A Black Conservative and A Black Liberal on Black Unemployment

Posted on April 11, 2013


Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.


It is no secret that unemployment among black Americans is about twice that for white Americans. Bob Johnson, America’s first black billionaire and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), is not at all happy about that difference.

(CNSNews.com) - Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson said Tuesday that the nation would “never tolerate white unemployment at 14 or 15 percent” and yet unemployment for the black community has been double that of white Americans for over 50 years.

“This country would never tolerate white unemployment at 14 and 15 percent. No one would ever stay in office at 14 or 15 percent unemployment in this nation, but we’ve had that double unemployment for over 50 years,” Johnson said while speaking at the National Press Club about the gap between whites and blacks in America.


Johnson said the challenge was to figure out why the unemployment rate for blacks has been so high, “and if that doesn’t change, somebody’s going to have to pay— 34 million African-Americans are not going to leave this country, millions of African-Americans who don’t have jobs.”

“Somebody’s going to have to pay for them. Somebody’s going to have to take care of them, and if somebody’s going to have to take care of them, that money’s got to come from somebody. And whoever’s paying for it is going to be upset about it, and they’re going to start looking for somebody to blame,” Johnson said.

According to the poll Johnson commissioned, which was conducted by Zogby, 50 percent of African-Americans blame the “failure of the education system for minorities/African-Americans” for high unemployment among blacks, while 48 percent say the “lack of corporate commitment to hiring minorities/African-Americans” is to blame for unemployment in the black community.

Mr. Johnson is clearly implying that discrimination is the root cause of the discrepancy in employment rates between the two races. What does he suggest be done? From Black Entertaiment.Com we learn:

Johnson, the billionaire chairman of the RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television, said the disparity could be narrowed if Obama encouraged U.S. corporations to voluntarily embrace a plan to interview at least two qualified minority candidates for every job at the vice president level or above. He said companies should also interview two minority-owned firms for vendor supply and other contracts. (Bold added)

Really? How is that supposed to reduce unemployment in  the black communities? Any minority “qualified” to fill a position of vice president or above in any company is not likely to be unemployed, is he/her? So, I can only   assume that Mr. Johnson assumes that if there were more minorities in top positions of American companies that they would fill positions under their responsibility with unqualified minorities. I don’t think so! But, I am a white man so my opinion on black unemployment doesn’t count.

Dr. Walter E. Williams is a renowned economist and he happens to be black. Not surprisingly he does not agree Mr. Bob Johnson and he tells us his opinion in this article at Townhall.

From 1900 to 1954, blacks were more active than whites in the labor market. Until about 1960, black male labor force participation in every age group was equal to or greater than that of whites. During that period, black teen unemployment was roughly equal to or less than white teen unemployment. As early as 1900, the duration of black unemployment was 15 percent shorter than that of whites; today it’s about 30 percent longer. To do something about today’s employment picture requires abandonment of sacred cows and honesty.

The typical answer given for many black problems is racial discrimination. No one argues that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. But the relevant question is: How much of what we see can be explained by discrimination? I doubt whether anyone would argue that the reason for lower unemployment, higher labor force participation and shorter duration of unemployment among blacks in the first half of the 20th century was that there was less racial discrimination. I also doubt whether anyone would argue that during earlier periods, blacks had higher education and greater skills attainment than whites. Answers must be sought elsewhere.

Dr, Williams goes on to talk about his own life growing up in the projects of Philadelphia in the 1940’s and all the part time jobs he worked at to make money during his youth. But, he then explains that there are much fewer opportunities for today;s black youth and he explains why that is so.

Such opportunities for early work experiences are all but gone for today’s teens living in Richard Allen homes. A major reason is the minimum wage law, which makes hiring low-skilled workers a losing economic proposition. In 1950, only 50 percent of jobs were covered by the minimum wage law. That meant the minimum wage didn’t have today’s unemployment effect. Today nearly 100 percent are covered. Today’s child labor laws prevent youngsters from working in perfectly safe environments. The minimum wage has destroyed many jobs. That’s why, for example, in contrast with the past, today’s gasoline stations are self-service and theater ushers are nonexistent.


Then there’s education. Black youths are becoming virtually useless for the increasingly high-tech world of the 21st century. According to a 2001 report by Abigail Thernstrom, “The Racial Gap in Academic Achievement,” many black 12th-graders dealt with scientific problems at the level of whites in the sixth grade; they wrote about as well as whites in the eighth grade. The average black high-school senior had math skills on a par with a typical white student in the middle of seventh grade. The average 17-year-old black student could only read as well as the typical white child who had not yet reached age 13. That means an employer hiring the typical black high-school graduate is in effect hiring an eighth-grader.

Dr. Williams is right. “Answers must be sought elsewhere.” Why is it then that an obviously smart man like Mr. Bob Johnson doesn’t see the same things that Dr. Williams sees? It’s because Mr. Johnson was trained in “liberal” thinking. And that brings me to the refrain at the top of the page about giving a man a fish or teaching a man to fish. Liberals are not about teaching minorities or anyone else to fend for themselves in this world. If they did that, these people would no longer be dependent on their liberal  elites.

Think about this. Whose words will be repeated ad nauseam by the MSM: those of Dr. Williams or those of Mr. Johnson? Exactly!

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

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Posted in: Racism, Unemployment