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Commentary

The Liberal Plantation



Donald Trump was right. When asked why black voters should vote for him, he answered, “What have they got to lose?”

Virtually every major city in the country is controlled by Democrats. In every one of those cities, most low-income black familiesare forced to send their children to the worst public schools. They are forced to live in the worst housing. And they are subjected to the worst environmental hazards.

The more liberal the city, the worse things are. New York City has the most segregated schools in the country and some of the worst public schools. California has the highest number of homeless people in the nation (although per capita homelessness is actually higher in two other liberal states: New York and Hawaii). In San Francisco, the number of people who are homeless, hungry, drug-addicted and poverty stricken has become a national disgrace.

New York City has the oldest public housing system in the country. It is also one of the worst. About the same time that the city and the state awarded $3 billion in subsidies to Amazon, a federal judge described New York’s public housing this way:

Somewhat reminiscent of the biblical plagues of Egypt, these conditions include toxic lead paint, asthma-inducing mold, lack of heat, frequent elevator outages, and vermin infestations.

Further, the judge noted, the housing authorities have been covering up and lying about these deficiencies for years.

So why does Amazon get $3 billion of public money, while poor people live in housing that is infested with rats, lead paint and mold?

Modern political systems in all developed countries are examples of what I call the mixed economy welfare state (MEWS). In these systems, people combine their time, energy and resources to pursue their economic interest as groups. Sometimes the resulting government policy is beneficial—such as the production of a public good or the elimination of a negative externality. But all too often, the political goals of each special interest group impose costs on everyone else—a process I have described more fully in my essay on public choice.

Almost everything that impedes the success of inner-city black families is the result of bad government policies advocated by some special interest. While taxi cabs in New York routinely discriminated against black riders, the city government ran a cartel service for the industry in which a Yellow Cab medallion cost $1 million. Only recently have free market options such as Uber and Lyft managed to circumvent those regulations.

In almost every city in the country, paramedics who treated our soldiers on the battlefield overseas are prohibited from providing similar care in low-income communities. Only recently have free market MinuteClinics found a way around those regulations.

There is no reason why markets can’t produce low-income housing. At the beginning of the 20thcentury, more than 90 percent of the population lived below the poverty level. Yet these people managed to find a place to live. Today, special interest regulations have priced (unsubsidized) low-income housing out of existence in every large city.

Success in a MEWS system requires a lack of loyalty to any one party or any one candidate. If candidate A gives you a better deal than candidate B, you have to be willing to support A. Otherwise, the two candidates have no reason to compete for your support.

That’s the problem for black Americans. Year after year, in election after election, they have given almost total support to only one party. For that reason, the two parties don’t compete in any substantive way for their votes.

For example, in the most recent election, 90 percent of black voters voted for Democrats. Yet Jason Riley reports in the Wall Street Journal that newly elected Democrats who won with black support will now proceed to close down charter schools attended by minority children.

An exception to this dismal outcome was the governor’s race in Florida, where a white Republican candidate, Ron DeSantis,won 18 percent of the black female vote while running against a black male opponent. The deciding issue for these women: school vouchers. In an election decided by fewer than 40,000 votes, 100,000 school choice moms provided more than the margin of victory.

Political systems need ideologies to explain and defend themselves. These often involve myths. For example, under slavery the plantation owners told themselves the slaves were actually better off. The slaves, they said, were better fed, better clothed and better housed than they would have been had they remained in Africa.

Similarly, the myth of modern liberalism is that Democratic rule makes black Americans better off. Hollywood is only too happy to perpetuate that myth. Campaigning in Georgia the other day, Oprah Winfrey said that Stacy Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor, would “serve the underserved.”

If so, it would be a first.

The entire school choice movement has been funded and promoted by rich white conservatives with a few rich white liberals scattered here and there. But there is not a single Democratic politician in the whole country who is willing to buck the teachers’ unions and advocate moving black children out of bad schools and into good ones.

Nor is there any Democratic politician who wants to liberate the job market by lowering the regulatory barriers that require a government license for nearly 30 percent of all the jobs in the country. The only advocacy here is coming from libertarian judicial activist organizations.

Even on criminal justice reform, the lead actor has not been the NAACP. It’s been the Koch brothers and conservative state think tanks.

Oprah Winfrey’s speech in Georgia was almost completely devoid of public policy. Instead, it was racially charged identity politics from beginning to end. She said:

I am here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed ... and I want you to know that I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain.

So if you want to keep those sacrifices from being in vain, whom does Oprah suggest you vote for? For the modern representatives of the very party that sanctioned and condoned the lynching, the discrimination, the suppression, etc.

She went on to say:

For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote ... You are dishonoring your family, you are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering and their dreams when you don’t vote.

So, if you are a black voter in Georgia, how does Oprah imagine you should honor your ancestors? By voting for the party that gave us slavery, segregation, Jim Crow and the modern liberal plantation.


John C. Goodman is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, President of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of the widely acclaimed Independent books, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, and the award-winning, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the “Father of Health Savings Accounts.”


New from John C. Goodman!
A BETTER CHOICE: Healthcare Solutions for America
Obamacare remains highly controversial and faces ongoing legal and political challenges. Polls show that by a large margin Americans remain opposed to the healthcare law and seek to “repeal and replace” it. However, the question is: Replace it with what?







  • Catalyst
  • MyGovCost.org
  • FDAReview.org
  • OnPower.org
  • elindependent.org