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.