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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Let's Hear It for the Man!

It's taken nearly a week to digest George W. Bush's address to the nation concerning recovery for the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina. In his speech last week the president finally made the connection between poverty and race.
As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created.

This is a step in the right direction. No where I have I seen this important statement hailed for what it is.

Now that the hurricane has snatched the covers off poverty in America for the whole world to view I've been hearing a lot of talk about using the free-enterprise approach as a means to helping people escape poverty.

President Bush presented a proposal to create a Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone. In this zone, encompassing Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as a way to create jobs and bolster the tax base, businesses investing in the area are to receive incentives such as huge tax breaks and loans. This is a strategy that may have worked in the past in the inner city as empowerment zones and enterprise zones. A few small businesses may have been set up in depressed areas. These same small businesses may have hired one or two people from the urban neighborhood. They haven’t done much to bring a hefty inpouring of jobs with higher, better pay to those areas. I'm not so sure such a plan would help a region which covers three of the poorest states.

We need a plan to neutralize the abysmal poverty spotlighted for us all by the devastating storm.

We need proposals that do more than use our tax dollars to enrich corporations more than the people they are supposed to help.

Next Post:
    A Proposal to Help People Onto a Path to Prosperity.