Sowell and Williams, Two Blacks Used to “Racism” Accusations


Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are used to being called “Racists” and “White Supremacists” by people who hear them on radio or read their words or hear their writings quoted.  The two rather dark-skinned Blacks often get a good belly-laugh when it happens.  So it was natural when Sowell wrote a column praising William’s latest book “Race and Economics,” that both men received scathing online attacks from the Progressive fringe of the political spectrum; and even got called “Uncle Toms” from many Blacks well-informed of the two men’s identities. 

This is not a new experience for either man.  Like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Florida Representative Allen West; Republican Presidential contender Herman Cain; Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and famous General Colin Powell . . . fiscal-conservative and Constitutional-conservative Blacks often pay a huge price  and are often labeled “traitors” by large segments of the Black community as a whole.  Williams and Sowell first met back in 1970 when both men were working on the same research project back in Washington, D.C.  A new book that year entitled “The Poor Pay More” was proving to be scandalous press fodder for the liberal media . . . in a very short article, Williams destroyed that book’s argument and it quickly fell out of print.  How did he do it?

Williams agreed, yes, prices were higher in low-income minority neighborhoods. But he unequivocally rejected the book's claim that this was a result of “exploitation” or “racism.”  He simple referred to the common-sense logical approach he’d used to write his doctoral dissertation on the question.  Williams documented that the costs of doing business in many low-income neighborhoods (insurance; no economy of scale; greater shoplifting and other theft threat; etc.) was usually significantly higher and these costs were simply passed on to the consumers there.  That was, according to Thomas, the first time that Walter Williams was called a “White Racist.”

Thomas lauds Williams’ new book Race and Economics and especially loved a couple of its chapters.  In Chapter 6, Williams returns to the original question raised by The Poor Pay More argument.  The clinching bottom-line argument is:  despite higher markups in prices in low-income neighborhoods, there is a lower than average rate of return for businesses there” which, of course, is presumably the main reason why so few businesses choose to operate there.  Thomas continues, “my own favorite chapter . . . is Chapter 3, the most revealing chapter in the book.”


Williams begins Chapter 3 thusly, "Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today." Moreover, the duration of unemployment among blacks was shorter than among whites between 1890 and 1900, whereas unemployment has become both higher and longer-lasting among blacks than among whites in more recent times.

“None of this is explainable by what most people believe or say in the media or in academia. But it is perfectly consistent with the economics of the marketplace and the consequences of political interventions in the marketplace.”

The book "Race and Economics" explains how such interventions impact blacks and other minorities, whether in housing markets, the railroad industry or the licensing of taxicabs-- and irrespective of the intentions behind the government's actions.

Both Thomas and Williams see minimum wage laws as classic examples of the harm done by government interference. “The last year in which the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930. That was also the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law.”  Besides the minimum wage laws, the impact of the Unions upon Black employment was also huge.  Throughout labor’s history, the Black worker has been the least welcome in the union halls.  When the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was passed in 1931 it required that “that "prevailing wages" be paid on any government construction projects-- "prevailing wages" almost always meant union wages. Since Blacks were kept out of construction unions back then, and for decades thereafter . . . many black construction workers lost their jobs.  The stated purpose of the law was to protect the workers . . . what it did instead was to marginalize even further the poor and minorities.  Before the law was passed an awful lot of non-union Black construction crews were able to underbid union White contractors.  After the bill, the haves prospered while the have-nots suffered.  These problems expanded after the true minimum wage laws were required by the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.  After those laws the negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries was absolutely devastating.  Today young Blacks are unemployed at a 52.7% rate compared to young Whites at 27.2%, but back at the turn of the century before minimum wage laws came on the scene young Whites were much more employable than older ones and young Blacks had lower unemployment rates still.

Thomas concluded his review this way, “The factors that cause the most noise in the media are not the ones that have the most impact on minorities. This book will be eye-opening for those who want their eyes opened. But those with the liberal vision of the world are unlikely to read it at all.”

One thing that Williams said recently on FOXNews’ Stossel show was that “government intervention over the last seventy years did something that no amount of slavery, Jim Crow or discrimination was able to do:  it destroyed the Black Family” citing statistics that roughly 72% of Black children in the 20’s lived in two-parent homes and less than 30% do so today.  “After the Black mother tells Dad to move out, because she might lose her checks . . . the Black father becomes disposable in the community.”


Ya’all live long, strong and ornery,


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