Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Put Me in Charge…

12.12.2010 (7:41 pm) – Filed under: Welfare ::

Alfred W. Evans’ letter to the Waco Tribune Herald (which unfortunately requires a login to see the original online version):

Put me in charge…

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks to cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test all recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke, or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you to do. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good”.

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem”, consider that is wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

Amen, brother.

Eric Holder’s Speech on Race Right On the Money

19.02.2009 (7:07 am) – Filed under: Race,Welfare ::

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Attorney General Eric Holder gave America reason to believe in him today through a speech he gave to Justice Department employees and comments he made afterward:

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said.

Race, Holder said, “is an issue we have never been at ease with and, given our nation’s history, this is in some ways understandable… If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”

“If we’re going to ever make progress, we’re going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other. It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified,” Holder told reporters after the speech.

It’s undeniable that racism still exists in the United States and that it still holds black Americans back in some respects.  But is that really a problem?  If so, is it one the government should continue to attempt to solve?  And if so, should it continue use the funneling of massive amounts of money to black communities in the form of welfare, housing, education, and affirmative action subsidies as its primary tool?

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Welfare Test

17.06.2008 (6:25 am) – Filed under: Drugs,Welfare ::

Tip of the hat to Sheryl for this gem via e-mail:

I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Personally I’m inclined to give that question serious consideration.  Why shouldn’t there be criteria beyond need to justify public assistance?

Self-selecting DNA

15.05.2008 (10:09 am) – Filed under: Evolution,Society,Welfare ::

Michael Medved writes that the idea that Americans have an inherent – even Darwinistic – advantage over other peoples is gaining additional respect in the scientific community as a result of new research.  The reason?  Immigrants who self-selected themselves have a greater tendency to exhibit risk-taking and inventive skills.  Perhaps.  But I wonder if we’ve not lost that aspect of ourselves.

According to Peter C. Whybrow of U.C.L.A.:

Compared to the Irish or Germans or Italians or Chinese or Mexicans who remained behind in the “Old Country,” the newcomers to America would naturally display a propensity for risk-taking, for restlessness, for exuberance and self-confidence –traits readily passed down to subsequent generations. Whybrow explained to the New York Times Magazine that immigrants to the United States and their descendents seemed to possess a distinctive makeup of their “dopamine receptor system – the pathway in the brain that figures centrally in boldness and novelty seeking.”

Whybrow isn’t alone.

John D. Gartner of Johns Hopkins University Medical School makes a similar case for an American-specific genotype in “The Hypomanic Edge”—celebrating the frenzied energy of American life that’s impressed every visitor since Tocqueville. The United States also benefited from our tradition of limited government, with only intermittent and ineffective efforts to suppress the competitive, entrepreneurial instincts of the populace.

Medved’s conclusion is that this particular bent toward American ingenuity is in inflict with liberal policies such as expanded welfare programs and federal regulation and that such policies can only fail when brought to battle with our predispositions.

If only that were true.  I would suggest that the idea of a ever-present government has been firmly implanted in the minds of a majority of Americans who are now unable to envision life any other way.  Personal responsibility and personal choice is out of vogue now, in large part because the "safety net" that leftist policy provides has become so much more than that.  It’s a way of live that seems to be overwhelming the individualistic qualities that Americans have historically prized.

PZ Myers disagrees with Medved too, taking issue with Medved’s assertion that descendents of the American slave population may not share the American drive to create that he assigns to voluntary immigrants. 

Regarding the slave question, it’s true that they did not self-select their fate.  However, slave traders presumedly attempted to select stronger, healthier persons to sell into bondage, perhaps offsetting the self-selection effect.

Myers would probably take issue with that, too.  It’s a matter of unproven science for him, which is an admirable perspective, if limited.  Not all things must be proven to be true, although it certainly helps an argument.  Take, for example, Myer’s first counter to Medved’s argument about self-selection:

Wouldn’t this imply that Moslem immigrants to Europe, with their risk-taking willingness to move to new environments, are their true hope for the future?

Actually, given Muslims’ aggressive socio-theology, their relatively closed, controlling society, and extraordinarily high birth rates relative to their European hosts, the answer is clearly "Yes", barring an unforeseen change in European demographics.

Obama and Racist Voters

13.05.2008 (4:28 pm) – Filed under: Finance,Politics,Race,Welfare ::

Barack Obama’s youthful volunteers have met more than a few of America’s less savory characters while on the campaign trail, according to a story in the Washington Post.  Obama’s skin color – he’s black – if you weren’t aware, is for some voters the most important thing about the man.   Sad, but that view is held by voters of all ethnic groups.

Here’s perhaps the most honest reason for the obsession:

One Pittsburgh union organizer told her [Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy] he would not vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said, offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: "White people look out for white people, and black people look out for black people."

I don’t think that Barack Obama would be uniquely kind to black Americans – the weight of presidential responsibility would, I think, preclude that.  However, I do believe that many people act and vote as if he’s going to fulfill the truism if elected.

Unfortunately I can’t claim to be fully immune from the disease either.  As a fiscal conservative it’s difficult to separate Obama’s stated goal of expanding the welfare state – and thereby increasing expenditures on federal giveaways – from his program of race-influenced, if not race-based, social justice. 

As a matter of philosophy I’m opposed to welfare programs programs, particularly when implemented at the federal level using income tax dollars, regardless of who is being helped by them. 

Yet it’s painfully obvious that blacks benefit more from social welfare programs than other ethnic groups.  For example, an admittedly 10-year-old study in Michigan demonstrates that blacks accounted for 40-50% of some welfare programs while making up only 12% of the state’s population.

Therefore, a vote for Obama is a vote for more subsidies to black Americans.  At the same time, a vote against him can be viewed as taking that money away from them – a racist act, according to some.

I doubt that we’d be having the same kind of conversation about Obama taking care of blacks if Obama were a conservative.  I also doubt that he would be raking in 80% of the African-American vote against Hillary Clinton if he subscribed to that fiscal ideology.

Double Your Pleasure…

05.02.2008 (8:12 am) – Filed under: Islam,Welfare,World ::

…by marrying multiple women and helping to destroy Britain by increasing the strain that you and yours put on the infidel nation’s already burgeoning welfare state!

It sounds ridiculous – heck, it is ridiculous! – but the new guidelines issued by the Department for Work and Pensions read thusly:

"Where there is a valid polygamous marriage the claimant and one spouse will be paid the couple rate

… The amount payable for each additional spouse is presently £33.65."

Hhhmmm.  No clarifying data was given, but I’m going to assume that this is a monthly amount.  The approximately $70 granted per additional concubine – sorry mate, there’s only one wife in this day and age (and yes, she must be female!) – is more of a token payment, if my assumption is correct. 

Perhaps three or four can live as cheaply as two in Britain?  No, I thought not.

But wait, there’s more good news for polygamous lawbreakers and their many companions:

Under the deal agreed by ministers, a husband with multiple wives may also be eligible for additional housing benefit and council tax benefit to reflect the larger property needed for his family.

Islamic law permits men to have up to four wives at any one time – known as a harem – provided the husband spends equal amounts of time and money on each of them.

During the .com bust a few years back a friend of mine had identified England as a likely place to leave the U.S. for in the event the poo really hit the fan here.  Wouldn’t that have been a decision to regret, what with these geniuses running the asylum?

The review concluded in December last year with agreement that the extra benefits should continue to be paid, the Government admitted. The decision was not publicly announced.

Four departments – the Treasury, the DWP, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Home Office – were involved in the review, which concluded that recognising multiple marriages conducted overseas was "the best possible" option. In Britain, bigamy is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Yep, allowing a specific subculture with an inclination for achieving high birth rates and encouraging anti-democratic violence is definitely the best possible option! 

No, wait, here’s a better one:  How about enforcing the laws of the land and protecting Britain’s cultural norms?  Evidently that is too difficult for Labor.  Not surprisingly, the clowns in the DWP lack even the spine to keep their own regulations from being gamed:

Entry clearance may not be withheld from a second wife where the husband has divorced his previous wife and the divorce is thought to be one of convenience," an immigration rulebook advises. "This is so, even if the husband is still living with the previous wife and to issue the entry clearance would lead to the formation of a polygamous household."

The Tories are said furious and justifiably so.  There is at least one man with a bit of courage left in England, though that’s scant hope for the notion that the light of logic and common sense might not be turned off there just yet:

Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said that the decision was "completely unjustifiable".

"You are not allowed to have multiple marriages in the UK, so to have a situation where the benefits system is treating people in different ways is totally unacceptable and will serve to undermine confidence in the system.

"This sets a precedent that will lead to more demands for the culture of other countries to be reflected in UK law and the benefits system."

Mr Grayling also accused the Government of trying to keep the ruling quiet because the topic is so controversial.

Quite.

Tax Rebates and Stimuli

24.01.2008 (12:56 pm) – Filed under: Finance,Politics,Welfare ::

In a rare show of bi-partisan glad-handing, the House and President Bush have agreed on a so-called economic stimulus package that consists largely of "tax rebates" to be given to individuals earning < $75K per year and couples making < $150K.

From this perspective the plan could be called a tax cut and therefore be considered a good thing.  However, the NY Times says that "the stipend of at least $300 would be paid to all workers receiving a paycheck, even those who did not earn enough to pay taxes last year." 

So yes, it’s a tax cut for most of the middle class, but also a giveaway – there’s no other word for it – for those who are either in need or who did nothing to earn the money, depending on your perspective. 

John Aravois says the plan is geared towards redistributing wealth without helping the middle class:

That’s because far too often the Democrats don’t give a damn about anybody who isn’t a minority or starving to death (both valid causes to be sure, but are they the ONLY causes out there?). If you’re in the middle, you’re on your own.

And don’t think this is only about a stupid $300. It’s about health care. It’s about education. It’s about every single issue you care about. The powers that be simply aren’t in this to help people in the middle. The Republicans want to help the big pharmaceuticals and the big business hospitals, while the Democrats want to help uninsured poor people and kids. And while all of that’s nice, what are the rest of us supposed to do when our premiums hit $2000 a month and, God forbid, something catastrophic hits us?

I have to wonder, though, exactly who John considers the middle class to be.  Virtually everyone would consider a family making $150K a year to be well off, so I’m not sure the characterization of this plan failing to help the middle class is accurate.  In the bigger picture his question is a good one; in this case I’m not convinced it’s relevant.

That said, whether so much wealth – my back-of-the-envelope numbers says it’s at least a $40B/year payout – should be redistributed to the middle and lower classes is another question, particularly at a time when the federal budget is in the red to the tune of $300B/year.

2008 is an election year, however, and everyone whose seat is up has to prove their generosity to the folks at home, whether it makes fiscal sense to do so or not.  I can name that tune in 3 notes, how ’bout you?  Although my family will benefit significantly from this plan should it pass, frankly the familiar melody is a bit flat now.  Where is the fiscal responsibility in government?

Indeed, this is the sort of legislation that makes Fred Thompson’s disappointing results in the early primaries a tragedy – he was the only candidate from either party with a reasonable grasp of economic fundamentals.

Of the rest, Mike Huckabee’s Fair Tax plan should be given its due as, if nothing else, a mechanism for introducing transparency into the government’s "revenue collection" process.  The IRS code is currently unfathomable for most Americans because of its incredible complexity.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Some have complained that Huckabee’s tax is too light on higher wage earners.  Although I am not one of the wealthy, I don’t see that as a problem.  Others have said that the tax rate would have to be astronomical by U.S. terms – 30% or higher – to be revenue neutral compared to the current system.

(Comments, anyone?  I have not run these numbers…)

What of it?  If that’s how much money the government is collecting from us and spending on their giveaways, wouldn’t it be better for every American to know that up front?  Then we can feel the pain of our tax burden constantly rather than walking around in the dark all year while hoping to win the 3 Card Monte game on April 15th.

British Illegal Wants to go Home

17.11.2007 (8:27 pm) – Filed under: Humor,Immigration,Welfare ::

Mokhtar Tabet dislikes living in Britain rather a lot it seems:

He said: “The council evicted me from my home in September and moved me to Streatham, which I don’t like.

“The new place is small, and the kitchen closes at 9pm, so I can’t have anything to eat late at night. They have taken away my human rights.”

He moaned: “I miss Algeria. The English people are not helpful, they are so unfriendly and rude.

“I thought I had made friends in Croydon, but when I ask them for money they don’t give me it, so I know they can’t be my friends.”

“Croydon Council only gives me food vouchers, they won’t give me cash. I want the money.

“I have nothing to buy new clothes with, I have to go to a refugee centre. But if there’s not anything nice there, you leave with nothing.

“I want the council to give me a bigger flat and money instead of vouchers.”

Mr. Tabet is free to go at any time, so what’s the problem?  Seems he doesn’t want to pay for his own ticket back to Algeria and wants the British government to do it for him.

Wow.  The “poor me” routine and “let me spit on the country that took me in”, and all that rot would be hilarious if the clown didn’t actually believe he’s entitled to have his demands met. 

Sad to say, I expect that Tabet believes exactly that.  Still funny, though, in a “look at me, I’m a self-indulgent moron” sort of way.

On a more serious note, this little case demonstrates with cutting clarity the problem with government welfare programs as persistent social programs – they breed dependents rather than cure people by making them self-sufficient. 

While not achievable in every case, the goal of every government assistance program should be to make welfare recipients capable of doing without the program’s services.  

Deserving Welfare

12.10.2007 (9:12 pm) – Filed under: Welfare ::

Michelle Malkin wonders, “Who deserves government-subsidized health care?

That’s a good question.  The short answer, which many of us would agree on, is this:  only those who cannot provide for their own basic health care.  “Cannot” is one of the key words in that proviso; “basic” is another.

The devil is in the details, or the definition of those words.

Consider the key word in Michelle’s question.  “Deserve” has many connotations in modern use, many of them inappropriate.  The reality is that to deserve something is to have earned it. 

deserve – to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation: to deserve exile; to deserve charity; a theory that deserves consideration.

By that standard only people who produce “deserve” government subsidies.  Logically this is true considering the government’s “revenue” is actually wealth confiscated from those who created it.

(And what is money?  A product of time and the usefulness of that time.  An approximation of what men understand to be the value of life, in other words.)

Yet most Americans do want to help the truly needy, so let’s pursue that goal.  To do so we must dispense with the use of the word deserve and consider others instead:

gift – something given voluntarily without payment in return; or, something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned

charity – generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless

Government subsidies don’t really meet the standard of those words either since voluntary generosity has nothing to do with taxation.  Government actions, as I was recently reminded, have nothing to do with consent, altruism, or love. 

In fact I was told that the very idea of voluntary giving is a relic of an age past and is hated by those who prefer to substitute legal directives as a means of providing for the poor.  For them it is about force and using it to do what they think is right.

By taking charity off the table we must turn to two words that, devoid as they are of any personal emotion, liberals have made their own:

need  – a condition marked by the lack of something requisite; or, a lack of something wanted or deemed necessary

welfare – financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government

Deserve, gift, and charity are out; needs and welfare are in.  But you knew that already.  The politics of entitlement have made that plain for decades.

To paraphrase Michelle, who needs health care welfare? 

Earlier I said government health assistance should only be provided to those who cannot provide basic care for themselves.  This rule still seems to hold given the discussion thus far.

The correct definition of need is something that is required, not something desired – two entirely different things. 

We need to be clear about our words, though.  When we say that a person “cannot” provide for themselves we are only being truthful if that person is actually unable to do so.  If providing for his/her own living is merely unpleasant, undesirable, or inconvenient to a person, that is not the same thing, is it?

Principle:  The government ought not compel us to surrender our earnings to those who are unwilling to work for their own. 

Still, we’re told that we must provide for the poor (so long as we do not rely on medieval charity to do so).  If we accept this, the intersection of these statements that we should provide welfare for those who cannot earn it while ignoring whose who can and refuse to do so. 

Further, those who pay for welfare services should not be compelled to provide more than is truly needed.  Need is that which is required – not what is desired – and this informs us as to the standard that government should strive for when contriving to perform charity.

“But the poor deserve the same health care as the well-to-do!”  Do they?  To deserve something is to have earned it.  Try a different word. 

“Then the poor need the same health care as the well-to-do.”  Closer, yet still not right.

Someone very close to me recently said, “No one in America should die because they didn’t have access to health care.” 

Sadly, this is untrue – God knows that we’re all dying; all our health care efforts do is alter the time of our passing.

Does that mean that we shouldn’t provide health care to the poor?  No, but as a nation we are not obligated to do so.  Our obligation to love is at a personal level.  That we do provide services for the poor is because of our generosity – whether government expansionists approve of the word or not – and of our love. 

The real question is: Whose money are we willing to love the poor with, other peoples’ or our own?  The difference between a program of government taxation and distribution and personal charity is simply who is paying.  The choices are:

  1. Those who produce wealth
  2. Those who care enough to give to the needy

Champions of the former usually advocate their cause by claiming that the well-to-do have resources to spare, that they don’t need the money they earn.  The “rich” are, from this perspective, morally obligated to do their part for the common good.

(It’s an interesting line of thinking coming as it does from a group that spends a lot of time claiming that government can’t legislate morality.  But the contradiction is lost on them.)

This logic says that the people who produce wealth must provide for those that do not; otherwise they are bad people.  Yet there is no virtue in the modern system of tax-and-distribute, for neither the gladness of giving nor the thankfulness of receiving can exist in it.  There is only the resentment of the robbed and the hatred of those who are given an unwarranted largesse and fear its being snatched away again.

The penultimate irony is that, like a clock that’s correct twice a day, the statists are right – we are obligated to care for our brothers. 

But their conclusion, devoid as it is of the spiritual, is right for all the wrong reasons.  The result is that the soulless generosity they disburse so freely results only in bankruptcy – moral bankruptcy for the recipients and economic bankruptcy for the ones they tax.

Government welfare can aid bodies but it can never cure souls; instead it kills them.  Those who disagree would do well to consider the history of these programs and their results.

The answer, Michelle, is no one who has any choice should be subjected to either side of the welfare system.  Those who must use it should, without guilt or shame, but never lightly and only after exhausting all of their capabilities and the generosity of their true neighbors.

Affirmative Action Lives On, Unfortunately

23.06.2003 (11:40 am) – Filed under: Society,Welfare ::

The Supreme Court has voted to allow “limited” forms of affirmative action in college admissions policy. Here’s what Houstonians had to say.

Notice anything odd about the feedback page? Of those pictured, only one was a minority and I use that term loosely when referring to a college graduate. I found that highly amusing. Are the Chronicle’s demographics such that minorities don’t read the paper?

Affirmative action, reverse discrimination, whatever you want to call it, has been around for over a generation and its benefits have been minimal. It’s time for absolute standards to be applied to everyone equally.