Sunday, March 23, 2008

- Look An Eagle!

The title quote of this entry has entered legendary joke status with my daughter. It refers to her favorite online commercial, the now famous John West Salmon ad where the fisherman dukes it out with the Bear over the “freshest salmon”. At a key moment in the conflict, after being thoroughly pounded by the Bear and it’s martial arts fighting skills, the fisherman points over the Bear’s shoulder and yells, “Look an Eagle! When the bear looks up to see the bird, the fisherman kicks him hard in the groin and snatches the salmon as the Bear falls to it’s knees in defeat.

The day after she had first seen it, she, my wife, and I were sitting down to dinner at the local TGI Fridays, and I pointed over my daughters shoulder and said “Look an Eagle!”. When she glanced up, I snatched a french fry off her plate slowly enough for her to catch me in the act, but too quickly for her to be able to stop me. Much giggling ensued. She has since used that line or something like it, to steal pickles from my burger, fries from my plate, and countless salt and pepper shakers and other condiment jars from the table. It’s become a real classic around our dinner table, and it’s even spread to my in-laws. Somehow it’s even funnier, when a gruff 70 year old Hungarian ex-foundryman points a kielbasa sized finger over his grandaughter’s shoulder into the Florida sunset and says “Look an Alligator” with a think Hungarian accent.

The last time he did that, much giggling ensued.

Anyway, Obama seems to be pulling the same line on the American public if you ask me. All this time he’s been touting himself as the non-black candidate. He and his team have been going to substantial lengths to avoid the issue entirely, pretending to the vast majority of Americans that for him his race was irrelevant. While in reality, he harbors much appreciation for the standard set of racial victimology gripes and a general support for the identity politics that has fostered them. What’s worse, he not only “feels their pain”, but he supports furthering the very ideas that brought those cultural problems on in the first place.

To economists there is really no mystery about the principle cause of the cultural crisis in the American black community... it’s fatherlessness. Children raised without a father in the home will spend a longer time in poverty, are more likely to be arrested, will have fewer years of education, are more likely to drop out of school, will have a higher drug and alcohol addiction rate, and are basically worse off on virtually every count than children who are raised with fathers who are present. And the high rate of children being born into homes without fathers in the black community is a product of the liberal welfare culture of the 60's and 70's where the state tried to tell women that they didn’t need a man, only the government.

Obama believes that the best thing for the black community would be for non-blacks to step up and take on more responsibility, but in fact, the opposite is true. Government programs which spent other people’s money in the inner city have always caused more problems than they’ve solved. In the meantime if you look at those black families which do have a father present and living up to his own responsibilities instead of counting on the government to take care of them for him, the results are just about what you get from the rest of America. There is still poverty and still alcoholism, but those rates of social ills and almost all of the others are basically no worse than they are in any other racial group. In other words, if black men step up and handle their own responsibilities, the issue of race all but disappears in real economic terms.

Of course, to those of us for whom race really isn’t an issue and aren’t trying to use it to score political points, all of that is obvious. After all, Americans care a lot more about making a buck then they do about race. So if racial discrimination really were the only issue, then someone would be out there making a buck off of it. If black men really did only make some tiny fraction of what white men make doing the same job, then I’d never hire another white man as long as I live, and neither would anyone else I know. And it’s not racist to believe that a level playing field is all any black man in America needs to get ahead.

But for liberals, race still is very much an issue in America. They don’t believe that a black man can make it on his own, and they feel that he’ll need the government to step in with money taken from successful people, to help him when he falters. Without that extra boost, they feel that a black man simply isn’t capable of competing in the “white” world. Of course, this is nonsense, but try and tell that to a liberal. Some of them believe it of course, but even if they don’t, when they see a chance to get a little more control over the lives of others, they’ll seize it, and they don’t care what the excuse for it is.

I can’t tell you what Obama actually believes about race, and so far, neither can anyone else. That’s just the way he wants it of course. And it may not be a totally fair comparison, but I can’t help but thinking back to the Dinkins Administration. David Dinkins was the Mayor of New York City after popular Ed Koch was forced from office because of term limits. Dinkins was certainly no race baiter like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but like Barak Obama, he was “sympathetic to the anger” expressed by the black community. And whenever there was a question open regarding race; if a white officer shot a black criminal in the act of a felony, or a black man was accused by a white prosecutor of being a drug dealer, Dinkins always let race be the deciding factor for him. He always came down to giving the benefit of the doubt to whoever was black.

In no time at all the police and emergency service folks all began to see where the card lay, and started reacting to the “sensitivities” of their new black boss. Crime skyrocketed, and the standard of living plummeted. (I was one of those manhattan dwellers at the time, and was shot at in a tunnel at the 14th street subway station during the Dinkins years) And we were several years into the “no excuses” Giuliani administration before life began to improve again for New York City dwellers. In the end, it was the fact that he was a lousy administrator that spelled doom for his administration, but his views on race didn’t help anything.

So anyway, I think the Obama administration might have a similar tone to it. I think much benefit of the doubt will be given because of race, and I’ve seen how that works out. It does the black community no favors to treat them any differently than anyone else in America. And it doesn’t create justice to punish the successful for their success. It’s a shame we can’t live in an age when you are judged more for the content of your character than the color of your skin. But I guess Obama isn’t ready to face that idea yet. He’d rather punish those who handle their own responsibilities by making them also bear the load for those who won’t.


Waldo Grade said...

Correction: Ed Koch was not forced out by term limits - he lost the primary to David Dinkins, who then became the Democratic candidate, ultimately beating Rudy Giuliani - by a very small margin. At the point Dinkins beat Koch, Koch had lost favor - his third term was filled with scandals and racial strife. Term limits were voted in around the same time - but Mr. Koch did not fall under their rule.

Tom said...

Apologies, my mistake. Its a secondary point, but I should have better fact checking all the same. In my defense, I'm still on vacation with my mother in laws dialup connection, and I didn't want to spend the hour or two it would have taken me to find out when I could be playing with my daughter.

Thanks all the same.