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Graft and Dependancy: The Ugly Common Core of Progressivism

What do President Obama and a convicted felon have in common? More than you might suspect [extra credit for those who answered, “Not as much as they should!”]

Last Friday in Chicago, Jeri Wright was convicted by a federal jury on 11 counts, including fraud, money laundering, and lying to federal agents. She was accused of misappropriating taxpayer funds that had been granted to the non-profit charity “We Are Our Brothers Keeper”. The charity was supposed to use the $1.25-million state grant to train minority youth and women to become bricklayers and electricians. Instead, prosecutors argued Wright and her accomplices spent the money on Las Vegas vacations, home renovations, and other luxury items. Wright is the daughter of Jeremiah Wright, who was the pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ and close personal friend of the President and First Lady. The jury took just 2 hours to return the verdict. She was found guilty on all charges.

Last month, President Obama announced the creation of a new Presidential initiative named, “My Brother’s Keeper”. He has said that he was inspired to act by the death of Trayvon Martin. The President has cobbled together a coalition of private business leaders, who have pledged to provide funds for the program, and government leaders including members of his own Cabinet, who have agreed to advise the program. The President decided to create an inter-agency task-force for My Brother’s Keeper, enlisting the help of Secretary Holder, Secretary Duncan, Secretary Perez, and other senior staff members.

According to Valerie Jarrett, this initiative “will be a lifelong commitment” and not something in which the President is involved only when in office. The goal of the initiative is to promote involvement in the lives of young black men in various ways, such as providing pre-kindergarten education, lifting elementary reading proficiency, and discouraging schools from enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy around discipline.

Despite the fact that both programs are similarly named, there are differences between the two. President Obama’s program looks to engage private businesses with non-profits and government officials to accomplish its goal. His initiative also benefits from the involvement of some of the most high-ranking civilians in the country, while Wright’s program was run by a suburban police chief and her overpaid husband.

Aaaaand that might be the extent of the differences between the two.

Obviously, they share a similar name, based on the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Candidate Obama has been quoted as saying that one of his favorite themes/lessons from the Bible is that “I am my brother’s keeper.” Of course, this is not a biblical phrase or lesson. A portion of the phrase comes from the mouth of the world’s first murderer, when he is asked the whereabouts of his brother by God Himself. In response, Cain flippantly asks God if he is his “brother’s keeper”. Obama, Wright, and progressive leftists have taken this sarcastic rejoinder as a rallying cry for the redistribution of the wealth of others.

Beyond the name itself, both programs also share an over-arching ideology. The driving force behind both initiatives is that it “takes a village to raise a child” and so the village should pay for each child’s upbringing. The unspoken gist, which should be offensive to all black Americans, is that young black men need a special government program in order to succeed. The implication is that somehow society let them down and so society should pay the government to fix things, when in reality it is government who has let them down and these publicly-elected leeches continue to feed off their ostracization.

The best training initiative in the world is a job. If there’s a young man or woman interested in becoming an electrician but without the necessary knowledge and skill, they should work as an apprentice and learn the trade while being paid for their work. Naturally, they would be paid much less than those who are training them, until they develop some proficiency at the job. This benefits the employer, who receives low-cost/low-skill labor and insures that his workforce will regenerate. And it benefits the young workers, being gainfully employed, no matter the skill level they’ve developed.

Work is important for a healthy society and a healthy economy. Unfortunately this situation is rare, due to wage control mandated by labor unions and their political benefactors. They mandate wage-floors which are too far above what entry-level labor is often worth, forcing the taxpayer to pick up the tab for training them to an artificially adjusted entry-level value; not to mention all of the government officials with sticky fingers who are involved at every step of the way. We don’t need these government graft-gremlins to serve as a third party with their hand in the money jar. We need them to get out of the way and let free-market economic principles do their work.

This is why minimum wage legislation is so harmful to the workers lowest on the salary scale. If employers were allowed to pay any amount they chose, everyone would benefit. The reality is that young Americans find it very difficult to break into the labor market because many entry-level positions have been priced out of their skill-set. Consequently, they aren’t entering the economy or the real-estate market, choosing instead to live with parents and depend on government programs designed to trade money for votes. It is a sadistic system, which bears the fingerprints of Progressives stretching back to FDR and beyond.

At least FDR considered the Right to a Job as one of our foundational rights. Today’s Progressives simply demand a Right to an Income, hold the job. The answer to solving the crippling unemployment statistics in the black and Latino communities does not contain higher minimum wages, mandated by the government. It scales back government interference with time-tested economic truths.

If we truly do consider ourselves the keeper of our brother, we should seek gainful employment for him; but not through government programs. Through a robust economy where any man, woman, and teen can find a job which will pay them what their labor is deemed to be worth. Because the goal of any healthy society should be to produce brothers who need no keepers. Free men keep themselves. And that’s what professional leeches like President Obama and Jeri Wright want to keep the youth of America from understanding.

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Luke Hamilton

Luke Hamilton is classically-trained, Shakespearean actor from Eugene, Oregon who happens to be a liberty-loving, right-wing, Christian constitutionalist. When not penning columns for, Hamilton spends his time astride the Illinois-Wisconsin border, leading bands of liberty-starved citizens from the progressive gulags of Illinois to [relative] freedom. Hamilton is the creative mind/voice behind Pillar & Cloud Productions, a budding production company which resides at He owes all to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose strength is perfected in his weakness.