CIVIL UNREST AND EMPLOYMENT
By Karl Arnold Belser
30 April 2015



The recent unrest in Baltimore has to my mind shed new light on the situation in the black community. The problem is apparently not racism, but rather economic. There are just too few jobs for the black youth in this city.

Baltimore is a majority black city wit a black mayor, black city council and black police. Further it is clear that a majority of the residents, especially the women, are good citizens in that they condemned the actions of the youth that robbed and destroyed parts of the city and that they got out in force to clean up the mess that was done by the criminal actions. This situation appears not to be a riot against police brutality but a reflection of economic frustration. See the NPR article Baltimore is not Ferguson.

I discussed the situation in Ferguson in my post  Civil Unrest and Non-Lethal Weapons in which there was a large police culpability. There is still this policing problem as the Washington Post article The Long, Painful Repetitive History of How Baltimore Became Baltimore shows.  Since the police are predominantly black, the issue is not racism.

I observe that the press is intent on blaming some public policy for the situation of the youth in Baltimore and elsewhere. I think it is unlikely that just the black community would be targeted all over the United States when the Asian and Hispanic population have not been treated in a similar fashion. I note that the San Francisco police were accused of racism and the chief of police pointed out that more than 40% of the calls for police help was from the extremely small  black population in the city. Hence, the resulting police actions were not racism.

i note that black people may be poor but they do get public assistance for food and housing. The issue is really that many people, especially young people, in the black community are very poor. It is clear to me that there is some fundamental problem in the black community that public policy might not be able to correct.

I think that the core issue is that many of the black youth have been told that they deserve to have a high income and a high standard of living without understanding what one has to do to have this level of prosperity. It is politically incorrect to criticize the idea that everyone is endowed with equal capability.

For example, The Bell Curve by Charles Murry, which was carefully researched,  was soundly criticized for the conclusion that some people are more intelligent than others and that there seems to be some racial influence to these differences. I don't think that public policy will ever allow only very intelligent people to have children.

Steven Levitt, in his books SuperFreakenomics and  Think Like A Freak, points out another possibility. The legalization of abortion in the early 1970s caused a dramatic decrease in the crime rate. Presumably the drop in crime resulted when women were not forced to have children they didn't want or couldn't raise properly. Hence fewer children were being raised in a poor environment in which criminality might occur.  Single parenthood in the black community is still the norm, probably resulting in a large number of under performing children. The issue then becomes a cultural one. I don't think that public policy will ever dictate that poor people can't have children.

In both of these possibilities the black community might be causing the problem independent of racism or public policy missteps. The public apparently can't see the underlying issue because of social pressure, similar to what happened in the fable
The Emperor's New Clothes. However, I have no clue how to have society at large handle this type of situation other than just telling the truth and letting aware people behave appropriately.
   
Last updated May 1, 2015
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