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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
3 Feb 2016
Isn't It Strange?

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26 Jan 2016
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19 Jan 2016
Blacks and the Confederacy

Last July, Anthony Hervey, an outspoken black advocate for the Confederate flag, was killed in a car crash. … Read More.

A Hundred Percent of Nothing


JoAnn Watson, Detroit city council member, said, "Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president, and there ought to be a quid pro quo." In other words, President Obama should send the nearly bankrupted city of Detroit millions in taxpayer bailout money. But there's a painful lesson to be learned from decades of political hustling and counsel by intellectuals and urban experts.

In 1960, Detroit's population was 1.6 million. Blacks were 29 percent, and whites were 70 percent. Today, Detroit's population has fallen precipitously to 707,000, of which blacks are 84 percent and whites 8 percent. Much of the city's decline began with the election of Coleman Young, Detroit's first black mayor and mayor for five terms, who engaged in political favoritism to blacks and tax policies against higher income mostly white people. Young's successors, Dennis Archer and Kwame Kilpatrick, followed his Third World tyrant policies, but neither had his verbal vulgarity. Kilpatrick (2002-2008) went to jail and is on trial today on charges of corruption. Mayor David Bing is making an effort to revive Detroit. His problem is that he's not God.

Policies that ran whites and other more affluent people out of Detroit might have been Young's and his successors' strategy. After all, why not get rid of people who aren't going to vote for you anyway? The problem is that getting rid of these people left Detroit with a lower tax base, fewer jobs and fewer consumers. Fewer whites might be good for the careers of black politicians, but it's not in the best interests of ordinary blacks. Blacks have political control of Detroit, but the relevant question is whether some control of something is better than 100 percent control of nothing. By most measures, Detroit is one of the nation's most tragic cities, and it's mostly self-imposed.

Detroit topped Forbes magazine's 2010 list of America's Most Dangerous Cities. That year there were 345 homicides, but that's going to be topped with this year's 365 homicides so far.

Most homicide victims in Detroit and elsewhere are black, and 95 percent of the time their murderers are black. But far more important to black leaders and white liberals than blacks murdering blacks are charges of police misconduct and racial profiling.

Detroit's predominantly black public schools are close to being the worst in the nation, perhaps with the exception of those of Washington, D.C. Only 4 percent of Detroit's eighth-graders scored proficient or above on the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) test, sometimes called "The Nation's Report Card." Thirty-six percent scored basic, and 57 percent below basic. "Below basic" is when a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level. "Basic" indicates only partial mastery.

Unbeknownst to most black parents is the fact that most black students who manage to graduate from high school cannot read and compute any better than whites four years younger and still in junior high school. Here's a question for you: If we put a group of 100 students of any race having an eighth-grade level of proficiency and another group of 100 students of any race with a 12th-grade level of proficiency in college, is it reasonable to expect the first group to perform as well as the second? On top of that, is it reasonable to expect a student of any race to be able to make up 12 years of fraudulent K-12 education in the space of four or five years of college?

Detroit's social pathology is seen in other cities with large black populations such as Philadelphia, Newark, Baltimore and Chicago. These are cities where blacks have for years dominated the political machinery in the forms of mayors, police chiefs, superintendents of schools and city councilmen, plus they've been Democrats. It's safe to conclude that the focus on political power doesn't do much for ordinary blacks.

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







7 Comments | Post Comment
The fact that that detriot council member even made a statement like that makes me sick. I know Obama gives out political favors like candy at Halloween, but to so blatently ask for bailouts just for voting for someone is the lowest of the low. Detriot can fall to pieces for all I care. I hear nothing but bad things about it. I woulden't even step foot in the city, mostly because I can't carry a gun in there.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:35 AM
That is a shame about Detroit. This makes me feel that the racists are partially right about black people.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Liam Astlel
Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:00 PM
Very sad, but truthful, commentary on the state of our cities and country as well. What is even more disturbing to me is that it doesn't appear that our country desires to turn this around. It seems that the liberals/Socialists/bias media have won and the rest of us are just on for the ride of watching our country continue to fall, like Rome. Our society is deteriorating and that appears what the Democrat Party and really, most politicians, are okay with and even promote it.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Mandy
Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:46 AM
Wow, that's a pretty scathing review of Detroit politics. If you replace the word "black" with "democrat", this could describe any number of large cities today regardless of racial majority or minority.
Where is Mr. Sweeney with his colorful retort?
Comment: #4
Posted by: mark wells
Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:58 AM
More than a city in dis-repair, our children put at risk by not having the opportunity for a proper education shames us all. While I can hear and feel your disgust in your words, I thank you for bringing the plight of Detroit to our attention--as well as the self-serving politicians that make it so. At the heart of all conflict is always a selfish heart.

Even though I am not of the Protestant church denomination, a few years back I was asked to sit in on a Board meeting with respect to how best to deal with a TV evangelist "who had sinned." The scandal rocked his flock, and sent waves throughout TV evangelist congregations. Yet, it was about viewers and money, and only secondarily about the faithful. I really didn't have much to say about this ongoing conversation because I felt it was
self-serving of no real substance. There came a point, however, where I could hear no more--and had to say something...much in disgust like Professor Williams.

When a church is holy, dissension is from the outside; when a church is unholy, dissension is from within. A church will not be rescued from a crisis by the ministers or bishops or religious, but by the laity...the community.

I believe the same will be true for Detroit. We all have Two Freedoms: The "false" where someone is free to do what they like, and the "true" where we are free to do what we ought. The citizens of Detroit must know America and Americans are ready and willing to support them. They, though, must be willing to be free to do what they ought.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Rick Martinez
Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:47 PM
An excellent article, and very well written. The entire country of Australia is on a similar path.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Alex Davidson
Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:20 PM
I don't think the handout problem is a democratic politician problem. It is a politician problem. Consider, for example, that hedge fund manager's income is taxed at Cap gains rates, not income tax rates. They got their payback. This is a matter of style. The Detroit politician made a public comment (How tacky) where political payback requests are typically made in the back room.
I am troubled, however, that you seem willing to write off the citizens of a city because they have crappy, corrupt leadership and gun control.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Mark
Sat Dec 22, 2012 12:19 PM
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