Last week — after President Trump via Twitter had accused Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore of “incompetent leadership” and making a “mess” of his very-high-crime, high-poverty district, and after numerous media critics had responded by hurling the charge of “racism” at Trump — I weighed in with a post titled “It’s About Time That Someone Pushed Back About The Disaster Of Democrat-Controlled Cities.” The post made what I think is the obvious point that when a group of people have for decades promoted certain government spending programs as the appropriate solution to low incomes and poverty in African American communities, and when after decades of time and trillions of dollars of spending the problems of low income and poverty persist and indeed worsen, it is entirely appropriate to hold the promoters of these spending programs accountable for their failure.
On July 30, the often-creative Kevin Williamson of National Review offered his own even more contrarian view on the subject, in a piece titled “Which Party Can We Blame For Poverty And Crime?” (More contrarian than the Manhattan Contrarian? How is that even possible?) Williamson points out that Census data from around the U.S. give no clear correlation between poverty and crime on the one hand, and Republican versus Democratic governance on the other. He notes that the very poorest county in the whole country is Owsley County, Kentucky — a place with almost entire white demographics (98+%) and very strongly Republican politics. Meanwhile, there are numerous examples of Democrat-run cities that Williamson says are “very good places to live,” with relatively low-ish rates of crime and poverty. He cites Austin and Denver as prime examples.
Fair enough. But with all due respect, I think that Williamson is asking the wrong question here. The important question is, what (if anything) can be done by a governmental entity to facilitate bringing African Americans to higher levels of income and wealth, and to reduced levels of crime commission and victimization? Unfortunately, the examples cited by Williamson, including Owsley County, Austin and Denver, teach almost nothing to answer this question. The examples (not discussed by Williamson) of heavily black and Democrat-controlled cities like Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, Cleveland, and many others have enormous amounts to teach on this important question. And what those places have to teach is that the suites of massive in-kind handout programs — promoted by Democrat politicians for my entire lifetime, and still promoted today by Democrats all the way from local jurisdictions up to presidential candidates — don’t work. Indeed, for these programs it’s far worse than that they merely don’t work. They promote dependency, idleness and resentment, and trap the supposed beneficiaries in unproductive lives from which it is extremely difficult to escape. . . .Read More