Author - Speaker - teacher


April 22, 2002


My father, born in 1914, told stories about his family living in many different and barely affordable locations, even, for a time in a tent. Later on, during the Great Depression, his bed for a time was a hammock hung in Grandpa Racer’s Pastor’s study at St. Paul’s Union Gospel Mission.

As the oldest child in a Depression-era family, dad was the only one of the six Racer children never to earn a college degree. Instead, he earned the love and respect of his younger siblings, and in many ways became the family patriarch after Grandpa died in 1951.

The Racers were desperately poor, as was just about everyone else they knew. Despite their poverty, the children became a doctor, two librarians, a woman of letters, a physics teacher and dad, the man who could do anything with his hands. And at the Union Gospel Mission, miracles of God occurred through the heart and hands of the Rev. Harley Racer, my poverty-stricken grandfather, and his saintly wife.

The Racer’s were delightfully rich—in character.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn sees the issue of poverty differently. He declared this past weekend that international terrorism will persist unless American taxpayers ante up billions of dollars to eradicate poverty. Wolfensohn believes that a key component of eradicating poverty is to provide universal education to poor children worldwide. And he demands that you and I pay for it.

As I pondered Wolfensohn’s comments I thought of numerous tangents upon which I could comment.

We have already sacrificed local school boards to federal control. Is it time to jettison even this and submit to international education standards—a sort of International Profile of Learning?

Given the recent launch of the United Nation’s International Criminal Court, is the movement toward international education simply another step toward the New World Order (I really do want to avoid conspiracy theories here, but fellows like Wolfensohn make it difficult)?

Since we have long ignored the silence of the federal constitution about local education, would any American worry much about a UN takeover of local schools in Zimbabwe or Micronesia?

And by the way, who gave Wolfensohn any authority in the first place?

But what struck me most is this notion among liberals, socialists and one-worlders that poverty produces terrorists— or creates crime.

Granted there are strong correlations between urban concentrations of poverty and high crime rates, but as my statistics teacher taught me years ago, correlations do not prove cause; they indicate phenomena.

Ample historical proof exists to dispel causative notions about fiscal poverty and poverty of character. Only as America began to emerge as a nation of wealthy middle-class citizens did material possessions begin to be linked to moral character. And I am glad that my parents never bought into it.

As many have said, if possessions had anything to do with character, wouldn’t rich people also be the most moral? Can you say “Enron?”

When Wolfensohn and those of his ilk blame personal fiscal poverty for terrorist attacks against America, they show themselves to be fools.

In Palestine, poor “Arafatians” teach poor Arab children to hate Jews and Americans. This creates a psychopathic mindset in a 10-year old girl that allows her to strap on a bomb and blow up a bus. Such a mindset has nothing to do with money and everything to do with mania.

This mania is rooted in hatred—of religious faith, or skin color, or other forms of tribalism, not in jealousy or envy of someone who can read or drives a BMW.

The fact that American schools or urban neighborhoods are troubled by disruptive children where single parents constantly move them from one apartment to another will never be resolved by giving that single parent more money. It will only be resolved with American society sets once again as its standard, intact two-parent homes, where hard work and self-sufficiency are normative, human life embraced and God worshipped.

Observing my dad and his family, and the children they produced, proved to me that lack of money, or even a government-paid education, has little to nothing to do with criminality or terrorists.

Placing supreme value on human life, as God does, has everything to do with richness of moral character. Mr. Wolfensohn would do more to stop terrorism by raising money for foreign branches of the St. Paul Union Gospel Mission than creating a universal right to education at our expense.

Poverty, education and terrorism