Saturday, March 24, 2012

Walter Williams has done it again!

You know, Walter, for someone who's been doing this for over thirty years, you'd think you'd be better at it by now. Of course, it's possible that decades of writing for an audience that already agrees with you and desperately wants to believe that what you say is true has taught you that it's safe to simply make assumptions and broadly generalize on the slightest whim, secure that you'll never be questioned on your logic, reasoning, or conclusions.

So let's do that, okay?

Walter's latest article is all about challenging the idea that the disadvantaged should be voting Democratic. This is a fairly popular assumption in American politics - that Democrats are for the disadvantaged, and Republicans are for the powerful - and while the truth is way more complex than that, I'll give him the generalization and move on to the facts he's going to use to change America's mind about this.

According to an American Community Survey, by the U.S. Census Bureau, the top 10 poorest cities with populations more than 250,000 are Detroit, with 33 percent of its residents below the poverty line; Buffalo, N.Y., 30 percent; Cincinnati, 28 percent; Cleveland, 27 percent; Miami, 27 percent; St. Louis, 27 percent; El Paso, Texas, 26 percent; Milwaukee, 26 percent; Philadelphia, 25 percent; and Newark, N.J., 24 percent.  The most common characteristic of these cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal administrations.

Not sure why he had to list all ten - unless he was having trouble meeting his word count this week - but let's move on to his completely spurious reasoning. Setting aside the ridiculous presumption that a Democratic mayor is necessarily 'liberal' (You know, like that kind old lefty Richard Daley!), I've got to pose a question - why did he restrict the list to cities with populations over 250,000? Doesn't it seem that if there were a connection to be made between Democratic leadership and poverty in cities, all of the the shockingly poor cities in America would have Democratic mayors? Then I went to check those stats, and it turns out that if you take out the population condition, the poorest areas in America (by median annual household income) are located in places like the Dakotas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia - and all of them have reliably Republican leadership.

Why, it's almost as if Walter is taking the fact that large cities tend to have Democratic mayors and trying to use it to gloss over the fact that a panoply of poverty exists across the rural south, which is largely Republican managed and has been since LBJ flipped the polarity switch on the American political parties' relationship with black people.

What exactly are you trying to say here, Walter?

You say, "What's the point, Williams?"

That's right, I just did, essentially. Although I feel like, at this point, we're on a first name basis.

Let's be clear about it. I'm not stating a causal relationship between poverty and Democratic and/or black political control over a city. 

I'm confused - if you're not saying that, why did you spend the first two and a half paragraphs saying that?

What I am saying is that if one is strategizing on how to help poor people, he wants to leave off his list of objectives Democratic and black political control of cities. 

Walter makes an excellent point here - what this country needs is the kind of white and Republican leadership that has kept Mississippi the least poverty-stricken state in the nation. Wait, did I say least? I meant most. Whoops. God, if I don't check my facts a little better, I'll wind up as uninformed as Walter Williams!

After all this nonsense, the article takes a whiplash turn. Check it:

Crime is one of the results of the liberal agenda.

That's a pretty bold statement to make, there, Walter.

Blacks are 13 percent of the population but are more than 50 percent of murder victims. About 95 percent of black homicide victims had a black person as their murderer. Blacks are not only the major victims of murder but also suffer high victimization rates of all categories of serious violent crime. Most often, another black is the perpetrator.

I'm confused - did the liberal agenda create black people, who Walter blames for all the crime in America? I hate to play the 'liberal agenda' card, but you do know that poor people are more likely to be murdered than middle and upper-class ones, right? Just because the news only reports on the deaths of people that 'matter' and you only notice the poor ones when you're looking up statistics doesn't give you licence to ignore contributing factors other than race.

During the 1960s, academic liberals and hustling politicians told us that to deal with crime, we had to deal with its "root causes," poverty and discrimination. My colleague Thomas Sowell has pointed out that in 1960, the total number of murders in the United States was lower than in 1950, 1940 and 1930, even though our population had grown and two new states had been added.

That's all well and good, but what does it have to do with anything?

The liberal agenda, coupled with courts granting criminals new rights, later caused the murder rate to double, and the rates of other violent crimes also began to skyrocket.

You know, Walter, if you're going to keep blaming this 'liberal agenda', at some point you're going to have to define it. Do you seriously believe that the murder rate doubled because the courts gave criminals new rights? Or does some part of you understand that other things were going on in the sixties beyond the Miranda ruling? Also, let's not forget that the courts didn't give criminals any new rights there. They simply made it policy that accused criminals had to be told what their rights were. Which, admittedly, made things much harder for the police, since they could no longer frame whoever they wanted for murders, and had to resort to more complex methods for solving crimes, such as massively de-funding the public defenders' office so that poor people can still be easily framed for murders.

Then the article goes deeper down the crime rabbit hole, explaining that crime is the biggest problem in Black communities, where children can't play in front yards, taxis won't pick people up, and in what he seems to think is the greatest indictment of crime-ridden inner cities:

there's the insult associated with not being able to receive pizza or other deliveries on the same terms as people in other neighborhoods.

Next, Walter explains that he doesn't know what things cost!

In the face of high crime, wealthier people can afford to purchase alarms, buy guard dogs, hire guards and, if things get too bad, move to a gated community. These options are not available to poor people. The only protection they have is an orderly society.

First off, anyone can buy a guard dog. They are not expensive. Yes, the purebred ones who are able to patrol your estate on a strict schedule without supervision cost you a pretty penny, but those aren't much use in the inner city, where pretty much any mutt can be trained to bark loudly and attack intruders. More importantly, how on earth do you justify listing 'hiring guards' as a less severe reaction than 'moving to a gated community'? Gated communities are a fairly common destination for those whose egos are too fragile to deal with encountering the disadvantaged, but 'hiring guards'? Who does that? Are you friends with a lot of Russian oiligarchs, Walter?

Oh, and Walter, what's your solution to the crime problem? Earlier (in an unexcerpted section), you talk about how much black people need to be protected by politicians who are 'tough on crime' (cough-republican-cough), but what would that protection entail? Are you going to jail all black men, rather than just most of them? Because putting more people in jail than Stalin did seems to be working great so far.

Democratic and black politicians are beholden to and serve the interests of the powerful vested interest groups, such as labor unions, teachers unions and assorted liberals, not the ordinary people who voted them into office. Otherwise, they wouldn't begin to allow the rampant crime and nearly systematic destruction of learning opportunities for generations of black children by governmental schools.

To precis Walter's argument - politicians are more interested in power itself than using the people who gave it to them.

To precis that argument further - duh.

None of this is to say that blacks should vote Republican. It is to say that political power doesn't necessarily translate into economic power and well-being for the ordinary citizen.

At least be honest, Walter. No, this isn't a call for black people to vote Republican, it's a transparent attempt to lay every one of black America's problems at the feet of Democrats in the hopes of A: absolving your white, sometimes powerful readers of any guilty they might have over the rampant poverty in black communities (mission accomplished), and B: depressing black Democratic voter turnout in the next election (as if - black people mostly don't read your poorly-constructed tripe).

Better luck next time.

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