Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

A conservative approach to fighting inequality

By
From page A8 | March 17, 2014 |

In Washington right now, the debate over how to address inequality – whether of income or opportunity – rages almost daily, as scholars, policy wonks and politicians often far-removed from these problems wrangle over whose solution is best and whose affirmatively do harm.

And for Robert Woodson these detached academic notions and political food fights are part of the problem.

Woodson, a community development leader, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and product of the civil rights movement, has been challenging the way the U.S. addresses communities in need for more than 30 years, with notable success.

Empowering the marginalized is a challenge that conservatives, at least those with the courage of their convictions, should accept, particularly since Woodson’s approach to increasing opportunity for the poor relies heavily on conservative principles.

Since founding the center in 1981, Woodson has applied a theory of “social entrepreneurship” to tackling the most vexing social issues in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago.

“The principles of the free market economy should be applied in the social economy,” Woodson told me.

His organization goes into inner cities and struggling neighborhoods, finds people and programs indigenous to these communities that are providing effective localized solutions, and helps provide them with the resources, training and management they need to “grow along a continuum.”

He’s a kind of social venture capitalist. Although his nonprofit is always in search of capital.

The pursuit of virtue is an essential element of the battle against societal problems that Woodson believes can only be addressed through individual transformation, a lesson he says is illustrated by Christ’s teachings.

His approach to lifting people out of poverty and violence differs from that typically supported by liberals today, which has a penchant for ever-expanding, top-down government programs that cause “a lot of injury with a helping hand.”

Liberal policies, he told me, can be “equally injurious, indifferent and exploitative,” because they don’t empower the disadvantaged.

But he reserves some criticism for conservatives, who he says have made a “grievance industry” out of talking about what they’re against (“wasteful government programs”) instead of what they’re for when it comes to making a difference for the truly struggling.

“Conservatives,” he said, “think if you just make a logical argument” people will get on board. But such arguments fail to resonate with desperate people.

While Woodson largely seems to believe that conservative concepts make for sound public policy, he sees demonstrating how these beliefs make for a better life as the missing element of contemporary Republican politics.

Conservatives who recognize the wisdom of Woodson’s approach must be resolute, if only because after so many years of preaching his message Woodson remains optimistic.

“We only need one person who gets personally committed (to this cause) to change the party,” he says, and he may have found that person in Rep. Paul Ryan.

For some time now this dynamic duo has been traveling to low-income, violence-plagued communities on a listening tour to identify better ways to help the poor and marginalized of society.

Ryan, as House Budget Committee chairman, is uniquely positioned to use this personal experience – which Woodson believes to be crucial – to advance a conservative anti-poverty agenda.

The fight against income inequality has been named by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats as the issue they will run on in 2014. So voters will be hearing a lot about it this year.

But when voters hear liberals accuse conservatives of being cold-hearted, they shouldn’t assume that liberal approaches to lifting up the marginalized are good ones.

Thanks to people that like Woodson, conservatives can counter with detailed ideas of their own – which have the added benefit that they work.

Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at cmallen@star-telegram.com.

Cynthia M. Allen

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Mike KirchubelMarch 17, 2014 - 10:29 am

    Can anyone explain what her "conservative" approach to income inequality is? Cynthia Allen uses her whole article to say how great it is, especially compared to the "liberal" approach, but I can't figure out what it is she's talking about. Is it simply to give money to local groups? Ok. Go ahead, call that the "conservative" approach if you like, but show me the money. How much money will the Republicans put towards this end? This article's main purpose is make people believe that the conservatives have a real plan to fight inequality, when, in fact, they don't. It's just like the Republican version of Obamacare. What a load of Sowell.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMarch 17, 2014 - 10:33 am

    Yeah Mike, I know I've pretty much worn this out (with very little support I might add), but you only need look at AZ and KS to see how their version of equality works. Run women! Run Gay citizens! Run minorities! Run atheists! The GOP will take your life, the truth is in your face!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelMarch 17, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    I guess the conservative approach to fighting inequality is to pretend they are doing something while pushing for more inequality.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895March 17, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    "While Woodson largely seems to believe that conservative concepts make for sound public policy, he sees demonstrating how these beliefs make for a better life as the missing element of contemporary Republican politics." Now there's an interesting statement. No quote of what Woodson really believes about "conservative concepts?" And yes, it's where the rubber meets the road that conservatives fall short. But does anything else matter? Income inequality is actually less of a problem than something slightly different: The unequal sharing of American success. Part of that has to do with insanely disproportionate compensation for a person's contribution (the highest paid people tend to be toadies to even higher paid people). But a bigger part has to do with how we share the wealth through tax policy. It's not "income redistribution" so much as it is progressive taxation that raises the benefits of being an American for even the poorest among us. If the income and wealth of the nation is being disproportionally distributed, tax high income and wealth more to provide benefits such better consumer protection, the world's best infrastructure and public spaces, cradle to grave education opportunities, national health care, and enhanced FICA payments (while also making them needs-based). Woodson's ideas are great, but Allen errs in morphing them into all that should be done. Wealth and high income should not be able to escape an obligation to plow much of it back into the country that produced it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Groups distribute Thanksgiving food

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
County fair proposal, budget topics of scrutiny

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Police: Vehicle burglaries not new for Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Fairfield police offer free gun locks

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police investigate shooting

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Library schedules soap-making program

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

 
Soroptimists seek award applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Science comes to libraries – for all to see

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Weather for Nov. 26, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

.

US / World

 
Anger at Ferguson case based on emotion, evidence

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 11 Comments

Tough to make a case against police in shootings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 9 Comments

 
Protesters return to riot-scarred Ferguson streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

Los Angeles freeway sign unveiled with typo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Heirloom ring flushed; sewer workers retrieve it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Ohio family recovers missing Sasquatch statue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Auction fetches $28K for 1st batch of new bourbon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

In Seattle, tofu turkeys get Thanksgiving pardons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Agreement: LA jails to improve wheelchair access

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Window washer fights for life after 11-story fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Cosby philanthropy shadowed by sexual allegations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Oakland police arrest more than 40 protesters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Calorie count to appear with many prepared foods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Activists: Syrian strikes kill 60 in IS-held city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
AP sources: Top candidate for defense job bows out

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

WWII Museum opening new pavilion in New Orleans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Police: Students ran high school prostitution ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Wet basements in Buffalo as flooding fears ease

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Soldiers to spend Thanksgiving in Ebola isolation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

2 teen female bombers kill more than 40 in Nigeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
8 shoes of Holocaust victims stolen in Poland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Official: Afghan president orders military review

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Nov. 26, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscope for Nov. 26, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

The man I’m seeing makes no effort to get to know my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
A do-ahead cornmeal biscuit to sop up your gravy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Fresh take on an herb-roasted Thanksgiving turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Turn turkey leftovers into a healthy dinner salad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
‘Birdman’ leads Spirit Awards nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Vacaville Christian wins 3-0, advances to state quarterfinals

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Curry powers Warriors past Heat 114-97

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers rookies shine in big roles, out of necessity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Cousins, Kings beat Pelicans 99-89

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Red Sox bring in Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
NFL, union discuss personal conduct policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bama, FSU, Oregon, Miss St keep playoff rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Messi sets European record with 74 goals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge OKs Hernandez trial delay in 2012 killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kurt Busch wins delay of Delaware court hearing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Giants third base coach Tim Flannery retires

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP source: Left-hander Jon Lester, Giants to meet

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pats are unanimous No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

New iPhones push Apple’s market cap past $700B

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Twitter lets merchants offer deals to its users

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

US economy posts even stronger growth in Q3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Thanksgiving travel woes? There’s an app for that

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

US home price gains slow for 10th straight month

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Barbie dethroned by Team Elsa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Rain, snow could mess up Thanksgiving travel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
.

Obituaries

Glenita Reyes McLaughliin

By Daily Republic | From Page: A4

 
Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5