The Libertarian

Vin Suprynowicz
Website: Liberty Book Shop
Let’s respond to one more letter on my Sept. 11 column on the fading of the ancient American virtue of self-reliance, in the face of the endless blandishments of the welfare state, and then call it quits.

One Anders Mikkelsen wrote in from somewhere in Yahooland: “Thanks for another great article. I guess this ignorant observation is what I get for not watching news, but if the looters were so polite as to line up maybe part of the issue is that there was no one in the stores to sell stuff, and probably no banks/ATMs.”

I replied:

Hi, Anders -- Albeit awfully late, the mayor of New Orleans ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. Trusting that the police (for whom they had paid taxes for years) would protect their premises, the storekeepers locked up and left as ordered.

New Orleans Local Channel 4 videotape (http://www.zippyvideos.com/8911023771013466/countdown-looting-in-walmart/ ) shows their reporter interviewing policewomen in full uniform inside the well-lit local Wal-Mart. The policewomen were behaving the same as the rest of the looters, i.e. sauntering about in a leisurely manner, filling their carts with shoes, etc. -- and making no perceptible effort to stop anyone else from doing the same.

This is far different from grabbing unattended rice, water, and medicine, in a quantity required to meet immediate needs in caring for injured or dying children or oldsters, while leaving a note offering to pay when the proprietor returns ... the kind of behavior in the face of “force majeure” that most of us would find essentially “non-criminal.”

If it’s OK to take stuff if the staff isn’t there and the ATMs aren’t working -- as some have asserted -- then if the power goes out and my ATM doesn’t work, is it fine for me to break into your house while you’re on vacation, taking anything I need, want, or like? How about your car that’s parked on the street? Is it OK so long as my monthly government “assistance” check is late?

Once our accepted, general level of morality degenerates to “whatever we can rationalize and get away with,” we HAVE become a Third World nation, where no property is safe.

From the late 1800s up through the 1940s, despite the handicap on ongoing racism, many in America’s black communities were making good progress into middle-class, home-owning status by the simple expedient of working hard, saving, marrying and raising children in two-parent households, and getting them the best available education.

Similarly, up through the 1950s, when I was growing up, few Americans of any color locked their cars or suburban homes even when they were going to be away all day -- the insurance man and the milkman were often invited to stop by and pick up a check which would be left for them in the kitchen of the unoccupied, unlocked house. That a neighbor kid would walk in and take anything unattended was simply unthinkable.

What changed? More drug use, you say? But all the known drugs of abuse were perfectly legal right up through the First World War, without causing any documentable “epidemic of crime.”

What changed is that, since the 1960s, the welfare state has stood the economic incentives for pride in work, savings and self-sufficiency on their heads. Urban poor people who manage to enjoy color TVs, flush toilets and central heating and/or air conditioning despite living in what our government dubs “poverty” are now propagandized that the rich white (and Korean) folks who own the stores are “ripping them off”; that they are “oppressed”; that they are being deprived of what’s “rightfully theirs”; that they’re owed “slavery reparations”; that it’s the act of a fool for young people to study hard in school or learn to speak mainstream English since that’s just “acting white” (a poisonous doctrine that popular black entertainer Bill Cosby rightly rails against), etc.

(A letter I received Sept. 21 from one Almetha Thomas, after the usual pro forma assertions that I’m “racist ... cruel, insensitive (and) EVIL!” and after complaining that the federal government numbers cited by the Cato Institute on welfare rates in Lousiana are “racist statistics,” asserted “This country is where it is today due to the slave labor of our ancestors. You are not giving us anything but our due and what you are supplying is insufficient. ...”)

Bastardy? The government will pay you to keep engaging in the practice, so long as you don’t foolishly cohabit with the children’s father or fathers.

Far from helping, such beliefs are crippling, stranding these families for multiple generations in what wise black commentators like Clarence Mason Weaver have called “the new plantation,” in which handouts sustain people at subsistence levels, but the behaviors thus subsidized leave little hope of accruing enough wealth, prestige and true self-esteem to “move out” into the middle-class suburbs.

Subsidizing serial unmarried child-bearing under the guise of “compassion for the child and unwed mother” is probably the most hideous of these misguided programs, since it creates an inner city full of fatherless families, destroying the pride those fathers might have been able to develop if they were encouraged and given the opportunity to live with and provide for the mothers of their children. (But Uncle Sugar can prove a tough competitor -- he may actually provide more “take-home” pay than a young man in an entry-level job, and you don’t have to cook for him or listen to him snore.) Note that I referred in my Sept. 11 column to a class of people somewhat larger than those typically described as being “on welfare” -- specifically “a people who over a period of generations have come to expect someone else -- through the cash redistribution agency known as ‘government’ -- to provide them with or heavily subsidize their housing, their transportation, their health care, even their children’s schooling.”

Government subsidized day care, disguised as “education,” is probably just as bad as subsidized bastardy, since it convinces parents they have no remaining obligation to teach their own kids about free-market economics; a version of our history unsanitized by the statist “consensus” government schools; why we’re supposed to have a government “of sharply limited powers,” or even complex literacy.

Many of the folk we’re discussing don’t even HAVE bank accounts or ATM cards, though I see where FEMA was at one point considering handing them some “for free,” further divorcing wealth from any concept of hard work, sacrifice, and “earnings.”

Do you think anyone looting that New Orleans Wal-Mart stopped to think for a second about how hard families like the Waltons scrimped and saved and worked and struggled in the early days to establish such retail empires? How hard middle-class people even today must work to set aside a few thousand dollars to buy STOCK in such companies, hoping for a return on their investments?

An entire generation -- primarily but not exclusively in the inner cities -- has been “infantilized.” They haven’t a clue where wealth comes from, or what will happen when investors stop investing anywhere near them. They apparently figure “The government will fix that,” too.

Is it “racist” for me to point these things out? Just the opposite, I would submit. What’s racist -- what will condemn future generations of minority youths to this same fate -- is to see all this happening, and to excuse it based on “good intentions,” or (easiest of all) to simply hush up and not say nothin’.