Bad News for Black Families
When we assess the President's post-election performance and the effects of his redistributive and regulatory policies, we find that, like a falling tide, he is sinking everyone. We also find that although Barack Obama has hurt all American families, he has hurt black families most of all.
The metaphor of the economy as a tide is particularly helpful. When the tide rises, our boats rise. When the tide falls, our boats fall. Just as water may not be subdivided to make some boats rise and others fall, our economy cannot be subdivided, either.
Similarly helpful is Democrat Daniel Moynihan's longstanding observation:
During times when jobs were reasonably plentiful ... the Negro family became stronger and more stable. As jobs became more and more difficult to find, the stability of the family became more and more difficult to maintain.
Black families are faring worse than at any time in the last 25 years, and worse than at this point with President Obama than with Presidents G.W. Bush, Clinton, H.W. Bush, Reagan, and even Carter. These presidential comparisons span a period of almost four decades.
Black Adults. Black unemployment has been persistently high for a long time. Likewise, median weeks unemployed are higher than under any other president. These facts are testaments to the ineffectiveness of the Obama presidency.
We are experiencing a 28-year high in black unemployment; but unlike January 1983, when black unemployment spiked but then soon improved, Barack Obama's black unemployment has hovered in the 14%-16% range for over three years (now 14.1%).
Not only has the job picture been dismal, but standards of living have deteriorated in other ways. Black poverty has increased, and the prices of gasoline, bread, ground meat, milk, and sugar are up dramatically. Bloomberg recently reported that "consumer credit climbed more than forecast in May, led by the biggest jump in credit-card debt in almost five years that may signal Americans are struggling to make ends meet."
Under President Obama, needy families have grown needier, and his ho-hum response has been to tout food stamps. As the Texas food stamp experience reveals, "Let them eat junk food" is the president's empathic parallel to Marie-Thérèse's now-famous "Let them eat cake." That state's food stamp beneficiaries are sustained by Pop-Tarts, cookies, honey buns, candy bars, corn dogs, taffy, and cheesecake. Yet another sad Obama achievement: 46.5 million Americans, more than the populations of Canada, Poland, Spain, or Australia, are now on food stamps.
Hope and change hasn't played out well for black adults.
Black Children. Like the adults, black children have suffered mightily under President Obama. Teen black unemployment is at a terrible 39.3%. The number of children living under the poverty line is as high as it has ever been.
Similarly, the number of children on food stamps has reached its highest level since 1980, black illegitimate births have peaked at 72.5% of all black births, and sexually transmitted diseases are up -- particularly for black kids, for whom chlamydia occurs 3.8 times more than for Hispanics and 7.5 times more than for whites. New York now aborts of 60% of its black babies, and LA high schools come equipped with Planned Parenthood clinics.
Like the adults, black children can't afford to move forward with Barack Obama.
Presidential Comparison. A three-and-one-half-decade comparison highlights the problem. Consider the following, shown at the end of the first term for each president:
The man is ill-suited for the job. He scores last (in yellow) in unemployment, weeks unemployed, food stamps, and black illegitimate births, and near the bottom or tied for last in black unemployment, months of 12%-plus black unemployment, and children below the poverty line.
Barack Obama has crushed the business and hiring climate. What's left are his race-based initiatives -- the Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, the first African American policy conference, Operation Vote, the hiring of an NAACP operative to lead White House African-American outreach, and African Americans for Obama, which includes a program to engage barbershops as "opinion leaders."
These impotent, Obama-centric promotions highlight the small-mindedness and exhaustion of his presidency. Unless we count barbershop outreach and press releases, his is an all-fronts failure. The damage will continue if he is re-elected, and rational self interest dictates that all voters, but particularly black voters, choose anyone but Barack Obama.
However, it is important to note that identifying the failure of Barack Obama in no way compromises the achievement of his election. It is a great thing that we elected a black president. Most of us knew that our country had overcome its most serious racial divisions, but the evidence is nice. We are a great country, and our progress established a permanent possibility for black children -- that of becoming president of the United States.
Black Americans should not succumb to the temptations of despair or denial by joining themselves to the disappointing Obama presidency. Our weak economy, black joblessness, and the travails of our families are not their failures; they are Barack Obama's. This should come as a relief -- a yoke lifted -- because family plights can improve once Barack Obama is voted out of office, all the while leaving intact the historical achievement of having elected a black president.
As well, let's not conflate the man Obama with the historical achievement. Black Americans may not be robbed of the fact that we have elected a black president and at some point will do so again. Our achievement is irreversible, whether Barack Obama leaves the White House after one term or after two. It's just that all of us, and black Americans in particular, will be better off if he leaves after one.