Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Prosperity in River East: Part 3 - Public Policy

25 percent of all births to single mothers in the District of Columbia are born in Ward 8. 28% of D.C. families receiving welfare (food stamps, TANF, etc.) reside in Ward 8. 41% of teen murders in D.C. are Ward 8 teens. The Councilmember for Ward 8 is marion barry. If I were an outsider looking in, I would ask "what's wrong with those people east of the river? Why can't they get it together like everyone else?" Well, one problem is the generational curse of broken families, drug abuse, and devaluation of education - this is our own fault. The second problem is lack of political leadership - this is partly our fault but really the fault of educated, elitist, and often well-intentioned leadership in our communities. To be clear, I'm referring to the liberal local and national leaders of the Democratic Party. Yea, I said it.

I landed my first job when I was 14. The mantra in my home was "If you don't work, you don't eat." Plain and simple. While we lived in the inner city, my family wasn't poor. We were middle class. Still, I had to get a job at 14, and didn't have many of the luxuries my friends enjoyed. I was responsible for providing myself with many of the essential items kids take for granted e.g. clothes, food, transportation, and even medical copayments! LOL I thought it was normal, but my friends were appalled at this! Some even asked if my parent "liked me"! There was no sharing of wealth. There was no entitlement. Once my friends hipped me to how real families operated, I thought my folks were cruel and unfair. But in retrospect, I'm so thankful for the tough love. Trust me, it paid off. It wasn't that my family disliked me - but as immigrants, they valued self preserverance.

Unfortunately, self preservation is not valued in River East. The "gim'me gim'me" mentality is glorified. And the democratic party - no matter how well intentioned- is partly responsible for the mess we're in! This is not breaking news. We all know institutionized handouts don't work. According to a study conducted by the Heritage Foundation:
-children of families receiving welfare have lower IQs
-adults who depended on welfare in childhood have lower earnings than their peers in adulthood
-women receiving welfare are less-likely to marry (because the bride and groom's combined income will disqualify them from public assistance)

Each of the above points snowballs into other social ills plaguing River East i.e. crime, sexual promiscuity, high school drop outs, etc. Policymakers need to look at the statistics and stop throwing money at these problems. The solution to our problem is tough love. In the short term, it will be painfull. Residents will be forced to change their lifestyle. But in the long term, it will be glorious. The same way we came up from slavery and segregation, we can come up from poverty, idleness, and dependency. To acommplish this, we need to incrementally dissolve the handouts and invest in 4 things:
1. Teen pregnancy prevention
2. Child and Adult Education
3. Job Training
4. Job Creation

Can we take River East residents off public assistance and pair each one with high-paying jobs that will sustain a middle class lifestyle? Nope - not in the beginning. It will take at least one full generation to get there. Why do to you think Africans and Asians do so well when they immigrate to the U.S.? They scrimp, save, and support each other. It's not rocket science. This means if Keisha only makes $30,000 per year working as an office clerk, she will have to forgo satellite cable, trips to the nail salon, rims, Nike boots for her toddler, and brand name foods from the grocery store. Her child may only get one gift for Christmas. She will share an apartment with a relative -like the immigrants do- to save money on rent. But the dignity of being self-supporting will pass on to her child. Don't you think it's worth it?

Below is a quote from George Bernard Shaw written in 1893:

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.


The Advoc8te said...

Another EXCELLENT post! You are so right. It is going to take something drastic to change the mindset.

John said...

Is this true? I guess that's why they say "the truth hurts".

When I was 14 I got my work permit from my guidance office and was a bus boy at a jewish delicatesan. With my first paycheck I bought a First Down that my father now wears. When he does my mom calls him "Mr. Puffy."

Braveheart goes hard, too hard!

LittleTortilla stays in DC said...

This post was 70% on point. I agree with your 4 point plan and those are issues we need to tackle.

I just wonder how we can have these discussions without saying "hey i'm all good and if you would just act like me, middle class me, then it would be all good for you too."

As if being "middle class" makes us better than the rest. We all gots issues.

Legend of Chat said...

We black people are community destroyers. Why? because its in our blood, we like it..Thats all there is to it.I have viewed pictures of Congress Heights prior to the great white flight and you can see the damage we jungle bunnies have caused. there can be no denying it. The proof is in the pictures! Now excuse me while i go to my hotel room and smoke some crack with my white devil mistress ho. Oh yes please help me get re elected ! I needs yo vote!! Aunt jemima Pancakes fo everyone!!

Linnie-Me said...

This fellow Jersey girl agrees with you!