White Privilege or Black Fathers - Part 3

Relaxing with dad
Patrick Hall

I just finished reading a biography of the Austrian-born Economist, Ludwig von Mises.  Throughout his long career, he was most attuned to deconstructing the differences between communism and capitalism. More succinctly, he was dogged in pointing out the shortcomings of collectivist, top-down government-controlled societies versus those that tried to adhere to the free market or capitalist principles. In his discussions of top-down government-controlled societies and their dubious effects on the citizenry, he observed that when you subsidized anything, you get more of it.

In the case of the black American underclass, and the ubiquity of the welfare state, we witnessed an acceleration in the breakdown of the black family.

Single-parent households, headed by young largely uneducated mothers, became the rule instead of an exception. Using the wreckage of the Great Society Programs of the 1960s and the calamity, that was the War on Poverty as a baseline, here was a mistake that von Mises and later economists like Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman predicted.  It was thought that increasing welfare benefits via a variety of confiscatory government programs were the key to uplifting these families.  The actual result was, that women had more children when welfare payments were pegged to the number of children they had.

As foreseen, this gave birth to another “intended” byproduct of the welfare state. Even when many within the underclass had the opportunity to get off welfare, the loss in their public assistance became an “implicit social progress tax” when they earned more money. If recipients increased their income, it would cause them to lose some, if not all of their government benefits. As a result, people stayed on the welfare rolls and became perpetual wards of the state. Welfare as structured by the Progressive political class, (mostly Democrats but unfortunately some Republicans) made poverty more comfortable. At the same time, it penalized attempts to escape the welfare state. What was its effect on the poor and the black underclass in particular? It marginalized the need for men. Fathers became optional!

Feminists like Gloria Steinem even quipped that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. This snappy retort was fine in the rarefied air of a feminist conference, among single professional women, or a university seminar. However, it was murderous in people’s lives within an unfettered welfare culture.  This fully metastasized in the black underclass. It made poverty, mediocrity, and a lack of ambition comfortable, if not a way of life. Not to belabor the point, but the multiple $1400 dole out to Americans during the Covid crisis, unfortunately, elicited behavior in “some Americans” that mimicked the black underclass.

The unforeseen effect of the welfare state on the black underclass, as well as others caught in the web of welfare dependency, was that it created or nurtured behavioral poverty within these communities. The welfare state fed a vicious cycle of unwed childbearing and the complement of social pathologies, that seems to be a permanent fixture in far too many urban areas.

Despite all the money allocated to assorted welfare and anti-poverty programs, which sometimes included Affirmative action efforts, they have only managed to make failure expensive, and in some cases deadly.

Although no one dares to breach the obvious, the recent killing of Tyre Nichols, a black man, by five black policemen in Memphis Tennessee, has its origins in the fact these black law enforcement officers were “affirmative action collateral damage.”  They should have never qualified to be policemen. But because they were “black”, that was all the powers that be needed to fill their ranks with the “beauty thing called diversity”.  Diversity and race trumped merit, competence, or even sanity at times.

As a sidebar, the ongoing blemish endemic to Affirmative action was that it also placed an asterisk next to those individuals who were highly qualified for a said position, versus those individuals who were quite frankly hired because they had the right color or genitalia. Over three decades ago, this writer became persona non grata among the powers that be (leftist Democrat liberals,1  both black and white) for pointing this out.2  

If anyone chooses to remember, hiring unqualified and corrupt/criminal black people in law enforcement, was at the heart of the numerous police scandals in the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department during the Marion Barry Administration (circa 1979-1991, 1995-1999). Criminal felons, functional illiterates, and other questionable individuals were hired to be police. They rode in on the coattails of “badly administered” Affirmative Action Programs. If you were “black,” no questions were asked at the time.

But to reiterate, behavioral poverty fed the disintegration of work ethic and the family structure.  In many, if not most urban ghettoes, a dependency class, and the accompanied deviance became the norm. White Privilege, systemic racism, and the neo-alchemist stupidity of CRT had little or nothing to do with why a large segment of the black community fails to take advantage of opportunities that are there.
____________
1. A redundancy in terms!
2. See., Patrick Hall, “Against our best interests: An ambivalent view of Affirmative Action,” American Libraries (October 1991): 898-902.

Patrick is a retired University Library Director. He is graduate of Canisius College and the University of Washington where he earned Masters Degrees in Religious Studies Education, Urban Anthropology and Library and Information Science.  Mr. Hall has also completed additional course work at the University of Buffalo, Seattle University and St. John Fishers College of Rochester New York. He has published in several national publications such as Commonweal, America, Conservative Review, Headway, National Catholic Reporter, Freedom's Journal Magazine and American Libraries. He has published in the peer reviewed publications, Journal of Academic Librarianship and the Internet Reference Services Quarterly. From 1997 until his retirement in January 2014 he served on the Advisory Board of Urban Library Journal, a CUNY Publication.

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