In medicine, if you have a patient who is awaiting a cash settlement in a court case, it is well known that their recovery chances are better if you let them get the case settled before you do surgery or start an extensive rehabilitation program.

The slang term for this is the “Green poultice effect”, i.e. that the injury won’t get better until he gets money (in the US, the bills are green) because if they recover, they get less money.

Sometimes this is due to exaggerating the injury or pretending it hurts to be rewarded with a settlement or with disability pension. (Time Magazine quotes a study that in Sweden, 25% of back injuries are exaggerated to get such claims). Other times, the pain and injury is real, but the person’s ability to improve and tolerate the disability and pain is limited because the subconscious mind acts on the person’s ability to get better. Finally, sometimes the injury comes and goes (e.g. back pain that returns on working if the person has to lift or push, resulting in another two or three weeks off of work) but the law doesn’t allow a settlement if they can work, even if re-injury and repeated episodes of pain will occur.

What does this have to do with racism?

John Whorter’s book review of Amy Wax’s new book on racism in TNR paraphrases  Wax as saying:

 Wax appeals to a parable in which a pedestrian is run over by a truck and must learn to walk again. The truck driver pays the pedestrian’s medical bills, but the only way the pedestrian will walk again is through his own efforts. The pedestrian may insist that the driver do more, that justice has not occurred until the driver has himself made the pedestrian learn to walk again.

Hmm…Sounds like the “green poultice effect”.

Racism is a fact, but a lot of others minority groups who suffered discrimination in the past wonder if a lot of today’s cries of “racism” is exaggerated, or being used to shut down discussion of social programs and possible alternative solutions to poverty that don’t include government give outs.

So just as the patient really really tries to recover in rehabilitation programs, doctors know from experience that until the “green poultice” is applied they won’t apply themselves. In “racism”, this means a tough love approach, that insists on hard work, not racial preferences.

Indeed, only a politically correct President such as Bill Clinton could dare to confront the problem of welfare and insist on work programs and limiting funding.

What is not being discussed is a program that is now a dirty word: Marriage. As far back as the Moynihan report in1985, the relationship between strong families and poverty has been pointed out.

How much of the family breakdown in poor neighborhoods is because the upper middle class white elite decided to redefine marriage as a temporary contract based on love, instead of a binding vow based on responsibility?

McWhorter points out:

One of the most sobering observations made by Wax comes in the form of a disarmingly simple calculus presented first by Isabel Sawhill and Christopher Jencks. If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period. I have repeatedly felt the air go out of the room upon putting this to black audiences. No one of any political stripe can deny it. It is human truth on view. In 2004, the poverty rate among blacks who followed that formula was less than 6 percent, as opposed to the overall rate of 24.7 percent… Crucially, neither bigotry nor even structural racism can explain why an individual does not live up to it.

Are the better social indicators among Hispanic communities due to the fact that marriage tend to be intact in the first generation immigrants? (Although our schools and culture are inculcating their children to be irresponsible Americans, making these indicators fall). Is the “success” in Asian immigrants due to the Confucian emphasis on family?

The downgrade of the idea of marriage came with the sexual revolution, with it’s emphasis on pleasure rather than responsibility. No fault divorce meant women could no longer rely on a man to support them when the children are small, and the welfare programs of the Great Society meant they didn’t have to if they didn’t wish to work. Worse, the exportation of jobs overseas, a political decision that was supported by Republican and Democratic administration alike, has made a dual wage family necessary to keep family out of poverty.

So if stable and responsible marriage is one of the solutions to poverty, then why is no one discussing these things?

Because it is easier to “apply a green poultice” and ignore the monetary, social, and personal cost of family destruction, rather than discuss or promote behavioral change via the government, church, and social media.

Let’s face it: it’s easier to shut down the discussion with loud accusations of racism. It allows the elite to keep the working class divided along racial lines so no one bothers to try to solve the real problem: The failure of society is the silence of those who influence society, from the government to Hollywood to our churches, to support the idea of responsibility for one’s own behavior.


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