After the George Zimmerman verdict, a slice of the country protested, insisting on the guilt of the exonerated Zimmerman. The president went on air and pled “for understanding.” And Fox’s Bill O’Reilly took the occasion to chide the country’s black leadership for not doing the right kind of Public Service Announcements.
Much of what O’Reilly said was on target. The high rates of unwed parenthood in the African-American community — 73 percent — and the consequent predominance of single-parent households lies at the heart of many problems.
Yet, neither O’Reilly’s idea of PSAs “telling young black girls to avoid becoming pregnant,” nor President Obama’s efforts to give young black men “the sense that their country cares about them,” would likely change behavior.
Black unemployment and rates of illegitimate births were lower half a century ago than white rates. What happened?
Black Americans were hardest hit by the rise of the welfare state.
First, raising minimum wages placed low-skilled workers at a disadvantage, with each wage floor hike doing more damage.
Second, the general switch in state aid from assistance to intact families to aid to mothers with dependent children took away a major disincentive for irresponsible sexual practices. Throw in the sexual revolution, and you have a powder keg.
Third, the War on Drugs established the market conditions for illegal activity, and encouraged the formation of gangs. Drugs made users unfit for most work, while providing a lucrative draw for those wanting to advance economically.
None of this is a mystery. But sadly, I fear America’s black leadership would rather do Bill O’Reilly’s PSA’s than really address these problems.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.