Dr. Thomas Sowell’s recent column, “Republicans and Blacks,” (April 10, 2008) pointed out the foolhardiness of Republican strategy to secure more black votes. He pointed out that it is a losing strategy to reach blacks through the civil rights organizations and black politicians. It’s like a quarterback trying to throw a pass to a receiver surrounded by a bunch of defenders. The second losing strategy is to appeal to blacks by offering the same kinds of things that Democrats offer — token honors, politically correct rhetoric and welfare state handouts.
Sowell suggests that Republican strategy should be to highlight the liberal Democratic agenda that has done great harm to the poorest of the black community. Among those he mentions is the environmental agenda where “tens of thousands of blacks who have been forced out of a number of liberal Democratic California counties by skyrocketing housing prices, brought on by Democratic environmentalists’ severe restrictions on the building of homes or apartments.” Since 1970, San Francisco’s black population has been cut in half.
Then there are the liberal judges and parole boards who have turned criminals loose to prey on black communities. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, between 1976 and 2005, while 13 percent of the population, blacks committed over 52 percent of the nation’s homicides and were 46 percent of the homicide victims. Ninety-four percent of black homicide victims had a black person as their murderer.
The Democratic leadership gives unquestioned support of teacher unions that have delivered near criminally fraudulent education. Professors Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom’s book, “No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning,” reports that the average black high school graduate performs a little worse than white eighth-graders in both reading and U.S. history, and a lot worse in math and geography. Black education is the worst in cities where Democrats, both black and white, have held the reigns of political power for decades and in cities spending the largest amount of money on education.
Washington, D.C., ranking third in the nation in terms of per-pupil expenditures, is a classic example. At 12 of its 19 high schools, more than 50 percent of the students test below basic in reading, and at some of those schools the percentage approaches 80 percent. At 15 of these schools, over 50 percent test below basic in math, and in 12 of them 70 to 99 percent do so. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which conducts periodic testing, defines “below basic” as not having any of the knowledge and skills to master a subject.
Both Democratic and Republican leaders give support to economic agendas harmful to poor black people. A particularly egregious example is New York City’s taxicab licensing law that requires that a person, as of May 2007, pay $600,000 for a license to own and operate one taxicab. Then there’s the Davis-Bacon Act that mandates “prevailing wages” be paid on all federally financed or assisted construction projects. The Davis-Bacon Act is a pro-union law that discriminates against non-unionized black construction contractors and black workers. In fact, that was the original intent of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. During its 1931 legislative debate, quite a few congressmen expressed their racist intentions, such as Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., who said, “Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. This is a fact. That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.” While today’s supporters of the Davis-Bacon Act talk differently, its discriminatory effects are the same.
If a politician had the guts to take on these issues, it’s stupid to address them through the black civil rights or education establishment, or the black political structure. The reason is that blacks who are members of, or are served by, these establishments have an interest in the status quo.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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