legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities,
dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families
Six years ago I wrote a book called "Uncle Sam's Plantation." I
wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the
welfare state and my own transformation out of it.
I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas. A poor
America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.
I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for
Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training
(JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF),
Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps.
A vast sea of perhaps well intentioned government programs, all
initially set into motion in the 1960's, that were going to lift the
nation's poor out of poverty.
A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the
government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched
mindsets from "How do I take care of myself?" to "What do I have to
do to stay on the plantation?"
"Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism
created monstrous moral and spiritual problems. The kind of problems
that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their
lives over to others.
The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities,
dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families.
Through God's grace, I found my way out. It was then that I
understood what freedom meant and how great this country is.
I had the privilege of working on welfare reform in 1996, passed by
a Republican congress and signed into law by a Democrat president. A
few years after enactment, welfare roles were down fifty percent.
I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor
black communities and replacing it with wealth producing American
But, incredibly, we are going in the opposite direction.
Instead of poor America on socialism becoming more like rich
American on capitalism, rich America on capitalism is becoming like
poor America on socialism.
Uncle Sam has welcomed our banks onto the plantation and they have
said, "Thank you, Suh."
Now, instead of thinking about what creative things need to be done
to serve customers, they are thinking about what they have to tell
Massah in order to get their cash.
There is some kind of irony that this is all happening under our
first black president on the 200th anniversary of the birthday of
Worse, socialism seems to be the element of our new young president.
And maybe even more troubling, our corporate executives seem happy
to move onto the plantation.
In an op-ed on the opinion page of the Washington Post, Mr. Obama is
clear that the goal of his trillion dollar spending plan is much
more than short term economic stimulus.
"This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending-it's
a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas
such as renewable energy, health care, and education."
Perhaps more incredibly, Obama seems to think that government taking
over an economy is a new idea. Or that massive growth in government
can take place "with unprecedented transparency and accountability."
Yes, sir, we heard it from Jimmy Carter when he created the
Department of Energy, the Synfuels Corporation, and the Department
Or how about the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 -- The War on
Poverty -- which President Johnson said "...does not merely expand
old programs or improve what is already being done. It charts a new
course. It strikes at the causes, not just the consequences of
Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black
families are not, with triple the incidence of single parent homes
and out of wedlock births.
It's not complicated. Americans can accept Barack Obama's invitation
to move onto the plantation. Or they can choose personal
responsibility and freedom.
Does anyone really need to think about what the choice should be?