Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
20 October 2009
I was the product of the government school system from kindergarten all the way through graduate school, so I acquired little knowledge of the things that really mattered, and only a rudimentary understanding of the principles of this country's founding, but I did know how to seek out the right people, and ask good questions.
Over 30 years ago, I got into the financial business where I was exposed to the Austrian economists, and the Libertarian political philosophy which totally changed my life! They confirmed one thing that I had always expected; most people, in this country, have very little interest in freedom. They don't want restrictions on what they can do, but they do not want real freedom that requires independence and self-reliance!
For example, how many people settle for jobs that they hate, just so they can get their employer to pay for their medical insurance? How many have a dream that they do not pursue, because they like the safety and security of a job that doesn't stimulate and excite them? All of the "social programs" that started in the New Deal, and became even more malignant during the War on Poverty, are based on the ability to get the American people to trade their freedom for the illusion of security; hardly the definition of a free people!
The three men that helped me to clarify the issue of what it means to live a life of real freedom were: Harry Browne, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams. I do not claim to have achieved the freedom that they enjoy; I merely acknowledge them as my inspiration and "mentors".
I had read the works of Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams for quite some time, and marveled at their intimate knowledge of the nature of authentic freedom, before I saw their pictures. I was shocked!
How could these two Black men live lives with more authentic freedom than I had, and probably every other White person I knew? They had suffered discrimination and yet had developed a positive attitude about America, and life in general, that the rest of us could only envy. After I got to know them, through their work, it was obvious why they were so exceptional: character, integrity, principles, and a deep understanding and belief in our original Constitutional Republic. But beyond that, they didn't wait for the government to give them permission to be free. They knew it was their God-given right, and just did it! They are the closest thing that I know of to the embodiment of the Founding Fathers that exists today!
Although I have never had the great honor to meet them, Dr. Sowell and Dr. Williams have served as my mentors for many years. Whenever I face a political issue, they are the first ones I turn to for guidance, and advice, by consulting their writings.
I have never considered Public Housing to be a "Black issue", because people of all races live in their facilities, but it is clear that the Black community does so, so I followed their lead.
When our Projects were destroyed by Hurricane Ike, I did not function under the illusion that I understood the experience of those living in Public Housing, or knew what we needed to do; I consulted my mentors. What did they say about the role of Public Housing in the Black community?
In his book "The Vision of the Anointed", Dr. Sowell exposes the strategy used by the Poverty Industry, made up of certain politicians and special interest groups, to use "victims groups" or "grievance groups" as "Mascots", to further their agenda, line their pockets, and gain political power.
In "Housing Hurdles: the Solution" Dr. Sowell states,
"Nowhere have illusions been more abundant than in discussions of housing -- especially that ever-elusive "affordable housing" that so many people wring their hands over -- often while passing laws that make it virtually impossible to achieve.
It has become axiomatic in some quarters that only the government can provide affordable housing to low-income people. Often the people who talk this way do not let economics cramp their style or history distract their attention.
Within living memory, there was a time when there were no government housing programs. The federal government first got into providing public housing with the National Housing Act of 1937. (It is amazing how many bad ideas began in either the 1930s or the 1960s.)
Today, we have gotten used to the idea that the government will take care of the poor by putting them in housing projects. We have also gotten used to seeing videotape of public housing projects being demolished. What has not been demolished, however, are the unsubstantiated assumptions behind these disastrous social experiments."
Then in "The New White Flight" Dr. Sowell addresses the fallacy that the latest version of Public Housing, i.e. "scattered-site", "mixed-use", or "mixed-income", will solve the problems of all of the previous versions:
"Among the most unconscionable attempts to unsort people who have sorted themselves out by behavior are government programs to relocate people into neighborhoods where they could not afford to live without subsidies. Often the people in those neighborhoods have sacrificed for years in order to be able to live where they could raise their children in decent surroundings and not have to live in fear of hoodlums -- only to have the government import the bad neighbors and hoodlums they have tried so hard to escape.
Both kinds of people may be of the same race but that does not make the consequences any less painful or the resentments any less bitter. Blacks as well as whites have objected to having problem people thrust into their midst through housing subsidies or government housing projects being built in their neighborhoods.
Almost never do the social experimenters relocate dysfunctional and dangerous people into their own elite neighborhoods. They unsort other people's neighborhoods and embitter other people's lives."
In "Law versus Moral Values" Dr. Williams said:
"During the 1940s, my family lived in North Philadelphia's Richard Allen housing project. Many families didn't lock doors until late at night, if ever. No one ever thought of installing bars on their windows. Hot, humid summer nights found many people sleeping outside on balconies or lawn chairs. Starting in the '60s and '70s, doing the same in some neighborhoods would have been tantamount to committing suicide. Keep in mind that the 1940s and '50s were a time of gross racial discrimination, high black poverty and few opportunities compared to today. The fact that black neighborhoods were far more civilized at that time should give pause to the excuses of today that blames today's pathology on poverty and discrimination."
In "The Cos Again" Dr. Williams,
"Cosby told the audience that being poor had a different meaning to older generations and said the "housing project was set up for you to move in, move up and move out." Cosby's family moved out of Philadelphia's Richard Allen housing project, and so did mine."
"Yesterday's gross material poverty among blacks is all but gone. In all too many cases, it has been replaced by the worse kind of poverty -- poverty of the spirit."
"Bill Cosby also admonished blacks to stop blaming the white man for our problems. "This is a time, ladies and gentlemen," Cosby said, "when we have to turn the mirror around." He's right again. Nobody can sensibly argue that racial discrimination has altogether disappeared. The relevant question is: How much of what we see can be explained by racial discrimination? The 70 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks is devastating, not to mention unprecedented, but can it be blamed on discrimination? Is the white man responsible for today's all-time high number of black single-parent families? What about the crime rate that has turned many black neighborhoods, once stable and civilized, into battlegrounds and economic wastelands?"
Here’s what Star Parker has to say about public housing:
"A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation. Those who accepted the invitation switched mindsets from "How do I take care of myself?" to "What do I have to do to stay on the plantation?"
Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems -- the kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others.
The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families.
I thought we were on the road to moving socialism out of our poor black communities and replacing it with wealth-producing American capitalism. But, incredibly, we are going in the opposite direction.
Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single-parent homes and out-of-wedlock births."
Back on Uncle Sam's Plantation
If you went to the GHA meeting last night you did not hear the wisdom of my mentors; you were treated to a display of grievance-group politics at its worst! Most of the people who spoke had no real understanding of what is trapping the people that they claim to represent in lives of helplessness and dependency, as explained by Sowell, Williams, and Parker.
There was talk of all of the good people who lived in the Projects, and worked to keep this city running, but no concern for the dysfunctional lives that are created by the lack of self-reliance, and independence that a lifetime of "government care" creates, or the criminals who also populate the Projects.
It was stated that former Project residents have a right to return to a new Public Housing Project, even though self-sufficient residents have no such right, if they can't afford to do so.
The Poverty Industry was there in its fully glory, ready to vacuum up all the taxpayer dollars they can.
The middle class taxpayers were there, and Commissioner Ray Lewis began by telling them that the GHA Board never even considered the option that they favored of NOT rebuilding the Projects, and since the Board had the authority to do whatever it damn well pleased, they were going to rebuild. His arrogant demeanor let everyone know that all of the pretense of "public input" was over, the fix had been in from the beginning, and he had won!
But what had he won?
“Most policy experts agree these days that big public housing projects are noxious environments for their tenants. What’s less well understood is how noxious such projects are for the cities that surround them. Housing projects radiate dysfunction and social problems outward, damaging local businesses and neighborhood property values.
Public housing spawns neighborhood social problems because it concentrates together welfare-dependent, single-parent families, whose fatherless children disproportionately turn out to be school dropouts, drug users, non-workers, and criminals."
How Public Housing Harms Cities
That's what Ray Lewis won; 50 more years of dysfunction, crime, and blight for the residents of Projects, and the people of Galveston. This was surely a victory worth celebrating! The spoils system will continue as usual.
Is there no one who will stop this calamity from happening; once again? Tarris Woods is probably the only person in this city who has the standing to do so. I hope that he will step up, assume his rightful position of leadership, and settle this issue to the satisfaction of the whole city!
In my home town of Chicago, we have a tradition of "honoring" those who have done the most to implant and burden us with the Public Housing Projects by naming the new Projects after them. In that way, every time people refer to the latest crimes, or other problems at the Projects, they are remembered for their "contribution" to the community. Certainly our new Projects should be named after Lyda Ann Thomas, Ray Lewis, and Harish Krishnarao.
As Dolph Tillotson wrote recently, THIS would be the Mayor's legacy; and he is absolutely right!