An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

© David Burton 2012

Minority Needs

     When America was the Land of Opportunity, those in the immigrant communities either took advantage of the opportunities offered them and climbed out of the lower economic levels that they started out in, or they fell by the wayside. America gave them the opportunity. The rest was up to them. The Italians, the Irish, the Chinese, the Japanese and other immigrant groups made the most of these opportunities and climbed up the economic, social and political ladders in the U.S. of A.

     To a large extent, America has morphed into the Land of the Handout. The results have been less than outstanding. Those on the receiving end of the handout have not achieved the successes of the immigrant communities that preceded them. The case can be made that the handouts that the minority communities are receiving have led to a reduction in initiative and a dependence on the handouts that is akin to the drug dependency of a narcotics addict.

     It is apparent to any open-minded person that our minority communities, primarily the black and to some extent, the Hispanic, are mired in poverty, crime, and drug dependence. The inconvenient truth is that most of this failure is self-inflicted. Further, the attempts by American society in general to help these minority communities have been misguided and are proving to be nothing but abject failures.

     “Minorities are involved in more violent crimes than whites, both as offenders and victims. Young black American males are eight times more likely to commit homicides than young white males and eleven times more likely to be arrested for robbery. Homicide was the leading cause of death for black males between fifteen and twenty-four years of age. For Hispanics of the same age range, it is the second leading cause of death.

“The impact of crime on minority communities is major, both economically and psychologically. . . . Unemployment rates are generally higher, as are crime rates. These factors contribute to what has been labeled the ‘subculture of violence’ in poor communities.” (Ref. 1)

     Do blacks and Hispanics commit a disproportionate amount of crimes? Are blacks and Hispanics disproportionately the victims of crimes? YES and YES! “Blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crime in New York in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of reported gun assaults. And the vast majority of the victims of violent crime were also members of minority groups.

“Non-Hispanic whites, on the other hand, committed 5 percent of the city’s violent crimes in 2009, 1.4 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies.” (Ref. 2)

     “There is no doubt of a direct correlation {between crime and poverty and} the breakdown of the American family unit and regression of American societal norms. . . . One proposed solution is to ‘increase the exposure of people like Bill Cosby who are trying to fight the gangster mentality that is corrupting the black youths of our country.’ Education, or rather a lack thereof, contributes greatly to the problem. Unfortunately too many poor people reject a real education in favor of being cool or ‘gettin mine’ or being a hustler every day. ‘Educational opportunities are what you make of them.’ Pride in one’s environment contributes to a sense of community and self-respect. Creating a safe and clean neighborhood can be a major factor. People living in poor neighborhoods that need to be ‘cleaned up’, can start by addressing the problems of family members that run the streets and are on collision courses with prison sentences. That’s known as assuming personal responsibility. It takes guts.” (Ref. 3)

     Our minority communities “need to take a step in the direction of the police and support them if they want their communities to turn around. At the same time they need to take responsibility for their kids and make the commitment and self-sacrifices needed to keep them out of trouble. That means not just anonymously reporting crime from behind the curtains but actually assisting {police} when everyone claims ‘they didn't see anything’ or when people refuse to testify. That behavior is self-defeating and lies solely at the feet of the people living in poor communities.
. . .

“Bill Cosby felt the full brunt of the seemingly systematic reproach of the black American community when he chastised blacks for not assuming their responsibilities. Things were said like ‘he's trying to lump us all in together’ and ‘there are plenty of good and responsible black parents out there’ knowing full well that he wasn't stating that ALL black Americans were bad people. Obviously there aren't ‘plenty’ of irresponsible parents out there or we wouldn't have all the problems that are keeping blacks down. Instead of admitting that there is a major problem and facing up to the root causes, too many in the black American community chose to close their eyes and shut their ears to the truth. A lot of black Americans stood up and said 'Yeah! He's right' But still others went on the attack. The fact that Cosby is attacked over semantics on an issue that is so vital is a clear indicator of the fact that too many in the black community are not ready to ‘fess up’ to the facts and to start working toward a long lasting solution.
. . .

"{A large part of the problem facing our minority communities} can be directly correlated to the breakdown of the family unit, a soaring divorce rate, an outlandish out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate, and a rebellion against societal norms. . . . The more narcissistic/materialistic we become, the worse it gets.” (Ref. 3)

     The truth is blacks, and to a lesser degree Hispanics, have created and maintained the miserable state of affairs in which too many of them find themselves. Blacks and Hispanics are all too often failing in school. They perform poorly and they drop out before graduating. We’ve tried to correct the problem in the usual liberal way – by pouring money on the problem. In Chicago, “schools are 86 percent black and Hispanic. . . . In the last 50 years, real per-pupil spending nationwide has tripled and the number of pupils per teacher has declined a third, yet educational attainments have fallen. Abundant data demonstrates that the vast majority of differences in schools’ performances can be explained by qualities of the families from which the children come to school . . . the most important variable {being} the number of parents in the home. In Chicago, 84 percent of African-American children and 57 percent of Hispanic children are born to unmarried women.

“The city {Chicago} is experiencing an epidemic of youth violence – a 38 percent surge In the homicide rate, 53 people shot on a recent weekend, random attacks by roving youth mobs.” This has been called “Social regression driven by family disintegration.” (Ref. 4)

     There will be those in our midst who claim that all the ills that beset our minority communities are caused by the lack of opportunity in our white-Christian society. Bull! Tell me that President Barack Obama, along with former secretaries of State Collin Powell and Condoleza Rize weren’t able to rise to achieve greatness, even though they are African-American. Tell me the growing number of blacks and Hispanics that are heading up major corporations in this country were unable to climb the ladders of success because of the colors of their skins or their ethnic backgrounds. The truth is that it’s ability and perseverance that count most in today’s America. What keeps blacks and Hispanics down are their failures, as communities, to establish and maintain community and personal standards that contribute the most to societal success. Public financing of inappropriate behavior neither alleviates the resultant problems nor leads to an elimination of the conditions that foster such inappropriate behavior – witness the large numbers of unmarried back women giving birth or the high crime rates in black and Hispanic communities. Heaping governmental financial aid on the unwed, the fatherless, the untrained, and the unemployed has the unintended consequence of encouraging illegitimacy, family abandonment, school dropout, and the absence of a motivation to work.

     Under liberal and teacher union prodding, America has tried to address its public education problems with money and reduced class size. The results achieved are dismal. “While the number of public school students has grown a mere 8.5 percent since 1970, ‘the public school work force has roughly doubled – to 6.4 million – and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides.’

“That helps to explain why since 1980 spending on public school education in the U.S. has doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars.

“Twice as many teachers. Twice as much money.” (Ref. 5) Any business that increased sales 10% and simultaneously increased costs 100% would quickly go bankrupt!

     But maybe all that extra money and smaller class size produced brighter students? If only that were so! Since 1970, the National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP) has found that math and reading proficiency have essentially remained flat. “For example, the average 18-year-old’s NAEP score in reading back in 1971 was 285. In 2008 it was 286.” (Ref. 5) So, less than 10% more students, twice as many school system employees, twice as much money, and no improvement in performance - a lousy return on the taxpayers’ investment!

     In 2006, annual U.S. per-student spending was 41% higher than in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries “and yet American students still placed in the bottom quarter in math and in the bottom third in science.” (Ref. 5)

     In Washington D.C., public school “per-pupil costs are now $29,409 a year”, compared with “per-pupil costs at Catholic high schools {that} averaged $10,228 last year.” (Ref. 6) The OECD average per-pupil cost was only $7,283.” (Ref. 5) With all this money being spent on public schools in our nation’s capital, the results are atrocious. D.C. Students “lag far behind the rest of the country on achievement test.” The results are so poor that “public school teachers in Washington lead the nation in refusing to send their own children to the schools they teach in, with over 40 percent in upper income brackets choosing private school options.” (Ref. 6)

     The inconvenient truth is that more money and smaller class sizes are not the answers to why Johnny is not doing better in school. I posit that the answer lies in better quality educators – not teachers who retain today’s very lucrative salaries and benefits simply because of seniority, and most importantly, in “better quality” families. This means two parent families with laser-like focusing on achievement.

     Besides having no respect for themselves and the community around them, the so-called poor, disadvantaged, and minorities have no respect for the governmental systems that support them. A prime example can be seen in my state of Massachusetts of why neither the people receiving government assistance nor those of us who pay the bill for this assistance do not respect the assistance programs and those liberals who endorse this largesse. Massachusetts reportedly has the most liberal unemployment benefits in the country, some of the highest taxes, a high cost of living, and reportedly the highest healthcare costs in the U.S. that are growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole. We also have a liberal and Democratic monopoly on state government and currently, an ultra-liberal bleeding-heart governor. Today’s America is rapidly morphing from a society based upon opportunity to a society rooted in entitlement. The liberal element in American society and its Democratic political supporters in government are bent upon increasing the dependence on government and in dividing America into supposedly “have” and “have-not” factions that fight each other for government handouts from a rapidly shrinking pie.

     In a recent attempt to rein in skyrocketing welfare costs, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill “that banned the use of EBT cards at jewelry shops, nail solons and rental centers, as well as individual products, including guns, tattoos, porn and fees, fines and bail.” (Ref. 7) An EBT card is an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card that makes it easier for people on welfare to spend the taxpayers’ money. With EBT, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and/or cash assistance benefits are kept in special accounts until the recipient wants to use these benefits. Note that the NA in SNAP stands for Nutritional Assistance, implying that the card is to be used for food purchases. In effect, the welfare recipient has his own government issued and backed credit or debit card.

     The governor immediately vetoed the bill, saying, “I’m not going to do anything that makes vulnerable people beg for their benefits.” (Ref. 8) What the governor most likely meant to say was I’m not going to do anything that makes my Democratic supporters angry, especially in a presidential election year. With such an attitude on the part of the state’s top official, how can anyone - those taking welfare benefits and those of us saddled with its costs - have any respect for such a program or for those responsible for controlling such a failed system?

     As Michael Graham said, “I don’t know anyone who wants to deny people some temporary help while they get back on their feet. I don’t know anyone who wants people – even the laziest and least motivated among us – to starve in the streets. But when its easier to live off the government than it is to pay your own bills, something is terribly, terribly wrong.

“Living off others should be hard. It should even be a bit embarrassing on occasion.” Meanwhile, you and I have to succumb to a government that reaches deeper and deeper into our pockets. Heaven forbid that we upset those welfare supported voters who elect and re-elect the politicians that take our money and funnel it to them. Why do I, and millions of other hard-working and self-supporting citizens, have little respect for this Robin Hood system of legal theft? It’s because of a runaway welfare system and politicians like the governor of Massachusetts who pander to their supporters. “When someone scams my money … that’s bad. When they flaunt it in my face and call me a hater for trying to stop them, it’s worse.” (Ref. 8)

     The politicians love to take our money and give it to the so-called needy. What they really are doing is buying the votes of the recipients of this legalized theft. Let’s face it, Robin Hood, Pretty Boy Floyd and Al Capone were all crooks. They stole money and gave some of it to the poor – but thieves they still were. Our good-hearted politicians are no better. The House Agriculture Committee reported out a bill to cut some $16.5 billion over 10 years from SNAP, which is more commonly known as the food stamps program. Amazing, how programs such as this mushroom over time. “According to the Congressional Budget Office, 18 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2000. By 2011, this had grown to 45 million {a whopping 150% increase!}, one in seven Americans.” In response to the proposed bill, the Assistant House Democratic leader “called the cuts ‘abominable,’ suggesting they will jeopardize nutrition of children and that it’s all about protecting ‘the wealthy and the well to do.'" Believe me when I tell you it’s no such thing. The Democrat’s ire comes from the possibility that he and his Democratic colleagues may lose some support at the voting booths if they can’t continue to hand out freebies that they take from those of us that actually pay taxes. And what about the government jobs that might be lost if the give-away program were to be reduced in scope? After all, to whom are these office holders beholden? Who do they support with contributions from their public employee unions and for whom do they vote? “Government spending programs, even if initiated with the best of intentions, wind up being about interests, not efficiency or compassion.” How efficient is the SNAP program? “It has become increasingly easy to qualify for SNAP benefits, the government has been spending more taxpayer funds promoting the program, and the stigma of SNAP being perceived as a welfare program has disappeared.” Once there was some embarrassment about needing food stamps – now there is a sense of entitlement and no hint of embarrassment. Instead one is considered to be a fool if he does not take what the government hands out – no matter whether or not the handout is needed. It’s become a tenet of our entitlement society that it’s better to take than to earn. (Ref. 9)

     Just look at the numbers to see what is happening. “6 percent of Americans received welfare payments in 1962. Now that number is 35 percent. . . . About half of American workers pay no federal income tax, leaving the burden to be shouldered by the achievers. . . . We are creating a dual society. In one corner: Americans who work hard to succeed. In the other corner: folks who want what you have. . . . And the second corner is a growth industry.” (Ref. 10) And are those receiving the handouts really any better off?

     Once upon a time in America, there was no bloated government that poured largesse onto anyone with hands outstretched for handouts. By and large, those in real need received aid from friends, family and from privately funded resources. Government aid was limited – and affordable. Those who needed aid felt grateful for the aid received, felt obligated to repay the aid when and if they could and felt the need to help others in the same boat when they became able to do so. They accepted what they needed – not any more – with a bit of embarrassment. The system worked without an army of government administrators, without a mountain of red tape, and with relative efficiency. In many cases, those receiving help and those providing it were people that knew each other – they came from the same families, from the same groups of friends, and from the same ethnic segments of the population. Thus, the obligations to help and the obligations to repay. There is no such sense of obligation today. There is only a sense of entitlement. I know the old system worked because my family used and benefitted from the system. During the great depression, my father had to stop working because of a ruptured appendix. When he recovered, his former job was gone. He and my mother had to borrow money to get by – not from the government, but from private sources. Over the years, they paid back the money they borrowed. I vividly remember going with my mother every week or so, to repay the borrowed money.

     “The primary cause of poverty in America today is the breakdown of marriage,” or to rephrase this, “the primary cause of poverty in America today is a breakdown in culture, in which out of wedlock childbirths are the most visible symptom. . . . The raw Census data show that the rate of poverty for single mothers is about five times as high as the rate of poverty for married households. {It has been found that} in order to avoid being poor you have to do three things: (1) graduate from high school, (2) wait until getting married to have children, and (3) wait until age 20 to have children. Only 8% of people who do those three things are poor, compared to 79% for those who do not.” While racial discrimination still exists in America, it “is only a minor cause of black poverty. . . . “ As Bill Cosby said in one of his famous speeches, ‘What white man made you write a record calling women bitches and hoes?’” In other words, to a large extent, blacks themselves are responsible for creating the environment that keeps them locked in poverty. (Ref. 11)

     Many other ethnic groups have faced discrimination in America and have overcome it to achieve acceptance and escape the poverty in which they were initially immersed – witness the virulent discrimination faced by immigrant Italians, Irish, Chinese and Jews. To a great extent, these ethnic groups managed to escape their initial poverty and banishment to ghetto neighborhoods by maintaining their family and moral values, their shared communal standards and traditions, and by working together as cohesive entities to raise their economic and social standings in American society. These immigrant groups did not have the benefits of today’s big-brother welfare programs. They made it in spite of a lack of government involvement – they made it because of the absence of government involvement.

     Throwing welfare money at the problem has been found to be equivalent to throwing gasoline on a burning fire. One study “found that a 10 percent increase in welfare benefits made the chances that a poor young woman would have a baby out of wedlock before the age of 22 go up by 12 percent. And this was true for whites as well as blacks.” (Ref. 11)

     There is a growing feeling, supported by a number of studies, that government welfare programs are sustaining if not creating poverty in America. Representative Paul Ryan (R–Wis.) said, “Don’t make people dependent on government so they stay stuck in their station in life.” The objectives of federal welfare programs are admirable but misdirected. “The intent of federal welfare programs might have been to help the poor, but they caused far more damage than benefit.

“When you tell a poor mother that, to qualify for her check, she must demonstrate she is single, not working and has no savings, what are the chances she’ll get married, look for a job and put money in the bank? When this goes on for generations, what do you think this does to a community? . . . It’s no accident that in 1960 … five years before President Lyndon Johnson signed into law his War on Poverty, 61 percent of black adults were married. By 2008, this was down to 32 percent. In 1960, 2 percent of black children had a parent that had never been married. By 2008, this was up to 41 percent. . . . The bankruptcy of our entitlements is {a} symptom. The cause is loss of individual freedom and breakdown of values, personal responsibility and marriage caused by entitlement culture materialism. . . . We must change, and all change begins with character and personal transformation.” (Ref. 12) Changing this entitlement system will be no easy matter. Remember, the people that are dependent on government handouts are the people that support and vote for the politicians who keep giving them their handouts – it’s a vicious cycle! The analogy is the drug addict and the drug dealer.

     No one should be surprised by a 2011 Census Bureau announcement that “the number of Americans living in poverty increased in 2010. When wealth-creation slows and unemployment remains above 9 percent, the probability that more Americans will fall into the category of economically poor is magnified.” (Ref. 13)

“But, let’s not lose sight of the fact that, relatively speaking, Americans living in ‘poverty’ are doing much better than most people living in, say, Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. Indeed, very few of the estimated 46.2 million Americans in ‘poverty’ could be described as destitute. The fact is that poverty numbers generally don’t take into account such factors as the ever-increasing access to better technology as competition drives the price for such goods and services down over time. Cell phones are perhaps one of the best examples of this phenomenon. What were once considered luxury items are now commonplace throughout the United States, even among relatively poor Americans.” (Ref. 13)

     This brings us to the welfare state. Today, it’s estimated that one in seven Americans is living in relative poverty. It must now surely be clear that the trillions of dollars expended on welfare programs since the not-so-glorious days of the 1960s have not made a dent in reducing the number of Americans in poverty. In fact, I would argue, that all this wasted money has contributed to the growth of poverty in America. While the truly needy have surely been helped by our welfare programs, “there is very little evidence that it has helped millions of people out of relative poverty.” And there is “plenty of data to indicate that many welfare programs have produced intergenerational dependency on the state – a point that even Bill Clinton seemed to have grasped by the mid-1990s.” (Ref. 13)

     “We need to keep these serious failures of America’s welfare state in mind because these . . . poverty numbers {are frequently} used as an argument by our liberal left to resist any reductions in welfare spending, despite America’s far-from-healthy debt and deficit situation. Yet the sheer size of government spending on entitlement programs (by far the biggest item in the federal government’s budget) makes cuts in these areas inescapable if – I repeat, if – our political masters are serious about wanting to balance the government’s books.” The failure of these programs to reduce the poverty rate in America further speaks to the rationale of reducing government spending in this area. Indeed, such cuts in welfare spending are assuming an ever-increasing urgency in light of studies which continue to indicate that crushing levels of public and government debt run the risk of significantly impeding economic growth. That’s worrying, because a slowdown in growth will hurt those in poverty far more than the wealthy. Strong growth rates are one of the most powerful antidotes to poverty – just ask anyone living in mainland China or India. More welfare spending is simply not the answer. (Ref. 13)

     “There is now almost universal acknowledgment that the American social welfare system has been a failure. Since the start of the War on Poverty in 1965, the United States has spent more than $3.5 trillion trying to ease the plight of the poor. What we have received for that massive investment is, primarily, more poverty.

“Our welfare system is unfair to everyone: to taxpayers, who must pick up the bill for failed programs; to society, whose mediating institutions of community, church, and family are increasingly pushed aside; and most of all to the poor themselves, who are trapped in a system that destroys opportunity for them and hope for their children.” (Ref. 14)

     Liberals seem unable to understand the fundamental structural failure of welfare. They continue to believe that throwing more money at current (or new) programs will make them work.

     “It is time to recognize that welfare cannot be reformed. It should be ended. There may be relatively little that can be done for people already on welfare. The key issue is to avoid bringing more people into the cycle of welfare, illegitimacy, fatherlessness, crime, more illegitimacy, and more welfare. The only way to prevent new people from entering the failed system is to abolish programs that insulate individuals from the consequences of their actions.” [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 14)

     Liberals are focused on the notion that economic assistance will cure the problem of minority poverty. These “liberals became strangely silent when the root cause {of minority poverty is largely} the breakdown of traditional marriage. . . . Out of wedlock childbirths cause more than poverty. They are the leading cause of just about every social malady you can think of, such as bad grades and dropping out of school, drug use and abuse, depression and problems with self-esteem, early sexual activity, and lower future earnings.” (Ref. 11)

     According to a National Urban League report released in 2009, "Despite the election of the nation’s first Black president and the growing clout of Black Capitol Hill lawmakers, the lot of African Americans remains largely unchanged and even slightly worse.” As stated by one African American, “I believe the reason we as a race continue to fall short of our true manifest abilities is us or more exactly, our p-poor choices.” He further states, many reasons for black underachievement are “under the individual’s and family’s control and none of them would cost a dime to change! . . . African Americans cannot blame a lack of achievement solely on poverty because it’s often hard to tell which came first: poor behavior that led to poverty, or poverty that forced one into poor behavior. . . . it’s not all someone else’s fault or the failure of institutions that has completely caused some African Americans to sub-achieve: it was their poor choices.”

     This same African-American posits the following causes/solutions to black underachievement:

“Many African Americans behave, and teach their children (either through life choices, deeds and actions) that they cannot achieve the American Dream and see entertainment, sports, or crime as their only way to prosperity. Instead, he urges blacks to change priorities and choices - to choose to stay in school, to be fathers to their children, to avoid premarital sex, to save money, and open businesses. Simply put, to put school before tennis shoes.

“ In the United States today, more than 63 percent of African American children come from single parent homes, most of which have the mother as the primary caregiver. ‘Just my baby’s daddy’ needs to be more than that. Black men need to be fathers to their children.

“African Americans have a culture unlike any other. Unfortunately, this culture is often looked upon as negative. Black hairstyles, dress, music, body language, and verbal communication styles can be disconcerting to a society that is based on conformity. When defining or identifying behavioral problems {as a group}, it is important to consider the influence of culture on the definition and perception of the behaviors {how others outside the hood see blacks}. Blacks don’t have to emulate the negative aspects of urban community life and don’t have to carry ‘the hood’ everywhere they go. It’s okay to speak and act properly...or at least know how and when to do so.

“Parental involvement is actually the best predictor of a child’s achievement. Parent involvement demonstrates the importance of a wide variety of issues, resulting in either success or failure in life. In contrast, parents who are not involved are more likely to ‘raise adults’ who struggle academically, experience behavior problems, and generally make poor choices. African American parents must accept that they are parents, know how to take care of themselves and their kids, and make it a priority to take time out with them.

“Unfortunately, many African Americans do not realize that school, business ownership, and saving should be their first priority. In other words, blacks need to put more emphasis on what’s in their brains, in their names, and in their savings account than what is on their backs.

“Black American pupils are not adequately engaged in their academic endeavors. The time that most African American children spend actively engaged in learning, studying, and enrichment is not conducive to the acquisition of intellective competence and perpetuates the myth of African American intellectual inferiority. Traditionally, African Americans have been labeled as intellectually inferior to other races. As a result, the African American culture began to collectively doubt its intellectual ability and began to associate scholarly achievement with ‘acting white.’ This led many African Americans to behave as though ‘school’ and ‘black’ are incongruous. These truths are at the root of black anti-intellectualism. It’s critical that African Americans teach their kids that it's okay to be smart—and to show it! (Ref. 15)

     There are many lessons to be learned from the success stories of many of America’s immigrant cultures. The following is extracted and edited from Reference 16.

     Over and over, we are reminded that education is an asset than can never be taken away from you. Advanced education is the tool through which one can harvest the immense opportunities of the United States. Dropping out of school is nearly always a guarantee of life-long failure. Our lower economic communities need to pound this fact into their members’ heads; they need to take the lead in stigmatizing drop-outs and glorifying school graduates. It is up to them, not the government, to do this. Our minority and lower income segments of the population must encourage remaining in public schools, they must push for more and better charter schools, for better teachers, and for vouchers to attend private and charter schools wherever our public schools are not providing a quality education. They need to encourage the taking of night classes to get a bachelors or advanced degree and they need to encourage enrollment in continuing education at local colleges or on-line courses. Most importantly, they must continually challenge their children to pursue excellence. Parenting for excellence is a full-time job! Given the emphasis on education in many immigrant cultures, it is no surprise that immigrants have brought this reverence for education to America and it’s no surprise that, as a result, most of our immigrant cultures have “made it in America.” Nearly 2/3 of all the Intel Science student winners are children of immigrants. As is often seen in Asian and other immigrant families, education of children and parental respect comes before anything else.

     It's as if Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint were trying to write a state of the union address for the African-American community in their recent and controversial book, Come On People. In their book, they “cite some pretty sobering statistics: 70% of black babies are born to single women, black males have a high school dropout rate of over 50% in some cities, and blacks make up 44% of the prison population in this country although they comprise only 12% of the population.” It is said that in their book, Cosby and Poussaint make “what is referred to as ‘the culture argument’ - that the cause of the negative statistics is black culture. In other words, values, traditions, myths, perceptions, taboos and self-perception within the African-American community are the main barriers” to American Blacks achieving economic and social equality with the rest of American society. Cosby and Poussaint end up telling the African-American community to stop blaming whites and ‘the system’ for their problems and start taking responsibility for moving up from victim to victor.” (Ref. 17) There are those that take issue with this recommendation or who continue to blame the white community and the more-than-century-old institution of slavery for all the woes of the black community. I claim that the causes of the problem are largely irrelevant and that Cosby and Poussaint were on the right track. Rather than trying to place blame, the focus of the black community should be on taking charge and fixing the problem themselves, as essentially all successful minority communities in this country have done in the past. Blaming whitey and letting the government establishment try politically-correct social experiments to solve the problem has proved to be a colossal failure and has done more harm than good. Success will only come from within. Success will only come when the black community realizes this fact and when they come up with the will to determine their own destiny. To paraphrase someone by the name of Regan: The government isn’t the solution – it’s the problem! If the black community wants to solve its problem, it will have to take the lead in doing so itself!

     Unfortunately, there are many in the Afro-American and Hispanic communities who feel that they are entitled to the aid provided by the federal government for a variety of reasons. Some in the black community feel that white America owes it to them for the past injustices of slavery and segregation. Liberals in the white community feel some guilt and moral obligation to hand out freebies to minorities, some to ease their consciences over past injustices, real or imagined. To many in the minority groups, those from within their communities that have come to the same conclusions as Bill Cosby, Alvin Poussaint and many others are traitors, racists or insensitive right-wingers. To those in the liberal camp, opposing government entitlements and aid to minorities is insensitive, heartless, selfish and racist. To all of these, I can only say, look at the historical facts – look at where we are today – and then tell me that we are on the right path to solving the problems of our minority communities.

     The mantra, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” resonates with a guiding force in many immigrant households. If there is no respect for one’s parents, there is little chance that the children will succeed in life. Take note of the wording in the phrase “Honor thy father and thy mother.” It’s and, not or.

     We all are aware of the fact that it’s easier to accomplish a task collaboratively than it is to go it alone. Those in our minority communities need to look up to the successes in their society, emulate them and work with them. They need to make use of their skills and experiences. It makes no sense to denigrate a Bill Cosby for speaking the truth and urging his black brethren to fix their problem. The truth may hurt, but it’s better than continuing to live the lie and suffering as a result.



  1. Race and Ethnicity - Violence In Minority Communities,, Accessed 17 July 2012.
  2. Fighting Crime Where the Criminals Are, Heather MacDonald, The New York times, 25 June 2012.
  3. Tiny Grenades of Truth - Crime and Poverty in Minority Neighborhoods, A.H. Dowden,, Page 19, 14 March 2008 {Accessed 17 July 2012}.
  4. Unions enabled by pandering pols, George F. Will, Boston Herald, Page 17, 5 July 2012.
  5. Can’t buy a quality education, Michael Graham, Boston Herald, Page 17, 11 July 2012.
  6. Vouchers being held hostage, Cornelius Chapman, Boston Herald, Page 17, 11 July 2012.
  7. Senate’s Murray piles on Deval for EBT gibe, Chris Cassidy, Boston Herald, Page 6, 13 July 2012.
  8. Shameless gov enables welfare abuse, Michael Graham, Boston Herald, Page 19, 13 July 2012.
  9. Food stamp spending hard to digest, Star Parker, Boston Herald, Page 19, 17 July 2012.
  10. Nanny State on steroids, Bill O’Reilly, Boston herald, Page 13, 28 July 2012.
  11. Poverty and Culture, Free Republic;, 6 September 2012.
  12. Poverty trap most immoral, Star Parker, Boston Herald, Page 19, 8 May 2012.
  13. The Continuing Failure of America’s Welfare State, Samuel Gregg, National Review Online;, 14 September 2011.
  14. Ending Welfare As We Know It, Michael Tanner, Cato Institute;, 7 July 1994.
  15. Eight Reason Blacks are Failing in the Post Obama Era and Eight Ways to Change, Iam Robert, The African-American Pragmatist;, 30 March, 2009.
  16. Key to Success: Think Like an Immigrant, Richard T. Herman and Robert L. Smith, Immigrant, Inc.; , Accessed 17 July 2012.
  17. The state of the African-American community, Tom Holmes,;, 19 February 2008.

  08 August 2012 {Article 136; Whatever_26}    
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