FLORIDA, July 10, 2012 — Even with his partisan transformation and the meat-and-potatoes of American politics both well addressed, Harry Stein still has more to say.
Why does he believe that many on the left support excess public spending in socioeconomically depressed minority communities, even though this rarely results in long term progress of any kind?
Furthermore, what does he think can be done to seriously improve the conditions of these neighborhoods? If throwing money at the key problems will not solve them, then what does he suppose will?
Last, though most certainly not least, with our discussion is at its end, Stein will explain how it was that he came to be such an outspoken voice in political commentary.
Joseph F. Cotto: Why do you believe that many on the left support excess public spending in these communities, even though this rarely results in long term progress of any kind?
Harry Stein: Because throwing money at a problem is easy. It avoids confronting individuals – and, alas, entire communities – on cultural norms and behavior. Never mind that the liberal approaches to the questions of race and poverty – from welfare to affirmative action – have been not only tragically ineffective but have tended to exacerbate the problem, never mind that they’re deeply condescending and sap their supposed beneficiaries of initiative and will, they make those pushing them feel good about themselves.
Cotto: What, in your opinion, can be done to seriously improve the conditions of impoverished minority neighborhoods? If throwing money at the key problems will not solve them, then what do you think will?
Stein: We have to start with honesty – acknowledging that doing things the way we have has tended to do them has been disastrous. It has not only divided us by race but has bred, especially among younger black people, both resentment and a bottomless sense of entitlement. How to address it? By insisting on the same high standards of behavior for all Americans, making excuses for no one based on the superficials of race or ethnicity. To take an obvious case in point: once, within memory, having a child out of wedlock in this society was stigmatized, a mark of disgrace, and properly so, since it is a given that when kids are born out of wedlock their chances of life success plummet. Yet in today’s America, almost no one will risk aggressively making that case or otherwise giving offense to unwed parents, because to do so is almost sure to be characterized as racist.
The fact is, the values that made this country are still the ones that lead to life success — individual effort, perseverance, embrace of personal responsibility — and that is a message that has been misplaced throughout America, and especially in minority communities.
Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, many readers are probably wondering exactly how it was that you came to be such an outspoken voice in political commentary. Tell us a bit about your life and career.
Stein: Well, I started as a pretty conventional journalist – writing, as noted, for a variety of mainstream publications, and doing occasional books. But, as also noted, I’ve always been political, and interested in the well being of the country – starting, really, as a kid, when I marched for civil rights. So while my views have changed – or ‘evolved,’ as President Obama might say – my passion for the issues of the day has never diminished. And the truth is, I suppose I was a bit of a troublemaker even when I was on the left, always getting in hot water with various editors and p.c. types. So it’s nothing new.
These days, it is anything but easy to find one willing to break the airtight barriers of political correctness and tackle the tough issues.
Needless to say, this does not mean that the person in question will always, or even usually, be correct in his or her analyses. Whether we stand on the left, the right, or in the center, at the end of the day, each of us is only human.
Keeping this in mind, I must say that it took a great deal of courage on Stein’s part to reasonably address America’s quintessential lightning rod: race relations. From the airwaves of talk radio to the pages of leading newsmagazines, few others appear willing to do the same.
While this might profit those for whom political correctness has become a lucrative industry, in the long run, the rest of us stand only to lose; skin color notwithstanding.
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