Saturday, March 1, 2014


American inner cities have been a social problem that we have not been able to solve for a long time. As a result, many Americans, mainly Black and Hispanic citizens, are left behind and struggle to compete. Education deficiencies, high unemployment, and crime have plagued these individuals for far too long. No matter what your ideological background is, you must admit that our past and current social programs have miserably failed and possibly contributed to our current problems. The 'My Brother's Keeper" program that President Obama released recently is a hopeful break from the past in which finally a politician is willing to address an area of the problem many have shied away from which could be the key to finally solving this issue.

The past approaches focused solely placing responsibility on society. In turn, governments at every level were constantly prodded to provide subsidies to low income individuals while at the same time try to obtain investments into the communities. In turn, a significant problem arose where many of these individuals receiving the subsidies did not have the skill set to obtain jobs created from the increased investments. Therefore, the economic benefits made its way out of the inner cities and benefited other communities. That leaves very little net revenue to fund infrastructure improvements and, most importantly, improve education systems. Also, the subsidies also provide a negative incentive for individuals to remain on the sideline when there are entry level jobs available. In addition to that, many minority men shirked their personal responsibility to the women they impregnated because these programs indirectly subsidized this behavior. Our social programs have failed our citizens. 

Image result for My Brothers Keeper
The program that President Obama is put forth is the first to directly place responsibility on the entity that can best alleviate the problem, the individual. President Obama called for Black and Hispanic men to live up to their responsibilities, take control of their futures and not make the bad choices that has afflicted so many inner city residents in the past. Also he called on government, business and society as a whole to do their part to assist. Essentially, this extends an olive branch to those who may have a perception that they are being kept out of our economy or have no other choice but to make the same mistakes that plague their communities. In order to connect to these individuals, President Obama gave examples of his own past and mistakes he made. But, he also serves as an example of an individual who transcended his situation and worked to better himself despite any perception of unfairness. President Obama has the unique ability to directly approach this subject and finally get many minorities to change behaviors that negatively impact their lives and families.

The program does place some responsibility on society primarily on government and business to assist these individuals. Government does have the responsibility to improve and ensure that the students they are graduating are able to read, write, add and subtract. The business community does have a responsibility to ensure that race does not play any factor in employment regardless of how the government programs do make race a factor. Furthermore, government should work to understand the perception that race can dictate outcomes. This perception is disproved when one looks at other minority groups who have better economic conditions due to greater value of education and family. Personally as a minority myself, I never believed that either of my races would dictate my future rather my education, work ethic and ambition. But some in these groups do have the perception that race is a deciding factor so it would be useful for further research to be done on how to break this mindset that has caused many to not participate or develop the same values that other groups have. 

President Obama has not proposed many policies that are agreeable or even been effective but this one should be almost universally agreeable and could be effective. This approach places responsibility, not all, on the individual to make the right decisions. If the program is successful, it could help reduce the burden these individuals place on our social programs and reduce the crime they commit. President Obama because of his background is the only president who has the ability to directly challenge these individuals. He took advantage of the opportunity and did it in an effective manner. It is still early to fully understand the short term impact but, if enacted properly, the long term benefits hopefully will finally have all Americans participating in our economy and taking control of their own life.