Moses said to the people in his final charge "I put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life...Be strong and resolute..for the Lord will not forsake you" Deut. 30 and 31. Former US National Debate Champion and Ordained Rabbi tackles issues of Public Policy, Israel, Islamic Terrorism, Antisemitism, Jewish Wisdom and the Chicago Bears
the minimum wage: a plan to free 6,000 federal inmates.
JASON L. RILEY
As Kanye West might say, I’m starting to wonder if the president much cares about the well-being of poor blacks.
Mr. West was remarking on the George W. Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina, a natural disaster, but the current administration seems keen on facilitating man-made varieties. At the urging of labor unions, President Obama has pushed for higher minimum wages that price a disproportionate percentage of blacks out of the labor force. At the urging of teachers unions, he has fought voucher programs that give ghetto children access to better schools.
Both policies have a lengthy track record of keeping millions of blacks ill-educated and unemployed. Since the 1970s, when the federal government began tracking the racial achievement gap, black test scores in math, reading and science have on average trailed far behind those of their white classmates. And minimum-wage mandates have been so effective for so long at keeping blacks out of work that 1930, the last year in which there was no federal minimum-wage law, was also the last year that the black unemployment rate was lower than the white rate. For the past half-century, black joblessness on average has been double that of whites. Last week the Justice Department said it would release some 6,000 inmates from federal prison starting later this month. The goal, according to the White House, is to ease overcrowding and roll back tough sentencing rules implemented in the 1980s and ’90s.
But why are the administration’s sympathies with the lawbreakers instead of their usual victims—the mostly law-abiding residents in low-income communities where many of these inmates eventually are headed? In dozens of large U.S. cities, violent crime, including murder, has climbed over the past year, and it is hard to see how these changes are in the interest of public safety.
The administration assures skeptics that only “nonviolent” drug offenders will be released, but who pays the price if we guess wrong, as officials have so often done in the past? When Los Angeles asked the Rand Corp. in the 1990s to identify inmates suitable for early release, the researchers concluded that “almost no one housed in the Los Angeles jails could be considered non-serious or simply troublesome to their local communities” and that “jail capacity should be expanded so as to allow lengthier incarceration of the more dangerous.”
A 2002 federal report tracked the recidivism rate of some 91,000 supposedly nonviolent offenders in 15 states over a three-year period. More than 21% wound up rearrested for violent crimes, including more than 700 murders and more than 600 rapes. The report also noted the difficulty of identifying low-risk inmates. Auto thieves were rearrested for committing more than a third of the homicides and a disproportionate share of other violent offenses.
Liberal policy makers have long been soft on crime, though more recently they have been joined by libertarian Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who cites the considerable expense of maintaining prisons. Mr. Paul parrots Democrats such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who has noted that the cost of housing an inmate for a year averages almost three times more than the cost of educating an elementary-school student for a year.
But like the overly simplified international comparisons so often cited in the press, the analysis is off-base. Yes, the U.S. has a higher incarceration rate than Europe, but we also have much higher violent-crime rates, which our incarceration rate reflects. The relevant comparison isn’t between the cost of education and the cost of incarceration. Rather, it is between the cost of incarceration and the cost of crime—including the loss of innocent life.
The socioeconomic progress of black Americans in the Jim Crow era before the civil-rights movement is a neglected area of media interest. Yet the pace of black advancement during this period—in poverty reduction, educational attainment, entering skilled professions and other measures—has never come close to being duplicated, not even in the decades following the landmark political victories in the 1960s and the launch of the war on poverty.
Racial barriers to black progress in the first half of the 20th century obviously were much more forbidding than they are today, but black communities then were also much safer and thus more conducive to social and economic progress.
The ghetto violence so prevalent today dates to the policy interventions of the 1960s, when coddling criminals became fashionable among judges, politicians and academics, and the government mistakenly believed that a welfare check could replace a father in the home. Before 1960, homicide rates in the U.S., including among blacks, had been falling significantly. The murder rate in 1960 was less than half of what it had been 25 years earlier.
Dangerous neighborhoods can only hamper the black underclass, and sending thugs back home sooner rather than later risks making a neighborhood more dangerous.
(Democratic) candidates’ nonstop holier-than-thou-ism is in fact a feint. Its
purpose is to conceal the reality of seven years of economic under-performance
during the Obama presidency. The labor-force participation rate, at 62.4, is
where it was in 1977. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ own vocabulary describes
the real world out there: discouraged workers, employed part time, not
currently looking for work. With chutzpah one has to admire, the party that in two terms weakened, if
not wrecked, the economy, now presents itself as its savior.”
is striking how far left the Democratic Party—including Mrs. Clinton—has moved.
Candidates spent the debate trying to outdo one another on gun control, climate
change and busting up Wall Street. One example: When asked to state America’s
greatest national-security threat, Mr. Sanders did not say Islamic State, which
controls much of Syria, Iraq and Iran. He did not say Russia, entrenched in
Ukraine and emerging as a dominant power in the Middle East, or even China,
threatening its neighbors in the west Pacific. He named climate change. One can
imagine President Sanders ordering special forces to the headquarters ofExxon,Shell
andChevronto haul off oilmen to re-education
camps cooled and heated by renewable energy…