A Note About Class Warfare and the Earned Income Tax

When the powers that be saw urban cores diversifying racially in the 60s and said “here’s a good idea: lets move the hell out and take our EIT with us,”  that was class warfare.  And the poor have been losing ever since.

Bill O’Reilly addresses what he sees as the real problem with Mitt Romney’s “I’m not worried about the very poor” comment here, saying that the real causes of continued poverty are “poor education, addiction, irresponsible behavior and laziness. That’s right far-left people. Some folks are lazy.”

O’Reilly’s right, of course, that each of these things contribute to poverty.  But some of these things, like poor education, are systemic causes.  Saying “some folks are lazy” doesn’t square with calling laziness a systemic root of poverty.  That collapses into race-baiting buzzwords and O’Reilly knows better. That’s journalistic laziness, Bill, and you know it.  Maybe you’re making a Straussian meta-point here, but I doubt it.

That said, the failure of the Great Society is something we must wrestle with across the political spectrum.  Why has it failed? Why do our core cities have poorer educational systems than their suburban counterparts?  Why can a school in the City of Allentown be without books or year-round music education and a school a mile away in the suburbs have access to the finest of these things in spades?  And why, when we ask that question, are we called class warriors?

With regards to the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone, we’ve been considering the historic fallout of situations that arose along with the Great Society:  the flight of capital from urban cores and the subsidizing of the suburbs that came with the decision to move Earned Income Tax out of the cities in which they were earned (cities whose infrastructures make that earning possible in the first place) and into the townships where they were used to build impressive schools and new neighborhoods for cents on the dollar when factoring in environmental and social externalities.

It’s no great wonder why the Great Society failed.  In the Allentown example, it failed by the State legislature’s design. It failed because any entitlement program without robust endemic opportunity creates dependency.  This is where Newt Gingrich is right in spite of himself.  And let’s make no mistake:  I’m not proposing some great apologia for the failed policies of Lyndon Baines Johnson.  From Vietnam to Camden, New Jersey, those speak for themselves.   There are many on the right who believe that systemic dependence on the welfare state was Johnson’s goal and remains the only true goal of most liberals.

I’ll say this:  I believe LBJ was probably one of the biggest racists to have occupied the White House in modern times.  I don’t think he cared about most people, let alone people that didn’t look like him.  I believe he was cynical enough and manipulative enough to believe that his policies would ensure black fidelity to the Democratic party for the “200 years” about which he is said to have boasted.  But I do not believe the Great Society is, on its own, the key to understanding the unsolved issues of poverty in this country.  Add things like capital flight and the movement of EITs from urban cores to cow pastures, and then we’re cooking.

Who’s to blame for the origins of our often racially charged class warfare?  Whatever you believe politically, you can’t honestly think it’s the poor.  You can’t honestly think it was African Americans who were moving to then-prosperous industrial cities for a piece of the opportunity they’d been promised since Lincoln.  If you do, you might be more beholden to ideology than to generative solutions.

Speaking of ideology, isn’t it a shame that, as the media and the ideologues have it, we have but two systems from which to form our political identities?  We’re either left or we’re right.  Oh, sure, maybe some of us are soft-left and soft-right, but really, the key to figuring all of this out lies in the talking points of one of our two bogus systems.  It’s almost as if someone, somewhere is making money from all this confusion and childish division.

If you’re like me, you’re too liberal and too conservative for either camp depending on the issue.  Good for you.  Not for being like me, but for not being people who insist on dividing us with labels and political rhetoric.  Meta-narratives be damned, because the truth is in the middle, and it’s far more interesting.  The future will not come from the front of the room, nor from the busted framing fables of either broken party.

It will come from us.

Yuval Levin on Newt Gingrich’s Revolutionary Disposition; What Should Florida Do?

Gingrich has what you might call a revolutionary disposition: He has great intensity and energy. His mind is drawn to stark and diametrical distinctions; he expects change to occur through cataclysmic clashes and so seems always to be seeking after ways to accelerate the contradictions. This allows him to much more easily thunder over his own inconsistencies and past changes of mind. But he has no discipline whatsoever, can be almost unbelievably erratic and unfocused, and is unironically conceited.

So says Yuval Levin in National Review.  He goes on with some ideas about the difference in temperament between Gingrich and Mitt Romney, highlighting some of Gingrich’s key successes as Speaker and suggesting that some of his biggest failures were due to a nagging erratic-ism that’s also defined many aspects of his current campaign. Romney is staid (except when he’s not) and has a record of executive experience.  I get it.  I also happen to think that if this were study in cynicism and entitlement, Romney would win it going away.

If you’re a Republican voter in Florida next week, who do you go with, and why?



Superman, Mark Twain, and Lawrence Lessig: Congress Is The Light That Never Goes On

Lawrence Lessig and Jimmy Wales at the iCommon...
He hates it when they make him sit with Jimbo at the kids' table.

A few days ago, I posted a link to this piece by Lawrence Lessig.  It’s something of a love letter to Newt Gingrich in which Lessig blames the former Speaker  for most of Washington’s current dysfunction.  According to Lessig, Newt was the architect of the current winner-take-all, reelection obsessed profanities posing as politics.  I’m not entirely convinced by the narrative, which isn’t to say he doesn’t make salient points.

The thing is, some of this goes back to Andrew Jackson.  Most of it goes back to Thomas Hobbes.  It’s been chronicled by Mark Twain and in Action Comics #1 (where we also learn that populist Superman was also an isolationist in the build-up to World War II?  That’s a post-and-a-half).

Has Congress ever worked?  Has it Congress ever been this bad?

Did NPR Just Endorse Newt Gingrich?

This is from 2011. I actually met Newt Gingrich in 2000 when I was an intern at ABC News. The former Speaker has done and said many things since this post that would probably color how I would write it now.  But these thoughts below are in the context of the 2012 GOP primaries.  That was a at least two lifetimes ago.  – CC, 2018

Did NPR Just Endorse New Gingrich?

It depends on how you feel about the ’90s.  Brian Naylor’s Friday piece, entitled “To Imagine a Gingrich Presidency, Look to the ’90s” ends on the obligatory NPR dead-note (“It’s impossible to predict what kind of president Gingrich would make, but if his speakership is any guide, it seems safe to assume a Gingrich White House would be one of bold ideas and polarizing politics,”) but otherwise paints a picture of Speaker Newt as a shrewd, if closeted, bi-partisan compromiser due a big slice of the credit Bill Clinton often gets for making the 90s rock just that hard.

Even the title sounds like an endorsement.  Weren’t the ’90s the last good American decade?  The last American decade, period?  Oh, sure, we were blissfully sewing the seeds of every problem we now face, only kind of trying to contain Al Queda, and doing a Wag the Dog war in Kosovo because Kosovars are white (even if they’re Muslim, right?) and Clinton had a sex scandal.

Whoa, wait a minute.  That sounds really, really cynical.  But maybe that explains the influx of visitors to this blog searching for information about Thomas L. Day’s recent Washington Post op-ed.

In any case, I will always love you, The ’90s. You had me at hello.

Lawrence Lessig has a different take on Gingrich. What do you think?