Race, Wrongs, and Remedies

    I don’t talk a lot about “personal responsibility” on this site. To do so, I think, makes me sound like a Tea Bagger. The truth is, though, I don’t think the government has the power, try as it might, to eradicate poverty. I think they can, and should, put safety nets in place, but, at the end of the day, it’s up to the individual as to whether or not he or she succeeds. So, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being the delusional “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” realm of Ayn Rand and Horatio Alger, and 10 being a total welfare state, where no one works and the government does everything, I’d say that I’m about a 4.

    I think we need to fund the hell out of education, and make sure that people have enough to live, but I’ve got issues with programs that essentially incentivize capable individuals to stay home, watching television. But, like I said, I generally keep my mouth shut about such things because it’s hard not to look like a total dick when talking about stuff like this. And, I should add, I realize that some people have the decks stacked against them. I realize that some kids grow up in environments where nutrition is non-existent, education isn’t valued, parenting is deficient at best, and schools aren’t working. And, because of that, I’m vehemently supportive of Head Start and other initiatives to reach kids early, feed them well and put them in smaller classrooms with teachers who have the skills and resources to help. But, at the same time, I don’t think we’re helping anyone by creating a permanent underclass that, from birth to death, is dependent upon the government… Anyway, I rarely write about it here, due to the fact that I, 1) lack the vocabulary to do so, and 2) don’t have alternatives to suggest. But, as I’m sitting here tonight, reading a review in the New Republic for Amy Wax’s new book, Race, Wrongs, and Remedies: Group Justice in the 21st Century (Hoover Studies in Politics, Economics, and Society), I felt compelled to start a thread. Here, in hopes that it will facilitate our conversation, is a clip from the review:

    …Wax appeals to a parable in which a pedestrian is run over by a truck and must learn to walk again. The truck driver pays the pedestrian’s medical bills, but the only way the pedestrian will walk again is through his own efforts. The pedestrian may insist that the driver do more, that justice has not occurred until the driver has himself made the pedestrian learn to walk again. But the sad fact is that justice, under this analysis, is impossible. The legal theory about remedies, Wax points out, grapples with this inconvenience—and the history of the descendants of African slaves, no matter how horrific, cannot upend its implacable logic. As she puts it, “That blacks did not, in an important sense, cause their current predicament does not preclude charging them with alleviating it if nothing else will work.”

    Wax is well aware that past discrimination created black-white disparities in education, wealth, and employment. Still, she argues that discrimination today is no longer the “brick wall” obstacle it once was, and that the main problems for poor and working-class blacks today are cultural ones that they alone can fix. Not that they alone should fix—Wax is making no moral argument—but that they alone can fix.

    A typical take on race has no room for stories such as this one. In 1987, a rich philanthropist in Philadelphia “adopted” 112 inner-city sixth-graders, most of them from broken homes. He guaranteed them a fully-funded education through college if the kids would refrain from drugs, unwed parenthood, and crime. He even provided tutors, workshops, after-school programs, summer programs, and counselors when trouble arose. Forty-five of the kids never made it through high school. Thirteen years later, of the sixty-seven boys, nineteen were felons; the forty-five girls had sixty-three total children, and more than half had their babies before the age of eighteen. Crucially, this was not surprising: The reason was culture. These children had been nurtured in communities with different norms than those that reign in Scarsdale…

    One of the most sobering observations made by Wax comes in the form of a disarmingly simple calculus presented first by Isabel Sawhill and Christopher Jencks. If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period. I have repeatedly felt the air go out of the room upon putting this to black audiences. No one of any political stripe can deny it. It is human truth on view. In 2004, the poverty rate among blacks who followed that formula was less than 6 percent, as opposed to the overall rate of 24.7 percent. Even after hearing the earnest musings about employers who are less interested in people with names like Tomika, no one can gainsay the simple truth of that advice. Crucially, neither bigotry nor even structural racism can explain why an individual does not live up to it….

    And here’s a direct quote from Wax:

    …The government cannot make people watch less television, talk to their children, or read more books. It cannot ordain domestic order, harmony, tranquility, stability, or other conditions conducive to academic success and the development of sound character. Nor can it determine how families structure their interactions and routines or how family resources—including time and money—are expended. Large-scale programs are especially ineffective in changing attitudes and values toward learning, work, and marriage…

    And, just so we’re clear on this, I’m not saying that families on welfare should be put out on the street. I am, however, saying that, if we ever hope to solve the problem – and I don’t think it’s just a problem in black America, by the way – we need to acknowledge that money alone won’t fix it.

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      32 Comments

      1. Leeslamb
        Posted August 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        What problem do we need to solve?

      2. Leeslamb
        Posted August 13, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        Sorry. I guess that question could be taken a few ways. To clarify, I don’t see “poverty” aka “access to material goods” as a problem. I see fear, anxiety, unfulfillment, violence, exploitation, abuse, and so on as problems to be solved. All of these problems can follow people in and out of poverty. They exist at all income levels.

        I think we need to know what we’re trying to achieve, and, as a society, we’ve failed at defining that beyond incomes.

      3. Oliva
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/ghostgenes.shtml

        Biology stands on the brink of a shift in the understanding of inheritance. The discovery of epigenetics – hidden influences upon the genes – could affect every aspect of our lives.

        At the heart of this new field is a simple but contentious idea – that genes have a ‘memory’. That the lives of your grandparents – the air they breathed, the food they ate, even the things they saw – can directly affect you, decades later, despite your never experiencing these things yourself. And that what you do in your lifetime could in turn affect your grandchildren . . .

        I heard about this in the context of Holocaust victims, but a legacy of 400 years of slavery did come to mind. For what it’s worth in the context of this discussion.

      4. jeff davis
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 6:37 am | Permalink

        WATER STREET DISTRICT…… how is our city going to make up a $21,000,000+ debt. at least thats the figure that i’ve been hearing. i’d love to see the actual numbers. on election day a former ypsilanti politition ran an idea past me that would bring in 1 heck of a tax base for that area, but i’m not sure that its the right type of business for ypsi. more to come later.

      5. kjc
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

        does anyone think money can fix everything? i didn’t know people thought that. i also don’t like a discussion that starts with “people need to be personally responsible” and ends with “black America.”

      6. Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        KJC, I wasn’t thinking about it so much as a race thing as a poverty thing, but I get your drift. And, I like I said, that’s why I tend not to write about such things. There’s a huge risk of sounding like some old while man yelling about “welfare queens.” My intention wasn’t to demonize anyone, or say, “you folks need to be more responsible.” My point was that the system isn’t working, and that we need to accept the fact that, for real change to occur, we need to think about culture, as well as government policy.

      7. Brackinald Achery
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        I think I sorta kinda agree with Mark and kjc. I’ve seen a lot of people from all “races” (not that I believe in the concept of “race”) that refuse to take responsibility for themselves and are total mooching shitbags. One of our obstacles is thinking it’s a race thing, which it isn’t. It’s just that a lot of people are abusive trashy shitbags who manipulate others through guilt into enabling their shitbaggery.

        If you take the race analogy above regarding getting hit by a truck, a better analogy is if someone else’s great-great-great grandpa hit someone else’s great-great-great grandpa with a truck 150 years ago, and therefore people today who had nothing to do with it in any way have to still dwell on it and pick at the wound so it never heals. The race thing is just a distraction. It’s about shitbags.

      8. Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

        Quoting: If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period


        That’s it. Period. I teach in the ‘hood and I can tell you that the families with two parents are almost always making it. Not wealthy, not middle class even, but making it. Now of course whenever I say something like this, an unmarried mom pipes up about how dare I intimate that she have to have a man and she can do it all by herself fuckyouverymuch. I’m not trying to slam anyone or their lifestyle…but I am saying that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

        Also, the sheer number of children makes a huge difference. Women simply have to stop shitting out a kid with every man who walks by. I realize that many are looking for him to stick around and/or a “wallet” to support them but girls, come on! He ain’t gonna stick around any more than the other five guys. Please stop heading to the bar as soon as the afterbirth expels.

        The issue of having kids out of wedlock transcends race and strikes in the heart of class. Girls in my class (middle class, upper middle class) had abortions if we got pregnant (I was never pregnant, thank birth control). There is a huge stigma of terminating a pregnancy where I teach and also, amusingly, girls tend to say that they could “never” terminate because it’s against their religion (cuz, uh, I guess they are in one of those pro-unmarried sex religions…cuz those are surely plentiful). While I’m sure my girlfriends faced some obstacles, the fact is that they were able to get the terminations and–to a one–go on to have middle class lives. Meantime, there are 14 year old girls with one baby and another on the way…sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you ain’t gonna make it out of poverty. Oh sure, every now and again one of them will make it to UM and become a doctor and that’s fabulous. But that is by far the very rare exception.

        (I should add that my preaching about controlling fertility is very easy for me to say…I have never wanted to have a kid, ever. So someone who has had the maternal/paternal longing is probably better suited to preach about it than I am.)

      9. Brackinald Achery
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        What kinda gets me is the mistaken thought that giving handouts to mooches is somehow charitable, or “Christian.” What bullshit. Paul advises in his letters that those who don’t work, don’t eat. He even said that widows who have family members shouldn’t get church handouts because their families should be taught to take care of them themselves. Charity is for those that really need it, who really can’t take care of themselves, and who have no one else to take care of them. Painful consequences are for mooches that don’t really need charity. Welfare distorts the picture and enables mooches in some grotesque parady of charitable giving.

      10. Oliva
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Don’t even have to reference the 400 years of slavery. I could have said a legacy of racial division and bigotry that remains a palpable part of our national system–and it hurts all of us, including those of us with the physical qualities that grant us vast automatic privileges even before we blink our eyes. It will be interesting to see where epigenetics goes, what it shows. Toward healing, I hope. (Earlier this year we were in a country, Ethiopia, without a history of racial division, and it was an enormously grand and different feeling even just to get a tiny taste of what that is like, so rare and impossible here–superficial taste, to be sure. Not to say that country is without giant trouble and plenty of excruciating cultural divisions and long-standing power imbalances–ongoing wars, cooperation in the extraordinary renditions program of Bush/Cheney, tainted elections, etc. And poverty that has no mercy and yet such kindness and generosity everywhere we turned, even mirth in unexpected places. Ah, such a beautiful place.)

        Anyway, re. Mark’s post–we need quality education for all, at home and in schools and ongoingly (in this society of rapid changes and complexity and a very bruised political system). Not the resurrected Know-Nothingness currently being foisted on, fed to, angry, confused people who probably just want to live their lives with some hope, glee, and comfort. Education, interaction, empathy, and kindness–what the country needs now. Love sweet love too, of course.

      11. Mark H.
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        BA may wish to paraphrase Paul’s anti-charity arguments and feel justified in being opposed to charity and public assistance. But the actual sermons and sayings of Jesus as reported in the Gospels stress very different values, don’t they, than does Paul. For the best of Christian teachings, try the golden rule and the Sermon on the Mount; and try then to use those teachings to justify a heartless social policy toward the many poor and suffering in our rich society.

        Yes, America is rich, and filled with inequities. How we treat the least powerful of those among us is how we will be judged.

      12. Posted August 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Was anyone else reminded of Dr. Cosby and his controversial statements a few years ago.

      13. KateL
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        How many of these shiftless “shitbags” living on government moneydo you really think there are in this country? Most of the poor are children, old people, disabled people and the women who take care of them all. Are you aware of the difficulties people face trying to keep their kids/parents/selves fed and getting the medicine they need to survive while living on a government income. Off the top of my head I can tell you stories about white people who’ve always worked but became disabled due to stroke and now are facing tremendous challenges – financial and physical while still being the support for children and grandchildren that is expected of them while being unable to work. Of divorced mom whose (wealthy & white) husband does not pay child support and whose child was bumped off government medical program due to an error – not hers- which takes months to correct – don’t you understand that someone has to take care of children and elders? Who do you think is taking care of those who cannot care for themselves? Don’t the caretakers deserve some support? Who are you calling a shit bag? Just wait till you are old and or sick or lose your job because of economic troubles caused by wall street gamblers. Will you then become a shit bag too? If you don’t want to come across like a racist then watch what you say and what you quote. This streotype of irresponsible black people living on welfare has got to go. Everyone except the quite privledged need a saftey net when times get hard. By bring up these stereotypes instead of discussing who is really poor and why, you are clouding the issue.

      14. Posted August 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        Kate, if I gave you the impression that I was saying that these people were worthless shit bags, I’m sorry. That wasn’t my intention. I know people who are now, and have been in the past, on government assistance. I think it’s absolutely necessary in a civilized society. And I don’t believe I said anything to the contrary. What I was trying to convey, however, is that, if we’re ever going to fix multi-generational poverty, we need to look at the root causes, some of which can be addressed via government intervention, and some of which cannot. Giving people money, in and of itself, doesn’t solve everything. Yes, it keeps people alive, but it doesn’t encourage them to contribute in any meaningful way to society. People have to care enough about themselves to pull their families out of poverty. They need to believe there’s something better, and they need to put in the work. The question is how to get there…. Or, are you saying that the current system is working beautifully?

      15. KateL
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the clarification, Mark. I guess my response is maybe too involved to get into. But I will try.
        I think that the spectre of multigenerational poverty is often invoked to deny needed services to people in difficult circumstances, and so it is very important to be careful in your discussions if you don’t want to support those positions.
        I question how much of a problem, in terms of percentage of people recieving government support, multigenerational poverty is. My understanding, expressed above, is that most people recieving support are children, older people, disabled people and women who cannot work because they are taking care of small children or family members with medical problems. I actually do think that giving people money does solve problems. It helps people to get college degrees, to get daycare for their children so that they can work, to get needed medicine and medical care. It helps people learn job skills. I happen to agree with Paul Krugman that a massive jobs program would be great for our economy, and at the same time could help people learn new skills and take care of many of the problems that face us. What if we had a jobs program which trained people to be paraproffesssionals in the schools, to keep parks and neighborhoods green and full of gardens and bike paths. To staff afterschool programs and community centers for the elderly? This is just a quick list, there are so many possibilites. In this very blog the relationship between unemployment, economic downturn and a rise in crime is often mentioned. This correlation argues against the idea that the problem is intergenerational poverty. Yes there are some people who can’t be reached, who are too badly damaged etc. But I strongly question this narrative about a huge number of able bodied dyfunctional men and women who are taking advantage of government programs.

      16. dragon
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Kate
        Now that we’ve correctly identified all the mooches and shitbags that get $133 dollars a month to eat, many of them work but make below poverty levels, let’s try and feed them cat food. Whew, that 56 billion dollar hole in the budget is fixed.
        Now let’s try to figure who the mooches and shitbags who use the 510 billion allocated to defense spending.

      17. blah
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

        This discussion reminds me of ODB on MTV.

        http://www.mtv.com/videos/misc/101194/ol-dirty-bastard-gets-paid.jhtml#series=1433&id=1550613

      18. Oliva
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        Reading about what giving people money can do . . . I can’t help but think of some of the people I’ve met along the way in life, white comfortable older people–some of them very nice in many ways, some smug and not so nice–who love to tell about growing up with nothing but see what their work ethic, goodness, etc., got them. It was that bountiful time for white Americans, the 1950s, but ask them and they’ll insist their relative success was all their doing, an indication of their virtue, even superiority. But that’s probably such a human way to be. Who wants to admit that they got so much just for being in the right place at the right time and having the right access?

      19. Brackinald Achery
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        Of course not every poor person is a mooching shitbag, but if you don’t think there are a lot of mooching shitbags out there gaming the system, you’re an idiot.

      20. Gnome Island
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        I think your sources indicate this isn’t really a discussion about “personal responsibility” it’s about a collective responsibility to challenge and change aspects of an established culture that inhibits individuals:

        “The reason was culture. These children had been nurtured in communities with different norms.”

        Rather than blaming individuals, we should, as I think you suggest, focus on reshaping the cultures that shaped them.

      21. Brackinald Achery
        Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

        The longer people try to make it about anything but personal responsibility, the worse people get. It’s always someone else’s fault! The abusive sociopath’s mantra.

      22. someotherdude
        Posted August 15, 2010 at 2:24 am | Permalink

        I think the truck driver analogy is lacking, but let’s take it to the logical conclusion. Let’s say that a truck driver captured and enslaved a pedestrian in order to break his legs continuously. Then let’s say he forces this captured and enslaved pedestrian to breed, in order for the truck driver’s children to have pedestrians to run over, as well. The truck driver justifies his behavior, because he pays for the medical bills. The let’s say this happens over a few hundred years. Then let’s say the State forces the truck driver to only hit the pedestrian once a year instead of whenever he wants, but the truck driver no longer has to pay for the medical bills. The pedestrian is responsible, now. (The truck driver even had a fight with his brother over the treatment of the pedestrian). This “freedom” to hit the pedestrian once a year, without paying for medical bills, lasts about 100 years.

        Just sayin’…

      23. Oliva
        Posted August 15, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        I once got to hear Alex Haley speak in Knoxville, TN, near his home. It was a wonderful long talk and included a great story ending with the line “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help getting there.” He used it in a very positive way, to describe how someone’s help had given him a vital step up so that instead of beginning his life’s work as a sharecropper, he became a writer.

        (Got his start in the Merchant Marines writing love letters for his shipmates for $1 a letter. His friends had envied the fact that he had girlfriends all over the world, and he told them his secret, love letters. After he began writing letters for his buddies, he said, “Soon they had girlfriends in every port.”)

      24. Brackinald Achery
        Posted August 15, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        someotherdude, that’s a pretty sad story about some guy who ain’t me (or even my ancestors!) hitting some other people who ain’t them with a truck. Put down the violin.

        Find me a child molester who didn’t have a crappy childhood.

        Adults should never have their bad behavior excused because of the bad behavior of others, or because they had a hard life. All it does is perpetuate bad behavior. A lot of people have had bad things happen to them or their ancestors, and they don’t get to use it to justify their own wrongdoing just because a bunch of privileged guilt-ridden saps want to play messiah.

      25. Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        Racism isn’t something that can be boiled down to just a bunch of bad people doing bad things. Mind you, even during the eras we consider some of the most racially charged white people by and large believed that there were no problems with racism.

        ‘Social institutions’ are behaviors that reproduce themselves over time and space, composed of things like norms and roles. And informed by sets of values that can be bad or good depending upon their ability to make us feel disconnected, undervalued, voiceless, and powerless – or the opposite, which is more conducive to a fully participatory society.

      26. someotherdude
        Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Brackinald,

        Sorry to have hit a nerve, but I’m dealing with the analogy our esteemed academic gave me.

        But if your ancestors were white, they benefited from the laws that privileged an austere racial hierarchy. Each new wave of European immigrants went to the courts to demand that the laws that benefited white men/truck drivers, be applied to them. They didn’t go to court arguing that the whole racial hierarchy was unjust or that the category of “white” and “black” was wrong. They argued that they as white men/truck driver should not be treated like black men/pedestrian. These laws were so strict that any pedestrian discovered to be impersonating a truck driver was sent to prison. There were songs praising the dexterity and beauty of the truck driver who hit pedestrians. The sciences were employed to justify the biological and cultural superiority of truck drivers and the inherent depravity of the pedestrian. Theology was used to explain this state of affairs, as well. Any truck driver caught having intimate relationships with pedestrians were severely punished. And truck drivers were allowed to use violent bloody activities like rioting and lynching to keep the boundaries between truck driver and pedestrian secure and fastened.

        The category of white people/truck drivers and the category of black person/pedestrian didn’t happen in one moment…some accidental meeting on a street. It was a process that happened over hundreds of years.

        Race and Manifest Destiny: Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism by Reginald Horsman

        Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940 by Grace Elizabet Hale

        How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev

        The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class by David R. Roediger

        How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says About Race in America by Karen Brodkin

        Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs by David R. Roediger

        Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race by Matthew Frye Jacobson

        The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity by Eric L. Goldstein

        Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diasporaby Sarah Gualtieri

        I suspect many of you call the designers of the United States “Founding Fathers” even though you have no direct blood link to those men. I suspect that you believe that some actions that were taken hundreds of years ago, by men who you are not related to, still have a profound effect and affect on your lives today. I am reminded everyday that the actions taken in history, hundreds of years ago formed and shaped the most wonderful nation on the face of the planet. These actions were so profound that many truck drivers like to dress up like truck drivers of yore, even though they had no part in those historical events. I see modern day truck drivers making claims on a constitution they had no part in creating. I see truck drivers demanding that the “rights” fought for by their ancestral truck drivers are applied to them and their children. I see truck drivers on FOX demanding that the actions of truck drivers, many many years ago be applied to them.

        So your specious claim that you cannot have no relationship (call it responsibility, call it whatever) for actions that were systematic and generational and were operative up until a few decades ago, is a bit confusing.

      27. Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        someotherdude: Do you live in ypsi? Shoot me an email. We should talk.

      28. Posted August 15, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Actually, mine isn’t published. Send something over to partythug.markmaynard@binkmail.com

      29. Posted August 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for that Haley story, Olive. I’d never heard that… And I love the turtle analogy.

      30. Stephen
        Posted August 16, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

        My conclusion is that it’s hard to talk about poverty without talking about race, and that it’s hard to talk about race in this country unless you’re black. So nothing gets done. The truth is, for whatever reason, a disproportionate number of black men have been inclined to avoid responsibility. All the stuff about the legacy of slavery may well be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that a great number of black men don’t stick around to raise their kids. It’s an epidemic, bet we’re not allowed to discuss it.

      31. kjc
        Posted August 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        yes and a disproportionate number of black men are in prison as well. The “for whatever reason” part is pretty important.

        i’m reminded of a comment the other day by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates about being sick of defending black people against ignorant generalizations.

        “Increasingly, I have become aware of the commitment it takes to debate fairly and honestly. And yet even accepting that commitment, I’ve also come to believe that we often marshal all our apparent fairness and honesty to cover for what is, ultimately, politely spoken prejudice.”

      32. someotherdude
        Posted August 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Apparently, there are a lot of people who like to take responsibility for things they never did. This notion of “taking responsibility” seems to only apply to “poor people”

        There are a lot of couch potatoes acting as if they fought in the American Revolution and formed the constitution, taking responsibility for the work of those in the past…while contributing absolutely nothing to the nation today. As a matter of fact, as these patriots get lazier and lazier, the tax code gets smaller and smaller. Many lazy good-for-nothing patriots seem to think that they created the wealth that exists in the United States, today.

        There is a misconception that “moral value” or “moral fortitude” determines one’s ability to generate capital and maintain wealth.

        There are a lot of very rich and wealthy Americans who live depraved and degenerate lives, and yet still maintain a very profitable existence. Most of these people inherited their wealth, and seem to be living off the “blood, sweat and tears” of people who have died or are a distant memory. I don’t hear many people arguing to strip them of their wealth. Most of the prostitution rings and drug kingpins are found in very wealthy communities, and many of their most profitable clients are not “the poor.” The seven deadly sins are alive and well in the US’s wealthy elite, yet they still maintain a very comfortable lifestyle.

        The ability to generate capital and maintain wealth is completely separate from any moral and ethical character.

        I get the feeling that many of you were the type of kid who believes they brought tinker-bell back to life, because you clapped so hard.

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