Thomas Sowell
Apparently the soaring national debt and the threat of a nuclear Iran are not enough to occupy the government's time, because the Obama administration is pushing to force Westchester County, N.Y., to create more low-income housing, in order to mix and match classes and races to fit the government's preconceptions.

Behind all this busy work for bureaucrats and ideologues is the idea that there is something wrong if a community does not have an even or random distribution of various kinds of people. This arbitrary assumption is that the absence of evenness or randomness -- whether in employment, housing or innumerable other situations -- shows a "problem" that has to be "corrected."

No speck of evidence is considered necessary for this assumption to prevail at any level of government, including the Supreme Court of the United States. No one has to show the existence, much less the prevalence, of an even or random distribution of different segments of the population -- in any country, anywhere in the world, or at any period of history.

Nothing is more common than for people to sort themselves out when it comes to residential housing, whether by class, race or other factors.

When there was a large Jewish population living on New York's lower east side, a century ago, Jews did not live at random among themselves. Polish Jews had their neighborhoods, Rumanian Jews theirs, and so on. Meanwhile German Jews lived uptown. In Chicago, when Eastern European Jews began moving into German Jewish neighborhoods, German Jews began moving out.

It was much the same story in Harlem or in other urban ghettoes, where blacks did not live at random among themselves. Landmark scholarly studies by E. Franklin Frazier in the 1930s showed in detail how different neighborhoods within the ghettoes had people of different educational and income levels, with different male\female ratios and different ways of life living in different places.

There was nothing random about it. Within Chicago's black community, the delinquency rate ranged from more than 40 percent in some black neighborhoods to less than 2 percent in other black neighborhoods. People sort themselves out.

None of this was peculiar to blacks or Jews, or to the United States. When emigrants from Scotland went to Australia, the Scottish highlanders settled separately from the Scottish lowlanders. So did emigrants from northern Italy and southern Italy.


Thomas Sowell

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

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