Is “The Man” Keepin’ You Down?

Who is “The Man,” anyway? I don’t know if the term is really used that much, anymore. But, my understanding was that it usually referred to groups & individuals of authority — those in power and influence. It could be the government, some big corporation, “the Law” (i.e., cops, courts, the legal system in general). If used by a Black or Hispanic, the assumption could also be made that “The Man” referred to “white people”, because they are/were the majority and usually in positions of power.

Civil Rights collageGenerally, the term was a way of focusing one’s dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances in life and attributing it to some grand scheme by “The Man” to keep you “down” and “in your place”. The “system”, built & run by “The Man”, was designed that way. You don’t really have a chance of getting out. If you can’t seem to get a decent education (assuming you care about that), a good job, a nice place to live, enough money for a flashy car, the occasional vacation, etc., it’s because the odds were stacked against you from the beginning. Find yourself “stuck” in the ghetto, barrio, slums, trailer park, “wrong side of the tracks”? Blame it on “The Man”.

I’m not denying that there were pockets of racism & corruption & certain institutions, especially pre-Civil Rights passage, that sometimes prohibited certain people from having the opportunities to advance, especially if they stayed where they were. But, I think the conspiratorial “grand scheme” was largely an illusion. Yet, even now, with all the progress in Civil Rights and with the institution of welfare and various other “social justice” programs, there are still a lot of people classified as “poor” or “lower-class” (i.e., regarding income & living conditions).

My purpose in writing this is not to look at all the reasons people are & stay poor. But, I do find it interesting that Democrats, while usually painted (by their publicists and the media) as being the compassionate party who cares for the poor & disenfranchised, are usually the ones prohibiting those who are “down” from rising up.

What do I mean?

Democrats and other liberal politicians like to talk about the poor and spend oodles of money (that they take from the rest of us) on big entitlement programs & the like. In fact, President Obama budgeted another $120 billion for “anti-poverty” programs, bringing the total to nearly $600 billion. But, these programs only help the recipients make basic purchases and get basic care. Strangely, anything that might actually help them improve themselves and have more opportunities to get out of their situation are frowned upon, even demonized, by Democrats.

Let’s take two factors under consideration…

It is generally agreed that a good education is one of the best things to have to help get out of poverty. Here are a few quick facts:

  • High school dropouts are more than twice as likely to end up in poverty as those who complete at least a high school education.
  • Dropouts are less likely to find jobs; and if they do, their wages will be low.
  • Adjusting for inflation, wages for high school dropouts have declined by over 23% in the past 40 years.
  • In an increasingly competitive world economy, where success requires advanced skills and technical knowledge, that situation is only going to get worse.

According to the Dept. of Education: “In terms of employment, earnings, and family formation, dropouts from high school face difficulties in making the transition to the adult world.” Yeah, no kidding.

poor mother with 3 kidsYet, as pointed out by Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, Obama and the Democrats continue to bow to the powerful teachers’ unions, which resist any proposal — primarily, voucher programs — that would give parents more control over their kids’ education. Parental choice supposedly threatens the “education system”. Apparently, for “compassionate” Democrats and the teachers’ unions, keeping the “education system” status quo is more important than the welfare of the children.

Jobs are (is?), obviously, another big factor in fighting poverty. A job means an income. The better the job, the better you can support yourself and your family, rather than being “on the government dole”. Self-sufficiency also gives one a sense of pride.

Who has the wherewithal to create jobs? Businesses. (Obama likes to think he creates jobs, but his “shovel-ready” projects are apparently imaginary.) Over half of U.S. jobs come from small businesses. But, the Obama administration continuously denigrates and demonizes small business owners, entrepreneurs, and the “wealthy” in general. The rhetoric used implies that such people are all greedy, corrupt, “robber barons” who never pay or treat their employees fairly unless coerced by government regulation. Obama et al. are always looking for ways to tax the “rich” and add more regulatory restrictions and oversight on businesses.

One would think that, particularly in the current economy, the administration would want to pass legislation and promote policies that help businesses and encourages growth, thereby giving them the confidence to hire more people. Nuh-uh. Who’s “the Man,” now?

(Yes, the recent Small Business Jobs Bill (HR 5297) was a start, but not nearly enough. Not if he’s serious about creating jobs and healing our economy.)

As Tanner reminds us,

“Nothing has done as much to lift people out of poverty as capitalism and free markets. All one has to do is look around the world to realize that those countries that provide the most economic freedom have less poverty than those that are still mired in socialism and government control.

Compassion is more than talking about the plight of the poor or giving them just enough money to make poverty a bit more comfortable. Real compassion is about creating the conditions that will enable the poor to get out of poverty.”

Amen.

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1 Response to "Is “The Man” Keepin’ You Down?"

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