As a young boy growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I remember hearing about how my maternal Grandfather, in the early 1900’s, came to America through Ellis Island. As I grew up, I was fortunate to have two living Grandparents; however, my Grandfather was a stoic individual, an immigrant from Russia, uneducated, but with strong hands and a will to succeed. He truly was the quintessential immigrant; a man who felt that America afforded him an opportunity that if he worked hard, he could make his way in life. He believed in the common man, and my Grandfather was a common person; a housepainter. Grandpa saw America as a country with mutual obligations. Long before JFK’s iconic statement of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” my Grandfather knew that if he took care of his family, he was also making a contribution to this new land. Yet, being the ‘common man’ that he was, he identified with a political party that also was for the ‘common man.’ Grandpa was a Democrat. My Grandfather was so much a Democrat that when Franklin Roosevelt died, he broke down and cried.
But something happened; Grandpa’s America was changing, and changing fast. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson announced his ‘Great Society.’ It was a laudable objective, a plan whose goal was to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. There were new programs that addressed education, medical care, poverty, urban issues, and the like. In 1965 the poverty rate in America was at about 14%. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in 2014 was…wait for it…14%! Nothing has changed. In the 50 years since LBJ’s pronouncement, depending on which statistic is used, America has spent between $15 and $20 Trillion Dollars combating the War on Poverty. According to the Heritage Foundation, the money spent of The War on Poverty is three times the cost of all U.S. Military Wars since the American Revolution.
By no means am I being dismissive as to goals of those programs, however politicians soon learned that if you throw money at people, ‘you have voters for life!” It begs the obvious question, “Has America betrayed Blacks and the poor?” Perhaps the worst thing about it is that most poor people are just having a hard time, and looking for a little help to make life easier for themselves and their families. However, between being poor, failing schools, and some cities overrun with crime, it’s no wonder that life for these people is tough. Little do these people realize that the ‘progressive help’ they are being offered is akin to a drug dealer offering free samples.
In 2010, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, a city stricken with failing schools and poverty, got a pledge of $100 Million from Mark Zukerberg to fix the schools. In the first two years, $20 Million had been spent on Unions, consultants and activists. According to a New Yorker article, the principal of Central High, and a Councilman, became the leading opponents. They were able to convince parents that white people were trying to take their city back, and that charter schools were the same as colonizing. It was the same year that the union demanded $31 Million in back pay for the two years teachers worked without raises, plus another $41 Million had to be set aside for a principal’s contract and other labor expenses. It’s a sad story. It shows how poverty-crime cities are stuck. It’s tragic because those opponents knew that Charter Schools would be good, but put their own interests and the dependency of others first. It gets worse.
What do Detroit, Baltimore, Milwaukee, St. Louis, New York, Chicago, and Gary, Indiana have in common? Those cities are among the cities with the highest homicide, murder and crime rates along with the higher than average incidences of poverty. Since 1962, those cities have had 42 Democratic Mayors, and only three Republican Mayors. It has been the policies of the left e.g. the expansion of welfare, class dependency, and an implosion of the family unit that has led to the crime and joblessness. For example, welfare pays for girls to have babies out of wedlock. According to NBC News “Women’s Health,” 72% of black women who have babies are unwed mothers. According to the CATO Institute, in the larger cities like New York, Baltimore, and D.C., being on welfare is equivalent to earning between $10.90 and $14.00 an hour. When Obama eased the ‘work requirements’ for Welfare, something that Bill Clinton tightened up, Obama made people more dependent, and ensured more votes for the Democratic Party.
Donald Trump has laid most of the blame for poverty and unrest in our communities on the Democrats, and what he describes as their essentially failed policies. Most Americans miss the most fundamental point, and that is that our welfare system diminishes and demeans its intended beneficiaries. It’s apparent that wherever liberal policies have proliferated, even among able bodied people, misery and dependency follows.
Democrats owe America an apology, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Perhaps if Grandpa were alive, he might get an apology.