“Uncle Sam’s Plantation” review

Uncle Sam's Plantation coverUncle Sam’s Plantation:
How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor
and What We Can Do About It (Revised and Updated)

by Star Parker
Thomas Nelson Publishers
17 August 2010

I would give Uncle Sam’s Plantation negative stars (out of a possible 5) if I could. I could barely finish it, and I certainly wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been required to. Star Parker is a nice person, I’m sure, but she bases her entire opinion of the welfare system in the United States on her own experience (without any statistics or other hard evidence) while at the same time ignoring glaring facts that don’t fit into her worldview.

Parker begins by describing the three types of poor people: “the economically challenged” for whom just a little bit more money would make a huge difference; “the lazy poor” who are unwilling to put in a day’s work for pay and want someone else to take care of them; and “the poor in spirit” who, if they only got over it and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, could have a better life. Using real life examples of these categories, she explains why the government has kept the poor down. (“Poor people”, by the way, is her way of saying “African-Americans” since, of course, all white people are rich, immigrants are willing to work hard to get what they want, and other minorities in the United States don’t exist.)

She attacks GLBT people and feminists for “undermining family” and the public education system for teaching relative truth and allowing students to make decisions for themselves (gasp!).

She attacks abortion (which is, essentially, attacking women, since only women ever receive abortions) and says, “…during [a developing fetus’s] third trimester, a stage when, in our country, they can still be aborted” without discussing how often late-term abortions even happen (that is, very rarely). Do you know how many states allow late-term abortions? Like, thirteen or less, and they all have serious restrictions. (See also here, just for starters.) Needless to say, the whole thing is more complicated than Parker makes it seem.

Plus, though she references other people and writing, there is no Works Cited or Bibliography section, so there’s no way for me to read those articles or books and decide for myself what to think about them. For all I know, she could be quoting out of context.

I literally yelled in frustration when, at one point, it says, “A centralized government makes decisions about [poor workers’] childcare, healthcare, and retirement. It controls their reproduction through abortion and wants to control their deaths through euthanasia” (italics mine). Those two things are bodily rights that everyone should have. Our government allows women to choose for themselves whether or not to have an abortion; it doesn’t force anyone to have one against her will. (In fact, many people—or, at least, some people—would say that The Public actually discourages women from getting abortions, even when they need them.)

Uncle Sam’s Plantation leaves out important parts of the discussion because they don’t fit into Star Parker’s argument. I could go on and on refuting most of her bullet points, but that could be a book into itself. Let me just say this: there is no way I can recommend this book to anyone; it’s tripe of the worst kind. I’d toss it right in the trash if I wasn’t so adamantly against disrespecting literature, even if this book is actually just Conservative propaganda.

DISCLAIMER: I received Uncle Sam’s Plantation free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in return for a review of the book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.