Thursday, April 28, 2011
John Stossel's latest column takes a look at how government handouts have harmed Amerindians, by comparing North Carolina's Lumbees, a tribe ineligible (at least for now) for government "help," to others. He has to start out, though, by debunking a recent claim by Barack Obama that, "Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans."
Ignored? Are you kidding me? They should be so lucky. The government has made most Indian tribes wards of the state. Government manages their land, provides their health care, and pays for housing and child care. Twenty different departments and agencies have special "native American" programs. The result? Indians have the highest poverty rate, nearly 25 percent, and the lowest life expectancy of any group in America. Sixty-six percent are born to single mothers.Against this backdrop, and after informing us that there are efforts underway to add the Lumbees to the government rolls, Stossel gives us a whirlwind tour of the fruits of this neglect:
Lumbees own their homes and succeed in business. They include real estate developer Jim Thomas, who used to own the Sacramento Kings, and Jack Lowery, who helped start the Cracker Barrel Restaurants. Lumbees started the first Indian-owned bank, which now has 12 branches.And later, Stossel quotes Lumbee businessman Ben Chavis on why this is so:
The Lumbees' wealth is not from casino money.
Because a government trust controls most Indian property, individuals rarely build nice homes or businesses. "No individual on the reservation owns the land. So they can't develop it," Chavis added. "Look at my tribe. We have title and deeds to our land. That's the secret. I raise cattle. I can do what I want to because it's my private property."Read the whole thing. Most Americans are unaware of the intrusiveness of the government in the daily lives of Amerindians. This not only helps perpetuate the idea that government handouts are a solution to the poverty so many suffer, but it also keeps the public at large from grasping what is, in fact, a cautionary tale about where this country overall is heading.