After writing the post about the backlash over Virginia Tech’s disinvitation of Jason Riley, I thought I should probably read the book and see what the fuss was about. I found it at the public library. It was an easy read with lots of footnotes. Much of what he wrote confirms the impressions I have from interacting with black people while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. I thought that what Mr. Riley had to say was important enough that I should write some cliff notes of the book for my personal reference. Here are the parts of the book that I found most significant.
- What if there are limits to what government can do beyond removing barriers to freedom? What if the best that we can hope for from our elected officials are policies that promote equal opportunity? What if public-policy makers risk creating more barriers to progress when the goal is the ever-elusive “equality as a result”? At what point does helping start hurting?
- Black social and economic problems are less about politics than they are are about culture.
- Upward mobility depends on work ethic and family.
- Frederick Douglass: “And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!”
Chapter 1 – Black Man In The White House
- The data is going to indicate, sadly, that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic category. — Tavis Smiley
- The political left, which has long embraced identity politics, encourages racial and ethnic loyalty.
- The black left continues to view Booker T. Washington not as a pragmatist, but as someone who naively accommodated white racism.
- The 1965 Voter Rights Act morphs into quota system.
- The black underclass continues to face many challenges, but they have to do with values and habits.
Chapter 2 – Culture Matters
- Though income is the primary indicator, the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelming a black problem. — Washington Time 2012
- The reality was that if you were a bookish black kid who placed shared sensibilities above share skin color, you probably had a lot of white friends.
- The achievement gap begins in elementary school and widens in higher grades. By the end of high school the typical black student is several years behind his white peers in reading and math.
- Ogbu and his team of researchers concluded that black culture, more than anything else, explained the academic achievement gap. Black kids readily admitted that they did not work as hard as white students.
- Another nonwhite group that has thrived academically despite supposedly biased teaching methods is Asians.
Chapter 3 – The Enemy Within
- The New Jim Crow thesis, the drug war was created with the express purpose of re-segregating society.
- In 1980 blacks comprised about one-eighth of the population but were half of all those arrested for murder, rape, and robbery, according to FBI data. It has not changed much since then.
- “High rates of black violence in the late twentieth century are a matter of historical fact, not bigoted imagination”, wrote William Stuntz. “The trends reached their peak not in the land of Jim Crow but in the more civilized North, and not in the age of segregation but in the decades that saw the rise of civil rights for African Americans — and of African American control of city governments.
Chapter 4 – Mandating Unemployment
- “There is no evil that has inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism”, continues Trumka. “And it’s something that we in the labor movement have a very, very special responsibility to challenge.”
- In 2008 economists David Neumark and William Wascher published a book that said, “Our overall sense of the literature is that the preponderance of evidence supports the view that minimum wages reduce the employment of low-wage workers… Moreover, when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups that are most likely to be directly affected by minimum wage increases, the evidence of dis-employment effects seems especially strong.”
Chapter 5 – Educational Freedom
- On average, black fourth and eighth graders perform two full grade levels behind of their white peers.
- Since 1970 the public school workforce has roughly doubled and has far outpaced student enrollment.
- Charter Schools — Geoffrey Canada — Within a few years the students— almost all black and Hispanic kids from low-income families—were outperforming not only their peers in traditional schools but also white students in posh suburbs.
- Of these, 11 find that choice improves student outcomes—six that all students benefit and five that some benefit and some are not affected(1). No empirical study found a negative impact.
Chapter 6 – Affirmative Discrimination
- “The net affect of the preferential treatment, which is preferential in intention more so than in results, is that those blacks who are disadvantaged have fallen further behind under these policies,” Sowell declared. “Affirmative action has typically benefited people who were already well off and made them better off.”
- SOWELL: It’s fascinating… I see this happening on all sorts of issues, from Federal Reserve policies on across the board. You’ll say, “Here’s this wonderful program and it will do wonderful things, and the burden of proof is on others to show that it will not do those things.” And no matter how long it’s been going on,it’s never been long enough. It if failed, there just wasn’t enough commitment, the budget wasn’t big enough. It should have a larger staff, wider powers. But there is never any sense of a burden of proof on you to say—when you’ve made this change that has caused such furor in this country, and has gotten people at each other’s throats, including people who have been allies in the past, such as blacks and Jews—there is never any sense of a need for you to advance the empirical evidence to support what you’ve been doing.
- Blacks as a group, and poor blacks in particular, have performed better in the absence of government schemes like affirmative action.
Chapter 7 – Conclusion
- “My sadness is that we are probably today more race- and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school.” — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas