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.


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  • You will never win an argument with a disingenuos liberal by using facts

    • JohnEngelman

      Most people allow their likes and dislikes to influence their judgment of what is true and false. Conservatives are no exception. 

      Neither am I. Nevertheless, I make an effort to be aware of what I want to believe, and to accept what I wish was not true if the evidence indicates that it is true.

  • 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.

    Net worth as a metric of black and Hispanic “poverty” is disingenuous.  Net worth is assets minus liabilities.  The reason why blacks and Hispanics (more so blacks) have low net worths, even controlling for income, is that they’re more gratuitous in their spending and borrowing (thereby increasing liabilities), and they like to spend their money or the bank’s money on fast-depreciating sort of “blingey” assets.  This means over time, their assets lose value quickly, thereby further depressing their net worth.

    • MikeofAges

      Whereas whites buy cool things like boats and “invest” in idiosyncratic home improvements. Actually, whites who engage in frivolous spending and buy blingy things also often end up broke.

      “The Millionaire Next Door”. The form of wealth accumulation described in this book has declined somewhat at least among white Americans, but it is still possible to pursue it. Unless you are a rock star or can otherwise earn a “rock star” income, still the only way to get rich. Even rock stars go broke. Met one once, now deceased, who lived in a halfway house in Northern California. Does happen. Asset preservation, man. Or else.

  • JohnEngelman

    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.                                                                                                                
    – Thomas Sowell, World Net Daily, March 19, 2012     

    It is worth mentioning that from 1940 to 1960 the top tax rate fluctuated from 81 to 94 percent. 

    In 1960 one third of all American workers belonged to a union. That has declined to less than 13 percent.             

    Until the recession of 1974 blacks benefited from strong labor unions, and plenty of production jobs.  This is not to say that the expansion of the welfare system that happened as a result of the war on poverty did not contribute to increases in black social pathology. The decline in the manufacturing sector reduced the rewards for morally responsible behavior among those with double digit IQs. The expansion of the welfare system reduced the punishment for dysfunctional behavior among those people. 
    In his book, “COMING APART: THE STATE OF WHITE AMERICA, 1960-2010,” Charles Murray demonstrates that these factors have also lead to increases in social pathology among white blue collar workers.

    • The_Bobster

      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.     


      The Immigration Act of 1965 and illegal immigration undid all that. 

      • Why do you think blacks hate brown even more than whites hate either one of them? Those groups are in direct social competition in America. Browns now make more money and outnumber blacks in this country.

        There is a nationwide black/brown race war occurring each and every day in the biggest cities. Who will get the White guilt money and jobs? Who will get all the racial spoils? That is really what it is all about.

        For instance, 96 percent of the stabbings and shootings involve blacks and browns stabbing and shooting other blacks and browns. The gangs are just euphemisms and cover for black and brown warlord and tribal warfare loving instincts.

        The numbers of Whites will decline unless something is done. Browns and blacks will completely dispossess and disenfranchise Whites and fight a race war on our slave-tax paying bodies if something isn’t done.

        • MikeofAges

          Browns when they advance and assimilate also are capable of creating an economically functional community and independent businesses capable of attracting customers from outside of their own group. Important if you want to have a functioning economy.

          When I lived on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s and 70s, the only black-owned business in the adjacent South Side ghetto whites were accepted as customer were a rib joint and some of the blues clubs. Otherwise, nothing. Blacks are deprived not only of personal income, but of the normal recirculation of money which creates locally owned independent businesses and local jobs and economic interchange with adjacent communities.

  • Detroit_WASP

    I heard on the news that black families never have any wealth to pass on to the next generation.  It occurred to me just the other day that blacks can almost never accumulate any wealth because they always lose all of their value in their homes. 

    When whites buy a house it generally ends up being one of the best investments they ever make.   When blacks do it, generally by moving into a white area, then the area turns black, values go down and it turns out to be one the worst investment they ever made.  In other words blacks ruin their own wealth by wrecking white neighborhoods and turning them black.  The irony just blows my mind. 

    Most whites are like me, and when they see the neighborhood becoming more “diverse” they move out and get what they can for their houses.  Take the small hit on the house.  Blacks however don’t do that.  They can’t run from themselves after all and lose far more on home values.   I’m telling you, the irony just blows me away.  

    THAT is the reason blacks are so poor.  Well that and the fact that they eat out at Red Lobster about 4 nights a week.

  • IstvanIN

    Blacks are blacks.  you will never drive a car built by Devontus Washington Motors ala Henry Ford.  Or a PC programmed by Sheengua Brown-Davis ala Steve Jobs. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

  • NorthAtlantic

    Nothing new under the sun:  A fool and his money are soon parted.

  • Black bastardy rate, 1960: 24 percent
    Black bastardy rate, 2012: 76 percent

    Same SAT/ACT scores, pretty much. Same IQ scores and military aptitude scores (ASVAB),too. Always lagging whites by 15 to 20 percent or a bit more than 1 standard deviation. This IQ gap has persisted ever since the inception of IQ testing.

    Public school graduation rates are up for all groups but up less for blacks and public schools in America are total jokes. For instance, 47 percent of high school graduates from the Detroit Public School system are illiterate in reading, writing and basic mathematics. This leads to a debilitating form of illiteracy called “functional illiteracy.” This means a person is incapable of performing the most basic life tasks like reading nutritional labels and finding the best prices, using a map or understanding something like a bus route, applying for a job and the like.

    Nationwide, despite trillions spent, black men graduate from high school at a rate of less than 50 percent. Of those who graduate high school, less than 15 percent graduate college.

    AIDS is a black-created disease. There are majority black cities such as Baltimore where a black woman is more likely to have AIDS than a black woman in Africa.

    Just for starters. The Great Society programs are said to have cost a minimum of 9 trillion dollars and blacks have done nothing but regress. Crack rock and rap music, anyone?

  • Black man’s average IQ score in America: 82
    Black man’s average IQ score in Africa: Closer to 72

    Good luck in the knowledge economy, huh?

  •  I can’t tell if a compliment that awesome is sincere or just somebody screwing with me. I’ll take it as sincere though. Thanks!

  •  Yep. It was all theft and dispossession of the White man. How good is the 5 or 6 figures in college debt gonna look when an H1B visa takes your job? When the plant that you got a degree to manage is shipped off to Mexico?

    My little brother has delivered pizzas with White men who have master’s degrees. It isn’t uncommon for me to get served a beer by somebody with some very impressive degrees and experiences. Bonafide White geniuses are reduced to the stuff college kids used to do in the summer to pay their tuition, which would be in thousands, or possibly hundreds, of dollars.

  • Kurt Plummer

    Exactly.  When the resources become rare and isolated in poor countries, you ‘have to’ stand up a wealth class within them to legally steal what their peoples will never profit from.  The necessity of expanding _the system_ of wealth building means decreasing the economic as thermodynamic efficiencies of that system (more steps in a process = more waste = more opportunities for _virtual_ work product as empty 1’s and 0’s in a bank account).
    Read these alone-

    One of the last tasks to go is the research and development performed by
    professional scientists and the like.

    A recent article in The New York Times cites a study, to
    be presented today to the National Academies, the nation’s foremost advisory
    groups on science and technology, that suggests more and more high-level R&D
    work will be shipped off to countries like China and India in the future.

    Some estimates suggest that by 2015, as many as 3.5 million white-collar jobs in high-wage fields like engineering, computer programming, and research and development could be moved to lower cost locations in India, China, and Eastern Europe. Dr. Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at RIT, believes that this trend is having severe short-term and long-term repercussions for American workers and inhibits our ability to compete in an increasingly innovative and high-tech world.

    We were number two in 2009, number four in 2010, and the recently released World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ranking puts the United States at number five. Who’s above us? Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, and Finland.

    Of course the country that everyone is worried about is China, which moved up to number 26. The Chinese were 29th in 2009 and 27th in 2010, so they’re edging up.

    Do rankings really make a difference? Is being number five after all the turmoil from the financial crisis and the cost of fighting multiple wars all that bad? And for all the fears that surround China’s economic power, is moving up three notches to number 26 a harbinger of eventual global domination? I don’t think so—at least not yet.

    What may be cause for alarm is what’s happening on a company-by-company, more micro level. The CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris, revealed that the scientists working for Dow in China generate more patents per scientists than any other Dow location. OK, that’s just one company, but one research and development theory says it ultimately makes more sense to put that function closer to where products are made—and we all know that a tremendous amount of U.S. manufacturing has moved and continues to move to China. If research and development follows manufacturing, then we’ll see more innovation move overseas.

    These people aren’t innovators.  They are middle men exploiting our system for profit to enable their own bank accounts.  This nation had a 25 year lead across the board, as recently as 1990.  Now we are shipping the rights to control the product of R&D overseas for the simple reason that whites are so vastly better than everyone else in terms of first to start and constant expansion of our technology base that ONLY by fragmenting us, on a class-first base of blue-white-ultra-white isolation can the ROW strip mine our achievements and use them to leapfrog our position of dominance in controling our own fates.
    Never mind the world.  We should _just be interested_ in sustaining the status quo by which everyone else has to do what we already have in controlling our population overburden and developing the kinds of technology which let us keep our position as a society built upon our own shoulders.  We are losing that.  And it will never come back once the final key as -how- to do something (the ‘knowledge base’) is given away.

  •  Marie Antoinette-DocMartins: Let them eat curbs.