Thomas Sowell

 No one has a greater stake in various school-choice plans, including vouchers, than blacks have, even though school choice is not specifically racial. Social Security is not a racial policy either, but economists who have studied it have long described it as a system that transfers money from black men to white women, given the different life expectancies of these two groups.

 Minimum wage laws have long had an adverse effect on the employment of blacks, especially young blacks, who are more likely to be looking for entry-level jobs. These are the kinds of jobs most often reduced or eliminated when the minimum wage set by the government exceeds what those jobs are worth to an employer.

 This is a pattern found in countries around the world, so it is not even peculiar to the United States, much less to black Americans. But its impact on black Americans is especially harsh.

 Few policies have had more devastating local impacts on blacks than severe restrictions on the building of housing under "open space" laws, which lead to skyrocketing prices for homes and apartment rents that take up half the incomes of low-income households in many California communities.

 Almost invariably, such communities are controlled by liberal Democrats -- and blacks have been forced out by high housing costs. The black population of San Francisco, for example, declined by 18,000 between the 1990 census and the 2000 census, even though the city's total population rose by more than 50,000 people.

 The time is long overdue for both blacks and Republicans who are trying to appeal to blacks to focus on policies in terms of their actual effects on blacks -- and to stop calling things "civil rights" when they are not.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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