Unemployment: Is Barack Obama a Racist?

Remember Katrina? Remember “George Bush doesn’t care about black people“? Remember how the suffering of non-whites was used as prima facie evidence of racism on the part of President Bush personally and the government at large? I’m sure you do.

What does that tell us about Barack Obama and unemployment? Consider today’s ugly employment numbers, as reported by the Washington Post:

The nation’s economic recovery continued to sputter as private-sector employers added just 71,000 jobs in July, according to a report released Friday by the Labor Department.

The small increase in private-sector employment was more than offset by the loss of 143,000 temporary census jobs, and the nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.5 percent. Overall, the nation shed 131,000 jobs in July.

… The Labor Department said 8.5 million workers were working part-time even though they would prefer full-time work. Meanwhile, 6.6 million of the nation’s 14.6 million unemployed workers have been jobless for more than six months, continuing a historic high, the government reported.

The report also showed that blacks and Hispanics continue to be the groups hardest hit by the nation’s job crisis. The black unemployment rate was 15.6 percent, the Labor Department said, and among Hispanics, unemployment was 12.1 percent. For whites the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent, and Asians had an 8.2 percent jobless rate.

So, the obvious conclusion is that Barack Obama hates blacks and Hispanics, tolerates white folks, and has a soft spot for Asians, right?


These ethnic bean-counting exercises do have some good uses: The circumscribed economic prospects of black Americans remain a national scandal, one of which we ought to be reminded, frequently. As I reported in my February article, “Keeping Blacks Poor,” (subscription only, alas):

There’s not much other work to be had in the Bronx, where unemployment is currently at about 13.1 percent. Much of the Bronx is young and black or young and Hispanic. Nationally, the unemployment rate among blacks rose to 16.2 percent in the year-end numbers, while the rate for whites fell to 9.0 percent. For black youths, the numbers are startling: 50 percent for 16–19-year-olds, 26 percent for 20–24-year-olds. A study from the Community Service Society of New York puts actual work-force participation among black men 16–65 years of age in New York City at about 50 percent, and the number for young black men nationwide is just 40 percent. Never mind the jobless recovery: For a great many black Americans, it’s been a jobless eternity, in good times and in bad. Why?

The easiest answer, and therefore the most popular one, is ill will. But the truth is, practically every politician in these United States would like to see a narrowing of the gaps that separate blacks from the rest of the country when it comes to economic standing, education, crime, and other areas of concern. Even a rotten old racist like LBJ wanted to do something about it — because it is a problem that imposes real costs on the country. But the fact is, government cannot manage the economy at that level. It can do very little to manage the economy even at the macro level: If all that Keynesian demand-management stuff worked, there’d never be a recession, never be any unemployment, etc. But it doesn’t.

Black unemployment in the United States is not outpacing white employment because Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are racists, or because they are insufficiently concerned about the welfare of black Americans. Federal economic policy is a pretty blunt tool, and it does not produce precisely the outcomes that its authors promise it will. Remember that the next time President Obama tells the nation that, not only are we going to “create” jobs, we’re going to create specific kinds of jobs — “green” ones — in specific industries — like battery development — because those jobs and those industries comport with Democrats’ political priorities. If Barack Obama actually had the ability to translate political desire into economic reality, black unemployment wouldn’t be nearly double white unemployment.

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