Welfare not the only problem

Published 10:09 pm Monday, February 26, 2018

By Joe Bass

There is still much to do for America to fulfill the promise of equality of opportunity for all.

My recent columns have dealt with the failure of the 50-plus-years-long effort to overcome the social damage done by slavery and Jim Crow. This effort is known as the “War on Poverty.” After spending more than $22 trillion on poverty programs, many black Americans continue to be at the bottom of our economic and achievement ladder.

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Welfare spending and programs have short-circuited the normal wealth-creating and character development processes that have existed among humans for millions of years.

Efforts must be revised so that the natural intellect and talents of black Americans can be developed so that they, and society in general, can benefit from their contributions.

Of course, several other changes in society during the last 50-plus years have also contributed to the negatives seen today. Another major change in America involved the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin and prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment and public accommodations.

This 1964 law is a second American effort to provide equal opportunity. The first effort focused on the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that was re-enacted in 1871 after passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Unfortunately, this effort was abandoned in the Compromise of 1877, an informal agreement for the federal government to discontinue enforcing the Civil Rights Act and the three post-Civil War amendments. This resulted in the Jim Crow Black Codes in the South, U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as United States v. Cruikshank, Plessy v. Ferguson, and redlining discriminatory loan practices implemented during Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the 1930s.

Clearly, passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was the right thing to do in terms of fulfilling the promise of equal opportunity. But the greatest challenge involved enforcing the act while improving American society, instead of making it worse.

A review comparing American society in 1964 with today’s indicates many improvements, but there are also some serious negatives that exist today that did not then. One of our major problems today is that there exist so much hostility and “finger-pointing” regarding the negatives that many people do not seem to notice or appreciate the obvious improvements that have been made.

My next column will discuss the improvements that have been made in American society since 1964. Future column will discuss how some efforts to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights have resulted in the negatives that did not exist previously.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.