobs in the suburbs, where they can live in neighborhoods that haven’t been defined for generations by the bad schools and rampant crime that breed poverty. The emphasis is on nurturing a will to do better.

Bill Cosby’s controversial appeal, in 2004, for the poor to see — and seize — the opportunities available to them is in line with the inspiring African-American tradition of self-help and reliance on strong families and neighbors. There were complaints that he was blaming the victim, minimizing the power of racism, and failing to understand that larger social forces keep the poor — especially black poor — at the bottom of the economic ladder. But Mr. Cosby’s critics ignored some sound advice: getting those in need to recognize that there is a way out, and that it’s in their power to find it, is the best anti-poverty program.

The crisis in New Orleans has now been reduced to a matter of government financing for rebuilding homes while reviving the business community. But the real rebuilding project on the Gulf Coast requires bringing new energy to confronting the poverty of spirit. Because that’s what was tearing down the city, long before Hurricane Katrina.

Americans believe a lot of stupid shit. This is one of them.

Williams needs to stop playing at sociologist and start looking at hard numbers. A substandard education is stil a substandard education, even with a high school diploma. Any job is not good enough when you go to the emergency room with a sick child. Abject poverty only comes with illness or addiction, but you can work every day and still be homeless.

The two leading causes of bankruptcy in America are school taxes and health care. And that's among the middle class.

All the self help in the world will not rebuild New Orleans. The insurance companies want no part ofpaying what they owe and will have to be sued into it. They have been paying desperate people pennies on the dollar of what their policies are, when they pay them at all.

To rebuild a major American city requires a committment of will and honesty which is sorely lacking. It isn't something you can recommend people bootstrap from the Beltway.

I'm tired of reading this ignorant self-help bullshit. Because poverty in America is not a personal failing. It is a economic condition causes by a declining wage base, the increasing power of employers and the decreasing unionization of work. It isn't because Peanut didn't finish the 12th grade.

Black economists and socioligists need to jump down the throat of these half-assed analyses of black America. It isn't "racism", but specific racist acts, which magnify poverty. All the GOP ever had to do to win black votes is simply go after redlining. But they won't. Just like they won't go after porn in hotels, because their friends make money from it.

Personal responsibility only goes so far. But if I work at Wal Mart because I just got laid off by e-mail from Radio Shack and have no health insurance, I could be the best employee in the world, but I won't have any money for the repair of my broken leg.

Simple solutions to complex problems is an American speciality. But how clueless is Williams? He doesn't point out that 8.6 percent of whites in poverty is the vast majority of poor people in the US.

Every single complaint about poor blacks is the same for poor whites. It's called poverty, not a personal failure.

posted by Steve @ 10:37:00 AM

10:37:00 AM

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