Professor Thomas Sowell
Recently (http://nypost.com/2013/12/03/how-victimhood-kills-achievement/) economist Thomas Sowell addressed the root causes of “The Achievement Gap,” which appears race-based here in the United States and class-based in England.
He started by referring to an article in The Economist (November 9th - 15th) that addressed a crisis in England, where, “among children eligible for free meals in England’s schools, black children of immigrants from Africa meet the standards of school tests nearly 60 percent of the time — as do immigrant children from Bangladesh and Pakistan. At the bottom: white English children from families with these low incomes, who meet the standards 30 percent of the time. In one borough of London, The Economist points out, white students scored lower than black students in any (that is EVERY) London borough.”
Dr. Sowell, noted, “What jolts us is not only that this phenomenon is so different from what we are used to seeing in the United States, but also that it fits neither the genetic nor the environmental explanation of black-white educational differences here.
“These white students in England come from the same race that produced Shakespeare and the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton, among other world class intellects over the centuries. But today many young whites in England are barely literate, and have trouble with simple arithmetic. Nor are these white students the victims of racial discrimination, much less the descendants of slaves.”
That is an interesting phenomenon and Thomas Sowell offered a familiar reason for the different face of failure across the two cultures; “What do low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common? It cannot be simply low incomes, because children from other groups in the same low-income brackets outperform whites in England and outperform blacks in America.
“What low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States have in common is a generations-long indoctrination in victimhood. The political left in both countries has, for more than half a century, maintained a steady and loud drumbeat of claims that the deck is stacked against those at the bottom.
“The American left uses race and the British left uses class, but the British left has been at it longer. In both countries, immigrants who have not been in the country as long have not been so distracted by such ideology into a blind resentment and lashing out at other people.
In both countries, immigrants enter a supposedly closed society that refuses to let anyone rise — and they nevertheless rise, while the native-born at the bottom remain at the bottom.
“Those who promote an ideology of victimhood may imagine that they are helping those at the bottom, when in fact they are harming them, more so than the society that the left is denouncing.”
What Dr. Sowell describes is what is seen all the time, whenever someone breaks a bone, or damages a joint - the casted or crutched limb atrophies, its muscle mass shrinks. It appears to happen to people who we seek to remove from the travails of competition. The more we shield people from HAVING to work and HAVING to sacrifice, the less willing they are to do that.
Nobel Laureate in Economics, Gary Becker famously asserted that, “People respond to incentives.” That is, people respond to incentives in many forms to make their decisions. When criminal behavior is not aggressively pursued and punished, criminals make an informed decision that, in effect, “crime pays”...at least it pays MORE at such times, then it does at times in which crime is taken far more seriously.
That’s the same with work or productive activity. The LESS difficult we make being jobless or non-productive, the MORE people will opt to be non-productive.
It’s the same thing Dr. Sowell describes as the root cause of “The Achievement Gap” – the MORE a group of people are encouraged to blame others, or “society” for their own failings, the less willing those people will be to take responsibility for themselves.
ALL of this probably appears to be “stating the obvious,” but apparently such things are NOT so obvious to the “liberal” mind.
Dr. Sowell’s article is well worth reading: http://nypost.com/2013/12/03/how-victimhood-kills-achievement/