Thomas Sowell

Many of the same black "leaders" who accuse local store owners of making exorbitant profits also complain that supermarkets seldom locate in ghetto neighborhoods. Do they think supermarkets are against making money, if ghettos are so profitable?

The poor quality of many goods and of the service in ghetto stores is also a result of what has happened in these neighborhoods over the years.

My niece, living in the same Harlem neighborhood where I grew up in the 1940s, often complained of rude service and bad quality goods, as well as their high prices -- complaints that were not at all what I experienced growing up in that same neighborhood.

There were far more stores back in the 1940s and it would have been financial suicide for any given store to treat its customers the way ghetto stores can get away with treating them today.

What happened in between? Ghetto riots happened, beginning in the 1960s. Many stores that were looted or burned out in those riots never re-opened. Nor were many other people ready to come in from outside to replace them. Nor were local residents.

People who have neither the efficiency nor the courtesy to compete with other stores in middle-class neighborhoods can survive running ghetto stores because of the lack of competition.

Many black "leaders" and "spokesmen" who romanticized ghetto riots as "uprisings" against oppression are now displaying their ignorance of both history and economics. Those ghetto residents who had nothing to do with those riots are still paying the price.

Thomas Sowell

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

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