Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Greater Pigford Problem

Big Whoopee.  The New York Times has finally done a bit of investigating into the Pigford scandal, and found it a cesspit of corruption.

The original scandal was the the US Department of Agriculture had discriminated against some black farmers in the awarding of crop loans.  In 1999 the Clinton Administration agreed to pay $50,000 to each farmer that had been discriminated against in the period 1981 to 1996.  But it turned out that the cure was worse than the disease as tens of thousands of blacks signed up for free money.

Even Barack Obama got into the act, in 2007.
In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama pushed for allowing late claims to be processed and setting up another billion-dollar payoff fund, in what became known as Pigford II, setting off a free-for-all. As of February 2006, “over 97,000 people had filed claims under the consent decree or requests to file late claims.”
How many black farmers had been discriminated against?  One USDA administrator reckoned, in testimony to Congress: "about fifty."

The problem here is not merely corruption, or the use of race to beat up on people making accusations about corruption.  It is the bigger problem of retributive politics.  Let alone redistributive politics.

What good does it do to hand around free money to any politically favored group when the group as a whole is cratering in the larger economy?

Here we have President Obama, the First Black President.  You'd think he'd really concentrate on formulating policy and executing on it so that the lives of black people would really improve.

You'd think.

But the results are now coming in.  Blacks are doing worse than the average American in the Obama economy.  Much worse.  In January 2009 the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.  In March 2013 it was 7.6 percent.

For whites the unemployment rate in January 2009 was 7.1 percent.  Now it is 6.7 percent.

For blacks the unemployment rate in January 2009 was 12.7 percent.  Now it is 13.3 percent.

For black youth the unemployment rate in January 2009 was 34.8 percent.  Now it is 33.8 percent.

What we are seeing is same old same old.  From a president that promised to transform America.

You can check the numbers here.

So, what's the point of a First Black President if he can't do anything at the macroeconomic level for blacks?

Let's assume that the president really wants to help people of color.  Let's assume that he really wants to improve the lives, and especially the economic lives, of black people.

Given such a record of failure, you would have to assume that the president has pursued exactly the wrong policy to make life better for blacks.  Assuming that he honestly wants to do the right thing, you would have to assume that he doesn't have a clue what the right thing is.  Or worse, that the policy he thinks is the right thing is in fact tragically mistaken, and doesn't help blacks in the least.

In fact we had a curious confirmation of that last week when it turned out the sector that did best economically in the first two years of the Obama administration was the top 7 percent.

Why was that?  Well, the rich did well because their stocks rebounded from the 2008 crash while the home prices for the 93 percent didn't rebound.

Gee now, I wonder why?  Could it be that the average person was encouraged by the government to get way overleveraged by government programs that subsidized home mortgages?  And that the government subsidies led to a bubble in home prices?  And that the government in particular encouraged loans to sub-prime borrowers, particularly minorities?  And that minorities were hardest hit by the subsequent crash in home prices, because they had the least equity in their homes?

Do you think that maybe, after President Obama is gone and that racial minorities no longer have their racial pride to look after, that minority voters will respond to a political meme that declares the Democrats just don't have a clue what they are doing?

Because, really, the economic policy of the Democratic Party is really Pigford writ large.  Democrats believe that the way to help minorities is to find a racial scab and scratch it.  Find a racial wrong and pay reparations to the victims.

But the problem is that after the wrong has been righted and the reparations paid and the free stuff handed out to the Democratic Party supporters, the problem is still there.  

The victims have to get out and get a job.  How would they do that when the Democrats have been training them fo decades to believe in winning the political lottery as the meaning of life?

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