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America’s Wars and the Los Angeles Riots, Part 2


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Whether the jury’s verdict in the Rodney King case was a miscarriage of justice is beside the point. The real point is the shocking reaction to the verdict by many in the black and Hispanic communities. No mereacquittal can engender the response that was manifested in Los Angeles. The anger and outrage of the rioters went much too deep. The King verdict ignited a smoldering fire deep within the hearts and souls of people not only in Los Angeles but also in inner cities all across America.What Americans do not want to recognize is that blacks and Hispanics at the bottom of the economic ladder-and especially those in the inner city-have a right to be angry! For they are the ultimate victims-real losers-in the Wars on Poverty, Drugs, and Illiteracy. They have borne the brunt of all three of these vicious and brutal wars.

In his book Losing Ground, Charles Murray pointed out:

“During the period following 1959, black progress against poverty among the working-aged coincided with the civil rights movement and with the general economic boom that began in the early 1960s. Progress stopped coincidentally with the implementation of the Great Society’s social welfare programs…. When the years from 1951 to 1980 are split into two parts, 1951-65 and 1966-80, and the mean unemployment rate is computed for each, one finds that black 20-24-year-olds experienced a 19 percent increase in unemployment. For 18-19-year-olds, the increase was 40 percent. For 16-17-year-olds, the increase was a remarkable 72 percent.”

So much for the War on Poverty-at least insofar as blacks are concerned.

What about the results of the War on Drugs? The noted psychiatrist Thomas Szasz gives us the answer in his recent book, Our Right to Drugs:

“A Martian who came to earth and read only what the newspaper headlines say about drugs would never discover an interesting and important feature of America’s latest moral crusade, namely, that its principal victims are black or Hispanic…. [Alccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse WDA, the leading federal agency on drug abuse research), ‘Although only about 12% of those using illegal drugs are black, 44% of those who are arrested for simple possession and 57% of those arrested for sales are black.’. . . The black leadership’s seemingly increasing contempt for civil liberties is just one of the disastrous consequences of drug prohibition. The drug war’s impact on poor and poorly educated blacks is equally alarming and tragic. Instead of looking to the free market and the rule of law for self-advancement, the War on Drugs encourages them to look to a rare war-or a lottery ticket-as a way out of their misfortune.”

Have inner-city residents fared any better under the War on Illiteracy? Not a chance. David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, gave us the results in the 1991 book, Liberating Schools:“Figures on SAT scores and school spending cannot capture the special tragedy of our inner-city schools, which have become a key element of the vicious circle of poverty. A better indicator is the story of the Washington, D.C., high school valedictorian who was refused admission to a local college because he scored only 600 on the SAT. Like so many other urban teenagers, he had been conned into thinking he was getting an education. Virtually every major newspaper in the country has recently-if not regularly-sent reporters into inner-city schools only to discover that such institutions are nightmares of gangs, drugs, and violence, with little if any learning going on.

What magnificent fruits of the Wars on Poverty, Drugs, and Illiteracy! And that’s not all. For example, we use the regulated economy-minimum-wage laws, licensing and permit requirements, zoning restrictions-to block inner-city blacks and Hispanics from freely pursuing professions and trades. Then, we tell them, “Don’t worry about making a living. We’ll put you on welfare and into public housing (where we can monitor and control you). If you make too much money, we’ll either tax it away or we’ll evict you from your house. And don’t fret too much over the gang wars that periodically break out in the neighborhood-just dodge the bullet-the police will be there sometime or another to help you out. ” And then we force them to send their children to public schools that are more like day prisons and drug centers than institutions of learning. The icing on the cake is the exorbitant black-market profits arising from drug prohibition that lure many inner-city residents into a desperate financial attempt to break free of this nightmare.

What are the liberal and conservative answers to all of this? Despite having been mugged by reality, the liberals call for more of the same. The War on Poverty will finally be won, the liberals claim, with higher taxes and more federal aid. The conservatives’ answer is essentially the same but with one twist: conservatives believe-erroneously-that “enterprise zones” (central-planning, conservative-style”) will succeed where liberal central-planning failed.

And while conservatives are the more fierce of the drug warriors, the liberals also demand that the War on Drugs continue to be waged.

And both liberals and conservatives continue to follow the siren-song of public schooling-even though they have had 100 years in which to make it succeed.

But both liberals and conservatives face an insurmountable hurdle: governmental control over the peaceful activities and the fortunes of the citizenry can never be made to succeed. Period. No matter how much power is exercised-no matter how high taxes are raised-no matter how much more government spends-no matter how many “good” people are put into public office-the result will always be the same-abject failure. For evil and immoral means-coercion and plunder-will always beget bad ends.

Is there a solution to this morass? Yes. But it requires, first, that the American people face reality. In 1944, in his classic work The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek argued that the United States was traveling the same economic road as the totalitarian nations-the road to socialism-through the welfare-state, regulated-economy way of life. But Americans failed to heed Hayek’s warning, for they did, in fact, travel the road to serfdom.

Unfortunately, however, Americans continue to operate under the delusion that they were taught in their public schools-that they live and work under a “free-enterprise” system. They have no idea that their nation abandoned their ancestors’ principles of free enterprise many decades ago.

Why is the acceptance of reality the necessary first step to the solution? Because before the slave can break free of his shackles, he must first recognize the nature of his condition.

The second step does not lie in reform because evil and immorality cannot be reformed. The solution lies in dismantling-ending-the Wars on Poverty, Drugs, and Illiteracy. This means the repeal of: (1) every law that takes money from some people and gives it to others; (2) all regulations that interfere with peaceful exchanges between consenting adults; (3) all drug laws; and (4) all compulsory-attendance laws and school taxes. The solution for America lies in moving toward the principles of freedom of our ancestors-and abandoning the principles of governmental control and plunder of their 20th-century successors.

What are the chances of success? The best chance for freedom, I am convinced, lies with one group of people: the blacks, Hispanics, and other inner-city residents who have been the true victims of the Wars on Poverty, Drugs, and Illiteracy. If they will only discover that they have been conned by their own government-lied to-if they only will figure out that their own government has impoverished or decimated them with these wars, then we will have a chance to see freedom in our lifetime.

If the real victims of this horrendous tyranny ever decide to revolt by demanding an end to the governmental Wars on Poverty, Drugs, and Illiteracy, the rest of America will surely follow. All that we have to lose is our chains-and the suffering, misery, and impoverishment that came with them.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.