- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2011


Many discussions in media, global politics, entertainment and the world of finance and economics remind me of Gresham’s law, which states that “bad money drives out good money.”

Applying Gresham’s law to American culture over the past 50 years, it seems to me that “bad values drive out good values.” What many of us have witnessed in conjunction with the growth of progressive politics is the erosion of traditional American values and culture. Without a doubt, there continues to be a disturbing increase in dysfunctional families, illegitimate births, crime rates, unemployment, etc.

Given the increase in educational, political and economic opportunities, and general acceptance of the less fortunate into the American mainstream, I would have expected a better cultural result. Since society has become more tolerant of values and behavior outside of the mainstream over the past 50 years, I have to conclude that Gresham’s law applies not only to money, but also to values.

My parents, like many in this nation, by constant example and conversation, reminded my siblings and me of the benefits of personal accountability and character. Character ultimately determines the fate and success of us all.

Call a spade a spade. There is an absolute lower-class culture. The victimization values of this culture create behavior that makes these people stay poor. It is not bigotry or prejudice, nor is it condescending, to call them lower class. They have a culture that is antithetical to creating wealth and accomplishment. This culture blames problems on others as opposed to making accountability a priority and, as a result, the victims are discouraged from improving themselves; they are discouraged from working hard for the “man.”

It promotes a zero-sum mentality leading to crime, especially theft, and welfare dependence. It disparages educational excellence. It encourages misogyny, which leads to the breakdown of the family structure and contributes to the lack of traditionally successful male role models. I can go on and on. The vast majority of positive accomplishments from this culture revolves around sports and entertainment, especially popular music. Unfortunately, even popular music tends to extol the negative aspects of this culture.

What they need most is a check, a reality check. Lower-class value systems do not believe in planning for the future. They do not believe in sacrificing today for your own benefit tomorrow. There is a conflict between delayed gratification and the high that comes from fulfilling fleeting desires. As a result, lower-class culture suffers from an epidemic of immediate gratification regardless of future consequences.

Prudence, patience and planning are not lauded enough, if at all. Yet these are the very facets of character that allow a person to grow, accomplish and, should they persevere, achieve excellence.

Following Gresham’s law, the issue is that in lower-class culture, values such as prudence, patience, planning and delayed gratification are undervalued while disvalues such as misogyny, crime, immediate gratification and pretension are overvalued. What follows is that those choosing to espouse prudence, delayed gratification and the like flow out of the culture while those espousing the disvalues flow in and only reinforce the negative.

If you choose to call my comments condescending, you are falling into the middle-class trap of making excuses to avoid criticism from the liberal establishment that uses the lower class as a power base and a podium for its own agenda.

Become part of the solution to the problems of the poor by recognizing their plight and steering them toward the culture changes that lead to success in a market-based world.

I know you intuitively understand what I am saying, but you have trouble pulling yourself from the “group think” gravity created by the mass of your bourgeois background and guilt.

c Armstrong Williams is on Sirius Power 128, 7 to 8 p.m. and 4 to 5 a.m., Mondays through Fridays. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside. Read his content on RightSideWire.com.

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