Friday, January 06, 2006

The Deadly Bigotry Of Low Expectations

In the course of chatting with a Jewish friend, I have become aware that Jews, at least in America, disproportionately reach high levels of achievement. My friend was the unconventional one among four sisters, but became one of the most read bloggers in the U. S. in less than a year of blogging. She rubs elbows with Vice President Chaney, UN Ambassador John Bolton, and many other movers and shakers. And they listen to her, because she has done her homework and knows their positions, so they listen to her get invaluable feedback from a respected conservative spokesperson. Did I mention she is a Jewish conservative blogger?

Several years ago, I worked briefly in small business brokerage in Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Area, trying to get owners to sell their businesses at a reasonable price, and trying to find buyers who weren’t trying to steal a business. Human nature being what it is, I had a lean six months.

Anyway, I soon became aware of the phenomenon of the Asian restaurant. In the beginning, an Asian restaurant often starts when a large family, with members spanning the age groups of one month to 99 years, get off the plane from Vietnam, Thailand, China, etc. They don’t speak English, their education back home ended only slightly above some of our pre-schoolers, and they only had the clothes on their backs when they arrived. But hopefully they had a friend, a relative, or just knew someone who came from the old country in their same circumstances a year or two before. So they start a restaurant. The whole family works in the restaurant. When the kids come home from school, they do their homework at one of the tables. Then they work too. Grandfather or grandmother, if too old to work, supervise the children.

The average income per family member working at the restaurant is under $10,000 per year, about the minimum wage or less. The total family income is about $70,000 per year, roughly the median household income in the Bay Area. A few years passes, and the family has opened a few more restaurants, upgraded their starter restaurant, and their children are honor graduates in high school, college, and are well on their way to successful careers in engineering, medicine, and in the other “hard” fields of study.

How can a family that begins broke, is obviously not white, cannot speak English, and can barely write in any language, come to America hardly knowing anything or anybody, and be a success story in a generation?

Two words. High expectations. They weren’t born with high expectations. Their families, their culture, set high expectations for them. They saw others succeeding, and said to themselves, “If they can do it, I can too if I work hard.”

Contrast this with Blacks and Native Americans, who speak the language, sort of, can write English, kind of, and live in a culture where many of their customs and traditions are a part of their and our everyday lives. The slavery Blacks say still holds them back has not been experienced by any one of them, and by none of their ancestors, for over a hundred years. The Native Americans could leave the socialist paradises they live on, the reservations, and put behind them the soul-destroying heartbreak of waking up each day with nothing to look forward to, and nothing worthwhile to do. No job challenges, no new adventures and experiences, just the burden of passing time with others who are waiting for the casino ship to come in. “Then we will all be doctors and lawyers,” said one of my Reservation friends. Sure they will, after living from birth in a culture that ridicules education.

The many notable exceptions to the bleak lives I’m describing only prove that the mold can be broken, that Blacks and Native Americans are not born into failure, only into the deadly bigotry of low expectations.

2 comments: said...

Which is why I don't believe poverty is indigenous to any people.

Which is why I believe in outsourcing instead of foreign aid. Line the pokets of fat cats and despots? uh uh........give the people work, that's the ticket.

The Democrats need the poor, and need to keep the poor poor. Entitlements destroy what is best in man, the desire to accomplish, achieve, derive self worth..what better example of the failed welfare stae but KKKatrina. Just as many middle class and affluent citizens died as poor, but the poor was so incapable of taking care of themselves they couldn't even get out of town when told to.

Great post btw

Major Combs said...

You are so right, Pamela. When I was in Thailand right after the tsunami, I asked a tour guide what aid Thailand needed. He told me, "Don't send us aid, send us tourists, and buy our products. You won't find better, cheaper, anywhere. Don't give us anything, let us earn our money."