In Jim Cook's Archive


Alcoholism doesn’t get enough blame in our discussions of poverty. Native Americans suffer an alcoholism rate as high as 90% on some reservations. Their social condition may be the worst in human history. Striking similarities exist between the reservations and the inner cities. The deterioration of the human condition is appalling in both places. Liberals insist that these deplorable conditions are the consequence of injustices perpetrated on these minorities. Their cure for this dysfunction is more subsidies even though giving people money doesn’t appear to be improving their condition or lowering their affinity for alcohol and drugs. Whenever the welfare culture takes over a neighborhood it goes to seed.

There is a tribe or ethnic population in Africa called the Ibos. They have suffered enormous persecution over the centuries from other Africans. Despite this adversity they are the wealthiest and most successful people in Africa. No population ever suffered the horrors and mass killings as did the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. Yet out of this suffering came the modern nation of Israel. It’s likely that Israel would not exist were it not for the Nazis. The few Jews who survived concentration camps have managed great success in both Israel and America after the war. Another genocide in the last century took place in Armenia where the Turks slaughtered the Armenians. The persecuted Armenians are far more successful than any of their neighbors.

After the World War was over in the Pacific, the U.S. began to send monthly checks to islanders who may have been affected by the atomic bomb testing at Enewetak. These self-sufficient people were fishermen who lived successfully on the island. Soon they gave up fishing and relied on the government’s monthly stipend. After a few decades, alcoholism became a raging problem and piles of empty beer cans dotted the island.  These people are now, for the most part, helpless and unmotivated. The island is now known as “the slum of the Pacific.” Nevertheless, nobody ever talks about examples like this when discussing the plight of the poor. I’m not sure there is a solution to this dilemma, but until we recognize why people behave the way they do, no cure is possible.

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