Issues

Black Lives Matter? Then Support Schools Like These

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By Thomas Sowell

Ordinarily, it is not a good idea to base how you vote on just one issue. But if black lives really matter, as they should matter like all other lives, then it is hard to see any racial issue that matters as much as education.

The government could double the amount of money it spends on food stamps or triple the amount it spends on housing subsidies, and it will mean very little if the next generation of young blacks goes out into the world as adults without a decent education.

Many things that are supposed to help blacks actually have a track record of making things worse. Minimum wage laws have had a devastating effect in making black teenage unemployment several times higher than it once was.

In my own life, I was very fortunate when I left home in 1948, at age 17—a high school dropout with no skills or experience. At that time, the unemployment rate of black 16- and 17-year-old males was 9.4 percent. For white males the same ages, it was 10.2 percent.

Why were these unemployment rates so much lower than we have become used to seeing in later times—and with very little difference between blacks and whites?

What was different about those times was that the minimum wage, established in 1938, had been rendered meaningless by a decade of high inflation. It was the same as if there were no minimum wage.

In later years, as the minimum wage was repeatedly raised to keep up with inflation, black teenage unemployment from 1971 through 1994 was never less than 3 times what it was in 1948, and ranged as high as more than 5 times the 1948 level. It also became far higher than the unemployment rate of whites the same age.

The relations between the police and the black community are another issue that has gotten a lot of attention and produced counterproductive results. After all the rhetoric and all the efforts towards more tightly restraining the police, the net result has been that murder rates have...

For the rest of this article, check out CATALYST Magazine Fall 2016