Protests across the nation following the murder of George Floyd have inspired discussions beyond just police brutality, shining a spotlight on issues like “social justice” and “systemic racism.”
But the divisive rhetoric on racism serves to distract from the statism.
If I were a racist, I would support policies that negatively impact minorities. Anything that winds up making their lives and socioeconomic condition worse off would get my approval. On that score, big government could serve as a shining example with a record of harming minorities any racist would envy.
The Welfare State
For starters, if I were a racist I would look at the results of the huge expansion of the welfare state with glee. It’s rumored that President Lyndon Johnson bragged, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years” as a result of his passage not only of civil rights legislation but his massive ratcheting up of the welfare state known as the “Great Society.”
Whether or not Johnson uttered those actual words is immaterial; they were consistent with his racist tendencies. Much more importantly, however, is that the results have reflected the sentiment behind the alleged quote: a growing dependency of the black community on government programs, leading to a devastating destruction of the black family and in turn a deepening cycle of poverty.
Poor and dependent people will reliably vote for the party promising to continue and increase the flow of benefits.
Welfare programs championed by Johnson and progressives break up families by replacing a father’s paycheck with a government check and benefits. Nationally, since LBJ’s Great Society ratcheted up government welfare programs in the mid-1960s, the rate of unmarried births has tripled.
This effect has been especially acute in black families, as more than 70 percent of all black children today are born to an unmarried mother, a three-fold increase.
According to 2017 American Community Survey data produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, only 5.3% of families with a married couple live in poverty nationally, compared to 28.8% of households with a “female householder, no husband present.”
In other words, single mother households are five times as likely to be in poverty compared to households with both parents. Largely as a result of the breakdown of the black family, 20 percent of blacks live in poverty, more than twice the rate of whites (8%).
As economist Thomas Sowell once wrote, “The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state.”
Indeed, if a group of racist Klan members conspired to develop a plan to impoverish black households, they could have not done much better than the exploding welfare state.
The Minimum Wage
If I were a racist, I would want to see to it that young black people coming from broken, low-income homes have a harder time entering the workforce, making it more difficult to escape poverty.
The minimum wage accomplishes that.
The economic lesson is obvious: artificially increasing the wage employers must pay decreases the demand for low-skilled workers, while drawing more demand from prospective workers to fill these positions. Low-skilled labor is priced out of the workforce as a result.
History has shown that black teenagers are hit the hardest by minimum wage hikes.
Research by Sowell underscores this point: “Unemployment among 16 and 17-year-old black males was no higher than among white males of the same age in 1948. It was only after a series of minimum wage escalations began that black male teenage unemployment rates not only skyrocketed but became more than double the unemployment rates among white male teenagers.”
Indeed, there is ample research showing that the minimum wage’s origin was inspired by racism. Such historic facts led economist Walter E. Williams to label the minimum wage “one of the most effective tools in the arsenal of racists everywhere in the world.”
Putting the first rung of the career ladder out of reach to young blacks is a great way to frustrate them and push them towards either a life of crime or government dependency. Far too many end up hopeless in prison or in the ghetto—right where racists want them.
Seeing to it that more blacks are stuck in a cycle of government dependency and hopelessness, and packed in close quarters in inner cities, I’d be pretty confident that those inner cities would have high rates of violent crime.
So if I were a racist, I’d want to take away the right to legally defend oneself by imposing strict gun control laws. This way, the honest citizens living in the violent inner cities would have no way to defend themselves against the criminals.
As Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter says, “All gun control is racist.”
Research on the history of gun control laws strongly suggests racist motives compelling these restrictions for hundreds of years. According to the website firearmsandliberty.com, “The historical record provides compelling evidence that racism underlies gun control laws—and not in any subtle way. Throughout much of American history, gun control was openly stated as a method for keeping blacks and Hispanics ‘in their place,’ and to quiet the racial fears of whites.”
One of the top priorities of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War was to enact laws barring gun ownership by the freedmen, making it all the easier to terrorize them.
Today, however, there’s no need to put on a white hood and lynch anybody, just see to it that blacks are defenseless and let the criminals handle the rest.
If I were a racist, I’d want to block any attempt to make better educational opportunities available for minorities. The government indoctrination centers known as public schools are not only systemically incapable of providing high quality education for children, they have especially failed minority kids.
As Walter E. Williams has written, “the average black 12th-grader has the academic achievement level of the average white seventh- or eighth-grader. In some cities, there’s an even larger achievement gap.”
The ultimate goal, of course, is to separate school and state (and eliminate the state altogether). But short of that, we need to shift more control over educational choices out of the hands of politicians and bureaucrats and into the hands of parents and families.
Such policies are highly popular among minority families. Indeed, a 2018 national survey by Education Next found that Hispanic (62%) and black (56%) respondents expressed far higher support for school choice initiatives targeted to low-income families than whites (35%).
Results like this suggest that low-income, minority families recognize the status quo is not working, and they are craving policies that would enable them to access other educational options.
Those opposing policies that would provide minorities such options may not be motivated by racism, but one would be hard pressed to say how their actions would be different if they were.
War on Drugs
If I were a racist, I would no doubt enjoy the results of the government’s failed “war on drugs.” The war on drugs has put thousands of minorities in prison for crimes emerging from the government’s attempt to dictate to citizens what they can or cannot put in their own bodies. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, “Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.”
Moreover, the Drug Policy Alliance notes “2.7 million children are growing up in U.S. households in which one or more parents are incarcerated. Two-thirds of these parents are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, including a substantial proportion who are incarcerated for drug law violations.” The drug war, like the war on poverty, is a major factor in fatherless homes in the black community.
The war on drugs has devastated minority communities, and its enforcement has greatly increased the number of confrontations between police and minorities; which in turn increases the opportunity for police brutality cases.
Big government has arguably been the biggest enemy of minorities. Indeed, an examination of the results of government control and intervention looks an awful lot like something racists would support.
Instead of pitting white against black to divide us, to achieve more justice for minorities we must instead focus our energy on dismantling the state.
Bradley Thomas is creator of the website Erasethestate.com and is a libertarian activist who enjoys researching and writing on the freedom philosophy and Austrian economics. Follow him on Twitter, @erasestate.