Thomas Sowell

After that Act was declared unconstitutional, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 set minimum wages. In the tobacco industry alone, two thousand black workers were replaced by machines, just as blacks had been replaced by machines in the textile industry after the previous minimum wage law.

Fortunately, the high inflation of the 1940s raised the wages of even unskilled labor above the level prescribed by the minimum wage law. The net result was that this law became virtually meaningless, until the minimum wage rate was raised in 1950.

During the late 1940s, when the minimum wage law had essentially been repealed by inflation, 16- and 17-year-old blacks in 1948 had an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, slightly lower than that of whites the same ages and a fraction of what it would be in even the boom years after the minimum wage rate kept getting increased by liberal Democrats.

Urban Renewal was another big Democratic liberal idea. It destroyed mostly low-income minority neighborhoods and replaced them with upscale housing that the former residents could not afford. People by the hundreds of thousands were scattered to the winds, destroying community ties between families, neighbors and local institutions from churches to family doctors to businesses.

Even when liberal Democrats try specifically to help blacks, the results often backfire. The political crusade for "affordable housing" and minority home ownership drew many blacks into homes they could not afford. The net result was an especially high rate of foreclosure and, in the end, black home ownership rates lower than they were before the "affordable housing" crusade began.

Listening to political rhetoric often leads to opposite conclusions from those resulting from checking out hard facts -- and not just for blacks.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate