Walter E. Williams

One definition given for insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; it might also be a definition of stupidity. Let's look at some cities where large percentages of black Americans live under poor conditions.

Experiencing a violent crime rate of 2,137 per 100,000 of the population, Detroit is the nation's most dangerous city. Rounding out Forbes magazine's 2012 list of the 10 most dangerous cities are St Louis; Oakland, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Stockton, Calif.; Cleveland; and Buffalo, N.Y. The most common characteristic of these predominantly black cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal administrations. Some cities -- such as Detroit, Buffalo, Newark, N.J., and Philadelphia -- haven't elected a Republican mayor for more than a half-century. What's more is that in most of these cities, blacks have been mayors, chiefs of police, school superintendents and principals and have dominated city councils.

You might ask, "What's the point, Williams?" Let's be clear about it. I'm not stating that there's a causal relationship between crime, poverty and squalor on the one hand and, on the other, Democratic and black political control over a city. Nor am I saying that blacks ought to vote Republican. What I am saying is that if one is strategizing on how to improve the lives of the poorest black people, he wants to leave off his to-do list election of Democrats and black politicians. Also to be left off the to-do list is a civil rights agenda. Racial discrimination has little to do with major problems confronting black people.

Today 72 percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. Being born and finding out that your mother is 17 years old, that your grandmother is 35 and that you don't know who or where your father is is not a good start on life. In fact, it's a near guarantee for school dropout, poverty and crime, but such a start in life has nothing to do with racial discrimination.

Law-abiding poor black people suffer the nation's highest rates of criminal victimization from assaults and homicide. More than 50 percent of homicide victims are black. Would anyone claim that this victimization is caused by racist groups preying on the black community? In addition to victimization, the level of lawlessness in many black communities has the full effect of a law banning economic growth. That's because the thugs are equal-opportunity thugs who will rip off a black-owned business just as they'd rip off a white-owned business.


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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