ON-Lion Letter

Why is it that so many efforts by liberals to lift the black underclass not only fail, but often harm the intended beneficiaries? 

In Encounter BooksPlease Stop Helping Us:  How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed, newly out in paperback, Jason L. Riley examines how well-intentioned welfare programs are in fact holding black Americans back.  Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Minimum-wage laws may lift earnings for people who are already employed, he writes, but they price a disproportionate number of blacks out of the labor force.  Affirmative action in higher education is intended to address past discrimination, but the result is fewer black college graduates than would otherwise exist.  And so it goes with everything from soft-on-crime laws, which make black neighborhoods more dangerous, to policies that limit school choice out of a mistaken belief that charter schools and voucher programs harm the traditional public schools that most low-income students attend.

In theory, these efforts are intended to help the poor -- and poor minorities in particular.  In practice, they become massive barriers to moving forward.

Please Stop Helping Us lays bare these counterproductive results.  People of good will want to see more black socio-economic advancement, but in too many instances the current methods and approaches aren’t working.  Acknowledging that is an important first step.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.  Bradley also substantially supports the Manhattan Institute.

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