A Hurricane of Hubris
Poverty is indeed predictable. According to economist Walter Williams, here’s how to bypass poverty: “Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen.”
As a black man raised by a single mom, Williams rose up and escaped the projects himself. To him, and most clear-thinking people, no amount of emotional claptrap will change the reality that repeatedly making bad decisions will result in bad outcomes.
But when it comes to poverty, it’s all about social scientism, in which leftists make up entire ideologies they think will support their unrealistic theories. They create fictions in order to promote their progressive hocus-pocus and to hell with the collateral damage.
Take a Fakebook post shared during Hurricane Florence. It was written by Gwen Frisbie-Fulton, whose Twitter bio reads: “activist~writer~southerner~anarchist.” And not “anarchist” in the anti-government way, but more in the anarcho-tyranny, statist vein.
Ms. Hyphenated-Last-Name sure talks a lot about the import of fully funding public schools for a chick who’s supposed to be anti-authority. Then again, her profile lists her big issues as “homelessness, housing, women, ecology, egalitarian organizing.”
I gotta give her credit, though. She at least sends her son to a failing Title One school, where he’s part of the 15% of white students. That’s a serious commitment to “equality.”
Yet no mention of “boys” in her issues or “mother” in her bio. Fulton’s a grrrrl of the New South, casting off the shackles of tradition and embracing post-modern fallacies. Sad ’cause she’s a decent writer.
So, we’ve considered the source. Now let’s deconstruct Fulton’s words and the false and dangerous presuppositions they propel forward as fact. After all, when lies are wrapped in powerful language and tug at your heartstrings, it can be hard not to fall for them.
“I called Alyeesha — a friend of a friend who had stayed at my house a few years ago when she was escaping a bad relationship. She lives Down East … in a small one-room house that was her grandma’s sharecropping cabin. She rents the cabin from the man who now owns the land; it is not hers.”
“She (has) a mattress on the floor, a sofa from a Rent-a-Center, and a picture of her grandmother on the wall. I wanted to let her know that if she was evacuating from the hurricane, there was a sofa waiting for her here. ‘Naw, I’m going to ride it out,’ she said.”
Here begin the implications that black people can’t get ahead. That they’re living hand-to-mouth in places stolen from them, and playing by the rules of evil white men who revel in keeping them down. Gotta have a high-interest couch instead of using CraigsList.
“Everyone I know … on the shore is riding it out … for most of them … it’s just that they can’t go. There aren’t enough seats in the car, or there is no car, or the car is busted.”
“There are too many babies or too many old folks. There are jobs that won’t be held for them … paychecks that haven’t yet cleared … food stamps that ran out last week … (not) enough money in anyone’s damn bank account.”
The dramatic assumption? Black people are helpless, almost childlike. Perpetual victims with high-time preference who are unable to plan or budget for a rainy day. And although there are government goodies, it’s never enough.
Author and former welfare recipient Star Parker calls this “Uncle Sam’s Plantation” – a socialist mentality which “enslaves” low-income folks. It degrades individuals through eschewing personal responsibility, encouraging single-motherhood, promoting moral decay, and decimating the family unit by replacing fathers with big-daddy government.
By telling people they have no autonomy in their lives, that they’re not actors, that they’re only acted upon, it’s arrogance on the part of the do-gooders and manipulation on the part of the political class. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”
“As terrifying as it is, we know it’s not Florence that is wreaking havoc on North Carolina. It’s everything that comes later … it’s everything that was before.” Hmm, and what might that be?
“We know that it is the slow seep of the water back down from the mountains … we know it is poverty. … We know where the flood waters will go. They will follow a slow, predictable path … (and) read like economic and racial maps.”
Forget about building up the characteristics and life skills necessary in order to break out of the cycle of state-dependency. The Fultons of the world instead tell them they’re cogs in this capitalist conspiracy, or in this case, just water droplets in the swells of the white-supremacist sea.
That kind of excuse-making is what Parker says “dehumanizes” folks. It’s a narrative that actually makes things worse, creating a gulf between low-income blacks and the 80% of them who are in the middle class.
We should instead be looking at “pathologies,” explains Parker, like out-of-wedlock birth, crime, and the “values” within distressed communities. “There is a gap because of how we conduct our family lives,” she adds.
For instance, the economic disparities between black men who are married to the mother of their children and white men who are married to the mother of their children are virtually nonexistent. If poverty was the consequence of racism, this certainly wouldn’t be the case.
It’s about human action. Like Williams asks rhetorically, “Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?” In other words, can a person pivot when he’s heading down the wrong path, or is he purely a puppet of nature and circumstance?
“No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault,” Williams remarks. But “if he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault.”
“We all love a good hurricane. We fetishize storms … The hurricane is … the excitement that we need. We gather bottled water, toilet paper, snacks. It’s something we can do … Our lives can be so mundane. We gorge on hurricanes.”
Huh. So people who prep are somehow doing so because of their humdrum lives, not because they want to be equipped and ready for a looming emergency? Not because they view evidence, see a conceivable threat, and want to act accordingly? Stupid.
Maybe it’s this type of behavior Fulton should be encouraging. Thinking ahead, weighing costs and benefits, considering cause and effect, and dealing reasonably and responsibly with a situation are the exact actions one should to take in order to survive natural disasters, as well as to navigate and avoid some of the storms of life.
“Alyeesha has the grit to make it through … but after the winds pass and the bottled water gets loaded back up, she knows that people’s attention will just move on. Jim Cantore does not come for poverty.”
What does The Weather Channel’s go-to hurricane guy have to do with anything? At first I thought Cantore had been “insensitive” and was being pegged a racist, but I found nothing remotely controversial about him.
Maybe it’s because he’s a white guy, and his very skin color and biology grant him innate “privilege.” Or maybe it’s that he grew up in too-white rural Vermont. Or that he’s been employed at TWC since 1986. Curse that bigoted work ethic!
“Alyeesha’s little house may be flooded out, she may lose everything. There is no insurance company to call; her landlord may just tell her he can’t do nothing.”
Renter’s insurance is a thing. You don’t need to depend on your landlord to protect your property.
“Her friend who drives her to work may not be able to come to get her, she may lose her job. She will be left standing in the still waters of America, brown water on her brown legs, on land that was not her grandmothers and is not hers.”
No one is going to get fired because of a hurricane, especially a low-income black woman. C’mon.
Again, the presupposition is the same old leftism that’s been pushed since LBJ’s “Great Society” reared its destructive head in 1964. That no matter what Alyeesha does, the historical and institutional racism of the country (and specifically the South) will simply pull her under.
Despite $22 trillion spent on the “War on Poverty” in its first 50 years, there were no decreases in what are categorized as “the poor.” What there has been, though, is diminished self-sufficiency and increased inter-generational dependence.
“The cold fact is that the poverty rate among blacks fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent by 1960,” remarks economist Thomas Sowell. “This was before any of (the LBJ) programs began.”
“Poverty … (has) always been a slow build of mold between generations. … It’s a looming light bill and a long wait on child support.”
In 1960, most black children were raised in two-parent families, says Sowell. But that isn’t the case today, when the great majority of black kids are raised by a single parent – one of the root causes of poverty. But who has time for obvious fixes when you’re clamoring for cash?
According to domestic policy analysts Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “Adjusted for inflation, this spending (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution.” It’s never enough.
The assertion is that Alyeesha will drown if she’s not rescued by white angels like Fulton, whose formulas for salvation only require more government theft, monetary increases to already-failing programs, and self-righteous proclamations. This tired tactic of feelings over facts only increases the cycle of poverty.
That ain’t charity. It’s immoral and counterproductive. As Sowell poignantly puts it, “Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face.” Their kind of helping doesn’t produce fruit, but it sure fills them a misplaced sense of virtue.
“Poverty has always been a flood and not a hurricane … It’s the uncomfortable plastic chairs at DSS and the caseworkers who don’t make eye contact. It’s the 10 months of pregnancy with no insurance and lying to the doctor about the cramps because you can’t afford a referral.”
“It’s the long wait in jail because you can’t afford bail … It’s the long nights with the heat out and the long calls trying to reach the landlord.”
“It’s the hours in detention after your own boss at the meat processing plant calls immigration on you and the long stare you give him while he hires your cousin for less money under the table. … So we look away.”
Like Parker says, it’s values. Crime begets poverty. Like Williams says, marry the father of your children and stayed married. It’s “not rocket science.” Like we deplorables say, don’t come here illegally. Build the wall.
Expecting mothers (legal citizens and otherwise) already get Medicaid if they’re “categorically needy.” This is a pretty low bar for those already entangled in the welfare industrial-complex. Now Fulton’s just making stuff up.
It’s already illegal for a tenant’s heat to be shut off. And if you’re an illegal alien who’s working, why would the guy who hired you call immigration? He’s already paying you for less money off the books. Illogical.
Moreover, no one “looks away” from the non-white poor. It’s all we ever hear about.
And what does it even mean to be in “poverty” in America? Below is a sampling from the Mises Institute of material goods owned by most of the 46.2 million Americans deemed “poor” in the 2010 census.
The lion’s share are not lacking adequate clothing, warm housing, or food. In fact, “Some 96% of poor parents report their children were never hungry at any time in the prior year,” report Rector and Sheffield. They “have more living space in their homes than the average non-poor Swede, Frenchman, or German.”
“Poverty is predictable … like underfunded schools and outdated textbooks … legislators turning their heads.”
Really? Few issues are talked about as incessantly and laudatorily than are teachers and the indoctrination centers where we pay them to work. How dare I, mom to three homeschooled sons, throw stones from my 1,400-square-foot house with only five rooms of living space per person, and no carport or cable? I refuse to look away.
40% of my husband’s labor is forcibly confiscated by the state for wealth redistribution, most of which is used to propagate the very school system that encourages this systemic racket and its divisive talking points. Now that’s predictable.
“It’s the predictability that after the storm we will arrest the looters who spent their last dollars on gas when prices surged up 50 cents before the storm. … We will … not say a thing.”
At least Fulton admits that the overwhelming majority of American “poor” have cars – a luxury in many other countries – but this glimmer of reality comes at the expense of fetishizing the categorical crime of looting. Why make excuses for such lawlessness?
And maybe Alyeesha doesn’t want Fulton’s help. Maybe she doesn’t want to be used as a prop in her PC advertisement. Maybe she knows she can take care of herself or that her life isn’t half bad. Maybe she’s grateful to live in her ancestral home. Maybe she’s thankful to be alive.
“But that’s the … slow drip of poverty. All your life you are just watching the water rise, knowing no one is coming to get you: after all they told you to get out."
Don’t get swindled by left’s hurricane of hubris. It’s a river flooding with fallacies, a storm raging with irrationality, and winds blowing with the hot air of white guilt. (See, I can play this rhetorical game, too!)
It’s a critical-theory screed drowning in the red dirt of socialism. It’s time to get our heads above water and breathe new life into truth.
This piece was originally published at DissidentMama.net on September 29, 2018.
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Truth warrior, Jesus follower, wife, and boymom. Apologetics practitioner for Orthodox Christianity, the Southern tradition, homeschooling, and freedom. Recovering feminist-socialist-atheist, graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and retired mainstream journalist turned domesticated belle and rabble-rousing rhetorician. A mama who’s adept at triggering leftits, so she’s going to bang as loudly as she can.