800 lb Gorilla: Empowerment, Opportunity, Enterprise, Renewal. Words, just words.

In a recent Florida Trend article, we read that Governor Rick Scott had identified “low tax opportunity zones” statewide to encourage investment.  Debbie G went into research mode and delved into what this meant.  Here is Part 1 of what she uncovered.

Influence:  Part 1

There are many things that influence the environment in which we live; our behavior and lifestyle. We make choices, in many circumstances, that bring us the least amount of discomfort or inconvenience even if they are not the most prudent choices to effect a good outcome. Such choices made today can bring about even more discomfort and inconvenience than we were trying to avoid in the first place.


Not only the individual, but also our government makes choices that have the least amount of discomfort or inconvenience. They give these choices benevolent names like Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities, both created in 1993, and the Renewal Communities and New Market Tax Credit programs, created in 2000. All four of these programs were created to address blight and poverty in low-income communities.


Unfortunately, blight and poverty in low-income communities not only still exists, but has grown, so a new program has been created; Opportunity Zones. The premise for this program was originally created in 2015 by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) based in Washington D.C. The group is cofounded by former Facebook President, Sean Parker. Also, an EIG Executive Board member, Steve Glickman, senior economic advisor to President Obama. Four federal programs were not enough to solve the blight and poverty problems in low-income communities, so a new one is created.


With each new program we are told that “this” one will work different or “this” one is the answer to solve blight and poverty. Or, is there a discomfort or inconvenience that is being avoided? The 800-pound gorilla in the room is influence. Our government, and perhaps much of society, turns a blind eye to the impact social welfare programs have had on families, attitudes, and character. People and businesses move OUT of such communities because there is a prevalence of lack of pride, lack of motivation, lack of character, and an abundance of opportunity crime.


The program names change, but outcomes rarely do. The 800-pound gorilla is that our government has made father’s and strong families irrelevant and as a result we have generations of youth growing up with little to no positive influence, on welfare with no father figure in the home, living in subsidized housing not learning the pride of ownership, and modeling the behavior of “waiting for that government check” rather than chasing a dream.


So, just who benefits from these programs? Answer, in “Influence” Part 2.

Debbie Gonzalez


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