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Lack of opportunity and training has been the major complaint I have heard from the minority community for the past 25 years. Despite the rhetoric of a few self-appointed, media-propelled minority representatives, most Latinos and African-Americans are not looking for a handout. They don't want to live as slaves to a welfare state. They simply want the education and opportunity to work hard and reap the rewards.
Now is the time for all of us to "love our neighbors" in the proper way -- not simply to put our hands out to those in need, but to truly join hands.
The policies and practices behind the Gulf Coast reconstruction can make us or break us. We will either learn to cooperate at a higher level or we will waste record amounts of money.
While we clean up the streets of New Orleans, we must also clean up the dysfunctional political system and rotten ideology that enabled the welfare state of much of Louisiana. The decades-old problems revealed by the storms can help launch an action plan for Affirmative Opportunity.
Here are the tenets of an effective plan:
The times demand new and better approaches. Taxing the rich to subsidize the poor only fosters resentment and stagnation. Penalizing the wage payer or gouging the wealthy will never help the wage earner or the poor. Common ground must be found and built upon in the spirit of mutual benefit. If we will abandon the failed ideas of the past and implement a plan that has proven to work, we can provide an opportunity that will affirm everyone who works hard to earn an honest living.
The armies of compassion must be motivated to action in both the community of faith and the private sector. Party lines must be crossed, new business relationships must be built, and faith-based organizations must be allowed to fulfill their role. This is the time for us to truly be "a city set on a hill" and now become a "million points of light."
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