No More Immigration Until We Fix Anacostia

anacostia-school

photo by Chris Roberts, American Renaissance

It was a short drive from my hotel in Washington, DC’s toney National Harbor district to the Capitol.  But we were stuck in heavy traffic on I-295 into downtown.  My Uber driver slid to the outside lane and hit the exit.  “I have a quicker way to get downtown,” he said.  That was fine with me, although I really wasn’t in a hurry.

Within minutes we were smack in the middle of the Anacostia ghetto.  We might as well have taken the exit to Mars.

I live in South Carolina, in a comfy suburb across the lake from Charlotte (NC).  My town seems to me like normal America.  My trips to the city can sometimes take me through areas that are not exactly high-rent districts.  But they don’t look or feel anything like Anacostia.  Over the years I’ve been through the barrio on Figueroa in LA,  I have cruised around South Chicago, I’ve seen some of the underbelly of Detroit.  I thought I had seen some of the ugliest armpits our nation has to offer.  But Anacostia was an eye-opener.

We drove through mile after mile of liquor stores, check-cashers, and raggedy store-fronts, each decorated with young black men (and a few women) leaning against them.  It was 10:00 a.m., and clearly none of the Anacostia folks had anywhere to go or anything to do.  Some chugged beers, a few shared doobies openly on the street, and here and there were clusters of guys who appeared to be negotiating their next big deal.  It was so totally foreign, I gaped out the passenger window in dropped-jaw amazement.  I must have looked like a zoo animal to them.  A boarded up dilapidated cafe, an elementary school unfit for the rats that live there, a rehab clinic doing brisk business.  A muscular young guy jogging and shadow-boxing, Rocky-style.  A wheelchair-bound young woman rolling up to a grubby corner drug store.

I’m not one who notices race first, but the segregation was jarring – there was not a single face that was not African-American.

My Vietnamese immigrant driver pretended to be oblivious to the bizarre scene, but his eyes saw what mine did.  “It nicer across freeway,” he repeated several times in broken English.

Block after block, my state of mind shifted from shock to amazement to concern.  By the time we emerged from Anacostia and re-entered the “normal” world, I was despondent.  How the hell did this happen?   Why hasn’t anybody done anything about this?  We can’t just leave these hopeless people and this God-forsaken mess like it is.

There is no excuse for this kind of scene in the United States of America.  Whoever gets elected in November had better take a good hard look at what’s going on in Anacostia, and Detroit, and South Chicago, and LA.

I could bore you with all of the tried-and-failed stock solutions to poverty and blight.  But you’ve heard plenty of empty promises over the years, from the left and the right.  More welfare is not the answer – it hasn’t worked and it never will.  Telling people to get to work isn’t it either – there are no jobs for the totally unskilled and unschooled people of the Anacostia ghetto.  This won’t get better until the American people decide it is unacceptable, move in, and get after it.

My trip through the ghetto brought home one message loud and clear.  We had better not waste another dollar or another ounce of labor or another drop of compassion on opportunistic foreign immigrants until we bring Anacostia back to normal America.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

It’s survival in the city
When you live from day to day
City streets don’t have much pity
When you’re down, that’s where you’ll stay

In the City – Joe Walsh

 

 

Hurry! Free Lunch! Right Over Here! It’s Free!

free lunchFree!  It’s all free!  Vote for me, and I’ll give you a free college education, free health care, open borders with free everything for every poor person who walks in!  Step right up, it’s free, free, free!

Last night’s Democrat presidential primary was my first good look at the Bernie Sanders Show, and it did not disappoint.  I knew that Sanders is a socialist – a magna cum laude graduate of Robin Hood University.  Still, I just couldn’t picture in my mind a grown man trying to convince people that there IS such a thing as a free lunch.  With a straight face.

The throng of helpless college girls (plus Debbie Wasserman Schultz) screaming lustily for this tired old draft-dodger was bizarrely reminiscent of a Beatles gig at Shea Stadium.  These poor kids apparently had no parents, or at least no adults, to guide them through adolescence.

When I was their age, my hard-working, truck-driving dad drilled his one-line lessons into me enough times that they stuck.  “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” he would say.  “If it looks too good to be true, it’s not true.”  “Nothing that’s free is worth having.”  “If somebody gives you something for free, they want something from you.”

And my everyday experiences have repeatedly proved him right.  My dad made me work all summer to pay for the motorbike I wanted.   I treasured that little Honda and never allowed so much as a speck of dust to tarnish a chrome spoke.  When I outgrew the bike, my Dad bought it from me and gave it to my little brother, who destroyed it within a few weeks.  It was free, so it just didn’t have much value to him.

Have you ever accepted a free weekend at a time-share?  Or a free dinner from a financial planner?  Or a free campaign contribution from General Electric?  All come with “strings attached”.

For decades our public schools and liberal universities have taught us to never question an academic authority. Or a Democrat. Free stuff?  Why not, you deserve it.  If you are poor, you are a hero, and even more deserving!  Don’t ask where all the free stuff will come from! Don’t look behind the curtain at the wizard making all the promises, or question his motives!

I expected it, but the Sanders Show still saddened me deeply.  The $20 trillion national debt (over $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities) was never mentioned.  Nobody wondered whether the rich would remain in the USA when faced with having their wealth stolen. Sanders didn’t even flinch when Hillary pointed out that producing goods and services actually does matter.  Sanders apparently really believes that government handouts grow on trees, and the Freebie Forest will never run out of fruit.

That any adult American can swallow Sanders’ unfiltered Jonestown KoolAid is a terrifying indictment of our failure as parents, educators, and elected officials.

Please grab your kid.  And his teacher.  And make them repeat after you, “There is no such thing as a free lunch . . .  There is no such thing as a free lunch . . . There is no such thing as a free lunch . . .”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Yeah there was ham and there was turkey,
There was caviar
And long tall glasses, with wine up to “hyar”!
Then somebody grabbed me, threw me outta my chair
Said before you can eat,
You gotta dance like Fred Astaire!

Long Tall Glasses – Leo Sayer

Leo Sayer is still having fun after all these years.  And he says there is no such thing as a free lunch!

Hillary Stills Wants “The Village” To Raise Our Kids

it_takes_a_village20 years ago, First Lady Hillary Clinton uttered perhaps her most memorable and politically-revealing declaration, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Borrowed from an ancient African proverb, “It Takes A Village” quickly became her mantra, frequently repeated on talk shows and speeches throughout her husband’s presidential campaign.   A book by that title was published in 1996, and while Mrs. Clinton claimed to have written it by herself “in longhand,” it was ghost-written by Barbara Feinman, who was none too pleased that she received practically no acknowledgment for having done all of the heavy lifting.

Clinton’s assertion that “it takes a village” has been the subject of conservative derision and outrage pretty much ever since.  Bob Dole summed up the reaction of conservatives when he addressed the 1996 Republican Convention:  “… with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.”

Clinton doubled down on her contention when she unsuccessfully ran for president in 2007 and tripled down this year in her presidential campaign launch speech, saying, “It takes an inclusive society. What I once called “a village” that has a place for everyone.”

My local newspaper today includes an article about “Operation Backpack.”   Now in its third year, the York County Sheriff’s Foundation program provides backpacks and school supplies to county schools who pass them on to families “in need.”  It is one of literally dozens of similar programs in the area.

School supplies and backpacks are now one more thing that parents are no longer expected to provide for their children.

I am more baffled every day by the change in our culture.  There was a time, not long ago, when we expected parents to take care of their children and be responsible for meeting their needs.  Today, it apparently does take “A Village” to care for many of our children. Parents (single mothers) are no longer asked to feed their children, with SNAP, WIC, free school breakfasts and lunches provided by the leaders of The Village, year-around. They don’t have to buy Christmas presents thanks to the many generous gift programs.  There are clothing drives and free entertainment and camps and cultural opportunities.  Housing is free under Section 8.  Minority children are usually offered free college educations, regardless of merit, and enjoy hiring preferences.  Ours has become a culture of entitlement for anyone who is deemed “needy” by the leaders of The Village, and those who acquire the title are considered courageous and honorable – held in high esteem by the liberal media and the undiscerning.

A single mother who is hooked into today’s benefit programs has practically no responsibility for raising her children.  She can spend the family’s cash benefits entirely on her own entertainment, since everything her children could possibly need or want is provided by The Village.

In Hillary Clinton’s world-view, this arrangement works perfectly.  Parents can’t be trusted, so The Village must raise the child according to the directions of its leaders.  The child learns to depend on The Village and the system is perpetuated, generation after generation.  The leaders of The Village are permanently empowered.

I have a soft spot for disadvantaged kids, and I know that many of them aren’t blessed with parents who are able to give them what they need.  Been there.  The Village can be a life saver.  Unfortunately, it’s the leaders of The Village and their self-centered ambitions that worry me.  Forgive me if my family chooses to take full responsibility for raising our children, providing for them on our own, and teaching them to be independently responsible for the welfare of our future generations.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

(instrumental)

Quiet Village – Martin Denny

 

 

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I always associate a song performance with the topic of my rant.  This is, to date, the weirdest one ever.  Thinking of “the Village”, I couldn’t escape a childhood memory.  My single-mom family didn’t have a television, and I spent many hours listening to my mother’s eclectic (to say the least!) record collection.  Prominently included was an album by Martin Denny featuring “Quiet Village” – a set of gentle, somewhat Latin but ambiguously Polynesian compositions, featuring guys doing bird whistles and monkey howls.   It was corny but mysteriously cool.  Check it out!

 

 

 

 

Inequality – It’s What Made Us Great!

Boys_playing_footballNovember, 1964 – another crisp, sunny afternoon in Great Falls, Montana.  We got out of McKinley Elementary at 3:15 and like most other days headed over to the Willetts’ house to see if the other neighborhood kids were up for some football.

The Willetts’ house was set back quite a ways off the street, and had a big front yard of thick, green grass littered with fat orange, yellow and red leaves from the huge maple trees that graced our older middle-class street.  It was irresistible to a bunch of grade school boys with lots of energy and no homework.

By 3:30 a dozen or so kids had arrived, and the captains picked their teams.  The team captains were the biggest, toughest, or oldest kids – the alpha males of the bunch.  You were proud if you were one of the first boys picked, and kind of embarrassed if you were the last.  But everybody got to play.

Seems like the captains always got to play quarterback, too.  Like it or not, they were the natural leaders.  There might be an occasional challenge – “Hey I want to be captain!”  – but usually it was pretty evident who was going to be in charge.  The captain had to be smart enough to call a play that actually might work.  He was usually the best athlete.  And he had to have the respect, or at least the obedience, of his teammates.

Bobby was fast as the wind, a natural running back.  Randy could catch anything.  He always got to be a receiver.

Roger, the fat kid, always had to play center or guard.  I mean let’s face it, he just couldn’t run fast enough to catch a pass or defend one.  Plus he had no idea how to call plays.  But Roger didn’t mind, he knew his place.  And heck, he could block two or three of us at a time.

Our neighborhood was very mixed, from one end of the socioeconomic scale to the other.  Some of us were scruffy kids from poor families.  We were the ones with no dads at home.  The middle-class boys had real families and belonged to the cub scouts.  They had to be home at 6:00 for supper.  Some of the gang were actually upper-crust; in fact, Mr. Willetts ran for mayor.

But on a blue-sky late autumn afternoon in the sixties it didn’t matter what your dad did for a living, or if you had one.  It was all about run, throw, catch, score, and WIN.  Nobody cared what you looked like or how worn-out your shoes were.  You succeeded or failed on your own, and you weren’t going to get any respect for free.

We learned about leadership.  About the joy of competition.  About how to fit in and contribute to a team effort, and to share in the rewards.  About getting knocked on your butt, and getting back up.  Some kids learned that they just weren’t cut out for football.  They found something else they could do well.  Or not.

And all of this happened without worried parents hovering over us, coaches having tantrums, or lawyers and TV news crews waiting for somebody to get hurt.  No rules committees, safety equipment, or umpires.  No government programs to shelter us and tell us what to do.

There was never any mention of “inequality”.  Everybody got to play, and the boys who had the most skill, experience or drive had the most success, and the most fun.  But we all wanted to compete, and to win.

That bunch of boys became men, and our generation did pretty well with what we learned on our own in those front yards and vacant lots.  Now, sadly, the notion of kids being able to – and allowed to – organize their own rough-and-tumble football games is unthinkable.  That level of freedom and opportunity for kids is long gone.

In today’s “fairer” progressive social structure, everybody will get to play quarterback.  We will all have new shoes, but they will be low-quality, made in China.  We won’t pick teams or keep score because that is just too damaging to self-esteem.  There will be no losers, and no winners – just shared mediocrity.

I don’t know about you, but if Roger is going to be the quarterback, I don’t even want to play.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
Ooh, it takes every kind of people
To make what life’s about, yeah
Every kind of people
To make the world go ’round

Every Kind of People – Robert Palmer

 

 

 

Pickles

The Poor Don’t Need More Food

food driveEvery day, especially during the holiday season, we are buried in news reports about low-income Americans who don’t have enough to eat.  There are food drives, community food banks, charity events, and fundraisers galore collecting food and money for food, all based on the premise that the poor just aren’t getting fed.

Contributors to these food charities get a temporary, warm fuzzy feeling.  But the whole “starving children” thing is a big sham, and food charity does little or nothing to actually help the poor improve their lives.

Our citizens, through government welfare programs, provide generous food subsidies for the poor.  As I reported recently, the SNAP program grants up to $632 per month on EBT debit cards for a qualifying family of four.  There are deductions based on income, but cash from most welfare programs is excluded. The monthly SNAP dollar allowance is considerably greater than most non-welfare families spend on food, resulting in high incidence of obesity among SNAP participants.  In addition, 68% of students get one or two free or heavily-subsidized meals at school every day.

I’m not saying it’s fun to be on welfare, or that we should abolish all food subsidies.  I am saying that lack of food is NOT the main problem for the poor, and providing more food via charities is NOT helping them.  The few scarce hungry Americans are victims of neglect, abuse, and mental illness – problems that must be addressed, but in a completely different way.

So why are we so obsessed with providing EVEN MORE FREE FOOD for the poor?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to direct this huge pool of charity funds to something that actually does some good? 

We could provide economic education, job skills and actual employment opportunities so poor families might escape the sad trap of welfare dependency.  We could monitor and counsel poor adults and children, helping develop good decision-making, parenting, and life skills.  We could actually get involved at the personal level, helping with individual needs – a car repair so one can get to work; a plane ticket so another can help an ailing relative; a home-cooked meal for a senior who can get food but can’t cook.

This sounds like charity as it once was in this country.  Charity that was most often organized by churches.  Charity given in the form of time, personal involvement, and caring, in addition to money.  Sadly, today’s secular liberal culture discourages faith.  Forced charity funded through taxation and administered through soul-less government computers has dried up the river of personal, church-sponsored work that used to actually help people.  Now, the extent of our caring for others is reduced to buying them more and more food, making them even fatter, while leaving them dependent on the government and making the same bad choices as their parents and grandparents did.  We don’t want to get involved, so let’s throw them another can of food.  We can wear ribbons, join a publicized walk to promote “awareness”, and then leave our neighbors behind.

The poor don’t need more food.  Frankly, they don’t need that carload of junk from WalMart that many have come to expect from charities every Christmas.  They need jobs, and they need guidance from good people – caring and constructive shepherds who can show them the way to a better life.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side Who can I believe in?  I’m kneeling on the floor.
There has to be a force, who do I phone?
The stars are out and shining,
But all I really want to know –
Oh, won’t you show me the way?
I want you to show me the way.

Show Me the Way – Pete Frampton

EBT – Our Government “Fatness” Program

EBT cardThis from USA Today, today:

“Food stamp benefits to 47 million Americans were cut starting Friday as a temporary boost to the federal program comes to an end without new funding from a deadlocked Congress.

Under the program, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, a family of four that gets $668 per month in benefits will find that amount cut by $36.

“It may not sound like a lot but to a person like me, it is,” says Annie Crisp, 30, a single mother of two girls in Lancaster, Ohio. “It’s not just a number.”
She says she received a little less than $550 a month in food stamps and now will receive $497. Crisp, a babysitter who brings home about $830 a month, says the food stamps help her buy her family fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.”

Let me get this straight . . . a single mom, with two girls, can’t survive on $497 a month worth of groceries?

Once again, I am forced to do the simple math exercise (remember, I went to school before Common Core).

30 days x 3 meals a day x 3 people = 270 meals a month.  The two girls get “free” breakfast and lunch (actually paid by taxpayers) at their government school.  There are 19 school days in November, so subtract 76 meals.  That leaves 194 meals at home per month for the taxpayers to buy.  $497 divided by 194 meals = $2.56 per meal.

Now if you eat most of your meals at Olive Garden, that doesn’t sound like a lot.  But who eats 194 meals a month at a restaurant?  These are two schoolgirls and a single mom who can pack a lunch when she babysits (I’m guessing Annie scores a few free meals while babysitting.)

My family can afford to eat anything we want.   Like most Americans, we eat too much, and our profiles reflect it.   Here are some typical menus at our house (my wife helped me calculate the per meal costs):

Typical breakfast:  yogurt, OJ, cereal, milk = $1.50 per meal.  Or 2 eggs, toast, OJ, banana, milk = $.90 per meal.

Typical lunch:  ham sandwich, fruit, cookies, iced tea = $1.90 per meal.  Or tuna salad w/dressing, crackers, cheese and boiled egg, iced tea = $1.95 per meal.

Typical dinner:  our favorite beef goulash, with veggies, drinks and brownies for dessert = $1.58 per meal.    Or pork chops, baked potato, veggies, and ice cream = $1.50 per meal.

An average meal costs my family $1.56 for each of us.  We don’t consider this a “subsistence” diet at all; in fact, we really need to cut back.

Now, back to the simple math.  If the Annie Crisp family ate meals like us, they would have about $194 a month left over from the taxpayers.  They could easily go out to Olive Garden once a week, or eat steaks at home twice a week, or enjoy 50 items each from the dollar menu at McDonald’s and still have money to spare.

Am I missing something here?

I am not a grinch.  I don’t want kids to starve, and I understand there are families in trouble through no fault of their own.  But it gets harder every day to stand in line behind the 350 lb. mama in the Wal-Mart checkout line, whipping out her EBT card to pay for basket loads of junk food.  And never – ever – ever saying “Thank You.”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I was travellin’ down the road feelin’ hungry and cold,
I saw a sign sayin’ food and drinks for everyone,
So naturally I thought I would take me a look inside.
I saw so much food, there was water coming from my eyes!

Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance) – Leo Sayer


Adrian Peterson’s Love Child – Never Meant To Be

AdrianPeterson[update 10/17/13 th to Hank Jones, related article from Baltimore Sun]

 

Another sad headline via the sports pages:  “Adrian Peterson’s Young Son Dies After Assault”.

Peterson has received much sympathy from the public and his teammates, and has reported that he will unquestionably play in today’s game against the Panthers.  Yes, it’s a tragedy, but it’s not Peterson’s fault.  Or is it?

It’s certainly a tragedy for the two-year child, who did not pick his parents. He was born to Peterson and a “girlfriend”.  Then shaken to death by her new “boyfriend”.  Call me old-school, but I still think kids should be raised by married mothers and fathers, not boyfriends, girlfriends, gay lovers, and Hillary’s “village”.

Kansas City Chiefs fans still wail about the tragedy when star defensive end Derrick Thomas was paralyzed and later died from a car crash while driving to the airport in a snowstorm.  One of his two passengers was also killed.  Thomas left behind seven children by five different mothers, he was not married to any of them, and he blew his millions of dollars so fast he didn’t leave them a penny. State Senator Bill Kenney, a former Chief, called Thomas “a true hero.”

Marriage is now obsolete, and I think this may be the biggest threat facing our society and our economy.  Look at the listing of births in your local newspaper.  Only about half of these precious little creatures are born to parents with the same last name.  The other half begin their journey through life with two strikes against them.  Some will succeed, but most will face poverty and will be dependent on their peers who were raised in a traditional family.

The breakup of the American family, and the subsequent dependency of unwed mothers on the government, has caused an avalanche of social problems.  By eliminating the economic need for fathers, we have done untold damage to generations of kids that will be tough, if not impossible, to reverse.  The solution is not as simple as just cutting back spending on welfare and food stamps – that would only do more damage to the kids. A culture shift is the only thing that will get us out of this tailspin.

Too many parents are now conditioned to think it is “somebody else’s” responsibility to see that their kids get an education.  That they get breakfast and lunch.  That they have school supplies and warm coats.

My wife recently visited with a single mom who was concerned about the federal government shut-down.  “What if they stop Head Start?” the stay-at-home welfare mother asked.  “My kids are supposed to know their ABC’s before they get to grade school.  What am I going to do?”  It obviously never occurred to her to turn off the TV and teach them herself.

I’m guessing all of you who read this are old enough to remember the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story about a young Puritan woman who was branded as an adulterer and shunned by her community.  It was required reading for junior high kids back when we were in school, when marriage mattered.  The Scarlet Letter is no longer in the curriculum, for two reasons:  One is Common Core, which limits most school reading to non-fiction, featuring themes such as global warming and diversity.  The other is the fact that today’s kids don’t “get it” when they read about adultery.  What’s wrong with two unmarried people having sex?  Doesn’t everybody do that?

I know, I am a social dinosaur, severely outnumbered and out-dated.  But I was here when life was better – back when kids had moms and dads with the same name.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Love Child, never meant to be
Love Child, born in poverty
Love Child, always second best
Love Child, different from the rest

Love Child – Diana Ross and the Supremes