There’s no way out of here

by Dale Coberly
An Op-ed

There’s no way out of here said the Joker to the Thief
… or is there?

This essay grew by strange turns from an argument I was having with another Bear, with whom I agree about all important things.

A long time ago I went with some civil rights workers to visit a migrant labor camp for sugar harvesters near Belleglade and Pahokee in way south Florida by the Everglades.

What I saw there left no doubt that these people were underpaid and treated badly, and that there was a dangerous level of race-based hate among the poor whites in the neighborhood.

But what we saw there could be understood in another way.

The farmer-supplied “rest rooms” were non functional and the sinks were filled with feces.

Almost all of the farmer-supplied “housing” was filthy with the filth of poverty.

But one young woman showed us her home, and it was cleaner and better kept than my own home.

So I wondered why ALL the houses could not at least be kept clean. And why the community rest rooms had to be so filthy. Even poor people ought to be able to manage public sanitation..even if its only a trench dug new each day and covered “as you go.”

And this is why I don’t think the answer to “poverty” is welfare checks alone.

What I think these people needed was someone to help organize the community to at least manage public sanitation, and negotiations with the farmer to maintain his own facilities in return for a reasonable level of care on the part of the tenants.

I think they needed someone to know enough about their lives to be able to, for example, help the woman who cleaned her house find a way to better her lot in life.

And they needed someone they could bring complaints of oppression and abuse… someone who would take them seriously and act on them. By negotiation if possible, by police action if needed.

Does any of this apply to “inner cities” or inner city schools? I think it does. “Liberals” cannot just throw tax transfers at people and expect magical results. Every community succeeds according to how well it is organized to meet the challenges it faces. The government… which has a critical interest in “solving” the poverty problem… needs to invest in community organization which will enable the people to solve their own problems… from repairing the schools, to monitoring how school taxes are spent.

I don’t know if this is already being done. But I don’t hear about it, and I should if it is. If the big O was a “community organizer,” what did he organize? What did they achieve?

And, oh yes, what ARE they teaching in the schools nowadays?