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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Uncle Sam’s Plantation

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all." — Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

Prior to the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865 slavery was legal in the United States. The Amendment stated:

“Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Prior to the passage of the 13th Amendment slaves living in states that were at rebellion with the Union (Confederate States) were liberated by executive order issued by Abraham Lincoln through his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation did not affect the Border States and did not abolish slavery. It took a Constitutional amendment to accomplish that.

Prior to abolishing slavery Blacks were considered property of the slave-holding masters. In the South they lived on plantations where they either worked in the fields or houses of their masters. They lived in substandard housing furnished by the plantation owners. They their basic needs of food and clothing were provided by their masters. They were not allowed to learn to read and write — not even the Bible. Their children became property of the masters the moment they were born and they were denied the basic rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. If they escaped the plantation and were caught they were severely punished and made an example to other slaves with he sought of fleeing the plantation. Even if they did manage to escape and make it to a free state they had no employable skills other than providing manual labor.

After the passage of the 13th Amendment many slaves remained on the very same plantations where they been living. With the passage and ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 these former slaves were afforded the rights of full citizenship including the right to vote. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.”

It did not take long for the politicians and northern carpetbaggers to realize that they had a block of voters ready to be cultivated by merely promising them free stuff, stuff they could not or would not deliver.

It took 100 years for Blacks to gain equality within our civil society. There were periods of racial discrimination, especially in the south and large urban centers where Blacks had migrated to during our participation in World Wars 1 and 2. There was the segregation of Blacks from the military, after they had served during the Civil War and policing the Indians in our western territories, and from federal employment by the progressive Woodrow Wilson. It was not until WWII that Blacks were once again allowed into the military and government service. Due to the actions of Republicans in protecting the righ ts of Blacks most Blacks voted Republicans.

Fast forward to 1964 and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The Democrats were now in power and wanted to remain in power so they instituted a multitude of government programs designed to put Blacks back on the plantation — Uncle Sam’s Plantation.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society is the logical extension of Progressive political thought and FDR’s New Deal. While the Founders held that the task of good government is to secure its citizens’ natural rights, LBJ argued that government must eradicate all external constraints—legal, economic, educational, and environmental—which hamper the “spiritual fulfillment” of its citizens. The extensive regulations and programs of the Great Society are thus meant to guarantee not only the right to pursue happiness but also the full achievement of it.

In his Great Society Speech given at the University of Michigan in 1964 Johnson said:

“Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.

The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. But that is just the beginning.

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.

But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.

So I want to talk to you today about three places where we begin to build the Great Society - in our cities, in our countryside, and in our classrooms.”

Lyndon B. Johnson anchored his Great Society program in the Progressive understanding of freedom: Freedom in its fullest sense encompasses more than the formal or legal right to do a thing; freedom entails the ability to affect that thing. Thus the central conceptual element of the Great Society—the purpose of both civil rights and the War on Poverty—is the elimination of any economic, legal, or social hindrances to the achievement of excellence and the “fulfillment of the human spirit.”

The Founders believed that the causes of necessity are rooted in human nature itself, and that a government that seeks to eradicate necessity quickly becomes tyrannical. By contrast, LBJ held that specific government policies and programs, initiated and guided by bureaucratic experts, could overcome the unhappiness and discontent brought about especially by racial injustice and poverty.

Consequently, his Great Society legislation focuses on cities (developing community and aesthetically pleasing spaces), the countryside and the environment at large (engaging in conservation efforts to make beauty accessible to all), and education (funding not only programs and initiatives for all levels of schooling but also educational broadcasting for the public at large).

Declaring that “the Great Society is a place where the City of Man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce, but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community,” LBJ argued for a radically new purpose for the federal government: It would go beyond securing natural rights and seek the fulfillment of the longings of the human soul. This was a far departure for the shining city upon a hill expressed by John Winthorpe in 1630 — a city devoted to God. Johnson and the progressives that followed him wanted an equality of results, not equality of opportunity.

It did not take the Progressives and the Democrat Party to seize the opportunity for creating a permanent block of voters by putting them on Uncle Sam’s Plantation. They did through throwing billions of coercive federal taxpayer dollars at states and counties for welfare programs. The federal dollars were and are used for substandard subsidized housing much like the antebellum South. In fact many of these housing projects are falling apart and lack proper sanitation facilities. They are laced with vermin and are homes for drug pushers and other criminal gangs.

They did it with offering food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, and aid to dependent children where single parenting was promoted. If the father lives in the household the aid is cut. It encourages women to have multiple babies out of wedlock in order to increase their benefit payments. We have generations of teen age girls having children who in turn have children out of wedlock.

According to the New York Times:

Large racial differences remain:73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites. And educational differences are growing. About 92 percent of college-educated women are married when they give birth, compared with 62 percent of women with some post-secondary schooling and 43 percent of women with a high school diploma or less, according to Child Trends.”

The children who grow up in these fatherless homes are very likely to fall into gangs and crimes and have little chance at success by escaping the plantation especially when they have criminal records.

While antebellum slave masters forbade slaves from learning to read and write the current serfs of the Uncle Sam’s Plantation are denied this ability by the poor condition of the K-12 school system in on the plantation. The school system is controlled by coercive federal dollars from the Department of Education and the Teachers Unions. Neither is dedicated to education — they are devoted to increasing power and feathering their nests. That’s’ why they fight a system of giving vouchers to parents where they can send their children to private, charter, or better schools. Washington D.C. is a good case in point where the successful voucher program was cancelled by the Obama administration due to pressure from the teachers unions.

According to a report by the AP on Yahoo News In many cases, workers in low-wage positions are not using the training programs their employers offer because they don't even know they exist, the two-part AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey of both workers and employers found. Two-thirds of employers said they offer coaching or mentoring programs and 61 percent provide on-the-job training. But only 36 percent of low-wage workers reported that their employers offer such programs.

The ability to move up the career ladder has become more important as America's economic recovery is fueled by a surge in low-wage jobs at restaurants, health care centers and manufacturing sites. Job training and education can play a major role in helping these workers advance their careers and someday reach middle-class status. At the same time, employers say they invest in job training to retain current workers, reduce turnover and improve the quality of products and services.

Yet the surveys revealed a wide disparity between employers and workers in how they view the importance of training programs. While 83 percent of employers said job training is extremely or very important for upward mobility, only half of low-wage workers felt as strongly about additional training. Similarly, 77 percent of employers rated education as extremely or very important, while only 41 percent of low-wage workers rated it similarly.

The burning question here and not addressed in the report is how can young people be trained for jobs and advancement when they have not graduated high school and very low reading and comprehension skills?

One of the largest bribes to keep the serfs on the plantation are food stamps. The House Agriculture Committee has reported out its version of a new farm bill that will cut $16.5 billion over 10 years from funding of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), once known as food stamps.

The cuts in the House bill exceed those in the Senate bill by $12 billion.

Sixteen-and-a-half billion dollars over a decade amount to a whopping 2 percent cut in SNAP program expenditures, which last year alone came to $78 billion. At a time when we are running trillion-dollar annual federal budget deficits, it's hard to see a 2 percent cut in any large spending program as provocative. Particularly in a program like SNAP, where spending in 2011 was over 400 percent higher than in 2000.

Yet, liberals are predictably ringing the alarm. Assistant House Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina called the cuts "abominable," suggesting they will jeopardize nutrition of children and that it's all about protecting "the wealthy and the well to do."

If cutting back on SNAP spending is about protecting "the wealthy," as Clyburn would have us believe, why do big corporations such as Pepsi, Coca Cola, Kraft Foods and Kroger support and lobby for the program, as Time magazine recently reported?

It's because government-spending programs, even if initiated with the best of intentions, wind up being about interests, not efficiency or compassion.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, 18 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2000. By 2011, this had grown to 45 million, one in seven Americans.

Liberals tells us that this program's mind-boggling growth is explained by our foundering economy.

But, as Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama points out, spending on this program increased 100 percent from 2001 to 2006, a period over which there was no increase in the rate of unemployment.

From 2007 to 2011, spending increased 135 percent. But CBO attributes only about 65 percent of the dramatic growth in program spending and the number of recipients to the recession.

Here's what else has happened: It has become increasingly easy to qualify for SNAP benefits, the government has been spending more taxpayer funds promoting the program, and the stigma of SNAP, food stamps, being perceived as a welfare program has disappeared.

A New York Times article in 2010 carried the headline, "Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance." The article notes posters in New York City announcing "Applying for food stamps is easier than ever" and quotes Eric Bost, head of the program under President George W. Bush, saying, "I assure you, food stamps is not welfare."

According to CBO, three-fourths of recipients are "categorically eligible," which means they automatically qualify by virtue of participating in some other federal or state welfare program. They need not be receiving cash benefits from these programs. Simply having received an information pamphlet can be enough.

At one time, recipients received their food-stamp benefits in dollar-denominated paper vouchers presented at the cash register. Now benefits come on a sharp-looking electronic debit card like any credit or debit card.

And the fact that SNAP funds are provided by the federal government, but administered and spent by the states, is a proven formula, as in Medicaid, for undisciplined spending growth.

The only major difference to today’s Federal Plantation in regards to the pre-Civil War plantation is that Uncle Sam’s Plantation has no physical or legal barriers to escape. The members serfs of the plantation are free to leave anytime they wish. The problem is that the Progressive politicians keep bribing them by the offer of more stuff like free cell phones and TVs if they stay. Rather than physical force they use the coercive force of the federal purse to keep them on the plantation where the politicians can control them and garner their votes.

Despite trillions of dollars spent on social programs since the 1960s, there is little evidence that the poor have benefited. In a blistering critique, former welfare mother Star Parker has become an advocate in espousing how government has harmed rather than helped the poor—and what citizens can do to fight back. Parker, the president and founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, encourages faith and individual responsibility to empower the poor to escape Uncle Sam’s “sophisticated poverty plantation.

It is other conservative Black leaders and organizations such as CURE and CORE that are leading the way to get Blacks and other poor off Uncle Sam’s Plantation and rise to their full potential. They preaching the same message to Blacks the Frederick Douglas preached after the Civil War. It will take time and some very brave leaders to end the Federal Plantation System.

The most compassionate thing that can be done today is exactly what is not happening: economic growth, job creation and getting folks to work. The path to this end is less government, not more.

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