The GrioFrom The Grio

The 19th century American economy was pretty lousy, especially in the slave holding southern states. Over 600 banks failed between 1836 and 1851, the Mexican American War didn’t help and the cotton market had collapsed. Some economists speculated that the slave economy of the South just wasn’t an effective system anymore and that fundamental changes might need to be made. But renowned slave physician Samuel A. Cartwright had other ideas.

In his 1851 book Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race he argued that runaway slaves (a disease he dubbed Draeptomania) was the cause of many of the South’s economic troubles. If slave owners would only work to eliminate that disease along with slaves’ lack of a work ethic (which he dubbed Dysaesthesia Aethiopica) the economy would work out fine.

Cartwright’s diagnosis of the South’s financial woes was certainly a lot more palatable than a wholesale evaluation of southern economic policy. Even though it was 150 years ago, this attitude hasn’t changed much in America, which goes a long way in explaining a new WSJ/NBC poll that shows that most Americans think welfare is the biggest reason for continuing poverty in America.

Which of the following reasons do you think is most responsible for the continuing problem of poverty: (RANDOMIZE) lack of government funding and programs, the lack of job opportunities, racial discrimination, the breakdown of families, drugs, the lack of a work ethic, the lack of good educational opportunities, or too much government welfare that prevents initiative?

 

Too much government welfare that prevents initiative

24

Lack of job opportunities……………………………………………

18

Lack of good educational opportunities…………………….

13

Breakdown of families……………………………………………….

13

Lack of work ethic………………………………………………………

10

Lack of government funding………………………………………

4

Drugs………………………………………………………………………….

3

Racial discrimination………………………………………………….

2

 Other (vol.) ………………………………………………………………..

4

 All equally (vol.) ………………………………………………………..

8

 Not sure……………………………………………………………………..

1

Digging into the numbers it is not surprising that during an extended period of economic uncertainty, a majority of Americans, and mostly white Americans, think that welfare is the persistent cause of poverty. Why?

Welfare myths more powerful than the facts

All you have to do is unpack the question and consider the racial and economic history of the United States.

First, most social science research shows that to white Americans welfare automatically conjures up images of lazy promiscuous black women in the inner city, popping out babies like rabbits and turning government cheese vouchers into gold chains and plasma screen televisions.

Consequently for many Americans any question about welfare and the economy is really a question about race. This is not new, but in fact a longstanding narrative in American politics where during times of economic stress business and political elites have ‘protected’ the majority of whites from swallowing the harsh realities of American economics with a sugary dose of racial distraction.

The actual facts about welfare have always been pretty clear; whites and children are the greatest recipients and beneficiaries of various programs, but that’s not good fodder for talk radio.  From the beginning of government sponsored welfare programs, discriminatory policies were enacted to keep blacks off the rolls (like excluding farm workers and domestics in the 1950’s) and even once those policies were removed media and politicians, especially on the right, insisted on maintaining the myth that the face of poverty in America was a black thing.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

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  • Marisa

    Just like the term Ghetto actually had NOTHING to do with black people, it was describing the living situation of impoverished Jews but, somehow that tag bounced off them and landed on us. Welfare is no different the a large number of people on it are white and when welfare was created the people who benefited most was white people. Now if you let them tell it their all a bunch of Kennedys, Rockerfellers, and Brofmans, and who live on a throne and all the blacks and non blacks are their subjects and their ALL law abiding citizens who sh%t glitter and pee gold.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Because a lot of white america is ignorant or just plain stupid, white american’s receive THE most gov assistance point blank period. SMH

  • If you want to read some welfare facts that will blow your mind, read this: https://www.facebook.com/UnbiasedAmerica/posts/145135539005783

  • “Digging into the numbers it is not surprising that during an extended period of economic uncertainty, a majority of Americans, and mostly white Americans, think that welfare is the persistent cause of poverty.”
    I am no mathematician but I seriously doubt 24 percent of a 100 percent qualifies as a majority based on the numbers listed in the article.

    I understand the authors need to make a point but the research you included does not back up your conclusion. Did you mean to say: “Too much government welfare that prevents initiative” is the number one reason listed in a poll for continued poverty?

    Because one can rightly conclude that most Americans based on this poll do not believe “Too much government welfare that prevents initiative” is responsible for continued poverty in the US. A combined 58 percent seem to think lack of job opportunities, lack of educational opportunities, breakdown of families; lack of work ethic and lack of government funding contribute to the continued poverty.