I describe myself as a fiscal conservative with a social conscience. Most of the time I discuss issues like slow economic growth and excessive national debt. But occasionally, like today, I deal with related issues such as social inequality. Last fall I had a post entitled, “Why Racism Exists in America” in which I made the case that it’s not just our different skin color which divides blacks and whites, but also the large degree of social inequality between the two races, such as disparities in family structure and education levels as well as for income levels. Today I am pleased to refer to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, “Black Americans See Gains in Life Expectancy.” In fact, the black-white life expectancy gap has dropped from 7 years in 1990 to 3.4 years today. This is for a multitude of reasons:
The suicide rate for black men has declined from 1999 to 2014, the only racial group to show such a drop.
Births to black teenage mothers, who tend to have higher infant mortality rates, have dropped by 64% since 1995, faster than for whites.
The rate of deaths by homicide for blacks decreased by 40% from 1995 to 2013, compared with a 28% drop for whites.
The death rate from cancer fell by 29% for blacks over the same period, compared with 20% for whites.
Smoking has declined faster for blacks than whites and, in fact, blacks now have lower smoking rates than whites.
The decline in black deaths from AIDS accounts for a fifth of the narrowing of the mortality gap with whites from 1995 to 2013.
One way that black lives matter is that blacks are living longer! This offers hope that blacks can and will make progress on other fronts as well.
“It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of these privileges.” Booker T. Washington, 1856 – 1915
My last two posts have discussed the theme of a new book by Dennis Prager, “Still the Best Hope: why the world needs American values to triumph.” Mr. Prager’s thesis is that there are three competing ideologies for the allegiance of humankind, namely Islamism, Leftism and Americanism and, furthermore, that these three ideologies are incompatible. Any one of them succeeds at the expense of the other two.
As I said on March 8, Mr. Prager’s broad framework helps me place my own ideological views into perspective. Here is one example of this. As everyone knows, 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery. But it is also the 50th anniversary of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed in today’s New York Times, “When Liberals Blew It” reminds us how prescient Moynihan was about a breakdown in family structure and how reviled he was by liberals when he issued his report. Mr. Kristof points out that:
In 2013, 71% of black children were born to an unwed mother (compared to 53% of Hispanic children and 36% of white children), far more than in 1965.
Growing up with just one biological parent reduces the chance that a child will graduate from high school by 40%.
A father’s absence from the home increases antisocial behavior especially for boys.
A lack of preparation for many jobs which are now available.
A black subculture which rejects attitudes and behaviors conducive to upward mobility.
That too few blacks are taking advantage of the opportunities now available to them.
In other words, more and more spending on welfare and public services is not what blacks need for further advancement. Rather it is to stop thinking of themselves as victims and to develop a greater sense of personal responsibility. This is the American way to get ahead!