December 30, 2013

The unrelenting cost of poverty

And this continues to just amaze me.  Study after study shows that poor people struggle with more than just paying their bills.  The impact of poverty on children is documented and clear.  It slows their development and leaves them far behind their peers.
Unrelenting Poverty Leads To 'Desperation' In Philly Schools : NPR: Also, studies show that in some cases, kids living in poverty are more than two years behind their privileged counterparts. They're more likely to have fewer books in the home, have more health problems and miss more school days. Many kids come to school hungry, and then they can't focus and learn.
Closing The 'Word Gap' Between Rich And Poor : NPR

Yet, the conservative response--and even that from so many of my moderate friends--is to shrug and say, "what can we do, we have government programs that don't work."  For those more conservative, the response seems to be to blame the poor for their situation, and the overall approach has been to cut funding for those programs that help kids and the poor the most, and essentially tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps--even if that means doing so with both hands tied behind your back.  That small percentage of the poor who fight their way out become the exceptions that disprove the rule for conservatives.  All of that makes me think that most Americans simply don't like the poor.

But the very real conclusion of these studies is that poverty harms us all.  Every kid who falls behind in school is "at risk" for anti-social behavior, or for behavior that is costly to us--from early pregnancy to drug use or violence.  Those kids who never catch up to their peers equals last productivity and innovation, as well as likely more cost to our infrastructure and safety net.

Yet, the dominant narrative has become (since Reagan) that you can't solve poverty, and you sure as hell can't solve it by throwing money at it.  All that is left is to shrug and suggest that when the poor are better people, we will see it reduced.

I find that unacceptable.  And criminal.



December 27, 2013

Racism, evangelicals and Duck Dynasty

I read this evening that A&E has decided to take Phil Robertson back after his brief and meaningless suspension.  His homophobia is, as the network decided, part of his "journey," and the duck people are really good people after all:

Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about,"
Yeah, whatever.  I have no problem with the fact that people evolve and change on their journey.  I also acknowledge that these people are probably decent people who do not intend to be homophobic bigots.  Their statements about gays bothered me tremendously, but I have to say that his statements on race bothered me even more.  I think because there is a theological argument (with which I disagree) that says that homosexuality is a sin.  But there is no theological argument (legitimate, anyway) that posits that black people were happy under segregation--as Phil Robertson suggested in his interview.

That aside, because I don't watch the show and won't be likely to do so in the future, the part that bothers me more than anything is that the denomination of my youth had the opportunity here for an easy little win on race.  They could have come out and stated that while they agreed with many of the family's views on religion and family, they could not endorse such racist thoughts about segregation.  It wasn't that hard.  But they decided to tribally back the duck people--because since liberals were mad at them, they must be doing something right.

The evangelical church lost me a long time ago, but it is this response on racism that really leaves me cold.  As I told several people, it is one thing for a white person to suggest that he was convinced that black people were happy in 1950s Louisiana--even though we all know that whites knew that blacks faced lynching for any transgressions outside white supremacy.  Phil Robertson knew that blacks were lynched.  He had to know.

But even if we somehow give 1950s Phil a pass, we can't excuse a grown man of today still suggesting that as fact.  He is either in deep denial or one of the most monumentally stupid people in America.  (Perhaps he should run for President under the GOP?)

What bothers me most is that I know full well that this repeats a long repeated lie for white supremacy.  During Slavery, the South insisted that their "slaves were happy," and were, in fact, happier than those northern immigrants.  During segregation, they repeated the same lie--that "their blacks were happy and understood their place."  We all know that was a lie, and we saw Southern blacks put their lives on the line (literally) to oppose segregation.
I’m reminded of these words from James Baldwin’s essay “A Fly in Buttermilk”: 
“Segregation has worked brilliantly in the South, and in fact, in the nation to this extent: It has allowed white people with scarcely any pangs of conscience whatever, to create, in every generation only the Negro they wished to see.”
That conservative evangelicals cannot see this makes me sad.  This was easy.

December 16, 2013

December 12, 2013

Gun Culture

And yes, illegal. But this is what you get when you encourage everyone to arm themselves.  You get irresponsible people with guns, and you have a gun industry that wants no filter or self-assessment of that culture.

No charges after man pulls gun on ‘b*tch’ with disabled kid over Walmart parking delay | The Raw Story