And just in case some of his fellow travelers didn't hear the dog whistle, he invoked the name of Charles Murray to drive home his point. Murray, for the record, is the guy who thinks that black folks are intellectually inferior to their white brothers and sisters.
This of course is ironic since it is coming from a guy who has been living off the government all of his adult life. He is a career Washington insider who has been collecting a government salary since college.
Anna Marie Cox wrote about Ryan's latest musings in The Guardian and I have to agree with her.
"Poor Paul Ryan, in trouble again for saying something stupid about poverty. If only Paul Ryan knew more actual poor people.
Yesterday, in an interview on Bill Bennett’s radio show, Ryan unselfconsciously asserted the insight that conservatives seem to believe is theirs alone: work offers people dignity. Ryan, with an equal lack of thoughtfulness, went onto diagnose “generations of men” in the “inner cities” as “not even thinking about working or learning the value and culture of work”.
It’s this last bit that’s gotten Ryan in the most trouble, stirring up accusations of intentional (if subtle) racism. The logic is transitive and not direct: by “inner cities” Ryan meant black; by describing black men as not “learning” the “value and culture of work” – and since Charles Murray has called poor people “lazy” – Ryan was saying black men were lazy. So: “inner cities” = black people; “inner cities” = not valuing work; not valuing work = “lazy”; therefore what Paul Ryan really meant is “black people = lazy”.
Racism is such an explosive accusation that it’s distracted people from the first half of Ryan’s rationalization for welfare reform: that being poor makes one lazy.
“[W]e want people to reach their potential and so the dignity of work is very valuable and important and we have to re-emphasize work and reform our welfare programs, like we did in 1996,” Ryan told Bennett. Nevermind that welfare “reform” actually has thrown more people into deep poverty – and, by Ryan’s own logic, struck a further blow to their dignity: his romanticized view of the 1996 law shows just how deeply he holds his wrong-headed theory of poverty’s causes and effects.
Paul Ryan may also believe that black people are inherently lazy. Citing Charles Murray is strong evidence that Ryan has some nagging sense of superiority linked to race. That’s wrong and stupid and reprehensible. But to my mind, that’s not as detrimental to policy as the assumption that any human being would have to be taught the value of work.
Ryan can protest that he’s not talking about race – as he did last night and today. And he may even believe that he’s not. That doesn’t make his comments any less condescending and destructive.
Ryan and his ilk flatter themselves to think that promoting dignity through hard work is controversial, that liberals and critics object to welfare “reform” because we don’t value work. But no one questions that having work can lead to greater self-respect. What’s insulting is how Ryan indicates that falling into the social safety net is the opposite of “work” and thus has the opposite effect on one’s sense of self. He may not believe only work can inculcate dignity, but in a defense of his “inner cities” comments, he called it the “best”:
A stable, good-paying job is the best bridge out of poverty.The thing about this perspective is that it reveals a belief in the converse: that the main reason people are poor is because they choose not to work."
And do you ever wonder why republicans are only concerned with folks in the "inner cities" AKA black folks? Why no mention of poor folks in rural places in states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee? Could it be because these poor white people vote republican and you need them (and others) to view those inner city people as being bad? Why demean one group of poor people and give the other group of poor people a pass? Is it because one group of poor people should be blamed for their condition but the other should not? Why cut food stamps and other programs that you think will help poor folks in the inner cities, but throw all kind of farm subsidies to rural poor folks?
I am asking a lot of questions, but I already know the answers.
For the record, most of those poor white folks in Appalachia do not want to be poor anymore than those poor black folks in the "inner cities" do. Everyone can't be a Washington insider like Paul Ryan.
"After reading the transcript of yesterday morning’s interview, it is clear that I was inarticulate about the point I was trying to make. I was not implicating the culture of one community—but of society as a whole. We have allowed our society to isolate or quarantine the poor rather than integrate people into our communities. The predictable result has been multi-generational poverty and little opportunity. I also believe the government’s response has inadvertently created a poverty trap that builds barriers to work. A stable, good-paying job is the best bridge out of poverty."
Paul will have a "good paying job" for a long time. He is making sure of that by making the type of statements that he did about those people in the "inner cities".