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Friday, May 1, 2015

David Brooks, "The Nature of Poverty": Actually, Jon Stewart Lied

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Nature of Poverty," David Brooks writes about the rioting in Baltimore:

"Lately it seems as though every few months there’s another urban riot and the nation turns its attention to urban poverty. And in the midst of every storm, there are people crying out that we should finally get serious about this issue. This time it was Jon Stewart who spoke for many when he said: 'And you just wonder sometimes if we’re spending a trillion dollars to rebuild Afghanistan’s schools, like, we can’t build a little taste down Baltimore way. Like is that what’s really going on?'

The audience applauded loudly, and it’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not really relevant."

Indeed, it was a "nice," crowd-pleasing sentiment on Stewart's part, but it was also a lie. As reported by Glenn Kessler in a Washington Post "Fact Checker" column entitled "Nope, Jon Stewart, $1 trillion wasn’t spent on Afghanistan schools at the expense of Baltimore.":

"Since 2002, Congress has appropriated $104 billion for Afghanistan relief and reconstruction, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). A lot of this funding went to bolstering the Afghan military and security forces and fostering better governance.

But Stewart specifically mentioned schools. The numbers are even smaller in that instance. Using USAID’s Web site, one can drill down to individual programs in Afghanistan year after year. For basic education in Afghanistan, the number is about $100 million annually. Adding higher education boosts the spending about $30 million a year. For instance, in 2012 and 2013, the total spent on education in Afghanistan was $128.6 million and $115.1 million, respectively.

Now let’s compare that to the federal spending for the city of Baltimore. According to city budget documents, the federal contribution to Baltimore schools was $184.8 million in 2012 and $169.3 million in 2013. (Most of the more than $1.2 billion budget comes from state and county funding sources.)

The contrast was even greater in 2011: $95 million for Afghanistan schools and $265 million for Baltimore schools. That’s because the 2009 stimulus bill bolstered funding for schools for several years.

. . . .

In fact, in a direct comparison of federal spending on Baltimore schools and spending on Afghanistan education, Baltimore easily comes out on top. So, even with allowances for comic effect, Stewart earns Four Pinocchios."

But back now to Brooks, who concludes his op-ed by observing:

"Jane Jacobs once wrote that a healthy neighborhood is like a ballet, a series of intricate interactions in which people are regulating each other and encouraging certain behaviors.

. . . .

Yes, jobs are necessary, but if you live in a neighborhood . . . where half the high school students don’t bother to show up for school on a given day, then the problems go deeper.

The world is waiting for a thinker who can describe poverty through the lens of social psychology. Until the invisible bonds of relationships are repaired, life for too many will be nasty, brutish, solitary and short."

Or stated otherwise, it's not all about money. Rather, it involves the disintegration of social fabric.

A pity that President Obama, who never misses the opportunity to lose himself on the links, can't drive the 55 minutes from the White House to Baltimore to observe for himself the violence and destruction. Effect "change" involving America's inner cities? Now here's an opportunity to truly build a "legacy," but instead, the president is preoccupied with reaching a bogus nuclear agreement with Supreme Leader Khamenei, which will free up $50 billion for Iranian sponsored terror.

1 comment:

  1. There are not enough jobs for those who do complete any level of education due to the de-industrialization of America. Just one example: No one will ever mention the one million manufacturing jobs that migrated to Canada after NAFTA, mostly because Canada unit labor costs do not include medical insurance.

    As for education? The failures are not about money.

    The 4 Pinocchios never change the meme, but America seems to be following Arafat's playbook these days...