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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he wants to fix the “real culture problem” that he believes exists in “our inner cities,” what he really means is that he wants to contribute to an existing culture problem that affects the way people like him make economic and social judgments about low-income and unemployed Americans.

Just a week after releasing his report calling for cuts to federal anti-poverty programs, Ryan appeared on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America on Wednesday to once again explain what he believes is the solution to widespread poverty.

Citing conservative social scientist Charles Murray, who thinks African-Americans are genetically less intelligent than whites and that “poor people are born lazy,” Ryan explained that in order to combat poverty, the value of work would need to be taught to poor Americans, specifically men in “inner cities.”

“We want people to reach their potential and so the dignity of work is very valuable and important and we have to re-emphasize work and reform our welfare programs,” said Ryan, who seemed focused on establishing work requirements for poor Americans in urban communities. “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 the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

As ThinkProgress points out, however, much of Ryan’s logic is flawed. He begins by assuming that poor Americans do not work – or at least those who live in urban communities do not work – and that they lack the desire or incentive to find work. This assumption is then used to oppose anti-poverty federal programs, which Ryan claims only enable these already unmotivated, unemployed poor people.

No statistical evidence exists to support the claim that anti-poverty federal programs prompt a widespread attitude that devalues the concept of work and work ethic. Additionally, Ryan neglects the fact that many poor people — including those who benefit from safety net programs — are in fact employed.

December 2013, census data showed that 10 percent of Americans who work full-time are among the nation’s poorest. Also in 2013, a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that out of the 46.2 million Americans living below the official poverty line in 2011, 10.4 million counted as the “working poor” – people who were employed or actively looking for employment for at least six months.

Another hole in Ryan’s theory of poverty in the United States is that it seems to suggest that poverty exists primarily in urban areas, which are typically home to minorities. A 2013 Huffington Post article citing data exclusive to The Associated Press notes that “while poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white.” According to the report, more than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line, and most live in suburbs or rural towns – where over 60 percent of the poor are white.

And regardless of race or location, federal anti-poverty programs serve to help those millions of Americans living in poverty and most require that beneficiaries work or actively look for work.

Still, Ryan argues that welfare reform similar to that passed under President Bill Clinton is necessary to adequately address poverty. As ThinkProgress points out, though, the economic reality of today does not mirror that of the 1990s; there are a greater number of families living below half the poverty line in 2014 and when welfare reform was first enacted in 1996, the country was not reeling from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

Many of the programs that Ryan has targeted are actually responsible for keeping additional millions out of poverty since the recession, the Economic Policy Institute finds.

To Ryan’s credit, one of the problems he describes as a source of poverty seems credible: culture – except not in the way Ryan thinks. As long as conservatives continue to call for steep cuts to or the total elimination of safety net programs, citing nonexistent evidence that these programs only further debilitate poor, lazy, and unemployed Americans living in inner cities, poverty will continue to be a prevalent problem in the United States. The reason is simple: If those entrusted to design, propose, and enact economic legislation concentrate and make decisions on a deluded sense of reality, the efforts that do deserve greater focus never garner it.

Ultimately, millions of struggling Americans – of all races and hailing from different cities and towns across the nation – are the ones who lose.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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  • toptwome

    Paul Ryan is a right wing anti-everything tool of the anti-American republican billionaires.

  • Sand_Cat

    Ryan is like almost every right-wing lunatic troll on this site: all people who are poor are lazy freeloaders who have had the easy life since birth. Actually, he probably shares a common sentiment of the trolls: everyone who disagrees with him on these issues is a lazy freeloader with no job having an easy life and writing posts to disparage honest, hardworking people such as he.

    • Annemb

      Great post!

      Ryan’s ignorance and stupidity come out every time he opens his mouth!

      We need to get rid of him and all others like him before our country is totally destroyed by these treasonous, insurrectionists and seditionists. They have nothing of substance to contribute to our society, but their mantra of hate, racism and despicable thoughts to everyone they deem “less” than they.

      It is my hope that their thoughts finally destroy them and completely remove them from public office.

  • JSquercia

    Hey Paul you know who some the most successful entrepreneurs in the inner city are ? The drug dealers who while lacking in formal education manage to amass a lot of money . They would eat you for lunch
    While you’re at it why not just skip the code words and just say out loud what your dog whistle term inner city REALLY means : black

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Ryan needs to get his trust-fund butt actually into one of these cities to see exactly how the people live, survive and thrive despite his proclamations to the contrary. Do what Bill Clinton did. Yeah, he has a house in Westchester County, but his office is in Harlem – one of the most thriving communities culturally, educationally and economically in the country. Yes, Harlem. Trust me, it is not the bombed-out, burned-out, drug-riddled Ghetto that the Republican party wants you to think it is. Maybe Ryan should open up an office actually in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Waukeegan or some other urban area with a thriving inner city and see what life is really like, instead of getting his information from Faux and his Country Club Cronies.

    • Bill

      With all the shit he’s said and done to the poor if he went there he knows he might not come back, please go Mr Ryan.

  • charles king

    Paul the poverty program are located in small-town USA Where? the soup lines are filled-up with young White males. Plutocracy has taken over in these small-towns, and the young Whites are getting screw by their commissioners are mis-using the Peoples tax dollars. I am not worry about the Black male they have been on this track for at least four generations, I know because I have been there and I survived. Paul, I suggest to you to start doing some (Critical Thinking) What? the hell are you talking about, and Why? aren’t you Jive-Ass people solving the problems of the country and Where? are the People’s Democracy, and How? come you out talking about Nothing, you need your ASS kicked. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I love Ya All. Mr. C. E. King..Be-Ware Plutocracy, Capitalistic Pigs, MONIES to The Republicans and democracts Representives VOTE Them Out The VOTE is Still Supreme.

    • Annemb

      On the nose!

    • dpaano

      Critical thinking? They have NO concept of critical thinking!!! If they did, we wouldn’t be in the mess they’ve put us in already! They have NO sense of logic… sense of reality!

  • Grannysmovin

    Hey Cardinal Dolan how is your good friend such a “good Catholic” when his role model is Ann Rynd an Atheist and he quotes from books written by Charles Murray, who is considered a white nationalist. It appears the other thing Ryan has in common with Murray is they turned their white robes and pointed hats in for a Armani Suit.

    • latebloomingrandma

      But-but but—–He’s anti-abortion That’s all that matters to be labeled “pro-life.”.

      • Allan Richardson

        Right. Life is sacred from conception UNTIL birth. After that, only non-poor life is sacred.

      • dpaano

        Until he and his buddies want to pay for all those unwanted children……which they don’t…..then they don’t have a thing to say. As I’ve said before……I’m personally pro-life, but I’m also pro-abortion…’s a decision between a woman, her significant other, AND her doctor. No one else has the right to make that decision, especially NOT the government or some asinine Republican party!

  • RobertCHastings

    From 1905 until 1970, 6 million African Americans migrated from the repressive South to the industrialized North, in search of a better future, a figure that represents about 1/3 of all blacks in this country over that period. Had that large a proportion of whites left one area of this country and moved to another, there would have been economic chaos and countless “studies” to understand why this happened. The reasons behind this exodus from the South should be obvious, to anyone who has at least as much intellectual power as an average adult male. Unfortunately, Mr. Ryan seems significantly below average in the brains category.

  • ps0rjl

    Ryan is afflicted with rich conservative empathy. In other words he only wants the rich to have government help to succeed. Not only was he a trust fund baby, but he also married a woman who had more money than he did.

  • mah101

    We need to add “social literacy” to our educational goals. It amazes me that people like Ryan can be so oblivious to the realities that surround them. Such blindness requires 1) ignorance backed with preconceived ideas and prejudice, and 2) a complete unwillingness to objectively analyze the situation.

  • Bryan Blake

    Well well. Ryan may have revealed himself as a racist through his citing Charles Murray. Ryan was handing out Ayn Rand’s books until allegedly he found out Rand was an atheist. He tried to walk back the giving gifts. But, except for the atheist part, he has not walked back from Ms. Rand’s policy prescriptions for our country and economy. If anything he has doubled down on them through his “budget proposals”.

    The destruction of the inner cities has taken decades and was the direct result of government policies at all levels. The chief policy problem has been the massive reduction of education spending and maintaining schools in the inner cities. Teaching anyone to read opens the doors to other worlds and opportunities. And when that happens, they can escape from the vicious cycle of lack of education and crushing poverty.

    Then we must quit using “inner city men” like livestock for the private prison industry. Prisons are not a legitimate domain of for-profit businesses. Take that money and invest it in the inner cities and young men born there will grow up to be just men.

    Mr Ryan do you have any realistic budget/policy proposals to begin “resolve” the problems of “inner city men” (the others).? I did not think so.

    • dpaano

      Bryan….are you kidding? The Republicans haven’t come up with any budget/policy proposals to “resolve” the problems in our country. They promised jobs in 2010…..didn’t do anything with that. They promised a lot of other things too…..don’t see any progress with that. All they want to do is sit around, whine about poverty, etc., but they don’t want to come up with ANY ideas for fixing the problems except to just make them worse! We keep asking them to come up with resolutions……but all we get is obstruction!

  • Allan Richardson

    The men and women in the “inner city” know the value of work: that working for corporations like Walmart without a college education (and often even WITH one) is worth next to nothing; that their chances of an education are slim to none, and the very people who condemn them for “not trying” are removing the means to HELP them try: cutting funding for K-12 education (don’t even THINK about pre-K); driving teachers out of teaching with low pay and no respect; cutting Pell grants and raising interest rates on student loans; cutting state college budgets, forcing them to raise tuition rates; and trying to keep wages at third world levels.

    The fact is that, as sad as this truth may be, too many inner city youth have been convinced, by the EVIDENCE they see around them, that the only kind of work with even a small chance of paying off in THEIR neighborhoods is to join drug gangs. They work VERY HARD for the equivalent of minimum wage as low level drug dealers in the HOPE of winning the “lottery” of becoming a big gang lord before they end up dead or in jail.

    There is a spirit of entrepeneural activity among inner city young men. Too bad the only arena where they are encouraged to use it is the arena of illegal business. And they ARE encouraged by the establishment, because corporate leaders make it harder and harder to advance one’s finances LEGITIMATELY, while drug purchases by wealthy young men and women (who would be condemned as “inner city lazy youth” if they did not have trust funds and Mommy and Daddy’s money) provide the market that makes it possible for a few to prosper ILLEGALLY.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Maybe Ryan needs to take a lesson from Robert Kennedy, a much wealthier man that he is. He actually went into the rural and urban areas where poverty was rampant. It changed him. He would have changed America.

    • Allan Richardson

      But the predecessors of Ryan’s puppet masters put a stop to that!

  • herchato

    Ryan seems to be a hater who does his best to stir up other haters. I guess I just don’t understand his end goal.

  • Marlene Gray

    None are so blind as those who will not see. Even if a true analysis stared him in the face, appeared before his eyes, was served to him on his golden/privileged plate, he would not get it. He is in a self-induced/ historically hate-based fog. He uses “the Big Lie” to pull the wool over other such myopic eyes. God help us. He does not understand that you don’t use the exception to prove the rule. He and his reasoning are warped. Let him try fighting the uphill battle of finding employment in this country, if he were one of those he judges– who are at a disadvantage (have a multitude of hurdles and mitigating factors to overcome). I urge more to join the battle against false reasoning, sick minds, satanic evil-doers, racism personified. Get the facts. You don’t get them being fed twisted ones by those with the money and rseources to spread lies. He is feeding his need to maintain a feeling of superiority, to bolster his insceurity. For what do we pray with such a prevalent epidemic of disease in our midst?

  • dpaano

    Logically, do the Republicans not understand that cutting back on both private and public positions has been the main cause of so many people out of work. And, with so many out of work, it takes taxpayer money to pay them unemployment, etc.? It has been THEIR fault that we are now in this ridiculous austerity program and that so many people are now not working or able to find a job. When you cut back on jobs… means that people are out of work and unable to find jobs. AND, by cutting their unemployment benefits, they are not able to pay for gas to get to interviews, clothes to wear, money to pay for printing resumes, money to pay for internet so they can actively LOOK for jobs on line, etc. It just defies logic, but then again, I guess we already KNOW that the Republicans don’t function with logic. Most of their BS comes from the opposite end of the brain, and we all know where that is!! It just astounds me that they can’t see that and they think that continually cutting programs for the poor and unemployed is going to make jobs. I’m not sure what reality they are living in, but it certainly isn’t the one that 99% of us are living in!!!

    • 4sanity4all

      Exactly. My college educated daughter is working 5 part time jobs now, while looking for a full time job. Now, if, with all of her talents, skills, and work experience, she is having such a rough time of it in this economy, how are people from the inner city, supposed to find a job? Especially since they were educated during a time of de-funding education, elimination of vocational education in public schools, overcrowding, and massive school closings. And especially since the Republicans have refused all but one job creation bill, and have forced cuts in government spending that eliminated thousands of jobs. There are no jobs available, even if people want to work. And some jobs that people have pay so little, that these workers qualify for food stamps and Medicaid. Yet, Republicans think that it is a good idea to shrink the safety net, and not create jobs through government funding. All I can say is, the tax breaks given to the wealthy “job creators” have not worked, so when will Republicans admit that they were wrong about every economic theory they have been advancing, and begin to co-operate with the ideas the President has been trying to implement?

      • dpaano

        They will NEVER admit that they are wrong…..they could BARELY admit that they lost the last presidential election!! For some reason, they think that austerity is the answer to the big question. They fail to see that our president has cut the deficit in half (actually more than half). They also can’t seem to understand that the president doesn’t hold the country’s checkbook……they do (at least the Senate and the House) and they are the ones that give him the go-ahead to spend money. They forget a LOT of things, but they will never admit that they are wrong!!!

  • Marsha Matthews

    I wonder just how many feet Eddie Munster can cram in that gaping hole in the middle of his face … quite a few, apparently … but, the Teapublican’s aren’t racists … nah, not at all.

  • Angel Perea

    THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH: This result is on-going example of such
    misinformed voter stupidity! Jolly’s record is that he was nothing more that paid Lobbyist for political prostitutes in Washington that has supported cuts in
    Social Security and Medicare! Yet lies about his support for the same programs using advertisements paid for the out of State political interests!


    Prime Example

    With Paul Ryan acting as their thought leader and spokes person, little wonder that in the next eight presidential elections, the GOP (Gasping Old Persons) will win none of them. Stay tuned and observe.

  • Aaron_of_Portsmouth

    For anyone who is hell-bent on digging a hole, deeper and deeper with each passing day, in anticipation of his total irrelevancy and passing away, its best to leave him alone and let him keep digging.
    The tombstone may very well read “Innocuous Desuetude”.

    If a public figure refuses to study history, cultural events, and develop a truly spiritual attitude, then each time his/her mouth is opened shows their profound ignorance and unbounded insensitivity. Only like-minded individuals will be swayed by their thoughts, just as a certain species were by the melody of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

  • Aaron_of_Portsmouth

    Wasn’t there a previous well-known public figure who stressed the misguided economic theory called the “Trickle Down Principle”? (A rhetorical question)

    It seems that nutty concept has taken a deep hold in the inner recesses of the hearts and minds of so many in this society and many of its politicians, and has the danger of being inherited by future generations—Unless….

  • lemstoll

    Paul Ryan’s war on the poor (not poverty) creates inner city blight that knows no color.

  • lemstoll

    How to serve the poor by Paul Ryan.

  • Paula Thomas

    How DARE you! The Black Male is the MOST ostracized male on the planet! BLACK masculinity is a Threat to White Anglo-Saxon Superiority, therefore, deemed “Inferior” overall! Reality, get over your fear, share the wealth so the ‘Black Family’ can prosper. STOP blaming poverty on us, when we depend solely on WHITES for opportunity, i.e, EMPLOYMENT.
    If you don’t hire Blacks, they cannot work – They HAVE degrees, and are still discriminated against!
    STOP the lies that BLACKS are lazy. We want to send our kids to college TOO, but don’t keep a job long enough to pay their tuition.
    STOP the hatred, that Martin Luther King Died For – Equality for ALL Americans – Black & White!
    Stop the Racist remarks that divide and further keep US in poverty based on perceptions like THIS!

  • Charvi3

    You have to remember, this socio psychopath…relates to “Atheism”….when he was raised, Catholic, but, he said that he wanted to find out what real man he was….and that is why he was handing out a Russian born novels on “Atheism” at Christmas…a couple of years back…it all amounts to self-gratification and pleasing only hisself so he is happy…he is so into the “WE GENERATION”…it is all about him controlling others and cramming his beliefs down someone’s throat….as he did when he was teaching…he doesn’t care anything about the middle class or the poor or the needy…he calls them “Takers”…which if you look at the fact that he is living off of the taxpayers monies to pay his salary…give him his spending his rent on his expensive home and pay for his health insurance…and to be rich and he is so messed up in the mind…he needs to be locked up in the mental institution where he can talk to hisself…he doesn’t care about your opinion or work with anyone…he has to have his way..only…he wears lots of masks…..and he isn’t a giver nor does he really care about the people he is working with…he has to have his way….he is a true “Nut Case”…who is the leader of the “Right Wing Conservative Movement” who has been making it out like the U.S. cannot run itself nationally…it has been nothing but, “Nasty Politics”…who are leading other Republicans and controlling them to agree with him…These people want out country like a communist country where the leaders of those countries that are high in the government have all of the monies and the middle class and the poor are struggling..look at, Iran, at this moment…people are lucky if they are making $12.00 a week or a day…it is horrible…and without being concerned about helping the middle class and the poor and the needy…and only the Republicans that are high in government are rich…it is communistic..all the way…we need to get the emocrats out to vote…because when, Bill Clinton, was in office we had a all “Democratic Congress”…and the middle class and the poor and the needy were all doing great…and we didn’t need a Republican vote…they do not want the middle class or the needy or the poor to come to the government for help…and by the way…when they gave the UK a billion dollars…and The Federal monies that is within the government….has that much monies I thought to myself why don’t they pay the people high in government their salaries and the things that the taxpayers are paying for the people high in the government…we need to take care of our people in the USA…and see to it that the Federal monies should help the middle class and the poor and the needy…and here we still sit without any help…