Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Whatever We've Tried Hasn't Worked

It’s good to see someone throw some good old American pragmatism into the current national delirium about race relations. 

As Lisa Schiffren watches the chaos and the incoherence she has drawn the only sensible conclusion: whatever we have tried-- to repair race relations and to improve the lives of black Americans-- it hasn’t worked. The social programs have not worked. The welfare programs have not worked. The affirmative action and diversity programs have not worked. I would add, electing the first black president has not worked. America can pat itself on the back for that old college try, but its good intentions have not worked.

Schiffren explains:

For the past 65 years, since the start of the Great Society, we have seen nothing if not a mighty river of demonstration projects, programs, and policies to fix what ails the black community. Since 1965, we have spent upwards of $15 trillion on the War on Poverty. Surely there are successes that communities can use.

That’s real money. Some might even call it “reparations,”

She begins with Aid for Families with Dependent Children, aka welfare. By all appearances it has served to destroy the black family and to produce an unseemly number of single parent households. If the program did not actively destroy families, it certainly did not cause them to stay together:

It paid some bills but had some unintended consequences: It destroyed the black family, by making men and their role as father and income provider unnecessary. No one, including conservative think tanks, black ministers, and devotees of the late HUD Secretary Jack Kemp managed to figure out how to restore marriage before childbearing. When rates reach 69% (higher in many cities), there is no coming back.

How about more public housing?

 Public housing is part of the problem, and it is hard to escape. Moving it to the suburbs, as the Obama administration tried to do, brings crime with the Section 8 vouchers. But sure, rebuild the soon-to-open $30 million affordable housing project that was burned in the Minneapolis riots.

Black Lives Matter is not militating for public housing. It is militating for justice. It is making crime the problem. In some sense, this is true. In another sense, the high incidence of black crime is an embarrassment to the community. Since it seems unthinkable to recommend that blacks commit fewer crimes, the solution seems to be: to decriminalize crime, to open the doors of the prisons, to refuse to prosecute, to blame the white police. Presto-- less crime.

And yet, BLM is making it impossible not to associate black people with crime. Let’s imagine that the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd is convicted. We all hope for that outcome. What will that change for black schoolchildren? Will it improve their ability to do algebra?

How about improved education? Schiffren continues:

Head Start failed to show lasting improvement. Ending segregated schools helped, for a while. In the end, public education became indoctrination in various leftist precepts, especially the corrosive identity politics now destroying society. Teachers unions did extremely well, especially in cities such as New York and Chicago. But inner-city children don’t get educations that qualify them to be good citizens or good job candidates. The travesty of Common Core dumbed down everyone, black and white.

How about diversity programs like affirmative action? As Shelby Steele pointed out some two decades ago, such programs create an assumption that all minority candidates got their degrees or their jobs through diversity programs. That means-- they were not playing by the same rules or being judged by the same standards. This places an asterisk next to their achievements. Clearly, blacks know this, far better than most. But if you try to solve it by eliminating diversity programs, you had best run for cover.

Schiffren explains:

Would more affirmative action work? The original idea made sense: Elite universities would recruit smart black students to create a black professional class which could join the establishment, get its fair share of spoils, and provide leadership to the black community. That worked, a little. Look at the Obama administration. Ultimately though, we got a plethora of African American studies and sociology majors, who become community organizers and join unproductive, unhelpful groups.

Unproductive, unhelpful groups like… Black Lives Matter.

How about more jobs programs? Keep in mind the job market for minorities was the best it has ever been, until the coronavirus hit our shores. The Trump administration had helped engineer more, better jobs for blacks in the private sector, so naturally the protest movement wants to rid the nation of the Trump administration.

As for public sector jobs, Schiffren explains:

Public jobs are always touted as a new Civilian Conservation Corp, building tunnels and hot springs. In reality, a bunch of kids sit around learning bad work habits in make-work settings. The teachers get paid, though. In fact, all of these programs divert government money to the black middle class, which administers and runs them. In the big picture, nothing changes.

As it happens, black owned businesses count among the worst casualties of the rioting, looting and pillaging. Now, BLM wants to defund the police, the better to ensure that these businesses will never come back. Can you become more intellectually incoherent?

Schiffren concludes:

As for the police, jobs are easier to come by when businesses can open and are safe from looters — which is why we need more police, instead of defunding them.

Besides, all the research shows the fewer police mean more crime-- especially in minority communities. Now tell me that Black Lives Matter.


Sam L. said...

"It paid some bills but had some unintended consequences: It destroyed the black family, by making men and their role as father and income provider unnecessary. No one, including conservative think tanks, black ministers, and devotees of the late HUD Secretary Jack Kemp managed to figure out how to restore marriage before childbearing. When rates reach 69% (higher in many cities), there is no coming back."

As I recall, this money only went to single mothers. If there was a father in the house, NO money. So, naturally, the fathers had to leave.

trigger warning said...

As I read this excellent piece, I was reminded of one of the most racist Proglodyte notions of my lifetime: Midnight Basketball (that's no dog whistle, that's an air horn). Imagine if someone offered Midnight Watermelon! :-D

Midnight Basketball was so innovatively racist it was funded by the same '94 Crime Bill that "No Malarkey" Joe is so famous for.

Giordano Bruno said...

Here is a deeply unpleasant idea? What if some groups are further along a path than other groups, and that some groups need or require a different form of discipline than other groups? What if these groups are divergent? What if we have accepted a whole series of false premises just because we find them pleasing and comforting, but they are not true at all?

The good intentions paving company rolls on, and right now, it needs to take a detour and run over Lisa Schiffrin's career. She will pay for this insolence. Right now, teams of AI hit queries are searching for everything she ever did or said to get leverage against her.

The crime bill of 1994 reflected some understanding of these differences between groups; that is why it was so effective. It accepted a closer blueprint to reality because in 1994 people were more moored in actual reality. Things have changed.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action did help some blacks move into the professional classes. They moved to the suburbs to escaped the crime. You can't blame them for that but the black inner city lost its role models and what should have been its leadership.