A hun­dred per­cent of noth­ing

The Covington News - - THE SECOND OPINION -

JoAnn Wat­son, Detroit city coun­cil mem­ber, said, “Our peo­ple in an over­whelm­ing way sup­ported the re-elec­tion of this pres­i­dent, and there ought to be a quid pro quo.” In other words, Pres­i­dent Obama should send the nearly bankrupted city of Detroit mil­lions in tax­payer bailout money. But there’s a painful les­son to be learned from decades of po­lit­i­cal hus­tling and coun­sel by in­tel­lec­tu­als and ur­ban ex­perts.

In 1960, Detroit’s pop­u­la­tion was 1.6 mil­lion. Blacks were 29 per­cent, and whites were 70 per­cent. To­day, Detroit’s pop­u­la­tion has fallen pre­cip­i­tously to 707,000, of which blacks are 84 per­cent and whites 8 per­cent. Much of the city’s de­cline be­gan with the elec­tion of Cole­man Young, Detroit’s first black mayor and mayor for five terms, who en­gaged in po­lit­i­cal fa­voritism to blacks and tax poli­cies against higher in­come mostly white peo­ple. Young’s suc­ces­sors, Dennis Archer and Kwame Kil­patrick, fol­lowed his Third World tyrant poli­cies, but nei­ther had his ver­bal vul­gar­ity. Kil­patrick (20022008) went to jail and is on trial to­day on charges of cor­rup­tion. Mayor David Bing is mak­ing an ef­fort to re­vive Detroit. His prob­lem is that he’s not God.

Poli­cies that ran whites and other more af­flu­ent peo­ple out of Detroit might have been Young’s and his suc­ces­sors’ strat­egy. Af­ter all, why not get rid of peo­ple who aren’t go­ing to vote for you any­way? The prob­lem is that get­ting rid of th­ese peo­ple left Detroit with a lower tax base, fewer jobs and fewer con­sumers. Fewer whites might be good for the ca­reers of black politi­cians, but it’s not in the best in­ter­ests of or­di­nary blacks. Blacks have po­lit­i­cal con­trol of Detroit, but the rel­e­vant ques­tion is whether some con­trol of some­thing is bet­ter than 100 per­cent con­trol of noth­ing. By most mea­sures, Detroit is one of the na­tion’s most tragic cities and it’s mostly self-im­posed.

Detroit topped Forbes mag­a­zine’s 2010 list of Amer­ica’s Most Dan­ger­ous Cities. That year, there were 345 homi­cides, but that’s go­ing to be topped with this year’s 365 homi­cides so far. Most homi­cide vic­tims in Detroit and else­where are black, and 95 per­cent of the time their mur­der­ers are black. But far more im­por­tant to black lead­ers and white lib­er­als than blacks mur­der­ing blacks are charges of po­lice mis­con­duct and racial pro­fil­ing.

Detroit’s pre­dom­i­nantly black pub­lic schools are close to be­ing the worst in the na­tion, per­haps with the ex­cep­tion of those of Washington, D.C. Only 4 per­cent of Detroit’s eighth graders scored pro­fi­cient or above on the most re­cent Na­tional As­sess­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion Progress test, some­times called “The Na­tion’s Report Card.” Thirty-six per­cent scored ba­sic, and 57 per­cent be­low ba­sic. “Be­low ba­sic” is when a stu­dent is un­able to demon­strate even par­tial mas­tery of knowl­edge and skills fun­da­men­tal for pro­fi­cient work at their grade level. “Ba­sic” in­di­cates only par­tial mas­tery.

Un­be­knownst to most black par­ents is the fact that most black stu­dents who man­age to grad­u­ate from high school can­not read and com­pute any bet­ter than whites four years younger and still in ju­nior high school. Here’s a ques­tion for you: If we put a group of 100 stu­dents of any race hav­ing an eighth­grade level of pro­fi­ciency and an­other group of 100 stu­dents of any race with a 12th-grade level of pro­fi­ciency in col­lege, is it rea­son­able to ex­pect the first group to per­form as well as the sec­ond? On top of that, is it rea­son­able to ex­pect a stu­dent of any race to be able to make up 12 years of fraud­u­lent K-12 ed­u­ca­tion in the space of four or five years of col­lege?

Detroit’s so­cial pathol­ogy is seen in other cities with large black pop­u­la­tions such as Philadel­phia, Ne­wark, Baltimore and Chicago. Th­ese are cities where blacks have for years dom­i­nated the po­lit­i­cal ma­chin­ery in the forms of may­ors, po­lice chiefs, su­per­in­ten­dents of schools and city coun­cil­men, plus they’ve been Democrats. It’s safe to con­clude that the fo­cus on po­lit­i­cal power doesn’t do much for or­di­nary blacks.

Wal­ter E. Wil­liams is a pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity. To find out more about Wal­ter E. Wil­liams, visit cre­ators.com.

WAL­TER WIL­LIAMS COLUM­NIST

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