By Chris Powell
Connecticut U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, has picked up the politically correct mantra that racism is a “public health crisis” in the United States. She has joined U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-California, in introducing a resolution that would have the House of Representatives declare that the country’s public health system is full of “systemic practices and policies that perpetuate racism” and would pledge the federal government to get rid of them.
Of course the resolution will accomplish nothing. It is mere leftist posturing to keep the country on the defensive politically in the face of any racial or ethnic grievance. Indeed, while the resolution enumerates many of the racist wrongs of history, it fails to identify any current racist public health policies and practices in government.
While the resolution makes complaints of underfunding, of course nearly everyone getting money from the government claims to be underfunded, including Ukraine, which lately has received from the United States billions of dollars that, quite without objection from Hayes and Cardenas, are not being used to drive racism out of this country’s public health system.
No one denies that the United States has many racial disparities. But public health is only one of them, and as the enumerations in the Hayes-Cardenas resolution suggest, these disparities are rooted not in current policies and practices but past ones. These past policies and practices are partly but not entirely responsible for the racial disproportions in poverty, and today it is poverty rather than racism that most needs to be overcome.
While government has many programs supposedly meant to reduce poverty, poverty seems to be worsening. Today in Connecticut there is more clamor than ever that one group or another can’t make it financially and needs more money from government, even as Ukraine seems to be first in line. This month’s “community well-being” reports from the Regional Data Cooperative for Greater New Haven, better known as Data Haven, indicate that Connecticut is increasingly divided between people doing well or well enough financially and people who are just scraping by or not getting by at all — that is, the reports show serious income inequality along with the usual racial disparities. They also show that many whites are impoverished too.
If racism was really the underlying problem with poverty, most members of racial minorities, instead of many, would be impoverished, and few instead of many whites would be impoverished.
Similarly, if racism was really the underlying problem, government, business, higher education, and society generally would not be permeated with hiring, advancement, and other policies favoring minorities.
The failure of poverty policy should induce elected officials to knock off the demagogic posturing and get real, to stop railing against something that nearly everyone has been against for decades and to examine critically what hasn’t been working for decades.
Hayes especially — formerly a single teen-age mother, a resident of run-down government housing, a teacher in Waterbury, and national teacher of the year — should ask how minority kids are helped by a welfare system that deprives most of them of fathers and then advances them through school and gives them diplomas without ever requiring them to learn anything, whereupon so many of them enter adulthood uneducated, unskilled, and qualified only for menial work.
Those policies are far more racist and destructive than anything in Hayes’ empty resolution.
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MORE ON EARLY VOTING: Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, whose recommendations for early-voting legislation were reviewed in this column recently, has clarified and elaborated on the early-voting statement she gave to the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee on Feb. 22.
Thomas recommends 10 days of early voting before an election, starting with the second Friday before the election and ending on the Sunday before the election. She does not recommend starting on the second Saturday before the election and continuing through the Monday before the election, as her statement implied.
Thomas also recommends that the voter check-off sheets maintained by poll workers should be made public at the end of each day of early voting.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut. (CPowell@JournalInquirer.com)