Community Investment? Oh, Please

In the face of the Baltimore riots, President Obama is reportedly resigned that nothing much can be done to prevent similar events in the future because of Republican opposition to any greater “investment” by the federal government in mainly black inner-city communities.

“Investment”?  What a joke!  An investment is something from which you expect a return, and those communities have about as much chance of paying anyone back anything as Confederate War Bonds do of suddenly maturing at ten percent compound.

These communities are not an “investment”; they’re an expense!  The biggest money hole in the history of the human race.  Since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program was enacted, we have spent over fifteen trillion – with a t – on welfare (AFDC and other programs), Food Stamps, WIC stamps, free pre-school, free primary and secondary education, free medical care, free cell phones, Section 8 housing assistance, food pantries, free transportation to the Social Services Office and your medical appointments, free legal services, and I don’t know what else because I haven’t the stomach to look any further.

And what has the nation gotten back?  Zip, nada, zero.  Indeed, less than zero, because while in the 1960s the propaganda was that there were only “obstacles to overcome,” now there is “hopelessness” – a word bandied about not just by white liberals, but also by right-of-center personalities who attribute the terrible schools in these communities, the lack of fathers in the home, the unemployment, poverty, and crime to I don’t know – residual racism, more money not being spent on education, something, anything but the actual behavior of the people concerned. 

Which at the end of the day is the only reason these communities suffer from such issues.  In fact, since it’s a lifestyle choice, we should drop the word “suffer” in this context and use “choose.”

I recall very well some years ago a landlord in a New York City housing court being fined big money because on several visits by inspectors the hallways in one of his buildings was strewn with trash.  Leaving aside the issue that in all likelihood, the landlord’s big mistake was not paying off the inspectors like everybody else, his defense was that he paid a superintendent to pick up what trash the man could in addition to his other duties, and once a week on Saturdays he paid a crew to come in and clear the hallways and clean up.  But the moment they’d leave, more trash always began to accumulate. 

The judge didn’t care, because, as he put it, the tenants had a “right” to expect a better environment in the building they occupied.

The landlord nodded in resignation but asked the judge if he could ask him a question. 

The judge said yes, and the landlord asked him, “Judge, if they have the right to expect a better environment, how come they keep trashing it?” 

And that’s exactly the case in any wider discussion of inner-city problems.  It’s not lack of resources; it’s that everything has been trashed, and no matter how often or how much money you spend cleaning it up, the trash immediately begins to accumulate again.

 For example, Washington, D.C. spends over $29,000 per year per pupil, and other inner-ghetto school systems spend comparable amounts.  And they go from bad to worse because of the way people act by not valuing education – in fact, by despising it as “acting white” – and so no matter how much money you spend, you’re going to get horribly educated children.

Lack of fathers in the home again is a question of community values.  Many young girls in the black community seem to see getting pregnant without marriage as a rite of passage – “now I can get my own check.”  They also don’t see the males they couple with as possible breadwinners, and neither do the males themselves.  In truth, they don’t even have much interest in becoming employed, because if they did, they would.  After all, getting a job is simple.  Get a haircut, shower, shave, clean and a tie, tidy up your language, and start knocking on doors out where there’s functioning businesses and say you’ll do anything for a start in the job market.  You’ll be working before you get a chance to eat that apple and a sandwich your mom packed for your lunch.  But most males in the black community wouldn’t be caught dead acting like that.  To do so would violate the street ethic.

Some ethic.  I don’t know what you call it, but it reminds one of the slogan “Long Live Death” popularized by General Millán-Astray during the Spanish Civil War.  Why should we pay for that?

And for once and for all, can we get over the idea of inner-city poverty?  For all practical purposes, poverty doesn’t exist there.  But the government keeps insisting that it does, because the actual dollar amount of poverty “services” is never considered income.  If you or I get ten thousand dollars of medical care paid for by our Uncle Joe, we have to declare that as income and pay taxes on it.  Same goes if our rent is paid by someone else.  Anything even in kind has to be reported.  Which means a family of four with a seventy-five-thousand-dollar-a-year income from both parents working is left holding the stick for a welfare recipient whose total value of services received “free” might be a hundred thousand.  Two hundred thousand.  Who knows?

And since nothing these people receive from the government is considered income, the left-wing liberal social “scientists” beating their breasts about the poverty rate can continue pushing their programs. 

How crazy and how deceptive is that?

Finally, can we stop talking about “hopelessness”?  Because these people suffer from a surfeit of hope – the confident hope, the demanding hope, the in-your-face hope that you and I, the fools that we are, keep “investing” in their lifestyle choices.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs at richardfminiterblog.com; and can also be reached at miniterhome@aol.com.

In the face of the Baltimore riots, President Obama is reportedly resigned that nothing much can be done to prevent similar events in the future because of Republican opposition to any greater “investment” by the federal government in mainly black inner-city communities.

“Investment”?  What a joke!  An investment is something from which you expect a return, and those communities have about as much chance of paying anyone back anything as Confederate War Bonds do of suddenly maturing at ten percent compound.

These communities are not an “investment”; they’re an expense!  The biggest money hole in the history of the human race.  Since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty program was enacted, we have spent over fifteen trillion – with a t – on welfare (AFDC and other programs), Food Stamps, WIC stamps, free pre-school, free primary and secondary education, free medical care, free cell phones, Section 8 housing assistance, food pantries, free transportation to the Social Services Office and your medical appointments, free legal services, and I don’t know what else because I haven’t the stomach to look any further.

And what has the nation gotten back?  Zip, nada, zero.  Indeed, less than zero, because while in the 1960s the propaganda was that there were only “obstacles to overcome,” now there is “hopelessness” – a word bandied about not just by white liberals, but also by right-of-center personalities who attribute the terrible schools in these communities, the lack of fathers in the home, the unemployment, poverty, and crime to I don’t know – residual racism, more money not being spent on education, something, anything but the actual behavior of the people concerned. 

Which at the end of the day is the only reason these communities suffer from such issues.  In fact, since it’s a lifestyle choice, we should drop the word “suffer” in this context and use “choose.”

I recall very well some years ago a landlord in a New York City housing court being fined big money because on several visits by inspectors the hallways in one of his buildings was strewn with trash.  Leaving aside the issue that in all likelihood, the landlord’s big mistake was not paying off the inspectors like everybody else, his defense was that he paid a superintendent to pick up what trash the man could in addition to his other duties, and once a week on Saturdays he paid a crew to come in and clear the hallways and clean up.  But the moment they’d leave, more trash always began to accumulate. 

The judge didn’t care, because, as he put it, the tenants had a “right” to expect a better environment in the building they occupied.

The landlord nodded in resignation but asked the judge if he could ask him a question. 

The judge said yes, and the landlord asked him, “Judge, if they have the right to expect a better environment, how come they keep trashing it?” 

And that’s exactly the case in any wider discussion of inner-city problems.  It’s not lack of resources; it’s that everything has been trashed, and no matter how often or how much money you spend cleaning it up, the trash immediately begins to accumulate again.

 For example, Washington, D.C. spends over $29,000 per year per pupil, and other inner-ghetto school systems spend comparable amounts.  And they go from bad to worse because of the way people act by not valuing education – in fact, by despising it as “acting white” – and so no matter how much money you spend, you’re going to get horribly educated children.

Lack of fathers in the home again is a question of community values.  Many young girls in the black community seem to see getting pregnant without marriage as a rite of passage – “now I can get my own check.”  They also don’t see the males they couple with as possible breadwinners, and neither do the males themselves.  In truth, they don’t even have much interest in becoming employed, because if they did, they would.  After all, getting a job is simple.  Get a haircut, shower, shave, clean and a tie, tidy up your language, and start knocking on doors out where there’s functioning businesses and say you’ll do anything for a start in the job market.  You’ll be working before you get a chance to eat that apple and a sandwich your mom packed for your lunch.  But most males in the black community wouldn’t be caught dead acting like that.  To do so would violate the street ethic.

Some ethic.  I don’t know what you call it, but it reminds one of the slogan “Long Live Death” popularized by General Millán-Astray during the Spanish Civil War.  Why should we pay for that?

And for once and for all, can we get over the idea of inner-city poverty?  For all practical purposes, poverty doesn’t exist there.  But the government keeps insisting that it does, because the actual dollar amount of poverty “services” is never considered income.  If you or I get ten thousand dollars of medical care paid for by our Uncle Joe, we have to declare that as income and pay taxes on it.  Same goes if our rent is paid by someone else.  Anything even in kind has to be reported.  Which means a family of four with a seventy-five-thousand-dollar-a-year income from both parents working is left holding the stick for a welfare recipient whose total value of services received “free” might be a hundred thousand.  Two hundred thousand.  Who knows?

And since nothing these people receive from the government is considered income, the left-wing liberal social “scientists” beating their breasts about the poverty rate can continue pushing their programs. 

How crazy and how deceptive is that?

Finally, can we stop talking about “hopelessness”?  Because these people suffer from a surfeit of hope – the confident hope, the demanding hope, the in-your-face hope that you and I, the fools that we are, keep “investing” in their lifestyle choices.

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD.  He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York; blogs at richardfminiterblog.com; and can also be reached at miniterhome@aol.com.