Friday, September 23, 2016

Like Hillbilly Elegy But With Indians

Because I haven't read enough deeply depressing stuff, I just started a new book from Naomi Schaefer Riley, The New Trail of Tears. The gist so far, and I just started it, is that while the academic world focuses on what happened to the various American Indian tribes 100 or more years ago, an on-going crisis is in place that leaves many Indians in this country in far worse conditions than inner-city blacks or the hillbillies of Hillbilly Elegy (my review of the latter is here). I knew Indians were in rough shape but I didn't realize how bad it was, especially in the West. I used to have interactions with an Indian tribe when I was a bank manager in Northern Michigan and while a few well educated Indians did quite well (working for the tribe), a lot were in serious poverty. One really depressing recurrence was the receiving of a lump sum of some sort when Indian youth reached a certain age. I am not sure where the funds came from but it was thousands of dollars and invariably it would get blown in short order on stupid stuff.

This promises to be another crystal clear example of the government claiming to be trying to help people while engaging in policies that make things worse. There are so many examples of the government coming to "help" a people group and just making it worse while throwing wheelbarrows of tax-payer money into the wind. As bad as you think some groups have it, the Indians have it worse and it is showing no signs of getting better.

It is not a super long book so I should be able to knock it out in short order and provide a more complete review but if you have this book at your local library it is worth your time to pick it up.

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