Sowell: Inequality is Driven By Failed Government Policies, Not the "Legacy of Slavery"

Posted: Jan 06, 2015 4:05 PM

In a recent interview with "Uncommon Knowledge" host Peter Robinson, famed economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell expanded on a favorite research topic of his: Namely, race in America.

Last November, for example, he wrote this:

New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof asserts that there is "overwhelming evidence that centuries of racial subjugation still shape inequity in the 21st century" and he mentions "the lingering effects of slavery." But before we become overwhelmed, that evidence should be checked out. [I]f we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state.”

And in that interview with Brooks, Dr. Sowell attempted to do just that.

He explained that contrary to the unsubstantiated and fact-free theories of revisionists, blacks were generally better off before LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ programs were rolled out and adopted.

He gave several statistical examples to defend his contention.

“In 1960, which would be almost a hundred years after the end of slavery, 22 percent of black kids grew up in homes with only one parent,” he said. “Thirty years later, after the liberal welfare state, that number had more than tripled.”

“We can speculate on how much that 22 percent was due to the legacy of slavery,” he conceded. “But we know that that tripling was not due to the legacy of slavery; it was due to the legacy of a whole different set of policies.”

What's more, he also gave two educational examples to prove his point.

“Stuyvesant High School in New York, as you know, you get into it by only passing a very tough exam,” he said. “In 2012, the percentage of black students who had gotten into Stuyvesant High School was less than one-tenth of the percentage of black students who had gotten into Stuyvesant High School 33 years earlier.”

But Stuyvesant was by no means an outlier, he pointed out.

“Dunbar High School in Washington [was] an elite black high school for a very long time,” he added. “In 1993, the number of kids out of Dunbar High School who went on to college was less than it was 60 years earlier, which would have been in the depth of the Great Depression.”

Translation: Failed government policies are (mostly) to blame for, as Kristof put it, “inequity in the 21st century." Slavery, according to Sowell, is a much smaller factor.

Watch the full clip below, courtesy of the WSJ: