The Welfare State’s Legacy, by Walter E. Williams

Government has hurt far more than helped blacks. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question. This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there is little evidence to support it.

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure. Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households. But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery? In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery? The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

At one time, almost all black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of blacks are poor. However, two-parent black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent. The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has.

To continue reading: The Welfare State’s Legacy

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3 responses to “The Welfare State’s Legacy, by Walter E. Williams

  1. My own observation of the families of migrants around me reveals that: The welfare payments have encouraged people to risk themselves into being recipients. That is they are no more afraid of having no jobs, no place to stay, so they become reckless and place themselves at self-harms.

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  2. I was a ‘token’ white in a black neighborhood in Chicago, late 60’s/early 70’s. I agree with Dr. Williams. This is not a lot different than what happened to the Native American population secondary to the creation of the BIA. You take away all incentive to move ahead you start to create what we see. Anything for free has NO value and “one parent” families are only ‘half complete’. If nothing else, this offers a lot of support to the idea that women and men are different and different functions in the “Team” that makes up a Family. Good to see you back, Dr. Williams.

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