The Welfare State: Rhetoric Vs. Reality

Thomas Sowell, World Net Daily, March 19, 2012


While the median net worth of whites was 10 times the median net worth of blacks in 1988, the last year of the Reagan administration, the ratio was 19-to-1 in 2009, the first year of the Obama administration. With Hispanics, the ratio was 8-to-1 in 1988 and 15-to-1 in 2009.

Race is just one of the areas in which the rhetoric and the reality often go in opposite directions. Political rhetoric is intended to do one thing—win votes. Whether the policies that accompany that rhetoric make people better off or worse off is far less of a concern to politicians, if any concern at all.

Democrats receive the overwhelming bulk of the black vote by rhetoric and by presenting what they have done as the big reason blacks have advanced. So long as most blacks and whites alike mistake rhetoric for reality, this political game can go on.


One of the many reasons why rhetoric does not automatically translate into reality is that the ramifications of so many government policies produce results completely different from what was claimed, or even believed, when these policies were imposed.

The poverty rate among blacks was nearly cut in half in the 20 years prior to the 1960s, a record unmatched since then, despite the expansion of welfare-state policies in the 1960s.

Unemployment among black 16- and 17-year-old males was 12 percent back in 1950. Yet unemployment rates among black 16- and 17-year-old males has not been less than 30 percent for any year since 1970—and has been over 40 percent in some of those years.

Not only was unemployment among blacks in general lower before the liberal welfare-state policies expanded in the 1960s, rates of imprisonment of blacks were also lower then, and most black children were raised in two-parent families. At one time, a higher percentage of blacks than whites were married and working.

None of these facts fits liberal social dogmas.

While many politicians and “leaders” have claimed credit for black progress, no one seems to be willing to take the blame for the retrogressions represented by higher unemployment rates, higher crime rates and higher rates of imprisonment today. Or for the disintegration of the black family, which survived centuries of slavery and generations of government-imposed discrimination in the Jim Crow era, but began coming apart in the wake of the expansion of the liberal welfare state and its accompanying social dogmas.


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.