Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Equality vs. entitlement

At what point do we call people equal? When is the score settled? When are all the wrongs righted and the aggrieved parties can state that they are satisfied and can move on? In our current state, we have a number of groups that have been discriminated against or otherwise mistreated in the past and probably still suffer from it to some extent. What’s the answer?  Well, there’s the view on the left, the view on the right, and then there’s common sense.
In this entry, I want to talk about affirmative action and social welfare programs as well as the constant call for some type of reparations, apologies, etc. For example, many states have passed resolutions apologizing for slavery. It’s a nice little gesture I suppose but really, what good did it do other than create a reason for a few politicians to have a “Kumbaya moment” and tack taking the initiative for the resolution onto their resume as proof to their target constituents that they care about civil rights? It didn’t raise high school graduation rates for minority students by a single person and I’d bet it didn’t help one welfare mother move on to a rewarding career. I’d equate welfare and apologies to giving a couple Tylenol and a “get well” card to a patient with a broken arm instead of proceeding with necessary medical care. It only masks the symptoms temporarily instead of permanently correcting the problem.
For all of it’s good intentions, affirmative action has served the purpose it was created for and needs to be phased out. The common sense approach would be to treat all people as equals but make sure students from poor families aren’t kept from good schools because of their lack of income and enforce anti-discrimination laws.
Welfare is a Band-aid constantly reapplied to a wound that needs stitches by an often inefficient, disorganized, bloated, self-serving bureaucracy. We made some needed changes with the welfare reform law back in the 90’s but the system is still chronically problematic. The smart approach to decreasing the need for welfare includes investing in low income neighborhoods economically, with infrastructure and with education. Make it a hand up, not a hand out, as the saying goes. Perhaps we should take a page from the Israelis and have kibbutz style facilities and then use them for low income families where people can have a sense of contribution, responsibility and access to vocational training or other educational opportunities.
 Unfortunately, on the left you’ll always have those who mean well but continue perpetrating a sense of entitlement and victimhood for those whose situation isn’t due to their race necessarily but from a poisonous cocktail of poor choices, bad parents and a community who doesn’t take responsibility for making sure it’s children don’t slip through the cracks. Doesn’t it make more sense to spend less money up front over a couple years to actively attempt to bring someone out of poverty instead of spending more over a lifetime and keeping them in the same state as before? I’m sure there are those who would argue that bureaucracy depends on maintaining the status quo but the truth of the matter is that there will always be a need for social services of some sort for some duration and those who are in the system for selfish reasons shouldn’t be tasked with serving the needy to begin with.
On the right, you have quite a few people who secretly resent the end of white privilege and the decline of the once powerful good old boy system. Then there’s those who mindlessly ditto the bombastic talking heads and the self important pundits who predictably trot out the cliché examples of Cadillac-driving welfare queens and recipients who produce illegitimate offspring at a rate that rivals the reproductive speed of rabbits. There is abuse in the system no doubt but the far more infuriating problem is the unwillingness, on both sides, to work towards a common sense approach to addressing the cause rather than the symptoms. The same people who clamor for the logistical and legal nightmare of drug tests for welfare recipients are often the same ones who decry governments spending at every turn, yet have no opposition to appropriating billions for obsolete military technology. Why is it so easy to have the “am I my brother’s keeper?” attitude when it comes to any type of safety net for the less fortunate or unemployed among us but then at the same time, find it so necessary to bail out a company who has also made poor choices (so long as it’s the idea of your political party) and finds itself struggling to stay afloat? People have made mistakes from the beginning of our species’ existence and will probably continue to do so as long as we exist. However, in most cases a person shouldn’t be excluded from making a contribution and participating in society based off bad decisions or their economic situation. When there are roadblocks to being a part of the community and enjoying the same privileges as everyone else, this breeds resentment and an excuse not to succeed.
If we allow things to continue as is, we will continue to have a permanent underclass entitled to a lifetime of little more than existing, not living. If we follow ideology of the talking heads of the right, we then have an unemployable section of society who will not likely have an immediate source of legitimate income. There is a common sense solution but it will require both sides to discontinue the pointless political posturing and actually do what’s right for us, even if it isn’t right for their career in Washington.

2 comments:

  1. Wow, I agree with much of what you are saying. I do not believe that there is racism at the root of this problem as many would suggest, at least in the sense that most on both sides would like to put forward. Have you found the Willie Lynch Letter that I have spoken about so many times? I see entitlement programs as a subtle form of oppression. It is a snare that wraps around the soul of a man the same way as a noose wraps around the neck of a person. It is a trap. People take the bait of the safety net and find out soon that they cannot go to work, because they will make so little that they cannot pay for day care too. I have called Welfare Plantation politics in part because of what the Willie Lynch letter says. It is not just me that says this. The Willie Lynch letter is often part of Black Supremacist references as an example of how white folks hold black people down. It is held up as an example of how modern black people are still being treated as livestock. In Reggae music there is often the reference about how black people should free themselves from mental slavery. This is the most egregious form of mental slavery. It has oppressed generations all of the while purporting to help.

    If a person, no matter how well intentioned feeds a hungry wild animal over and over, eventually the animal becomes tame and loses it's soul. Is it too hard to understand that an animal's need to fend for it's self applies also to the human animal? How is it that the Democrat party went from the party of Jim Crow and segregation and is now the biggest proponent of a system that is creating a cycle of oppression? It think that there is correlation. Maybe not on purpose even. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I believe that for the most part they are well intentioned.

    See, both sides do have good intentions. Both would agree that some sort of safety net makes sense. But what should the scope of that be? I believe that it should be only for meeting an immediate need, and that there should be no strings attached such as being a single mother. Once a person is trying to make a lifestyle of the good people's support then we have created a monster. A parasite. We can look to the riots in Greece and the protests in France. Once entitled there is no taking it back, with out the appearance of meanness. The trouble is that no body wants to be the bad guy.

    Politicians have made their entire careers out of enslaving the people that elected them. Every one wants to vote for the guy that would "take care" of the poor man.

    What is fairness indeed? What is equality? On a racial level, I cannot except that as a segment of society, American black people have been paid back for 400 years of bondage, so we must start first by giving them the same freedoms as the rest of the hard working people in the USA. Why are the illegitimate birth rates so high? Why the incarceration rates? Why the drug and alcohol abuse rates? Why do I see working age men sitting on their front porch in their PJs at 9 am drinking a 40? It is because no matter how well intentioned we have robbed the entitled of their dignity and soul. Look at the anecdotal evidence of Black music through the years... What is your conclusion? Either as a race, black people are just bad, or the view that I have... the plantation politics of the entitlement system has created a monster and the outcome is worse than the original problem ever was. Look close and read carefully before claiming that my post has a racist bent. I reject racism and I fully believe that the entitlement programs are among the most racist and equality robbing things ever created by Satan.

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