Friday, September 02, 2005

The Great Society's End

Forty years after Lyndon Johnson unveiled The Great Society from which grew a vast network of federally-funded social welfare programs aimed at relieving the plight of the American poor, that noble idea has achieved its unexpected but tragic fruition in New Orleans.

Kathy Shaidle explains why the resulting culture of entitlement doomed thousands to their deaths in New Orleans, and turned the rest to savage looters.

However: one of the reasons poor people are poor is because they can't or won't plan further ahead than tomorrow, next week, or next month (when the cheque comes in) at the most. Those stuck in New Orleans are, according to reports I've heard, most likely lifelong recipients of public assistance. The government is "supposed" to help them, and do so immediately and immaculately. Resourcefulness, self-restraint, a sense of their own and other people's inherent dignity -- these things have been eroded as surely as the coastline.


The National Guard didn't react quickly enough? Gee, I dunno, I guess most of us figured that normal people could control their impulses adequately, could do simple things like stay calm, line up and so forth, until help arrived. Maybe they'd, oh, I dunno, help each other as best they could.

Welfare is necessary for those who have temporarily fallen on the hardest times through no fault of their own, and for those who genuinely cannot work because of physical or mental disability.

But long-term dependence on welfare does discourage people from improving their lot in life. It's human nature to prefer not to work if one can get easy money while doing so.

This is not a matter of race, despite all the screaming from the usual suspects that black people in New Orleans are all being unfairly cast in the media as looters and thugs. Whites can be just as susceptible to the welfare mentality.

I've seen the results of this at home back east, with fly-by-night companies being offered all sorts of grants from ACOA, DEVCO or the provinces to run call centres, grow hydroponic cucumbers, or build tennis machines in Newfoundland or Cape Breton, only to burn through millions of dollars for jobs that don't last more than a year or two, if at all.

A whole fisheries industry was kept alive in Newfoundland well past the point of sustainability with the old "10-42" scheme; 10 weeks of work followed by 42 weeks of pogey.

Nova Scotia sunk $2 billion into Sydney Steel to build steel rails no one wanted and mining coal no one could burn for more than 30 years to keep Cape Bretoners on the island, as they think is their God-given right, whether there is work for them or not.

Stephen Harper caught hell for calling it a "culture of defeat", but he hit upon an uncomfortable truth: too many of us in Atlantic Canada prefer to wait for the government to do something for us than do something ourselves.

Granted, life on the dole out East is not the same sort of crushing nihilistic poverty experienced by the black underclass in New Orleans and other big American cities.

But I'd hate to think what might have happened in some parts had Hurricane Juan been as ugly as Hurricane Katrina.

So why this diversion into life out East? Merely an illustration of a similar phenomemon whose victims are mostly white, not black.

The black underclass is being kept poor, not by "The Man" whom they have all been taught to blame, but by their own black political leadership who exploit their poverty to bribe them with promises of more "gummint cheese" for votes, and the cynically patronizing white liberals who pretend to help them, for the purpose of protecting their own interests.

A whole culture has sprung up that glorifies the gangsta and the pimp with his bling, aided and abetted by an education system that peddles them Afrocentric fictions instead of what they need to learn to become self-sufficient members of society.

The black family has been destroyed in the process. Why should a father stick around to get a job and raise his children if it's more profitable for the mother to take welfare? Without intact families, children can't be properly socialized, and they fall into the cycle of dependency as well.

What we are seeing in New Orleans is the end result of the welfarism. Race is merely incidental.


McGuire said...

As a fellow Atlantic Canadian, & one of the few who back up Harper's comments, I take exception to you suggesting the culture of defeat is something innate in our character when the opposite is the truth. The Liberals keep us broke (both fiscally & emotionally) & weak in order to control us & manipulate our fears & paranoias. Sadly people here are too stoopid to see that & they keep support these criminal bastards. I call it the political equivalent of battered wife syndrome

Loyalist said...

I was not suggesting that the welfare mentality back East is an inherent character flaw.

It has, however, become ingrained culturally over time, in no small part because it profits the federal Liberals and their cronies back East to do so.

We can break free from it, but it's going to take some tough love.