August 9, 2011

No, I’m not talking about the 2012 budget negotiations due to begin when Congress returns from its August recess (although they could – and should – get pretty stormy). I’m talking about an even greater, more disturbing storm, that we may be seeing just the stirrings of in the random “flash mob” violence of African-American youths reported lately in Philadelphia, Chicago, and, most recently, at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Walter Russell Mead in The American Thinker writes of a coming catastrophe involving the African-American community at large as a result of being squeezed from all corners: 1) failed Great Society entitlement programs that have left the inner-cities desperate places after billions upon billions of dollars spent; 2) an immigration problem where, whether it be from legal or illegal immigration, the job market for African-Americans is getting further squeezed, and, riding above all this; 3) the failure of significant progress in the A-A community following the Civil Rights movment of the Sixties; 4) a federal government that has reached its limits in terms of being able to influence social policy through limitless domestic spending. Taken together, Mead writes that these have left the A-A community with a sense of disillusionment, desperation, and feeling trapped without any hope of a way out and a way up in America’s 21st century economic struggles.

Mead’s piece is a long piece but is worth the time and effort to read, although you’ll leave it feeling as disturbed about it as I did. To me, here are the money quotes:

The races are very far apart today; many whites believe that by electing a Black president the country has demonstrated its commitment to post racial politics and they expect Blacks to stop complaining about the past and start thriving in the glorious, racism-free paradise of America today. Many whites look at this Black success, and they think it is time to take down the affirmative action scaffolding that assisted the Black rise. Why, they ask, should the children of presidents and cabinet officers — to say nothing of celebrity offspring — benefit from racial preference in hiring and admissions?

For Blacks, especially those who haven’t made it into the elite, unemployment and the staggering losses in Black wealth during the Great Recession are far more consequential than the success of the Black upper crust. Much of White America thinks it has done all anyone could reasonably expect by opening the White House doors to a Black politician; much of Black America thinks little has changed. Many whites think Blacks have effectively used politics to win themselves jobs and preferences; many Blacks think that Black poverty in the age of Obama reveals how pitiful the results of political action really are.

Meanwhile other factors contribute to the growing disenchantment with the racial dimension of Great Society policy. Growing public perception that sixties liberalism doesn’t work undermines the consensus for sixties racial as well as immigration and economic policy. If, as seems likely, popular middle class entitlements must face cutbacks, benefits for the poor will suffer more.

Bad economic times not only make people less generous and more defensive when thinking about social policy; they undermine public confidence in the wisdom and/or trustworthiness of elites. A national political establishment forced to face the unsustainable nature of the fiscal path it has long followed is an emperor without clothes. Elite commitment to affirmative action and the rest of sixties race policy remains strong — but elites of all races are going to have less and less ability to control the direction of American social policy.

I think what Mead is saying here is the unintended (perhaps, although as I’ve written in this space before, I don’t think it’s unintended at all) rise of the Washington-induced “plantation state” that has done so much destruction to the African-American community. The multi-generational welfare state has bred dependency on the govenment to provide and stifled individual incentive and self-reliance. The decline (actually, the destruction) of the African-American family unit has created untold problems. The incessant increases in the minimum wage has closed the door of opportunity on thousands of inner-city black youth that could otherwise learn the lessons of capitalism and the importance of having a job and earning a wage. The resistance of the federal government when it comes to school choice, condeming black youth to poor education in under-performing inner-city public schools. All of these have left large sections of the African-American community with a sense of abandonment and hopelessness, reduced to being props by an elitist Democratic Party whose only interest in their well-being is their historical voting record.

Unfortunately, the only solution to all of this appears to be getting the economy moving again, but with a White House insistent upon playing the class and race card, and doubling down on legislation (read: Obamacare) and regulatory agencies that choke off public-sector job creation, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. So there is a tinderbox out there just waiting to be lit, and Mead sounds a warning that we avoid at our own peril.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:57 | Comments Off on The Coming Storm
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