I do know that I do not concur with the conclusions reached – essentially that all of the US’s societal woes are due to the Welfare State system.
The other side of the debate is just as clearly and concisely put here.
Whichever of those two authors you want to say is right will depend, I suspect, not upon the worth of the arguments presented but on the politic of the reader. Once again confirmation bias will reign supreme.
There are two little sections that I want to highlight.
First up, from The Smallest Minority –
And here is where I start speculating, so those of you who want to accuse me of racism ought to be sharpening your barbs.
SayUncle considered Kim's argument and concluded:
And I realized that it made a sick sort of sense. The nation of immigrants factor is just about the only thing we don’t have in common with other comparable western nations.
No, it's not. The factor that America has that is different from other comparable Western nations is massive institutionalized slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, institutionalized and legally codified racism, the Civil Rights Movement, and finally the Great Society and the War on Poverty.
Now that I accept as irrefutable, and probably very germaine to the question. Whoever thinks that emancipation was completed with the passing of the Anti-Slavery legislation forgets the 1940’s, the 1950’s and 1960’s at their peril.
Baker continues -
Tgirsch (the author of the other piece I will quote) proposes that black-on-black violence is due to the "disproportionate poverty" of the black demographic. What is seldom asked, as I noted, was why American blacks remain largely poverty-stricken a century after emancipation, and nearly half a century after the Civil Rights movement and the establishment of the Welfare State.
And after a lengthy consideration of illegitimate birth rates, and the “problems”of the welfare state, Baker “comes back to earth” with this…
I do think that more attention needs to be paid to racial differences and the underlying reasons for them. But I think what we’ll ultimately find is that race has no inherent effect at all, and that the difference that exist are socially driven.
I agree. Race isn't the reason, it's just a marker. Blacks were systematically discriminated against, held down, demeaned. The color of their skin marked them for this abuse. When things finally started to improve socially, the intellegentsia stepped in and threw a monkey wrench into an already damaged mechanism - with the best of (stated) intentions. If you want to define what happened as "poorly implementing" the welfare state, I suppose you're entitled. I for one see it as an inevitable outcome of a flawed idea.
Now it really is nice that Kevin Baker agrees, even if it is to then draw a non sequitur conclusion.
Turning to the points that Tgirsch makes, he (unfortunately) takes the following line –
There’s a lot going on here, mostly a highly misleading use of statistics, but it boils down to three incorrect underlying assumptions:
1. That poor Hispanics are concentrated in inner-city areas at roughly the same rate as poor African-Americans are.
2. That poverty is poverty, with no differences in degree of poverty.
3. That the relationship between poverty and violent crime ought to be linear.
and, just a bit further on comes –
Of course, my objective here is not to prove to anybody that the social safety net is working or that it presents no burden to those it purports to help — that’s for someone else to do some other time. Nor am I trying to argue that there aren’t cultural factors in play — often prevalent in very poor, predominantly African-American urban neighborhoods — that exacerbate the problem of violence. I merely wanted to demonstrate that Kevin’s case is not nearly so slam-dunk as he (and his commenters) seem to think it is, and to point out what I feel are critical errors he made in building that case. I would argue that if he wishes to do away with the status quo, the burden of proof is on him to show that the alternative (little or no social safety net) would indeed be better.
To that point, I submit one more thing. In the comments at Kevin’s site, there was an exchange that I think is exceptionally revealing in the lack of foresight behind doing away with the social safety net. A commenter was trying to make the case that people in general would be better off if they didn’t have to pay the taxes associated with supporting the social safety net, because they would have more money to invest in their future and the economy. I responded that history has shown us that most people would not invest it or save it or spend it wisely (and in so doing, I used some terminology which I frankly regret). Kevin’s response:
“So? It’s their money.”
The utter lack of attention to (or, equally likely, concern for) what happens next should speak for itself.
Now that really is something of a damp squib; not that I want to “prove” that the welfare state works or not either, or that lowering taxes would solve the problem. Both ideas are in my opinion dead end solutions with only political dogma to back them.
The point that Tgirsch missed and where I think Kevin Baker got it totally right is this –
So, after decades of knowing that education has no economic value, and further decades of lack of employment opportunity, what is the result? A population that is willfully ignorant, desperately poor, generally promiscuous, disillusioned and angry and willing to use whatever drugs are available to escape (however briefly) their reality…
That opening rationale is 100% correct but the conclusion that the poor are “…not willing to study or work to escape permanently, now that the opportunity actually exists…” is another political non-sequitur that exists solely to justify the argument that the welfare state has failed. What a pity that the perspicacity of Baker’s opening was left by the wayside.
Why is it that people have the idea that education has no economic value? It comes in part from the culture of succession. “My pappy was a steel worker, my grandpappy was a steel worker. They could not read nor write. Why do I need learn?”
It comes in part from generations of teachers telling their pupils that “…black people can not learn… blacks are dumb and waste of time educatin them…”, institutionalised degradation. I know this happens and it must be a near universal, because (to my shame) I have seen it happen, I have seen the consequences all too often in NZ. That is why Baker’s observation was so right.
I want to return now to the very opening of Baker’s post, to this quotation he pulls from othersideofkim –
The United States has always had a higher murder rate than other countries, not because there are more guns around, but because we are a nation of immigrants. When people have few or no ties to a community, their propensity towards lawlessness is much higher. (It’s why, for example, small-town sheriffs had a habit of telling strangers to leave town—they were playing the odds.)
It’s also why comparisons between Japan and the U.S. are pointless: a racially- and culturally-homogenous society will always have a lower rate of violence than a nation of immigrants because there are fewer points of friction between them. Add to that a culture of (to us) stifling conformity, and the circle becomes complete.
What Western Europe is quickly discovering is that it sounds good to become a nation of welcoming arms to strangers, but the reality is that this hospitality comes with a price tag. In Britain, for example, violent crime is committed by Jamaican street gangs, gypsies, and Eastern European- and Third World “refugees”. Add to that the more-recent Muslim fanaticism, and this witches’ brew likewise becomes complete.
Once again here we have an excellent premise, one which touches oh so briefly upon the question I originally posed. Once again, to my great disappointment, it has been transmogrified into a political non sequitur to justify the author’s particular political outlook.
If Kim du Toit’s contention were correct, then NZ would now be in very deep trouble. That were are not is due in large part to KdT overlooking a number of very important factors.
First up, many of the groups that he selects from the “British experience” (such as the Jamaicans) are third and fourth generation. They are not “new arrivals”. The London bombers were all British born (or had immigrated as small children) and educated. Truth of that matter is that England in particular has its own history and traditions of discrimination almost as pernicious as that of the US (if you still don’t get it, think “social class” instead of “race”.)
Second are the “third world refugees”. I can hear exactly where KdT is coming from here and it ain’t pretty. You hear the same “presentation” from extensive portions of the right wing in the US. At least there the illegal immigration problem is real and is having some impact. In Britain, as in Australia Canada and NZ refugee immigration is heavily and fairly easily controlled.
Third, that word “gypsies” – hmm. Germanic racism at its best.
But enough carping. That opening paragraph does require some consideration, and comparison alongside other truths.
NZ is a nation of immigrants. NZ has gun control laws. The murder rate in NZ is about 1/17 that of the US.
Australia is a nation of immigrants. Australia has gun control laws. The murder rate in Australia is about 1/12 that of the US.
Canada is a nation of immigrants. Canada has some gun control laws. The murder rate in Canada is about 1/3 that of the US.
South Africa WAS a nation of immigrants. I do not believe that there are gun control laws there. The murder rate in South Africa is several times higher than in the US.
Obviously, there is something quite wrong with KdT’s conclusion.
So, where does that leave us? SaysUncle gets close –
But what that doesn’t explain is why, in our country, the homicide rate is heavily comprised of murders of black people by other black people. After all, black people share a heritage and do have ties to the black community. I suppose another factor in that equation is the proximity to drug dealing and concentrated areas of poverty.
It’s very clear that America has a problem with black on black violence. But it will never be given the attention it deserves because examining the cause would be viewed as racist.
Nice little inference there Uncle. Please, Uncle, whose racism?
The other side of the cultural aspect to the debate comes from Tom himself...
The problems run much deeper, and the real answers (if any are to be had) will address them...in the long run. However, my claim to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) is not dependent on crime, or the lack thereof. I claim the RKBA as God-Given and I will not yield it to any man
So, the RKBA is a "God-given" right?
Somehow that reminds me of the recent admonishment of a US politician with the classic that "he had sworn on the Bible to uphold the Constitution, not sworn on the Constitution to uphold the Bible".