Rep. Paul Ryan's effort to brand himself as a
Republican anti-poverty crusader
continues. The House Budget Committee chair and former Republican vice-presidential nominee went on Bill Bennett's radio show to talk about his ongoing desire to address poverty by eviscerating most of America's existing anti-poverty programs. That means doubling down on the damage
of the 1996 welfare reform and, of course, a lot of racist dog whistles
masquerading as talk about "the dignity of work" and "the culture of work." Ryan told Bennett:
“We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work, so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
Got that? In case your ears don't catch the frequency Ryan is speaking at, let me translate: The problem is "in our inner cities" (where the black people live) where men (black men) are "not even thinking about working." It's a "real culture problem" (black culture). Blow, blow, blow into that dog whistle, Paul. In case he wasn't being clear enough, though, Ryan cited Charles Murray, a conservative political scientist who has argued that race and IQ are genetically linked and "a lot of poor people are born lazy."
Paul Ryan wants us to believe that America's persistently high poverty is because of the moral and cultural failings of poor people. And not just any poor people, but the specific ones who live in inner cities. As if the people who are victims of economic inequality as a form of racial inequality are responsible for that racial and economic inequality. This is a country where a study has found that it's easier for a white felon than for a black non-felon to get a job. But please, Rep. Ryan, as part of your push to slash anti-poverty programs, do tell me about how the "real culture problem" is that "generations of men" in the inner city don't "value the culture of work."
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