At an out-of-town memorial service for my dear friend and mentor, Alan Schonberg — a business titan known for his warmth, grace and generosity — I saw “Paul,” a man I’ve known some 30 years. It had been a long, long time. Paul, like me, is a black attorney. Unlike me, he is a Democrat, active in local politics.
While introducing me to someone, Paul made some casual crack about my “conservative” politics, something like, “Of course, we don’t always agree … ” Usually, I have neither the time nor the energy to unravel the decades of slop in the heads of most liberals/leftists/collectivists/progressives. But sometimes, I can’t help myself.
I decided to conduct an “intervention,” as one would a friend or relative in need of assistance to confront and overcome a severe drug problem. We talked. I then sent him following letter:
To repeat, the only credible reason for a thoughtful black to stay a Democrat is “social justice,” the premise that Republicans care less than Democrats do about the underprivileged. And even there, the case is weak. Your nonchalant allegiance to Democrats damages the country in general and the black community in particular.
From 1890 to 1940, depending upon the area of the country, a black kid was slightly more likely than a white kid to be raised in a home headed by two married parents. Today, nearly 75 percent of blacks are raised in homes headed by a single parent, triple the rate from that of 1965. Over the same period, the rate for whites and Hispanics have also soared. Blame LBJ’s so-called “war on poverty,” which incentivized women to “marry” the government, allowing the fathers to abandon their financial and moral responsibility.
FDR’s New Deal also inflicted a great deal of damage to blacks. Land was taken for government projects, sharecroppers lost jobs and New Deal money was often spent for political gain, rather than actual need. UCLA economist Lee Ohanian, who has probably done more research on this issue than anyone else, says the New Deal deepened and lengthened the Great Depression.
The federal minimum wage, initially enacted in 1933, also devastated black unemployment. According to the libertarian Cato Institute: “Early empirical evidence attests to the unemployment effects of the minimum wage. … By reason of the minimum wage provisions of the codes, about 500,000 Negro workers were on relief in 1934.” Economist Milton Friedman said: “We regard the minimum wage law as one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books.”
The failure to privatize Social Security holds blacks back. The Cato Institute writes: “A study by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation found that the rate-of-return for African-Americans was approximately one percent lower than that for whites. The result was a net lifetime transfer of wealth from blacks to whites averaging nearly $10,000 per person.”
California Rep. Maxine Waters called the black unemployment rate, then at 15.9 percent, “unconscionable.” What do liberals propose to do about it? Spend more of taxpayers’ money on — fill in the blank — health care, education, job training, preschool. Raise the minimum wage. Increase taxes on “the rich” — precisely the approach that is giving us the worst economic recovery in 80 years.
Social issues are important, but should be fought out at the state and local level. Even on many non-economic issues, the Democratic Party is out of step and out of touch with the feelings of non-elites. Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, remains on the warpath about voter I.D. laws, calling them racist. But polls show blacks nearly as likely as whites to support voter I.D.
On immigration, Coretta Scott King once wrote to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in support of strong laws to punish those who hire illegal aliens. She said that employment of illegal aliens is unfair to America’s “un- and semi-skilled workers,” a disproportionately large number of whom are black.
On the issue of gay marriage and abortion, non-elite blacks part from the “leadership.” Though the Democratic Party passionately supports Roe v. Wade, many polls find blacks more “pro-life” than whites. While the Democrat leadership demands “marriage equality,” a 2011 poll found that 58 percent of blacks oppose gay marriage, a higher rate than the rest of the country.
“Dems good, Republicans bad.” “Dems care about you, Republicans care about money.” Heard it all — and it’s bull.
Can you answer this question correctly? As between liberals and conservatives, who donates more to charity? The answer is it isn’t even close. According to the book “Who Really Cares” by Arthur Brooks, conservative-headed households are more generous with their money by some 30 percent and also give far more of their time.
We talked about vouchers. Obama opposes them, thus blocking many black and brown families from the same opportunities his mother afforded him –Punahou prep school in Hawaii — and that the Obamas afford their own children, who’ve never attended public school. Isn’t education the key to success? Or, as you “progressives” put it, education is “the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”
Didn’t mean to overwhelm you. I expect this to give you an industrial-sized case of “cognitive dissonance.” I tried. Alan would have.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.