Saturday, August 27, 2011

NPR, The Tea Party, and Race

Last week, Brent Bozell wrote a column examining the ever fertile subject of media bias at NPR. He gave the following example.

Let's just take one show, the Aug. 22 evening newscast "All Things Considered," perhaps one of the most ill named programs in the history of radio. Conservatism is never considered. It is only besmirched, assaulted and rhetorically dismembered.
NPR anchor Robert Siegel was covering the new Martin Luther King memorial statue on the National Mall in Washington D.C. So in order to consider all things, he asked black wacko-leftist Julian Bond if Tea Party activists were racist.
Siegel threw this softball at Bond: "Some people read into the Tea Party's almost neuralgic reaction to government spending, a sense that white people figure black people benefit disproportionately from federal programs. Do you suspect a racial subtext to that whole argument?" Bond said, "absolutely," "there is a racial animus there."

Only a card carrying liberal (part of an NPR correspondent's job description) could make the association between an MLK memorial unveiling and the Tea Party. However, any opportunity to attack the Tea Party, no matter how flimsy, is too precious to waste, and playing the race card is much easier than going through the contortions of putting a positive spin on government hyperspending. So Siegel makes his speech and a designated crony nods his assent, and propounded is the ludicrous idea that those expressing alarm over the unconscionable explosion of the nation’s debt must be racists.
This is what passes for “journalism” at NPR. A responsible practitioner of journalism would have provided an antagonist to counter Siegel’s position – a Michele Bachman or, even better, a black tea party advocate like Allen West. Or, better yet, sticking with the interviewer's theme of anti-black discrimination and political parties, he might challenge Bond with the following:

Mr. Bond, I would like you to comment on two favorite policy prescriptions of progressives – the minimum wage and welfare. First, bear with me for a moment as I read to you a passage from Economist Thomas Sowell’s book, “Basic Economics”.

Even though 1949 – the year before a series of minimum wage escalations began – was a recession year, black teenage male unemployment that year was lower than it was to be at any time during the later boom years of the 1960s. The wide gap between the unemployment rates of black and white teenagers dates from the escalation of the minimum wage and the spread of its coverage in the 1950s. The usual explanations of high unemployment among black teenagers – inexperience, less education, lack of skills, racism – cannot explain their rising unemployment, since all these things were worse during the earlier period when black teenage unemployment was much lower.
Taking the more normal year of 1948 as a basis for comparison, black male teenage unemployment then was less than half of what it would be at any time during the decade of the 1960s and less than one third of what it would be in the 1970s.
Unemployment among 16 and 17-year-old black males was no higher than among white males of the same age in 1948. It was only after a series of minimum wage escalations began that black male teenage unemployment not only skyrocketed but became more than double the unemployment rates among white male teenagers. In the early 21st century, the unemployment rate for black teenagers exceeded 30%. After the American economy turned down in the wake of the housing and financial crises, unemployment among black teenagers reached 40%.

Numbers like that support Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman's assertion that the minimum wage is the most anti-black law on the nation's books.*

Now, welfare.

In his book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide To Capitalism”, Robert P. Murphy quotes welfare policy expert Robert Rector,

The welfare system that has existed for the past 30 years may best be conceptualized as a system that offered each single mother with two children a “paycheck” of combined benefits worth an average of between $8500 and $15,000, depending on the state. The mother had a contract with the government. She would continue to receive her “paycheck” as long as she fulfilled two conditions: 1. She must not work. 2. She must not marry an employed male.

Economist Walter Williams points out the results of this policy -

In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate among blacks was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 70 percent.

Even as late as 1963, just before LBJ began his ”War On Poverty”, 77% of black children were born to families with both a father and a mother.

As Mr. Sowell has noted, the war on poverty has been able to accomplish what slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and other forms of discrimination has not: it has largely destroyed the black family.

So, Mr. Bond, given that Democrats overwhelmingly support a steadily increasing minimum wage and an ongoing expansion of welfare payments – one might say they have an almost neuralgic reaction to attempts to limit them – and, seeing the destructive effect that these policies have had on the black community, do you suspect that the Party is acting to purposely create and perpetuate a permanent black underclass dependent on government largesse?

Or to put it more succinctly, Mr. Bond, isn’t the Democratic Party racist?


*For a short video of Friedman discussing the negative effects of the minimum wage see

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