The Racialization of Deficit Cutting

Robert Weissberg, American Thinker, April 25, 2011

Race is increasingly infusing the current debate over federal spending and the soaring national debt. {snip}

The modern civil rights movement was initially about personal liberty–from attending schools of one’s choosing, to sitting wherever one chose on a bus and being able to vote regardless of skin color, among myriad other liberties. Yes, expanded federal power was vital but intercessions such as affirmative action were, supposedly, only temporary legal steps to guarantee African Americans options heretofore available only to whites.

With time, however, relatively cheap government edicts were replaced by expensive entitlements. Expanding the Great Society’s anti-poverty programs became a way of life. Opening up the housing market evolved from anti-discrimination laws to the right to government-supplied decent housing, and if that option was unobtainable, government would subsidize private housing or mandate (and guarantee) below-market home mortgages. Laws banning racial discrimination in employment were similarly supplanted by government jobs to soak up black unemployment (blacks now comprise one out of every five non-postal federal employees). Head Start replaced the local babysitter and mandated integration became oversize bureaucracies to assure equal outcomes. In cities with sizable black populations, e.g., Detroit or Newark, municipal jobs became life-savers. Washington has also repeatedly extended unemployment benefits, a benefit that disproportionately helps blacks given their higher levels of joblessness. In a nutshell, for many African Americans “civil rights” has come to mean government generosity, a generosity increasingly financed by borrowing.

The obvious problem is sustainability, as debt replaced tax revenue. {snip} Unfortunately, this fiscal predicament is now being perceived as an attack on African American civil rights. {snip}

This is hardly a fringe view. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) website similarly affirms that the quest to escape crushing debt is an anti-black subterfuge. As one CBC member put it,” It is important that everyone understands that in their proposed 2012 budget, Republicans are diverting money from programs needed by the poor, seniors and people with disabilities to corporations and the wealthy in our country.” It is further argued that attempts to reverse ObamaCare means denying health care to many who are now, finally, on the verge of obtaining decent health care. In fact, in 2011 the CBC offered its own budget in the House that reversed some of President Obama’s cuts but it was soundly rejected by a 3 to 1 margin. It predictably called for spending increases for education, job training and other programs to help the poor, to be paid for by upping taxes on the wealthy. The NAACP has recently deplored America’s “under-funding” of education though educational spending has dramatically increased with little to show for these extra billions (and many cities with largely black school populations are among the nation’s best funded schools). {snip}.

Endless borrowing to finance a steady stream of government benefits may seem quite reasonable for many African Americans, particularly those with limited education. It is hardly surprising that after a few years of enjoying a benefit it grows into an unalienable right. Nearly half of all Americans do not pay federal taxes so subsidized housing, food stamps, Head Start and all the rest are “free” {snip}. {snip} African Americans also seem particularly prone to debt, running up larger credit card debts than whites (often double) of comparable incomes (see, for example, here). {snip} Poorly educated citizens in general may also be befuddled with terms like “billion” and “trillion,” let alone the international consequences of excessive indebtedness, so all the dire warnings are just too abstract.

{snip} For many Americans helping African Americans entails a moral obligation that exists independently of fiscal prudence. Further add the difficulty generating private sector employment for many African Americans (trying to boost private sector employment via empowerment zones has proven futile). Most clearly, linking fiscal cutbacks to an “attack” on African American civil rights automatically mobilizes a sizable congressional block of anti-cutback votes (including white legislators dependent on black voters). Resistance will hold even if budgetary hawks like Paul Ryan (R.-WI) can demonstrate that these “civil rights” programs are often wasteful, ineffectual and equally applicable to whites. {snip}

Less obvious, but perhaps of greater importance (though still unspeakable) is the possible link between government cutbacks and domestic violence. Recall that many of today’s programs helping blacks were a response to 1960s urban violence, and they have succeeded. Cutting ethanol subsidies to Iowa farmers is a mere inconvenience compared to firing thousands of black teacher assistants who have few non-government job options. Significant cutbacks here will bring “cold turkey” on a grand scale and expressions like “long hot summer” may soon return.

In the final analysis, the only practical solution may be sustaining government programs that disproportionately assist blacks, regardless of value or costs. {snip}

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  • Question Diversity

    The modern civil rights movement was initially about personal liberty

    That’s neo-con and lamestream conservative claptrap. There’s absolutely no evidence that Martin Luther King cared one bit about “personal liberty.”

    Laws banning racial discrimination in employment were similarly supplanted by government jobs to soak up black unemployment (blacks now comprise one out of every five non-postal federal employees).

    Who is primarily responsible for the non-Post Office wing of the Federal government becoming essentially an employment agency for blacks? I’ll give you a hint: It’s the same President that neo-cons and lamer cons at blogs like the American Stinker worship so much. He issued an executive order doing away with the PACE exam for Federal bureaucrats, thereby removing the major obstacle to rampant affirmative action in Federal hiring.

    The Post Office is a different story. A black Congressman from St. Louis ran the P.O. subcommittee in the House in the early 1990s, and used that position to force the P.O. into hiring as many illiterate blacks as possible.

    For many Americans helping African Americans entails a moral obligation that exists independently of fiscal prudence.

    Outside the Beltway, outside the ghettos and outside certain government-dependent sectors of the economy, hardly any Americans think that.

    Further add the difficulty generating private sector employment for many African Americans (trying to boost private sector employment via empowerment zones has proven futile).

    He just admitted that these “enterprise zones” were big flops. Remember, just remember, dear AR readers, that “enterprise” and “empowerment” zones where the neurological flatulence of neo and lamer cons like Jack Kemp, and quickly adopted by so many “geniuses” in pseudo-conservative stink tanks, and eventually by Republican politicians. Gingrich was big on them.

    Most clearly, linking fiscal cutbacks to an “attack” on African American civil rights automatically mobilizes a sizable congressional block of anti-cutback votes (including white legislators dependent on black voters).

    That it does not mobilize an even bigger and more sizable Congressional block of white conservative pro-cutback votes tells you what kind of fix we’re in. That this Weisberg person can’t seem to consider that such white bloc voting should materialize at all is further telling.

    The rest of this person’s rant seems to be based around the contention that it’s going to be really hard to cut government spending back down to sane levels because it’s mainly blacks that benefit from it, and his last sentence is almost a matter of lamestream conservatism waving the white flag on the whole concept of any semblance of Federal fiscal responsibility because lamestream conservatism hasn’t the racial courage that God gave a snail. It is my contention that the more the black extremists and the CBC keep using that line, the better such budget cutting will poll among whites.

  • Anonymous

    This author is in a state of denial or out of touch with reality that this country will not be eventually be hispanic majority. Once that happens, no more free handouts to blacks because the hispanics will also be in need of those same limited resources. Besides, to hispanics and other than whites, what is the justification for this craziness of perpetual black welfare? For non whites, they do not need to perpetually pander to blacks to feel good about themselves.

  • John Engelman

    From the presidency of Harry Truman to that of Jimmy Carter Democrat and Republican administrations reduced the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. This even happened during the War in Vietnam under the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms

    In 1980 Ronald Reagan said that tax cuts generated so much economic growth that it would be possible to cut taxes, raise defense spending, and balance the budget by 1983, “if not sooner,” without cutting popular middle class entitlements. It was not possible. Reagan’s economic policies nearly tripled the national debt. Unfortunately, the delusion Ronald Reagan fostered persists.

    David Stockman was President Reagan’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981 to 1985. In his book The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, he made it clear that it was never possible to cut taxes, raise defense spending, and balance the budget without making cuts in domestic spending most Americans and many Republican voters would have opposed.

    We can eliminate every anti poverty program, and still have a huge deficit.

  • Wayne Engle

    The “government generosity” toward blacks mentioned by Mr. Weissberg in this excellent column is most often at the expense of White taxpayers, with the implicit assumption being that they are to blame for the blacks’ numerous social pathologies and “poverty.”

    The liberals never tire of beating this dead horse, because as Weissberg says there are always enough Whites who will fall for this malarky — who will insist that we have a “moral obligation” to bail the blacks out of their self-created messes — until the next time, that is.

    But beware of politicians who speak of “moral obligations.” As those words leave their mouths, their hands are entering your back pocket to seize your wallet. “Moral obligation” means, “You’re a winner in this society, so get it up for the losers.”

    And sorry, Mr. Weissberg, but I do NOT agree that we must keep this endless train of special government help for blacks chugging along. Our monetary bridge is out, and it’s going to carry all of us over the edge, barring some hardening of hearts and tight clutching of pocketbooks.

  • Anonymous

    The modern civil rights movement was initially about personal liberty—from attending schools of one’s choosing, to sitting wherever one chose on a bus and being able to vote regardless of skin color, among myriad other liberties. Yes, expanded federal power was vital but intercessions such as affirmative action were, supposedly, only temporary legal steps to guarantee African Americans options heretofore available only to whites.

    —————————————————————-

    “The modern civil rights movement was initially about personal liberty—from attending schools of one’s choosing, to sitting wherever one chose on a bus and being able to vote regardless of skin color, among myriad other liberties.”

    —————————————————————

    Sorry, but this was NOT about personal freedom, Robert….

    It was NEVER intended to be. It was nothing but an anti-White movement, miscegenation and to destroy America and the White race. You know it and I know it. So fess up.

    If this was about personal liberty then may I ask, WHERE are OUR (White) civil rights of choosing NOT to be integrated with blacks, going to schools WITHOUT blacks attending, taking the bus WITHOUT blacks on them, of having our own neighborhoods WITHOUT blacks living in them, of having jobs without having blacks as co-workers, and the list goes on. I am so sick of anyone, especially the REPUBLICANS, thinking this civil rights movement was a GOOD thing! When I found out how the republicans BRAG about being the ones who voted in this ACT and how great it was, I decided then and there, they are not my Party and NOT any friend I would want.

  • BO_Bill

    Ezekiel Emanuel’s ‘Complete Lives System’ advocates a government takeover of health services, and then provides an allocation of public spending in accordance with the calculated dollar value of the individual being treated, seeking an eventual return on public investment. Ezekiel’s system, of course, considers only age, with people between the ages of 15 and 40 being defined as having the highest value.

    Engineers were taught a similar method in justifying public spending on roadway improvements. You reviewed the value of human losses through accidents and compared these costs with the cost of the proposed construction. In this application, age and sex were considered with working age males being calculated to be the most valuable to society in dollar terms. You can still purchase versions of this book.

    Our President talks of ever growing public ‘investment’ in society. In a finaler final analysis, perhaps one day this country might lose the ability to generate endless money by printing it, and have to consider whether it is getting a proper return on its public investments. Or any return whatsoever. Or whether it has instead bought a festering money pit.

  • Bernie

    Weissberg is right. Libertarians (such as myself) often talk about taxes, property rights, government spending, regulation, welfare, personal freedom …etc as if we live in 1950s America.

    But blacks are a larger portion of our society and now run many major cities (not to mention the Presidency, Attorney General …etc). They dominate racial politics as surely as they dominate the NBA. The whites in power in the media, academia, big business, big religion, politics, public schools …etc defer to blacks on any issue involving race.

    The best we can wish for in Black Run America is a slow decline and the hope that they may leave us alone.

  • Sonya

    Recall that many of today’s programs helping blacks were a response to 1960s urban violence… Significant cutbacks here will bring “cold turkey” on a grand scale and expressions like “long hot summer” may soon return.

    Now or later; best now while our numbers are still majority.

  • GWS

    John Engelman,

    During the 8 Reagan years tax revenues doubled.

    The problem was spending more than doubled. The Democrat controlled Congress declared every Reagan budget “DOA.”

    It is not correct to blame Reagan for the deficits when Congress is responsible for spending. Had they actually passed his budgets and allowed the closing of entire departments as he wanted to do (in addition to securing the borders in 1986 as Congress had agreed to do) and we still had massive deficits, then Reagan could be blamed, but that is not the case.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a transplant living in the South. Married a Southerner and got interested in Southern history. Finally got around to reading up on Reconstruction. This Black worship by crazy Whites has been going on for a long time. As a matter of fact, there’s a book called, “Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.”

    One hundred and fifty years later, 600,000 dead White men, and here we are.

    We need to get our act together and fast.

    Deo vindice!

  • TeaMan

    What do you do when you run out of Gravy Train?

    You either give the dog away or you put it to sleep.

    Both choices are tough to make.

    The bag’s getting empty fast…

    TeaMan

  • Preparation H-Bomb

    The ’60’s “giveaway programs” destroyed the cohesiveness of the black family, as it made it easier for black women to stay home and have babies and collect welfare money for each one. She eventually would make more than her husband and didn’t need him – so he of course left to go out and do what he really wanted to do, which was drink, drug, and party. Now, as a legacy, we have generations of dependent people. There’s nothing harder than taking away undeserved benefits from undeserving people and then forcing them to work. “And with genuine alarm at the prospect of work,” is a phrase from AA’s 12×12 — and it describes not only alcoholics but also people addicted to welfare. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have both made fortunes by preaching the “victim and entitlement” consciousness to ghetto blacks. The people they preach to are poor – but they’ve gotten rich off keeping their own people poor. Shows you how much black people really want to help themselves and each other…

  • Cousin Charlie from TN

    Well, are they Americans, or Africans? Can’t be both. They must decide that, not me.

  • ^^VERNE^^

    Isn’t hundreds of years of helping them about enough?

    I wonder if they ever even consider Help Themselves for a change?

    The talk of REPARATIONS, what do they call all the years of Affirmative Action which got them jobs and into schools that they hadn’t earned. I think even one of the most well known blacks would not have gotten what he died without IT?

    What about the 600,000 whites who died in the Civil War?

    I don’t really blame them for their laziness, lack of ambition and foolhardy ways, we have made it easy for the Something For Nothing crowd to exist and expand. Now the crow has come home to roost and it still seems as if way too many white people are afraid to call it for what it is when it concerns blacks.

  • John Engelman

    9 — GWS wrote at 9:51 PM on April 28:

    John Engelman,

    During the 8 Reagan years tax revenues doubled.

    The problem was spending more than doubled. The Democrat controlled Congress declared every Reagan budget “DOA.”

    It is not correct to blame Reagan for the deficits when Congress is responsible for spending. Had they actually passed his budgets and allowed the closing of entire departments as he wanted to do (in addition to securing the borders in 1986 as Congress had agreed to do) and we still had massive deficits, then Reagan could be blamed, but that is not the case.

    ——-

    The Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution has provided charts that document the total income tax receipts and the top tax rates from 1934 to the present. These can be found here: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=213 and here: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=203.

    Unfortunately, the income tax receipts are not adjusted for inflation. Therefore, they are only meaningful within a span of a few years. Nevertheless, the charts enable us to see the relationship between tax rates for the rich, and the income tax receipts.

    When Reagan was elected the top tax rate was 70%. By 1989 that was reduced to 28%. Tax receipts did increase during the Reagan administration. They also increased during the Carter administration. During the Carter years tax receipts increased by an average of $21,610.75 million a year. During the Reagan years this declined to an average of $19,971.625 million a year.

    Because of inflation and economic growth, tax receipts usually increase. They nearly always grow much more when taxes are raised than when they are cut.

  • Detroiter

    Great story.

    In Detroit they started busing backing the 70’s in a lame attempt to get a decent education for the poor black kids in the city. Of course they had to buy a fleet of buses to accomplish this social experiment. They had to hire white mechanics to fix the buses because no blacks were qualified. However, they did hire ALL black bus drivers!!

    Many years later, the city was 90% black because all the whites moved out to avoid the ruined schools. No need for buses or drivers anymore….right? Wrong, they still bus black kids to black schools to keep the union black bus drivers on the payroll.

    Voodoo economics.

  • Michael C. Scott

    There will come a day when the US government will no longer be able to fund this largesse by borrowing the money from China; our own domestic tax base already no longer supports it.

    What happens then?

  • Anonymous

    They say the post office isn’t funded by American taxypayers and that its revenue is generated by the sale of stamps, money orders and other services, yet they continually run in the red year after year so how are they meeting their operating expenses? The quantity of mail they process in this age of electronic bill paying, email, texting, etc. must be continually in decline every year. Ninety-nine percent of my mail is flyers, circulars, credit card offers and other junk mail. I have noticed recently that when I order something and pay for UPS delivery, once the parcel reaches my town they turn it over to the post office for delivery to create more business for them. The post office is an antiquated government agency that needs to be turned over the private sector which can make it run more efficiently and at a profit. I suspect this hasn’t happened because forty percent of all postal employees are minorities and that it is a big employer of blacks and hispanics. In fact why can’t the IRS be turned over to an accounting agency with some government oversight of the operations? For that matter I don’t see why the government can’t turn over much of its operations to private sector contractor and save the taxpayers some money as well as making government more efficient.