Media personality Tavis Smiley and Princeton philosophy professor Cornell West have just published their latest contribution to American poverty propaganda, "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto."
The book should have a second subtitle: "How to keep the poor poor and blacks enslaved to government." To the extent this book is taken seriously by anyone, the result can only be more, entrenched poverty.
Smiley and West's message is simple. America today consists of a few powerful, rapacious rich people and a lot of unfortunate, exploited poor people. The rich are rich because they are lucky. The poor are poor because they are unlucky. And the only way to solve the problem is activist government to manage the American economy and redistribute wealth.
It's as if the wealthy belong to a different species of life with no common thread of humanity linking who they are to those who have less. The idea that "haves" once might have been "have nots" -- or that that they did something to become "haves" that today's "have nots" might consider doing -- never enters the equation.
Even if Smiley and West conceded that there might be some element of personal responsibility in how one's life turns out, their portrait is of an America now so unfair, that personal responsibility is irrelevant. There is no hope for anyone to rise, according to this book, without government boosting them using other people's money.
A good candidate for one of the more outrageous distortions, in a book filled with them, is No. 1 on their list of "Lies about poverty that America can no longer afford."
That No. 1 lie is: "Poverty is a character flaw." No way, according to the authors, is there a chance that poverty has anything to do with one's behavior. Rather, "The 150 million Americans in or near poverty are there as result of unemployment, war, the Great Recession, corporate greed, and income inequality."
Given this insight -- that there are 150 million poor Americans whose economic condition is the result of extenuating circumstances -- it is no wonder that Smiley and West never once mention what many scholars see as the major causes of poverty -- poor education and family breakdown.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 unemployment for those without a high school diploma was 50 percent higher than those with a high school diploma and almost three times higher than those with a college degree.
According to the Census Bureau, 17.8 percent of American families with children under 18 lived in poverty in 2010. However, in households with children that had married parents, 8.4 percent lived in poverty. In households with children headed by a single mother, 39.6 percent lived in poverty.
The evidence is powerful that getting educated and getting married dramatically reduces the prospects for living in poverty. Yet apparently not sufficiently powerful to interest Smiley and West to note these factors once in their "poverty manifesto."
Can better government policy expand opportunity for those who actually choose to get educated and live responsible lives? Certainly. But what we need is totally the opposite of what these authors advocate. Evidence abounds that countries with limited government and more economic freedom are far and away the most prosperous.
Despite this book's message of the inherent hopelessness and unfairness of today's America, the authors themselves seems to be doing quite well, selling their paperback "poverty manifesto" at $12 a pop. Apparently it's quite good business to tell Americans that America is unfair.
Perhaps this book can be used to reduce competition for jobs by immigrants.
According to the State Department, there are currently 4.6 million visa applicants wishing to enter the United States under the family and employment preferences immigration program. They apparently haven't gotten the word that America is no longer a land of opportunity.
It is a total perversion of the purpose of society. (comments)
Why can't the Black Caucus stand up uniformly for free enterprise? (comments)
We will not be victorious over terrorism with might alone. (comments)
After new regulation, as much of 80 percent of the loan volume could be curtailed. (comments)
Why should our education system be shielded from capitalism, the competitive forces that produce excellence? (comments)
The civil rights movement became unmoored from the religious and moral values that drove it to begin with. (comments)
Many with great political power in Washington, who control so much of our money, cannot distinguish between a fact and an opinion. (comments)
Republicans have not stood ground and provided a real conservative alternative to the party of the left. (comments)
As the politics of the welfare state and moral relativism have increasingly taken control of the country, they have disproportionately hit our minority communities. (comments)
The constitution does not exist to use government power to force the set of values of one private citizen on other. (comments)
If the forces of anger and fear prevail, we will pay a dear price. (comments)
Gallup points to the extent to which voters, particularly Republicans, are being turned off. (comments)
Is it any wonder why so many feel that our government has gotten way out of hand? (comments)
The best circumstances cannot save a sick spirit and sick values. (comments)
The major domestic crises we face today trace to Supreme Court decisions. (comments)
Evidence is overwhelming regarding the central importance of the traditional family to economic success. (comments)
It is the healthy sense of right and wrong that liberals want to destroy. (comments)
Republicans need to be as clear with the country as Sanders with an alternative. (comments)