Larry Elder

Illinois Republican candidate Alan Keyes recently proposed exempting blacks -- for a generation or two -- from paying federal income taxes!

Slavery, argues Keyes, "was an egregious failure on the part of the federal establishment." Who argues with that? But despite slavery, Jim Crow and racism, the progress of American blacks is simply astounding. Black America, if divided into a separate country, ranks No. 16 in Gross Domestic Product, ahead of Australia, Turkey, Thailand, Argentina, the Netherlands, Taiwan and South Africa.

Black economic progress increased tremendously, says economist Thomas Sowell, well before so-called "level the playing field" government policies and programs. In fact, on this 40th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," Sowell says the income gap between blacks and whites closed faster "pre-war" than "post-war." "The economic rise of blacks began decades earlier," Sowell stated, "before any of the legislation and policies that are credited with producing that rise. The continuation of the rise of blacks out of poverty did not -- repeat, did not -- accelerate during the 1960s.

"The poverty rate among black families fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent in 1960, during an era of virtually no major civil rights legislation or anti-poverty programs. It dropped another 17 percentage points during the decade of the 1960s and one percentage point during the 1970s, but this continuation of the previous trend was neither unprecedented nor something to be arbitrarily attributed to the programs like the War on Poverty.

"In various skilled trades, the incomes of blacks relative to whites more than doubled between 1936 and 1959 -- that is, before the magic 1960s decade when supposedly all progress began. The rise of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations was greater in the five years preceding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the five years afterwards."

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit