Judge Gray: The Road to Success For All

The Functional Libertarian
May 2, 2013

Okay, it’s easy for me to say because I am not an African-American – obviously I had no choice in the matter. But the Road to Success for African-Americans – and everybody else – is generally not hard to find, or even to travel. All it requires is a firm reliance upon yourself instead of government.

To drive that point home, candidly ask yourself what government has actually done for you in the last five years. Yes governments make promises, but have they kept you safe? educated your children well? provided you with a good job, or any job at all? provided you with good healthcare? Probably not to any satisfactory degree. So why do you believe the governments’ promises for the next five years?

Instead of placing your faith in more government promises, put your reliance upon what works, which is you yourself, as well as your family, religious organization and community. Here are three concrete suggestions that will guide you to success.

First, avoiding poverty is generally not hard if you follow these three simple rules: Get at least a high school education; do not have children outside of marriage; and get a job – any job. In other words, Bill Cosby was right! Once you obtain an education, learn and demonstrate a good work ethic and show you are reliable and can perform, money and job security will follow.

The second suggestion centers on schools, because a good education is the key to just about everything. So please ask yourself this question: who is in a better position to know how and where a child should be educated, the child’s parents, or the government? (I have never had anyone respond with anything but the child’s parents.)

Facing that obvious answer, we should set up a system in which the parents can control how and where the government money that is paid for their child’s education can be spent. If that happens, the parents will demand – and receive – excellence.

How are your government schools doing today in educating your community’s children? Many are failing – particularly those in minority communities. But in Milwaukee, where parents were given the power to choose about six years ago, virtually all of the schools are performing quite well. And the same results are now being seen in New Orleans for the same reason.

You can call this power a school voucher, scholarship or consent card – it doesn’t matter what it is called. This system of school choice works! And that would be the biggest boon to the African-American community I can think of (and also to most other people as well).

The third suggestion begins with a story. When I was in the Peace Corps in the smallest town in Costa Rica that had a high school, the landlord of the Soda Americana, where most of the high school teachers and I lived, was from China and was named Chunga.

After living there for about a year, one day I told him that I had noticed that most of the shops and stores in our town were run by Chinese people like him, and asked how this had happened. Chunga said that after the deposing of Chang Kai-shek in China by Mao Zedong in 1949, many Chinese fled to Taiwan. But others kept on coming to Hawaii, and still others came to the west coast of all of the Americas, including Costa Rica. And when they came, they brought with them a successful tradition.

In my town, just like in China, the Chinese community was unofficially overseen by a successful group of elders. Then, among other things, this tradition allowed a young man (at that time this was restricted to males) to come to the group of elders with an idea to open a bakery, butcher shop, etc. In effect, he would present an oral business plan. The elders would respond by making suggestions and then, if they thought the plan was feasible, they would provide the young man with seed money to get his business started. This was not a loan, it was a gift. But it would only happen once.

If the new business was successful, the young entrepreneur hoped that he would later be fortunate enough to be an elder himself. Then someday he could also contribute to similar business ventures by other young men. But if the business was not successful, the young man would lose so much credibility – or “face” – that he probably would have to leave town. So, under those circumstances, you can imagine the incentives that were felt by these young men to be successful.

This was the reason there were so many Chinese merchants in my town, and also many other places in the world. So my third suggestion is that the successful elders in the African-American community – and there are many – create a similar program. It has worked in the Chinese communities for generations!

In summary, the Road to Success is paved with a good education, a strong work ethic and community support. Actually, this is the Libertarian Way, and it is not hard. It simply requires you and your community to take charge of your own lives and stop relying so much upon government promises!

James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the composer of the high school musical revue “Americans All,” and the 2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with Governor Gary Johnson for President.  He can be contacted at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net or at  www.JudgeJImGray.com

30 thoughts on “Judge Gray: The Road to Success For All

  1. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Judge Gray says:” do not have children outside of marriage”.

    I think this is unnecessary and inappropriate. What do other people think?

  2. Mike Koch

    I love having children, in and out of marriage, the more the better.

  3. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I understand that, CC, but what does that have to do with success? It seems to me that not having children at all would be a better facilitator for success because the individual would have more time to devote to his career.

  4. James Donovan

    re BH @ 6. There are a few other factors involved. It isn’t quite that simple sad to say.

  5. Mike Koch

    Seriously, though, if you look at the statistics it is not a good choice for women to become single mothers. This doesn’t mean every individual is a slave to the statistical trends, so individual circumstances may vary. But being aware of the odds before making the choice would be good.

  6. Deran

    Perhaps that woman, Karen Straughan, who so vigorously promotes that men should be men and that traditional masculinity, could speak abt men who get women pregnant that they do not intend to be in a relationship with, let alone marry.

    It’s another reason there are so few women in the LP, or even the broader libertarian capitalist milieu. This sort of blame the woman thing stinks.

  7. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I don’t think that Judge Gray meant for the comment to only be to women, but the comment just seemed sanctimonious to me. He delved into morals, and Libertarians tend to stay out of those matters. Frankly, I didn’t much care for the whole article. It seems to me that a retired white guy who lives in an affluent community with his doctor wife just might not be understanding the complexities of succeeding in a different type of culture.

  8. langa

    Gray failed to mention two of the most important obstacles to success for many young people (of all races): spending too much money on designer clothes, fancy cars, high-tech gadgets and other luxury items, along with taking on excessive debt (which would often be unnecessary if not for the excessive spending). No matter how hard one works, it’s hard to be successful when you are constantly spending more than you are earning.

    Also, I agree that the point about having children outside of marriage is misguided. The important thing is not whether you are married, but whether you are willing and able to do whatever it takes to provide for your child.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    If life were about “playing the odds,” then the only sure thing is death. That might lead to suicide, if we were guided only by the best odds.

    Yes, this essay is fine, but it has a feel of sanctimonious lecturing for me, of talking down to the audience. Do what you love and things take care of themselves. Find your happiness and then express it, would be my suggestion.

    The whole Chinese elders matter illustrates to me the importance of networking and community. As this is addressed to the African-American community, I would note that their traditions were distorted massively when they were shackled and shipped from Africa to live lives of slavery. Even after the Confederate Elite Insurrection was put down, the African-American community was set free, but without the networking system we see in more organic social institutions, like the Chinese.

    It appears we are still suffering from the social engineering of slavery. It seems to improve, albeit slowly over many generations.

  10. Kevin Knedler

    the Judge speaks frankly. Children may be wonderful, but their is a financial obligation that must be met by the parents–not the taxpayers. I see people retiring at 60 that had no children. I see those with a lot of children retiring at some later date. It’s their choice and so be it, as long as the taxpayer doesn’t have to support those children with welfare payments. Again its a choice to make.

  11. Kevin Knedler

    Jill at # 5 is correct. I work in Corporate America. They move people around contstantly. I’ve lost count the times I have heard of the burden on the “family” of the employee that gets moved. Single people don’t have to worry about it near as much.

  12. Kevin Knedler

    Then, I knew this “idiot” VP in sales back in the 1980’s that thought it was wise to only promote married men. Why? Because they would be motivated to work harder to provide for the family. He felt that single guys had too much time to “play, chase, and party”. He gave no thought to the spouse working in the family. This was of course in the 1980’s.

  13. Austin Battenberg

    @10 Maybe that is something libertarians should be doing more of, discussing moral values. (so long as we don’t promote government to enforce those moral values)

  14. Mike Koch

    We don’t agree on those, so while it is OK for libertarians to speak about their morals as individuals, if they do they should make it clear they are not speaking for the rest of us.

  15. Be Rational

    @4 Concerned Citizen // May 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm … “It’s not fair to the child if he does not have a mother and a father.”

    – Indeed. Poor little hatchling.

  16. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Really, I understand that it’s better for a child to have both a father and a mother, and that help increase the success rate of the next generation, but the moral judgement in this context really bothers me. I wish Judge Gray had left it out.

  17. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    In case anyone is interested, my son who was raised without a father opened the Rolling Stones concert at the Staples Center last night in Los Angeles (with the UCLA Marching Band). Not bad for a 20 year-old.

    My incentive to be a business success was pretty high, since there wasn’t a second paycheck. I’m tired of the single parent excuse.

    However, I understand that there might have been more resources available to me than other people.

  18. Brian Holtz

    He delved into morals

    Actually, he didn’t. All he wrote on this topic was “do not have children outside of marriage”. The context was: “avoiding poverty is generally not hard if you follow these three simple rules”.

    This was not “moral judgement” at all. It simply was sound advice on how to get the odds to work in your favor.

    Not everything “immoral” should be illegal. And calling a choice generally ill-advised is not the same thing as calling it inherently immoral.

  19. Tom Blanton

    Perhaps better advice to young women would be to not have children prior to completing school and getting a job that pays more than the minimum wage, if the plan is to become even moderately successful.

    I’m assuming that the wise old Judge was directing his advice at the young and, as many “libertarians” tend to do, wanted to endear himself to conservatives at the same time by injecting a little “traditional family values” into his words of advice.

    If he was directing this advice to African-Americans as it seems to be, I think it shows a type of bigotry that many white libertarians have, which is the assumption that conservative stereotypes of black people are reality.

    This article seems to be telling people in general, but black people in particular, not to rely on the government and not to have children out of wedlock, as if black women are likely to become the dreaded “Welfare Queens” the conservatives have warned us about.

    The Judge should probably leave race and sex out of his advice. His defense of Bill Cosby is also dated a few years, or was this written a decade ago? It comes off as if it is just another old white guy saying that Bill Cosby is “one of the good ones”.

    There are lots of black people that I’m sure the judge would deem unsuccessful that avoid the government like the plague, seek no handouts, work hard in gray market jobs, and do their best to avoid having unwanted kids – all while trying to do their best to raise the kids they do have properly. Just like white folks.

  20. paulie

    I think having two parents that stayed together was the one thing that was different between me and most of my friends I had growing up. They pretty much all ended up dead at a young age, doing long stretches in prison, and/or mentally ill and shall we say “urban camping”. Also, my parents are educated and value book learning, but they did not grow up in the US and had no money when we came over, as well as having to start over on their careers, and we lived in expensive cities (New York and Boston), so we ended up living in slums. Most of the kids I knew growing up did not have two parents living with them, many did not even have one. It does make a difference, and that’s no knock on then single moms like Jill that beat the odds.

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