August 26, 2014

1229 words 6 mins read

Bureaucratizing Street Gangs

Did you ever wonder why do-gooders and social planners never pay for their crimes?

Yesterday, I wrote about Jesse Jackson dressing down at the hands of activists in a McDonald’s parking lot in Ferguson. I pointed out that Martin Luther King and Dick Gregory were similarly dismissed by rioters in the 1960s. Some things never change.

One thing that has changed is the economic gap between whites and blacks. That’s gotten worse despite trillions in federal poverty programs that went mostly to “community organizing.” Those failed efforts of do-gooders and social planners have made black poverty worse, not better, while contributing to the destruction of the black family.

income gap over time

Notice that Hispanics were doing a lot better before the government started paying attention to them, too!

And the do-gooders of the 1960s actually wanted this effect. Again, I turn to Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers:

The police would argue that in giving all that money to gangs like the Blackstone Rangers the poverty bureaucrats were financing criminal elements and helping to destroy the community . The poverty bureaucrats would argue that they were doing just the opposite. They were bringing the gangs into the system. Back in 1911 Robert Michels, a German sociologist, wrote that the bureaucracy provides the state with a great technique for self-preservation. The bureaucracy has the instinct to expand in any direction. The bureaucracy has the instinct to get all the discontented elements of the society involved and entangled in the bureaucracy itself. In the late 1960’ s it looked like he might be right. By the end of 1968 there were no more gangs in San Francisco in the old sense of the “fighting gangs.” Everybody was into black power, brown power, yellow power, and the poverty program in one way or another. This didn’t mean that crime decreased or that a man discontinued his particular hustles . But it did mean he had a different feeling about himself. He wasn’t a hustler or a hood. He was a fighter for the people, a ghetto warrior. In the long run it may turn out that the greatest impact of the poverty program, like some of the WPA projects of the Depression, was not on poverty but on morale, on the status system on the streets. Some day the government may look back and wish it had given the Flak Catchers Distinguished Service medals, like the astronauts.

Wolfe, Tom (2010-04-01). Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (pp. 122-123). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

Maybe not on those Distinguished Service medals, Tom.

The poverty program did change the status system on the streets, but it didn’t solve poverty. Violent crime is down, but not because people have good jobs and solid families. To the contrary, we’ve simply gotten better about locking up criminals and leaving them locked up. Somewhere along the way from Nixon’s first term to Obama’s second, we’ve given up on gang leaders as civic leaders.

The poverty bureaucrats seem to have given up on blacks in general. Bureaucracy’s self-preservation instinct has evolved, perhaps because it has finally and fatally entangled the black community in its suffocating network of economic despair. Few academics even bother to highlight the African-American climber who rose from a broken home and squalid schools to become chief of surgery at Massachusetts General—if indeed that ever happened. Instead, the social academics and government bureaucrats simply dump enough buckets  of government subsidies into the broken homes and squalid schools to keep the fires of anarchy dampened.

People are capable of almost anything depending on their own personal experience, the way they construe a situation, and the situation itself. Bureaucrats have a duty to design experiences and situations that maximize the possibility of positive actions. But our bureaucrats and academics do the opposite. For fifty years, America’s social engineers have set up African Americans for failure. Massive failure. Multi-generational failure.

When you look at the economic progress of blacks since the Great Society’s launch, you can conclude only that its engineers intended to keep blacks at the bottom of America’s social and economic ladder.

The War on Poverty has intentionally taught blacks (and other minorities) that self-reliance is shameful and helpless dependency is good.

The War on Drugs has provided ambitious poor with a deadly means of escape from that dependency: drug dealing.

The Department of Education has replaced education with self-esteem lectures and tolerance classes even though every psychologist since Viktor Frankl teaches that self-esteem is a product of personal achievement, not an antecedent.

The courts and municipal police forces have emotionally and financially tortured the poor, particularly poor blacks, with obnoxious rules and ordinances that keep the poor in a constant state of violation of petty and useless laws. (I’ll have much more to say about this over the coming days, weeks, and months.)

With all of these failures of the academic and government poverty experts, why in God’s name does anyone still listen to them? Why haven’t blacks marched on the welfare offices and the schools and demanded an end to the government-created cycle of poverty? Why aren’t people holding citizens' hearings on the abusive and illegal municipal court systems?

Why? Because the “black leaders” would go broke if black income and opportunity rose to equal whites'. Because politicians in both parties profit from the cycle and the courts and the wars on everything that war can’t fix.

In short, the income gap and opportunity gap in America results from a total leadership vacuum.

Look, I’ve been observing the decline of opportunity for blacks since I was a kid. I’ve lived through the Great Society and the War on Poverty. And, like a social work professor at Wash U, I’ve done nothing about it.

But I’m done sitting on my hands while the “experts” unravel the American Dream, first for blacks, then for Latinos, and now for everyone else. I’ve had it with the nonsense that you need a PhD and a government job to drive change.

Starting with the Ferguson BUYcott, I intend to help restore the American Dream in the hearts and minds of those who’ve been denied that dream the longest. My Tea Party friends understand the dream. They don’t need my help. I need theirs–yours. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out today when talking about the Ferguson Buycott, we won’t get help from “drive-by media.” But we will eventually get their attention. Said Rush today:

No, this is not an AP story.  Sorry.  No, no, no.  No, no.  It’s not UPI.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  It’s not CNN.  No, no, no, no, not New York Times.  No, no, no, no, no, not Washington Post.  Ah, ah, not USA Today.  Nope, CNN hasn’t covered it.  ABC, CBS, NBC, no.

This is a Heritage Foundation story.  The Drive-Bys haven’t covered this, but the Tea Party is leading a buycott in Ferguson, and they’ve been doing this since Thursday. They’re going back next weekend.  You won’t find it in the Drive-By Media.

Besides, Rush has a bigger audience than the Drive-Bys.

The American Dream, as Lee Presser says, was never about owning your own home. The American Dream is to own your own life.

When blacks, Latinos, and a lot of others feel the freedom and power of life ownership, woe betide those academics and bureaucrats who denied them their freedom the past five decades.