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Freedom vs. Dependency: Civil Rights Act was a triumph, War on Poverty was a quagmire
Opinion Journal ^ | 7-25-04 | MYRON MAGNET

Posted on 07/26/2004 8:19:39 AM PDT by SJackson

The Civil Rights Act was a triumph. The War on Poverty was a quagmire.

Forty years ago, our nation embarked on two huge federal initiatives aimed at improving the lot of African-Americans: the War on Poverty and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The two programs, so different in their assumptions, turned out to be a giant natural experiment in social policy. With the results clearly in, we can distinguish what works to uplift people from what doesn't.

The Civil Rights Act was the capstone on America's long and tumultuous effort to make a reality out of its founding assertion, penned by a conflicted slave owner of genius, that all men are created equal. Henceforward, the act declared, Americans could not discriminate by race in employment, in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, gas stations, and motels, or in any federally aided program. Though, of course, racism lingered long afterward, as a practical matter American society and the opportunity it afforded were now open to all.

The result was dramatic and unequivocal. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the condition of most black Americans improved markedly. While in 1960 one in three blacks age 25 to 29 was a high-school graduate, for example, by 1972 the percentage had doubled to two out of three. The percentage of black college grads also doubled, from 10% in 1965 to 21% in 1977. Job status and pay showed a corresponding improvement during the 1960s and '70s. The proportion of black working women who had white-collar jobs rose from 17% to 50%, while for black working men the increase was from 11% to 28%. The median income of black working men rose from 59% of the median white working man's income to 69%; for black working women, the gain was much greater, from 64% to 93% of white working women's income.

But even as the opportunity opened by the Civil Rights Act resulted in such dramatic gains for the vast majority of black Americans, the condition of a minority of blacks, perhaps one in 10, markedly worsened in the years after 1964, so much so that a recognizable underclass--defined by the self-defeating behavior that kept it mired in intergenerational poverty--became entrenched in the nation's cities. The data tell that story vividly: the labor-force participation of black men fell from 83% in 1960 to 71% in 1980, and out-of-wedlock births rose from one in six for blacks in 1950 to over one in two in 1983 and nearly two in three by 1989. As the overall crime rate soared between 1960 and 1980, the black arrest rate (correlating closely with the black crime rate and 10 times higher than the white arrest rate) rose by 38%. Since, to repeat, most black Americans were succeeding, most of this rise in social pathology didn't involve the majority of blacks but was concentrated among that one-tenth who made up the underclass.

(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: civilrightsact

1 posted on 07/26/2004 8:19:42 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: SJackson
The Civil Rights Act was a triumph.

Wrong. It's an unconstitutional abomination that has been devastating to race relations in this country, as well as damaging to our national security.

2 posted on 07/26/2004 8:33:06 AM PDT by inquest (Judges are given the power to decide cases, not to decide law)
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To: inquest
Wrong. It's an unconstitutional abomination that has been devastating to race relations in this country, as well as damaging to our national security.

Insofar as it attempted to prevent the states from undertaking official discrimination against their citizens, Congress was well within its Fourteenth Amendment powers to enact the Civil Rights Act. Using the Commerce Clause to ban discrimination by diners and movie theaters is a little more murky, however.

3 posted on 07/26/2004 9:00:45 AM PDT by SedVictaCatoni
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To: inquest
Wrong. It's an unconstitutional abomination that has been devastating to race relations in this country, as well as damaging to our national security.

I'm tempted to think this is a troll. Racism is rarely so obvious anymore.

How has it been "devastating" to race relations? How has it damaged national security?

4 posted on 07/26/2004 9:53:00 AM PDT by tdadams (If there were no problems, politicians would have to invent them... wait, they already do.)
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To: SedVictaCatoni
"Insofar as it attempted to prevent the states from undertaking official discrimination against their citizens, Congress was well within its Fourteenth Amendment powers to enact the Civil Rights Act. Using the Commerce Clause to ban discrimination by diners and movie theaters is a little more murky, however."

My compliments to you for recognizing and articulating the constitutional questions involved with the Civil Rights Act.

You have stated the jurisdictional dichotomy most citizens struggle with succinctly.

With that being said let me state that I agree with your statement that Congress acted correctly, using Fourteenth Amendment as their justification, for enacting the Civil Rights Act to "prevent the states from undertaking official discrimination against their citizens."

And yes, the "Commerce Clause (as the basis for federal jurisdiction with the boundaries of a sovereign state and private property owners) to ban discrimination by diners and movie theaters (private property owners) is little more murky however."

I would like to take your comment one step further towards the declaration of the obvious unconstitutionality of the Civil Rights Act as applied to private property owners.

Even assuming that the founding fathers intention of "commerce clause" did give the federal congress jurisdiction over private property owners within the boundaries of sovereign state (I do not believe that to be true), all laws and regulations enacted under this jurisdiction still cannot violate the Bill of Rights.

For example, a newspaper company would be under the jurisdiction of laws and regulations enacted by congress because of the "commerce clause" power.

But congress does not have unrestricted "power" to regulate a newspapaer. Congress is "prohibited" from "regulating" content of a newspaper because of Amendment I.

Congress is also restricted from regulating private property by Amendment IX as well.

"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The right to discriminate is a right "retained by the people."

The right to own private property without government interference is a right "retained by the people."

What part of the U.S. Constitution did the federal congress and federal judges use as justification to convert private property, diners, motels, and gas stations, to property of "public accommodation," thus giving the federal congress jurisdiction to "regulate" that property?

How far away in the future is the day when the federal congress exerts federal jurisdiction over your home, making storage of gasoline in your garage for your lawnmower a hazardous materials issue; using your lawmower on certain summer days, an air pollution issue; using your bar-b-que pit on Indepedence DAy, an air pollution issue; smoking tobacco in your home, with a children, a child endangerment issue, and prohibiting certain people from entering your home a discrimination issue because the federal congress exerted "commerce clause" jurisdiction in your home because you have a home loan with a lending company involved in interstate commerce?

That scenario is the only logical conclusion of the unconstitutional interpretation of the commerce clause in today's jurisprudence.

5 posted on 07/26/2004 11:03:54 AM PDT by tahiti
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To: tdadams
Racism is rarely so obvious anymore.

Race-baiting such as that is rarely so obvious on FR. ;-)

How has it been "devastating" to race relations?

"Blame whitey" is the standard ideological redoubt of the racist Left. The pattern goes like this: "Civil rights" laws make it more difficult for businesses to turn down and/or fire minorities. As a result, the average quality of those that they hire begins to go down, merely because of a government-imposed selection bias. This results in resentment on the part of whites, which puts continued distance between them and minorities. This distance is exacerbated by the fact that minorities are encouraged to cry racism whenever things don't go their way. And the vicious cycle continues.

How has it damaged national security?

If airlines weren't inhibited by these artificial limitations, they could easily have prevented the 9/11 terrorists from boarding. But as a result of idiotic laws like this, that job was much harder, because any accusations of "racism" would likely have carried legal consequences. So it was easier for them to just look the other way and pretend it was someone else's problem.

That's in addition to the fact that airlines, and other businesses whose operations have security implications, are still constrained to hire people from countries that are inimical to our interests.

What would be the rational argument against repealing this law? What business in its right mind would turn down a qualified minority applicant?

6 posted on 07/26/2004 1:37:46 PM PDT by inquest (Judges are given the power to decide cases, not to decide law)
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To: inquest
This results in resentment on the part of whites, which puts continued distance between them and minorities. This distance is exacerbated by the fact that minorities are encouraged to cry racism whenever things don't go their way. And the vicious cycle continues.

No, doubt there's some of this, but there always has been resentment, but also mistrust, hatred, and violent tendencies toward minorities. But you feel these things are worse now than they were 40 years ago? Don't make me laugh.

7 posted on 07/26/2004 7:47:42 PM PDT by tdadams (If there were no problems, politicians would have to invent them... wait, they already do.)
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To: tdadams
I didn't say it was worse than 40 years ago. I'm saying that it's considerably worse than it otherwise would be if we followed the Constitution.
8 posted on 07/27/2004 11:40:50 AM PDT by inquest (Judges are given the power to decide cases, not to decide law)
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To: tdadams
Your tagline's appropriate to the discussion, btw.
9 posted on 07/27/2004 11:42:47 AM PDT by inquest (Judges are given the power to decide cases, not to decide law)
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