Acton Institute Powerblog

Acton Commentary: A Racist Recession?

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What’s behind the extremely high unemployment rates in black communities? Anthony Bradley traces the root of the problem to declining educational achievement. “Sadly, because of America’s exploding government program menu, the virtue of ‘getting an education’ has all but been eliminated in low-income black neighborhoods,” he writes.

Read the commentary at the Acton Institute website and share your thoughts below.

Brittany Hunter


  • The facts are very sad. There is also evidence that foreign aid to African countries has been counter-productive. Instead of investing in specific ventures, these programs have funded government-sponsored boondoggles from which officials have easily skimmed dishonest wealth.

    Fortunately, educated black leaders are getting wise to these supposedly unintended effects, led by such wise counselors as Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Alvin Poussaint. The problem: no one can lift you up by your boot straps if you wear loafers, least of all, yourself.

  • Brittancus

    It’s the majority of the–THE PEOPLE stupid–who demand E-Verify become MANDATORY–not the government or many corrupt politicians. Whether the swine flue situation is anything to do with illegal immigration, has not been identified as true. But I do know that we must stop the bleeding of our countries treasuries, by illegal immigrants and their families feeding off it. They also demand it be conducted on everybody in the workplace–not just new hires. It’s outrageous that many of our lawmakers have been brought by the parasite business world, who thinks they have a right to cheap illegal foreign labor. Those parasite businesses should be penalized to the full extent of the law. Enforcement of the 1986 Immigration Reform & Control act should be mandated. Addition Amendments could be added? We do not need another Path to citizenship–better known as AMNESTY. Last one was a travesty of the law, with copious fraud. Enforce E-Verify and illegal immigrants will not be hired. Without work they will leave? ATTRITION is the name of the game! Have questions regarding the Illegal alien invasion and our cultural, language, society and financial consequences. Find the untouched truth of rising taxes, costs, environment and OVERPOPULATION at these websites.

    A blockbuster example is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Economics writer Ed Rubenstein’s new report, “The Earned Income Tax Credit and Illegal Immigration: A Study in Fraud, Abuse, and Liberal Activism,” The EITC functions as a wealth transfer to the poor, while today’s mass immigration imports poverty. The combination of these two factors makes a needless tax burden on native-born American families that much outrageous. The Center for Immigration Studies [CIS] reports that nearly a third of immigrant households qualified for the EITC in 2006. The author says immigrants collected about $12 billion from the EITC last year. Immigrants are eligible for the EITC so often because the United States allows “chain migration,” meaning that foreigners can migrate to the United States simply because an uncle or a third cousin came here several years ago. There’s no requirement that they be educated, literate, or skilled. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation found high-school-dropout-headed households pay an average of $9,700 a year in taxes but collect an average of $32,138 a year in benefits. There’s no good reason why hard-working Americans should settle new mouths to feed every year. We have a rule on the books that those who sponsor immigrants who are relatives must shoulder financial responsibility for them. But it is riddled with loopholes, so new arrivals and their U.S.-born children often become lifelong public burdens.


  • Neal Lang

    “Without work they will leave?”

    Unfortunately the alternative to work has been criminality. Unless E-Verify is coupled with immediate deportation of the illegals, eliminating their work opportunities will only lead to more criminal behavior.

    “There is also evidence that foreign aid to African countries has been counter-productive.”

    There is at least as much evidence showing that our domestic Welfare Programs are equally counter-productive. Pat Moynihan’s assessment of Welfare was correct. If some racist dictatorship wished to totally destroy the black community in a country, they couldn’t have devised a better means than a Welfare System that insists on forcing the father from the home, and rewards promiscuity and immorality while punishing honest work.

  • Tracy

    I think the government should provide money for all low income targeting the highschool grade on programs for career training in various technical careers in computers, culinary schools, media and other 2 year programs. Why not send kids to school or provide money for low income schools. As the comments and article state the government has placed themselves in position to solve our nations welfare. Lets try to prevent welfare in the first place.

  • MaryAnn

    The government does not want to “solve” this problem. It wants to keep poor (eventually, as many people as possible) people, black or white, dependant on it.It does not matter whether the gov’t is repub or dem, they all want as much power as they can steal. Why else would our gov’t pass a bill that prohibits low income black families from receiving financial aide to attend a school of their choice? Because they’d rather have the kids in gov’t schools where they do not learn anything. Government is not the solution to our problems, it is the problem.(R.R.)

  • The example you cite for unemployment has a poor chance to succeed without the help of a mentor.

    We don’t need more government programs; in fact, fewer of them would do less damage.

    Mr. Jackson can get a good suit at Good Will or a similar place. That’s where my son shops.

    The tatooes are more problematic. It takes a long time to have them removed. It also takes a hospital willing to help (there are several such private programs in California).

    The Catholic Church has a golden opportunity here, if it would simply reach out to the disadvantaged. But it would take man hours and commitment to make it work.

    One-on-one tutoring (teaching someone to do basic math and standard English doesn’t require any training), role-playing for job interviews, and simple friendship by a parish community would do wonders to heal those in need. Doesn’t cost money, doesn’t involve the government,BUT it does take time. And that’s what everyone will say they don’t have.

    Bringing in a can of pumpkin pie mix to drop in the Food Bank box in the church foyer isn’t real stewardship. Giving of the SELF is. The latter takes time, discernment, patience, and the wisdom to see thru another’s self-hatred when the learning gets rocky and the rejections pile up.

    Please, we don’t need any more government “help”. We need a firm sense of dedication to people in need who have already been messed over by government programs.

  • American boys and men, especially but by no means exclusively black boys and men, have been systematically shoved aside by the welfare state which replaces them with public aid. The result is a wide and widening unemployment gap between men and women, regardless of race.

    The shrewdest observation about the American working class that I know of was uttered in the film Gran Torino. Speaking for the Hmong community in Detroit, but really speaking for all the people of places like Detroit, Walt Kowalsky’s young neighbor summed it up thus: “The ghetto is where the girls go to college and the boys go to jail.”

    Why would we have chosen as a public policy to discard men? Esay to explain. That leaves the women dependent on the State and damned grateful to it, too. America has chosen to deprive the women of the support of their men, to separate them from the men and make them dependent on the State. Then we attempt to hide the disaster under a wave of immigration, on the theory that if we actually needed to get something done, we’ed just hire some foreigners to come here and do it. I for one am happy we can substitute new Americans for the old Americans whom we discarded. At least we won’t starve, but how could anyone actually justify that as a policy?

    It’s called Feminism. It’s also called serfdom.

  • Miren Ivankovic

    Interesting story and the analysis, but this problem is not new. It has been a characteristic of every recession for the past several decades. We all know and understand that there is always a certain amount of discrimination responsible for unemployment imbalances. One, not to neglect it and place it aside is the minimum wage law, that mainly causes unemployment among teenage black males and females. Education levels are very important, but one variable, that I think the author forgot to mention is the productivity. Unproductive, not low skilled workers lose jobs when economy turns south. There will always be a need for low-skilled workers and such jobs, but if one worker is more productive (produces more per hour) than the other, we all know who will lose the position. Difficult question is how someone increases his/her productivity, or basically, roll up the sleeves and works hard?

  • Productivity is a function of many things. Effort, rolling up one’s sleeves, is only one. We must also add care, imagination, insight, experience, multi-tasking and automation. The behavioral adaptations required for success are largely culturally contingent, and that is why some minorities flourish more quickly in foreign environments than others. The disparagement of education in some cultures is clearly counterproductive, no matter what the economic climate may be.