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[BOOKS] The Poverty of Benevolence

Fifty years of the Great Society have made things worse for blacks, not better.

20140702-fsA half-century ago, the Great Society promised to complete the civil rights revolution by pulling African-Americans into the middle class. Today, a substantial black middle class exists, but its primary function has been, ironically, to provide custodial care to a black underclass—one ever more deeply mired in the pathologies of subsidized poverty.  In Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed”Jason Riley, an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal who grew up in Buffalo, New York, explains how poverty programs have succeeded politically by failing socially. “Today,” writes Riley, “more than 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. Only 16 percent of black households are married couples with children, the lowest of any racial group in the United States.” Riley attributes the breakdown of the black family to the perverse effects of government social programs, which have created what journalist William Tucker calls “state polygamy.” As depicted in an idyllic 2012 Obama campaign cartoon, “The Life of Julia,” a lifelong relationship with the state offers the sustenance usually provided by two parents in most middle-class families.

“Today, more than 70 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. Only 16 percent of black households are married couples with children, the lowest of any racial group in the United States”

For City JournalFred Siegel writes: Riley’s own life experience gives him powerful perspective from which to address these issues. His parents divorced but both remained attentive to him and his two sisters. His sisters, however, were drawn into the sex-and-drug pleasures of inner-city “culture.” By the time he graduated from high school, his older sister was a single mother. By the time he graduated from college, his younger sister had died from a drug overdose. Riley’s nine-year-old niece teased him for “acting white.” “Why you talk white, Uncle Jason?” she wantedplease-stop-helping-book to know. She couldn’t understand why he was “trying to sound so smart.” His black public school teacher similarly mocked his standard English in front of the class. “The reality was,” Riley explains, “that if you were a bookish black kid who placed shared sensibilities above skin color, you probably had a lot of white friends.”

[Check out Jason Riley’s book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” at Amazon.com]

The compulsory “benevolence” of the welfare state, borne of the supposed expertise of sociologists and social planners, undermined the opportunities opened up by the end of segregation. The great hopes placed in education as a path to the middle class were waylaid by the virulence of a ghetto culture nurtured by family breakdown. Adjusted for inflation, federal per-pupil school spending grew 375 percent from 1970 to 2005, but revolt-massesthe achievement gap between white and black students remained unchanged. Students at historically black colleges and universitiesexplained opinion columnist Bill Maxwell, “did not know what or whom to respect. For many, the rappers Bow Wow and 50 Cent were as important to black achievement as the late Ralph Bunche, the first black to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and Zora Neale Hurston, the great novelist.”

[Also see Fred Siegel‘s book The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class” at Amazon.com]

“Why study hard in school,” asks Riley, “if you will be held to a lower academic standard? Why change antisocial behavior when people are willing to reward it, make excuses for it, or even change the law to accommodate it?” Read the rest of this entry »

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They Had a Dream: Rule By Experts

President Obama Laughs with Aides on Air Force One

They wanted their chance, and they got it. They had it…

For The Weekly Standard, Noemie Emery writes: They had a dream. For almost a hundred years now, the famed academic-artistic-and-punditry industrial complex has dreamed of a government run by their kind of people (i.e., nature’s noblemen), whose intelligence, wit, and refined sensibilities would bring us a heaven on earth. Their keen intellects would cut through the WELL.v19-36.June2_.Emery_.ObamacareSigningclutter as mere mortals’ couldn’t. They would lift up the wretched, oppressed by cruel forces. Above all, they would counter the greed of the merchants, the limited views of the business community, and the ignorance of the conformist and dim middle class.

They blew it. They’re done.

Out of sorts and out of office after 1828, when power passed from the Adamses to the children of burghers and immigrants, they had begun to strike back by the 1920s, led by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, H. L. Mencken, Herbert Croly, and Sinclair Lewis. Their stock in trade was their belief in themselves, and their contempt for the way the middle class thought, lived, and made and spent money: Commerce was crude, consumption was vulgar, and industry, which employed millions and improved the lives of many more people, too gross and/or grubby for words.41C7HuowRFL._SL110_

[Order Noemie Emery‘s book Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families from Amazon.com]

“For the American critics of mass culture, it was the good times of the 1920s, not the depression of the 1930s, 41eaIef4eCL._SL110_that proved terrifying,” says Fred Siegel, whose book The Revolt Against the Masses  describes and eviscerates this group and its aspirations.

[The Revolt Against the Masses is also available from Amazon.com]

In their dream world, “intellectuals, as well as poet-leaders, experts, and social scientists such as themselves would lead the regime,” as Siegel tells us. “It was thus a crucial imperative to constrain the conventional and often corrupt politics of middle-class capitalists so that these far-seeing leaders might obtain the recognition and power that was only their due. Read the rest of this entry »


The Gentrification of the American Left

McGovern&co

Opiate of the Elites

VINCENT J. CANNATO writes:  After the 2012 election, Mitt Romney’s loss prompted questions about the future of conservatism. A year later, the ongoing drama of Obamacare’s failures has seen similar concerns voiced regarding the future of liberalism. So what, exactly, do we mean when we talk about “liberalism”? Conservatives used to equate it with the New Deal and Great Society, with the social and cultural liberalism of the late 1960s mixed in. Recently, conservatives have dug deeper and found a different foundation for modern liberalism: the Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

[Order Jonah Goldberg‘s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning from Amazon]

The assault on progressivism started with the writings of people associated with the Claremont Institute, like political scientist Ronald Pestritto, and reached a wider audience with Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism (2007). These writers explain how “progressives” turned away from older notions of individualism and believed that the Constitution was an increasingly archaic document in a modern industrial world. Progressives looked admiringly at Germany and other strong European states and built up an increasingly unaccountable administrative state to run the federal government. According to the Claremont school, liberalism does not consist of the stereotypically touchy-feely brand of politics we usually associate with it. Rather, it is more a corporatist alliance of big government and big business than a movement for reform and social justice.

Read the rest of this entry »