Thu, Jun

Does LA Suffer From Too Much Poverty … or a Poverty of Ideas?


ALPERN AT LARGE-Our city's leaders and its one major newspaper, the LA Times, does a great job of promoting how we've got too much poverty, too many disparities between different ethnicities, too many hungry children, too few jobs and too lousy an environment--which are all very upsetting and yet quite TRUE.  All the more reason, of course, why we should be so angry and upset with all the things that our lock-step City leaders and one major newspaper do to create those distressing realities. 

It's lather, rinse, repeat:  scream about poverty, create government- and media-assigned winners and losers, and then scream about the worsening poverty when this winner/loser creation actually is the CAUSE of it. 

The World Socialist Web Site has it just right when it decries Los Angeles as a city of poverty and unemployment.  Jobs are few and low-paying for the most of us, and Fortune 500 companies have been shoved out one by one by one for the last several decades.  Our school budgets aren't just lowered, but graduation and English proficiency is by far down, to boot.  

And the only thing, according to the World Socialist Web Site higher than our traffic levels is the percentage of our county's wealth that is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires:  28 people having a net worth of $81.6 billion in 2012. 

Of course, the question of when we stop digging the hole we've created for ourselves must be asked, as should the question of whether we've become too socialist ourselves--just because our City Councilmembers don't look like Stalin, Trotsky or Lenin doesn't mean they don't practice the government-run economy with assigned winners and losers that destroyed (and still does destroy) Third World entities like the former Soviet Union and modern-day Cuba and Venezuela. 

(Those who consider those countries "free" have probably never been there). 

There is plenty of right-wing corruption, and plenty of Republican cheaters and conservative "1% types" who've hurt the majority of their fellow citizens--for example, how many of us lost all faith in Mitt Romney when we learned of how he did so much tax dodging (just because it was legal didn't make it moral, something a truly moral person would supposedly understand). 

But the "left-wing" corruption of Democratic cheaters, liberal "1% types", creepy developers who create oversized developments that do NOT create transit-oriented development, affordable housing and jobs that help the rest of us are the problems that are confronting Los Angeles.  

Arguably, it is NOT a problem with being left-wing or right-wing, or being liberal or conservative, but being immoral and/or closed to new and opposing ideas, that has and is still destroyed one opportunity after another for Los Angeles to thrive. 

Furthermore, when we're screaming about the environment, or race relations, and only one newspaper is really able to editorialize their world views--and woe be unto those who disagree with those world views--we really put the kibosh on true debate and discussion. 

For example, when we make perpetual victims of groups of people (and being sooooo surprised and happy that Latinos or African-Americans can succeed), isn't that the worst form of racism possible...and damned cunning, to boot, in that it's virtually impossible to oppose? 

When the LA Times buried the recent Supreme Court decision on Affirmative Action on page 7 on 4/23/2014 this should have been a time for serious introspection as to who the real racists, or the real race-obsessed, or the real xenophobes, truly are.  On that day, environmental/water issues front and center were on page 1 of the Times--and, of course, presented in a manner that (as usual) describes environmental issues in only one "allowed" form. 

And no, I am not as a physician uncaring about the environment and water safety!  Light rail, focusing on right-sized/sustainable/beautiful affordable housing and commercial corridors, avoidance of overcrowding, allowing solar energy (and all energy) to be more affordable for everyone (not just a few connected or lobbying entities), have nothing to do with being conservative or liberal.  It's really just common sense--but it's not about making a few creepy folks rich at the expense of the rest of us. 

But the Supreme Court decision should have been the headline for that morning, as it was rightfully so at the top of the Times' editorial page.  

However, the editorial page was brazenly in favor of Affirmative Action despite the fact that race relations and individual achievement has been as devastated by Affirmative Action as any poorly-thought policy or paradigm ever has since Jim Crow laws existed in the Deep South (of course, being "kind" with Affirmative Action can't possibly be racist--can it?).  

Journalists and editorial page teams should be disparate in their approach to telling and bloviating the news (which can be done by suppressing it, and/or altering how it's presented, as the Times is so artful in doing).  

In our modern era, Asians, Jews and both liberal and moderate Democrats who oppose affirmative action do so because they oppose racism of any form (psychological, implied or otherwise)...as are most Republicans, who (despite the manufactured emphasis of a few well-timed soundbytes) are all intermarrying between ethnicities and calmly acknowledge that all human beings enjoy equal capabilities, and differ in opportunities only because of an economic rather than ethnic background. 

There are Japanese and others during our lifetimes who have been interned, attacked, discriminated and the like, and there are Jews during our lifetimes who were denied access to our colleges (and were denied access to America as they fled Nazi-conquered Europe by "open-minded Democrats" such as Joseph Kennedy and FDR as much as by intolerant Republicans).  

Nowadays, anyone who thinks that Latinos or African-Americans can't succeed because of their ethnicity is rightfully deemed an ignorant bigot...so why pursue Affirmative Action instead of leaning HARD on any segment of society that prevents their children from realizing their full potential, and focusing on poorer elements in our society rather than those with greater levels of pigment in their skin.  

And, of course, the issue as to whether Asians are "minorities" or "white" is about as interesting as it is troubling to those who value true equality between all human beings. 

And yes, I did and do recognize the urgent need for more minority professionals, and worked to attract more minorities to my medical school when I attended at Galveston, Texas--despite the devastating failure of affirmative action and its implications and effects upon wealthy vs. non-wealthy minority students.  To my shock and horror, poor and non-connected Latinos and African-Americans got very little help, yet students of those ethnicities who were born into wealth and connections got all the assistance instead. 

Most of us still want poor African-American and Latino students to thrive and do better than their parents, but the same can be said of Asians and whites, so that we should emphasize financial and not ethnic background.  As a dermatologist who's worked for multispecialty medical groups for most of my career, I've usually worked for African-American physician leaders--who didn't get promoted because of their color but because they were the best leaders. 

And no one in the medical groups gave a damn as to their ethnicity.  Right now, most of my physician leaders are Asian in their ethnic background, and no one gives a damn about that, either.  I am a Republican who totally supports Democrat Asian Ted Lieu to succeed Henry Waxman, and I don't give a damn about his ethnicity as much as I do his sincerity, his honesty, and his excellent record of legislative efforts that have focused on helping the average Californian.  To my way of thinking, this is a no-brainer. 

And for those (like the Times) obsessed with the idea of MAKING or otherwise assigning those angry about illegal immigration out to be anti-Latino or anti-immigrant would do well to include a few legal immigrants in the conversation to find out how THEY feel about it.  In this "diverse" city of Los Angeles, it's dreadful at how used to being balkanized among ethnic and immigrant backgrounds we've become--and with the complete collusion and support of City Hall and the Times. 

Some of those Americans--and they ARE Americans, and damned proud of it, and heartily welcomed by just about ALL of us, are Latino, and they are infuriated.  Maybe the Times and our political establishment should show some real guts and honesty and deal with THAT. 

So now we've got a new newspaper, the LA Register, that will supposedly have a right of center focus.  For those that wish to subscribe online, you can do so here.  

(The Daily News/Breeze hasn't really focused much on areas outside of the San Fernando Valley and South Bay, so I am not the only one to not consider them "Los Angeles" newspapers like the Times is.) 

Do I want a right of center newspaper because it is more politically in tune with my personal preferences?  Hardly.  I married a solid Democrat, so I'm interested in hearing all sides of an issue--even if it leads to some painful but necessary debates. 

Whether it's leaning away from a leftist-only approach, or whether it's leaning away from a system that promotes corruption and poverty, I really hope this becomes a two-newspaper town.  And diversity of ideas in City Hall is frightfully overdue. 

After all, it's not like this one-party, one-newspaper town has operated all too well as of late. 


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected] This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us .  The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)





Vol 12 Issue 34

Pub: Apr 25, 2014


Get The News In Your Email Inbox Mondays & Thursdays