If you're not reading Public Discourse every day, you should rectify that. Each day, a different professor or intellectual takes on a pressing topic about issues in the public square. Sometimes the site hosts an ongoing debate (on the ethics of enhanced interrogation or undercover journalism).
Today, professor Anthony Esolen argues that our government has failed to admit that its own selfishness is the root of many societal problems it has attempted to address.
In Philadelphia, about half of all students in ninth grade will graduate from high school. The dropout rate is especially high among black and Hispanic boys. President Obama's answer to this problem is typical of the left: compulsion. Make dropping out illegal. In other words, force boys who are learning nothing to remain where they are learning nothing, to help make sure that nobody else learns anything, either. If they drop out anyway, turn them into criminals to be rounded up.
All this would cost a great deal of money, which Philadelphia does not have. And even if you could compel the boy, seething with resentment and contempt, to occupy a desk in a dreary schoolroom, you cannot compel him to learn. To try is a distant, "technological" response to a human problem. It is a way to pretend to generosity, while keeping those who suffer from your heedlessness far from your sight and smell.
He goes on to talk about how Philadelphia is on some kind of jihad against the Boy Scouts -- and the back story to that is unique and sad. But no matter. The Boy Scouts are of the mind that it's possibly unwise to put adolescent boys in close contact with men who are sexually attracted to men. And you know what that means:
But the Philadelphia city council does not care about such things, because, when called upon to choose between their sexual antinomianism and the welfare of boys--many of whom only a group like the Boy Scouts can save from gangs--they will choose their preferred form of lawlessness every time, without regard for the common good.
This shouldn't surprise anyone, because for the last fifty years, even before Lyndon Johnson's disastrous War on Poverty, technocratic managers, mainly but not exclusively on the left, have been building a system of mutual parasitism, funded by taxes.
One group profits, in power, from the profligacy of the other, which it "rewards" with money confiscated from the general public. They thus gain millions of publicly funded jobs to manage the people whom their policies have corrupted, and they move far away from those people, assuaging their consciences by voting correctly and holding correct opinions. Their hands do not get dirty.
We can imagine that the end game might not be ideal here. Esolen asks what, on the dreadful day of eventual doom, that Philadelphia boy will say to the elites who ignored him and profited from his confusion. It's long, but here are some excerpts:
"I needed a good school, and you trapped me in a bad one, while you sent your own children elsewhere. When some people suggested a way for me to go to a Catholic school where I'd have a chance of learning something, you cried up the separation of church and state. You didn't actually believe that you would be setting up any church as a state institution. It is just that you hated the Church a lot more than you loved me.
"I once lived in a real city neighborhood. The houses needed repair, so you called it a slum, and you tore it down. Then you built housing projects with all the beauty and safety of a parking garage. When these became hotbeds of crime, you tore them down too.
"You declared a War on Poverty, aimed at me, when you should have declared a War on Vice, aimed first of all at yourselves.
"You loved your vice more than you loved me. You could afford your vices, but I could not. Your vices made your lives, as you thought, more exciting. I did not have your cushion of wealth, so the same vices destroyed me.
"I was lonely, and you bought me a whore. My sisters were lonely, and you made them into whores...
"I needed to learn to calculate, and you handed me a machine that would do it for me, and prevent me from understanding what I was doing. I needed to learn to read, and would have liked adventure tales for boys, but you gave me feminist propaganda, or comic books.
"I needed a father, but you preferred your fun. You passed laws that would reward my mother for not marrying my father. You hated marriage, because marriage brings a man into a family, and marriage restrains. You winked and smiled while my mother brought a series of irresponsible men into my life, none of whom was my father. They were dangerous. When they grew violent, you herded them into your corral, which you called 'Domestic Violence.' You refused to distinguish between husbands and these others. Thus did you continue to tear marriage down, and subject me and mine to more of the violence you pretended to decry...
"I needed a coach, to keep me in line during the difficult years, but you cut my teams and rosters. You called it 'fairness' to my sisters, and hugged yourselves for your enlightenment.
"I needed a father to show me how to love women, and you gave me porn...
"I needed a married mother and father, what every child needs, what every child has a right to, and you told me to go to hell.
"I went to hell, and have brought it back with me."
What is striking about this is how this elite destruction is looked at -- within the echo chamber -- as good, tolerant, kind and generally worthy of praise.
We've seen many advancements in society and it would be wrong to deny that. But when you look at the condition of boys in the inner city, what's happened is a scandal. It's almost overwhelming how much work is needed to reverse what we've wrought -- all in the name of "charity" -- but can we really turn a blind eye to this?