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Book Review, Jason L. Riley, Please Stop Helping Us, How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (NY:Encounter Books, 2014)
Raymond Richman, 9/28/2014

Jason L. Riley, Please Stop Helping Us, How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (NY:Encounter Books, 2014)

This book is a must read for everyone, white or black, just as another great book by a distinguished black economist, Thomas Sowell’s Black Rednecks and White Liberals (NY: Encounter Books, 2005) is also a must read.

Riley begins by noting that 90 percent of more of black voters continue to support Pres. Obama even though blacks have suffered more from his economic policies than any other ethnic group. He writes that the President and Attorney General Holder and the NAACP oppose voter ID laws as discriminating against blacks even though “in places like Georgia and Indiana minority turnout increased after the laws were passed.”

He contrasts the positions of black historical figures W. E. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, the latter urging blacks to focus on independent black schools and businesses, on acquiring “property, industry, skill, economy, intelligence, and character” while the Du Bois “argued that civil rights are more important because political power is necessary to protect any economic gains.”

Du Bois’s strategy was achieved political success as indicated by the fact that the number of black officials grew between 1970 and 2001 from “fewer than 1,500 to more than 9,000.” Meanwhile, the poverty rate among blacks declined from 87 to 47 percent from 1940 to 1960 before the civil rights victory but grew not at all between 1972 and 2011 after the civil rights victories and black welfare dependency.

The author contrasts the economic success of Asians who have tended to avoid politics and the Irish, who achieved success in politics but it was only after the decline of the Irish political machines that their “average Irish incomes began to rise” relatively. He points out that black political leaders often voted for policies which denied jobs and benefits to the persistent black underclass.

Every chapter is worth reading.

Chapter 2, entitled Culture Matters, is somewhat autobiographical but a detailed analysis of the deteriorating and detrimental culture of the black underclass. The black upper-class, with the exception of Riley, Sowell, Bill Crosby, who he holds out for special mention, and some others, has been relatively silent and unwilling to confront those exploiting the black underclass.

Uncle Tom is still a derogatory term that they want to avoid being called. Riley writes, "Black culture today not only condones delinquency and thuggery [as events in Ferguson recently showed], but celebrates it to the point where black youths have adopted jail fashion in the form of baggy, low-slung pants and oversize  T-shirts. Hip-hop music immortalizes drug dealers and murderers."

There was and is a black culture that is not inferior to the middle class white culture. As Riley points out “In Philadelphia circa 1880, 75 percent of black families were comprised of two parents and children,” while in 2007 it was 34 percent. How tragic it is, as he points out, “that so many liberals choose to put an intellectual gloss on black cultural traits that deserve disdain.” 

Chapter 3, "The Enemy Within," is a gem beginning with some autobiographical experience. It points out that the image of blacks as prone to crime and violence is held even within the black community. He castigates the NAACP and even the President and his Attorney General for making excuses for black criminal behavior. .

In Chapter 4, "Mandating Unemployment," Riley points out the nefarious role that labor unions have played historically in limiting employment opportunities for blacks. Black  intellectuals have long been aware of labor union antipathy to black workers. Today many unions include large numbers of blacks among their members. But for a long-time, they were nearly all lily white.

He deals at length about minimum wage laws which have prevented so many black unskilled workers from finding jobs. (Black unemployed teenagers reached a scandalous 46 per cent in 2012!) “We don’t need to guess what politicians were thinking… (I)t’s crystal clear that Congress passed these statutes to protect white union workers from competition from nonunion blacks.”

In Chaper 5, "Educational Freedom," Riley discusses the educational gap between white and black students which has persisted in spite of “massive injections of money and resources.” He discusses the role of teachers' unions. He points out, there were historically numerous black high schools that performed as well as white schools. Unfortunately, he is unable to account for their deterioration.

In Chapter 6, "Affirmative Discrimination," Riley point out that affirmative action has had scarcely any effect on low income blacks, although it may have benefited women, including some black women, and middle class black men. Black professionals did particularly well, as he points out. “We are nearly five decades into this exercise in social engineering. And aside from the question of its constitutionality, there remains the matter of its effectiveness.”

With respect to getting blacks out of poverty, much progress occurred before affirmative actions. “In 1940 the black poverty rate was 87 percent. By 1960 it had fallen to 47 percent, a 40-point drop that predated not only affirmative action, but the passage of the landmark civil rights bills that liberals would later credit with the steep decline in black poverty.”

Meanwhile, “segregation by income among black families was lower than among white families in 1970, but grew four times as much between 1970 and 2007… By 2007, income segregation among black families was 60 percent greater than among white families,”  (citation: a 2011 study by two Stanford University scholars).

In his "Conclusions" chapter, Riley asks “Good intentions aside, which efforts have facilitated black advancement and which efforts have impeded it?” The book itself is an extraordinary survey of good-intentioned liberal actions that resulted in little benefit to the black community in general and great harm to the black underclass of single parent families, crime and violence, unemployment, and poverty. The legacies of slavery and Jim Crow “are not holding down blacks half as much as the legacy of efforts to help them ‘overcome’.”

This is a great book that everyone should read. 

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