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ST. MARTIN, French West Indies — Here’s what I mean. Blacks on this
island watch in horror as thousands of wealthy Americans, many of them
connected to the entertainment industry, fly into St. Martin and then
take the next plane out to the French island of St. Barths just a 20
minute flight away. These people pay exorbitant prices to stay on St.
Barths, which is perhaps the most racist place in the Caribbean.
Now, if you asked these rich folks their opinion on blacks and
poverty and opportunity, most of them would most likely give you the
party line that we all have a responsibility to help people of color who
are less fortunate than we are through no fault of their own. They would
talk sincerely and then get on the plane to enjoy the pleasures of St.
A side note here. St. Barths is so expensive that few working blacks
can afford housing which is in short supply anyway. Many of the
Europeans who own the shops and apartment buildings do not like to hire
the native Caribs. Therefore the island is overwhelmingly white — a
rarity in the Caribbean. Blacks on the surrounding islands resent the
racist atmosphere that shrouds St. Barths like a perpetual fog, and they
are not shy about venting their displeasure to a visitor they just met.
Which brings me back to my point: Talk about racial problems is
cheap. If the swells heading for St. Barths really cared about black
issues, they would spend their money on islands where it would benefit
the black worker. It is easy to talk a good game, but actually playing a
fair hand is quite something else.
In the United States we have something called “the misery industry,”
where people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton build fortune and fame
by promoting racial disharmony instead of true integration. Here’s what
Congressman Charles Rangel, who endorses the “misery industry” says
about your humble correspondent in New York Magazine: “Is he (O’Reilly)
for the working man? Yeah, if you’re Irish and blue-collar and Roman
Catholic. … I see a lot of O’Reilly’s in the post office. I met a lot
of them in the Army.”
Congressman Rangel, it seems, cannot accept that a person can be for
the working man across the board. No, it has to be ethnically driven in
his mind. That’s because Rangel buys into the “misery industry” where
any advice on how to improve conditions for American blacks that doesn’t
come wrapped in entitlement paper is rejected out of hand.
For 40 years the most powerful nation on earth has tried to pull
African-Americans out of poverty by giving them money and holding their
hands. That strategy has failed for two reasons. First, because there
was no personal discipline demanded from those who received the
entitlements and second, because the freebies became a lifestyle onto
itself. But few dare say that.
The keys to escaping poverty lie in hard work, education and personal
responsibility. This is what the Jesse Jacksons of the world should be
preaching. But that is a tough message. It is far easier to blame all
failure on the white man and the historical atrocities that rained down
upon the black race. The blame is not a lie but it simply does not help
the poor. Only true opportunity can do that.
If I am President Bush, I am setting up enterprise zones in poor
neighborhoods all over the United States. In these zones the government
would lend money at favorable rates to businesses which hire minority
workers. Tax breaks would also be given for the first five years to any
business operating within the enterprise zone.
As president, I am also giving federal block-grant money to poor
school districts in order to pay bonuses to teachers whose students
achieve satisfactory test scores. I am also withholding money from
schools that continue to use social promotion. I would create a federal
education task force in each state that would make sure all public
schools were secure and physically in shape. No broken windows, glass
filled parking lots, or unwanted visitors. All crimes committed on
public school grounds would be prosecuted in federal courts.
I would also use my presidential pulpit to prod the wealthy, who
could do more, to help the downtrodden. Like those vacationers to St.
Barths. If you can help people of any color who are trying to make a
living for their families — then do it. Don’t just lie in the sun and
pretend things are just fine. The “misery industry” may be booming, but
poor people who reject that crutch and are willing to work hard need a
little strategic help. It is time to give it to them.