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Should Indians Cling to Reservations?
(9/14/06)


A response to Should Indians Cling to Reservations?:

Correspondent Bonnie sent me the following report on life expectancies among different races:

>> Where Americans Live Can Affect How Long They Live:  Study

He cites American natives as another example. Those who don't live on or near reservations in the West have life expectancies similar to whites'. <<

You could say this about any poor area in the country, or the world. So what's the solution? Eliminate poverty? Or just plow over the poor areas and force people to move to rich areas?

Can we open a homeless shelter or five in your neighborhood until these poor people are settled in? Yeah, I'm sure you're like all the other white folks who want low-income people, housing, and services in your area...not.

People like you are all for Indians helping themselves as long as they stay out of sight and out of mind. But if they happen to open a casino within 100 miles of you, you scream bloody murder about how they're harming your "lifestyle."

Take the refugee problem after Katrina and multiply it by a factor of several hundred and you'll see how your "solution" isn't practical. The practical solution is to give poor people the tools and resources to help themselves where they are. Relocating them is generally a more inefficient and expensive solution.

*****

The debate continues (10/13/06)....
>> Dude, reservations do not equal poverty anymore. <<

As critics of Indian gaming note, the majority of Indians still live in poverty. That's because gaming was meant to help only the tribes who pursued it, not all Indians.

>> There are several reservations around me, my brother-in-law and nephews are Rincon and living on the reservation and believe me those are not poor Indians. <<

Your brother-in-law and his children are Indians? Enrolled members of the Rincon Band?

>> They make more money sitting on their asses doing nothing than I make working full time. <<

If so, it's about what would've happened if they still owned the land they got cheated out of.

>> There's more to it than just money. You're somewhat right when you say "white" people are less tolerant. <<

As they say at the casino, bingo!

>> If you mean that decent people (of all races) who live in society don't tolerate the kind of bullshit behavior that is common on the rez and enforce civilized behavior in their neighborhoods, (which leads to healthier, longer lives as the article indicates), then you are absolutely right. <<

I said what I meant. Middle-class white people won't tolerate poverty in their midst. Poverty leads to such problems as crime, substance abuse, and homelessness, but poverty is the root problem.

>> I don't care if low-income people, housing, and services are in my neighborhood as long as they are hard-working honest people. <<

Most Native people are hard-working and honest. They're not the ones who broke treaties and stole land rather than earn it.

And low-income people will have more problems whether you like it or not. That's because poverty causes related problems. People without money can't keep up their properties, for instance, so they look unkempt. They can't afford health care so they get sick and mentally ill. Some can't find a job so they turn to crime to survive.

>> Homeless people are usually unemployed, mentally unstable, and criminally inclined, so no, I don't want them around. <<

So you're happy to live near poor folks as long as you don't see or experience any part of their poverty...is that it? In other words, you agree with me in the abstract but not in reality. That's about what I figured.

>> I'd wager you're not exactly inviting them over to dinner either. <<

I'm just a few miles from some poorer parts of town. It wouldn't matter to me if they were closer. I'll take my share of poor people if the rich people in Beverly Hills do too.

Let's note that you skipped over my final point: that relocating people from the poor areas of the country isn't practical. Again, the solution is to rebuild these areas and make them productive again, as they once were. Gaming is an example of how that solution works if given the chance.

Here's the kind of help poor people need: a loan, not a moving truck. A helping hand to get started, not a shove to get out. From the NY Times:

Microloan Pioneer and His Program Win Peace Prize

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 13, 2006

OSLO, Norway (AP) Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for pioneering the use of microcredit, the extension of small loans to benefit poor entrepreneurs.

The Nobel Committee said Yunus and the bank he founded had used the innovative program to "create economic and social development from below."

"Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development," the committee said in its citation.

Grameen Bank provides credit to "the poorest of the poor" in rural Bangladesh, without any collateral, according to its Web site. Its model of micro financing has inspired similar efforts around the world.


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