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Government Against Blacks


The other day, I went to Times Square to ask people what government should do to help poor people. Most everyone agreed on the answer: "more social programs and a higher minimum wage."

It's intuitive to think that way. I used to think that, too. When President Johnson declared a "war on poverty," he said "compassionate government" was the road to prosperity for poor people. That made sense to me. At Princeton, I was taught that government's central planners had the solution to poverty.

But then I watched them work. Government spent trillions of dollars on poverty programs, and the poverty level stayed stuck at about 12 percent of the population. It's stayed there for about 40 years.

Now I understand that that government poverty programs encourage people to stay dependent. There's money in it. They policymakers would have known this 25 years ago had they read "The State Against Blacks." The author, an economist, said poverty programs destroy the natural mechanisms that have always enabled poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.

That author is Walter Williams of George Mason University. Williams, who is black, says "there's a huge segment of the black population for whom upward mobility is elusive, and it's because of the welfare state — [AZ2]because of government."

Williams elaborates in a new book, "Race and Economics." A chief culprit, he insists, is the minimum wage.

"Let's not look at the intentions behind minimum wage," he said. "We have to ask, what are the effects? Put yourself in the place of an employer who must pay $7.25 no matter whom you hire. Will that employer hire a person who can only add $3 or $4 of value per hour?"

He will not. And so fewer young people get hired and "get their feet on the bottom rung of the economic ladder." This hurts all young people, but black teens most, he says, because "many of them get a fraudulent education in the public school system. So a law that discriminates against low-skill people has a doubly negative effect on black teenagers. The unemployment rate among black teens today is unprecedented in U.S. history. In the '40s, black teenage unemployment was less than white teenage unemployment."

And yet a Pew survey says 83 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage.

"People have the misguided notion that the minimum wage is an antipoverty tool."

Economists understand the truth. A survey of the American Economic Association found that 90 percent of economists say the minimum wage increases unemployment.

Williams says the minimum wage law has also been a tool of racism. In his book "South Africa's War Against Capitalism," he studied that country's labor markets during apartheid:

"White racist unions in South Africa that would never have a black as a member were the major supporters of minimum wage laws. Their stated purpose was to protect white workers from having to compete with low-skill, low-wage black workers. In the United States we found some of the same reasoning for support of a super minimum-wage law," the Davis-Bacon Act, which forces taxpayers to pay union-like wages for government-funded construction projects.

Williams says other programs designed to help the poor — like welfare payments — have wrecked the lives of millions of black people. He likens the welfare state to a "drug pusher" that keeps people dependent and in poverty.

"The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery (and Jim Crow and racism) could not have done ... break up the black family. Today, just slightly over 30 percent of black kids live in two-parent families. Historically, from the 1870s on ... 75-90 percent of black kids lived in two-parent families."

Why does the welfare state create illegitimacy?

"(Without welfare,) people would decide, 'I'm going to go out and get a job, I'm going to live more responsibly.'" And that would include getting married before having children, something the welfare system discourages.

I believe the creators of the welfare state had good intentions, but good intentions aren't good enough. Even if deficit spending were not bankrupting America — which it is — America should end these programs.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




15 Comments | Post Comment
Come on, John. Programs which provide welfare for white govt bureaucrats who have very little interest in the furtherance of the black family or person need to be called for what they are. Recipients of white collare welfare. Indeed, these bureaucrats are threatened by the very notion of the the advancement of blacks to a point where they no longer need welfare programs. Good intentions? Doubt it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Coulis
Wed Jun 1, 2011 11:32 AM
Public education. the minimum wage, and the war on drugs are the 1-2-3 punch that devastates much of black america. 1. Public schools in black areas are awful, even more awful than the public school average. They have lots of money - just look at per pupil spending in places like East St. Louis. But they have adopted such low expectations and tolerate such awful performance from their teachers and administrators that the results are shockingly bad. And when test scores show African Americans under-performing, the tests are criticized as racist. This is roughly equivalent to ignoring a series of positive cancer tests.
2. Without good education, blacks must enter the job market with few skills. For such workers, they can gain skills through work, but their entry point are low wage jobs. Raising the minimum wage simply raises the first rung of the ladder of success out of their reach.
3. Without education and without a job, they turn to drugs. Criminalization of drugs raises the financial returns for a few people, a kind of lottery that attracts low-skilled urban blacks. The result is that whole generations of black males rot in jail.

Jim Crow almost seems pleasant in comparison
Comment: #2
Posted by: coyote
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:35 AM
For crying out loud,John you sound like a hillbilly skinhead,your spin looks like you have animist for blacks.You know most of the money and services went to poor whites. Yet The largest group of poor people in America today and in the past are in fact poor whites,did you know that? You should do a show on this fact.You must?These poor whites get and his always got the lions share of all hand outs from our Government. Welfare as we know it was in fact started for poor white trash after the depression when rich greedy whites stole them blind.Bill Clinton and Bob Dole were on welfare.There far more whites on welfare then blacks.John you must know if only blacks were on welfare it would have stopped a long time ago.Us black men get a poor rap,it is said very loud we run off from our kids. Truth be told way more white men are not at home with their kids.If not why so many white women are on welfare?Most white people don't know these facts,because of misinformation artist like you.Why don't you call it straight..PS I am waiting on the segment on the large number of poor whites on welfare all these years who never moved up in life
Comment: #3
Posted by: Kola wolfe
Sun Jun 5, 2011 1:46 AM
The black and foreign people have always been undercounted. One person of the family will receive welfare benefits and bring along the others members of the family AND exteneded "family" who are not counted. Therein lies the lie. All people should be madder than hell that there is a minimum wage which encourages those who have a tendency to work harder, be on time for work, do a better job to dumb themselves down because... why should they break their back while the "other guy" is doing minimal work but getting the same pay. How much more common sense do you need? Haven't we been told again and again that you don't appreciate anything that you don't have to work for. Before long the caucasian race with be in the great minority... who then will write programs into law to educate them, feed and house them, provide baby sitting services, medical, on and on and on. It won't happend because the other races viewed the white man's help as their entitlement. People need to get over entitlements and our government should pull back and help only the very, very medically needy.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Sandra O'Connor
Sun Jun 5, 2011 7:52 AM
The 1 -2 - 3 punch that devastates much of black america is black america. They are teaching each other that education is the white mans game and that it is an evil thing. They are being taught that white america made the rules to keep the black man down. Black america is teaching each other that they have no worth outside the black community. Changing the mind in the black community is the only way to change the black community. Racism is alive and well in America. It thrives in the black community.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Rob W
Sun Jun 5, 2011 6:56 PM
IN the 1950's our government created the single largest contribution to the destruction of the black american family, welfare and public housing. America as a whole will continue to suffer regardless of race as long as we have welfare.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Rob W
Sun Jun 5, 2011 6:58 PM
John: The most shocking part of your program was in your interview with Congressman Rangel whne he dismissed the Constitution as an instrument of slavery citing the 3/5th's of a person provision. So he has an excuse to ignore the Constitution. He is totally and utterly wrong. Unfortunately a large number of his colleagues also think the same way!
Comment: #7
Posted by: Peter Grey
Sun Jun 5, 2011 7:21 PM
Wow, I read this twice and baffled as to why people are getting so defensive as if the article was meant to be an indictment against black people. It's about bad policy that may be disproportionately affecting the black population plain and simple. From a strictly statistical standpoint is there really any argument that a higher percentage of blacks are affected.
Comment: #8
Posted by: marvin matney
Mon Jun 6, 2011 3:26 AM
Re: Coulis. So if we decrease government-spending and the overall size of government then we reduce the number of recipients of white-collar-welfare (as well as reducing the budget-deficit and the national-debt). Let's do it!
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jeff77450
Mon Jun 6, 2011 6:52 AM
Okay Mr. Stossel, I will proceed to explain the real reasons why Left wing social engineers support and defend the minimum wage, and believe me it is not to help low paid workers, as you and Mr. Williams correctly point out.
The minimum wage is a form of regressive taxation, imposed to increase the wage levels and the numbers of government employees.
Private businesses have to meet a budget which means a balance between capital costs, wages and benefits, profits, and taxes, while governments have to meet none of these except wages and capital costs. Furthermore, private businesses have to compete with other private businesses to meet their budget while the government can simply impose higher taxes to meet it's budget.
But while private businesses can hire and fire workers depending on their budget, the government usually cannot fire anyone without cause and legal problems with powerful taxpayer subsidized unions, and is able to hire as many workers as it wants, whether it needs them or not. Thus governments can pay any minimum wage it sets and fire no one, while private businesses may and usually do have to terminate employees to make their budgets balance.
Thus governments impose this hidden tax on private businessmen, forcing them to reduce their workforce, thus releasing more workers to be absorbed by the unions which control the government.
Yes, the minimum wage has catastrophic impact on private businesses and their employees, increases unemployment, but in the end benefits the unions which run the government.
There really is a silver lining to the minimum wage cloud if you look for it.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Ken Besig
Tue Jun 7, 2011 12:16 AM
Well, don't we have a nice little Catch-22 here? 83% of the American populace needs an education but the school system is so bad or biased (Mr. Stossel's own Princeton as he himself cites) that they're not going to get it. Without education there will be no change in perception. As I ponder that quandry I drive through a Hispanic neighborhood and pass a Home Depot and I see men and women of all ages haggling for work on the street corner. They work hard in weather that would melt or freeze most of us. You think attitude and desire have anything to do with that observation? Maybe I should just shut-up for being labeled a racist is not my goal.
Comment: #11
Posted by: zombiehunter
Thu Jun 9, 2011 6:07 AM
Re: Kola wolfe
That's because the country is mostly white people. John is talking about the percentage of blacks on welfare. I agree with you that there is a lot of white trash out, just not as many when compared to to the whole population of whites. I think John would agree that these programs are just as detrimental to whites or any other race, but in this article he is trying to show that all the calls for more gov. assistance for the black community is hindering its ability to catch up.
Comment: #12
Posted by: masama13
Thu Jun 9, 2011 2:27 PM
Comment: #13
Posted by: dave
Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:20 AM
There are a number of ways to fix the system but the politicians have no interest in fixing anything. They are too busy pointing fingers at each other. We could do the fair tax, we could force companies to base CEO pay on works wages like a 20 to 1 ratio. We could privatize the school system but because of how the teachers are taught this will take decades until we see real improvement. But mostly we need to fire everyone in Washington and go back to part-time unpaid politicians that work for a few weeks a year. This is the fix that will work.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Tim
Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:48 AM
My great grandfather lived on Fort Hall Indian Reservation until the day he died. Unlike the people around him, he refused to register and receive the "blanket money" from the government as the government had given him more than he had wanted already. As he had put it, everything costs something. If you get a "gift" that you didn't work for, what is the value in it other than to teach your children that they don't have to work for things. In time, you have what we have now, the poverty on the reservations because so many have taken the government "gifts." They have conquered this people with their own greed so that they fail to see this handout is only pushing them back down.
Welfare without limits is the same way.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Joseph L
Sun Jun 26, 2011 2:50 AM
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