Monday, July 07, 2008

Forgetting About Injustice

Stephen Carter, a professor at Yale Law School, has written an article suggesting that affirmative action programs are merely "a way to pretend to be doing something" about racial inequality.

George Leef at Phi Beta Cons cheerfully assents to this. Where Carter loses him is in calling for a more substantive social commitment to "racial justice." What Carter fails to understand, y'see, is that the persistent human problem of racism is pretty much irrelevant, because the Free Market will fix everything (thanks to the aggregate choices of human beings who may or may not be influenced by racial prejudice, sensationalized reporting on black crime or what have you).

Sorry, but the troubles of the poor in the United States are not due to any lack of commitment to "racial justice." The trouble (or at least the biggest part of it) is that politicians have been short-sightedly attacking the foundations of our prosperity with all sorts of taxes and regulations that drive away investors.
That's the problem, alright. It's certainly not the collapsing or nonexistent infrastructure and services in our inner cities, nor the perception of their inhabitants as lazy, criminal welfare cheats (problems which politicians of both parties have done much to broaden and implement over the years). Mark my words, investors and businesses would be flocking to East Baltimore and Compton and East St. Louis with wheelbarrows full of cash if it weren't for the high taxes and red tape.

W.C. Fields once said that the best cure for insomnia is to get plenty of sleep. With equal discernment, Leef suggests that poverty could be addressed by giving people steady jobs (he left out the part about a living wage, but I'm sure he meant to include it).
Steady employment is the best anti-poverty program of all time, but politicians (mostly Democrats) have been hostile to capitalism for several generations and we see the consequences in cities such as Detroit and Baltimore.
Yeah, that's exactly what springs to mind when I think about Detroit's woes: the Democrats' multigenerational hostility to capitalism. Never mind ancient history like the building of freeways through historic black neighborhoods, or the redlining and restrictive covenants that encouraged white flight while trapping blacks in crumbling neighborhoods, or the shifting of auto plants to the suburbs, or the half-mile apartheid wall a developer built in 1940, or the segregation of hospitals, or (God forbid) the disastrous decisions of the auto industry, all of which were justified and made holy by the Invisible Hand. What blame could generations of demonstrable racial injustice possibly deserve, compared to decades of imaginary anti-capitalism?

It's lunatic revisionism like this that lets us know, just in case we doubted it, that we're dealing with a political movement that's racist down to its corpuscles.

Beyond that, if the prevalence of Democratic politics can be correlated with poverty, why is it that the flag-burning liberal Northeast has the highest average household income in the nation, while the God-fearing conservative South has the highest level of poverty?

Who knows? Who cares? The important thing is, race doesn't matter, so stop saying it does:
If you want to help the poor, the best thing to do is unshackle the economy. Forget about blaming racism and injustice. Forget about new government programs. Instead work to free up the economy. For upward mobility, emulate the laissez-faire policies of Hong Kong, no part of which looks like the ruined sections of Detroit and Baltimore.
Forget about blaming injustice...excellent advice for the free and the brave! Let the market decide which areas get banks and supermarkets, and which get lead contamination and refineries, and the whole question of "injustice" becomes meaningless.

Which is the whole point, really. The bedrock function of the conservatarian market is not to produce "upward mobility," but to shield the powerful from responsibility while encouraging the poor to blame themselves for not wanting food and shelter and medical treatment badly enough.

As you may know, some prisons used to have a couple of dummy switches in their execution chambers, along with the one that actually activated the electric chair. One man would be assigned to each, so that when the order came to throw the switch, each man could comfort himself with the thought that someone else had the live switch. Multiply that system by a few million people, make all the switches live, and pretend that the entire arrangement is as natural and impartial as the tides or the seasons, and you've got Leef's version of the "free market" in a nutshell.

(Photo: “Detroit, Michigan. Riot at the Sojourner Truth homes, a new U.S. federal housing project, caused by white neighbors' attempt to prevent Negro tenants from moving in. Sign with American flag ‘We want white tenants in our white community,’ directly opposite the housing project" by Arthur S. Siegel, 1942.)


Commenter without Qualities said...

No parts of Detroit look like Hong Kong? Technically, I guess that's true: the signs are in English. Also, fewer poor people probably live in metal cages:

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

Not 'just' racist to its corpuscles. Sexist, ablist, agist, heterist, capitalist...basically each being a node of the whole monolith of patriarchal privilege

charley said...

"and she never done nuth'n to William Zanzinger..."

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