Baltimore burns and America declines

Crossposted from Asia Times


When do you declare a point of no return? The burning of Baltimore might appear in future history texts as the turning-point in America’s fortunes. Six years after the election of America’s first African-American president, the prospects of black Americans seem bleaker than at any time since the First World War, when the great migration began from the cotton-fields of the South to the factories of the North.

Percentage of births outside of marriage

Percentage of births outside of marriage

Nearly three quarters of black children are born outside of marriage, which means that the vast majority of black children are raised by single parents. Black women, meanwhile, are carrying the economic burden of their families more than men. Roughly 3 black women are employed full time for every 2 black men (for American whites, the ratio is 3:2 in favor of men).




It is hard to blame racism for this discrepancy: why should there be less discrimination against female black job applications than against male job applicants? Two-thirds of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to African-Americans, moreover, go to women. No people in the history of the world has managed to raise and educate children without a father’s contribution to family income. Where are the black men? For every 100 black adult women not in jail, the New York Times reports, there are only 83 black men. The missing 17% are dead or in jail.


The reason that so many black men are in jail is because they have committed crimes. There is an argument, to be sure, that many black men are incarcerated for “non-violent” crimes such as selling illegal drugs; the counterargument is that the drug business is inherently violent, and that it is easier to catch a miscreant selling drugs than to catch him in the act of shooting a rival. In any case, America’s higher incarceration rate has coincided with a drastic drop in the incidence of violent crime. Statisticians will argue ad infinitum about causality, but a common-sense reading of the data tells us that there is less crime because more violent offenders are in jail.

The criminal justice system has contained crime in America, at dreadful cost: One in 87 white men of working age is incarcerated, vs. 1 in 36 Hispanic men and 1 in 12 African American men. There are more African American men aged 20 to 34 without a high school diploma or GED are behind bars (37 percent) than are employed (26 percent).

It is nonsense to suggest that police violence has much impact on the big picture: 94% of black murder victims are killed by blacks. Black men have a 1 in 21 chance of being murdered, vs. 1 in 131 for white men.

No matter what anyone does, things will get worse before they get better. Never in his history has the United States spent so much to support a nonworking population. As Nicholas Eberstadt observed in his 2012 book “A Nation of Takers,” one out of every three American households has at least one person receiving some kind of means-tested government payment.

If African-American rage takes the form of arson on a mass scale–after the election of a black president–there is no apparent solution. It is merely a symptom of American decline.