Walter E. Williams

Most of the major problems that many black people face are not amendable to political solutions and government anti-poverty programs. Let's look at some. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate among blacks was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 70 percent. Today's breakdown of the black family is unprecedented. It began in the 1960s with the War on Poverty and the harebrained ideas of the welfare state. In the mid-1960s, Daniel Moynihan sounded the alarm about the breakdown in the black family in his book "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action." At that time black illegitimacy was 26 percent. Moynihan said, "(A)t the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of the Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family." He added, "The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States." Moynihan's observations were greeted with charges of racism and blaming the victim. By the way, the welfare state is an equal opportunity family destroyer. Today's illegitimacy rate among whites, at nearly 30 percent, is higher than it was among blacks in the 1960s when Moynihan sounded the alarm. In Sweden, the mother of the welfare state, illegitimacy is 54 percent.

Blacks hold high offices and dominate the political arena in Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and other cities. Yet these are the very cities with the nation's most rotten schools, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates, weak family structure and other forms of social pathology. I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems. What I am saying is that the solution to most of the major problems that confront many black people won't be found in the political arena and by electing more blacks to high office. In fact, politicians tend to be hostile to some of the solutions to problems many blacks face such as school choice as a means to strengthen education, the elimination of oppressive licensing restrictions for various occupations, and supportive of job-destroying labor legislation such as minimum wage laws.

The bottom line is there is very little evidence anywhere on the planet that political power is a necessary condition for economic power.


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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