Washington, DC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/30/2014 --Nationally Syndicated Financial Myth Busting Radio Show with Host Dawn Bennett, CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services, LLC, on September 21, 2014, interviewed Jason Riley, author of the new book "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed." He is also a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.
He talked about the black vote, about the Democratic Party, and whether programs intended to help minorities actually help or hurt them.
As an African-American columnist, Riley's career has been based on maintaining skepticism of the political left's leaning with black America, because in his way of thinking, liberal programs to lift the black American underclass mostly fail, and in fact, harms the intended beneficiaries. According to Riley, the reasons liberal policies and programs always seem to backfire and to hurt those they purport to help is because liberals either do not understand human nature and cultural differences, or they simply choose to ignore it.
Here is the interview with Jason Riley:
Q: Jason, do you believe that many black Americans now feel that Democratic politicians and their liberal policies have betrayed the black community, as liberal policies just seem to have left them worse off?
A: Well, it'd be hard to make that argument, given that so many blacks overwhelmingly support Democratic politicians.
Q: But why do they do that?
A: I think you can point to history, for one, where conservatives were during the Civil Rights Movement is still in the memory of a lot of black Americans alive today, particularly older Americans. That's one reason I think they flock to the Democrats. Another reason has to do with Republican outreach or the lack thereof.
There are examples of Republicans that have decided to go after this vote, spend time in these communities. Jack Kemp comes to mind, from back in the '80s. Paul Ryan's doing it today. People like Chris Christie. In his re-election bid in New Jersey, went into places like Camden and introduced himself. Richard Riordan did it in LA back in the 1990s.
These are still exceptions to the rule, where Republicans pretty much write off the black vote, and I don't ascribe racial animus to that. I think it's pragmatic politics. Republicans still believe that they can win elections without black voters, and once that changes and they feel they need the black vote to win, you'll see them courting black voters. Right now there's a huge debate in the GOP over the Latino vote, for example, whether or not Republicans can continue to win elections going forward without more Hispanic voters. There's no such similar debate going on among blacks, or about the black vote, in the GOP.
Q: So Democrats call their ideology compassionate. That's my word. What would you call it?
A: Well-intentioned in many cases, but ultimately harmful. I think that blacks ultimately must help themselves. They have to develop the same behaviors and attitudes -- and attitudes, and -- and -- and practices that other groups in America had to develop in order to rise, and to the extent that a government program or policy, however well-intentioned, interferes with that necessary self-development. I think it does more harm than good, and that's what you have in a lot of these Great Society programs.
Government attempts to help but are putting in place the wrong incentives. Trying to replace the father in the home with a government check may seem compassionate, but it doesn't encourage proper child-rearing, or even proper child-bearing. Open-ended welfare benefits may seem compassionate, but they don't incentivize a group to develop a work ethic, which is ultimately what that group will need to develop in order to make it on its own.
Q: So what you're saying is that if we could get the liberal boot off the black community's neck, then black Americans can actually thrive?
A: Yes, I would point to what was going on in black America prior to the implementation of a lot of these policies. Black history didn't just jump from slavery to the Civil Rights movement.
There was a long period in-between, and if you look at what was going on in terms of educational attainment among blacks, both relative to whites and in absolute terms, if you look at the rate at which blacks were leaving poverty, the rate at which blacks were entering the professions, skilled trades and so forth, you saw much better outcomes prior to all of these government interventions to help.
I'm not discounting the need for the Civil Rights movement. I think the Voting Rights Act of '65, the Civil Rights Act of '64, were liberalism at its best, and, I think that all Americans can be proud of what was achieved in terms of making the country more just for everyone.
But for the programs that came out of the Great Society, blacks can't get ahead. That's a much more difficult argument to make, and I would argue that the facts don't support that conclusion.
Q: So right now twice as many black Americans are unemployed as white, right? It's almost double what white or national average is. Why do you think that is? How is the Obama administration addressing this issue, or are they?
A: For the past 50 years, the black unemployment rate has been double the white. The Obama administration has not come up with anything new to address this. In fact, they continue to push policies that I think are responsible for that outcome.
Q: What kind of policies?
A: Minimum wage increases are a perfect example. Prior to the implementation of the minimum wage and prior to it taking effect, that is vis-a-vis inflation, you did not see these racial disparaties in employment. In some years in the '40s and '50s, the black labor participation rate exceeded the white labor participation rate.
Q: What was the difference then versus now?
A: I would argue minimum wage laws, in part, which are pricing a lot of younger and less-skilled workers out of the work force, a disproportionate number of whom happen to be black.
I think that has a lot to do with it. There are also cultural reasons, which I talked about in the book. Attitudes towards work play a role in this, even in the 1980s and '90s during a period of tremendous economic growth and job creation in this country, but the black labor participation rate for young men fell during the '80s and '90s.
Some of this is cultural and there are limits to what politicians can do to address the cultural problems. I argue that having a black man in the White House is all well and good, but it can't substitute for a black man in the home.
What I mean by that statement is that there are certain problems with attitudes and behaviors in the black community that are leading to these outcomes, and there are limits to what politicians can do to address them, other than getting out of the way and letting that self-development run its course.
Q: So the U.S. anti-poverty programs are actually pacifying the young black worker? Is that part of the reason why they just don't feel the need to go out and get a job?
A: That's what our experience has shown. In New York, where I am from, the welfare policies, the reforms, implemented under Rudy Giuliani, continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reduced poverty and shrunk the welfare roles. You put time limits in place, you put work requirements in place, you give people an incentive to go get a job. So yes, incentives matter.
Q: So the government's only concerned with control, and they almost disguise it as charity. Is that right?
A: I think when it comes to the Democratic party, and the Left in general, I think they have a stake in the dependency that they've encouraged among blacks. They present themselves as the party of big government. They present government as a force for good in the lives of individuals. "We're the party that gives you things."
So what you have in the black community is an over-dependence on government, whether it's in terms of jobs: working in the military, the post office, civil service jobs and so forth, or an over-dependence in terms of handouts: welfare benefits, food stamps and so forth. But is an overdependence. It is something the Left counts on among blacks to keep them voting Democratic. I think they have no problem with this government dependency, whether or not it's doing the intended beneficiaries any good.
Q: They're actually wanting to keep generational poverty? Do you see it that way?
A: I don't, no, I wouldn't put it that crudely. I don't think they want to see poverty. I would argue, though, that their political interests in keeping this group of people, namely blacks, voting Democrat, supersedes everything else and so if one outcome is more poverty, that's of less concern to them than making sure blacks continue to pull the lever for Democrats.
Q: Let's change tracks here a little bit. The latest racial controversy to envelop America is the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. So Eric Holder, the attorney general, is now investigating the local police for what he said were numerous complaints of racial bias. Do you see that as a right move?
A: No, I don't see Eric Holder's involvement at this stage necessary. I think that's being done more for optics. You know, Bull Connor is not running the Ferguson Police Department, even though I think this administration wants to pretend otherwise. We have these flare-ups like we have in Ferguson, or what we had with Trayvon Martin, and it always starts these discussions, but my concern is that we always have the wrong discussion.
We talk about tensions between the black community and police. We talk about racial profiling, or poverty, or unemployment in these neighborhoods, but I think those are really effects more than causes.
I think the real root problem here is black criminality, the black crime rate, which is largely a taboo subject that we don't like to talk about. Blacks are only 13 percent of the population, but they commit around half of all murders in this country. So long as that is the case, there is going to be tension between the police department and the black community. Blacks are arrested at two to three times their numbers in the population for all manner of violent crime, all manner of property crime. So long as that is the case, young black men are going to be viewed suspiciously by blacks and whites alike. If you want to change the perceptions that drive racial profiling, you need to change the behavior behind those perceptions, and that is, frankly, a conversation a lot of people, black or white, don't want to have. Instead we talk about these side issues, do cops value black lives the way they value white lives? Does America value black lives? Most of the killings of blacks are done by other black people. The problem is not cops shooting blacks. The problem is blacks shooting blacks, and I think that gets back to culture, and we need to talk about that.
When you try to have that conversation, like Bill Cosby has tried in the past, you get your head handed to you, because the black elites out there want to keep the focus on white behavior, not black behavior. They're not interested in black personal responsibility and playing that up. They're interested in playing up racism in America and continuing down that road with that narrative. And if you get off of that narrative, they push back very hard.
Q: You're known for black responsibility, not just here in the United States, but also in the UK. I was wondering if you saw British comedian Russell Brand, where he produced that online video where he attacked you for betraying your racial roots. Did you see that?
A: I did see that.
Q: What do you think of that? Do you want to take this opportunity to respond to him?
A: What was disappointing about what he said was him playing the white card, the white problem in black America
Q: It's easy.
A: It’s a huge problem and it starts at such a young age.
You learn not to speak a certain way, not to dress a certain way. Black kids who are bookish get made fun of, they get beat up. This is a huge problem. We all know the stepping stones to the middle class in this country is an education, industry, thrift, deferred gratification. Those are not the values that permeate the black ghettoes in America. The whole suggestion that blacks speaking a certain way, acting a certain way, are acting white, or are not legitimately black, I find that was what was most disappointing about what he said because that mentality has done such great damage to black progress in this country over the past century.
Q: I just want you to comment a little bit about your book. I think it was a stunning wake-up call to the failure of liberalism and its intended beneficiaries. Is there anything you want to add?
One of the reasons I wrote the book is because I don't think my views are all that unique in the black community, among the black rank and file. There is a disconnect between the black leadership and their agenda and among the needs of the black poor, and what people in the community see happening around them.
I just want people to keep that in mind. A lot of blacks don't self-identify as conservative, but a lot of the attitudes, a lot of the beliefs that I put forward in this book are reflected in the black community. I wanted to give voice to some of those folks, because the media tends to run to the Al Sharptons and the Jesse Jacksons, and to get comments whenever we see a Ferguson, or a Trayvon Martin. I wanted people to know there are other views out there, and I wanted to give voice to them.
Q: This has been Jason Riley. You need to get his book called, "Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed."
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About Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting.com
She discusses educational topics and events in the financial news, along with her thoughts on the economy, financial markets, investments, and more with her live guests, who have included Rock Legend Ted Nugent, as well as Steve Forbes and Grover Norquist. The show is a great complement to Dawn’s monthly investing seminars that take place at Tysons Corner in McLean, VA, where she discusses investing.
She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett or firstname.lastname@example.org