Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

April 12, 2008

Cosby: This Is How We Lost to the White Man

Filed under: culture, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 8:46 am

The Atlantic has an article on Bill Cosby and his current crusade in the black community. Cosby offers a counterpoint and highlights what many people hate about “liberalism.” At the end of the day, beyond politics, our society is judged on its merits in by the most impartial judge of them all: reality. Americans, on principle, hate loafers. People who contribute nothing to the society but demand a lot from it. This sensibility is why many voters are willing to vote against their own economic self-interest in order to ensure loafers won’t have a free-ride. The society is geared up for punishment of this behavior. Its essence is reflected in the fable of the The Ant and the Grasshopper: you made your own bed, now sleep in it.

The actual extent of the problem is debatable. However, it tends to be very visible and it is easy to concoct a myth of “welfare queens” to rile up the voters. Americans generally want a safety net, and want the government to provide effective services where it can, however they don’t want their hard-work going to help loafers in any form. Libertarians generally take it a step further and conclude that the government can never provide an effective service, or will always do worse than a market-based alternative.

I don’t think there is any specific disagreement with Cosby on values, but rather the reality of situation. In this respect, Cosby may be an advocate of a “necessary illusion.” If disadvantaged people were aware of the structural obstacles they faced, and were all too ready to blame those factors instead of any individual defects then a culture of dependency and apathy would arise making them incapable of ever achieving their own success even when the obstacles were removed. The overall point remains the same, obstacles or no obstacles, principles of self-reliance and responsibility should guide people’s actions. To which, I can only say that I agree. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop working on removing the structural constraints also, particularly surrounding education. The removal of structural obstacles mean nothing if the individual actors are unwilling to take advantage of the new opportunities. At the end of the day, it is going to take both individual responsibility and the removal of structural constraints move closer to a more equitable society. When we choose to empathize one, let us not forget the other.

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1 Comment »

  1. I agree that Cosby seems harsh, though honest voice is refreshing and helpful. And I agree that handout fails.

    Were there handouts in the USA, among the most cruel of any modern nation, perhaps we could cut back.

    A smidge, just a tiny slice pathologically exploit America. I think we know the least of these are poor and hungry.

    And among the poor and hungry, I think a greater number you will meet agree that “obstacles or no obstacles, principles of self-reliance and responsibility should guide people’s actions.”

    Methinks we are much upside down. We’ve been told rhetoric until it shapes us against our duty.

    Burdens on our our bottom are not keeping us there.

    Comment by Brian Hayes — April 13, 2008 @ 4:25 am


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