The View From 1776

Baltimore And The Great Society

Baltimore’s riots, looting, burning, and attacks on police and innocent civilians are not unprecedented.  Nor are liberal-progressive prescriptions for dealing with the phenomenon.  It didn’t work then and it won’t work today.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 05/04 at 07:15 PM
  1. Mr. Brewton,

    Your invoking the (long dead) Michael Harrington as the epitome of the current Democratic party is a little like saying Ted Cruz represents mainstream Republicans. Although Harrington was active in political debates, he was apologetically a pure socialist and his views never found wide acceptance by the Democratic party.

    This "straw man" argumentation technique, where you set up an easy target, who supposedly represents the other side of the argument, is a slippery way of making a point.

    It is certainly true that the issues of poverty in this country have not been vanquished. But the far right seems to have little interest and no ideas for solving the problem other than their hackneyed "tax cuts for the rich" mantra.

    I think it is fair to note that the record of Neo Conservative controlled the government for most of the last half of the 20th century in dealing with poverty is dismal. Before you criticize the liberal, what specifically did Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II do that made any difference?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/04  at  08:37 PM
  2. Sorry, Mr. Jay, but I must disagree about Michael Harrington's status and influence. Quoting from my book:

    Perhaps the most consequential intellectual work of the period was 1962’s "The Other America: Poverty in the United States," which became required reading for the Kennedy administration’s New Frontiersmen. The author was Michael Harrington, an influential liberal and the chairman and principal spokesman for the American Socialist Party. His thesis was that large sectors of the population remained permanently in poverty, no matter how prosperous the general economy. As had the settlement house socialists at the turn of the century, Mr. Harrington spoke of “structural poverty”, the idea that our society of Jeffersonian individualism had created this poverty and, furthermore, made it impossible for the poor ever to escape poverty by their own efforts.

    Harrington's influence led directly to LBJ's Great Society.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/05  at  08:49 AM
  3. Mr. Brewton,

    I think we are in agreement that Mr. Kennedy may have read Mr. Harrington's book fifty years ago. I do not believe that Harrington ever held elective office or was part of a Democratic administration. As you say, he was primarily known for his out of the mainstream Socialist positions.

    In the intervening 50 years, the Republicans controlled the Federal levers of political power for the majority of the time, so one needs to take care in blaming the conditions that exist in Baltimore today on what book "liberals" in the White House may or may not have been asked to read five decades ago.

    Clearly, entrenched poverty is a very difficult problem to address and does not lend itself to easy silver-bullet solutions coming out of either liberal or conservative administrations.

    Perhaps I have missed them, but do you know of any solid conservative proposals for directly combating the causes of poverty?

    My gut feeling is that poverty is one of those issues that conservatives totally ignore and feel no obligation whatsoever to address, using the argument that if the government would just get out of the way, the poor will take care of themselves by pulling a little harder on their bootstraps.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/07  at  11:48 AM
  4. Mr. Jay, "solid conservative proposals for directly combating the causes of poverty" is an oxymoron. The Federal government should stay out of the picture as much as possible. It is precisely the welfare entitlements state that has created the mess we now endure.

    Conservatives do care, perhaps not as intensely as do liberal-progressives. But conservatives, unlike liberal-progressives, also value law and order, along with personal responsibility and patriotism.

    Liberals' nearly exclusive focus on caring, without regard to the secondary and tertiary results, would lead them to seek some regulatory and structural means to prevent worker bees from working so hard - even though the hive would cease to exist.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/07  at  12:45 PM
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