Walter E. Williams

It's not unreasonable to ask how valuable the variously labeled liberal, Democratic or progressive agenda has been to black Americans and whether blacks should proceed in political lock step with this agenda.

According to an American Community Survey, by the U.S. Census Bureau, the top 10 poorest cities with populations more than 250,000 are Detroit, with 33 percent of its residents below the poverty line; Buffalo, N.Y., 30 percent; Cincinnati, 28 percent; Cleveland, 27 percent; Miami, 27 percent; St. Louis, 27 percent; El Paso, Texas, 26 percent; Milwaukee, 26 percent; Philadelphia, 25 percent; and Newark, N.J., 24 percent.

The most common characteristic of these cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal administrations. Some of them -- such as Detroit, Buffalo, Newark and Philadelphia -- haven't elected a Republican mayor for more than a half-century. What's more is that, in some cases for decades, the mayors of six of these high-poverty cities have been black Americans. You say, "What's the point, Williams?" Let's be clear about it. I'm not stating a causal relationship between poverty and Democratic and/or black political control over a city. What I am saying is that if one is strategizing on how to help poor people, he wants to leave off his list of objectives Democratic and black political control of cities. According to Albert Einstein (attributed), the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Crime is one of the results of the liberal agenda. Blacks are 13 percent of the population but are more than 50 percent of murder victims. About 95 percent of black homicide victims had a black person as their murderer. Blacks are not only the major victims of murder but also suffer high victimization rates of all categories of serious violent crime. Most often, another black is the perpetrator. During the 1960s, academic liberals and hustling politicians told us that to deal with crime, we had to deal with its "root causes," poverty and discrimination. My colleague Thomas Sowell has pointed out that in 1960, the total number of murders in the United States was lower than in 1950, 1940 and 1930, even though our population had grown and two new states had been added. The liberal agenda, coupled with courts granting criminals new rights, later caused the murder rate to double, and the rates of other violent crimes also began to skyrocket.


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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