Last week I cited a number of articles about the Baltimore riots:
- Baltimore: a perspective
- A grim reminder, courtesy of the Baltimore riots
- Don't rely on the police for protection
- "A race war in slow motion"
- "Baltimore and the Betrayal of Black Dignity"
I've been reading the developing reactions to the situation there with interest. One of the most disturbing aspects, from my point of view, is the number of talking heads who are demanding or proclaiming that "the government" must do something to fix the problem - completely ignoring the fact that the government actually created the problem in the first place! For example, in the New York Times we read:
In regard to black youth, the government must begin the chemical detoxification of ghetto neighborhoods in light of the now well-documented relation between toxic exposure and youth criminality. Further, there should be an immediate scaling up of the many federal and state programs for children and youth that have been shown to work: child care from the prenatal to pre-K stages, such as Head Start and the nurse-family partnership program; after-school programs to keep boys from the lure of the street and to provide educational enrichment as well as badly needed male role models; community-based programs that focus on enhancing life skills and providing short-term, entry-level employment; and continued expansion of successful charter school systems.
There's more at the link.
The NYT article ignores the reality that all those programs have been in existence, and funded to the tune of billions of dollars, for decades. Remember Einstein's famous definition? "Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The author is calling for yet more money to be poured into the same bottomless pits. That's insane!
I've cited the 1965 Moynihan Report in these pages before. I was pleased to see that the Economist built its article about the Baltimore riots around the Report's findings.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of a bold and controversial attempt to explain what has gone wrong in America’s inner cities: Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”. Moynihan, then a bureaucrat in the Department of Labour, made two main points. First, he argued that the lingering effects of two centuries of slavery had undermined the black family—at the time, 25% of black babies were born to unmarried mothers. Second, he argued that family instability was at the root of many other problems, from crime to poverty.
Fifty years later, black America still fares badly on many of the predictors of success and signals of distress that concerned Moynihan. If it were a separate country, it would have a worse life expectancy than Mexico, a worse homicide rate than Ivory Coast and a higher proportion of its citizens behind bars than anywhere on earth. This is despite the fact that, overall, America is home to the richest, most successful population of black African descent that the world has ever seen.
America is also far less racist than it was in Moynihan’s day, when interracial marriage was still illegal in 19 states. Now it has a black president—who won more of the white vote in 2008 than John Kerry, a white Democrat, won in 2004. The census form today allows people to identify themselves as white and black, too. In 2010 over 2m did so, breaking through the thickest wall in American history with a few strokes of a pen.
Yet an updated Moynihan report would also have to acknowledge the prescience of that tall white Irishman. The proportion of African-American babies born outside marriage has nearly tripled since 1965, to 71%. Though the crime rate has fallen across the country in the past two decades, casting some doubt on Moynihan’s link between single-parenting and disorder, black Americans are still eight times more likely to be murdered than whites and seven times more likely to commit murder, according to the FBI. An incredible one-third of black men in their 30s have been in prison. Blacks are also less likely to graduate from college than whites, and less socially mobile.
Again, more at the link. The Economist also offers suggestions for how to improve the situation.
I think the late Senator Moynihan's report was prophetic (albeit without honor - at the time - in his own country). The problem lies inside the culture of the Black community. That poisonous culture has been subsidized and given preferential treatment by agencies of local, state and federal government, who've poured taxpayer dollars into creating, sustaining and abetting it. Unless and until that changes, and responsibility for one's life is once again seen as an individual thing rather than a collective, statist thing, I don't see any improvement in sight.