Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's 2009: Time to Do What Works for Us All

Star Parker is the founder and president of an organization called CURE, the Coalition for Urban Renewal and Education. She is conservative, she is a born again evangelical and she is African-American. She's a single mother, a former welfare recipient who overcame poverty, got a college education and believes that liberal social policy keeps poor people and minorities locked in conditions of dependency serving as impediments to personal responsibility and initiative. She believes that the free market system is also obstructed by legislation promoted by the left, and if left to its own the market will 'self-correct'.

I've seen Star Parker a few times on television and have never been persuaded by her arguments. I am particularly unconvinced by her recent column in the Dallas Morning News, "How Do Dems Connect with Black America?".

Hers is the common conservative argument: the Democratic Party has failed African-Americans, exploited them and yet, amazingly, Blacks have remained unfailingly loyal to the party in spite of its failures to deliver on many (if any of its promises).

Parker ticks off a number of stats to prove her point:

African-Americans remain wedded to the Party, in spite of the fact that it continues to promote leaders who are a members of a wealthy elite who have nothing in common with their condition (i.e. the recent flap over Caroline Kennedy's pursuit of an appointment to Hillary Clinton's senate seat);

Sixty-percent of those making less than $30,000 a year voted for Barack Obama, along with 52% of those who make more than $200,000 a year;

Two Democrats (John Kerry and Jane Harmon) are the wealthiest Senator and Congressperson, respectively. And the two wealthiest supporters of the Democratic agenda? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Star further promulgates that Democratic values are in conflict with the traditional values of church going blacks: 67% of black people attend church at least monthly as do 67% percent of Republicans and 50% of whites (the logic it takes to arrive at this conclusion is pretty frightening if you ask me!).

Education? "Wealthy liberals, despite having their own kids in private schools, oppose school choice. When a black family is given the opportunity to pull its child out of a failing public school and send him or her to a church school or another alternative, they are grateful."


What do African-American and democrats have in common? "A recent Zogby poll shows 80 percent of Democrats, 90 percent of liberals, and 76 percent of blacks supporting taxing the wealthy to give money back to low-income Americans."

You can read the column in it's entirety here.

At the end of the day, I'm not quite sure what Star Parker is talking about.

Were there some poor or working class Republicans running for President that I missed? Do white people and black people hold the same values, simply because they go to church at the same rate? Is there any difference in what's being taught in those churches (and yes, I know the Rev. Wright haters will jump on this - but as I told a Sunday School class in a white church recently: black people spend precious little worship time talking about white people).

And as far as 'income redistribution' is concerned - we've been redistributing income from the poorest to the most wealthy for decades. I missed the outrage from the right while this was happening.

Parker concludes her argument with advice for the Republican Party, "They need to help blacks understand that limited government provides the economic mobility and opportunity they need and that the welfare, redistribution state does the opposite. They must help blacks gain self-confidence so that they can enjoy the benefits that can only come from freedom."


I'm not quite sure where Ms. Parker has been the past few months. But what I've seen was corporate leaders who have been asking the government to expand its role. AIG, General Motors, Chrysler, and financial institutions, are not asking for 'limited government'.

And our country is where it is, not just because of legislation passed by the 'liberal elite', but by some of the wealthiest Americans in and outside of government, exploiting legislation (in housing, and finance, for example) meant to help the working poor. The idea that there is a 'self correcting' mechanism in free market capitalism, is, evidently, not believed by very many free market capitalists.

Since November's election, the Republican Party in particular and conservatives in general, have been looking for a new raison de'tre. Here it is: in 2009, it's the time to discover, promote and do, what really works for everyone. It is not enough to simply shout the old ideological dogmas of the past louder.

We now have the opportunity to show that capitalism doesn't have to be predatory. That business can be a tool to provide educational opportunities, jobs and careers, neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization and healthy productive communities for everyone.

We have an opportunity to rediscover an era of corporate citizenship which recognizes a responsibility to workers and the communities in which they were located, not just stock holders. It's time to show that citizens and business interests can be just as interested in legislation that invests in people as in corporate interests.

Both Democrats and Republicans have been let down by their parties. Probably because we've either expected too much, or expected the wrong things. The old tired arguments help lead to the present collapse. Now is the time for new strategies and new outlooks.

It's 2009. Let's see if we can help bring in a new day.


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective you have on Ms. Parker's column. Given the current state of affairs, your argument holds water. But how do you explain the years where the financial industry assisted many people of all colors to live comfortably.

Instead of pointing fingers, let's realize that the global economy has room for many approaches. In fact, we are in the middle of a paradigm shift for our country.

The wind will change again, let's hope during this shift we learn to work together and not repeat this financial implosion.

Gerald Britt said...


I apppreciate your critique and thank you for writing.

I do want to point out, however, that we can't just have a 'no harm; no foul' assessment of what has been a culture of value by acquisitiveness and greed.

There is an ideology which, when it is run amok impacts the lives of real people, leaving the poorer and the objects of poverty - not participants who fall by the wayside through some type of economic version of natural selection.

This has not been, as it is generally saw under the Clinton years, an economy which generally benefitted everyone (no matter who you wish to credit). This has been one in which a small percentage prospered, while middle class wages remained flat and the gap between rich and poor increased exponentially.

Those who insist on continuing that philosophy cannot just stomp their feet, jump up and down and say, 'No seriously! This works!' It hasn't, it never has. For the vast majority of us. And certainly for the majority of those with whom we work at CDM.

You are right. This is a paradigm shift. I hope that change does come and that we can develop systems that reward hard work and invite us all to participate in ways that are healthy for the entire country.