Welcome to the June Wine Country Living issue of NorthBay biz magazine. I’m pleased to say a familiar and very popular voice is returning to our pages this month. Bob Andrews resumes his Open Trench column in its former back-of-the-book position (the first right-hand page after Bulletin Board). While I’m not sure, at this point, if Bob will be an every-issue contributor, he will return to writing his column with frequency. Please enjoy his insights.
President Obama was the commencement speaker recently at Howard University. Call me old-fashioned, but when did delivering an inspirational message to graduates go out of style? Picture yourself in the audience, about to receive your degree and being told that it wasn’t your effort that brought you to this moment, but rather, you just “got lucky.” That’s the thrust of the message our president delivered in a reprise of his 2012, “you didn’t build that” speech.
Here’s the relevant part of the address: “…and stand up for those African Americans who haven’t been so lucky—because, yes, you worked hard, but you’ve also been lucky. That’s a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God might have blessed them; it wasn’t nothing you did. So don’t have an attitude.”
I imagine the graduates were pretty fired up after hearing that motivational message. And therein lies the truth of progressive ideology. They preach that the successful among us somehow either cheated their way to the top or were simply recipients of fortunate circumstances. Either way, it’s simply not fair that they’re successful and you’re not.
The last thing liberals praise is individual achievement. They encourage people to think of themselves as members of a group that’s been victimized and held back by the successful, through no fault of their own. Hard work, education and good choices don’t lead to improving your lot in life, because the system is rigged and the only way to fix the inequity is for the government to intervene. Naturally then, government must grow larger, more powerful and ever more intrusive into the everyday lives of its citizens if it’s to right these wrongs. It’s primary mission, then, becomes controlling group outcomes to ensure “fairness.”
The ongoing theme of diminishing individual achievement and admonishing those who take pride in their success is reinforced when the president proclaims, you’ve been “lucky,” because without the government you too could be living on the streets. With this twisted logic, individuals are robbed of their self-worth and desire to work hard to improve their own circumstances; they’ve been given the excuse that lack of success isn’t their fault. When traditional values are replaced with values that demean personal responsibility and create dependence, it undermines an individual’s ability to take responsibility for their own actions.
Here are some of the fruits of this folly: In 1960, 2 percent of all American children lived with an unmarried parent. By 2008, 42 percent of black children, 18 percent of Hispanic children and 7 percent of white children lived with an unmarried parent. Over that same time, the percentage of married white adults fell from 74 to 56 percent, Hispanic adults from 72 to 50 percent and black adults from 61 to 32 percent. What kind of impact did this alarming drop have on all those kids being raised in single parent homes? Values do matter and actions do have consequences.
Currently, there are more than 46 million Americans receiving food stamps. This alarming rise began when the Obama administration let states stop the requirement of 20 hours of work, or the equivalent in job training, to be eligible for this benefit. A couple of states are now changing their approach.
Kansas recently reported that 93 percent of its food stamp recipients lived in poverty. Trying to lower that number, the state instituted work requirements and, within one year, 60 percent found work and half of those leaving the food line are now earning above the poverty level. Additionally, the state’s caseload decreased 75 percent and food stamp benefits for adults dropped from $5.5 to $1.2 million per month.
Maine experienced a similar result, as its caseload of employable adults dropped 80 percent in the first three months after instituting a work requirement, confirming most Americans would rather work and lift themselves out of poverty than avail themselves to the 80-plus welfare programs that encourage dependency.
As long as the majority of elected officials continue to serve their own interests before ours, we’ll continue to see policy enacted that’s politically profitable to them and their supportive special interests—even as it’s harmful to the country as a whole. When politicians take from the general citizenry and give to special groups, they’re no longer promoting the general welfare. But do they care? They’re only obligated to do so under the constitution.
That’s it for now. Enjoy this month’s magazine.
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