AFRICANGLOBE – Blacks once emigrated (some say fled) the South looking for better lives in the North.
Nicholas Lemann’s wonderful “The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America” could have been the story of those in my family who left Jones County, Ga., for Detroit to work in the factories during World War II.
My grandfather also left, but shortly returned when he could not find any rabbits to hunt. The Yankee cousins would come visit in their big cars and fur coats mocking their country cousins who still tilled the soil on hardscrabble farms. They also pitied us because their children matriculated at Michigan and Michigan State, while we were relegated to meagerly supported, segregated state colleges.
Promised land no more: Today the children of my haughty cousins have fled Detroit for the suburbs and points south. In Detroit, the manufacturing jobs have withered. The city has a 17 percent unemployment rate, a median income of $24,000, and 36 percent of its residents live below the poverty line.
Bankruptcy, blight, crime and hopelessness now characterize Detroit. Black out-migration outnumbers in-migration. Today, virtually all the best places for Blacks are now in the old South, cities like Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Orlando, Fla.; and Dallas.
What has proven to work in addressing poverty is a pro-growth environment that creates jobs. What has proven not to work is the social agenda that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is advocating in speeches given around the country. This is the “progressive” agenda of higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy, along with sharp increases in the minimum wage.
Well, with friends like these, who needs enemies? I encourage Mr. de Blasio to institute these policies in his own city to provide a showcase for his agenda. I wager that such policies would worsen rather than improve the status of the poor in New York City.
I doubt that it is a coincidence that the best cities for Blacks today are in states with strong economic growth, characterized by lower taxes, less regulation and right-to-work laws.
But to improve the lot of the poor, one must also recognize that poverty rates are dramatically higher among single-mother households. Seventy-five percent of Black children are born out of wedlock. Marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82 percent.
Moreover, there is a significant gap in the incomes of college-educated households and other households, regardless of race. Many of the Blacks who are migrating from the North are well-educated professionals. Even if poor households move to a low-poverty city, their children become much better off financially as adults than children raised in a high-poverty city.
So policies that discourage out-of-wedlock births and encourage effective education (vouchers and charter schools) would dramatically lower poverty. Instead, we get a social agenda like that of Mayor de Blasio’s, which is a recipe for continued impoverishment and welfare dependency.
As I reach my 70th birthday, I refuse to believe that the problem is intractable. The economic well-being of America’s poor can improve. We should institute policies that stimulate economic growth. Economic growth is a tide that raises all boats. However, the progressives will likely focus on whose boat has risen more. A sad waste of time.
By: Dr. Harold Black
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