"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Political Hypocrisy

Kathryn Lopez has an interesting interview with Peter Schweitzer on National Review Online today, discussing his new book, Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Schweitzer's book documents the many ways in which today's most prominent political left-liberals refuse to live according to the codes to which they hector the rest of us to adhere. The book shows, for example, how wasteful Barbra Streisand is, even though she perpetually criticizes the rest of us for falling for the consumer culture. It shows that Al Franken, who calls conservatives racists, has a worse hiring record of hiring African-Americans than Bob Jones University does. It points out that Michael Moore invests his money in Halliburton, Boeing, and HMOs, and that Moore, Nancy Pelosi, Ralph Nader, and many other left-liberals go out of their way to avoid hiring union labor.

Schweitzer acknowledges that conservatives have hypocrisies of the own, but that the press are aggressive in exposing these transgressions, and that, more importantly, the hypocritical acts of conservatives have a self-regulating component: they damage their own lives and those of their families, etc. The sins of left-liberals, however, actually make their lives better.

Yes, we are all hypocrites and I talk about that in the book. But liberal hypocrisy and conservative hypocrisy are quite different on two accounts. First, you hear about conservative hypocrisy all the time. A pro-family congressman caught in an extramarital affair, a minister caught in the same. This stuff is exposed by the media all the time. The leaders of the liberal-Left get a complete pass on their hypocrisy. Second, and this is even more important, the consequences of liberal hypocrisy are different than for the conservative variety. When conservatives abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they end up hurting themselves and their families. Conservative principles are like guard rails on a winding road. They are irritating but fundamentally good for you. Liberal hypocrisy is the opposite. When the liberal-left abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they actually improve their lives. Their kids end up in better schools, they have more money, and their families are more content. [Their] ideas are truly that bad.

Hence, Schweitzer's point is not that we should not listen to left-liberals because they are morally bankrupt as shown by their hypocrisy, but because their lives show that the ideas they advocate are not good, that they are well aware that what they are asking of others is unreasonable and unwise:

Lopez: Is there something about the book that sums something up philosophically about the Left?

Schweizer: After researching the book I really truly believe that the leading lights of the Left — Moore, Franken, Clinton, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc. — really honestly don't believe what they are selling us. Their own experiences teach them that their ideas don't work.

That is indeed the right argument to make.

33 comments:

tbmbuzz said...

A subset of this theme is the reverse racists who are idolized and never questioned, never mind condemned, by the liberal establishment. I speak, of course, about Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and the other uber-liberal "leaders" of the black community.

Tlaloc said...

By all means let's examine these reports of hypocrisy:

"Peter Schweizer reports in his new book Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy that "far from embracing his own moral ethic, Singer hired a group of health care workers to look after her.""

Hopefully I don't have to explain how this argument is flawed but I guess I better just to be on the safe side. Singer would only be a hypocrite if he had argued that all disabled people should be euthanazied, and further that even if it violated the law a person must euthanize the disabled. Since he has never argued either he is not a hypocrite. This argument is akin to saying that since I am pro-choice that I am a hypocrite for having kids. No, because the emphasis is on choice. Singer has argued that under certain circumstance euthanasia may be right, he has not argued that it is always right.



"All the info in the book was obtained legally and ethically. Streisand's annual water bill of $22,000 to keep her lawn green is relevant because she made it relevant: She's constantly lecturing ordinary Americans about the need to cut back on our consumerist culture."

Consumerist is entirely different than conservationist. A consumerist culture is one focused on material possessions and acquisition. Again Schweizer is accusing someone of hypocrisy without actually showing that they have indeed said one thing and done another (I did find instances of Streisand advocating electricity conservation during the california energy crisis at least but electrons are not water).

He goes on to make some unsubstantiated charges against Pelosi and Moore (at least unsubstantiated in the article, I haven't read the book). More unsubstantiated charges against the Clintons (who are only about a wolrd away from actual liberalism, remember the "third way"?).



"But Chomsky is a socialist who practices capitalism, and an anti-militarist who has made millions off of Pentagon contracts."

Since capitalism is the economic system under which he lives its not hypocritical for Chomsky to be a part of it while agitating for something better. Just as I might make use of the police while we have an authoritarian state even though I hope the world will eventually move toward anarchism. If Chomsky was given the option of what system the country operated under and willingly chose capitalism then Schweizer would be right, since that isn't the case he's now 0 for 3. As for the "Pentagon contracts" he doesn't explain what he means but looking around it seems that MIT recieved a fair amount of money from defense contracts. GASP! I'm not sure how this could be construed as hypocrisy on Chomsky's part since even if he lobbied for the contracts you can easily argue that diverting funds from the war machine to a place of learning instead of toward armamaents is entirely in line with his stated beliefs.



"Then there is his constant lecturing about "tax gimmicks" and "tax shelters" that "the rich" use to avoid paying their "fair share." He must have forgotten about that when he set up his tax shelter."

Schweizer wrote on TCS:
"He has frequently lashed out against the "massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich" and criticized the concentration of wealth in "trusts" by the wealthiest one percent...
...But trusts can't be all bad. After all, Chomsky, with a net worth north of $2,000,000, decided to create one for himself."

Now we have enough information to look at the issue a little closer. Notice that Chomsky does nt decry all trusts, even when schweizer is paraphrasing him. Rather he criticizes the practice of using trusts to concentrate the wealth of the nation in the hands of the top 1%. For the charge f hypocrisy to be valid then Schweizer would have to show that this is what Chomsky is trying to do. Frankly that's going to be a little hard considering that a net worth of 2 million is pretty paltry for a world renown author and an acknowledged academic authority in his field. In fact that amount is so paltry it severely undercuts Schweizer's point.



"His vicious attacks against conservatives as racists are not meant to be funny. He really does think that we're bigots. So questions about his absolutely abysmal record when it comes to hiring minorities should be exposed. (For those who want a hint, less than one percent of his employees have been black. That's a worse record than Bob Jones University, which Franken claims is "racist.")"

Of course if you bother to consider the matter you'll realize that 1% of Al Franken's employees is probably a number you can count on one hand where as 1% of a university's employees is a substantially larger number (especially when you consider that BJU was founded in 1927). In other words he's comparing a very small pool to a very large pool and considering them statistically significant. Alternatively if Franken turned out to have a vastly larger employee pool than I thought then you'd have to ask whether Franken really personally hired all of them. Of course not. So at best Schweizer might be able to make the case that Franklin has worked for a racist organization. But his claim of hypocrisy is again groundless.



"I really thought that Ralph Nader would be that man. He lives a monk-like existence and tends to shun the material things in life. But then I discovered that he fired some of his employees for trying to form a union and I realized he wouldn't fit the bill."

This appears to be a reference to the Multinational Monitor. Some editors were fired. They claimed it was because they tried to unionize. Nader claims it was because they ran a big controvercial story without letting him approve it first against his direct orders. IF the editors were telling the truth then it's reasonable to charge hypocrisy. But since Schweizer can't prove that one side or the other is telling the truth it is simply unsupported innuendo.

So the net total from the article is that he is wrong on Streisand, Franklin, Chomsky, and Singer. He's unsupported on Nader, Clinton, and Pelosi (although in the last two cases at least he might have some supporting evidence in his book).

tbmbuzz said...

James Elliott said...
Louis Farrakhan

This man is as much a liberal as Rush Limbaugh is.

Never mind the complete imossibility that is reverse racism.

<<<

So you're saying that Farrakhan does not get treated with kid gloves by the liberal establishment and their MSM sycophants?? hokaaaay.....

You know exactly what I mean by the term "reverse racism"; I was trying to be politically correct so as not to offend p.c. "sensibilities" as defined by the Left. But I'll be straightforward from now on: the bulk of racism practiced in the U.S. today in the 21st century is perpetrated and fomented by the liberal black leadership. Blunt enough?

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Regarding hypocricy: I've always thought "hypocricy" was simply a method of transferring the argument from the idea to the person, ie. ad hominem.

James Elliott said...

So you're saying that Farrakhan does not get treated with kid gloves by the liberal establishment and their MSM sycophants??

I'll say that the liberal establishment doesn't give crap one about Louis Farrakhan. He's a single-constituency fringe lunatic. But that wasn't your contention. Your contention was that he's a liberal, and he's demonstrably not.

But I'll be straightforward from now on: the bulk of racism practiced in the U.S. today in the 21st century is perpetrated and fomented by the liberal black leadership. Blunt enough?

I knew precisely what you meant. That doesn't change the fact that it's not possible. In order for racism to exist, there must be the concentration and exercise of power as the crucial element for prejudice to become racism. Now, if you want to say that vitriolic prejudice exists within elements of the African-American community, I'd absolutely agree, and I think it would be more accurate. But such prejudice hardly approaches anything like "the bulk of racism" in this country. Your comment completely ignores racism that affects other minorities.

Now, I agree that there is a load of far-left historical guilt bullshnikey and its adherents who happily let prejudiced comments slide when they come from classically oppressed minorities. But the answer to that isn't to turn a blind eye to the white man's privileged place in this country in favor of lashing back out. Don't miss the trees for the forest, man.

James Elliott said...

May I ask an editor here why my previous comments were deleted? They were in no way rude.

I see that the new comments policy is a completely arbitrary decision of what does and does not constitute proper.

James Elliott said...

Just to clarify, I'm not looking for a justification - it's your blog, do what you will with the content. I just want to know how I should compose my comments in order to avoid deletion in the future. Was it the format or the glib tone? Or did you feel they were lacking in content (I can see how you might make that case for the first one)?

Tlaloc said...

"I knew precisely what you meant. That doesn't change the fact that it's not possible. In order for racism to exist, there must be the concentration and exercise of power as the crucial element for prejudice to become racism."

I've always strenuously disagreed with this perspective. Racism is simply a form of prejudice based on ethnicity. It requires no power. It is no less execrable in a disenfranchised black than it is in the president.
This is precisely why I find Affirmative Action misguided. It seeks to remedy the effects of racism by codifying another form of racism under the belief that racism that helps the underdog is acceptable.

It's not.

James Elliott said...

While agreeing with the larger point on Affirmative Action, I have to respectfully disagree. As with sexism and classism, racism requires power to be. Prejudice is just as unacceptable, but lacks the fundamental aspect of power.

connie deady said...

the bulk of racism practiced in the U.S. today in the 21st century is perpetrated and fomented by the liberal black leadership. Blunt enough?

Blunt. But you must live in a different world than I do. I hear racist jokes and comments all the time from white people. Perhaps you missed the segregated proms in small town Georgia?

Other than that, I won't comment on the book. Trust me, bashing liberals might make you feel good, but it isn't any more productive than me siting around with my friends making fun of George Bush.

It's surely the best way to really avoid dealing with real issues.

tbmbuzz said...

James Elliott said...

...In order for racism to exist, there must be the concentration and exercise of power as the crucial element for prejudice to become racism. Now, if you want to say that vitriolic prejudice exists within elements of the African-American community, I'd absolutely agree, and I think it would be more accurate... <<


I really have no wish to argue semantics. As a language purist, I'll stick with the dictionary definition of racism: "rac·ism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rszm)
n.
The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
Discrimination or prejudice based on race. "

Racists, whether they are in power or not, harm everyone. I pick on the black leaders of TODAY, overwhelmingly uber-liberal (Farrakhan up or down), as the most overt racists in our society. They DO have power and they are harming their own constituency most of all. It is time to expose, discredit and disenfranchise them all, and it is the black community with new leaders who should do so.

>>"But such prejudice hardly approaches anything like "the bulk of racism" in this country. Your comment completely ignores racism that affects other minorities."<<

I simply disagree. White America hsa done its part, in fits and spurts admittedly, ever since the Civil War. The overwhelming majority of white Americans, Connie's anecdotal contention notwithstanding (I live in north Alabama myself), are decent, moral, non-racists. White racists are immediately put down in this country, many times to excess when there is no racism involved (Bennett, Lott). The same simply cannot be said from the black side, whose loudmouthed spokespeople still blame all their troubles on a mythical white racist power structure and never look within themselves. Any person of any color or sex, who is willing to educate himself and work hard, can be and IS successful in this country.

James Elliott said...

Farrakhan is simply not a liberal - he is far too socially conservative and militantly single-issue radical to qualify.

a mythical white racist power structure

Now, I'm willing to concede, for the sake of argument, that there is no overt racist intent to keep minorities down. However, it is sheer folly to argue that the cumulative force of history and ingrained sociocultural behavior is either mythical, or has been completely erased by Caucasians "doing their part."

One need only look at power structures in this country to demonstrate you wrong. You can go anywhere, even true-blue California, and look at the composition of political and economic power versus demographics to see how wrong your statement is. Why else would the election of a Latino mayor in Hollywood or San Jose occasion such notice? As another example, San Jose has the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam, has since 1973. Only this year, in a special election, was the first Vietnamese city councilwoman elected. Take a look at small-town America: most officials are white, even in towns where minorities form at least a quarter of the electorate. Look at the structure of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Studies have shown that people of color receive higher interest rates on car and home loans. Studies have shown that people of color are prevented from exercising their right to vote. Studies have shown that people of color are portrayed negatively in the media. Studies have shown that home ownership, employment, and education are less available for people of color. Representation in the higher tax brackets is dispraportionately low, just as their representation in the lower tax brackets is disproportionately high. The number of people of color in the prison and child welfare systems are incredibly out of proportion to their population figures. People of color disproportionately receive harsher prison sentences than whites. Look at the drug war: Sentences legally mandated for cocaine (a "rich white man's drug") are much less than those legally mandated for crack (a cheaper form of cocaine more prevalent in lower-income, and therefore often minority, areas). People of color are pulled over more often by police than whites.

This is not a coincidence in a country that has only spent 40 years trying to put people of color on an equal footing with whites.

I agree that the African-American community doesn't hold its own hate-mongers accountable. But the answer isn't to turn a complete 180 and say "We've done our bit, now it's your turn." That doesn't reflect reality.

Tlaloc said...

"The overwhelming majority of white Americans, Connie's anecdotal contention notwithstanding (I live in north Alabama myself), are decent, moral, non-racists."

I'd really like to believe that, and if we were talking exclusively about major metropolitan areas I think you'd be right or close to right. But I have way too much evidence that it is far from the case in rural america.

Let me give you an example. Remember segregated stores? You know stores that wouldn't sell to "colored" folk? Thing of the past? Nope. My wife is half native american. She grew up in a little tiny town in eastern Oregon. Despite the fact that Oregon is one of the most liberal states in the US there were stores in her town that were segregated. My wife is 29 years old, we aren't talking about back in the fifties but in the 80s and 90s.

Racism among whites is very much alive and well.

I grew up in eugene which is an unbelievably liberal place. The only place I've been that's really like it is Berkeley. I grew up believing that racism was a brutish relic of the past gratefully consigned to the wastebasket of history. Then my cousin from a small logging town visited and remarked that "in Portland the n-----s will come right up and talk to you." Needless to say it was a rather shattering disillusionment both because I realized racism was alive and well and because that troglodyte swims in my gene pool.

I absolutely agree that the black community and the latino community, and every other sizable ethinc community has issues of racism of their own to deal with. But we whites are also still a long ways from putting this problem to bed.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

James, you simply cannot ignore differences between the married and unmarried when tossing out all of these "studies".

James Elliott said...

That's the beauty of most of the studies, ESPECIALLY the income ones: They take that into consideration.

For example: The proportion of single black males to single white males in prison is staggering when you look at their actual population shares. Ditto Latinos.

I'll give you another example: The median net worth of a Caucasian family in 2000 was about $80,000. The median net worth of a Hispanic family that same year was around $10,000 and for an African-American family, it was aroung $8,000. Remember, we're talking median, not average. That means white families are, on the whole, at least ten times better off than an African-American family.

Or there's a recent study focusing on the Child Tax Credit in 2004. Child Tax Credit eligibility is an excellent indicator of SES: If you're fully eligible, you're middle class. Only 18% of white children live in families too poor to claim the full credit. Meanwhile, fully 49% of African-American children live in families too poor to claim the full credit (meaning their parents earn less than approx. $30,000 annually). For Latino children, that number stands at 46%.

That's a HUGE disparity.

Your single/married comment doesn't really impact any other contention, and as we see here, is roundly debunked.

James Elliott said...

Oh, sources for the above are the U.S. Census Bureau and the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

tbmbuzz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tbmbuzz said...

James--


All that I'm contending is that white racism is simply not the principal determining factor anymore for all these stats and studies you cite. For a well written essay on this topic, allow me to point you to Walter Williams's article in townhall.com today that illustrates this point of view.

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/

(Sorry, I still don't know how to post links here).

Regards,
Buzz

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

Sorry James, but family and "married" are two seperate issues.

Tlaloc said...

"All that I'm contending is that white racism is simply not the principal determining factor anymore for all these stats and studies you cite."

I'd tend to agree with that. While racism is still all too alive in white america it is classism that dominates. In other words Black were originally put at the bottom by racism, but they are held there now more by classism. After all nobody calls Colin Powell or Condi Rice the "n" word. They have the color that truly matters: green.

ChETHB said...

tlaloc said "Let me give you an example. Remember segregated stores? You know stores that wouldn't sell to "colored" folk? Thing of the past? Nope. My wife is half native american. She grew up in a little tiny town in eastern Oregon. Despite the fact that Oregon is one of the most liberal states in the US there were stores in her town that were segregated. My wife is 29 years old, we aren't talking about back in the fifties but in the 80s and 90s."

Surprisingly, I can echo your comments about Oregon. Last year, I was flying out of Portland sitting next to a lady who works in some capacity in the educational system in Portland. We were discussing regional politics and she commented that Oregonians are considered by most to be very liberal but that is not completely true. She then said that you have to understand that many of the folks who originally settled in Oregon were fleeing the Confederate states after the Civil War so there are still strong vestiges of segregationist views among a population that is mostly comprised of the "greenies". For my part, if you can believe the media, I suspect the South is now less racist than certain other parts of the country [maybe we sent them to Oregon :<)].

James Elliott said...

For my part, if you can believe the media, I suspect the South is now less racist than certain other parts of the country [maybe we sent them to Oregon :<)].

Having been forced to visit such charming locales as Weed, Yreka, Latham, and Lodi, California, I can definitely agree with you in part there. Racism is by no means limited to region.

Buzz, I think we can agree on racism not being a "principle" cause, but your contention, as I read it, was that it doesn't exist or is not a factor, and that is demonstrably false. For example, when one looks at single, black males of similar SES status to single, white males, they are STILL overrepresented in prison compared to their population share.

CLA, you're point is interesting but misguided: Marriage is an excellent manner for all people to avoid poverty, since either you have two revenue streams or one person can take care of the children (the single largest drain on a family's income). Interestingly enough, a recent study shows that a single-earner married couple with children needs to earn less than a dual-income family. Recent studies have been enough to convince me that conservatives are correct to focus on marriage as a key component in welfare reform.

However, only one-fifth of African-American children are born to unwed teenage mothers. Still, poor marriage rates among African Americans have their roots in, yes, a racist past: Up until the 1920s or so, African Americans were largely barred from the institution of marriage. Instead, African-American families relied upon large kin networks, a tradition that carries on today. An African-American woman is more likely to never marry, and more likely than a white woman to divorce, though that statistic becomes insignificant as it mirrors the overall national average.

You cannot divorce the overrepresntation of people of color on welfare rolls, in prison, and in low-opportunity economic zones without, at some point, addressing racism and its latent consequences in today's society. They are simply too tightly intertwined.

Kathy Hutchins said...

The proportion of single black males to single white males in prison is staggering when you look at their actual population shares. Ditto Latinos

For incarceration, you also have to control for age distribution. The vast majority of felonies are committeed by males aged 16 to 29. I doubt the age distributions are different enough to explain all the difference, but they explain some, especially for Latinos.

How do your other two examples (net worth and eligibility for CTC) control for two-parent vs. one-parent households? The crucial indicator is two parents. "Family" can be a single parent household.

I don't know why you continue to resist this point, James -- respectable liberal social scientists agree that family structure is a crucial component of minority poverty. They won't rip up your Bleeding Heart membership card if you admit it too.

James Elliott said...

Buzz, Williams doesn't even come remotely close to proving his thesis: "The weakening of the black family structure, and its devastating consequences, have nothing to do with the history of slavery or racial discrimination." He states it and then doesn't back it up. The best he can do is say that it's not solely attributable.

James Elliott said...

I don't know why you continue to resist this point, James -- respectable liberal social scientists agree that family structure is a crucial component of minority poverty. They won't rip up your Bleeding Heart membership card if you admit it too.

Actually, as I point out above, I have become conviced. The turning point for me was a study on what it costs to live in California by the Center for Budget Priorities: It stated that a married couple with a single earner required less to live on than a married, dual-income family. However, that also assumed things like renting a two-bedroom apartment and no savings. It is still generalizable enough to prove to me that you have an excellent point.

My point, Kathy, still stands because we were looking at the proportional representation of non-whites to whites. For example, Latino marriage and divorce rates are highly similar to those of whites, and yet they too are overrepresented versus share of population in lower SES and prison populations.

While marriage is an important aspect of determining economic well-being, it becomes less and less significant when we look at other issues where race becomes a much higher correlationary factor, such as crime, welfare rolls, blue vs. white-collar employment, etc. When one then looks at the vast underrepresentation of whites in such areas compared to population share, one is left to conclude that vestiges of a racist power system HAVE to be at play in society.

Kathy Hutchins said...

only one-fifth of African-American children are born to unwed teenage mothers.

Why do you think the crippling economic effect of being a single parent disappears after you turn 20? Here are the figures for percent of births out-of-wedlock by race, 2002:

White: 23.0%
Hispanic: 43.5%
Black: 68.2%

poor marriage rates among African Americans have their roots in, yes, a racist past

In 1970, 37.5% of births to black mothers were out of wedlock, just slightly more than half the rate in 2002. Please explain to me the mechanism whereby a racial restriction on marriage formation in 1920 leads to a doubling of out-of wedlock births between points 50 and 80 years afterwards.

(Data source: HHS/CDC/NCHS: Health, United States, 2004

Tom Van Dyke said...

"In 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech, more than 70 percent of all Black families were headed by married couples. In 2002 that number was 48 percent.

'The Black family has crumbled more in the last 30 years than it did in the entire 14 decades since slavery,' says Dr. Julia Hare, author, psychologist and executive director of San Francisco's the Black Think Tank."


From Ebony magazine. Word up.

James Elliott said...

If I have implied throughout this that I believe racism is the sole underlying attribute to all ills befalling people of color, please allow me to apologize for the hazy wording and clarify:

Racism is not the sole determinant. However, given racism's former prevalence and continued legacy, I simply don't see how one can ignore its role. Racism doesn't rear its head solely in economic determination. Representation in politics, local power structures, engagement with the community and society, and a sense of ownership and enfranchisement in the general society and culture are all key players in the health of family structure, and all of these are areas in which people of color have suffered in America.

Your argument - and please correct me if I'm misinterpreting - boils down to a value judgment: Something is fundamentally wrong with the structure of the families of people of color, and that is to blame for their overrepresentation in these figures. It ignores the cumulative effects of all the factors labeled above, and others I'm sure I forgot to enummerate. Do they cause the breakdown of the family, or vice versa?

80 years is a relatively short time, especially when one considers that it also encompasses the northern migration from sharecropper southern society in the South in the 1930s and the subsequent urbanization (which carries its own ills and challenges, but does not replace those of the past), or the era of civil rights, whose promise of enfranchisement still goes largely unfulfilled.

I invite you to read Hortense Powdermaker's After Freedom, an excellent study on black sharecropper life in the South in 1932. She was highly attuned to the social chaos of sharecropper family life, particularly the fluid family structure of the time: Only a small elite of educated blacks lived in what we recognize as marriage. Most families lived in common law marriages that were unsteady and easily dissolved, and nonmarital births still prevailed, long before urbanization, the New Deal, or the War on Poverty. It was a direct holdover from slavery.

At the same time, Powdermaker was incredibly in tune with the economic and social oppression of the black man: "There could be good n-----s and bad n-----s, but a n----- was a n-----." While a black woman could find employment either in the field or as a domestic, black men were marginalized to the field, furthering a sense of worthlessness and anger. This is the origin of the psyche of the poor black male in modern times. Read Jason DeParle's excellent American Dream (who turned me on to Powdermaker's work), and you will see the parallels between welfare in the '90s and 1932 sharecropper South.

This says nothing of the struggles Latinos and other immigrants have and also continue to face.

40 years, 80 years, Kathy, isn't NEARLY enough time.

Matt Huisman said...

If I have implied throughout this that I believe racism is the sole underlying attribute to all ills befalling people of color, please allow me to apologize...

I think your comments have been well made and balanced, James...I think some of the arguements being made by others here are based on some assumptions of where you may be going with the case you're making.

Probably the easiest way to clarify how serious you think the problem of racism is and the latent effects of slavery are is to offer some ideas about how income disparity and economic opportunity might be rectified.

James Elliott said...

Well, hmmm. That opens up a whole new ball o' wax. Us liberals don't do solutions well now that we're out of power. We do criticism much better. =]

Well, without being here for a few hours, here are a few rough ideas:

1) Revamping welfare to work reform. It's a good idea, but too limited and focused on punitive measures. The time limits are too short and keep people cycling in and out of poor and working-poor. You're not going to help the children by punishing the parents. Refund and expand the vocational training: Training a burger-flipper to be a shelf-stocker isn't exactly going to improve one's lot. This would include adult education and literacy.

2) Stop messing with the Pell Grants and such and actually fund them to a useful level. This is the first year they've been proposed to be cut, but for the last several years the amounts have been frozen while the number of grants have skyrocketed.

3) Affirmative Action: A good premise (increasing the ability of minorities to access higher education) that has been rather ineffectively administered. And its popularity has circumvented any attempts at useful critique and revamping. It should be revisited in a non-defensive and constructive fashion. Tacts might include axing the SATs and ACT, which have been shown to be normalized towards white middle class male ways of thinking.

4) Get rid of NCLB. It's a terrible, unfunded law. The majority of my work is around education and special education policy, and I can tell you that very few professionals are happy with it. Certain ideas contained therein are worth rethinking, but testing standards and poor funding are a problem. Some ideas (let's punish the poor by taking away their school funds!) are downright stupid.

5) Parenting classes for prospective parents. Parenting allowances (a la France). Expand the CTC, ensuring access to parents from the lower tax brackets (it was originally intended in 1997 as an entitlement allowance, not a tax refund).

6) Comprehensive sexual education and living skills classes in high school (abstinence plus everything else, basic accounting, resume building, etc.).

7) Mandatory national public service.

Tom Van Dyke said...

1) Revamping welfare to work reform.
It's a good idea, but too limited and focused on punitive measures. The time limits are too short and keep people cycling in and out of poor and working-poor.


Ah, you don't think they actually mean it, doya?

Like they did with those unemployment extensions, this will be mooted. It was intended as a wake-up call.

2) Stop messing with the Pell Grants

I've looked this one up. The Pell grant money got pumped elsewhere.

3) Affirmative Action

I'm a dove on this one. My objections are that it affects so few that it's ineffective, and taints the achievements of the overwhelming majority of blacks who made it on their own.

Any way we could cheat the system to advance Black America I'm for, tho.

4) Get rid of NCLB.

That was Ted Kennedy's baby. So much for bipartisanship. Dubya screwed up---he trusted him.

I've seen some evidence it actually did some good. Dunno, tho. Epistemology.

5) Parenting classes for prospective parents.

Unlimited funding. A priority. Give 'em an anchor to drag around for a week.

6) Comprehensive sexual education and living skills classes in high school (abstinence plus everything else, basic accounting, resume building, etc.).

Ditto. I'm sick of the young and ignorant getting ripped off by the money industry, and let's face it, their own stupid greed. They should at least know what they're getting into before they ruin their financial lives.

But if we're going to teach the kids to give Lewinskys, something on the philosophy and teleology of sex oughtta be thrown in. I mean, nobody wants to be a mere receptacle, eh? It's so dehumanizing.

7) Mandatory national public service.

Interesting. Mebbe we could get kids out of college into something useful, like pushing around Gov. Arnold's Hummer...

No, seriously---worth a discussion. But you take your chances casting your pearls before the swine like me who are still reading down at comment #29. Ditto me, come to think of it. I promise to recycle this material. ;-)

James Elliott said...

But if we're going to teach the kids to give Lewinskys, something on the philosophy and teleology of sex oughtta be thrown in. I mean, nobody wants to be a mere receptacle, eh? It's so dehumanizing.

Abstinence plus and safe sex curriculums do not teach children to give oral sex as an alternative to intercourse - it's just as easy to pass an STD that way. Studies show that children who receive abstinence-only have higher rates of oral and anal sex as well as STD transmission. Abstinence plus curriculums encourage abstinence while addressing the stark reality that some teen are going to experiment, and should be well-informed if they're going to do so. Please note that I am a huge fan of abstinence education, just not abstinence-only.

I agree that there should be a section on the psychology of sex. But then, I've always been more to the center on the subject than most of my friends. I don't care who you want to do it with, just so long as you do it safely, intelligently, and informedly. And preferably when you're old enough to actually grasp what the hell's going on emotionally as well as physically.

connie deady said...

2) Stop messing with the Pell Grants

I've looked this one up. The Pell grant money got pumped elsewhere.


Where? Government grants are pretty minimal these days.