Indeed, even as he expects unquestioning loyalty from black voters, Obama seems to be pursuing policies which are especially damaging to the employment prospects of black Americans.
Thus, it was, that WSJ’s Jason Riley remarked that it was ‘sadly ironic’ for the first black president to be so insistent on raising the minimum wage, because:
Minimum-wage laws date to the 1930s, and supporters in Congress at the time were explicit about using them to stop blacks from displacing whites in the labor force by working for less money. Milton Friedman regarded the minimum wage as “one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books.”
You see, back in the 1930s, and indeed right up until LBJ’s ‘Great Society’, black Americans were highly competitive in the workforce, and were steadily closing the income gap with whites – the free market was working! Minimum wage laws have the primary effect of pricing less experienced workers out of the market, and making employers less inclined to take a gamble on a new worker as the price of the bet increases. Riley continues:
Prior to the passage of minimum-wage laws—and in an era of open and rampant racial discrimination in the U.S.—the unemployment rate for black men was much lower than it is now and similar to that of whites in the same age group.
Finally, Riley points out the huge disparity in unemployment rates between blacks and whites under Obama’s policies (13.8% vs 7%), and closes with:
Out of political expediency, Mr. Obama is putting the interests of Big Labor ahead of the urban poor. He’s hardly the first politician to do so, and the reality is that Republican and Democratic presidents alike have raised the minimum wage. It’s also true that Mr. Obama is president of the entire country, not just its black inhabitants. But is it too much to ask that he not support policies, however well-intentioned by current advocates, that were anti-black in origin and have a long history of depressing black employment?
What Riley is effectively reminding us is that labor unions and Democrats have always sought to protect white workers against encroachment by blacks, after all, they are the party of Jim Crow, the KKK, the minimum wage, and so many methods for ensuring that employers would not take a chance on black artisans, laborers, retail assistants, etc. Or let us consider Hispanic immigrants – struggling to learn the language and customs, an employer who might take a chance on training a worker at $4 or $5 per hour will take a pass at $9 per hour, depriving that immigrant of his chance to take that first step toward the American dream.
As I reminded the readers a few weeks ago, economics professor Walter E Williams really gets it. He grew up suffering the worst forms of discrimination, and resenting it, but learned pretty quickly that perseverance and hard work were the way out of poverty. No fan of big government, Williams believes that government taking of the fruits of your labor by force is a form of slavery, just as pernicious as the older kind. In “Minimum Wage Is Raacist!”, I introduced Williams’ excellent video produced for NPR on the negative effects of Democrat programs such as the great society, and especially minimum wage laws – you should see it.
So, there you have it folks: The half-black, Marxist, union-beholden, economically illiterate, job-destroying Obama, who either doesn’t care about black unemployment (or is deliberately fostering resentment)… Versus the authentic, all black, all American, brilliant economist Walter E Williams, who knows whereof he speaks. Which one would YOU believe knows what’s best for lifting urban blacks out of poverty? Which one would YOU trust to tell the truth on the minimum wage?