The Black Community & Public Assistance

By Germinal Van
March 26, 2019

Among all the communities living in the United States, the Black community is the community that mostly lags behind material and financial resources to achieve a collective emancipation. The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, on the one hand, has enabled the Black community to exercise its right to vote. It has elevated Black Americans from being second-class citizens to legitimate, and lawful citizens of the United States. It empowered Black Americans to cherish their political liberty. On the other hand, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 warranted government to play a much more intrusive and interventionist role in the Black community. The obtainment of political rights has subverted the economic rights for Blacks through the enforcement of the welfare state. The welfare state has worsened the economic condition of the Black community. It is obvious that the Black community has been the most oppressed of all the major communities in the United States (for the least politically). However, since the attribution of political rights would be an inevitable phenomenon, it was necessary for the Democratic Party, the party of slavery and Jim Crow Laws—to find a way to keep Blacks as second-class citizens. The best way to make that possible was to create a system that would economically stagnate the Black community. It was imperative for the Democratic Party to invigorate a system in which Blacks would be strongly dependent because a community that is economically emancipated cannot be dependent on the system. That system is the welfare state. The welfare state has been programmed to keep Blacks in a system and concept of permanent victimization. It is one of the reasons why a large part if the Black community is unfortunately attached to the Democratic Party, but it is this same party that has deteriorated the economic conditions of Blacks since their accession to civil rights.

The liberal welfare state policies have, in fact, dismantled the Black family structure. The economic milieu in which the War on Poverty arose is noteworthy. Between 1950 and 1965, the proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level, has decreased by more than 30 percent. [1] The black poverty rate in particular had been cut nearly in half between 1940 and 1960, and various skilled trades during the period of 1936-59, the incomes of blacks relative to those of whites had more than doubled. [2] From 1965 to 1969, government-provided benefits increased by a factor of 8; by 1974 such benefits were an astounding twenty times higher than they had been in 1965—moreover, federal spending on social-welfare programs amounted to 16 percent of America’s Gross National Product (GDP), a far cry from 8 percent figure of 1960. [3] By 1977 the number of people receiving public assistance had more than doubled since 1960. [4] The most devastating by-product of the welfare state was the corrosive effect it had in the Black community. [5] As provisions in welfare laws offered ever-increasing economic incentives for shunning marriage and avoiding the formation of two-parent families, illegitimacy rates rose dramatically.[6] As a matter of fact, means-tested welfare programs such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, day care, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families—penalized marriage in the Black community. [7] Indeed, a mother generally received far more money from welfare if she was single rather than married. Once she has a husband, her benefits are instantly and substantially reduced by roughly 10 to 20 percent. [8] Welfare programs for the poor incentivize the very behaviors that are most likely to perpetuate poverty. [9] The marriage penalties that are embedded in welfare programs can be particularly severe if a woman on public assistance weds a man who is employed in a low-paying job. [10] The results of welfare policies discouraging marriage and family were dramatic for the Black community. In the mid-1960s, the out-of-wedlock birthrate was scarcely 3 percent for whites, 7.7 percent for Americans overall, and 24.5 percent among blacks—by 1976, those figures had risen to nearly 10 percent for whites, 24.7 percent for all Americans as a whole, and 50.3 percent for Blacks. [11] and today, the numbers stand at 29 percent for whites, 41 percent for the nation overall, and 73 percent for Blacks. [12] Children in single-parent households are burdened not only with economic, but also profound social and psychological disadvantages. For example, Black youngsters raised by single parents, as compared to those who grow up in tact married homes are likely to be physically abused; to display emotional disorders; to use drugs; to perform poorly in school; to be suspended or expelled from school, to drop out of high school; to behave aggressively, and even violently; to be arrested for a juvenile crime; to serve jail time before age 30; and to go on to experience poverty as adults. [13] The lack of paternal authority and emotional stability within the Black family structure is the main factor which determined the increase of crime rate among Blacks. Despite the well-intentioned programs of the welfare state, it has engendered more damages to the Black family than it has helped it.

The liberal policies of the welfare did not only deconstructed and dismantled the Black family structure, they have subsequently incremented Black unemployment. In every census from 1890 to 1954, Blacks were either just as active as or more so than whites in the labor market. [14] Prior to the welfare state policies like the minimum wage laws, Black Americans improved their living standards through enormous productive gains—an impressive feat, given the lawless injustice of the Jim Crow laws. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned policies have widened the racial gap. [15] The turn of the 20th century was marked with reduced foreign labor from immigration restrictions and increased demand for American goods—the North’s industrial economy boomed and attracted blacks away from the South’s agriculture industry, largely due to recruitment efforts by Northern industrialists. [16] Blacks migrating north assimilated into the workforce by accepting lower wages in return for work experience. This pay-gap was surely not ideal but it allowed the average black migrant to experience a 30 percent increase in annual earnings by moving north. [17] Ultimately. Blacks achieved huge gains in wages, education, and political expression, despite the social injustices of the time. Furthermore, the Black labor force developed considerably and, by 1940, the black-white wage gap had sharply declined. [18] Black employment began to be negatively affected in 1938, when Congress legislated the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA), and instituted the first minimum wage of $0.25 per hour. [19] The essence of the minimum wage law is that, it makes it illegal for an employer to hire a low-skilled individual. The law prohibited Black youths from entering the labor market, harming their long run employment potential. [20] According to the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), 16 to 24 year-old males without a high school diploma are the most affect by the minimum wage law. Indeed, the EPI found that every 10 percent increase in a federal or state minimum wage decreased Black youth employment by 6.5 percent. [21] In 1956, a 33 percent increase in the minimum wage precipitated an alarming turnaround for Blacks, and by 1960, unemployment for young Black males had nearly doubled to 22.7 percent while increasing only slightly for young Whites. [22] The reason the minimum wage does not benefit minorities, especially Blacks, is because in a labor market, employers face a real cost if they discriminate against minorities workers; they pay more for labor than their non-discriminating competition. [23] The administration of the minimum wage laws created an artificially high wage that all employers have to pay has the effect of removing that economic pressure to not discriminate, and actually enables a racially biased employer to let racial considerations drive hiring decisions. [24] As of today, the federal government wants to promulgate the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour in 2020. It entails that whatever unemployment that would be created by a higher minimum wage, it will be concentrated among young and untrained, and even those who are ill-favored by the current arrangements. [25] If Congress passes a new minimum wage law that makes it illegal for employers to pay less than $9.00 per hour, and for workers to accept less than that amount, it will further an erosion of the market for unskilled workers, especially Black teens. [26] The welfare state, which was supposed to facilitate access to employment for Blacks, has instead substantially hardened their conditions for obtaining employment in the labor market. That is, surplus labor resulting from minimum wage laws makes it cheaper to discriminate against minority workers than it would be in a free market, where there is no chronic excess supply of labor. [27] Passing up qualified minority workers in a free market means having to hire more other workers to take the jobs they were denied, and that in turn usually means wither having to raise the pay to attract the additional workers or lower the job qualifications at the existing pay level—both of which amount to the same thing economically, higher labor costs for getting a given amount of work done. [28]

Welfare state policies, which have prompted the dismantling of the Black family structure, as well as the implementation of the minimum wage laws—have also invigorated more economic inequalities within the Black community. Furthermore, the welfare state has stimulated more crimes within the community. Studies have shown that children from single-parents families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity—nearly 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions come from fatherless households, as do 43 percent of prison inmates. [29] As a practical matter, the welfare culture tells the man he is not a necessary part of the family, and the role of the young black man is supplanted by the welfare check. [30] At the social level, the black male reflects the domestic authority in the family. The Black man as the domestic authority of the house is the guide, the reference, and the path on which the members of the family rely on. By dispossessing him of his manhood, the welfare state has emasculated the Black man. It has annihilated his authority, and has indeed destroyed its self-esteem because it has made him dependent of its [welfare] system. Being dependent obviously signifies the loss of autonomy. By making the Black man an individual dependent on public assistance, the welfare state has indeed deprived him of all his responsibilities which determine his authority. Moreover, as the Black becomes dependent on public assistance, he subsequently becomes a social waste, a useless element of society who does not contribute to human capital nor to the productivity of wealth. The goals of the welfare state were not initially to dismantle the Black community, but the in its quest to expand its administrative power over the masses, and particularly; the government has used the welfare state to implement policies that have produced outcomes which have led to economic, political and social stagnation within the Black community. The government has continuously used the welfare state to keep the poorest under its control. Blacks may have the right to vote, and other forms of political rights, but their dependence on the welfare state proves that they are still maintained as second-class citizens in American society. The worst of all is that the Black community has always been conditioned by the fact that having a Black individual as a political figure, or holding an important political office will bring them economic salvation. For example, the majority of Black community thought that President Obama, as being the first Black individual to have become President of the United States, would improve their living conditions. They believed that President Obama would bring them the economic liberation and independence they had been waiting for ages. Obviously, this expectation has been misleading for the Black community. To illustrate my point, there are two factors upon which the Obama administration held back economic progress for Blacks: a lack of jobs in inner cities and poor educational opportunities. [31] Under the Bush administration, Black unemployment was at 9.7 percent, and under the Obama administration, this number became double-digit. It rose to 15.6 percent. [32] And the reason why the percent rose in Black unemployment is because of the rise of the minimum wage law. The educational policies of the Obama administration have reduced most school choice program for Blacks. Obama’s educational policies limited the choice for Blacks to choose the adequate education they wanted for their children, which made the government deciding for them what is better for their children.

It is not because a politician belongs to a certain community that he is necessarily the providential man who will bring salvation to his community. And it was the case with President Obama. Salvation is, in fact, a personal feature of the human condition that strictly belong to the individual himself. And the reason why salvation is a personal feature of the human condition is because human beings are stimulated by their own self-interest, which is a completely natural element and phenomenon of any civilized society. For economic salvation to be the quintessential factor of the emancipation of the Black community, it is first and foremost important to reconstruct the Black family structure. Adjunctively, economic prosperity can only occur within the Black community if each member of the community pursues his own interest because the pursuit of one’s self-interest involuntarily contribute to the economic growth of society. Furthermore, each member of the Black community should maximize on his skills and abilities to produce wealth. As previously noted, the accentuation of talent and skills of everyone stimulates human capital as well as the production of wealth because everyone concentrates on the task where it performs the best. Black people are no less intelligent nor less skillful than Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, or Arabs. What they need to do is simply not to rely on government means-tested programs, but to rely on obtaining a good education in order to acquire the necessary skills that would strengthen their potentiality and would make them more competitive in the labor market. So long as one depends on government assistance, he or she will remain economically unproductive and stagnated. That is the law of the welfare dependency.

  1. Perazzo, John, “How The Liberal Welfare Destroyed Black America: What Democrat Voters And Political Leaders Refuse To Believe”, FrontPage Magazine, May 5, 2016, Article. Web.
  2. Perazzo, Ibid.
  3. Perazzo, Ibid.
  4. Perazzo, Ibid.
  5. Perazzo, Ibid.
  6. Perazzo, Ibid.
  7. Perazzo, Ibid.
  8. Perazzo, Ibid.
  9. Perazzo, Ibid.
  10. Perazzo, Ibid.
  11. Perazzo, Ibid.
  12. Perazzo, Ibid.
  13. Perazzo, Ibid.
  14. Williams, Walter E., “ The Welfare State’s Legacy”, Creators Syndicate, September 20, 2007, Article. Web.
  15. Philipps, Grants, “US History Shows The Minimum Wage Has Harmed The Black Community”, Panam Post, March, 28, 2016, Article. Web.
  16. Phillips, Ibid.
  17. Philipps, Ibid.
  18. Philipps, Ibid.
  19. Philipps, Ibid.
  20. Philipps, Ibid.
  21. William, E. Even, David A. Macpherson, “Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases”, Employment Policies Institute, May 2011. Policy Research.
  22. Garthwaite, Craig, “Minimum Increase Hurts Low-Income Families”, Employment Policies Institute, May 2005, Article. Web.
  23. Poper, Rob, “High Minimum Wages Were Designed To Hurt Minorities”, Ethan Allen Institute, October 5, 2018, Article. Web.
  24. Poper, Ibid.
  25. Poper, Ibid.
  26. Poper, Ibid.
  27. Perry, Mark, “Thomas Sowell on the differential impact of the minimum wage,” American Enterprise Institute, May 31, 2016, Article. Web.
  28. Perry, Ibid.
  29. Tanner, Michael D., ”Relationship Between The Welfare State and Crime”, Cato Institute, June 7, 1995, Article. Web.
  30. Tanner, Ibid.
  31. Moore, Stephen, “Why Trump is better for Black America than Obama ever was”, The Hill, August 15, 2017, Opinion.
  32. Mitchell, Daniel J. “Obama’s Failure On Jobs: Four Damning Charts”, Forbes, September 6, 2011, Article. Web.