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Blaming poverty on the mysterious influence of “culture” is a convenient excuse for doing nothing to address the problem.
That is the first paragraph of Paul Ryan’s culture attack is an excuse to do nothing about poverty, Robinson's Tuesday Washington Post column, which I strongly urge all to read and pass on.

Robinson covers points after point, totally tearing apart the implicit racism of Ryan's argument, that there is culture in inner cities - read Blacks, and maybe Hispanics -  that lacks a work ethic.

As Robinson writes succinctly

The fundamental problem that poor people have, whether they live in decaying urban neighborhoods or depressed Appalachian valleys or small towns of the Deep South, is not enough money.
 In other words, the issues is poverty, being it that of urban people of color or rural Southern Whites.

The programs that address these issues - which from the government standpoint include "money, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and the like" are insufficient without job skills and the jobs to which to apply those skills.  

Bur rather than address these real issues, Ryan attacked a "culture" to which Robinson responds

It’s much easier to say that culture is ultimately to blame. But since there’s no step-by-step procedure for changing a culture, we end up not doing anything.
Please keep reading.

By now long-time readers of this site know the high regard in which I hold Robinson's work.  Long before there was a pundit round-up I would regularly write about his columns to to provide them a wider audience.  I have been doing it since before he rightly won his Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

The column this morning is an example of the quality of work which earned him his honor, and led as well to his appearing as a regularly commentator on MS-NBC, starting with Keith Olbermann.

Robinson points out if by "culture" Ryan is talking about rap music and baggy pants

he ought to visit any high school in any affluent suburb, where he will find kids listening to the same music and wearing the same clothes — kids who will grow up to be doctors and lawyers.
  But then, someone like Ryan might have difficulty admitting that much of our popular youth culture has long come from the underclass, often from those same inner cities whose "culture" he derides.

If the breakdown of families, Robinson - like the President - would argue that is a result of poverty, not its cause, as we can see in the increasing breakup of White families including in suburbs as the economy has deteriorated, as the jobs have disappeared.  And the rate of drug use is not dissimilar by race/ethnicity.

It is tempting to simply quote Robinson's final four paragraphs.   They are that good.  

- focusing on "culture" is a cop out, an excuse for not offering real solutions

- Robinson sees the issue as lack of opportunity, which leads to a greater likelihood of self-destructive behavior:  this resonated with the professional training we had at school yesterday.  Kids who see no economic opportunity find little reason to think long-term.  Why work hard at school when there is no money to go to college?  Why worry about jobs in the future when there are few jobs around, when you see adults unable to find meaningful employment?  

Those are the key points of the first two of those paragraphs.

But I WILL let Robinson speak for himself, by offering his final two paragraphs, without subsequent commentary by me.  Note in particular his final two sentences.  Then read and pass on the entire column.

If we had universal pre- kindergarten that fed all children into high-quality schools, if we had affordable higher education, if we incentivized industry to invest in troubled communities — if people had options for which they were prepared — culture would take care of itself.

But all of that is expensive. Hot air, as Paul Ryan knows, is cheap.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (224+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobinson, MartyM, elpacifico66, Denise Oliver Velez, hannah, 84thProblem, theKgirls, murrayewv, stevenwag, swampyankee, Dauphin, glendaw271, hulibow, Skyye, yoduuuh do or do not, Vienna Blue, AlwaysDemocrat, SCFrog, merrily1000, OregonWetDog, sngmama, jeannew, ericlewis0, TomP, a2nite, Russ Jarmusch, coppercelt, Habitat Vic, marleycat, scyellowdogdem, HCKAD, supenau, BenderRodriguez, geebeebee, miracle11, California06, Mary Mike, salmo, CwV, quaoar, The grouch, ARS, Raggedy Ann, Loudoun County Dem, harlinchi, JML9999, mod2lib, OIL GUY, NoMoreLies, Jollie Ollie Orange, Jay C, I love OCD, No one gets out alive, orlbucfan, CA Nana, trkingmomoe, TracieLynn, LamontCranston, Vita Brevis, StrayCat, Polly Syllabic, Bonsai66, LookingUp, Steveningen, Arahahex, Tom Anderson, NCJan, Jim R, jnhobbs, Dodgerdog1, Gowrie Gal, Cronesense, BadKitties, Front Toward Enemy, scribeboy, elwior, Bridge Master, leftykook, ridemybike, MufsMom, Marko the Werelynx, Cassandra Waites, eru, Nowhere Man, bbctooman, mbh1023, dksbook, kickthecan, wasatch, Chinton, Sylv, CroneWit, zerelda, jgilhousen, MKinTN, Take a Hard Left, Ckntfld, Lilyoolily, sfbob, Shockwave, Temmoku, raincrow, janmtairy, thomask, Laurel in CA, Chitown Kev, Batya the Toon, librarisingnsf, splashy, Gorette, ssgbryan, TokenLiberal, ER Doc, sagansong, mjd in florida, NM Ray, begone, randallt, Shelley99, spunhard, leonard145b, fiercefilms, Hirodog, Empower Ink, science nerd, The Marti, chrisculpepper, camlbacker, JVolvo, Matt Z, LucyTooners, NightOwl40, Dyana, sable, Pilotshark, dewtx, Lefty Coaster, catwho, Themistoclea, Aunt Pat, janatallow, Aaa T Tudeattack, blue71340, kenwards, ginimck, Paul Ferguson, lcrp, trumpeter, puckmtl, GAS, PSzymeczek, SherrieLudwig, helpImdrowning, bfitzinAR, sow hat, seefleur, commonmass, GeorgeXVIII, whenwego, kjoftherock, groupw, virginislandsguy, Arkenstark, sabo33, friendjudy, raspberryberet, sciguy, paulan, WhizKid331, Robynhood too, FindingMyVoice, skybluewater, Involuntary Exile, bfbenn, high uintas, rapala, MRA NY, MadMs, VPofKarma, pcl07, sailmaker, Lefty Ladig, Ice Blue, emal, chicating, mujr, Lujane, regis, klompendanser, amoginesq, asindc, Elizaveta, Josiah Bartlett, monkeybrainpolitics, anastasia p, jolux, The Hindsight Times, alwaysquestion, fhcec, wilywascal, The Jester, numble, Tunk, sc kitty, standingup, peachcreek, Bluesee, diggerspop, debris54, Pam from Calif, anodnhajo, Jeff Y, GleninCA, JuliathePoet, caul, hopeful, Iron Spider, agitatednactivated, fritzrth, Toprow, LOrion, oldcrow, RUKind, ladybug53

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:56:22 AM PDT

  •  Look at what the inner cities used to be (75+ / 0-)

    Back in the 50s, when the American economy was humming because America didn't have to rebuild it's cities, factories or infrastructure devastated by WWII, people in the "inner cities" had jobs building cars, appliances, and consumer goods. Europe and Japan were rebuilding. Compton was a nice neighborhood because everyone had a steady paycheck from the plant. Over time, those jobs went away and found cheaper labor markets. The people that remained became poor.

    It's not like the "culture" refuses to work or acquire wealth. Work and money are simply not available.

    Every time my iPhone battery gets down to 47%, I think of Mitt Romney.

    by bobinson on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:16:50 AM PDT

    •  The jobs did not go away. The money was removed. (25+ / 0-)

      It is difficult to understand that, given that the demise of the gold standard removed any limitations on the supply of currency. Nevertheless, that's what's happened as a result of the combination of Congressional rationing and Wall Street hoarding of the currency. Congress rations so that its distributions of dollars attain greater importance and contribute to their own longevity in office and Wall Street hoards because Congress rations. Hoarding is always the natural response to rationing.

      The cumulative effect is the same as if someone had said, in response to the call for equality and civil rights, "if they want to be equal, let them be equally deprived," but I doubt that was a conscious intent. Rather, the prospect of losing clout led the Congress and other legislative bodies to cling to power even more tenaciously than before.

      And power, to be felt, has to hurt. So, somebody had to be significantly deprived. Who better than people who were already used to it?

      by hannah on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:30:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hi, Hannah, maybe take a look at "Voltaire's (7+ / 0-)

        Bastards"  by John Ralston Saul.  His exposition is similar to what I sense yours is.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:18:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Moving the jobs is a mechanism (19+ / 0-)

        for removing the money.

        "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

        by nosleep4u on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:22:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Buzzwords (3+ / 0-)


        Your use of buzzwords almost shows that you understand something,  but your inclusion of the gold-standard buzzword was one buzzword too many.

        Let me guess, Rand and Ron Paul?  If you are reading them, just be aware that they don't know  their ass from their elbow when it comes to this subject.

        •  Not too many buzzwords (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          waterstreet2013, Lujane, Shawn87

          I didn't get any Paulian thinking from Hannah's use of "gold standard". She is merely observing that removal of gold standard should make money plentifully available when needed (govt. injects money into the economy, as the Fed has been doing with "quantitative easing").

          But any money additionally provided by US Govt. is inexorably going to very few pockets of very rich people, and not into the general economy where it would do the most good.

          •  Half and half. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wilywascal, debris54, bobinson

            $85-billion a month has driven the economy to a slow recovery. QE worked as well as could be expected.

            Paulian nonsense about the Gold Standard was put paid in 1933. Roosevelt ended backing paper currency with gold and the economy stopped its general price deflation.

            During a Balance Sheet Recession, having a Gold Standard is a major economic sin. Hoover and Mellon had no idea 1929-1932 what they were doing.

            Hannah writes as though monetary policy drove those jobs away. But those decisions were made at the low level of the system, following microeconomic determiners. Lower wages and higher quality workers elsewhere can make all the difference.

            California had war production plants go out of business by the hundreds. Then later, automated production overseas would have driven U.S. plants out of business no matter what was happening to money supply.

            Micro, not macro.

            "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Paul-Koch Ryan

            by waterstreet2013 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:14:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ron Paul (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shawn87, debris54

          One of the few things Ron Paul got right was the corruption of the Federal Reserve banking system. Not surprisingly, after he began questioning the Fed, he dropped out of politics. The screw head Glen Beck was fired from Fake News after talking about "The Creature from Jekyll Island". Kennedy was murdered after talking about going back to the gold standard. James Garfield (20th President) was murdered after advocating the bi-metal monetary system (after the 2nd US bank and before the fed). Wilson, who signed the fed act later wrote of his regret in doing so fearing he turned America over to a small group of very rich people.

          Make no mistake, Ayn Rand Paul will not make the same mistake of his father. Ron was honest. Wrong most of the time, but honest nonetheless. Rand is one dishonest smarmy bastard.    

      •  Well written. But the economics is garbage. (8+ / 0-)

        The gold standard in 1929-1932 had contributed to Hoover and Mellon failing to address the decline of demand that brought on the Great Depression. Prices deflated steadily, yet businesses and individuals were caught in written contracts (such as mortgages) at earlier price levels. America absolutely needed to increase the money supply.

        When Franklin Roosevelt came into office, January of 1933, he used a series of Acts of Congress and Executive Orders which suspended the gold standard except for foreign exchange and revoked gold as legal tender or backing for paper money.

        Immediately the deflation eased and the country responded by starting to easy back out of the depression.

        Also, your notion of "Congressional rationing and Wall Street hoarding of the currency" does not match the simple fact that the Federal Reserve sets the money supply with no control whatsoever from Congress. Recently some $85-billion a month has been injected into this economy through the banks.

        That is stimulus on the grand scale. We did not get a large enough stimulus package in 2009, so the Fed saved the economy by rolling the printing presses at the Mint.

        If you want to understand how capitalist economies work, then study economics. Not one tiny branch but the broad field as it is taught at university.

        And beware what's called the "Austrian School." Their ideas were developed before we had modern databases with detailed accounting information that shows how businesses really work. When people like Richard Koo came along, their political claims evaporated in short order.

        "The Theory of the Leisure Class" by Thorstein Veblen is not rigorous economics, but gawd it's fun to read.

        "The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan's Great Recession" from Richard Koo is a longer, drier read that explains how modern databases show business realities that politicians are reluctant to accept.

        It includes an update that explains the Bush Recession. And there are several competent books out on the 2008-2009 stimulus. If you've read the Koo book, you'll see exact parallels to Japan's half-hearted efforts in the same situation.

        Textbooks can be insanely expensive. The current edition for Mankiw's "Principles of Economics" 2011 will set you back $260 at Amazon. (Rental is $21 for a semester.) Go back to a 5th Edition 2009, though, and a used copy drops down to $5 or $7.  If you value competence, pay the $5 and expect to take a year absorbing the book and its references to classic books and essays.

        Good luck with that.

        "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Paul-Koch Ryan

        by waterstreet2013 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:03:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Corruption (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          waterstreet2013, bobinson

          Economics can become quite esoteric. Most, including myself, couldn't even begin to see truth or deception in Koo. Basic macro 101 doesn't provide enough context to make knowledgeable judgements. When I was an undergrad, textbooks were $40. Personally, I'd rather listen to Robert Reich or Rich Wolff. That's more my level.    

          •  Koo's readable. No math. (0+ / 0-)

            He's one of the people you meet in life who ring clear as a bell.

            Several of his lectures are up on YouTube. He dumbs things down a couple points when he talks to bankers. Anybody who finished high school will understand him -- there's PowerPoint to match.


            When Capitalism Fails

            ...from dkos in 2009 as the Bush Recession hit full force.

            [Off to search....]

            "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Ryan-Paul Koch

            by waterstreet2013 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 04:38:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  "Well written." (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ice Blue, waterstreet2013

          Thanks for the recommendations on texts. It's been a long time since Econ 101, but I'll have to revisit it to the extent possible.

          BTW there's a fine new musical theater piece written around Veblen's "The Theory of the Leisure Class" - the musical is called "The Price of Everything".

        •  The economics of depressions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are not all that esoteric. Robert Reich and Rick Wolff are good on this.  But the gist of it can be explained fairly easily, it seems to me - as it was already at the start of the twentieth century by J.A. Hobson.  When "mainstream" economists were still asserting "overproduction" to be the source of the "bust" portion of the familiar cycles of boom and bust that plagued the 19th century industrial economy, Hobson was arguing the real problem was "underconsumption" - to many people with too little money.  Consider this little known factoid: more than half the population of the US lived BELOW the poverty level in 1929, before the great crash. And this was at the tail-end of the "roaring twenties", which saw a great expansion of the US economy generally. In other words, more than half of Americans didn't have the do-re-mi to participate, as consumers, in the boom economy of the twenties.  No buyers for goods means production must slow or stop, which in turn means job losses, which means less money in pocket, and so on. The result is 'depression'.

          So why were so many Americans poor if the economy was doing well? The answer here is also easy to see: because the industrial mode of production concentrated ownership of productive property in the hands of a few. Those few were then empowered to do two things - which in the unregulated economy of the day, they did in spades: exploit workers and corrupt politicians. Meanwhile, the rich had too much money - far more than they could spend as consumers, even buying castles like Carnegie. So what did they do with their excess wealth? They "invested" it, meaning they played the market, looking for the highest rates of return. The result, invariably, was a stock "bubble" of some kind that would burst eventually as investors realized the real value of the assets was far less than their price on the market. In each case, this was the trigger for the start of depression (in the US, that would be 1873, 1893, 1929, and 2008).

          Hobson is still a good read today, for us ordinary mortals who are not economic specialists.  At the very least, his thinking provides - like that of Wolff or Reich - a good basis for a more critical understanding of the garbage spouted by Ryan and the boosterism of Chamber of Commerce types.

          •  During the 1920s most farm workers (0+ / 0-)

            were replaced by tractors and milkers and the like. Their family depressions led to industrialization on a large scale. Of course there was relatively little overseas competition.

            If something like that happened today with no employment alternatives, there is no telling what might happen.

            Have a look at Koo, then compare his modern data-driven constructs to the simple curves of earlier times (which were based on aggregates.)

            "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Ryan-Paul Koch

            by waterstreet2013 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:26:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not likely to read Koo (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              My list is long already, and he is too far outside my field.  But from a brief glance, his argument about handling a recession appears not so much to be 'new' (it's rooted in Keynes, who was rooted in Hobson, no?) as newly justified by a compelling data, as you seem to suggest.  

              I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about the Austrian School above. My own sense is that the domination of "business school" economic theory by the Austrian school (and Chicago school) has worked to sideline a lot of very good and insightful thinking, which has recently been enjoying a bit of a comeback following the tech bubble burst of 2000 and the disaster of 2008.

              I am content to leave the details (and the data!) to the economists.  The important point for me is that we are moving away from the political economy of Herbert Spencer/Hayek/Friedman, in which political life and values must be subjugated to supposed economic 'laws', toward the political economy of Hobson et al, which insists on subordinating economic activity to political goals and values.  

              •  Richard Koo is uniquely useful (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                because he was the #1 economic advisor to the Japanese government during their 15-year recession and he documents how they failed to implement the proper measures.

                He has axes to grind.

                Old, bad thinking led to half measures which left the Japanese domestic economy is trouble for the whole period. The export market did fine. Huge demand for Japanese goods. But the domestic market remained a mess.

                The chart for golf course membership fees is typical. The guy knows where to go for hysterically funny examples.

                The bad thinking that he identifies is what the Republican Party espouses as its core doctrine. Of course.

                "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Rand Ryan-Paul Koch

                by waterstreet2013 on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 07:08:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Hard to envision (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobinson, Pale Jenova

      but Manhattan used to be the world's largest manufacturing center. If it still was today, in addition to being a financial center, can you imagine to ripple effect it would have on the entire economy?

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 09:56:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The whole "culture of poverty" (62+ / 0-)

    debacle/debate has been around since anthropologist Oscar Lewis'  penned Children of Sanchez in the early 60's - and the iterations keep coming.

    Blaming black folks for being poor - began during slavery - in fact it was an argument lobbed around by slaveowners to stop emancipation ..."those shiftless free Negroes...better to keep blacks enslaved, working, fed and happy on the plantation" yadda yadda.

    Thanks for this

    tipped and rec'ed.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:58:27 AM PDT

  •  Well, I'm inclined to disagree. If one considers (13+ / 0-)

    the "culture of obedience," which I am inclined to do, then the people of whom Paul Ryan complains are, indeed, resistant to the coercive regimen he seeks to impose and it is this resistance which Ryan perceives as rightly punishable. In other words, from Ryan's perspective, whether he recognizes it or not, the poor are poor because they are insufficiently obedient to the coercive strictures he would impose.

    The Cons are convinced that "all men are created evil" and governments are instituted to make them good, because that justifies their use of power to coerce. What makes it difficult to identify this dynamic is the habit of relying on indirection and surrogates to make their point -- a necessary habit since, if their use of force were direct, the targets would likely retaliate and, being greater in number, wipe the petty tyrants out.

    The "culture of obedience" is perverse because, of course, obedience is a natural virtue. Under normal conditions, following the directives of elders who mean us well, is a positive. So, obedience comes naturally. Which means that, if it is to be coerced, if the lust for power is to be satisfied, the directives that are to be complied with are ipso facto irrational. Vide the directive not to let one's pants sag. That's a perfect example of irrationality. Baggy pants have absolutely nothing to do with anything intellectual. So, the demand about them is pursely coercive--a power play. Ditto for the objection to corn rows.

    I do think there is a correlation between the accumulation of monetary wealth (worthless dollars) and being a suck-up. Of course, in some people, the accumulation of dollars is just a manifestation of obsessive behavior -- not unlike being addicted to drugs or alcohol or sexual stimulation. But, perhaps a bit less physically destructive.

    by hannah on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:22:30 AM PDT

  •  especially appreciated..... (30+ / 0-)

    since the links take me into the area behind the paid subscription firewall.  I have been frustrated and haven't paid for the subscription just to read one of my favorite columnists.

    I live in Appalachia and the lack of jobs combines with the constant chaos that poverty brings to people's lives.  You can't get to an interview because you lack a reliable car.  You have to bail out a brother or go to the ER with a roommate.  Some physician complains that people wind up on SSI with treatable illnesses like diabetes.  I am mentoring a student with diabetes, and he shares some of his health challenges and his efforts to get a job.  I have learned a lot on how hard this is to do.  These folks don't have a clue how hard this is for poor people.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:57:56 AM PDT

  •  I think there's an implicit additional (20+ / 0-)

    reason for blaming poverty on "culture:" It allows for a feeling of superiority among the better-off, and also calms their fears. After all, if poverty is due to deficient culture, surely they will never fall into poverty themselves...

    In reality, though, social conditions shape culture at least as much as they are shaped by it. After all, many of the habits which supposedly characterise the "culture of poverty" (such as short-sightedness) can be hypothesised to be efficient adaptations to poor social conditions (worrying about events a decade away tends to be a bit useless if you're not sure whether or not you'll go to bed hungry tomorrow - or whether you will have a bed to sleep in, for that matter).

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 04:12:53 AM PDT

  •  No Job Opportunities, Joblessness And Poverty. Duh (11+ / 0-)

    Ryan and Republicans just need to look down on people.  Makes them warm inside.  Normal people call that abusive and sociopathic.

  •  Culture of inherited wealth ruining USA (20+ / 0-)

    Multi-millionaires and billionaires whose big accomplishment in life was being born in the right place at the right time have created a culture of undeserved privilege and over-reliance on Government to protect and preserve their undeserved wealth.
    They are what is wrong with America

    •  All The Way Down (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's down in the middle class too.  They become instant two hundred and fifty thousand-aires due to an out of control real estate market and forget their humble upbringings.  Thinking they're every bit as entitled to 100% of their inheritance as Paris Hilton is to hers.  Case in point:  German and Japanese luxury cars out in the bedroom suburbs: Lexus, Acura, Mercedes, Infinity, BMW.  W2 wage slaves buying $50,000+ cars and then whining pathetically about having to pay taxes to support the roads to drive them on.  And their parents were lucky if they could afford a new Chevrolet Nova.

  •  The majority culture is the problem; it's more (7+ / 0-)

    "Blame the victim" which the rotten Rs are good at doing to absolve themselves of a problem they created.

    Ryan & the other evil rotten racist Rs are good at distraction & projection.

    Robinson is great; tipped & rec'ed & thanks for being here.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 05:11:02 AM PDT

  •  Another factor... (12+ / 0-)

    when cities do things such as cutting funding for public transportation, they make it that much more difficult for people to get to existing jobs.

    I've never known a person who doesn't want to work. For Paul Ryan to think that way is beyond insulting.

    We may have government by and of the people; it's the "for the people" that we sometimes fail at miserably.

    Ryan makes me twitch. If I said what I really felt about him, I'd probably get banned.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 05:28:36 AM PDT

  •  The 'culture' that is torn, twisted, malicious, (13+ / 0-)

    and diseased is the culture of racism, ignorance, greed, and unbridled, unashamed opportunism, embraced by the likes of Ryan and his Republican cohorts, the so-called tea-party leaders and their minions and cheerleaders.
    The culture of laziness is that of elected officials who tread water, spinning in circles of helplessness and hopelessness, churning the fetid waters that they themselves have sullied, polluted by their empty souls and vacuous pronouncements.
    The fishbowl of DC is long overdue for a cleansing and a clearing of the dead weight that floats haplessly on the surface, unable and unwilling to enter and grapple with the true problems that remain submerged, deep below the surface.
    I am also a longtime admirer of Mr. Robinson and hold a great deal of respect for his honesty and clarity and always pleasant manner.

  •  There is a reason a poor man or woman cannot (5+ / 0-)

    be elected to any serious office in this country.  The firewall is always money, not personal empathy, energy or intellectualism.  Perhaps over time the Internet may serve to erode that firewall, so watch what they do to the Internet.  
    Caste systems have always made democracy the bread that is thrown to the masses to keep them hungry enough to do the work while believing they too will improve their lots.  Many do when true democracy exists, but as we can see today, the abridgement of democracy via voter suppression, morality manipulation and corruption by government, and the promotion of all manner of fear, the outcome is ennui at best and pervasive hopelessness at worst.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 05:40:14 AM PDT

  •  Ryan must have found a 53 old book by (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kvetchnrelease, catwho

    Oscar Lewis titled, "The Culture of Poverty."

    I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

    by SocioSam on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:01:36 AM PDT

    •  Or Patrick Moynihan's Poverty Report 51 years ago. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Since the release of the Moynihan report, significant progress has been made for middle-class blacks, but there has been little economic improvement for the black poor, says the Urban Institute's Gregory Achs. Achs says the same disparities Moynihan noticed 50 years ago remain in place today.
      Achs warns: "If we let kids grow up in poverty, in single families, going to bad schools, they're going to grow up to become dependent adults. The cycle will just repeat."

      The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place for it in the endeavor of science. Carl Sagan

      by Kvetchnrelease on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:33:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Of course the poor are immoral (9+ / 0-)

    If you are a right winger, the poor are immoral, because you have been made to believe that money is indicative of the intrinsic worth of the individual.  

    Low money = Low morals.

    If you are poor, then you need to be humble, and not feel entitled to things that others have, regardless of how they came to have them.  

    It's really just a materialistic religious riff on the whole chain of being that led up to the King.  


    by otto on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:22:55 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, teacherken (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for bringing this op ed to my attention.  

    Robinson is spot on when he says that the way out of poverty for many women and minorities has been not only education, but having meaningful work.

    To expand upon that assertion, many minorities and women find that the ladder to the middle class through private sector jobs remains stubbornly elusive.  

    Well-educated women and minorities have often found that it is instead government jobs that provide the necessary step up the ladder out of poverty and into the middle class.  This is true for professions from lawyers to teachers to librarians to higher level clerical jobs provided by local, state and federal governments.

    I would ask Paul Ryan why he is for cutting public employment if it has been proven to lead to the prosperity he purports to seek for women and minorities--the very people he uses as the poster children for the culture of poverty.

    History is a guide, not a destination.

    by NCJan on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:51:58 AM PDT

  •  Would we expect anything else (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from a member of the Rand cult? Robinson's takedown of Paul rAyn is spot on. To blame "culture" is the Cons way to avoid taking any action that costs a dollar. Rather than the cause of it, most mistakes poor people make is the result of poverty.

  •  Blame the poor la la la la la la la (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Same shit different day la la la la la la

    The One True Gospel la la la la la la la

    Carry on, nothing to see here la la la la la la

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 09:19:23 AM PDT

  •  The issue of "not having enough money" (0+ / 0-)

    is that the value of money continually shrinks, and the value of equity and assets continually rise, not by accident, but by design.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 09:54:12 AM PDT

  •  Go F yourself Ryan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrisculpepper, greenomanic

    Republicans need to be informed that unemployment is high because 25 million people are looking for work and there are only 5 million jobs.  Ryan is assigning unemployment to urban blacks for political gain.

  •  Teacherken, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks for the diary.  However, I think you need to rewrite the title as it reads like you're asking Robinson to take down Ryan.  It should read "Eugene Robinson's Take Down of Paul Ryan" or something like that.

    •  I know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but computer I am on will not allow me to get to edit an existing diary.  Long story,  fiilter, etc.

      "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

      by teacherken on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:43:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The substance of the article has been covered in (0+ / 0-)

    these comments.

    So I'll leave that alone.

    What I will do, though, is agree the Eugene Robinson is one of the greats.

    Always worth reading.

  •  Amazing how the entitled look at the rest (0+ / 0-)

    Really, is it a lack of empathy or just plain brutishness?

    Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:26:33 PM PDT

  •  It starts with jobs and economic security... (0+ / 0-)

    it doesn't mean that everyone is earning middle class wages but that people have enough to survive, save money, have health care and food.  If the access is there and the opportunity is equal children from any group will thrive and have a better chance of succeeding later in life.  

  •  Eugene Robinson Downs Paul Ryan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Not on the defensive he is definitely worth reading. Thank-you for seeing the light. Paul Ryan's Callous harden heart, without a conscious, Referred to in the DSMIV as Sociopath, and the Vedas as the lowest form of humanity; Evolved to an upright position but yet to develop a heart.
    Paul Ryan is seeking votes to win an election. Republicans have been riding into office on the backs of Afro-Americans for centuries.(originally 3/5, went to the plantation owners vote) Extorting money from those of European descent with false promises of security. e.g. Stop and Frisk etc. Ian Lopez's new Book, "Dog Whistle Politics" can be viewed at aired March 9th and 16th.
    You will be enlightened.

  •  As a former high-school math teacher in an urban (5+ / 0-)

    school, I find this diary and Mr. Robinson's comments right on target and consistent with my 6 years of experience working with urban youths on a daily basis.  I love those kids.  They do work hard, despite the knowledge that the deck is stacked against them.  They demonstrated concern about their education, particularly when we couldn't get enough math teachers to fully staff our department, year after year, and had to rely on long-term substitutes with no training in math, or educational techniques, and who often hadn't even mastered the math they were supposed to teach.  The kids voiced a great deal of fear over that.  Not criticism, not complaining, not acting out - fear.

    I also worked 4 years in a privileged, 99.75% White suburban high school.  (We literally had 3 non-White students out of 1200, and one of them had been adopted at birth by White parents.)  My conclusions from comparing the 2 populations:  Kids are kids.  Most are absolutely wonderful, about 10% are on the fence, and a small handful are real @$$es.  It didn't matter what their background was.  The real difference is the poor Black kids were that wonderful despite the reality they faced every day. I admire the hell out of them.

    I always enjoy your diaries and comments, teacherken.  Thank you.

  •  Ryan's open racism is no secret. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova

    I'm just amazed Ryan gets away with this still, and isn't called on it by media and everyone, for exactly what it is. Why does Ryan bother with playing word games? No one assumes it's anything other than brazen, open, ignorant racism. BOTH Ryan and racism need to become Socially unacceptable again. if someone swore on TV, people would notice. How is this ugliness especially by an elected official any different?

    •  Rap music and baggy pants? (0+ / 0-)

      Hmm. Even a teabagger can get that reference.

      And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

      by Pale Jenova on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:27:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Work, if you can find it, just doesn't pay. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bmcphail, OhioNatureMom, Pale Jenova

    Conservatives don't value labor, they value investment and ownership; not to mention authority, power and control. The rules are stacked against all workers. Life in modern America is like living in the old company coal towns like Eckley PA. You were paid in company dollars which were only used to pay your rent for company housing and shop at the company store. 16 Tons and what do you get?  

  •  Having lived in an inner city (in Indy) and then (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova, solublefish

    in Texas, in San Antonio and teaching in the barrios, then moving to the Houston area and teaching, I have seen a lot.  Paul Ryan's 'hot air' is capable of transporting most of the Tea Party to the middle of the Atlantic before he runs out of hot air.  I watched kids give up because their parents could no longer find jobs, and these kids dropped out of school.  They often felt like they were burdens on their families.  Newspaper routes that once kids could do were now motor routes, lawn mowing jobs that kids did wound up going to people who called themselves 'landscapers' and who, themselves were trying to provide something for their families.
    We retired to East TN, in Appalachia..and now we were among what were considered by many 'poor whites'; sadly I saw more things there that upset me.  Parents worked 9 months at Dollywood and Gatlinburg, then collected three months' unemployment each year.  There were only minimum wage service jobs available in the area... I listened to girls who were having babies at 16, not finishing high school, often not marrying the father, telling me that they would be 'taken care of'.  I asked them, "By whom".  These were NOT blacks and Hispanics but white girls, raised with the idea that their duty was to have kids and take care of a family, and be dutiful, and fathers, to boy friends, to husbands.  The small plants that did sewing (Cherokee clothing for one) closed up and things were sent overseas.  No jobs now, and nothing available for those without skills.  I saw increasing numbers of high schoolers with high blood pressure, whose diets were 'fast food' as mama was single and worked as a custodian at a nursing home or in a motel.  Diabetes was a major issue there; medical care was at a premium..because too many doctors did not want to practice in these areas.  Wells were polluted by paper mills and cancer rates and birth defects were the norm.  It is still that way today; is it culture (obviously not black or Hispanic), is it a lack of people being able to get knowledge, to have jobs available, to have health care.  Tobacco was their main legal crop and that is disappearing.. what do they have now?  So, chop shops, marijuana patches, become a source of income so a family can eat.  After a group has been beaten down just so long, they lose hope and have no knowledge of how to fight back to better themselves.  

    •  Thanks for that (0+ / 0-)

      Your descriptions offer a slice of reality that is a sure antidote to the poison spouted by Ryan and others. Maybe you could make a diary of them - a bit of "thick description" to counter the simplistic social Darwinist dogma that too often passes for wisdom when it comes to the 'culture of poverty'.

  •  There is always a real debate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as to the best ways to use limited resources to help people in poverty. Many people say feed them first; give them fish. Others say no, teach them how to fish; maybe even give them a fishing pole.

    Paul Ryan is a spokesman for those who reject both approaches. What they see is poor people who are perfectly capable of catching fish, but who have no fish because they are not yet hungry enough. So for them, the solution to the problem involves more widespread hunger.

    You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.

    by mstep on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:54:16 PM PDT

  •  Ari Melber also (epically) took down that asshat (0+ / 0-)

    When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered -- MLK, Jr.

    by caul on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 03:15:58 AM PDT

  •  What do we expect from a WienerMobile Driver? (0+ / 0-)

    The "heavy thinker", "wonk" of the GNoP has had but 1 Real Job in his life - driving a WienerMobile for 2 to 3 months. Yet, the GNoP, and others, take seriously the spoutings of this White Irish-American, while constantly dismissing the thoughts of the tan Irish-American in the WH.  
    Why? Because the tan Irish-American worked as a community outreach worker for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago for about 16 months between graduating Columbia and entering Harvard Law?

    Why never a mention that the latter fellow having, after graduating Harvard Law magna cum, moved into private Law practice and professorship of Constitutional Law at the very prestigious U of Chicago Law School for more than a dozen years??

    Why do we even have to waste electrons on the WienerMobile driver?

  •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

    Robinson is brilliant, an intellect way out of Paul Ryan's league.

    by Edward L Cote on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 05:21:04 AM PDT

  •  The Issue is Poverty (0+ / 0-)

    As usual Paul Ryan is just mouthing what " The boys in the back" are telling him to say.

    "In other words, the issues is poverty, being it that of urban people of color or rural Southern Whites. "

    Ok, Lets see what the common denominator is for Poverty?

    Detroit:  The Big Three went overseas for cheap labor.  Taking how many good paying jobs out of the tax base?

    If you look closely the main reason so many people live in poverty is because so many jobs went overseas, and of course the corporations receive corporate welfare from the GOP so why worry about the Poor??

    Paul Ryan hasn't worked for his pay in years.

  •  Racist in Congress (0+ / 0-)

    While I agree with MR. Robinson completely that the lack of opportunity has much more to do it the "culture" than any other factor. Baggy pants ,dread locks, and rap music is only a symptom of a greater ethnic assault that has removed father from son and son from a right to a good education. When you witness a black teen print has name instead of cursive the full consequence of the mountain blacks have to climb to get passed the obstacles laid down by the injustice of a society of exclusion. Senator Paul Ryan is full of the hubris associated with being a white doctor in a white power structure world and should disqualify him from any public position let alone the highest office in the land.

  •  Please edit your remarks - (0+ / 0-)

    The ideas are good (often) but to have bad, Junior High Grammar and sentence structure kills the message.
    " In other words, the issues is poverty, being it that of urban people of color or rural Southern Whites."
    For heaven's sake! Fix things like this. Now - The Paul Ryan attack on cultural poverty is the same argument that has been a basis of the US policies ever since the Declaration of Independence. THe big argument then was whether to allow the working people - Labor - and the uneducated (poor or indentured) to have any say at all in governing themselves. It has morphed over time to what we have now - an elite class of wealth (usually inherited or gotten through pure influence) which got their self-satisfied bell rung when they looked up and saw a BLACK man in the WHITE house! The vitriol is constant and less and less couched in code. Obama is uppity, smart, suspect, and everything that they are frightened of - he is not them and he is not someone of inherited wealth. Nor is he someone who got wealthy by tricking people out of their money, gutting small companies or using connections to gain advantage. He worked, got paid and continued that into the comfortable upper middle class. He had no government subsidies, borrowed to go to school and paid his loan back. But he is BLACK. That is all we know and all we need to know. In Ryan's mind, and most of the Elite Elected too, this must be stopped at any cost to the people and the country or it might set a precedent for change which would push more people (who are not like us) into leadership positions.

  •  Paul, Lyin' Ryan (0+ / 0-)

    Since Paul Ryan came to the public view, during the race from here to Mitt-ternity, one thing has been, as Nixon used to say, "Perfectly Clear:"

    Paul Ryan is an elitist.
    He makes decent money as a Congressman; he married very well; he will never need to be concerned about medical/health care, retirement, or anything related to wealth.

    And so either he chooses to act like a perfect asshole, or he does it by accident - is that nature or nurture?  But then, W. C. Fields did say, "Nobody's perfect!"

    Every time Paul Ryan makes news, it is somehow related to putting down those beneath him, financially.  And you know what?  That's because very few people are beneath him, morally.

    Sometimes, you need a sensa uma!

    by HashHoward on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 02:33:41 PM PDT

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