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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

JDD: Democratic Programs Add To Black Unemployment.

Democratic programs add to black unemployment
Written by John David Dyche

Dozens from some of west Louisville's predominantly black churches marched last week for more jobs for young adults. Their activism is understandable.

Nationally, black unemployment is 16.1percent, teen unemployment 24.9 percent and black teen unemployment 41.6 percent. These rates are either unchanged or worse since last year despite the deficit-bloating $814 billion Democratic stimulus package and the Obama administration's supposed “Summer of Recovery.”

In Kentucky, Steve Beshear, the incumbent Democratic governor, campaigns for re-election claiming his “top priority has been to act aggressively to create and retain jobs.” But Kentucky's 10 percent unemployment rate exceeds the national 9 percent rate, ranks 44th among the states and is worse than every bordering state's rate.

The 10.4 percent unemployment rate in Jefferson County, where Beshear's running mate, Jerry Abramson, was mayor until recently, is higher than the state rate. It is also essentially unchanged from April 2010.

The Louisville metropolitan area's 10.2 percent rate is higher than that of Columbus, Ohio (7.1percent); Indianapolis (8.1percent); Nashville, Tenn., (8.3 percent); Birmingham, Ala., (8.4percent); Lexington, Ky., (8.4percent), and Cincinnati (8.9 percent).

It will take more than mere marching to improve this depressing jobs situation. Change for the better will require different leaders and smarter policies.

African Americans seeking employment progress must first free themselves from 50 years of political thrall to the Democratic Party. Well-intended Democratic programs too often hurt the very people the party professes to help and who help put it in power.

Take the minimum wage, for example. In 2007, congressional Democrats attached an increase to $7.25 per hour to a “must pass” war-funding measure. Republicans added some tax breaks for small businesses. This hybrid bill passed with large bipartisan majorities, and President Bush signed it.

A study by economists William Even of Miami University and David Macpherson of Trinity University recently issued by the pro-business Employment Policies Institute makes a compelling case that this minimum wage increase damaged the job prospects of young black men even more than the recession did.

In his book Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?, conservative economist Walter E. Williams, an African American, argues that minimum-wage laws have discriminated against the employment of low-skilled people, many of whom are black teenagers.

Yet, President Obama would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour and index it to inflation. This would hurt minority hiring just as his health care law is doing.

Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf admits that “Obamacare” will reduce labor force participation by 800,000 over the next decade. The conservative Heritage Foundation attributes this to Obamacare's higher costs on businesses and its expanded benefits and subsidies. Obamacare discourages both hiring and work.

Wes Johnson Jr., co-owner of Louisville-area Buckhead and Rocky's restaurants, says, “The very people Obamacare purports to help will instead be significantly harmed because employers will reduce hours and benefits in order to afford the mandated coverage.”

Illegal immigration also hurts black employment. Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain, another African American, recently told a congressional committee that, “The rapid influx of cheap labor from foreign countries creates an oversupply of labor that works against the interests of native workers. It depresses wages, and it reduces opportunities,” especially for blacks who have a high school education or less.

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, says, “The best outcome for low-skilled citizen and legal immigrant workers is the removal of the illegal immigrant population. The very jobs that illegal immigrants occupy rightfully belong to out-of-work citizens and legal immigrants.”

Yet, Obama supports letting 11 million illegal immigrants stay in America by paying fines and taxes, learning English and passing background checks. His administration sued to strike down Arizona's law letting police verify the immigration status of people encountered during lawful stops or arrests. Beshear did not back a similar law state Senate Republicans proposed for Kentucky.

Republican presidential candidate and African-American businessman Herman Cain says, “We shouldn't be suing Arizona, we should be giving them a prize.”

Some attribute disproportionately high black unemployment to racism, others blame the black family's breakdown and still others assign individual responsibility. Perhaps these things contribute to the problem. But Louisville's marchers for more jobs ought first help trample out misguided Democratic policies that definitely do.

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney who writes a political column on alternating Tuesdays in Forum His views are his own, not those of the law firm in which he practices. Read him online at; email:

Editor's comment: In this piece, what JDD is positing is that, like taxes on business, when you keep raising the costs of doing business, those businesses will pass the costs on to someone else (consumers) -- either by increasing the prices of goods or by cutting back on new investments, including new hires. Unfortunately, young (and old) people bear the brunt of that decision, and when you add racism to the mix, young black men are the FIRST (and maybe, ONLY) casualties. So I believe what JDD writes!



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