I am writing this in response to some recent posts I’ve seen online that make statements to the effect of, “Within 30 years, people of color will be the majority in the United States, so if the economy is going to succeed, then people of color must succeed.” Okay. Since this debate has been going on since the mid-1960’s and we have no resolution yet, maybe it’s time to dissect the issues and see why.
I will start with the concept of “culture”. For practical purposes, people of different races are genetically indistinguishable. We’re all the same beneath the skin. What most often separates people of different races is culture. And paradoxically, what joins people of different races is often culture. Culture is the entire complex of beliefs, values, and behavior that an individual’s world view derive from, and that guide the actions of that individual. We often equate race and culture. It’s easy, it’s obvious, and like most things easy and obvious, at best it’s only partially right.
What we commonly refer to as “culture” is actually what I refer to as “inherited culture”. It’s the culture we learn from our parents, siblings, family, and very often, community during our formative years. This inherited culture is the framework within which we place ourselves as a means of individual identity in the larger world.
This inherited culture always includes a second, embedded culture. The inherited culture sets the norms for patterns of speech, family and community structures, means and methods of survival tasks (what we call today “getting a job”), entertainment and community bonding, traditions and cultural memory. The second, economic, culture is embedded within this inherited culture, but it is separate from, and independent of, the characteristics of our inherited culture.
We can choose which economic culture we will identify with, and that choice is not dependent upon changing or retaining our inherited culture. There are many inherited cultures, and each one enriches the overall society through its unique contributions. But there really are only two economic cultures: the economic culture of prosperity, and the economic culture of poverty.
There are examples of individuals from every single inherited culture being a member of either the economic culture of prosperity, or that of poverty. The genius of certain inherited cultures is that their core coding includes functionality to adopt the culture of prosperity is, wherever they may reside. So members of Culture X will be more likely to adopt the local culture of prosperity, whether they reside in Jamaica, Cambodia, or Finland, while retaining their inherited cultural identity. And members of Culture Y will be less adaptable in decoupling their inherited culture from their economic culture, so they will have less individual control over their economic result.
The most prominent and readily quantifiable Culture X’s (decouple inherited culture from economic culture, adapt the local economic culture of success) are the Asian, Hindu, and Jewish cultures. This is not because their inherited cultures have magic prosperity coding, or because of some worldwide cabal. Rather, it’s because those inherited cultures include instructions that encourage and enable their members to adapt the local economic culture of prosperity.
They separate their identity from their prosperity.
Any inherited culture that ties and binds its members to economic behaviors that are embedded in the inherited culture is placing a crippling burden on every child born into that culture. Every individual should be free to select the economic culture of prosperity, regardless of that individual’s inherited culture. Yet that is absolutely not the case today in America, and that worries me more than just about anything else. Cultural and community pressure to remain bound to an embedded culture of poverty (of which there are numerous examples) is a major contributing factor to the persistence of poverty in America.
The government can’t fix that. In fact, the government is making it worse. The government encourages kids who are unsuited to academics to go to college. From college, these unsuited students will get an undistinguished liberal arts degree, graduate with a mountain of debt, into a job market that offers few or no job prospects. The government does this despite the fact that most high school graduates should be going into vocational programs and learning a useful skill.
To sum this up, if a person desires prosperity, they are much more likely to achieve that goal if they adopt the local economic culture of prosperity. The most successful inherited cultures, worldwide, are those that separate inherited from economic culture, and encourage their children to adopt the local patterns of prosperity. Finally, any inherited culture that stubbornly insists that a child’s inherited culture must determine the young adult’s economic culture only limits the options and opportunities of their children.
G’day all, and may God continue to bless America.