Is It Poverty of the Soul?

Is It Poverty of the Soul?

In the aftermath of Baltimore riots, President Obama remarked that communities, police and the country needs some “soul searching.“ How much searching? Riots had little to do with a 25 year old black man, Freddie Gray’s death, while in custody of the police department. Since the early 60’s we’ve been told that poverty is a major culprit of black unrest. Not everyone is convinced. From a population of 400,000, approximately 300 thugs and thieves captured the media lens, ignoring the majority of law-biding citizenry.

No higher authority than Jesus spoke often about poverty. Counter to the thought of that day, that wealth was a badge of righteousness, he declared, “Blessed are you who are poor,” he told a crowd, “for yours is the kingdom of God.” That flies in the face of our erudite sociologists. He also told his traitorous “treasurer,” “For the poor will always be with you.” His parable of the Good Samaritan underscored our obligation to be a good neighbor to those outside our boundaries.

Is it the government’s job to eliminate poverty? Some believe that. Some believe it’s part of “social justice.” Too many are comfortable with the notion of government purloining wealth from “Peter” to “redistribute” it to “Paul.” They’re very good at that. Since 1965,the U.S. spent over 17 billion dollars. The poverty rate hovers around 15%. Baltimore’s at 25%. President Johnson’s War on Poverty, as part of his Great Society Agenda, had abysmal results for the dollars expended. Private agencies do a much better job. Gospel Missions, and church agencies around the country have fed and housed the poor and outcast for more than a century, with a balm for their soul too.

Initially looters were identified as rock throwing, high school students, stuffing back packs full of stolen, ill-gotten gain from a CVS retail store, eventually setting it ablaze. It’s unlikely that most of the ransacking teens knew or cared about Gray’s death. Baltimore’s black Mayor, Stephanie-Rawlings Blake, who, in a televised press conference before the looting began, recklessly, gave the lawless a pass to behave violently. Tension trumped reason. Not all was organic. Outside agitators seized an opportunity for violence. Anarchy ensued.

The prevailing narrative is that after years of frustration of the “underprivileged black neighborhoods” and “bad policing” ignores the stark statistic that Baltimore’s black-on-black crime hovers around 90%. Civilized residents understand racial issues warrant conversations, and legal action, not riots. Sparked by social media, organized gangs and teen thugs teamed-up, launching a charge to “purge” Baltimore. A hollow plea went out from the Baltimore police for parents to find their children and take them home. One single mother of six, took it literal, and physically overpowered her oldest, recalcitrant teen and took him home. It went viral.

There’s a hue-and-cry of a lack of socio-economic development, depressed community investments, loss of jobs, and police targeting black men. Politically, after forty years of Democratic control, they’re left with soaring crime, high unemployment, and rampant drug abuse. With a Democratic black mayor, and all black administration, including the police commissioner, and city council, according to the “Ferguson DOJ model,” this minority controlled composition, one would have expected a different outcome. Who’ll the new Attorney General blame?

Torching one’s own neighborhood is a flawed economic recovery paradigm. Corporate big-box stores won’t rebuild in the face of public safety concerns. Citizens of urban cities, run by liberal democratic administrations, have been disarmed, left to be protected by law enforcement who are often unable to adequately protect them. Stores owners can’t defend their property against looters. Gun control always punishes the law-biding. Chicago, New York City, Baltimore and Trenton, sadly confirm that truth. The liberal New York City Mayor hamstrung the police just like Baltimore Mayor’s mimicked version. A liberal policing bent that’s inexplicable to reasonable liberty minded, law-biding citizens in Wyoming.

Patrick Daniel Moynihan was vilified for his 1965 report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. His study morphed into “previews of coming attractions.” At the time, he was Assistant Secretary of Labor, and later liberal Democratic Senator, N.Y., wrote that black poverty’s deep roots were found in the relative absence of the nuclear family. He argued, that the rise in single-family mother families, was not due to lack of jobs, but rather a destructive vein in the ghetto culture. It was a cocktail for disaster. His argument defied conventional wisdom of the time, predicting the coming destruction from the out-of-wedlock birthrate at 25% among blacks.

They’re treating symptoms in Baltimore. It’s not a police problem. Jesse Jackson remarked at Gray’s funeral, “We need less policeman.” No one needs more police than those “urban war zones.” Is this the “language of the unheard?” Justification for lawless actions? The anger was palpable. Years of anger may be linked to the choices and behaviors that these blacks made, and continue to make, bolstering Moynihan’s general conclusion, “The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generations of the United States.”

Not surprisingly, over the years, that report has been dismissed by NAACP leadership. In 2012, President Obama captured 87% of Baltimore’s vote. In Baltimore, a single mother with two children may quality for seven “ensnaring social webs” that total about $36,000 annually. Why work? Where’s the incentive?

Plucky black pastors and their congregations hit the streets to help quell the violence, forming prayer groups, and encouraging peaceful protestors. They mobilized their youth to help clean up the debris. Perhaps they understood better than most, it’s ultimately spiritual poverty. The government doesn’t create wealth. However, is it a matter of wealth? Jesus reminded us, “For what shall it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul.” And, to the liberal elite, there’s no conservative finger prints on this failed experiment. What do you think?

Mike Pyatt is a Natrona County resident. His email is

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