Walter E. Williams

Black politicians and the civil rights establishment take it as an act of faith that progress for black people requires racial politics and government programs. How about examining this vision with a few simple, common-sense questions?

 Whether you're black, white or polka dot, in order to take advantage of opportunities, you must be prepared. A large part of that preparation is to get a decent K-12 education. In order for children to do well in school, there are some minimum requirements that must be met. Someone must make them do their homework, see to it that they get a good night's rest, fix a breakfast, and make sure they get to school on time and obey school authorities. This is not rocket science, but here's my question. Can those requirements be satisfied by a president, congressman or mayor?

If those requirements aren't met, there's little hope that a child will get the academic preparation necessary to take advantage of opportunities. Spending more money on education cannot replace poor parenting. If it could, black academic achievement would be much higher than it is.

 Numerous studies show that children raised in stable two-parent households do far better than those raised in single-parent households. They are less likely to have out-of-wedlock births, less likely to engage in criminal behavior and more likely to complete high school. Historically, black families have been relatively stable. From 1880 to 1960, the proportion of black children raised in two-parent families held steady at around 70 percent; in 1925 Harlem, it was 85 percent. Today, only 38 percent of black children are raised in two-parent families. In 1940, black illegitimacy was 16 percent; today, it's 70 percent. Stable two-parent families are vital for a child's development. The solution to the problem of unstable families won't be found in the political arena. There's nothing a president, congressman or mayor can do.

 In many black neighborhoods, businessmen must install bars and roll-down gates for their storefronts, hire security guards and pay high insurance rates. Security precautions add significantly to the cost of business, and who do you think pays these extra costs? The businessman pays in the form of a lower return, and his customers pay in the form of higher prices and less convenience.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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