NJ For Change

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bad Policies, Bad Life Choices Have Consequences

The New York Times points out new studies from Columbia, Princeton and Harvard universities finding an alarming percentage of young black men are disconnected from mainstream society.

The studies show for black men, especially those in the country's inner cities, finishing high school is the exception, work in a legal job is rare and “prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined.”
"If you look at the numbers, the 1990's was a bad decade for young black men, even though it had the best labor market in 30 years," said Harry J. Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University.

In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts.
In the inner cities, more than half of all black men do not finish high school. By their mid-30's, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of school had spent time in prison. Dropout rates for Hispanic men are as bad or worse but are not associated with nearly as much unemployment or crime, the data show.
Among black dropouts in their late 20's, more are in prison on a given day — 34 percent — than are working — 30 percent — according to an analysis of 2000 census data by Steven Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley.
What’s the cause of this tragedy? The studies point the finger at terrible schools, absent parents, racism, the decline in blue collar jobs and a subculture that glorifies swagger over work.

Racism is a convenient excuse for the destructive behavior that has ruined the lives of so many of these men. The government programs of the last 40 years, aimed at helping the poor, have made the life stories told in the article commonplace in our cities.

Curtis E. Brannon, 28, quit school in 10th grade to sell drugs, fathered four children with three mothers, and spent several stretches in jail for drug possession, parole violations and other crimes.

William Baker, 47, sold marijuana for his parents, left school in the sixth grade and later dealt heroin and cocaine. For decades he was addicted to heroin and easily kept the habit during three terms in prison.

Neither of these stories and millions more like them had to happen if just a few simple rules had been followed: 1) graduate from high school; 2) get married before you have children, and stay married; 3) work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage; 4) avoid engaging in criminal behavior and 5) don’t abuse alcohol and drugs.

Instead of teaching our men responsibility, the importance of family and the value of an education, we’ve encouraged and subsidized the opposite lessons. And we’ve pitied them as victims and have given them the excuse of racism. Bad choices in life have consequences and all the excuses in the world aren’t going to change the reality of life. Attitude and life choices are the keys to a happy and productive life - start making the right choices today.
Blogger Fausta said...

In fact, several studies by economists in the 1990s proved that people in the USA whose incomes dropped below poverty level didn't stay poor for long if items 1 & 2 of your list, and if they worked at their first job (regardless of pay, minimum salary etc) for at least a year.
If those 3 conditions were met, they rose out of poverty level within a year.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Ad Blaster said...

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. "Woody Allen"

2:36 AM  
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