It’s a sunny Sunday morning. My wife and son are still in bed, and I’m listening to Gordon Lightfoot, while making myself hash browns.
Usually on a day like this I’ll look outside and think, “This is the day the Lord has made,” but I did not think that today.
I’m almost fifty, and I’m beginning to realize that though I’m not old (not yet, at least), I am becoming an old soul. The world that is emerging is not my world. I did not grow up in it, and though I may spend my final thirty or so odd years living in it, it is nonetheless a world slowly passing me by.
At the same time, this is the world I made. My generation was the generation born after the Civil Rights Act. We were tasked with ending racism, and yet with riots last night raging across the nation in response to George Floyd’s death, and with much of the nation still locked down in response to Covid-19, it is time to reflect on what is going on.
And particularly with Gordon Lightfoot singing ‘Black Day in July’ – a song about the Detroit riots from the late sixties that could have just as easily been about last night.
First – let me say something controversial: my generation largely succeeded at our task. As a political force, racism is dead.
Racism will never fully die. In a nation of 330 million people, there will always be some assholes, but as a political force, racism is dead. To the degree that white supremacists are a little rowdy – a dying man always gasps his last breath. Nothing dies quietly.
The next generation’s task is not to end racism, but to wake up to the fact that ending racism within the United States (as a political force) will not solve all the world’s problems. The next generation will still have a great deal of work to do, as do all generations.
Each generation makes the world a slightly better place. No generation makes the world perfect (perfection being impossible), but each generation strives to make the world better than it was before.
And to some degree, most generations succeed.
Sadly, I don’t think the next generation is up to the task, and that too is the world that I have made. My generation was so scared of our children getting hurt that we insulated them. Our children never grew up. People like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want to save the world, but they have no idea how the world works, and in their naive idealism, they would destroy it.
Not only is AOC’s generation a generation of blind idealism, but it is a generation of absolute idealism as well. They will do whatever they think is necessary to see their idealism realized, and it is ALWAYS the true believer that does the most harm. The absolute belief in their own moral superiority removes any moment of pause.
This is what happened to Venezuela…
The phrase ‘social justice’ has morphed over the years. Once upon a time, ‘social justice’ meant treating everyone as individuals, with no regard for such things as race or gender. Today it means that we read race into everything, gauge everything by race, and see little else. On a good day, we may throw in gender, but victimhood is replacing productivity as the political currency, and race is becoming a form of blinder that allows society to focus on little else.
That is not the world I want to pass on to my children.
I want to pass on a world where each person is an individual, valued based on their character and their actions. I want to pass on a world where being black, brown, or white, is no more relevant than being a blonde, brunette, or red head, and where people are allowed to live their lives as they see fit.
When I was born, a woman was still expected to move straight from her father’s home to her husband’s. I want to give my children a world where a woman is free to do everything a man is free to do, including staying home and raising the kids, should that be what she chooses to do.
There is nothing wrong with someone being a stay at home parent, unless they are compelled to become one.
Why are people rioting? Because four police officers killed a black man. Again.
Was race a cause? It turns out that Derek Chauvin (the police officer who held his knee on George Floyd’s neck) and George Floyd worked together at the same nightclub. They knew each other. That neither makes it about race, nor makes it non-racial, but what it does do is make it non-random. Derek Chauvin killed someone he knew; it was personal.
There is a narrative out there that the police hunt black men. The truth is more nuanced. What the police hunt is violent crime, but in doing so police tend to congregate where violent crime occurs, which is primarily in the inner cities. As a consequence, those who live in the inner cities have far more involvement with the police than do those who live elsewhere.
It is also true that the generation before mine created what they called “The War on Poverty,” which was modeled after economic measures South Africa put in place ten years earlier, as a part of Apartheid. My generation was largely blinded by the high-sounding name of those policies. Who can be against a war on poverty? Milton Friedman called it what it really was – a ‘War on Black People,’ as he put it.
The purpose of the War on Poverty was to make the inner cities static, and by static, I mean black. Prior to the War on Poverty, both the income gap as well as the unemployment gap between black and white demographics was closing. The War on Poverty expanded it again, and held it constant for sixty years.
And my generation has not reversed those policies. As a consequence, the inner cities have largely stayed static. And by static, I mean black.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ solution is to prevent Amazon from bringing jobs that pay six figures into the inner city, on the grounds that it will ‘gentrify’ the inner city. In other words, it will make the inner city less static, and by less static, she means less black.
What I do not think the next generation understands is that they are not fighting racism so much as they are fighting to maintain it. They are trying to blend racism with morality, and are somehow blind to the fact that this is a fool’s errand. The opposite of racism is not a different form of racism. The opposite of racism is individualism. It is individualism that we should be promoting. Instead, if a white person wears dreadlocks, we accuse them of appropriating black culture. News flash – culture is color blind. Appropriation is how cultures blend and grow. Appropriation is a good thing.
Had Amazon brought a few thousand six figure jobs to an inner city neighborhood, it would have changed that neighborhood. Yes – it would have attracted some white people into that neighborhood, but it would have employed a lot of African Americans too. Many of the African Americans who left would have moved to the suburbs, making the suburbs more diverse.
People like AOC want to see more diversity, but they do not want to see diversity emerge by choice (as my generation would have it). No – they want to cause diversity by force. It is as if AOC does not believe we deserve to become diverse without the boot heel of government force coming along with it – it is as if she thinks we need to be punished.
And at some level that is what is behind the rioting – behind all rioting. Much of our society seems to think we need to be punished.
There is I think always a desire to punish the current generation for the sins of past generations. And that is too bad. When we punish those who did not do a thing for a thing that was done, we solve nothing. We can not punish the past, and we should stop trying.
We need to find a way to forgive the past without forgetting it. Believe me – no generation is less sinful than any other. Sin does not go away. It just changes with the times. If one generation thinks it is less sinful than another – that is pride talking rather than truth.
If we replaced the minimum wage and welfare with Milton Friedman’s negative income tax, the lower wages that would at first exist in our inner cities would attract businesses. As more and more businesses moved to the inner cities to take advantage of the cheaper labor, wages in the inner cities would rise. As wages rose, so too would tax revenues, leading to better schools. The income gap would close, and society would improve. That is the future I want to give my children.
And yet, this is not what the generation after mine is calling for.
And that is because my generation failed to raise them properly.
I’ll leave you with that. My hash browns are done…