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September 07, 2005

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» Why the Republicans are in trouble from Brouhaha
For all of the talk of the conservative revolution brought by George W. Bush, the truth of the matter is that the American people are moderates. Push comes to shove, although we may all want our taxes to be lower, we also believe the government should ... [Read More]

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james governor

right on jason. from an anecdote perspective this one also summed it up for me. imagine what an effective job has been done on these people. no expectations of anything from the state - not even rescue. small government indeed.

Rescue 'ticket'

Posted: 6:24 p.m. ET
CNN's Drew Griffin in New Orleans, Louisiana

I am stunned by an interview I conducted with New Orleans Detective Lawrence Dupree. He told me they were trying to rescue people with a helicopter and the people were so poor they were afraid it would cost too much to get a ride and they had no money for a "ticket." Dupree was shaken telling us the story. He just couldn't believe these people were afraid they'd be charged for a rescue.

http://ricksegal.typepad.com/pmv/2005/09/the_ultimate_de.html

Olympiada

Hi Jason, Thank you again for talking about social Darwinism. Again, this was how my father raised me, and it left deep wounds.

I am impressed with your vocabulary. I had to go the dictionary for several words.

I like your point of view. It is very grounded. Thank you for speaking up.

Bill Martin

Jason, before I disagree with you, I’d like to say hello and good speaking with you again and apologize for being so long winded, but you hit a nerve.

I believe you are off target in your analysis of the poor as they relate to conservatism. Programs born out of compassion largely contributed to what we witnessed in NOLA. All levels of government, federal to local, Republican & Democrat performed poorly in the first few days after Katrina and after a through analysis heads need to roll.

I owned Section 8 rental houses in the inner-city of Kansas City for much of the 90’s and spent a great deal of time in the “Hood”. I had a tenant named Angie that I grew to know and care for immensely.

Angie and her one year old son rented a 1 bedroom house and that I visited once a month to collect the $25 or so she paid for her rent. On one of these visits she asked if I could find her a 2 bedroom house because she and her grandmother decided Angie needed to have another baby. Shelter, food, clothing, healthcare and utilities were all being covered by different programs, but she needed the extra cash for miscellaneous items. She needed the second bedroom because if she had a daughter Section 8 would not let opposite sex siblings share a bedroom.

Can you see any problems here? Angie liked her life. She didn’t want a job, I tried. She didn’t want to get married, we had those discussions. The problem was Angie was 100% dependent on others for the life she lived and lacked any sense of personal responsibility.

The programs we as a society created from compassion have destroyed the family structure and desire for self reliance in the inner city. Angie was told where she could live and how many bedrooms she had to have. Angie was told she could not have a job, get married and keep the same deal she had. Angie was told on what days and where she needed to be to collect the different programs she relied on for daily life.

I have since lost track of Angie, but I’m sure if she lived in NOLA she would’ve either been stuck on a roof or in the Superdome depending on someone else for survival. For 60 years, we’ve trained Angie and many others like her. She couldn’t go live with her parents for 6 months like I did when Isabel hit us 2 years ago because she doesn’t even know where they are. He grandmother is all she has and she is as dependent as Angie.

One of the biggest failures we had in the face of this storm is the lack of understanding or acceptance of what we’ve created in the inner-cities of America and our inability to have honest discussions about it. We may want to act like there are no poor when Democrats are in power, but through both Parties and in 60+ years we’ve taken a bad situation and made it worse. Rather than working together trying to figure out how to put Angie on a path to independence and personal responsibility, Liberals want to use Angie to demonstrate how Conservatives don’t care. Rather than working together to find a way to have Angie paying into the society rather than being a burden on it, Liberals want to drag Angie on TV to show how Conservatives are racist. If Liberals ever get back into power they’ll want Angie to quietly retreat into her happy life and enjoy all the benefits she deserves for being a Democratic voter.

I am Conservative and I care. I want my government to spend money elevating poor people beyond poverty and reducing it, not some elaborate plan on how to evacuate masses of poor people in the face of disaster. Sad part is…won’t happen…can’t discuss it in a national forum.

chervokas

Bill,

Thanks for the thoughtful and personal response.

Obviously the programs of the past haven't worked--whether they came from the left or the right.

I think its fair criticism and simple truth that conservatism as a mov't carries w/ it a strain of social Darwinism and that its fiscal policies (at least those of the modern supply side ilk that say throw money into the market by making debt easier and cheaper and cutting taxes on investors) widen the disparity between rich and poor, making it harder to climb out of poverty.

Fiscal policy that encourages subprime lending to spur growth, thereby discouraging savings, while at the same time legislating away private pension requirements in favor of 401ks and trying to limit gov't programs like social security and med benefits, have at least as much if not more of an impact on the state of poverty and the ability of people to lift themselves out of it as do "solutions" like Section 8 housing. To me these seem to be self evident facts that conservative leadership refuses to concede no matter how many times the facts explode in their faces because their voter base doesn't include many of the poor.

I think liberals have come to agree that a lot of the anti poverty solutions of the past didn't acheive their goals. Don't forget, Fed welfare reform was a Clinton administration acheivement. But the neocon answer to the failure of those programs is for gov't to wash its hands of the problem altogether. Like Reagan said, "we fought a war on poverty and poverty won."

David Brooks, in the NYT yesterday--not a guy I usually agree w/--had an excellent piece about anti poverty programs that move the poor into middle class neighborhoods, programs that seem to work well particularly for the children of families who are located in these new settings and are exposed to new social mores and different expectations than they find in ghettos. I urge you to check out the piece.

These programs are unpopular I'm sure, because people are legitimately concerned about the value of their homes if their neighborhoods become the locus. The programs are also profoundly unpopular with the Federalist Society set who simply don't believe as a matter of ideology that the government should be in the business of proactively trying to change society for the better through these kind of affirmative action programs. That's the kind of myopic, anti-pragmatic, increasingly irrelevant ideological hardening that has damaged the country's ability to move forward with solutions, instead of looking backwards into arguments about what the 14th Amendment means.

Long term, large scale approaches that get ahead of the curve instead of merely waiting to respond to it are required if we're every going to acheive any kind of long term, large scale change.

Bill Martin

I don’t think I’ve ever given thought to “Social Darwinism”, but since you drought it up… Maybe social Darwinism isn’t working to the extent it could because we’ve tampered with it to such an extent we’ve got unintended mutations.

If I understand social Darwinism, it may be happening in its simplest form in NOLA today. Many of the residents that have so far refused to leave are now leaving. Why? Because when they can no longer get supplies to live and people refuse to deliver them, they finally realize the best and only option is to vacate.

Other fiscal policies you berate I believe are in fact very helpful to people less fortunate.

Subprime lending is extremely important for people moving out of poverty. It is the only vehicle they can use to join the ownership society. As for subprime lending reducing savings, equity gain in a personal residence will out perform personal savings of working class Americans almost 100% of the time.

As for Mr. Books’ piece, I’ve seen the results with my own 2 eyes. We would go to a blighted block, loaded with trash, overgrown lawns and all the rest. We would buy 2 or 3 houses, fix them up real nice and sell them to owners whose only option to buy was subprime lending. I would return later and see the entire block looking better, not always, but most of the time. Just a few home owners living on the block that cared about their home/investment lifted the others on the block as well.

401K’s properly set up and fully funded have been a great boost to millions and millions of Americans and will allow them a level of retirement they would’ve never afforded without such a program. I can’t believe I had to beg employees to put money in our 401K. My line was, “If you can bring me a passbook from a bank showing you saved 6% of you income, I’ll give you 50% of what you saved as a bonus. Do you want that deal?” 100% said yes and that’s what our 401K was. Along with earnings that exceeded passbook savings year after year.

We couldn’t even have a good discussion about SSN. If we could be shown a program that ensured older Americans would get the deal they were promised and younger Americans would have a better deal, then lets look at it. It took about 2 seconds for the usual characters to kill any debate on the subject.

I also argue “trickle down” does have a positive effect for America. When I have extra money, I buy more stuff. When I have even more extra money I invest it in the stock market through different vehicles. The result of this is more money is recycled through the economy, creating jobs. It is easy to demonize a person with money to someone that has little. Ever wonder why a Liberal with a lot of money is good and a Republican with a lot of money is evil. It’s all in the marketing.

I believe Americans having more of their money is better and more beneficial to the common good than the government doling it out. There is big political incentive for Democrats to keep people dependant on the federal government. As people move from poverty and beyond, the chance they remain a Democrat diminishes (except in your city, which has to be one of those mutated Darwin things). Being a Republican that hates to pay taxes, please tell me my incentive for keeping people dependent on the federal government for a living. It gets back to a tired old saying, “Follow the money”.

chervokas

Bill,

You and I will never see eye to eye about what one wag once dubbed "voodoo economics."

The idea that you could finance growth by easing credit to everyone--consumers and companies--acheived its goal of growth principally by asking the middle and working classes to spend tomorrow's dollars today. They have. The result is a savings crisis. Workers don't put money into 401(k)s because they can't afford to because of the debt service they pay on homes and credit card balances. Many companies, similarly, have merely opted out of matching funds into retirement plans, often because they too have been encouraged to spend tomorrow's dollars today. The economy has never been able to out grow the growth in spending, especially not after the Supreme Court let states free to set there own usury rate, in essence creating not just a sub prime lending market, which is obviously fine, but a preditory subprime lending market which results from the total lack of control (the looters of the credit markets).

Its a simple fact that poverty deepens and the gulf between poverty and wealth widens anytime this economic scheme is unleashed. It happened under Reagan, it's happening now. Supply side never lifted all boats. Still doesn't. If you put more and more borrowed money into the markets (and btw, no one borrowed more heavily than Reagan and W) it is not inevitable that the quality of life of the whole nation, or even a majority of the nation improves. Most people, companies, and institutions are more self-interested than civic minded. By a wide margin.

I don't hate markets. I ran my own business. I'm an investor. But this idea that markets, if left to themselves, behave always the same way and always to the social benefit of the greatest number is ludicrous. It just doesn't happen. Markets are just conglomerations of people with different interests, they're not a force of nature that obey natural laws. Sometimes markets without regulation do bad things. Sometimes markets can't solve every problem. And most importantly sometimes markets are irrelevant. The Constitution says that the people of the country are bound together to promote the general welfare. Sometimes the action of markets can't acheive that goal. In fact, sometimes the actions of markets are antithetical to that goal.

Olympiada

Social Darwinism. Hi guys, just had to throw my two cents in.

My experience of Social Darwinism was "your on your own kid" no guidance, no direction, in particular in relation to the public education system. So I guess I should have qualified my statement with that.

I still think, and know, that Social Darwinism, in whatever context, has disastorous effects.

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