Rebroadcast: Race and Class with John McWhorter

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Open Source is off this week, so we’re re-broadcasting five shows we developed last year the month after Katrina hit as part of an ongoing series on race and class. Tonight: Rethinking Race and Class with John McWhorter.

From Chris’s original billboard:

Black and white America, how did we get here: in 40 years, from the militant vision of the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the grotesque apartheid (Maureen Dowd’s phrase) in the Superdome tableau after Katrina. Forty years of agitation, legislation and desegregation not just of Southern schools but job markets, advertising, prime time TV, higher education and major league sports. Yet that candid camera on New Orleans in the floodwaters said: think again about the color-coded Other America—in law and economics, privilege and culture. What really worked over 40 years to breach the line or move it? And what didn’t? John McWhorter’s book “Losing the Race?? made him a black eminence among conservatives, the campus version of Bill Cosby’s line that black America let itself and its children down with a self-sabotaging culture of hip-hop flippancy and welfare.

Chris Lydon, Open Source, September 26, 2005

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  • Ward

    I think the comment about it not being Race related is correct! Poverty knows no limits other than ignorance or laziness. Sometimes the success story is not that a person is born rich or poor. It’s what a person does to change his life during the journey. We cannot do more than offer a leg up or it becomes a crutch. Free rides are too easy to keep on both sides of the road. Those giving and those accepting do not want to change. But change is the only way to succeed in building a greater Nation. I believe Race is a card played on both sides to just keep perception focused on an issue that is no longer relevant. The ability to earn an honest days pay for an honest days work is the only option I see that will provide long term recovery. The people of New Orleans that took advantage of the help offered or even ridiculed and beat those offering help should be held accountable. I also feel that any individual found guilty of keeping aid money or resources meant to help those hurt by the Hurricanes should face severe jail time. Anyone who says people were hurt because of their race has a distorted picture of reality and relies on the crutch.

  • Hoople60

    It’s a shame that this is a rebroadcast, because my comment will be less useful. Please be aware that the ChristoFascists have an organized call in operation to sow the seeds of doubt in listener’s minds by using fake anecdotal evidence to refute what most of us know to be true. They always start with “I was a lifetime Democrat” or “I grew up on wellfare” or “I’m half black” to establish some fake credibility that they then spend by spouting their conservative lies. I was heartened to hear your guests take on these lies and recommend a book with actual facts in it, but it would have been better if they had also mentioned the possibility that the call may have been disingenuous. That would have actually sewn the seeds of doubt about the caller and his points, which is what he was trying to do with you all. Think of it as call in show jujitsu. Please inform your future guests and call screeners that this is a very real possibility and to be prepared to deal with it.

    As for “Caller Mike” (your real name?), if you have to lie to make your point, then you have no point.

  • Hoople60

    Hey Ward, who gets to define wellfare? Is a five year, multi-billion, no-bid contract to Haliburton that is not monitored wellfare? While it is true that poverty aflicts all races, and much of it is due to the decisions of the individuals aflicted, I believe that most people will behave in predictable ways given the environment that they are in. Soldiers kill in war, but don’t in peace. Haliburton rips off the inattentive Government, but doesn’t rip off its attentive private sector customers, etc. If a large number of people are not doing well, then it is most likely due to their environment. It kills me when Fascists heve no problem “incentivising” corporations, but can’t see fit to “incentivising” poor folk. That does’nt mean making a single mother ride a bus for three hours a day for a minimum wage job that doesn’t cover her expenses. Give our unskilled labor a living wage, and the bulk of the wellfare “problem” will go away. It did under Clinton, and it can again once we return to sane economic policies (among many things, having a reasonable minimum wage).

  • Ward

    Unfortunately Hoople60, we are not a real democracy. The US is a capitalistic society and money rules. Ideals in the US are never based in fact or democracy. Halliburton will rip off anyone given half a chance just as most others in the US. Halliburton just seems to be the company in the spot light. Oil companies are guilty too. To me, welfare is defined as giving someone something and getting nothing in return. Hence where will it stop? I kicked my kids out at 18, no discussion. They made it on their own with a HS education, one without. I support giving a leg up to everyone. Welfare should require more from beneficiaries than it does. Some form of work, education with checks and balances to ensure welfare money is not being wasted. Any program that fails to demand accountability is wrong. Does not matter if it is Halliburton or welfare over spending our money, it needs to stop. That to me is what a capitalistic society such as ours should demand from its citizens. Right or wrong is no longer an issue. The issues are how much for how long.

  • huck finn

    Ward- I disagree with most of your positions, but I will confine my remarks to this ill-informed (you can see I’m trying to be nice) pronouncement:

    “I believe Race is a card played on both sides to just keep perception focused on an issue that is no longer relevant.”

    I see solid evidence that minorities are under-valued; that red lining continues to be a problem; and that Affirmative Action is a noble endeavor. Race continues to be a major factor in wide disparities in education, savings, income, standard of living, access to health care, lending, home ownership, longevity, employment and advancement in work, on and on …

    I will agree with you that the issue is no longer relevant, when the statistics support your belief.

    Like all americans, New Orleans and its people are precious. Our great nation is obliged to support New Orleans to preserve its history, correct the systems that failed, and move into another golden age.

    Our great nation failed New Oreleans because of the politics of race, pure and simple.

  • rc21

    Great points Ward I couldnt agree more. I will say that i’m not in favor of corporate welfare. One difference is that companies who get tax breaks are at least creating jobs.Thus helping to grow the economy which in turn helps keep people off of welfare.

    The problems that confront the black community are way to numerous,and have far to many causes for anyone to solve during a radio show.

    I will say this as someone who works in a field that is domminated by blacks,I have always found that there is very little difference between the races.Other than superfical things like tastes in music,dress,entertainment,and things of that nature.Even these things begin to blur togeather at times.

    I expect the same behavior,effort,and results out of everyone.Once you start expecting less out of blacks because you feel that they have suffered some discrimination in the past,and are incapable of achieving like others,then you become the one who is discriminating and showing predjudice.

    I will never do that to any of the people who I am responsible for.They trust me to much and It is my responsibility to return that trust.I value our relationships far to much for me to lower my expectaitions. We do a grave disservice to the black community by expecting and allowing them to fail.

    Of course we all make ourselves feel better by blaming the great white power structure. Or some republican plot or fill in the blank with whatever seems to be the theory of the day.

    In closing I have been quite sucsessfull in my line of work.I care for and respect everyone who enters my enviornment. I believe that same respect is returned. But that is because all are treated the same. No patronizing and no condescending.If you expect less you will be given less. If you give someone a reason or an excuse to under perform they will take it regardless of race,or sex.

    As to the New Oreleans hurricane, I wish for once people could stop playing the blame game. The truth is noone was properly prepared or really envisioned the extent of the damage that occurred.The federal govt the state govt and the residents of N.O. were all caught somewhat off guard. Yes there were warnings and we all knew what might happen, but I think there was a sense coming from all parties that it wont be as bad as we may imagine. So yes there is blame for all involved, but to imply that Bush failed N.O. because he is racist is simply iresponsible. This is mainly a liberal media driven story that has the backing of a democratically controlled state and city. A good way to deflect any responsibility that may come your way. I’d be playing the race card to if I was the mayor.

    Now we have a good percentage of the people (especially black residents) believing Bush had the levees blown up to kill the blacks. I will put that in with the Bush blew up the towers on 9/11 conspiracy theory checklist.

    And people wonder why the nation is divided both politically and racially

  • Potter

    So yes there is blame for all involved, but to imply that Bush failed N.O. because he is racist is simply iresponsible.

    And people wonder why the nation is divided both politically and racially

    Bush failed New Orleans not because he may be racist at heart but because he is an incompetant leader more interested in divisive politics and his agenda of keeping Republicans in power than doing what’s right for the country. Bush failed in New Orleans because he made promises he did not keep.

  • rc21

    Being incompetant and being racist are two completley different things.This subject is not about Bush.I dont see how not being properly prepared for the storm helped him politically. I guess his poll numbers skyrocketed after. Any way this subject is not supposed to be about Bush.So I dont want to take it any further.

  • huck finn

    rc21 and Potter are both correct – Bush is incompetent and racist, but I think that “Ward” has a more correct analysis – Corporate Welfare. The Bush cronies thrive in chaos, whether at home or abroad. Foxes in the henhouse is the ideal scenario. No-bid contracts, poor record keeping, Keystone Kops with no accountability. The Bushes, from Prescott to Neil, have refined the science of raiding the Treasury and covering their tracks or changing the subject with great success over many generations. The residents of New Orleans and the American taxpayers didn’t get the levee system they paid for (1.5 feet shorter than specified).

    The restoration of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is indeed limited by incompetence and racism. Why didn’t the Feds tell local authorities that the levees had failed, requiring emergency evacuation, until the next day? Because they weren’t wealthy, they weren’t white, and they weren’t Republican. Sounds like Politics of Race & Class 101 to me. With the billions that have been spent, New Orleans should be rebuilt, repaired, and renewed by now. We’ve already seen that developers and speculators are the winners after Katrina, residents of the Ninth Ward and the Gulf Coast are the losers. A year later, it resembles Baghdad for mile after mile, half the population is gone with uncertain prospects, and huge areas still have no power or water!

    The Bush administration thought they’d succeed in sticking it to Ray Nagin and Mary Landreaux et al and in opening the floodgates of Federal dollars. But they hadn’t counted on a rising new media personality, Anderson Cooper, to bring the story home to American living rooms. And through his eyes, it didn’t look so good. The Bush fly-by was a farce. Even Clinton would have had a photo op the first day where he hugged a fat gal, shared someone’s pain, chewed his lip, and ate BarBQ.

    Fidel Castro offered 1100 medical staffers and 13 tons of supplies to be delivered the next day. Bush refused, even though FEMA couldn’t react for days. (It could have been a bridge, instead another wall.) Yeah, it is about Bush too.

  • PietVA

    John McWhorter made me angry enough to be livid.

    Okay, I think we have, or maybe HAD made progress in tempering and sometimes eliminating racism, but to accuse the “Left wing� of expanding Welfare in order to DELIBERATELY BANKRUPT THE GOVERNMENT is an outright lie!

    That is actually more likely to be the reason behind the Right’s current tactic of privatizing good public schools with for-profit schools that are no better, and sometimes demonstrably WORSE, a “drugged� plan that is a boon to pharmaceutical companies who needn’t worry about competitive pricing since asking for the best deal is now illegal, cutting taxes for the well-to-do only, and creating a bogeyman war in Iraq to line the Halliburton pockets of the Vice President in order to bankrupt the nation, financially as well as morally. At the rate of $63 Billion a month.

    I really believe racism was really always a version of classism, and sometimes claiming skin color was significant was the only way to ignore the depravity of white trash and their corrupt masters.

  • PietVA

    Bush failed because he is a selfish ass, and doesn’t care until someone threatens to hold him up to scrutiny, and cut into his family’s Savings and Loan, oil, war, and other corrupt profiteering. He cannot even act on Christian Principles he does not hold or understand, just try to prove Marx astute in his description of opiates, and a manipulator as the dealer.

  • PietVA

    The nation is divided intellectually.

    You didn’t see fit to value a college education for your own flesh and blood?

    You think corporate tyax breaks create jobs, and not higher unearned dividends?

    You think blame is a mere GAME?

    You think there is some kind of “Liberal Conspiracy” in the media, and local, and state government, but we can’t benefit from it at the national level?

    The FACT that Bush LIED about when he heard of the varied disasters and levee breaks in New Orleans is not part of any “conspiracy”. The FACT that there is basically NO CHANGE from Sept. 2005, that the Feds [Bush] are subverting law by allowing “reconstruction contractors” to hire out-of-state if not illegal alien under-paid laborors, leaving the New Orleans residents without work or the means to repair their homes is significant.

  • Potter

    We could learn a few things from Hezbollah.

  • “You think corporate tyax breaks create jobs, and not higher unearned dividends?”

    I have the distinct impression that most people in this conversation must be students or academics or other people who have very little acquaintance with the world of business.

    It is unfortunate that our tax system has become a tool for social engineering, instead of just a method to raise revenue for the operation of the government, but there it is. I don’t hear anyone here proposing to eliminate tax breaks as a matter of principle. If we did, we could start by eliminating the entire Form 1040, Schedule A, and then move on to other IRS forms. But I suspect that most people would squeal like stuck pigs if their mortgage deductions, childcare allowances, or the ability to deduct donations to their favorite public radio station were on the chopping block.

    The fact is that US corporations DO create jobs, and do so at an impressive clip. No one has ever come up with a better job-creation device than capitalism. In Europe, where free enterprise is far more stifled than here, the unemployment rate in the largest economies is around 10%. In Chin, when the government took its heavy hands (somewhat…) off the backs of business, the economy and job creation SOARED.

    Problems like no-bid contracts and revolving-door regulators are POLITICAL. They are just another manifestation of US voters’ total unwillingness to take their role as citizens of a democracy seriously.

    It a democracy the citizens don’t just have the right to oversee the workings of government; they have the absolute OBLIGATION to do so. But in a nation where only 1 person out of 1000 can name all five rights granted under the First Amendment, and when more people voted in American Idol than in the last election, and where millions of voters have no clue what’s in the federal budget or how a bill is passed into law (but they no how to download the coolest ringtones on their cellphone) the abuses and excesses you complain about are guaranteed.

  • And another thing . . .

    US citizens’ laziness is not just limited to politics. Just TRY to get people to vote in the corporations they own, or to take a any interest whatsoever in corporate governance!

    Because of the wide use of 401(k) and similar retirement plans, more Americans than ever are OWNERS of corporations. You would think that if someone owned 1000 shares in Consolidated-Almagamated Industries, they might take some interest in how it’s run – read the annual report, vote in elections for the board or changes in the charter, but No. You have to twist their arm and threaten them with dividend cuts to just get them to vote, even online.

    And what’s worse, as John Bogle has pointed out, people can’t even be bothered to buy stock themselves so they hire other corporations to think (and vote) for them. Today in the US most stock is owned by mutual funds, not by individuals.

    The problems in both our political and corporate governance derive from the same source : lazy citizens and shareholders.

    And what does this have to do with race? We are all fond of castigating black men for fathering children and not taking responsibility for them. I’m suggesting above that the problem of not taking obligations and responsibilities seriously cuts across our entire culture.

  • Ward

    If I read the news from any source, it spells money even this one by John McWhorter. It is too bad this is a re-broadcast. I missed the first airing of this program. News only prints what sells. Outlandish titles and name calling in politics or corporate America is the only way to get the news printed. It would be great if our society could move past name calling and stick to the facts. It would also be great if politics could be downgraded to a soap opera on not so prime time TV. Lately I feel the British do it right. Parliament runs the country and Royalty is in the news. Putting that aside, what happened in Gulf region was tragic and it is going to get worse. Even without more Hurricanes this season. With almost 200K people still not moving back to N.O. several regions are dealing with logistics that would scare General Patton. Houston Texas is an example, 150K people from N.O. have moved in that area and claim they are not going home to rebuild. What a disaster to that area. They need help from the average citizen in both cities to cope with all the problems. Not Government welfare and handouts. Rome was no built in a day, neither was New Orleans. Let’s keep perspective on where we want our Nation or planet to be in the next 20 years or so. We are extremely diverse as a Nation right now, so that almost any statement from a public official will put someone in a tailspin. Lets get along and not be so sensitive, remember sticks and stones, not words can hurt me. Putting labels on the situation makes it worse. I hope that ALL talk shows and blogs or opinion pages try to help and not point blame. I try to remember that next week it could be my neighborhood on the front page of disaster.

  • RAV

    What makes me sick is NOT the neglect and indifference shown the Katrina victims by the Government of the People and for the People, but rather what resources this Government is willing to commit to further misery and destruction around this world. It doe not surprise me that our Government failed New Orleans.

    This is also non-partisan display of commitment. Republicans and Democrats alike share in this travesty.

    The United States has squandered an opportunity to write its own destiny by directing the same level of enthusiastic commitment towards education rather than furthering the cause of an insanely expensive war in Iraq. The United States has also bankrupted any social program for the next 20 years.

    And why?

    Before we get out of Iraq this country will have spent in excess of $600 BILLION.

    As John Lennon once said…………………..imagine

    Imagine the United States who in a 5 year period spends $500 BILLION in restructuring the education system and building schools, guaranteeing scholarships for advanced education for all and setting the stage for a golden age of enlightenment.

    Imagine a country of an educated citizenry, a tolerant citizenry and a citizenry enabled to succeed.

    End this debate on Katrina. And start a new one on why our politicians ALL deserve to be impeached.

  • “It would be great if our society could move past name calling and stick to the facts. It would also be great if politics could be downgraded to a soap opera on not so prime time TV. Lately I feel the British do it right. Parliament runs the country and Royalty is in the news.”

    What on EARTH does this mean? Have you ever actually listened to a session of Parliament? They make the US Congress sound like a church social.

    And ANOTHER thing: The US Constitution provides at least the OPPORTUNITY for a balance of power. The “imperial presidency” is the result of one party controlling both the legislative and executive branches, but there’s no reason it has to be that way. On the other hand in a parliamentary system like the UK’s the PM is chosen by whatever party has the majority of MP’s so you are GUARANTEED single party control except in cases of coalition governments, which are messy and unstable – the bane of parliamentary politics.

  • “. . . what resources this Government is willing to commit to further misery and destruction around this world.”

    This is a republic – “the government” doesn’t do anything – the PEOPLE do.

    The Iraq invasion was supportred by 75% of the US public. No one holds a gun to anyone’s head and forces them to watch TV or play video games 7 hours a day instead of reading some news or studying some history. No one forces them to get their news from CNN or Fox instead of reading a newspaper, or several.

    In a recent study by the public opinion research firm Synovate 1000 people were asked to identify the 5 Simpson family members and the five rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Nearly a quarter could name the Simpson family – exactly ONE in a thousand could name his First Amendment rights!

    Americans know know the voting records of their elected officials; they don’t know what’s in the federal budget; they know nothing about history or geography

    “And start a new one on why our politicians ALL deserve to be impeached”

    If anyone should be impeached it’s the voters.

  • rc21

    To plNnelson I think your right most of the posters are either academics or students. They would rather bash Bush and capitalism than talk about the issues of race and class. Probably because they dont really have much interaction with the black community. Just what they read in books or what there profesors tell tell them.

    Most responses are the typical” Bush and the rich republicans along with the capitalistic,culture of greed and wealth” are responsible for almost any problem you can think of. This is all basic stuff you learn in college.

    You are also right when you point out the tremendous amount of sucsess capitalism plays in creating jobs. Capitalism will go alot further in solving the problems that face poor blacks,whites, hispanics ,and asians, than any federally funded social program ever will. No matter how well intentioned it may be.

    Also the rate of white women having children out of wedlock has also been going up. Responsibility and accountability does cut across the board.

  • Ward

    plnelson – At my age it’s great to be referred to as a college student. But no, not for a long time in a galaxy far away. I am white living in a black neighborhood enjoying the fruits of tedious, hard, exhausting labor. I simply follow events to see where our history will be next year. I would like to just advocate the big 10, if we live by them we won’t have allot to worry about. Until then names and labels will have to do. Thanks for the insight. Iraq is a whole other issue and it is a religious debate when it comes down to it. War is never good, but what is the bloodiest history book we have? One thing I know for certain is, history will repeat itself, over and over again, because we are too dense to get the message.

  • Gab

    Hmm… lot’s of arguing about capitalism and race. While these are important issues it is pretty hard to conclusively substantiate any of the claims I read above. I’d prefer to look at something else.

    During the show McWhorter made claims like (and I’m paraphrasing) wellfare is the cause of the major problems that developed in black ghettos after the mid-1960s. Chris said that there seemed to be some logical holes in this argument. When McWhorter deigned to respond to this he mentioned some other arguments that have been put forth as to why things for the poorest most isolated members of the black community got worse after the promise and gains made by the civil rights movement. He poopooed the historical argument that takes into account the economic changes that took place between the late 60s and today. The short version of this narrative is that de-industrialization which got underway in the late 60s coupled with post-war black migration to industrial centers and the civil rights gains which allowed middle class blacks to leave the poorer members of their community behind is responsable for creating what McWhorter loves to call the black “underclass.” This doesn’t mean that solutions to problems in the black community shouldn’t originate there or that people shouldn’t take a long hard look at themselves, but if you allow cultural criticism to masquerade as history you are left with polemics. This doesn’t seem like a very healthy way to argue about policy in a “democratic” society.

  • Ward

    Gab, to the point you are correct. My argument was meant to shift the focus from what happened in New Orleans, which is catastrophic to say the least. But try and focus on a more corrective position for the future. What happened in the 9th Ward and New Orleans is what people see as the Katrina situation. It was much broader, why does it keep coming back to the 9th Ward and New Orleans? I myself cannot believe that the race card was put on the table, to me what happened wreaks of Government ineptitude as stated earlier. If we learn anything from history, which seems unlikely in the current administration, we must help those in need get a leg up. Not put them into a program of effortless reliance. There are a thousand issues that revolve around Katrina, but this appears the basic heartburn. But a program of work and struggle, just as a parent would develop for their kid’s advancement to the next stage in life seems more appropriate. This concept is more important than ever in the United States because we have strayed so far from life’s basic needs. Our society is the world leader and must stay the world leader or our way of life will degrade. In a global economy our position is not that of laborers, but that of leaders. This is why so many companies are moving manufacturing overseas. Leaders do not manufacture, they administrate the process. As one of my favorite characters once said, it is illogical to deny ones destiny. Well, the United States for better or worse is the leader in the New World economy and has been for most of the past 200 years. Moving to the next phase of evolution requires that ALL of us move beyond race, religious or political boundaries of any kind. We must pull every citizen up by the short hairs and make them leaders or administrators. Those who refuse to accept this challenge will be left behind. Thus the dilemma, differences of class will be wider and harder to traverse. Gone are the days of dropping out of school and making a living. That was a dream of a long time ago. The new future waits for no one. I myself don’t like it. I am a die hard drop out who believed the pipe dream of hard work will build a future. It is not so, it is not fair. It will not happen. I would like to our society and media sources acknowledge that fact to become more of the leg up type of medium that America needs. Wallowing in self pity serves no one and hurts the process. Were mistakes made, YES. Do I believe it was intentional, NO. Should the people who made the mistakes be held accountable, YES. Is this a cut and dry scenario, NO. Bottom line what did we learn? So far, not a thing. Will this happen again? More than likely it will. I live on the east coast, I will never wait for help to come to me or my family to get the ball rolling.

  • Gab

    Ward you said “In a global economy our position is not that of laborers, but that of leaders.” To this I would add service providers and marketers. Trouble is there aren’t 250,000,000 leadership/management, service providing, marketing jobs out there. I agree that we live in a society far removed from precarious survival that most of humanity experienced for the vast majority of its existence. But a society completely based on a libertarian ideal that you put everyone in a box and let them duke it out is not a place I really want to live. Having spent many years working to educate the kids of those who are left out (for reasons that may be somehow connected to personal choice as well as a million other reasons that have to do with other people’s personal choices) I can say that the “losers” in this system have a lot to offer. They are also surprisingly docile considering the growing wealth disparities they experience. This may not always be so.

  • huck finn

    PietVA isn’t the only one made livid by McWhorter. I was very surprised that you gave him a forum, not once, but twice. In order to move the debate forward, we need breakthroughs in perception and innovative alternatives.

    His thoughts clarify nothing, they only serve to preserve confusion and misunderstanding. What a bunch of revisionistic platitudes …


    And Potter – Inspection, questionnaire, and coupon for $12k USD cash in 3 days’ time, you’re darn right we could learn something from Hezbollah.

    And pln – a flat progressive income tax would eliminate the need for deductions which are just efforts to make an unfair tax policy more fair, social engineering hmmm – that blade cuts both ways. Tax breaks as incentives should be straight grants, rather than part of the tax code. Tax reform, I’m not even hopeful.

  • rc21

    To Gab and ward some good points Gab If you read some of what Dem Sen pat Moynihan was saying way back in the 60s about welfare you might have a better understanding of what McWorther means when he talks of the failures of welfare. Moynihan knew this 40 years ago. A well intentioned program that has produced disastrous results.

    I have worked with young adults who have no family members that have ever held a job. Try talking to that person about work ethic, punctuality,respect for others, and things of that nature. This is one of the fruits that our welfare system has produced.Generations of people from the same family with little or no idea of what it is like to actually hold a job and bring home a paycheck. There is a certain good feeling one gets when they open that first check no matter how small. Its a sense of accomplishment. A paycheck gives one a sense of value and pride.It sais I am worth something.I am a contributer to society. A welfare check can never do this. It sais I am worthless. I have no value. I have accomplished nothing, and I am a burden on society. Take a persons self worth away and you are left with little more than a empty soul with 2 arms and 2 legs.

    As I stated earlier the problems are numerous. Welfare is just one of many problems.The solutions are also numerous. As Ward stated “The future waits for no one” One should never rely on the govt to create a scenario that will bring you happiness and prosperity. It’s not there job and it never should be.

  • ” In a global economy our position is not that of laborers, but that of leaders.”

    Our position is whatever it is. There’s no destiny involved, no “evolution”.

    I’ve worked in high tech all my life and in recent years in most organizations where I’ve worked filling open positions for scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, (most of my work has involved scientific or medical image/signal processing) is like pulling teeth.

    There are just not enough Americans interested in hard-science and engineering to fill those positions, despite the fact that pay, benefits, intellectual stimulation and creativity are among the best in our economy. So we hire Chinese and Indians or ship the work offshore. And that’s a key thing that many people here DON’T GET : many of these jobs being shipped offshore are going, not because it’s cheaper, but because that’s where the TALENT is.

    Anyway, in the next few decades it won’t be ANYBODY’s position to be laborers – pure manual labor is rapidly being replaced by automation worldwide, and we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. The future belongs to whoever has brains, education, discipline and creativity – whether that will include Americans is up to us.

  • rc21

    To pLnelson It is true that on most U.S. college campuses the engineering majors are filled with Asians,and Indians, at least at the campus that I am familiar with.

    As someone who works in this field why do you think this is? As you say these are well paying jobs that give one lots of opportunity.Is it lack of interest or are the schools not providing the proper education? I have no idea, but I must concur with your observation.

  • “As someone who works in this field why do you think this is? As you say these are well paying jobs that give one lots of opportunity.Is it lack of interest or are the schools not providing the proper education?”

    I don’t think it’s the schools. Everyone I know who really excels in science and engineering started off at a young age being intrinsically interested in it. We were all the little science geeks and ham radio operators and the kids with the sliderules and chemistry sets and telescopes when we were young. By the time I was 15 I had my ham license AND I had published photos I had taken through a telescope (and developed in my own darkroom).

    There are a few kids today who write software or design their own video games, but there aren’t very many, at least in the US. Part of the problem with being an affluent society is kids are raised to CONSUME things instead of creating, designing, or discovering things on their own. Technology, to most American kids, is like magic – it just works if you use the right incantation, but there’s no thought of trying to understand it.

    Back to the question of race. In my industry black engineers and other technical positions are not as uncommon as the stereotypes suggest, BUT it’s interesting that most of the black co-workers I’ve had were not African-AMERICANS – – they were born outside the US, either in the Caribbean or Africa.

  • rc21

    Your right about that last point Most of our sucsess stories with blacks have also come with kids from the Caribbean or Africa.As a matter of fact the numbers are so lopsided that most whites who dont deal with minorities on a daily basis probably would not believe the disparity between these groups and American born blacks. Of course this opens up a whole new can of worms that most people dont want to talk about. You see we have already established the fact that blacks are discriminated against and just cant make it without special govt programs to make up for past and present racisim.

    I have to remind myself to tell the Africans and west indians that I interact with to stop doing so well .They are screwing things up for others.

    You are probably right on your reasoning for the lack of scientists coming out of our schools.

  • huck finn

    Whoa rc21 Did you write this gag?

    “You see we have already established the fact that blacks are discriminated against and just can’t make it without special govt programs to make up for past and present racism.”

    A forward looking society wants to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, poor health, domestic violence, unemployment, drug abuse, and crime, regardless of the cause or who the victim is. Our governments, churches, and charities have programs designed to address these concerns. Why? Because a capitalistic society is based on RISK. Other structures don’t have the risk of the capitalist approach. In recognition of that risk, even the most cold-hearted of the bankers, robber barons, industrialists, and blue bloods knew that such a system needed a SOCIAL SAFETY NET. Welfare is one component of the social safety net. Depending on what other types of support are also employed and the goals of that support, welfare can be successful or not.

    You say you have seen families where the entire family is unemployed. I have seen what one Affirmative Action job – mainstream, good pay, advancement, and benefits – has done for that family. The whole community benefits. At different times in everyone’s life, they need a break. You act like you don’t want anyone to get a break, and you sure don’t want to give one.

    And pln – Don’t give me that “many of these jobs being shipped offshore are going, not because it’s cheaper, but because that’s where the TALENT is.” No offense, but your employer is not looking for graduates of Waterloo, MIT, or Caltech. Your employer wants CHEAP TALENT that speaks english, that’s all. You’re lucky to have your job. When your cost of living gets high enough, you may choose to move to Pakistan to get a job like the one you have now and raise your quality of life. With foreign talent, companies can get 2 for one through a placement agency, and 4 or 5 to one offshore. The American wants stock options, vacations, competitive benefits, gear, etc. not just a paycheck.

    Anyway, back to race, class, and New Orleans – we’ve got to help each other as much as necessary for our nation to truly prosper. We can afford to be kind and generous, can’t we?

  • Dr. Leslie Carr

    John McWhorter said that people in the 60’s took Black people out of their jobs and put them on welfare with the idea of bankrupting the system.

    I am a retired sociologist with a specialty in race relations and I was an activist in the movement in the 60’s. I challenge McWhorter to cite one legitimate source that documents this statement. I challenge him to say who, where, and when this was done. How many people were affected? In my opinion it is a slander on the movement.

    Dr. Jerry Carr

  • rc21

    Huck Finn I was actually being a bit sarcastic. But If you dont think there are people who feel that way your kidding yourself. I’m not against welfare. I’m against becoming a lifelong member to this exclusive club. Unless you are physically or mentaly impaired. Welfare should only be a short term option.

    I’m all for safety nets and charities of all types to help people. I’m in that line of work myself.The point is these social programs on the whole are not the answer and do more harm than good. Everyone wants there fellow American to succeed It”s just a matter of the best approach. Welfare is by and large a failure. If you dont believe me go to any large city in the USA.I dont know what your line of work is or where you live I’m just telling you as someone who deals with this issue on a day to day basis. There has got to be a better way of helping people than what we have been doing for the last 50 years.

    Lets admit failure and try another approach. I’m sorry that all of the social engineers of the 60’s got it wrong. There heart was in the right place and there were some success stories but lets be honest we would not be having this disscusion if there ideas and programs worked.

    So I guess we both want the same thing we just dont agree on the best way to get there.