weighing Mises Institute Markets,
Not Government,
Improve Race Relations.
Richard M. Ebeling
Richard M. Ebeling
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Politically we seem to be living in some trying times. The political polarization, as captured in the mainstream news media, appears to be intensifying with even acts of destructive violence on the streets and campuses of American cities. At the same time, pictures out of Houston during and following Hurricane Harvey show empathetic assistance and cooperation between people and groups that supposedly are in heated contention with each other. How do we reconcile this?
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Race Prejudices of a Few Decades Ago.
When I was a young boy the evening news carried the imagery of violence on the streets of some Southern cities as people marched against segregation laws and faced sometimes brutal force by law enforcement agencies directed to put down the “uppitiness” of blacks and white civil rights workers insisting upon equal rights and equal treatment for all before the law.
icon for wireless From the “Working Class” to the “Middle Class”.
What about "class" relationships? I grew up in the era of the Cold War when it seemed a real question as to whether or not communism would triumph around the world instead of Western-style democracy and a system of private enterprise and personal freedom. It is easy to yawn about this today, but it should be remembered that there was an ideologically aggressive movement in the world that was determined to bring a socialist transformation everywhere around the globe, and whose adherents believed that the appropriate and essential means of bringing this about was through the use of political tyranny, a pervasive secret police, and social terror in the form of torture, imprisonment and mass murder.
icon for wireless The Long Path from Slavery to Equality of Individual Rights.
My purpose in saying these things is not to be a "Pollyanna" - "When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will" - and presume that all is well with mankind and the road ahead is bright and beautiful. But before one looks for "the bad" and tries to understand what it is and why it exists, it is at least worth reminding ourselves that if everything is not good with the world today, it is still better in some important ways than was the case in the past.
icon for wireless Overlapping Tensions About "Right" in the Minds of Men.
Systems of ideas and beliefs always overlap at any moment of historical time. Thus, the new ideas of an individual's "natural rights" to his life, liberty and honestly acquired property existed in the eighteenth century side-by-side with the older ideas of absolute monarchy and unequal privilege and status among groups in society.
icon for wireless Free Market Institutions and Incentives Work for Racial Betterment.
That this is an inherently "natural" dynamic in open free markets is shown, I would suggest, by the fact that to prevent from occurring such mutually advantageous exchanges and associations among people of differing races or ethnicities, cultural racists and those fearful of the market competition of those of other races have used political power to impose segregation laws legally prohibiting such interracial interactions.
icon for wireless Government Policies Have Hindered Racial Betterment.
Having been driven out of potential labor market opportunities due to minimum wage laws, government regulations of business have also often made it too costly for low income and relatively unskilled members of the black community to start their own private enterprises. As consequence, it has made enterprise and employment in illegal black markets more attractive in some minority communities. Locked away in government subsidized housing and dependent on government welfare payments and in-kind benefits, dealing in the illegal drug market has seemed to too many as a way to escape from poverty through the making of "easy money." It has also resulted in a disproportionately high incarceration rate among young black men, who then have prison records that add to the difficulty of later finding their way into a better economic life.
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The New Tribalism of Identity Politics.
This is flagrantly not the case by any reasonable historical standard. But the political left's agenda and policies are helping to make us a far more race-conscious society once again, which can only bring with it serious negative consequences for American society as a whole.