Thomas Sowell
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If there was ever any doubt that the Democrats take the black vote for granted, that doubt should have been put to rest when Barack Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus, "Stop whining!"

Have you ever before heard either a Democratic or a Republican leader tell his party's strongest supporters, "Stop whining"?

Blacks have a lot to complain about, not just about this Democratic administration but about many other Democratic administrations, national and local, over the years.

Unfortunately, black voters, like many other voters, often judge by rhetoric, rather than realities. When it comes to racial rhetoric, the Democrats outdo the Republicans by miles.

Even Ronald Reagan, the great communicator, had problems communicating with black voters, as I pointed out years ago in my book "A Personal Odyssey" (pages 274-278).

All this came back to me during a recent cleanup of my office, which turned up an old yellowed copy of the New York Times with the following front-page headline: "White-Black Disparity in Income Narrowed in 80's, Census Shows" (July 24, 1992).

How many people in the media have pointed out that the black-white income gap narrowed during the Reagan administration, just as it has widened during the Obama administration? For that matter, how many Republicans have pointed it out?

The Reagan administration did not have any special program to narrow the racial gap in incomes. The point is that the kinds of policies followed in the 1980s had that effect, just as the kinds of policies followed by the Obama administration had opposite effects. But just listening to rhetoric won't tell you that.

Over the years, some of the most devastating policies, in terms of their actual effects on black people, have come from liberal Democrats, from the local to the national level.

As far back as the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression of the 1930s, liberal Democrats imposed policies that had counterproductive effects on blacks. None cost blacks more jobs than minimum wage laws.

In countries around the world, minimum wage laws have a track record of increasing unemployment, especially among the young, the less skilled and minorities. It has done the same in America.

One of the first acts of the Roosevelt administration was to pass the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which included establishing minimum wages nationwide. It has been estimated that blacks lost 500,000 jobs as a result.

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Thomas Sowell

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

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