Black Lives Matter has delivered a ten-point manifesto of what they want. I have to say, it isn’t as bad as I expected. In fact, some of it makes a lot of sense. For example, they ask for the end of “broken windows” policing, the end of “for-profit policing practices” such as civil asset forfeiture as well and the end of “the police use of military equipment.”
What I am, however, surprised about is that the list doesn’t at all mention ending the failed Drug War even though many of their demands are to end policies (like the ones mentioned above) that are by-products of the Drug War. It is even more surprising since many have noted how the black community suffers disproportionately from the policy.
I find this essay from John McWhorter extremely compelling and moving about the disastrous results the Drug War has had on Black families. Far from finding excuses for the decisions made by those who choose employment in the illegal drug market rather than lower-paying jobs in the legal labor market due to the incentives created by the Drug War, McWhorter explains the consequences and the vicious cycle that follows. He writes:
The War on Drugs destroys black families. It has become a norm for black children to grow up in single-parent homes, their fathers away in prison for long spells and barely knowing them. In poor and working-class black America, a man and a woman raising their children together is, of all things, an unusual sight. The War on Drugs plays a large part in this. It must stop.
I know this is a controversial issue among conservatives, even though acknowledging that the Drug War has failed and needs to be scaled back is different from condoning the use of drugs. National Review even called for legalization of Marijuana back in 1996, long before the New York Times did in 2014.
That being said, no matter what conservatives think about the policy, it remains strange that it doesn’t appear on the BLM’s list of demands.
Less surprising, but important, is a failure to ask for the end of minimum-wage policies. Over at Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux posted a great discussion between George Mason University’s Walter Williams and the Hoover Institution’s Thomas Sowell on, as Boudreaux writes, “the minimum wage government’s practice of ordering low-skilled workers to remain unemployed if, and for however long as, those workers are unable to persuade or entice employers to hire them at wages at least as high as the wage that government dictates.” As Williams says during the interview:
The minimum-wage law has been, and continues to be, one of the most effective tools in the arsenal of racists everywhere around the world.
It is worth also reading the article published a few months ago over at the TNR about the racist origins of the minimum-wage laws. While the intentions behind the law have changed dramatically, it doesn’t mean that the policy has become low-income-worker friendly. As we know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Even less surprising is the absence on the BLM’s list of the need to reform Social Security. As I have mentioned before Social Security redistributes money from blacks and other minorities to white people. You would think that considering the stakes, BLM would put it on their list.
All this goes to say that while the list wasn’t as bad as I expected, it fails to address important policy changes that would really make a difference.