“Race and Economics” explains how such interventions impact blacks and other minorities, whether in housing markets, the railroad industry or the licensing of taxicabs— and irrespective of the intentions behind the government’s actions.
Minimum wage laws are classic examples. The last year in which the blackunemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930. That was also the last year in which there was no federal minimum wage law.
The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was in part a result of a series of incidents in which non-union black construction labor enabled various contractors from the South to underbid Northern contractors who used white, unionized construction labor.
The Davis-Bacon Act required that “prevailing wages” be paid on government construction projects— “prevailing wages” almost always meaning in practice union wages. Since blacks were kept out of construction unions then, and for decades thereafter, many black construction workers lost their jobs.
Minimum wages were required more broadly under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries.
In recent times, we have gotten so used to young blacks having sky-high unemployment rates that it will be a shock to many readers of Walter Williams’ “Race and Economics” to discover that the unemployment rate of young blacks was once only a fraction of what it has been in recent decades. And, in earlier times, it was not very different from the unemployment rate of young whites.
The factors that cause the most noise in the media are not the ones that have the most impact on minorities. This book will be eye-opening for those who want their eyes opened. But those with the liberal vision of the world are unlikely to read it at all.
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