4/21/13 Fat Cats and Racists, Part Three
“White liberals are the most racist people there are, because they put blacks in a box and insist that they think one way — and if they don’t, they attack them as illegitimate, all the while denying that their policies destroy blacks.” Dr. Ben Carson
“If I have learned one thing from life, it is that race is the engine that drives the political Left.” Ward Connerly
How do you define “racism”? This is not a trivial question. As discussed in my last article, racism has become an essential weapon in the Democratic Party’s arsenal, and it has also become a big industry in America.
How many people, for example, would lose their jobs if the Almighty made us all one race tomorrow? Hundreds in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for sure, hundreds more at the Labor Department’s EEOC, and thousands more around corporate America as all those “diversity” personnel jobs go POOF!
A cynic — or maybe a realist– would say that since so many people have a vested interest in “racism”, it is with us to stay, in spite of what the Almighty might do, or in spite of whatever the reality of racism is.
I was reminded of all this last February when HUD issued a rule “clarifying” when certain practices may violate the Fair Housing Act as a result of discriminatory effect, even when there is no evidence of discriminatory intent.
This is called “disparate impact“, where racism is alleged to exist even when nobody knows it does. Disparate impact as a legal concept has been around for 40 years or so. It is an attempt to weed out standards that unknowingly discriminate against minorities, women, etc. It is usually associated with employment and housing issues, but is rapidly spreading to every area of the law.
Thomas Sowell has said of it: “In the legal system, ‘disparate impact’ dogma has been a gold mine for the race industry.”
In essence, if you have standards that determine to whom you will lend money to buy a house, or standards that must be met before you rent an apartment, or standards required for a job you are trying to fill, etc., you had better be able to justify those standards as essential to the task at hand if those rules result in a disparate impact on blacks, women, short people, whomever, as determined by numerical, or statistical outcomes.
As you can imagine, things get a little subjective in the real world, where somebody will question the need for fire fighters to be able to carry 50 pounds up five flights, or whether a 60 on a test is really required when maybe a 50 would be good enough. The burden of proof in these cases is on the defendant, contrary to normal legal practice.
The Supreme Court is long overdue to decide on disparate impact and may do so in the near future. In the meantime, if you think this is a lawyer’s dream, you’re right. If you think many corporations and other effected groups just say “To Hell with it”, and go with quotas to avoid lawsuits, you’re right. Gosh, I wonder which party gets BIG money from lawyers? It isn’t the Libertarian Party.
You’re probably saying, “OK, Burro, what does all this have to do with defining racism?” Well, about the time HUD came out with their “clarified” disparate impact rules, Congress and various states, New York and New Mexico among them, were emoting about the need to raise the minimum wage.
A New York Post editorial spotted a connection. The Post cited a study showing for each 10 percent hike in the minimum wage, white teens with no high school degree experienced a 2.5 percent drop in employment, and black teens a 6.5 percent drop, The Post went on to say, that since New York was proposing a 24 percent hike in the minimum, that would mean employment will fall 6 percent for young whites, but 15 percent for young blacks.
The Post then asked: “Why isn’t the New York Civil Liberties Union suing on the grounds of blatantly disparate impact of any minimum wage hike?”
A cynic might say they aren’t suing because disparate impact only applies, by definition, to unintentional acts of discrimination. The disparate impact of minimum wage laws on black teenagers has been well known for at least 40 years.
In an earlier article, “Increasing Teenage Unemployment, Especially Black Teens”, I quoted Milton Friedman from an interview in 1973: “I‘ve often said the minimum wage rate is the most anti-Negro law on the books.”
What has changed in 40 years? Nothing. Last month, Bloomberg News reported that while overall unemployment fell to 7.7 percent in February, black teenage unemployment rose to 43.1 percent. It was 28.9 percent in November, 2007 at the start of the recession. Overall teen unemployment last February was “only” 25.1 percent.
So, back to the question: How do you define “racism”? It used to be a term connoting malevolence, but today it can mean only a statistical deviation from what someone thinks should be the norm. Of course, anybody who opposes any liberal position is in danger of being called a racist. For a recent example, from The Daily Caller last April 1: “The Student Government Association at John Hopkins University has denied official recognition to a group of pro-life students, and one SGA leader privately equated them with white supremacists.”
Considering the statistical breakdown of abortions by race, it is obvious that in this case statistics were ignored, something all of us are prone to do when the facts don’t match our opinions.
Consequently, even if you unknowingly advocate policies that severely disadvantage certain groups of minorities, in this case black teenagers, don’t be surprised if somebody accuses you of racism. If this is an unintended consequence, a “disparate impact“, of minimum wage laws, than people of good will should do something about it.
While most people support minimum wage laws, most people don’t pay much attention to economics, either. I would bet that if people knew how harmful minimum wage laws are to teenagers, especially black teenagers, they would favor a reduced or eliminated minimum wage for those under 19 or 20.
Ignorance is no excuse, however, for the leaders and economic advisors of both the Democratic and Republican Parties, yet both parties have supported increasing the minimum wage level, time and time again. Why?
In my opinion, the Democrats push minimum wage laws because such laws are popular, and they’ve convinced their supporters, including the black community, that minimum wage laws are a way the government can help the poor. In fairness, a great many elected officials of both parties actually believe this.
It’s bad economics, but good politics. The Republicans usually go along because they’re afraid they will be cast as uncaring, or, even worse, as racists!
Somebody should be screaming to high Heaven about the racial effect of these moronic minimum wage laws, politics be damned, because it would be the right thing to do. And it’s not just minimum wage laws that have harmed the blacks of America. The liberal policies of the last 50 years have done egregious harm, and the voices of protest have been far too feeble, especially from the Republicans.
Here’s what Thomas Sowell once wrote: “No segment of the population has lost more by the agendas of the liberal constituencies of the Democratic Party than the black population. — Yet the Republicans have never articulated that argument, and their opportunism in trying to get black votes by becoming imitation Democrats has failed miserably for decades on end.”
And it still fails.
Readers who wish to know more about disparate impact are referred to Thomas Sowell’s “Intellectuals and Race”, Basic Books, 2013, pp. 131 -136. For a recent article supporting disparate impact, Google: ProPublica Nikole Hannah-Jones Fair Housing. A guest editorial opposing disparate impact appeared in the Wall Street Journal 2/25/13. Google: Roger Clegg: How Not to Fight Discrimination.
For a concise review of the effects wage laws have had on minorities, go to “Race & Economics”, Walter E. Williams, Hoover Institution Press, 2011, Ch. 3; Also, Sowell, ibid, pp. 95-96.
For a comprehensive look at defining racism, Sowell, ibid pp. 93-95