There is so much wrong with Bill Arcement’s letter of June 4 that I hardly know where to start. Do we live in a society where many feel entitled to something? Absolutely. Is it only the poor who have this sense of entitlement? Hardly.
The rich feel put upon when asked to pay their fair share of the inherent costs of society. Even though the share of federal income tax revenue paid by corporations has decreased from 60 percent in 1940 to 16 percent in 2015, businesses feel that they are entitled to keep more of their (sometimes) ill-gotten gains. Many folks think that they are above the law due to their wealth, political pull or social position. The religious among us feel entitled to force their beliefs on others with no boundaries. We keep starting wars, but most of society feels entitled to someone else fighting them. And so on.
Arcement’s notion of how “welfare” works was actually accurate until about 1994, when Bill Clinton and the Republicans in Congress turned it into “workfare.” Today, if you are a childless adult, you get little from the government unless you are working or actively seeking employment. Even our meager food stamp program (average $4.50 per day) is under constant attack by the Republican majority. By the way, the largest group of food stamp recipients? White children.
Arcement is way off base when he implies that single-parent families are the cause of all of these social ills. In fact, that trend (which affects all races) is merely a symptom.
The root causes of our racial dysfunction date all the way back to our country’s founding. It is funny how the conservatives love to hark back to that time unless it upsets their worldview.
The great men of the 1780s were almost all slaveholders. After the Civil War, the “liberal” efforts at reconstruction were constantly undermined by those in power who had contrary interests.
Arcement’s statement that we have spent “trillions” on anti-poverty programs over the last six decades to no avail is somewhat true. However, for every trillion spent to fight poverty, $10 trillion was spent to maintain the status quo.
Arcement’s snipe at “liberal political philosophy” reminds me of something a wealthy, conservative acquaintance once said to me: “I’ve got mine. It is up to you to get yours.”
Now there’s an attitude Arcement can probably appreciate.