The Welfare State Did What Slavery Couldn’t Do

Mises Institute

The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do….And that is to destroy the black family. –Walter E. Williams, the Wall Street Journal

On August 14, the Commission on Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act was signed into law. It establishes a nineteen-member panel within the Commission on Civil Rights to examine social problems that disproportionately affect black males.

The act is a conscious response to the death of George Floyd, with the opening section of the bill being subtitled the “George Floyd and Walter Scott Notification Act.” Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Walter Scott died on April 4, 2015, after being shot by a white police officer who had stopped him for a broken brake light. Both have become symbols of police brutality against black males. Invoking them indicates that the new commission will focus on the disparity with which law enforcement and the court system treat black males.

Any spotlight shone on the neglected problem of discrimination against males deserves applause. Higher education is often used to illustrate how far the pendulum has swung from several decades ago, when discrimination against women was rife. A February 1 article in Forbes, “The Collegiate War against Males,” commented on the recent decline in college enrollment. “Most of that fall…is concentrated among men. Between 2015 and 2019…the number of men on campuses declined by 691,643, almost double the smaller fall among women, 348,955. In percentage terms, the male decline of 8.34% was far more than double that among women, 3.18%….In 2015, there were 32% more women than men, but now the differential is nearly 40%.” From family courts to the handling of sexual violence, from protective laws for women to harsh prison sentencing for men, the government unjustly advantages one gender over the other instead of treating all individuals equally under the same law.

The Commission on Social Status of Black Men and Boys is not likely to increase justice, however; it may well damage the cause it seems to champion.

There is reason for skepticism. A DC Commission on Black Men and Boys was established in 2001 by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who also cochairs the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. Predictably, Norton applauds the new act, because it “mandates government action to help improve the condition of African-American men and boys.” There are two takeaways from her comment: government will become more deeply involved in directing the lives of black males, and two decades of activity by the first commission has accomplished little.

The government mandate is unfortunate, for several reasons.

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Source: Wendy McElroy | Mises Institute

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