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The rewards in keeping people poor

March 26, 2014

In reading all the excerpts from Paul Ryan’s remarks on the Bill Bennett show, ranging from op-eds to blogs, I couldn’t come up with one word that specifically mentioned blacks. I did see a certain naïve government mindset that bothers me, but I didn’t see racism. Apparently some people did.

In a post on March 12, 2014 on the Daily Beast website, the writer states that Ryan’s remarks about the inner city poor translates in most people’s minds to “…the black poor”. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/12/what-paul-ryan-gets-wrong-about-inner-city-poverty.html

These two comments involving fixing “poor” bracket exactly why it will never be solved.

People are poor for many reasons. In spite of Mr. Ryan’s remarks, they aren’t all found in the inner city, but there are certainly a lot of poor people in large metropolitan areas.  Why is that?

Ironically, one of the reasons that various ethnic groups live in urban environments is because at some time in the historical past, that’s where the jobs were to be found. No one imprisoned them there, at least not in the normal definition of imprisoned.

 People of all ethnicities, but particularly black people, moved to the northern, more industrialized states after the Civil War not just because they felt more free there, but because there were jobs. The reason the Irish, the Italians, and all the other cultural groups stayed in the New York City area after they got off the boats was at least partially because they could work there. The Chinese who worked on 19th century railroads congregated in big cities because there was work to be had. Work, or rather the access to it, is what started off the areas we now  define as inner cities.

According to the statistics at http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0922422.html  in 1900,Detroit had a population of 285,704. At its peak, in the 1960s, that population had grown to 1,670,144. What changed? Jobs. Detroit once richly deserved its nickname, Motor City. In 2012, it had declined in population to just 701,475, less than it had in 1920.  What changed?  Jobs.

You can’t fix poor by creating another government program. And  you can’t fix it at all if there is far more money to be made by growing government largesse instead of jobs.

A few years ago I had a conversation with a Mexican fellow that worked on a farm near me. I spoke a little Spanish, he spoke a little English and we chatted as we changed irrigation head gates. One day he told me he was going back to Mexico, and I asked him why. He said it was because there were no year-round jobs and he had to work every day. Now I don’t know if he was legal or illegal, but I do know that he wanted to work, and here in the land of opportunity, he couldn’t do it. Where was he going to work? At a factory opened in Mexico by an American corporation.

Too many people make obscenely large amounts of money by keeping people poor than they possibly could if those people didn’t need a government program or a racially or ethnically based “champion” looking out for their rights.

If the combined budgets of all the “champions” and the government agencies forcibly collecting money to dole out to them were to be invested in starting businesses, developing products and marketing those products, the need for those agencies  would be reduced to an infinitesimal share of our gross national product. Whole organizations might disappear.

Are there always going to be poor people, really poor people who literally can’t make enough money feed themselves at times?  Yes. Do they need assistance? Of course they do. But they should not comprise 46.2% of our population.

It is not the poor who do not have incentive to change, it is the policies and people that serve that market. Until we make the business of creating the poor unprofitable,  we will simply keep expanding poor as a marketable business model.

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