THE STATE AGAINST BLACKS by Walter E. Williams

THE STATE AGAINST BLACKS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The free-market economics view of black poverty and unemployment: the primary cause isn't racial discrimination, but government regulations that ipso facto discriminate against ""outsiders, latecomers, and [the] resourceless."" Economist Williams (George Mason U.) first dismisses the racial-discrimination ""axiom"" by citing the economic success of Jews and other disfavored minorities; he then suggests that ""discrimination"" may be based on ""preference, prejudice, or real differences."" I.e., employers have reason to be wary of black applicants, given blacks' inferior education, if they must pay them the same as whites. (Also: banks have reason to ""redline"" inner-city neighborhoods--given fixed interest rates; ghetto stores have reason to charge higher prices--given the higher cost of doing business.) The culprit, then, is the minimum wage or any fixed wage--which provides ""an economic inducement for racial discrimination"" (or no incentive not to discriminate) and thus denies young blacks early work experience. The second culprit is occupational and business licensing--as applied in the taxicab, railroad, and trucking industries, and to the licensing of plumbers and electricians. Unquestionably, restrictive licensing restricts opportunities; but the number of black cab drivers in unregulated, 70 percent black Washington, D.C., can hardly be said to prove ""that racial discrimination alone is overused to explain the restricted earning opportunities for blacks""--or that nationwide deregulation would significantly increase black opportunities. (Neither does union racism, past or present, mean that ""unionization consistently works to the disadvantage of blacks."") Rickety and pernicious, by turns.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1982
Publisher: McGraw-Hill