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Author Topic: Fixing the Black Problem in America
Mynnion
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When I moved to Madison I expected such a progressive community to have few issues when it came to racial justice. To my shock I found out that Dane County had an incredibly racially biased judicial system. For much of my life I was pretty much oblivious to the continuing racism in our society.

As we see the battle flag fall in S. Carolina and possibly Texas and Virginia I have to wonder if it is a good thing. Not the actual removal of the flag but the fact that by the quick removal those who want to ignore the less blatant forms of racism can pat themselves on the back and point to that action as a sign that racism is no longer an issue. I have to wonder if focusing on calling this a terrorist act or not is another distraction.

In a discussion at church last night we were talking about all the side issues that can prevent us from looking at the core issues. Kind of like a disease with many varied symptoms. We can fight the symptoms without finding a cure. If the cure is painful we can purposely avoid the cure because we fear the cost.

So after that preamble I am interested in hearing what steps (treatments) you feel would be helpful in creating a more just and equable community where race is not a burden but something to be celebrated.

One thing I would see as beneficial would be year round school. It has been shown that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds lose significantly more knowledge over longer breaks than middle and upper class students. Providing more frequent but shorter breaks provides significant improvement in information retention.

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JoshCrow
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My goodness, that thread title arguably doesn't sound like you meant it to sound.

I, too, don't want to waste energy merely fighting symptoms. I think that how education functions (not merely how much of it is on offer) is one opportunity for actual progress. If, as you suggest, school should extend into summer - then why not teach the kids the kind of lessons they don't get while they're being stuffed full of math and English.

I would suggest a program built around teaching kids from these backgrounds a philosophy that prepares them to see themselves quite differently from how the world projects onto them. To borrow a term I despise, I would like to teach them "privilege": the invisibility as person that the world out there denies them because of their race. I would want to teach them inner fortitude, a rejection not only of being told who they are by others, but also a rejection of identifying themselves as victims.

I don't actually think race should be celebrated, so I disagree with you. I think ideas should be celebrated, and people should be taught to be impervious to the ignorance of others, and taught that reducing the world to "us" and "them" is at the heart of all inequality. They should learn about the incredible thing they control, the only thing they will always control: their beliefs about the world. They won't control anything else in their lives - you can't control how others think of you, or your own body, or your family or their status. You don't control the system, or the racist perceptions that align against you. But you do control the only thing you need to - your beliefs.

[ June 23, 2015, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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NobleHunter
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At least it wasn't "finding a final solution" [Razz]

I would be inclined towards identifying programs and systems that impede social mobility and prosperity in majority African-American communities. There is a legacy of consequences both intended and not that have particularly uneven results according to race. I would attempt to address the factors that isolate communities from fulfilling their potential.

This is probably more easily applied to the Canadian problem of First Nations peoples since they were more likely to be explicit targets. Our racism tends to be more concentrated.

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Mynnion
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The title was meant to sound exactly like it sounded although the post drifted from where I had originally intended it to go. I had just finished reading a list of hate emails posted on Huffington so the tone was supposed to be ironic.

I was probably not clear about the celebration of race. It would be closer to say I would like to see a celebration of the cultures associated with race.

As far as extending the school year goes they are not getting more time off just more but shorter breaks. While the idea of teaching them fortitude so as not to see themselves as victims sounds reasonable the fact is there are disparities of treatment. The idea that we set a goal to teach someone to accept inequality rather than address the forces of inequality is hypocritical.

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D.W.
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Good topic. I immediately thought similar regarding the focus on the flag. Oh, since race and guns are politically treacherous, at least we have a symbol we can all focus on to pat ourselves on the back...

Year round school may be a good plan. (correction I was agreeing to MORE school not a different schedule...) It can also help low income kids with at least 1 meal out of the day as well. Solves daycare costs for working parents as well. It could as Josh pointed out bring back things in the school curriculum that have been sacrificed over the years as well.

While there is certainly a problem with racism in our country I think one of the most significant things we could do to diminish that problem is to separate it from class warfare and do all we can to bolster up the working poor and properly educate ALL kids equally. A rich area should not just automatically have better schooling than a poor area. We need to find ways to short circuit the feedback loop of poverty and lack of opportunity that IMO does more harm than active racist groups and policies.

The last part is more integration but I don’t have a solution for that. Tax breaks for minorities moving to predominantly white areas? How do you incentivize integration? How do you insure that if you do place more minorities amongst the majorities you don’t see an increase in actual racism as opposed to the, “I’m not racists! (but I hardly ever encounter anyone but my own race.)”? I like to think the best of people and think that it’s lack of shared experience that leads to most of our problems but that could be idealism. I have lived in a land of Q-Tips as far as the eye can see and in mixed areas. I honestly don’t know how accepting people would be if they felt “the government is using MY tax dollars to pay to put this person here to fix racism, but WE aren’t racists!” I can see how some could resent it and maybe even cause subconscious racism. [Frown]

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Fenring
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I don't think incentivizing integration directly is a good idea. I'm also wary about the idea of more school; this will cost parents money, either directly or through taxes. I also don't believe it's healthy for children to be socialized and put through rigid structure more than they are already, they need a break.

For my part I think the best thing to deal with racism would be to deal with poverty. I also think ending the war on drugs would go a long way.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I would suggest a program built around teaching kids from these backgrounds a philosophy that prepares them to see themselves quite differently from how the world projects onto them. To borrow a term I despise, I would like to teach them "privilege": the invisibility as person that the world out there denies them because of their race. I would want to teach them inner fortitude, a rejection not only of being told who they are by others, but also a rejection of identifying themselves as victims.
That's somewhat inside out, because it effectively means that you want to teach people to pretend that they're not being mistreated when they are, effectively leaving them with no one to blame but themselves when that mistreatment means they have trouble succeeding. What you're proposing is very much just trying to treat a symptom without actually addressing any of the root problems.

Being able to turn a blind eye to injustice (which is part of the nature of privilege) doesn't correct the injustice, and tends to let it fester instead.

You can't "teach" privilege. It's just the result of not being constantly under threat of injustice due to a given characteristic. You can seek to repair the injustices, at which point the context that creates privilege goes away.

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Mynnion
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DW-I used to believe that the question of race was overblown and that the issue was economic. That changed when I started looking at the statistics. While economics can explain the disparity in arrest rates since the black community has a much larger rate of urban poor it does not account for the differences in sentencing for the same crimes. I do not remember the exact statistics but prison rates and term length were significantly higher for Blacks. Especially black males.

As far as the schools go. While it might be helpful to increase the length of the school day it is the extended time off that is problematic. Consider that a teacher must spend significant time every year reteaching the subject matter students have forgotten over the Summer break. In addition, the extended time off for a student in a marginal home setting is problematic.

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D.W.
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I agree, but unfortunately, other than integration both in terms of getting people to see other races as part of their group rather than the "other", I don't know what to do. Motivate more blacks to become cops and judges and lawyers would be fantastic. But how?

I'm not suggesting you ignore the racism, but treating it as an economic issue does a lot of good in the mean time and eliminates a lot of rational defenses and excuses for racial policies.

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NobleHunter
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Historically, attempting to treat economic issues results in policy that favour poor whites over poor blacks. While there might be insurmountable political obstacles, I don't think racial problems can be solved by generalist solutions. Specific problems require specific solutions.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
I would suggest a program built around teaching kids from these backgrounds a philosophy that prepares them to see themselves quite differently from how the world projects onto them. To borrow a term I despise, I would like to teach them "privilege": the invisibility as person that the world out there denies them because of their race. I would want to teach them inner fortitude, a rejection not only of being told who they are by others, but also a rejection of identifying themselves as victims.
That's somewhat inside out, because it effectively means that you want to teach people to pretend that they're not being mistreated when they are, effectively leaving them with no one to blame but themselves when that mistreatment means they have trouble succeeding. What you're proposing is very much just trying to treat a symptom without actually addressing any of the root problems.

Being able to turn a blind eye to injustice (which is part of the nature of privilege) doesn't correct the injustice, and tends to let it fester instead.

You can't "teach" privilege. It's just the result of not being constantly under threat of injustice due to a given characteristic. You can seek to repair the injustices, at which point the context that creates privilege goes away.

Nowhere do I argue to not take action against injustices - I argue against internalizing the idea that one is forever destined to be a "victim", or that victimhood is a positive moral characteristic, even while one opposes systemic inequality. Essentially, I am arguing to teach them empowerment through individualism, rather than "us and them-ism".

Once learned, I believe that the "ability" to not self-identify as being in a particular victim category has a strong positive effect on one's well-being, in spite of ongoing external injustices. And I think well-feeling people ultimately make better citizens and warriors. Again, I'm not "wishing away problems". I am saying that you can fight the battles to fight from a position of inner strength and logic.

In essence, if you don't know how you SHOULD feel as a person, free of being put in inequality positions, how do you know what you are fighting for?

All that and, oh yeah, Fenring mentioned the War on Drugs. That's a big one. Hard to raise kids without dads.

[ June 23, 2015, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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D.W.
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quote:
While there might be insurmountable political obstacles, I don't think racial problems can be solved by generalist solutions. Specific problems require specific solutions.
You can't fix the type of racism that is prevalent today by pointing to it and asking some other majority group to "make them stop". It's too subtle for that. (most of the time)

Being inclusive and generalist is the only way I see it working. That and breaking up the "us and them" regional divides. (Somehow)

If a group, agency, entity or branch of government is not acting fairly towards a group, their only real option is to become part of that system. That is however easier said than done.

Expecting a majority to both acknowledge they are the problem and to fix that problem seems... well depressingly slow from hear out.

Ending the war on drugs would be another large step forward. Beyond that and some monumental school funding reform, I don't know what obvious victories are within reach. (and I’m not sure the last counts as within reach)

[ June 23, 2015, 05:25 PM: Message edited by: D.W. ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Nowhere do I argue to not take action against injustices
Sure, but if you're going to fight injustices, then your bandaid solution becomes irrelevant, because it's the injustices that teach the associated behaviors and convey the sense of victimhood. IF you want people to stop feeling like victims of injustice, the first and most important thing to do is stop making them be victims of injustice. Do it out of order and they only end up being even more vulnerable, because they've now let their guard down on top of being at risk.

quote:
In essence, if you don't know how you SHOULD feel as a person, free of being put in inequality positions, how do you know what you are fighting for?
I imagine that they mostly do know how they should feel, which is exactly why the injustices that prevent them from feeling that way (and those that blindly ignore them because they don't have to deal with them on a day to day basis) tend to be very upsetting and aggravating.

You don't seem to quite be getting that it's the injustices that teach people to behave in the ways they behave. It's rather patronizing to tell people that are victims of injustice to stop acting like victims- that's basically asking them to act like the Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail. BEing all gung ho because he was completely oblivious to the fact taht all his lmbs were chopped off wasn't exactly productive to him

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Nowhere do I argue to not take action against injustices
Sure, but if you're going to fight injustices, then your bandaid solution becomes irrelevant, because it's the injustices that teach the associated behaviors and convey the sense of victimhood. IF you want people to stop feeling like victims of injustice, the first and most important thing to do is stop making them be victims of injustice. Do it out of order and they only end up being even more vulnerable, because they've now let their guard down on top of being at risk.
The kind of racism that you could once fight by marching and demonstrations is not the kind of racism that's out there today. Today's racism is subtle and everywhere. It must be combatted with the mind (and within the mind). It is not something you can legislate away, nor something you can fight by tearing people apart on social media for saying this or that wrong thing.

If you want to change people's minds, you've got to change people's MINDS. You go to the source. If you can train the oppressed to recognize that they are passively participating in their own oppression, and that the robber of their free will does not exist, you give them something more valuable than a common grievance: a way forward that does not depend on a bunch of white guys suddenly "getting it".

I want to equip people with mental tools with which to define and defend themselves, not permanent victims, reading books about their own poor circumstances, letting someone else tell them how rough they have it just so they can take part in the role. I was raised with enough of those in my Jewish upbringing to see the kind of mentality it creates.

[ June 23, 2015, 10:31 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Greg Davidson
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To fix a problem you need to identify and address the root cause.

Politicians who express racist ideology in a socially acceptable way can enlist strong emotional support (and thus votes) from a subset of voters. In many districts, that can provide the winning advantage. Since African Americans have had the highest percentage of support for Democratic politicians for over 50 years (followed closely by Jews), it is in the interest of those who support the Republican Party (as well as business interests more closely aligned with Republican policy preferences) to support racism where it is politically advantageous. It is noteworthy that many Republican leaders have high ethical standards and do not resort to racism despite its potential effectiveness, but as long as it provides potential gain, there will be some who exploit it.

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Fenring
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Greg, if you're right then one way to combat racism, rather than participating in an echo chamber on social media, would be to seriously address the political system. This is something tangible that many or most people recognize as riddled with problems, and if the nature of partisan politics creates a real demand for Republicans to cater to racists then that is something to chew on as a movement. How about rooting for a candidate who is both opposed to poverty and also opposed to government corruption and corporate financing?

Not that I am endorsing this wholesale, but if those were the primary concerns of an impoverished black person I would say that voting for a populist like Bernie Sanders would do more for those particular causes than a vote for Hillary or Jeb would. This is just one idea, mind you, but at least it's a concrete suggestion rather than an airy slogan.

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Mynnion
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Another shooting of an unarmed black man in Baltimore. Three officers 19 shots because he was in a defensive stance and might have had a weapon. Yes the guy was scum but isn't that what a taser is for. I'm surprised the streets aren't full already.
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Greg Davidson
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quote:
voting for a populist like Bernie Sanders would do more for those particular causes than a vote for Hillary or Jeb would
Political effectiveness is about results and not intentions - there would be a signal for someone who opposed the racist vein of the extremist right in casting a vote for Sanders, but as with the signal sent in those who voted for Nader rather than Gore, sometimes that signal gets drowned out by larger ramifications of their acts.
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Greg Davidson
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My preference for concrete action would be to insure universal registration for eligible voters, and implementing the world's best practices for facilitating maximum participation in the democratic process. If this requires a significant effort to ensure that every eligible voter has an ID card (or similar identify verification) that protects against the nearly non-existent problem of voter fraud, I would still favor it.
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Bernie
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
One thing I would see as beneficial would be year round school. It has been shown that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds lose significantly more knowledge over longer breaks than middle and upper class students. Providing more frequent but shorter breaks provides significant improvement in information retention.

We have that. It's called summer school. If you don't retain the knowledge you fail your classes and make up the shortfall over the summer. Alas, we are now in the "no child left behind" mindset where educational deficiencies are heaped squarely on the system without regard for personal responsibility. Since the system is in charge of measuring its own effectiveness it invariably errs in its own favor. The practical effect of this is to pass students regardless of merit.

I am firmly opposed to penalizing kids who responsibly spent a couple of minutes a week over the summer mulling over what they learned in school along with the ones who didn't. This isn't a problem with the system; it's a problem with the culture, and the state can't fix it with school schedules.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
This isn't a problem with the system; it's a problem with the culture.
So, to clarify, you believe some children should in fact be left behind?
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KidTokyo
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I think year-round school would be terrible.

All of this playing with school schedules and other marginalia...the problem does not get fixed until you address the root problem of poverty -- i.e., social inequality in general.

Step one is to allow more direct local control over the educational system by the parents and students it serves. Federal standards of the NCLB variety are an absolute hindrance to this.

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Mynnion
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KID
quote:
I think year-round school would be terrible.

All of this playing with school schedules and other marginalia...the problem does not get fixed until you address the root problem of poverty -- i.e., social inequality in general.

I would say the largest contributor to the perpetuation of poverty is education quality.

Do a quick Google search on Summer learning loss and you will have lots of reading material. This is not suggesting more school just shorter ore frequent breaks. Summer learning loss is significantly worse for low income students. There are possible ways of overcoming the learning loss but most require the funding of additional programs. I am not opposed to these but with the current animosity towards the poor it seems unlikely that any funding would be forth coming.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
I would say the largest contributor to the perpetuation of poverty is education quality.
I would contend the opposite. And it's not a chicken vs. egg question in my view. You have a substantial portion of the population whose civil and economic rights are subject to constant, ongoing historical violation (and this is not limited to any one racial or ethnic category though its more pronounced for African-Americans). The inability to secure effective means to educate themselves and their children is only one of many consequences of this persecution.
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KidTokyo
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quote:
This is not suggesting more school just shorter ore frequent breaks. Summer learning loss is significantly worse for low income students. There are possible ways of overcoming the learning loss but most require the funding of additional programs. I am not opposed to these but with the current animosity towards the poor it seems unlikely that any funding would be forth coming.
I would rather there not be any low income students. That's not a problem of funding or tax policy -- its a question of ceasing to destroy their lives.
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Mynnion
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I think we will need to agree to disagree on your first response. I believe our goals are the same. But some things to think about.

Poverty is certainly one of the major stumbling blocks but if you could wave a magic wand and get rid of it many of the same issues would continue because they are cultural. The best way to change the culture of hopelessness and failure that we see through education. There are two primary reasons for the learning gap in Summer knowledge loss. Parent interaction/expectations and environment. While we can work to change the later the former is more problematic. Another side bar is that in the city Summer has the highest crime rates and the streets are the most dangerous. Limiting unsupervised time could also limit exposure to violent street crime and drugs.

What I am proposing would certainly take some work but it is doable without additional resources making it possible. If you have an alternative plan that has any chance of occurring in the current political climate I would love to hear it. I will note that this is only about socioeconomics and not race. While this might help it does not address the underlying racism.

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LetterRip
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I'd have daily (every other day, some sort of frequent regularly scheduled) quick reviews 15-30 minutes, via a phone app or such.

Nothing onerous, but enough that kids would get exposed to the material and help them to retain it better.

It could be in the form of games which would likely be the least off putting.

Also a bit of daily reading (5-10 minutes).

[ July 08, 2015, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Poverty is certainly one of the major stumbling blocks but if you could wave a magic wand and get rid of it many of the same issues would continue because they are cultural.
Clarify what you mean by "cultural"; I wouldn't be surprised if the "culture" is, in fact, a set of defensive behaviors that arise out of poverty and the need too sacrifice long term planning in favor of meeting short term needs.

quote:
The best way to change the culture of hopelessness and failure that we see through education.
No- the best way to change a culture of hopelessness is to remove the factors that make the situation hopeless. You do someone a disservice twice over if, in the current context, you deceive them into acting like they have hope when they don't- both by setting them up for disappointment when they interact with reality, and by leaving them extremely vulnerable to the dangers that their previous attitudes had developed to protect them from.

If someone has to cross a busy highway and you teach them to stop being so tentative and waiting for a clear spot to cross- to instead confidently stroll across the road and count on the cars to stop for them, like you might be able to do on a low speed residential street, you're not doing them any favors, but rather almost ensuring that they're going to get run over.

quote:
Another side bar is that in the city Summer has the highest crime rates and the streets are the most dangerous. Limiting unsupervised time could also limit exposure to violent street crime and drugs.
Which is a result of poverty, both in terms of lack of ability to arrod more constructive activities, and very often, the need to find income through less than legal means because of limited, if not outright non-existent legal means.

In theory, year round school could help with that to some degree, but only to the degree that it doesn't end up also robbing many families of needed legal income potential by limiting the ability of kids to work to fill gaps (which is part of where the slide comes from, as the kind of menial work available does nothing to reinforce education, and is, in fact, often antagonistic to it.

quote:
If you have an alternative plan that has any chance of occurring in the current political climate I would love to hear it.
Changing the political climate is part of solving the problem. Specifically, overcoming those who actively push for punitive measures that only serve to punish the poor and lead more people into poverty.

The only things that have a reasonable chance of passing in the current climate are things that pay lip service to fixing the problems but only serve to continue the slide toward the kind of feudalism that is the inevitable result of conservative policies that encourage poverty and conflict among the lower and middle classes so that labor remains cheap and disposable for the benefit of a small plutocratic class.

The only evolution it has seen is an upgrade in packaging to trick people into thinking that it represents greater potential freedom in the same way that the lottery makes people feel like they have a chance of winning, because it needs people to vote themselves into poverty instead of simply being able to impose it on them.

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Mynnion
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Pry-I am at a loss at how to respond to your post. I completely agree that poverty is at the root of much of this issue. My comments are directed at something that can reasonably be changed to reduce disparity and increase opportunity. It seems like you want to wave a magic wand and make poverty go away. It is easy to say change the political climate and I certainly hope it happens but how do you propose to make it happen in a time frame where millions of additional children are not lost? I am also curious about how many inner-city children start legally working at 5 years old? Maybe a small percentage will be working at 15 but jobs (at least those in urban settings) for young adults are scarce.

I believe that we agree that the ultimate solution is a society where poverty is history and everyone has equal opportunities but that will not happen without systemic change and I don't see that happening any time soon short of a revolution which probably would make things worse.

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