I am not going to lecture you…but in case you think you should ignore the inner city, you are dead wrong.
Here are two questions that should trigger a national discussion: has President Obama given real solutions to the very poor that have triggered real success for them? and why does it matter to YOU?
First, President Obama made grand promises to the very poor in the inner cities - listen to the 2007 speech that has just been uncovered in total. Yes, I know many are fixated on the part of that speech where he heaps great praise on Reverend Wright as great leader – but we already know that Reverend Wright sells hate and that President Obama was very cozy with him and now distances himself from it and denies he knew anything about it. Fixating on the part of the just uncovered total speech showing the President’s very misguided admiration of Reverend Wright is missing the bigger point of that 2007 speech.
In the 2007 speech President spoke about the inner city and in that speech he made promises to them (and thereby to us who care.)
Are those who live in the squalor of the inner city better off now than before he became President? In other words, was he pandering in 2007 in that speech or did he get a product? And by product, I don’t mean running up the bill with entitlements, I mean a real product with change. Did he give the people of the inner city a real future? A path out of poverty?
Why does it matter how the inner city does and whether President Obama met his promise? Two reasons – one moral, the other selfish and / or practical. Take your pick. Bottom line, you need to care and care a lot.
Lets start first with the moral reasons. Many care about the inner city for moral reasons — they can’t stand to see our fellow Americans hopeless, homeless, in despair and no good future possible. For years I worked with people who live in the inner city. I have not forgotten one second how they live and what their lives are like. The people in the inner city suffer. Contrary to the sarcasm of some, the very poor in the inner cities don’t want to live that way and they don’t want their children to grow up and live in poverty with no future. They want a chance. They want a chance to raise a family, have a home, feed and educate their children. They need to be empowered with real solutions — not just entitlements like food stamps.
Entitlements are an EXTREMELY important bridge until you can get on your own feet. People need food stamps and other help. Entitlements are very important to address an immediate crisis. But entitlements are not enough – they don’t build a future. Entitlements don’t change peoples’ future and certainly don’t get them out of despair – they don’t create jobs, nor provide education, careers, seed money for businesses, or homes. Entitlements, while important, only make the moment tolerable. Making the moment tolerable is important but not a product. Entitlements are only 1/4 the way to really helping people help themselves. The goal should be to get people to the point where they can take over and help themselves. Entitlements without more is oppressive – it holds people in the status quo, and does not create a future.
So the question to be asked of President Obama tonight: has he taken these inner city people beyond the 1/4 journey ? or is he holding them there with entitlements? What has he REALLY done for them? I would ask for specific answers with specific numbers (unemployment, jobs – between when he took office and now ) and I would ask for answer to why the food stamps program has exploded so big since he took office. Is it because we did not feed people before who we should have? or is it because we let more people languish and we did not help them help themselves out of dependency? (And by the way, the answer to these questions should not be to play politics and divert to Governor Romney’s 47% remark. Blaming someone else or attacking when you are asked about your specific performance is lame. )
Second, even if you are not sold on a moral obligation to change the inner city and provide a real future, you should care about the President’s promises and the inner city for your own selfish reasons or even practical reasons. It effects you.
Here is how: the economy is a 3 legged stool — the rich, the middle class and the poor. All 3 have to be thriving — filled with realistic hope, opportunity and progress — for our economy to grow. The rich won’t get richer (or hang onto their money) and the middle class won’t get rich if the very poor get larger in number and the entitlement cost grows for two of the legs to the stool to the point they can’t thrive. One leg fails, the stool goes crumbling down. It is far wiser to make sure there is growth for all legs of the economic stool. A robust economy means jobs for everyone.
There is also the even bigger picture. If our economy continues to get dragged down, down and down because we have failed to make sure all 3 legs are strong and thriving…. our borrowing from other nations will go up, up and up. Of course the more we borrow from other nations, the weaker we are in the world. The weaker we are in the world, the less moral authority or diplomatic muscle we have — and that matters, especially in terms of terrorism or even helping our friends.
Take it even farther down the road…yes, the rich will survive. At some point, however, the middle class will get squeezed out completely. As that happens, even the rich will suffer. They will end up living like prisoners in a gated community fearing the despair of the poor.
YOUR TURN: you now know what I would ask and why. What would you ask and why?