GENE ROBERTSON: Obama should focus on helping disadvantaged groups

Monday, January 21, 2013 | 9:53 a.m. CST; updated 12:25 p.m. CST, Monday, January 21, 2013

President Barack Obama might have appeared to change to some of us, but little else has changed in the U.S.

Government for the poor and disadvantaged is still failing them. The lack of change can be blamed on the Republican Party and/or Obama and the Democratic Party. The promised change for the better has not occurred for most of us.

I have been,and will always be, an advocate for the poor, disadvantaged and others who need help. I thought I had discovered a comrade in arms when I first heard Obama speak. He possessed the eloquence of Mario Cuomo. The icing on the cake was that he was black. Everything he spoke and wrote on his way to the White House gave me hope that there would be a change benefiting those who have been dismissed in our society. They appeared to be needed as financial, judicial and economic prey.

I was not happy with the way Obama distanced himself from those he credited with giving him his moral compass — Bill Ayers, Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright. I understand the forces that encouraged those decisions, and I thought this might have been a price Obama thought he had to make for the greater good of those for whom he promised to bring hope and change.

I became more concerned with Obama's strategic behavior when environmental adviser Van Jones resigned and was not replaced with someone who had his passion and allegiance to the disadvantaged. Obama's limited support for Susan Rice, a candidate for secretary of state, did not endear him to me. After Jones' departure, almost all mention of the disadvantaged departed. Certainly, there was no discussion of programs for their welfare except those that can be found in Obamacare.

This has caused me to pay more attention to the personality of this man who hired all of the Wall Street, ecology, immigration and drone wolves to watch the hen houses they are supposed to be protecting. I learned there was a reason the voters of the South Side in Chicago chose Bobby Rush over him. I believe it was a trust and confidence issue.

Obama has experienced many cultures where he has made survival adaptations.

His speeches and writings indicate he can intellectually espouse acceptable rhetoric but his behavior and programs don’t reflect a passion on his part for the people that a Van Jones perspective in the White House would provide. I don't expect the president to be perfect. I do expect him to assess himself as I have tried to do and modify his administration to address the areas where he is falling short.

The ever-increasing quality of life gap between blacks and whites needs to be addressed. Jobs need to be addressed. A moral drone policy needs to be addressed. Comprehensive studies and strategies for employment education, violence, immigration, ecology and energy must be addressed. Equality in justice system must be addressed. I do not expect magic, but I expect a better use of his second term.

Obama's eloquent speaking ability has been and continues to be acceptable currency with the white elite power structure, even when many demean him. African Americans cannot be swayed by speeches for long. They have had many experiences with eloquent African American speakers, e.g., Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell, Jesse Jackson and more.

Action, through programs and policy, is what disadvantaged people want and need. It wouldn’t hurt if it was mentioned in his priorities sometimes. It's not too late for our president to live up to his promises of hope and change for all. At least we want to be able to say he tried!

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Michael Williams January 21, 2013 | 10:21 a.m.

Yeah, this has been more "cope and chains" rather than "hope and change".

"African Americans cannot be swayed by speeches for long."

Wanna bet? Politicians make their livelihood betting against that sentiment for ALL kinds of folks. After all, why do you keep hearing the same ol' crap election-year-after-election-year?

Because it sells, that's why. Hope originates from words of promise...and we consistently believe any subsequent lack of progress is the result of nefarious, outside forces running counter to those words, never believing for one minute that perhaps the original words were crap in the first place.

As far as our poor citizens go, I think elite liberals have them right where they want them...dependent. And, I have 49 years of personal observation (1964) to prove it.

There is little incentive to solve a problem when your very livelihood depends upon the existence of that problem.

PS: Politicians also rely upon a new generation of voters who, through their inexperience, will easily buy snake oil.

PSS: Four years from will still be disappointed. Perhaps even more so.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield January 21, 2013 | 11:24 a.m.

Or maybe Obama is realizing, finally, that no amount of money will fix stupid and that it's reprehensible for the government to take money from the responsible and hard-working and give it to the lazy, selfish and irresponsible (e.g., baby mamas, high school dropouts).

(Report Comment)
Tracy Greever-Rice January 21, 2013 | 12:39 p.m.

Today President Obama spoke of honoring our national commitment to provide a social safety net to the 'greatest' generation and the generation of today's children, leaving the vast majority of us in between those two age cohorts completely unmentioned. In the swelling strains of the patriarchia that followed, I heard nothing but the flushing sound of the last 35 years worth of contributions I've made into Social Security being swirled down the drain. His conscious lack of recognition for protecting the social safety net for all the hardworking Americans between 35-50 today was terrifying. We won't be eating cake, we'll be eating cat food. As a demographic contraction generation, I guess it's just too easy to cheat us out of our lifetime's contribution to a system that we've always had to support, but will never benefit from. It's shameful.

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Jimmy Bearfield January 21, 2013 | 12:58 p.m.

That's why we should be phasing out Social Security. It's ridiculous that we're still just debating the program. It should have one foot out the door.

For example, if you're currently drawing SS, your benefits should end when you've received the amount that you paid in, plus what you would have earned in savings at the interest rates over your working life. If you're not currently drawing SS, the government should refund what you've paid, plus interest. If there's not enough money to do so, take it out of the benefits of the Boomers and the "Greatest Generation," who stuck us with this mess.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 21, 2013 | 2:40 p.m.

Tracy: "I heard nothing but the flushing sound of the last 35 years worth of contributions I've made into Social Security being swirled down the drain."

Well, when you or your hubby dies, one of you will kiss off the other's lifetime SS contributions, too. The survivor will have to choose....either your's or your spouse's program. The other is lost to the survivor. And when you both die, both programs are lost to your children. I bet you'd love your bank if they did that to your CD.

What is shameful is that you can't manage the money yourself. Instead, you rely on a "safety net" that pays you back with vastly inflated dollars when you get old.

It's best NOT to plan on SS as a retirement plan. It's best NOT to be in the middle class when you retire. Anyone 45 and below still has a chance to recover. Over that age, it gets quite tough and virtually impossible over 50.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 21, 2013 | 2:46 p.m.

It amazes me that we enthusiastically support a SS program that relies upon a younger generation of payers turning over their forced contributions to current retirees....when our birthrate is barely staying even and will most likely drop to less than the 2.1 replacement rate. If it hasn't already.


Kinda like trying to support an educational system with a sin tax where some of the tax is used to reduce the amount of sinnin'.

Double insanity!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 21, 2013 | 2:50 p.m.

Correction: I wrote, "What is shameful is that you can't manage the money yourself."

Wrong use of a word that implies an inability, an implication not intended.

I should have written, "What is shameful is that you are not allowed to manage the money yourself."

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 21, 2013 | 4:56 p.m.

" In the swelling strains of the patriarchia that followed, I heard nothing but the flushing sound of the last 35 years worth of contributions I've made into Social Security being swirled down the drain."

Your contributions have been swirled into the toilet of Washington D.C. and back out as funding for whatever program any primarily, Democrat controlled Congress wants to spend it for, Vietnam war, etc. They now have spent it all and Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to continue to do so. This President and these liberal Democrats have our entire economy as their goal, for possession. The liberal sheep that keep telling themselves and we all, that somehow we now have a brighter future while voting for the criminals at every election are devastatingly, remarkable.

J. E. Carter's term was little worse than this one and an electorate that knew what they had and did not want to lose it, gave him the "boot"! The results of this Presidency are just as obvious, yet the perpetrator has been resoundingly re-elected with no promise except to continue the "transformation". Our country is "on the ropes".

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 21, 2013 | 5:49 p.m.

Sorry for off-topic here, but DaveRosman responded to a prior post from elsewhere.

Sorry, Dave....locked out of your article and cannot read your response. You get the final say. Hope you get this (via "recent comments" and know why I couldn't continue the conversation.

(Report Comment)

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