Thursday, April 11, 2019
Friday, April 05, 2019
The root of the problem, particularly among black Americans, is the breakdown of the family unit where fathers are absent. In 1938, 11% of blacks were born to unmarried women. By 1965, that number had grown to 25%. Now it’s about 75%.Even during slavery, when marriage between blacks was illegal, a higher percentage of black children were raised by their biological mothers and fathers than today. In 1940, 86% of black children were born inside marriage. Today, only 35% of black children are born inside marriage.Having no father in the home has a serious impact. Children with no father in the home are five times more likely to be poor and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to be in prison.Our generous welfare system, in effect, allows women to ‘marry the government’. Plus, there is shortage of marriageable black men because they’ve dropped out of school, wound up in jail and haven’t much of a future.Unfortunately, many blacks followed the advice of white liberal academics such as Johns Hopkins professor Andrew Cherlin who in the 1960s argued that “the most detrimental aspect of the absence of fathers from one-parent families is not the lack of a male presence but the lack of male income.”Cherlin’s vision suggested that fathers were unimportant and, if black females “married the government”, black fathers would be redundant.Most of today’s major problems encountered by black people have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination and a legacy of slavery. People who make those excuses are doing a grave disservice to black people.The major problems black people face are not amenable to political solutions and government anti-poverty programs. If they were, then they’d be solved by the more than $20 trillion the nation has spent on poverty programs since 1965. As comic strip character Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”WALTER E. WILLIAMS is a professor of economics at George Mason University.