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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
23 Jul 2014
Do Blacks Need Favors?

Earlier this month, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act was celebrated. During the act's legislative debate,… Read More.

16 Jul 2014
Our Unwillingness to Defend Ourselves

The U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 2012 losses because of personal … Read More.

9 Jul 2014
Spending and Morality

During last year's budget negotiation meetings, President Barack Obama told House Speaker John Boehner, "We don'… Read More.

Please Stop Helping Us


While reading the first chapter of Jason Riley's new book, "Please Stop Helping Us," I thought about Will Rogers' Prohibition-era observation that "Oklahomans vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls." Demonstrative of similar dedication, one member of Congress told Vanderbilt University political scientist Carol Swain that "one of the advantages and disadvantages of representing blacks is their shameless loyalty. ... You can almost get away with raping babies and be forgiven. You don't have any vigilance about your performance." In my opinion, there appear to be no standards of performance low enough for blacks to lose their loyalty to their black political representatives.

Riley says that between 1970 and 2001, the number of black elected officials skyrocketed from fewer than 1,500 to more than 9,000, but black poverty has remained roughly the same. Between 1940 and 1960, when black political power was virtually nonexistent, the black poverty rate fell from 87 percent to 47 percent. Riley points out that there has been significant achievement among the black middle class but that wide black-white gaps remain with respect to income, educational achievement, unemployment, labor force participation, incarceration rates and other measures. Despite political gains, there have been dramatic reversals in teen unemployment, crime, out-of-wedlock births and family stability. Political power is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for socio-economic progress.

Riley lays out the devastating deal black political leaders and civil rights leaders have made with labor unions, in his aptly named chapter "Mandating Unemployment." Black leaders of the past recognized that labor unions were hostile to the interests of ordinary blacks. Frederick Douglass, in his 1874 essay "The Folly, Tyranny, and Wickedness of Labor Unions," argued that unions were not friends of blacks. W.E.B. Du Bois called unions "the greatest enemy of the black working man." Booker T. Washington also opposed unions because of their adverse impact on blacks.

Today's black leaders have little reservation about giving their support to union policies that harm their constituents.

They support minimum wage increases, which have had a devastating impact on black employment, particularly that of teenagers. Recently, black teen unemployment reached 44 percent, but few people realize that during the late 1940s, before rapid minimum wage escalation, it was less than 10 percent and lower than white teen unemployment. Black leaders also give their support to a super-minimum wage law known as the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. The legislative history of Davis-Bacon makes clear that its union and congressional supporters sought to eliminate black employment in the construction trades.

Riley's "Educational Freedom" chapter details the sorry story of black education. Between 1970 and today, educational spending has tripled and the school workforce has doubled, far outpacing student enrollment. Despite these massive increases in resources, black academic achievement is a national disgrace. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation's report card, black 17-year-olds score at the same level as white 13-year-olds in reading and math. White 13-year-olds score higher than black 17-year-olds in science.

A number of studies show that black students who attend private and charter schools do far better than their peers in public schools. If there were greater parental choice, through educational vouchers, black achievement would be higher. However, teachers unions see school choice as a threat to their monopoly, and virtually every black politician, including the president, backs the teachers unions.

At an 1865 gathering of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass said everybody had asked, "What should we do with the Negro?" Douglass said: "I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us." Later on, Washington explained, "It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges." It's the abandonment of these visions that accounts for the many problems of today that Riley's book does a masterful job of explaining.

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



8 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... What kind of verifyable ass would compare baby rape with the loyalty of a black population to their representative???
Here is a part of the problem...When you gerrymander many districts to be safe for your republican party (though the democrats may do the same;) you have to give one or two districts away wholesale to the democrats which are more than safe, and will never be taken away... One thing you can say about such districts is that they are the way all districts should be... Districts like the one I live in that consistently go republican by a safe margin leave me entirely unrepresented year after year... This representative walked in lock step with his party over Obamacare, and never asked me what I thought on the subject... His loyalty to party was as slavish as a dog's...And then when you find some dirt on a democrat, and you want to see him git out of dodge, but he happens to be black, you rant on the loyalty of a black constituency for a black representative... Do you think the whole bunch of them have not suffered enough of white descrimination, and police descrimination to give their man the benefit of the doubt... The more you pile on insult, and charges; the more they will circle the wagons, and it does not have near as much to do with the behavior of their rep as with the behavior of whites which they have always suffered...
You have to see that your problem is not black behavior, but is culture, a culture that has grown up in the shadow of our own, and is a defense against ours... You don't have to get blacks to act differently, but simply have them forget all the terrible things they have learned at our hands...Apart from being a sign of immorality that they support some one who may be in the wrong, it is a wonderful sign of morality that they support one of their own right or wrong...Your own morality is a slave morality, of identification with the master class, and a turning against your own as though that makes you better...
There are a lot of people who talk about you behind your back... Can you imagine how many people say: Williams thinks he's white, but if he tried to date my sister he would be gater bait... I lived in a small town in central Michigan, and one black teacher was all the system could suffer at that time... I was in a civics class with that teacher when one man volunteered that he had no problem using a drinking fountain after a black, or a rest room, but that if one tried to date his sister he would shoot him...The teacher simply thanked him for his honesty, and moved on; because for everyone who dares to say it, there are many who feel it, and will say nothing...
Forty years later there are many who cannot get used to a black member of congress, or a black president...They should get used to the fact that government is held very much powerless against privilage by the constitution, and that it will take more than a hand full of representatives across the reach of government to change the situation for blacks... The problem from one perpective is that the more government has tried to do, the more individuals have resisted its doing, so it is a wash... To blame labor unions is bunk...The fact that others have done so in the deep past is moot... At the end of the civil war there were more black building tradesmen than white, and the Irish in particular resorted to unions to exclude blacks from this rewarding and demanding work... You must have heard the pun on the old English lie about why they were in Ireland, that it was to teach the Irish how to work... The riddle is: Why the Wheel Barrow was invented... It was to teach the Irish how to walk... All because the Irish were so often seen with wheel barrows, but blacks could do as well if given the right... Certainly there was resistence to blacks in the labor unions, but the labor unions have adapted to blacks as equals in the work force better than any group in society, and what good does it do to point the finger at people long dead who were already fossilized in their thinking at that time...
I was there, and my own father was there to see integration come to the Labor Unions thanks to the government... Some people hated it, and some people still hate blacks... I can remember over hearing a phone call my father recieved... Work was good and he needed a man, and had put a call in at the hall...The Business Agent said: Sweeney; I got a man for you, but there is just one thing... What's that, asked my dad... He is a Negro, said the Business Agent... I don't care said Sweeney... Send him out... I don't think that particular man made it as an ironworker, and I do not think it turned out well at all for him... But in time we got men who were men, and they were trained up right, and could hold their own on their own against any other man... Some of ours relocated to California where the black men were not as skilled or willing, and the business agent asked them to stay, and said he would keep them working all the time... And we had some who rode the union, but we had many whites do the same thing... If you carried the union, you had to carry a lot of dead weight, but we are all carried at some point so there is no sense crying about it... The point is that many people have to be forced to do the right thing to realize it is the right thing, and keep doing it... The point is also that the better class of blacks that my father served with, worked with and knew, convinced him that blacks were decent, civil, intelligent, and needed opportunity for equality... The point is that no one learns to work without a reason, and no one improves their own lot without hope, and those rewards for black excellence in education long missing are missing still...The poorer a person is, the nearer is their focus until those raised in dire poverty have no sense of the future at all, and many are forced to live unconsciously, in an animal state...
Blacks have no reason to look at how far we have come, and they have every reason to consider how far we all might have been by now if everyone were commited to equality, liberty, and justice... There is proof that economic inequality leads to political inequality, and economic injustic leads to political injustice, and there is no reason for anyone to expect improvement under the current system of government and economy... No one beside myself in this whole country is attacking the politcal privilages of the rich, but it seems that nearly half of the people are attacking the political rights and equality of poor people...
My wife and I have a close black friend, and her boyfriend works for the government, and she works in educational administration... In many respects these people are well off, and still struggling, and very often it is to keep up the sort of appearances other blacks would expect and respect... Their daughter is intelligent, like them, and so they stretch to have her in a special school... And it is not the Y camp they send her too, but something much more expensive, and advanced...It is a cultural difference... I think it would be possible for whites who are well educated and employed to be expressive with their money, but if the price of showing you have it is to spend it, at least another generation would have to wait to be expressive... It is a poverty thing, and people poor feel their poverty much more keenly, and so when they do everything right, get education, get good employment, and have one or few children, they want to give their child the best they can afford in education and life experience... It is possible they feel that happy and hopeful children are better than money in the bank, and who can say not???
I am not saying that all blacks are like the blacks I know... Quite the opposite... I do not know more than a handful of black people; but I do know it is wrong to presume any are one thing other than black... These people are as unique as us, and many have had a common element in poverty; but there have been winners and losers among the black population resulting from our push toward equality that was never quite been attempted or achieved... We tried too late to bring these people justice... When we did, it reshuffled the black social hierarchy, and a lot of people who saw themselves as top of the ladder found themselves cast into decrepitude while half baked, lazy, dishonest, and fickle blacks rode easy on the achievments of others...There used to respectable blacks even where blacks could get no respect... There was an easy reparte' between working whites and working blacks that I witnessed...In a word, there was hope... In the sense that integration rewarded bad behavior, and in the sense that equality only made the blacks equal to each other when quite something else had already been worked out in time; it was a vast social experiment destined to fail... So what??? Learn from it, an move on... Do nothing has never been an option...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:55 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney
They have drugs for OCD now, you know.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Phillip Schearer
Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:18 AM
Re: Phillip Schearer;... They ought to produce one for GOP...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:13 AM
While I am cognizant the theme of Riley's book, "Please Stop Helping Us,” focuses on Blacks, I believe the same can apply to Hispanics, as well as misrepresented and unmotivated whites. What I find absolutely frustrating is discussing solutions with my liberal, progressive colleagues—especially Hispanic “leaders”—who seem to be
adversarial naysayers to any conversation.

In discussion or critique, why doesn't the other side listen to reason? How and why do people believe what they believe, or why do they hold the views they do?

Perhaps the answer has much more to do with sentiment and intuition, and little to do with reason qua reason. We were never designed to listen to reason. When we ask people moral questions-- time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain-activation patterns indicate they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later-- only to justify what they've decided. The problem isn't that people don't reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not the real issue at hand. Reason doesn't work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us or anyone to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying acts and judgments to others.

Unfortunately, discussion becomes a matter of who's right not what's right…thoughts that close conversations not open them…people who would rather eliminate others than listen to them…politics over compromise…and subjugation of one's own people for selfish personal gain. Ultimately, the “naysayers” like the “takers” continue until they become the majority, and society falls apart in moral decay and material bankruptcy.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Rick Martinez
Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:08 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney
You lose all credibility when you write "When you gerrymander many districts to be safe for your republican party though the democrats may do the same" and use the word "MAY" referring to the Democrats doing the same.
This shows you are politically biased against Conservatives/GOP/Tea Party (however you want to classify someone that doesn't march lockstep with the DNC).
Comment: #5
Posted by: Mandy
Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:16 AM
Re: Mandy;....Ballshet Ma'am... I don't like gerrymandering when anyone does it... We have too few representatives because the Parties set limits on the numbers of members, and the court let them get away with it; and when there is clear evidence that the membership of the house rose since the Constitution became law, I think we have a right to know why, and for what reason it is not allowed to grow- when that would bring us more democracy...
Keeping whole masses of the population without representative does not do anyone any good... It does the parties good, but where do they get their rights over us, and over our government in the constitution???
If these peoople who on both sides walk in lock step with their parties cannot find any solutions to our issues maybe the problem is the total want of heads working on our problems... Maybe new heads would hold some new ideas...
The purpose of fixing the number of representatives in congress was to make the house manageable... You read the preamble of your constitution and tell me where it says that is a goal of the constitution, to have government managed... I want my government aware, and responsive to the needs of this people... I want my government democratic, but reducing the numbers of representatives naturally raised their price; but the long term effect is to rob great power from the house to make each member relatively more powerful... We want the house powerful in relation to the other bodies, but it does not serve our purpose to have these individual members powerful enough to trade on their power for money...
No ones price should ever exceed the value of their virtue to them... If house members sell well we should increase their numbers until they will not sell at all... Thirty thousand people once sent a representative to congress, and now it is several hundred thousand... If it were you, do you honestly believe you could serve the interest of that many or even know their interests... When you have to sell some law those who elected you do not like, and that those who did not vote for you have to swallow or go to hell over, and yet your voters from your party are to afraid to be without you to kick you out of office, then you have them over a barrel...This having a lot of voters who don't even know you over the barrel is not the situation we want from government... I don't care what you or the next 30 thousand people beside you want from your representative, but you should have it... And I should have from the representative I help to elect... Serving party, and having the population under control is not good for us... It would be better to have representatives in such a ratio to the people that they are positively afraid of us, afraid to not serve us...Gerrymanderarchy is not a good form of government... Democracy is the only true government, and it empowers and protect the population...Majority rule is not democracy, and our rule only proves your country can go to hell by halves... Democracy seeks consensus, and serves all the people...That is why many people hate democracy as a form of government...If they cannot use it for personal gain, it has no use to them...
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #6
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:17 PM
Re: James A, Sweeney...
Mr. Sweeney, I must say that you only respond to articles written by conservatives with derogatory comments and insults to their beliefs. Rarely is there an instance where you add substance to the discussion. In fact, much like this post above, your rant only exposes the ignorance, bias, and bigotry of the left and progressives. Interestingly, little progress comes from your theories, agendas, discussions, or efforts. Sir, I recommend you take a break and do some soul-searching. Your rants leave me questioning whether you have anger issues or simply that you are so enamored to your left leaning beliefs that you are incapable of seeing truth and logic to what Mr. Williams and other conservative thinkers publish. What is most disconcerting is your tendency to attack the likes of Mr. Williams or Dr. Sowell as wrong when it comes to issues of black people. Is this simply because they are successful and more successful than you, or is it a matter of the color of their skin?
Regardless man, I think you should take a break and maybe get into yoga to calm your nerves.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Dan Curtis
Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:55 AM
Re: Rick Martinez;.... I may disagree with your main point, and yet, yours is a well written and rational response...
Yes; Morals are not rational, and it is easier to reason your way out of moral behavior than into it... Yet, morals are what we are, even though they are irrational, and we are generally irrational using reason only to achieve irrational goals...
You see a lot of reasoning on the right, but it almost all goes to show how futile is the art of reason when not motivated by a virtuous morality... The example of the Germans is a good one because these people clearly have a great respect for reason, as their philosophers and scientists prove... And yet, when it came to driving Jews and other undesirable into the gas chambers, reason failed them without a good morality...
Today the Jews say their enemy is hiding behind human shields, but it is simply an excuse to kill humans... Do you suppose that was said of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising??? From the perspective of the Jews it is a terrible inconvenience to have to justify your actions against a captive population, but in an age of communication you simply cannot expect people to go quietly into their graves...
Sir; your takers, those who have taken our commonwealth, taken our resources, who have very often taken our capital, our production, and our ability to defend ourselves over seas have had the defense of the government in their taking, and still do... Still the dispossessed need to be supported even if the rational rich can find no reason to do so...
Sir; this is our commonwealth, and when taxes on the commonwealth in private hands paid for its defense, and the protection of law, those taxes forced it into productivity or back into the commonwealth proper... There is no good reason why any people would let their land, the land they fought for and stole fair and square out of their hands and into private use... Still, if the whole of the commonwealth were in private hands it would still have to support the population, and it is the population that supports and defends private property; but why should they support anything not conducive to their well being???...
Mr. Williams for one seems to believe moral truth, like private property, is accepted fact... In fact, all of these supported ideas like private property must work for the population or be revised... Property no longer supports its rights with taxes...The privilages of the privilaged are supported by income taxes paid very often by people who will own no property because its price has been pushed out of reach... No property could be withheld from the market if taxed correctly, and it is low taxes that allowed property to be held for speculation which drove up the price of all property...
To call people takers sort of mischaracterizes all Americans, for we all took this place, and it is ours... If people are forced into a dependency while their government looks on and offers them no protection, then it is wrong to call them takers... The real takers have taken the commonwealth which was always sold cheaply though bought dear by this people... In private hands property should always have supported the government, and the government could have used taxes to make property work, or force it free of private owners... Consider what is bought with property... Property comes with privilage, and that privilage is what is bought... We have already decided that the people of the United States do not give up the states simply because it allows them under another authority... Just as Catholic Church property used to be inalienable, so is our commonwealth inalienable... Nowhere does property become private property free and clear simply because it is let out of the control of the commonwealth... It has often been shown that what the government needs to take back from the people, it can, and this proves that the needs of all the people are more considerable than the needs of a few individuals...Still the attitudes of the rich are much as the ancient Romans who saw wealth as without social responsibility...The emperors taxed the commonwealth, and it is they who fed the people with the corn dole... It was little wonder that the rich should so object to their Caesars, even while as Senators they dared no think or speak against him...
It does not matter what problem you look at in society, because the rich are responsible for them all... It is not unfair to say so because even now, against a growing resistence to it, the rich are able to exercise real control over the course of government... Only the house was given to the people, and there were powerful checks placed on the power of the people, and the parties which are extra constitutional have gone still further to make the house powerless as an institution... It was always fair for the rich having the control of the majority of government that they should pay for it, and this is why the Income tax was first made law, to soak the rich... The income tax has been turned against the people who tried to use it against the rich, and still the right cries that less than half the people pay income tax... Do they want blood???
The poor have exactly zero control over their government and the only reason the government provides for their minimum welfare is out of fear of the people... Is this fear unfounded, because just a few people very angry on the right is enough to have the whole of the government running scared and peeing its collective pants...
I would urge you to look at the word entitlements, not as a dirty word, but to consider its meaning... The government, and behind that, the people -hold the title to the entire commonwealth...The first Justice Warren argued this point quite well in Johnson v. M'Intosh, 1823...
It is a maxim of law that first come, first served... The Roman Legal Maxim stating the same idea is Qui Prior est tempora potoir est jure... The fast fish notion you may have read in Melvilles Moby Dick is actually a legal maxim... Only if the rich can hold what they consider their property- is it theirs... Though we have the prior ownership of this land, our right to it is only as good as our enforcement of that right... The ability to tax is certainly one expression of that right, but since the people cannot live without their land, it may be necessary for them to take it back from all those who refuse taxation when taxation is simply a rent charged by the people on our commonwealth... The tea party aside; the last thing the rich want is to have these issues settled by the people by the re-capture of the commonwealth because just as with the settlement of the slavery issue, many will die in defense of property not theirs, and the issue will not be quickly decided, and we will be vulnerable while it is decided... We are vulnerable today, so we will only be more vulnerable... Still it would be better for the rich to concede what is already accepted law, that this country is ours, and because it is ours we have the right to use our government to tax it for our support...If that makes you consider us takers, then who cares... The natives took it from others, and England took it from them, and we took it from England except for that which we bought from France, stole from Mexico, bought from Russia, or grabbed in the Pacific... No where is property certain, but its common defense makes it so... What have the mass of Americans to defend but poverty???
Comment: #8
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:10 AM
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