I came of age during the Reagan years, when welfare was a major wedge issue. Back then, the GOP was not always afraid to campaign on allegedly racially-tinged issues and the Gipper himself railed against “welfare queens” living large on the dole while (mostly white) taxpayers struggled to raise their own families.
Welfare was a winning issue for Republicans and was considered fair game in debates and campaigns. But now welfare has all but disappeared from political discourse. It has not been mentioned in the Republican primary debates. Whoever gets the GOP nomination will not bring up the issue against President Obama.
(And that’s better than Affirmative Action, which never made it into federal politics at all, except briefly after the great grass roots victory of California’s Proposition 209 in 1996—when its ten seconds of fame were abruptly ended by none other than then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who decreed the issue was unsuitable for the “modern” majority party he wanted to build:
“Even House Speaker Newt Gingrich, perhaps the nation’s best-known conservative, has urged caution when attacking affirmative action, calling the issue politically treacherous.” [Target SATS, By Michael Fletcher, US Black Engineer & IT Dec-Jan 1998])
One of the myths about welfare that was repeated almost every time it was debated in the 1980s and 1990s was that more whites than blacks were on relief. Not surprisingly, Jesse Jackson and Bill Clinton used this line. But I recall hearing alleged conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Debra Saunders, John Leo and Cal Thomas also bringing out this whopper when talking about welfare.
Of course, it was a lie. In 1990, the black-white breakdown for Aid to Families and Dependent Children (AFDC) was 41 percent black to 38 percent white. In 1999, the gap widened to 38 percent black to 31 percent white (with Hispanics constituting 25 percent). Blacks were only 12 percent of the population over this time period—so the image of the black welfare queen used by Ronald Reagan was rooted in reality.
About two years ago, I heard Sean Hannity repeat the myth on his radio show. I meant to look up the latest racial breakdown of welfare but forgot. However, a recent blog entry on National Review Online made me think of this issue once again.
“I’m always amazed by the baggage some C-Span viewers bring. For instance, to the best of my recollection, I didn’t mention black people in any way, shape or form. And yet this is one of the e-mails I got from a C-Span viewer today:
‘You need to learn about all people. You are woefully ignorant about people of all races. That is what is wrong with people like you. You have tunnel vision. Pick up a Jet or Ebony magazine and see that blacks are very diversified. We are not all on welfare looking for a handout. We do work and pay taxes. by the way, 75% of the people on welfare are white. Look it up. You can’t hurt us without hurting your own kind.’”
[Hello C-Span Callers, The Corner, October 18, 2011]
NRO is supposed to be composed of conservative policy wonks and GOP mouthpieces who at least know the ins and outs of issues. But Goldberg didn’t even try to point out the lies in this statement. He just defensively tried to protest that he didn’t mention race. Most likely, he truly believes most welfare bums are white.
There were 30 comments on this NRO blog entry and not one actually challenged the assumptions of Goldberg’s critic. I guess Establishment “conservatives” are not big on knowing the facts.
But the facts are not hard to find. The most recent racial breakdown of welfare recipients is from 2009. Officially, welfare is now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The racial makeup of Americans on the dole is as follows: blacks 33.3 percent, whites 31.2 percent, Hispanics 28.8 percent, Asians 2.1 percent and American Indians 1.3 percent.
Contrary to Goldberg’s C-Span watcher, blacks are still the queens (and kings) of welfare. And welfare is not the only form of handouts. As John Derbyshire wrote this summer in TakiMag, food stamp use is going up and blacks are again leading the pack. Food stamps are now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Derbyshire quotes from a New York Times article:
“Nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid—28 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Latinos and 8 percent of whites….Half of Americans receive food stamps, at least briefly, by the time they turn 20. Among black children, the figure was 90 percent.”[Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades, By Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff, November 28, 2009 ]
Derbyshire calls welfare—and the other assorted programs, handouts and preferences for blacks—the Slavery Tax. In other words, guilty white elites imposed it on the rest of society to make up for the supposed effects of slavery and segregation.
But now that we are in a perhaps permanent economic decline, can we afford the Slavery Tax anymore? As Derbyshire put it:
“Can the Slavery Tax be maintained in an age of austerity? An age in which, moreover, increasing numbers of non-black Americans will feel justified in asking why, after so many decades of favors, concessions, preferences, and support, so many black Americans are still so desperately far behind?
“The Slavery Tax was imposed in the robust USA of the 1960s and 1970s, when our country was a mighty engine of prosperity and our governments were swilling in cash. There was some complaining; but heck, we could afford it. We could afford anything!”[Can We Still Afford the Slavery Tax?, August 12th, 2011]
Derbyshire’s use of “non-black” rather than “white” is telling. The U.S. is no longer just black and white. Whites are down to a rapidly dwindling 63 percent of the population and are already a minority of babies being born in the U.S. [Numbers of Children of Whites Falling Fast, By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times, April 6, 2011]Will increasingly Asian and Hispanic taxpayers continue to pay the Slavery Tax even though they had nothing to do with slavery or segregation?
Demographic change is altering what Steve Sailer has called the “racial ratio”, the ratio of affirmative action (and welfare) beneficiaries to benefactors. Combined with economic decline, it does not augur well for welfare queens.
“In evolutionary terms, the century that will have run from, say, 1950 to 2050, is a fantastic aberration that will never be repeated. Whites created a completely artificial environment in which low-g black car thieves really can have dozens of children, thus ensuring a steady decline in black IQ. Only whites could ever do something so insane, and either whites will recover from insanity or they will disappear. In either case, blacks will find themselves in a more conventional—and demanding—environment.
If whites do not wake up, there soon won’t be enough of them to pay for free school lunches and AIDS medicine. The Mexicans (and Asians) who will be calling the shots are not sentimental chumps. Blacks will have to fend for themselves …”
Escaping The Tar Pits of Racism, by Joseph Kay with a response by Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, November 4, 2011
Peter Bradley [email him] writes from Washington D.C.