October 16, 2015

1084 words 6 mins read

Conservatism Is The New Black

What has 50 years of loyalty to Democrats won for African-Americans?

If you answered “civil rights legislation,” you better look at who voted for the laws and who opposed. (Hint: Republicans yea, Democrats nay.)

Welfare? In 1967 the poverty rate was 14 percent. In 2014, the poverty rate was 14 percent. In the interim, we pissed away $22 trillion on bureaucratic sex junkets to Costa Rica and massive government office buildings in every major city. Maybe the buildings helped a few African-American union construction workers, but it did diddly for poor blacks.

In the meantime, the functional black family is about as common as a Roman Centurion as violent crime, drug abuse, obesity, and intergenerational poverty has evolved from stereotype to standard in African-American neighborhoods.

All the while, blacks held onto the Democrat dream–lies wrapped in sanctimony and sprinkled with bullshit. Smells like Hillary Clinton.

Granted, the Republican Party has seen its share of racists in the ranks. And many early conservatives were (admittedly) flat wrong about civil rights. And, sure, many conservatives today would rather discuss Constitutional theory than solutions to poverty. But the conservative prescriptions for black, urban poverty were right all along, and they’re the only hope for blacks today.

[Tweet “-lies wrapped in sanctimony and sprinkled with bullshit. Smells like Hillary Clinton."]

According to that hotbed of racist conservative demagoguery, Harvard, here are the top five contributors to intergenerational poverty, in order of significance, per Harvard economist Raj Chetty (in Poverty in America by American Enterprise Institute):

Family structure. Of all the factors most predictive of economic mobility in America, one factor clearly stands out in their study: family structure. By their reckoning, when it comes to mobility, “the strongest and most robust predictor is the fraction of children with single parents.” They find that children raised in communities with high percentages of single mothers are significantly less likely to experience absolute and relative mobility. Moreover, “[ c] hildren of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility if they live in communities with fewer single parents.” In other words, as the figure below indicates, it looks like a married village is more likely to raise the economic prospects of a poor child.

Racial and economic segregation. According to this new study, economic and racial segregation are also important characteristics of communities that do not foster economic mobility. Children growing up in communities that are racially segregated, or cluster lots of poor kids together, do not have a great shot at the American dream. In fact, in their study, racial segregation is one of only two key factors— the other is family structure— that is consistently associated with both absolute and relative mobility in America. The figure below illustrates the bivariate association between racial segregation and economic mobility.

School quality. Another powerful predictor of absolute mobility for lower-income children is the quality of schools in their communities. Chetty, et al. measure this in the study by looking at high-school dropout rates. Their takeaway: Poor kids are more likely to make it in America when they have access to schools that do a good job of educating them.

Social capital. In a finding that is bound to warm the heart of their colleague, Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, Chetty and his team find that communities with more social capital enjoy significantly higher levels of absolute mobility for poor children. That is, communities across America that have high levels of religiosity, civic engagement, and voter involvement are more likely to lift the fortunes of their poorest members.

Income inequality. Finally, consistent with the diagnosis of Messrs. Obama and Krugman, Chetty and his team note that income inequality within communities is correlated with lower levels of mobility. However, its predictive power— measured in their study by a Gini coefficient— is comparatively weak: According to their results, in statistical models with all of the five factors they designated as most important, economic inequality was not a statistically significant predictor of absolute or relative mobility.

Brooks, Arthur; Mathur, Aparna; Strain, Michael; Doar, Robert; Wilcox, W. Bradford; Ponnuru, Ramesh; Bowman, Karlyn; Pethokoukis, James (2014-06-30). Poverty in America–and What to Do about It (Kindle Locations 798-805). American Enterprise Institute. Kindle Edition.

The study by Raj Chetty and colleagues from that other Republican citadel, Berkeley, holds existential lessons for both Republicans and African-Americans.

First, strengthening families, consisting of a mother and an involved father, is the greatest gift we can give African-American, Latino, and all other children. Nothing damns children to crime and poverty like a single, female head of household. Nothing.

Second, conservatives who deny the effects of economic and racial segregation are just flat wrong. If you want strong families and strong metropolitan areas, you need strong example families for everyone, not just those in white, middle class suburban enclaves.

Third, the teachers' unions are flat out evil for purposefully fighting against school choice, and all Americans should treat members of the NEA and the AFT like the biggest and racists they are.

Fourth, those who’ve (successfully) relegated religious Americans to second-class status should pay reparations to African-Americans in real, painful dollars. We can quantify the damage done by anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bigots, and they owe restitution to the poor people they’ve hurt.

And fifth, wealth inequality is a problem, and it’s also a symptom of crony capitalism. Establishment political elites in both parties should be run out on a rail for stacking the deck to favor billionaire donors over America’s poorest people.

Look, I’m 52 years old. I’ve heard about poverty in the richest country in the world since I was in kindergarten, and it’s only gotten worse since then. The whole time, Democrats made poverty worse, and Republicans pretended poverty didn’t exist. Both parties failed America’s poor.

Before I die, I’d like to see blacks in America experience a decade of economic and family improvement. Same for poor whites and Latinos and everyone else who needs a hand up.

Just one damn decade of things getting better for the sons and daughters of slaves and of slave owners. Is that too much to ask?

Every American deserves the dignity of meaningful work and the freedom to pursue happiness. Dodging bullets in your Ferguson bedroom isn’t pursuit of happiness, and an EBT card isn’t a dignified job.

In 2016, make your candidates state clearly how they intend to bring meaningful work to everyone–whether everyone wants it or not. And ask how they will guarantee the pursuit of happiness, not just a struggle for survival.