Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was on the conservative radio show ‘Morning In America’, which is hosted by Bill Bennett. Bennett is the former Secretary of Education under President Reagan. He is also known for gambling away millions of dollars while at the same time preaching about living a virtuous life. Anyway, Bennett had Ryan on to discuss Ryan’s recent ‘War on Poverty’ report, where Ryan stated that anti-poverty programs developed under President Lyndon Johnson and after were actually the root cause for the continued existence of poverty in this country.
During the interview, Ryan used thinly-veiled ‘code’ language to claim that black men do not want to work and are satisfied with being poor. He also stated that anti-poverty programs create a culture of laziness and that what we really need is for affluent white people from the suburbs to spend more of their time mentoring those in the inner-city. Obviously, the answer for those living in abject poverty in a jobless environment is to have someone come down from their lofty perch and whitesplain about how to lift yourself up by your bootstraps.
Below is an excerpt from Ryan’s conversation with Bennett:
”We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with…you need to get involved, you need to get involved yourself, whether through a good mentor program or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that’s how we resuscitate our culture.”
This is Ryan’s way to justify that all social programs need to be gutted. Basically, rich, white people will fill in the gap and provide mentoring to the poor, inner-city black folks that they moved far, far away from. At the same time, there is no need to raise the minimum wage in this country and we also need to destroy unions, since they drive away jobs due to their demands for a living wage for their members. In the end, Ryan’s solutions are for there to be no social safety net and the driving down of median wages. But, no worries. The free-market and basic human decency will provide all the solutions needed.
What is especially disgusting here is the notion that all poverty is centered around inner-city black men and that nobody else utilizes the social programs that Ryan demonizes. He is making sure to stoke the racist flames already ablaze within the Republican Party by going down this route. Ryan is essentially doing the same thing that Reagan did when he brought up the ‘welfare queen’ myth.
To make matters worse, Ryan cited Charles Murray, who is the author of The Bell Curve. Murray has argued that intelligence is genetic, and that whites are naturally more intelligent than blacks. He has also claimed that all social welfare programs will inevitably have a negative effect on a society. Overall, Murray’s studies have been used by many to justify their notions of white supremacy.
Ryan has long been touted by the Republican Party as extremely intelligent and a real ‘wonk.’ I guess the fact that he uses numbers a lot to make his points makes him appealing in that regard. It gives the appearance of being knowledgeable and exact. However, he is just using smoke and mirrors to push forward a Randian vision of how America should be. Basically, the wealthy should be coddled at all times and they will decide how much to trickle down upon the masses.