Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
One of the bonuses in this week’s Culinary no-no was a column by the great conservative writer Thomas Sowell entitled, “The Hunger Hoax.” Here’s an excerpt:
“Those who see social problems as requiring high-minded people like themselves to come down from their Olympian heights to impose their superior wisdom on the rest of us, down in the valley, are behind such things as the hunger hoax, which is part of the larger poverty hoax.
We have now reached the point where the great majority of the people living below the official poverty level have such things as air-conditioning, microwave ovens, either videocassette recorders or DVD players, and own either a car or a truck.
Why are such people called ‘poor’? Because they meet the arbitrary criteria established by Washington bureaucrats.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Sunday Crossraods section the past two weeks has featured the thoughts of local leaders about how to combat poverty. I found Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s views quite compelling:
There has been a moral collapse in Milwaukee, as evidenced by flawed lifestyle choices such as failing in school, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, irresponsible behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, parental neglect and welfare dependency. These pathologies increase the likelihood of remaining in poverty.
Politicians have been co-conspirators and made the situation worse by enacting social policies and safety-net entitlements that have enslaved people living in poverty through the "high" of handouts. Big government encourages reward without effort, choices without consequences, and a cradle-to-casket welfare state mentality that enables bad behavior. The message sent is, if you make bad lifestyle choices, we have a program to rescue you.
People who are forced to make better lifestyle decisions will ultimately improve their situation, compared with those who sit around waiting for someone else to make decisions for them. Poverty puts people in a vise-like grip. You don't "lift" someone out of poverty. A person has to break free from poverty through the pain and hardship of self-determination, self-help and self-motivation. Only the sheer will of the individual to change their life can make a difference.
Poverty has become a cottage industry, and everybody is in on the act. Politicians siphon off tax dollars to create social service programs and award lucrative contracts with little or no accountability for tangible results. These programs and organizations have altruistic mission statements that fool us into thinking they will "lift" people out of poverty. In fact, there is an incentive to allow people to stay government-dependent so that these programs can continue to receive more government funding. Every social program should have a five- to 10- year shelf life.
The current recession didn't cause Milwaukee's poverty. The1960s Great Society, the War on Poverty and big government caused the demise of virtues such as hard work, personal responsibility, self-reliance, self discipline, valuing education, marriage, and taking and keeping a job no matter how little it pays. Government dependency replaced the traditional structure that people relied on in time of need, that being the family, community and church.
How do we fix this? The first step is by debunking poverty myths. We need to stop with the feel-good clichés such as, "poverty is everyone's problem," "we have to work together on this problem," "we have to do everything we can," we're all responsible." My reply is: No it isn't, no we don't, no we can't, and no we aren't.
What we have to do is return to traditional institutions that have helped people in poverty since the formation of this country. People used to turn to the institution of the traditional family, and the church used to be the institution that provided social welfare, but these institutions have been marginalized by big government and secular forces. The consequences have been catastrophic, and we will not find a replacement for these traditional community structures.
How am I doing my part? By encouraging people to strengthen their family formation, actively stay involved in the education of their children, become an engaged parent, join a church, adopt a more mainstream lifestyle, take any job they can find for now while remaking themselves for the jobs of the 21st Century, learn how to overcome adversity, grind it out during tough times, think for yourself, and most important, stay away from big government politicians.