Chris Powell: Don't blame the NRA or Yale


Connecticut saw four of the five remaining presidential candidates on the eve of its primary election.    

On the Republican side, Donald Trump, having admitted that he doesn’t want to seem "presidential," went to Bridgeport and Waterbury to revel in the buffoonery, mockery and contempt that have made him so appealing to so many. In Glastonbury, Ohio Gov. John Kasich easily contrasted himself as thoughtful and respectful.   

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders complained to a rally in New Haven that 36 percent of that city's children are not just living in poverty but doing so within sight of Yale University's $26 billion endowment, as if there was some connection.

Hillary Clinton visited Hartford, emphasized the problem of gun violence, and pledged to confront the National Rifle Association and strive to "change the gun culture."  

But repugnant as the NRA may be, it has little to do with gun violence, and the"gun culture" Clinton deplored -- presumably the NRA’s 5 million purported members -- is not the culture doing the most damage with guns.   

Rather, the "gun culture" that does the most damage is the culture of poverty,  unconditional welfare, drug dealing and drug prohibition. Most shootings --  from Hartford to Chicago to Los Angeles -- are not committed by NRA members but by fatherless and uneducated young men, products of the family-destroying welfare system who see drug dealing and crime as their best career options.    Sanders’s silly linking of child poverty in New Haven with Yale’s endowment only emphasizes the difficulty of pushing the political left out of its ideological dead end.   

Since Yale is such an awful influence, the expropriation of its endowment and the resulting smashing of its political influence under the assault of Sanders’s socialism would be positive. But all Yale’s money could be spent in the name of alleviating poverty and, if it was spent as the hundreds of billions of dollars before it have been spent, there would be only more poverty and dependence afterward.   

Amid this half century of policy failure it is hard not to suspect that poverty and dependence are actually the objectives of the political left generally and the Democratic Party particularly. For poverty and dependence fuel the need for government patronage and become not afflictions to be eliminated but profitable businesses and ends in themselves.   

A few decades ago it was possible for a few on the left and a few Democrats to acknowledge this failure of policy, as the sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan did before becoming one of Clinton’s predecessors as a Democratic senator from New York.   

Moynihan wrote in 1965: "From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable  lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence,  unrest, disorder -- particularly the furious, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure -- that is not only to be expected; it is very near to inevitable. And it is richly deserved."  

In the Senate 20 years later, Moynihan elaborated: "The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger social sense whether he is capable of loving his fellow men collectively. The whole of society rests on this foundation for stability, understanding, and social peace."   

To end poverty and gun violence, government needs first of all to stop manufacturing them. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.