Mead has a series built upon the argument that the ‘blue’ progressive social model (building the Great Society) is defunct because America will have to adjust to new economic and global realities. In the [then] current post, he focuse[d] on the part of the model that creates and directs government agencies to try and alleviate inner-city poverty and its problems for black folks.
‘This is one danger for the Black middle class and it’s an urgent and obvious one: the good jobs are going away — and they won’t be quite as good anymore. The second danger is subtler but no less important. In the past, government work served to integrate ethnic minorities and urban populations into society at large. In the current atmosphere of sharpening debate over the role and cost of government, the ties of so much of the Black middle class to government employment may make it harder, not easier, for Blacks to take advantage of the opportunities that the emerging Red Age economy offers.’
Well, I’m not sold that the Red age is upon us, nor on this analysis, but it’s an interesting thought (for where are entrenched government interests going?). In my experience, such programs address real needs of which there are no shortage (health and nutrition services for wanted and unwanted teen pregnancies, food stamps and subsidized school lunches for probably millions of kids, subsidized housing for people to get away from predatory and criminal individuals and neighborhoods where the law often doesn’t reach and won’t ever address most of the problems). Poverty is always with us, and black poverty in American inner cities has its own specific history.
These programs, of course, can create reward structures in which there are winners and losers (creating more inequality as well as abuse and corruption from the top down), recipients who’ve long given up any sense of shame at receiving handouts and generations of people who’ve known little else (another form of abuse and corruption). There is also clearly damage done to the spirit of those who’ve gotten out, and those striving to get out by their own lights as they look around and see often an upside-down system of incentives (though it may be better than the reward structure of say, a gang). There is mismanagement, entrenched bureaucracy, and like most city politics, a big political machine with sometimes ruthlessly self-interested players, many of whom have many shady connections.
I’d like to think I’m well aware of the threat such thinking poses to a balanced budget and a growing economy through lower taxation and continued political stability… and ultimately to individual liberties and personal responsibility, which would include the freedom to pursue one’s talents apart from enforced schemes of those who would decide where your moral obligations lie as they pursue their own self-interest in the name of their ideals.
The progressive response is likely to still be their moral high-ground: But for moral concern of principled actors responding to the horrendous injustice of American institutionalized slavery, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The path to justice therefore, and to make society more moral and equal lies through the use of activism to gain popular support for a cause; to enshrine one’s ideals through legislation and the use of State power. Of course, many progressives assume this legitimizes the broader political platform and all manner of other causes (and their use of the race card shows what happens when politics is used as a driver of change). These ideas have been making their way through our culture, our courts, and our institutions as Mead points out, for long over a half-century. They definitely are shaping our current political landscape, come what may.
Comments are worth a read.
A quote from John Locke, found here:
“For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour’d with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.”
Related On This Site: Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution…Repost-Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’
Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’…Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’…Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America…