Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Improving the Lives of Black Americans

 2/8/22 Front Page Magazine review of The Black Boom:

The evidence for black success under Trump has been impressively marshaled in a short new book by Wall Street Journal columnist and Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Jason L. Riley. The author of Please Stop Helping UsFalse Black Power?, and Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell has just released The Black Boom from Templeton Press, whose central argument – one guaranteed to spark progressive rage, particularly because Riley is black – is that American “blacks saw economic progress under Trump that the Obama administration didn’t come close to matching.”

Bear in mind that Riley is no fan of Trump and did not vote for him in either election, but he has the intellectual integrity to acknowledge that “racial inequality improved on Trump’s watch, and much of the media were too busy agitating against him to take note or give credit where it was due. Reporters suspended any professional and ethical standards in a concerted effort to take down a president they didn’t like.”

Riley begins by noting that, historically, racial and ethnic minority groups in America that have risen fastest from poverty into the middle class did so not through consolidating political power but “rather on developing the human capital – the education, skills, work habits, and attitudes – that facilitates upward mobility.” Irish immigrants of the mid-19th century, for example, quickly established political machines in cities from Boston to San Francisco, but economically, they trailed other immigrant groups who completely lacked such political influence. An Irish middle class emerged only after those political machines declined in power.

So too with blacks, who achieved significant economic progress not through “greater political representation nor with massive welfare-state interventions,” but when they had greater access to labor markets. Blacks do better when America’s economy does better, Riley states: “What’s needed more than political saviors, racial preferences, and wealth distribution schemes, is economic growth and opportunity.”

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