Economics, Exploitation

Libertarians and the Conversation on Race

My monthly “The Calling” column over at the Future of Freedom Foundation might be of interest to BHL readers.  I argue that libertarians should be part of the ongoing conversation on race in the US in the wake of the events in Ferguson.  We have a unique contribution to make because we are able to avoid the victim blaming engaged in by many conservatives, who put the problems of black communities solely on blacks themselves, while still .  Instead, we should be agreeing with our friends on the left that the primary cause of racial disparities are structural factors, even as we then argue that the structures in question are not those endemic to markets and capitalism, but the ways in which misguided intervention into markets tends to disproportionately harm the poor and non-white. Here’s a bit from it:

A libertarian approach to racial disparities should be structural in pointing to these institutional factors. From a social-scientific perspective, we should talk about how markets tend to penalize racist behavior by raising the costs, and how markets improve living standards for all, especially poor and lower-skilled workers. We might point to David Levy and Sandra Peart’s work on the origins of the reputation of economics as the “dismal science” to explain how classical-liberal defenders of markets have historically been on the side of what they call “analytical egalitarianism” and against the racism of the Romantics, who saw markets as destroying the racial hierarchies they favored. Markets, especially their exclusion of all forms of monopoly privilege, are racial equalizers.

We should also make great use of Public Choice theory to describe how public policy gets made. The theory of government intervention regarding rent-seeking and concentrated benefits/dispersed costs helps us to understand why those with resources are likely to persuade politicians to intervene in markets in self-serving ways that harm those with few resources. If it is true that whites have more wealth and power, why expect government intervention in markets to be a source of racial equality?

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Author: Steve Horwitz
  • martinbrock

    We can make all of these points without emphasizing race, and we should. Racism undoubtedly exists, but emphasizing the role of racism in the lives of members of a disadvantaged group does not therefore benefit these people. Race conscious politics typically only further disadvantages people already disadvantaged by racist attitudes.

    • j r

      That is a bit of a blanket statement, no? The Montgomery Bus Boycott was certainly race conscious. Did it further disadvantage blacks in the south?
      There are distinctions between MLK marching on Birmingham and Al Sharpton marching for Tawana Brawley, but I’m not sure that race consciousness is it.

      • martinbrock

        I qualified my statement with “typically” and used the present tense, so no, it’s not a blanket statement.

        When a policy is explicitly race conscious, like Jim Crow laws opposed by the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a race conscious reaction is unavoidable. A broader “conversation on race” is not confined to an explicitly racist policy in this way. There is no racist policy to reform, only assertions of racism typically accompanied by race conscious policies as a solution.

        Racist attitudes are largely beyond the control of their victims. Market solutions (finding employers/customers who are not racist) are within their control. We should always emphasize remedies that are within people’s reach, rather than encouraging them to seek remedies through a state that typically can’t solve the problem.

        • Kenneth

          This discounts the construction of the problem. The structural disadvantage that exists today is due to state intervention and maintenance of racist policies. That you believe a solution is viable without the state has me wondering if you understand the nature of the problem. It is necessary for the state to intervene to solve the problem. The real question is how will the state intervene.

          • martinbrock

            The only thing you know about the solution is that it takes a state? Are you running for office?

            The state has been intervening in the race issue throughout my life. The political conversation on race is never ending and can only address the problems of politicians in reality.

            If you actually face disadvantageous, racial discrimination personally, you can focus on your own sphere of influence, or you can imagine the state your sphere of influence. In reality, even if you could influence the state, you wouldn’t solve your problem, because unintended consequences are the rule of state action, not exceptions to the rule.

  • Not the last word…

    Why assume that there should be racial equality? If blacks are inherently intellectually and socially inferior to whites– as Charles Murray, Arthur Jensen, and so many other scientists have demonstrated– shouldn’t there be anti-egalitarian provisions built into governing institutions in accordance with the ‘natural order’? It would also better serve the races as social roles and expectations dovetail with underlying heritability. Of course, these baselines can be revisited as (voluntary) eugenic policies get results.

    • Slawsome

      Why is it that these conversations among libertarians always end up with some skull-measurer chiming in?

      • Not the last word…

        Jason Lewis et al. of UPenn found that Samuel Morton’s skull measuring was actually rather unbiased and spot on– contra the egalitarian character assassination by Steven Jay Gould.

        From the NY Times:
        “But the Penn team finds Morton’s results were neither fudged nor
        influenced by his convictions. They identified and remeasured half of
        the skulls used in his reports, finding that in only 2 percent of cases
        did Morton’s measurements differ significantly from their own. These
        errors either were random or gave a larger than accurate volume to
        African skulls, the reverse of the bias that Dr. Gould imputed to

      • Craig J. Bolton

        It is that way, Slawsome, because many libertarians actively support a “right to be racist.” Until that comes to an end there will be racists among libertarians.

        • Sean II

          So you propose taking away the right to be racist?

          Which rights would you take away, and from which racists?

        • Theresa Klein

          Sort of the way there will be Satanists among Americans as long as America’s government actively supports a right to be a Satanist.

          There are all sorts of countries in the world where being a Satanist is forbidden, and sure enough, those countries don’t have many Satanists.

    • Steven Horwitz

      Charles Murray has not argued that blacks are inherently intellectually and socially inferior to whites. That’s simply a false accusation.

      And your Devil’s Advocate position has no basis in social or natural science, so I don’t think you’ll find any takers for your troll bait. Beyond this.

      • Not the last word…

        The majority of key sources for Murray and Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve are racialists. E.g. Richard Lynn, maybe the most cited by these authors, is described by Murray as ““a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences.” Lynn writes for white supremacist publications including VDare, American Renaissance and Mankind Quarterly. Lynn still might be an editor for MQ. Of course, one must separate motive from actual science. But given that The Bell Curve is also political advocacy– propaganda aimed at ending affirmative action and Head Start programs…. Well, you can put 2 and 2 together. There is more, too.

      • Not the last word…

        Your accusation is a false accusation, Prof. Horwitz. Do I detect a double-standard? What were all those things you had to say about the Paul Newsletters?

      • Not the last word…

        Charles Murray on immigration, responding to racialist John Derbyshire in National Review:

        “2. Massive immigration of legal low-skill workers is problematic for
        many reasons, and some of them have to do with human capital. Yes, mean
        IQ does vary by ethnic group, and IQ tends to be below average in
        low-job-skill populations. One can grant all the ways in which smart
        people coming from Latin American or African countries are low-job-skill
        because they have been deprived of opportunity, and still be forced to
        accept the statistical tendencies. The empirical record established by
        scholars such as George Borjas at Harvard cannot be wished away.”

        Still be forced to accept statistical tendencies on ethnic group IQ. What is Murray’s theory of IQ? Where did he get it? Why is it not racialist?

        • J-Lib

          If we assume that multitudinous environmental/social/economic variables have nothing to do with performance on IQ tests, and if we further assume that “IQ” as typically measured is even a meaningful concept, what’s that have to do with human rights or with a need to build in “anti-egalitarian provisions”?

          • Not the last word…

            Some libertarian racialists will agree with you– the means to attain the natural racial caste system– compassionate and all– ought to be voluntary. Ending affirmative action, social programs, public schooling etc, will be good enough. Other racialists believe that more force is necessary- ranging from keeping social welfare/schooling based on testing (which will weed out the lower races) to formal apartheid measures.

      • race

        Sorry Steven, Charles Murray is in the race realist, racialist, racial hereditarian– you may choose other wording- camp. The Bell Curve is rather strong evidence:

        Murray and Herrnstein writes: “This prompts a second point to be understood at the outset: There are differences between races, and they are the rule, not the exception. That assertion may seem controversial to some readers, bur it verges on tautology: Races are by definition groups of people who differ in characteristic ways.” (272, TBC)

        Okay, rather harmless at first look. Except that geneticists find over 1000 useful groupings at the molecular level. The symmetry between social identifications– even social science labels used for race/ethnicity– and biology dissipates. There are more questions than answers. Murray claims otherwise in his May 2014 WSJ review and praise of Nicholas Wade’s recent (race realist) speculation “A Troublesome Inheritance”.

        It’s not merely that Murray gets the biological picture wrong– it’s that The Bell Curve relies on a major unproved assumption of hereditarian IQ. Murray’s go to researchers, Arthur Jensen and Richard Lynn, are not only solid believers in asian v. white v. black simplicity of race heritability in IQ; IQ itself becomes an abstract phenomenon indistinguishable from a real thing: reducible to a number that allows for race ranking.

        Then on pg 299 of The Bell Curve Murray and Herrnstein address the issue of environment v. nature in explaining the gap between white and black IQ test scores. They claim that controlling for social conditions just cannot make up the difference.

        “Let ’s state these conclusions in percentile terms:The average environment of blacks would have to be at the 6th percentile
        of the distribution of environments among whites, and the average environment of East Asians would have to be at the 63rd percentile of environments among whites, for the racial differences to be entirely environmental. Environmental differences of this magnitude and pattern are implausible.” (299, TBC)

        This statement comes after establishing their simplistic assumptions about race– that do not match genetic reality. So, Steven, I would urge you to revisit your claim that Murray is not saying that blacks are inferior. Murray believes in white v. black differences. One key aspect that is more nature than nurture along these lines is intelligence. The Bell Curve has statistic after statistic illustrating these assumptions.

        Whether or not Murray’s assumptions and beliefs hold any scientific water may be treated separately– but let’s at least recognize the race realism in Murray. Of course, one can find mitigation strewn about– but no refutations.

        As an aside– one could take notice of how TBC contradicts Murray’s other popular work “Losing Ground.” Losing Ground depicts the negative consequences of welfarism from an incentive perspective. The Bell Curve, on the other hand, says ‘Why bother with social welfare programs and affirmative action when those at the bottom are there because of their low and inherited IQ.” (And since IQ’s heritability is most glaring when illustrated by factor analysis looking for race correlations…yada yada yada).

        So, what do you say? You still think Murray is not a racialist with specific rankings in mind?

    • brandonrg

      Demonstrated, claimed-but-were-thoroughly-debunked, what’s the difference?

      • Not the last word…

        Murray Rothbard, Mr. Libertarian himself, was a fan of The Bell Curve and praised the book for “expressing in massively stupefying scholarly
        detail what everyone has always known but couldn’t dare to express
        about race, intelligence, and heritability”. Libertarian philosopher/economist Hans Hoppe is a racialist. Historian Paul Gottfried, adjunct at Mises Institute, as well. Charles Murray is held in high regard by both the Koch’s and Lew Rockwell. How often does that happen? Even Prof. Horwitz is defending him– in spite of being empirically wrong.

        Arthur Jensen taught at Berkeley for decades and received a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lifetime Achievement Award from ISIR (fellow intelligence researchers), and was named in the top 50 psychologists of the modern era.

        Where are the social consequences of this so-called “debunking”?

      • Not the last word…

        Even “Sean II” a well known commenter here is sympathetic to racialism.

        • Sean II

          The minute I saw that header, I knew my name was sure to be mentioned before I even showed up.

    • TracyW

      Well if that’s the best the devil’s advocate can come up with, the case looks remarkably strong. Your starting premise is about a claimed effect not observable in day-to-day life (she says living in London), and then you follow it up by a non-sequitor.
      Not to mention the abuse of scare quotes. It’s one thing to say “we should build x in accordance with the natural order” and quite another to say “we should build x in accordance with something that isn’t really the natural order”, which is what scare quotes would imply.

      Finally, who thinks modern society is so simple that social roles and expectations can be divided up by race?

      I don’t know what race you are, but you appear to be doing your best to support your hypothesis of intellectual and social differences by single-handedly lowering your own group’s average.

      • Not the last word…

        IQ scores combined with sophisticated factor analysis- granted using IQ as an abstract concept– shows very high correlations between race/IQ and social performance. Jensen found .8 heritability of IQ. Do you just ignore his and others’ research or the piles of statistics illustrating these findings in The Bell Curve?

        I could remove the scare quotes for you. Or we could fight it out in court as to their meaning in this comment’s context. Scare quotes are not used in only one fashion.

        Most people have underlying racial beliefs about intelligence and talents- even when their personal values-at least proclaimed in public- dictate to treat people as individuals. Martin Luther King and all that. That this dichotomy has logical problems is rarely examined.

        Nice zinger ad hom Tracy. Are you married to Spock by chance?

        • TracyW

          I’ve read the Bell Curve. The authors were very careful to point out that their statements about race and IQ had no bearing on individuals, who, as should be obvious to everyone, range vastly in intelligence. Did you just ignore that bit?

          The non-sequitor is because you attempt to extract an “ought” from an “is”, namely “shouldn’t there be anti-egalitarian provisions built into governing institutions”.

          Please remove the scare quotes. I know they’re often used by illiterates as emphasis, it’s bloody annoying.

          Although even removing the scare quotes doesn’t make it much better. It’s then a case of the logical fallacy argumentum ad naturam. It’s the natural order for about 50% of babies to die in their first year. I prefer artificial orders thank you very much.

          Most people have underlying racial beliefs about intelligence and talents- even when their personal values-at least proclaimed in public- dictate to treat people as individuals.

          Logical fallacy of argumentum ad popularum. Also, treating people as individuals is generally a very good idea. For example, it would be silly to go through life assuming that just because the average man is taller than the average woman therefore every man is taller than every woman.

          Nice zinger ad hom

          Nope. An argumentum ad hominem is the logical fallacy when someone argues basically “You’re stupid/evil/etc, therefore your argument is wrong.”

          My response was basically your argument is wrong (for the reasons I gave) therefore you’re being stupid. That’s not a logical fallacy, it’s an insult.

          (Note, I have an open mind on whether your stupidity on this point is congenital or affected.)

          • Not the last word…

            It’s probably a good idea to have your Oughts tempered by the Is. If it looks like rain, ought we carry umbrellas?

            So, you do agree that Herrnstein and Murray support the idea of strong IQ racial (group) heritability– similar to that of Jensen, Lynn, Cattell and others? Yes, I am aware that they strategically place disclaimers– so does Jensen btw– about what may be extrapolated/interpolated from the data. Especially concerning individuals. But only those with grade school critical abilities can be bought with such invocations.

            Insults? Oh, alright!

          • TracyW

            You’ve introduced another non-sequitor. Earlier you were extracting an “ought” from an “is”. Now you’re talking about going the other way, starting with an “ought” and then tempering it with an “is”. Totally irrelevant to defending your original argument (in the loose sense of the word “argument”).

            You’ve just chucked a bunch of logical fallacies at me, and incorrectly labelled an insult as a logical fallacy. Now you’re trying to claim you’re qualified to assess others’ critical abilities? This strikes me as a case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

          • Not the last word…

            Is this your way of avoiding answering substantive questions? Because that’s exactly what your detours in fallacy land is about. Ok then. Never mind your personal views on race for the moment. How about your analysis of The Bell Curve, which you claim to have read.

            Is Charles Murray’s assumptions about IQ heritability implicitly, if not explicitly, squarely in the racialist camp? Is it fair to stipulate that Murray and Herrnstein are particularly reliant on research and theory on IQ coming from Richard Lynn and others who are quite unabashedly racialist?

          • TracyW

            On the contrary, pointing out your logical fallacies goes to the core of your attempts at arguments. When each step you draw is a logical fallacy, the whole is ridiculously bad.

            You just made another a slip, revealing you were trying to commit an out-of-context-quotation fallacy. Above, you asked me my opinion on what I thought Herrnstein and Murray support, which I ignored on the basis that it was almost certainly going to result in you quoting my opinion out of context as my personal views (as opposed to my views on what Hernstein and Murray think).

            And here, you are now saying “never mind your personal views”. Sounds like my expectation that any answer would get quoted out of context was right.

            This is more support for you being a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect: your critical abilities are so low that you fail to even cover up your attempts at trapping your debate partner.

          • Not the last word…

            Wow. Please, Ms. Fallacy, label correctly what you just did here: “Above, you asked me my opinion on what I thought Herrnstein and Murray
            support, which I ignored on the basis that it was almost certainly going
            to result in you quoting my opinion out of context as my personal views
            (as opposed to my views on what Herrnstein and Murray think).”

            Mind reading fallacy? Several others probably apply.

            I understand conversing about race beyond the milquetoast initial thread can be risky. But getting to the heart of the matter is far more rewarding. Your hesitancy and deflections (even when some stick. I plead no contest) reflects on you and the level of honesty you are willing to commit.

            Maybe you would be better off not answering at all– like Steve Horwitz!

          • TracyW

            Mind reading fallacy? Several others probably apply.

            Hardly, just experience from arguing many times before with the sort of person who commits multiple logical fallacies like you did.

            And I note that you don’t deny my comment about your intentions.

            Your hesitancy and deflections (even when some stick. I plead no contest) reflects on you and the level of honesty you are willing to commit.

            Again, pointing out that you are committing logical fallacies left, right and centre goes to the heart of your argument. When each step you take involves a logical fallacy your whole argument is rotten. You can’t escape this by pretending it’s a deflection any more than you could by claiming it was a detour.

            On the other point, it strikes me as stupid to resort to arguments that rely on people’s belief in my honesty when I can make arguments that anyone can assess the truth of for themselves.

            (Not to mention that one can honestly make errors, really, seriously, it’s stupid to look to people’s honesty in assessing their arguments).

            Maybe you would be better off not answering at all– like Steve Horwitz!

            On the contrary, years of arguing back is what has improved my skill in assessing and identifying logical fallacies in arguments. One can learn from a debate no matter how incompetent one’s partner is.

    • Theresa Klein

      Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that blacks have on average lower IQ. How do you get from that to “shouldn’t there be anti-egalitarian provisions built into governing institutions in accordance with the ‘natural order'” ? That makes no sense unless you think that intelligence is the sole measure of a human being’s value and that stupider people should have fewer rights, which is not something that any libertarian anywhere comes remotely close to arguing.

      Besides which, if presumably stupid people were granted fewer rights then it would eventually become impossible to determine who was *really* stupider, since the people in the privileged classes would necessarily end up being better educated. It’s absolutely essential that the governing institutions treat everyone as equally as possible precisely so that people can rise based on merit, and not because they happened to be born in the right group.

      • Not the last word…

        Thank you, Theresa. The racialists vary on the “oughts” for sure. Some believe that the bio-determinism is so clear that it informs what the details of political force should be. e.g. Apartheid.

  • Fritz

    You and your “friends on the left” studiously ignore the deepest “structural factors” that underlie the economic and social divisions that are attributed to “racism.” The deepest factors are genes and culture. Regarding culture, see (for example) Thomas Sowell’s “Black Rednecks and White Liberals (,” which is based on the eponymous book.

    • Not the last word…

      Isn’t culture for the most part a product of genes as well? Not to be overly determinist, but the correlation is remarkable.

      • TracyW

        Well admittedly rocks don’t tend to have much culture.

  • DK13

    Thanks, good article that raises some vital points. But the “conservative” tendency to harp on “culture” still has some merit, unfortunately. The structural interventions you point to have done real cultural damage. To the point where certain prevalent “attitudes”, “behavior”, and “culture” have to change before anyone can expect to see improvement. I don’t feel like pointing that out is “blaming the victim”, but even if it is, I am afraid it is a truth that cannot be ignored. “Structural” changes in economic policy, in either direction, will not change that much except very slowly and incrementally.

    • Steven Horwitz

      Yes, I don’t mean to deny that cultural problems exist, but I don’t think they are the root cause. Addressing the structural issues is the key thing and I think many of the cultural issues will begin to change as a result.

      • adrianratnapala

        Perhaps they are a root cause, though I am skeptical of the quest for root causes. That is irrelevant to any Ferguson inspired “conversation on race”. There the problem seem to be that a policeman was too quick with his trigger finger (and that was *certainly* the problem in the shooting of Kajime Powel

        Now there could be a second-order relation to black culture, young black men are more threatening that the rest of the population so the police shoot them more often. But even that doesn’t excuse what we see in that video. And fixing that sort of excess change the incentives of young black men and might improve the relevant culture a little.

        • Sean II

          I find it fascinating (though not in the least bit surprising) that the Powell shooting gets so little attention, and indeed, would have got none at all if it didn’t happen to be a geographically and temporally convenient tie-in to the Michael Brown story.

          Here we have a case where, unlike Ferguson, we really do know what happened. Rachel Maddow nailed it when she said “The officers who shot Powell just don’t seem interested in handling this situation any other way.” And true enough, they appear to have opened fire the instant some official threshold for justification was reached.

          And yet everyone ignores that to focus on another event whose true details they a) don’t know, and b) stubbornly insist on making up according to nakedly pre-formed conclusions, while making further fools of themselves by ignoring obviously relevant pieces of information which don’t conform.

          My personal theory: from a public/media point of view, “black” is a marketable label with a proven constituency, while “mentally ill” = one big fuck you.

          What happened to Powell is, he got labeled mentally ill from the start of it.

        • Les Kyle Nearhood

          There is a relation to black culture, and here I don’t want to be accused of blaming the victim, but it is a viscous cycle. (1) more crime occurs in Black neighborhoods (2) more police presence is felt. (3) police feel alienated by a sullen and suspicious populace and resort to brutal methods. (4) in response the populace becomes more sullen and suspicious.
          The cycle repeats. Throw in some deep seated racist attitudes and a lot of unemployed, and punkish youth and you get such incidents.

          • Sean II

            Can I suggest a slight modification to 2)?

            It’s not just that black neighborhoods get saturated with cops. In some major cities (e.g. Baltimore, Detroit, D.C.) the worst parts actually get abandoned by cops.

            But since both saturation and abandonment can lead to resentment, your sequence still holds.

    • j r

      Eh. I tend to view the conservative “culture” argument the same way I view the progressive “rape culture” argument. There is certainly a degree of accuracy in describing the behavior of a minority of people, but once you try to apply it to a whole demographic category of people, it loses all meaning. For something to be true, it needs to be both accurate and precise. And culture arguments lack a meaningful level of precision.

      There are plenty of examples of blacks and whites or wealthy folks and poor folks engaging in the same kinds of behavior to drastically different outcomes. I guess you can argue that its tough luck and the disadvanteged should just suck it up, but that at least requires that we recognize the disadvantages are there.

      What’s more. The whole choice to talk about “black culture” in the first place is founded on a fundamentally racist taxonomy. There are lots of whites who don’t work, are addicted to oxy and collect government disability checks, but for whatever reason people associate that sort of behavior with “black culture.” When whites do it, they get conveniently moved into the white trash category. Likewise the fact that the overwhlming majority of blacks are just normal, law-abiding, hard-working middle cddle-class Americans doesn’t seem to stop people from droining about the pathologies of black culture.

      • Sean II

        “For something to be true, it needs to be both accurate and precise.”

        Flowers are pretty.*

        A true statement, yet not precise. Which means your statement was neither.

        * I’ve got more examples, but I’m hoping you’ll stipulate.

        • j r

          It took me all of ten seconds to find a bunch of ugly flowers on the internets:

          Your statement should probably read something like, “Flowers that we notice and cultivate for their beauty are pretty.” So, I’ll amend my statement to say, “for something to be true, in an meaningful and non-tautological way, it needs to be both accurate and precise.

          Nice try though.

          • Sean II

            “Your statement should probably read something like, “Flowers that we notice and cultivate for their beauty are pretty.”

            You talk like that normally, do you?

            If someone says “What a nice day!”, you say “What do you mean?”

            If someone says “Man, you always have to wait for a table at this joint”, you say “No, that’s false. If you come here at exactly 10:00am you will be seated immediately.”

            If someone says “flowers are pretty”, you don’t understand them to mean…what they obviously mean.

            I kinda doubt you really do that, because that’s not accuracy. That’s just Aspergers.

          • j r

            Way to move goalposts. Didn’t expect you to just admit when you’re wrong, but this is audacious.
            I assume that if we are having a conversation about political and philisophical ideas that we are striving for a level of clarity and meaning above what we generally use in informal conversations about how crowded a restaurant is.
            For instance, if we are talking about immigration and someone says, “America is full; there is just no more room,” I assume it is appropriate to talk population density or factor productivity in the economy to prove or disprove that economy.
            So sure, if you want to talk about race in the most stereotypical and hackneyed way possible, we have no need to strive for precision.

          • Sean II

            I’m sorry. I just didn’t understand any of that. You keep using these terms that have no meaning, like “America”, “race”, “crowded”, “informal”, etc.

            Furthermore, you seem to be describing a culture that “we” allegedly share by virtue of talking about politics and philosophy on a message board. But I’m sure I don’t know what that “culture” even is…if such a thing as “culture” exists at all.

          • j r

            I take all of that to mean that you are fully on board with the feminist concept of rape culture. Or do you only accept those types of stereotypes when they are aimed at someone other than you?

          • Sean II

            That analogy you’re so in love with, it sucks.

            Rape culture does not exist. Indeed, the concept itself is quite ridiculous.

            Black culture, however, is an important and very conspicuous part of American culture in general. It clearly does exist, having many fascinating variants, rules, exceptions to rules, overlap with other cultures, etc.

            A few comments back, you pretended not to know what black culture means. Such a pretense is totally ridiculous, because everyone knows well enough what those words mean.

            And at this point you should really be facing a question: what kind of position are you defending, that you have to defend by baldly denying the existence of things which obviously exist. Because, man, that’s not a good sign.

          • j r

            Congrats on finally making a substantive point.

            I know exactly what black culture means when people use it in this context. And that point is that it’s mostly bogus.

            Here is an example. “Blues music came out of black culture,” is a meaningful, verifiable historical statement. On the other hand, a statement like,”Black culture doesn’t value education,” is a stereotype. It’s not falsifiable. At best it’s a tautology that relies on focusing on those blacks that don’t care about education to the exclusion of those who do and on ignoring those whites who also don’t value education all that much.

            Your whole argument boils down to saying that the conventional wisdom must be true otherwise it wouldn’t be the conventional wisdom.

          • Sean II

            “Here is an example. “Blues music came out of black culture,” is a meaningful, verifiable historical statement. On the other hand, a statement like,”Black culture doesn’t value education,” is a stereotype. It’s not falsifiable.”

            Sure it is. If blacks ever surpassed whites or asians in educational achievement, then the statement “black culture doesn’t value education” would be falsified.

            Why? Because that statement clearly means “black culture doesn’t value education enough to achieve it in the presence of competing goods”.

            I don’t happen to be a big fan of the culture explanation, but that’s how it works. People notice groups like Jews and Asians manage to become highly educated even when artificial burdens are placed on them. They also notice that other groups don’t manage even when extraordinary efforts are made to assist them. They hypothesize from this that there must be cultural difference between the two groups, in the extent to which they value – i.e. are willing to sacrifice leisure, toil, and money for – education.

            It’s a clear, and clearly interesting idea and there is nothing categorically wrong with it.

            It’s pretty obvious, JR, that what really differentiates those two statements for you is that the first is flattering, the second is not. And again I repeat: your desperate need to misunderstand and dismiss the culture argument is a symptom of something very wrong with your position.

            That’s the sort of thing people do when they’ve started with an immutable right answer, and worked back to build a tunnel which leads to it and nothing else.

          • j r

            You do a pretty good job of projecting. You’re essentially defending the quite illiberal idea, I mean liberal in the classical sense and not the modern progressive, that it is good practice to reduce people to broad demographic categories in situations where it doesn’t really get us a whole lot. If there are certain charecterstics, IQ for instance, or certain behaviors, negative attitudes toward education, that can be demonstrated to have negative effects on outcomes, then why not focus on theose behaviors where they occur, regardless of race?

            There is nothing that you are saying in defense of this culture argument that a feminist would not say in defense of the idea of rape culture. The only difference is that you’ve incorporated this sort of racialism into your world view in the way that you have not incorporated progressive feminism.

            If that is the choice that you want to make, If you want to privilege the racialist viewpoint, that is completely within your purview. The least that you should do, however, is to recognize it as choice and stop pretending that there is some deep immutable truth to it.

            As for the overally topic, it doesn’t change much. There is a very real, verifiable history of racism that continues to this day in demonstrable ways that affect the outcomes of individual people. The fact that there are also instances of poor decision-making that affect outcomes doesn’t make the former go away.
            For instance, there are studies that show people with black sounding names get less job interviews when applying with the exact same resume as a nuetral sounding name. The effect can be so large that white applicants with criminal records get called in at higher rates than black applicants with clean records. In that example, the black applicant has done the thing that he was supposed to do: he stayed out of jail. And he is still subject to racism.

            Again, I’m just giving you facts. If you want to wish them away because they don’t flatter your worldview, that’s fine. They are still facts.

          • Sean II

            That was non-responsive. So I probably shouldn’t respond but……what the hell.

            In a few comments, you’ve gone from claiming there is no such thing as black culture, to the claim that arguments about black culture are bad because they’re not falsifiable, then on to the claim that arguments about black culture are bad because they’re illiberal, and finally just to the non-claim of shouting racism (since that’s obviously what the charge of “privileging racialist viewpoints” boils down to).

            Not a great performance, but at least we are getting nearer the truth. You don’t like to talk about groups, average group characteristics, group culture, etc…not because there’s anything epistemically wrong with these concepts, but because you find them illiberal and frankly racist.

            Okay, fine. But for god’s sake just say that. Just say: “I don’t like stereotypes because I think they hurt people.” Just say: “I SELECTIVELY object on moral grounds to the study of average group characteristics, behavior, culture, etc.” Then go and tell people how that selection process is supposed to work.

            Why do I say selectively? Because obviously someone in your position has to be a hypocrite. You have to tolerate some talk of groups and averages, or you couldn’t get through life.

            Thus when a doctor says “blacks are prone to early hypertension”, you don’t shit your pants and call him racist. When an anthropologist says “The Incas believed in reincarnation”, you don’t get pissy and complain that’s unfair because maybe not ALL of the Incas believed in reincarnation.

            A thousand times a day, in a world of scarce information, you use averages, grouping, shortcuts, heuristics, etc. you use these because they are perfectly good tools of cognition.

            You just want to create a special taboo against those tools in certain contexts. I doubt I could get you to state the rules openly and honestly, but that taboo appears to say “don’t talk about averages, groups, etc, with respect to black people, when such talk the power to hurt.”

            There. I fixed it for you. That gets you just where you need to be. With that rule, we CAN talk about black musical genius, but we CAN’T talk about the possibility that employers (as a group) discriminate against applicants with black names (as a group) for some reason other than pure malice.

            The only downside, JR, is you have to admit you’re making the truth subordinate to what you see as the good. And really, big deal…it’s not like you’re the first person who ever wanted that.

          • j r

            Serious question: do you even try to understand the people that you get into these discussions with or is this all just some form of performance art for you?
            Show me where I said that there is no such things as black culture. Show me where I said that stereotypes are bad because they hurt people’s feelings. Show me where I am “shouting racism.”
            I’ve been making the same exact argument since the beginning: be careful of accepting culture arguments, because they are imprecise and heavily relient on stereotypes. I would call this an obvious and relatively modest claim.
            I also said that accepting these kinds of stereotypes without questioning them is a sign of a racialist worldview, which… well it is.
            And racialism doesn’t bother me because it hurts anyone’s feelings. In fact, I rather like it when people air their racialist arguments. It gets a lot of previously unspoken assumptions out into the light of day. From there, people can make up their own mind.
            Racialism bothers me because it is a poor substitute for honest intellectual inquiry. You talk about truth, but you’ve said little in the way of it. Basically, you are just doubling down on your stereotypes, because you cannot be bothered to examine them.

          • Sean II

            “Serious question: do you even try to understand the people that you get into these discussions with…”

            Come, come, JR. The vexing thing is clearly that I’ve understood you too well for your taste.

          • As a few have said, it’s not specific to “black culture” — a large part of our society doesn’t value education. I’m not sure that culture is the right word to use — it’s more like a set of ideas, a mongrel ideology, that have been passed through generations — a kind of anti-intellectualism, a distrust of educated people. Hollywood has made a fortune portraying ignorant dopes who’re cool and funny. They make fun of the educated types — the educated bow-ties in Ivy League schools are boring and anal and self-centered and judgemental, snooty and sooooo uncool. There needs to be a promotion of education that speaks to the vital need in the age of technology. Hollywood should show the reality of ignorance.

          • Sean II

            You’re ignoring a very conspicuous possibility.

            1) People differ in intelligence, with about 16% being one standard deviation or more or above the mean.

            2) Nearly everyone who writes school books comes from this group, colloquially known as bright people.

            3) The rest of humanity, increasingly as we move left on the curve, find these bright people and their books to be difficult and annoying. They would prefer it if the smart people simply shut up and continued to produce various useful gadgets.

            4) Pop culture reflects the preferences of these 84% better than it does the other 16%, and thus it can be truly observed that pop culture doesn’t value education.

            In other words: you may have the causality reversed, and you should at least consider that.

          • Yes, I’m aware of causes and obstacles. I’m more interested in considering solutions. You are correct that intelligence varies. When I went to high school, they had shop for those who didn’t gravitate toward brain surgery or rocket science, or lacked the mental capacity. Today, learning a trade is not even valued that much. I’m not blaming the young people who are falling through the cracks — I’m looking for solutions. Somehow, the idea that basic English, math and at least a good trade are all vitally important unless you want to become a ward of the State must be communicated to kids at a young age. We can’t survive this great divide in education and wealth that’s developing.

          • Sean II

            1) “I’m more interested in considering solutions…”

            I’m not sure you are considering the other scenario, because in it there are no solutions. If culture just reflects the fact that most people naturally lack academic talent, then changing the culture won’t improve academic performance.

            2) “We can’t survive this great divide in education and wealth that’s developing.”

            Hmmm. The wealth gap has never been smaller than it is in 1st world countries today…at least not since the absolute poverty of ice age hunter gatherers. The thing is: you have to look at consumption, and avoid the pre-Smithian trap of counting specie trapped in stock shares.

            And as far as the education gap is concerned, why can’t we survive it. We’ve survived worse. Plus if the education gap is really just a gap in natural ability, that means we’ve always been surviving it.

          • You seem to refer to education only at the higher level yet I’m talking about education at a lower level. Practically everyone can gain knowledge and skills. I think the divide we’re seeing now is greater than anything we’ve exoerienced. Billionaires are a recent phenomenon- plus you have to be blind to not see a disturbing trend developing that creates a greater and greater wealth gap. This causes envy and other emotions that lead to social unrest, political wars and other bad stuff that creates instability and economic stagnation. Statism, the basic culprit, leads to national collapse . Amazing that you deny widespread ignorance is a problem in the age of technology.

          • Sean II

            1) “…plus you have to be blind to not see a disturbing trend developing that creates a greater and greater wealth gap.”

            Nope. As I said before, you’re locked onto the wrong variable. You have to look at consumption. Counting wealth (most of which is working capital) like it was just so many coins in Scrooge McDuck’s bathtub is a mistake.

            2) “Amazing that you deny widespread ignorance is a problem in the age of technology.”

            Nothing amazing about it. We got this far on humanity’s reliably stable distribution of mental gifts. Why should the eternal fact that most people aren’t very bright suddenly pose a problem?

            Consider…say, computers. When they first become commercially available, you had to be a rich person to buy one and a smart person to use it. Since then we’ve made the computers in such a way that any impoverished moron can enjoy one.

            Why do you feel so sure things can’t keep going in that vein?

          • We’re going in circles. Enjoyed. In time, we’ll see.

      • Les Kyle Nearhood

        I disagree with you. There is such a thing as black ghetto culture as well as white trash culture, or redneck culture, or barrio culture (and they are all pretty similar). The presence of white, black, or latino people who do not partake of that culture does not mean it does not exist, And those cultures are a real impediment towards the well being and prosperity of those neighborhoods where they exist in abundance.

  • Sean II

    If there is any phrase in our language more cringe-inducing than “conversation on race”, I think it must be “degloving injury of the penis”.

    God knows, I feel roughly the same thing when I hear one or the other.

    • Not the last word…

      Medical findings show lacerations to be significantly longer on black v. white males.

      • Sean II

        That’s all socially constructed.

  • I relate it to the non aggression principle. Iit seems to me that libertarianism should be in the wheel house of most black Americans. I’m caution, like Martin Brock, re: taking up the race issue in its current form as developed by the Left. The State has been the greatest force blocking the politically un-connected. I’ve been confounded that blacks don’t adopt the libertarian view, especially as it relates to economics. LBJ and the statist, welfare pushers responded to Stokely Carmichael, James Meredith, Rosa Parks, MLK, Malcolm X and all the rest from the 50s through the 60s by establishing welfare programs cynically proclaimed to fight a war for blacks and all the poor. The welfare state as promoted by Democrats has captured blacks politically, and black leaders have created a Race industry that requires race-flaming to survive and prosper. Libertarianism is the compassionate solution for all poor, politically un-connected people who want to learn, work and create. By escaping poverty, poor people, black white brown, etc can experience greater freedom and the ability to pursue happiness. But, as some have addressed, cultural changes are necessary so that all poor and middle class people realize that education is the way out. Libertarians want to end federal involvement in education for good reasons, and one practical reason is that it helps the people in the private realm gain power to prevent the power-elite from controlling the world.

    • Sean II

      Not for nothing, but either of these two statements…

      1) “Black leaders have created a Race industry that requires race-flaming to survive and prosper.”

      2) “Cultural changes are necessary so that all poor and middle class people realize that education is the way out.”

      …would probably suffice to get you kicked out of any respectable “conversation on race”, sponsored by anyone who would non-ironically use the phrase “conversation on race”.

      Point being: you seem like a nice reasonable man, and yet there are plenty who would denounce you as a racist piece of shit for saying two things, one of which is obviously true and the other of which is interestingly debatable.

      • Not the last word…

        Always playing the victim when speaking on race, aren’t we? How brave it is to point out– like Norm Finkelstein and the Holocaust Industry– the money racket of Sharpton and Jackson. Not. It’s a Rush Limbaugh conservo-pundit stance. The powerful posing as victim is ugly.

        • It’s not just me and other racist pieces of a shit pointing it out — many blacks see through the Sharpton Jackson con that has hurt more people than media will admit. The fact that Sharpton is treated as a viable voice speaks to a fundamental problem. It’s funny that at this site it’s considered brave to defend against the victim hood angle of Sharpton Inc.

          • But how can you honestly have a conversation about structural problems that affect blacks and not talk about Sharpton, Jackson, Dyson, Melissa Harris Perry and others profiting from maintaining a mindset of victimhood? I’m not blaming the victim– I’m condemning a handful of opportunists who don’t understand the diversity and power within their own race. Bringing up Limbaugh in order to pose only advances obscurantism not clarity.

    • David Harrell

      Malcolm X was profoundly suspicious of the welfare state. The black Muslims are about the most critical of the welfare state today. The Black Panther Party, while espousing communist tenets, distrusted the state or just weren’t willing to wait on it. They implemented the “communism” among themselves and their communities, voluntarily — that is the kind of communism I can dig. They were really into the Second Amendment as well.
      Marcus Garvey, even, is becoming a figure of interest again in some circles. This is a good time to spread the message of distrust of the state and self – help (for what it’s worth — and it is worth a lot).

  • Craig J. Bolton

    I think that there is a basic confusion that needs to be addressed with respect to this topic. When government litigates according to “general rules,” containing no proper nouns, such litigation is open to debate from a libertarian perspective. That methodological generalization applies equally to a minimum income and to nondiscrimination legislation with respect to, for instance, “public accommodations..” When it regulates to achieve ends, particularly with respect to designated “Groups,” that is a different thing.

  • jdkolassa

    I think there’s some missing text here:

    ” We have a unique contribution to make because we are able to avoid the victim blaming engaged in by many conservatives, who put the problems of black communities solely on blacks themselves, while still . Instead, we should be”

    While still what?

    • Sean II

      Quick prediction: whatever the missing text turns out to be, it will not in fact reveal a “unique libertarian contribution” to the Great Raceversation.

      The respectable choices will still be two:

      1) Observed group disparities are the product of racist policies:
      . a) Meaning capitalism, if you’re a leftist.
      . b) Or mixed economy statism, if you’re not.

      2) “I’m afraid that’s all the time we have folks! Join us again next week…”

      As you can see, the really crucial thing is that everyone must always agree that racial disparities are someone’s fault. That’s what counts. That’s what forms the boundary of polite discussion.

    • Les Kyle Nearhood

      I don’t even agree with the statement as is. In my experience conservatives do not engage only in “blame the victim”, and on this one area they tend to have similar views as most libertarians, that government stokes the problems and makes them worse. The real blind spot of most conservatives is their reflexive support of the police and other authorities.

  • Jeff R.

    “I don’t know whether libertarians will persuade the American public, but I’m optimistic that progressives will be more likely to engage with libertarians who agree that structure matters, but lay the blame on government, than with libertarians who join the right in blaming the victims.”
    Your column presents a false choice. This is not an either/or proposition. Should black Americans adopt more bourgeois attitudes and behaviors than the often aggressively anti-social ones we see in many crime-plagued black communities today? Unequivocally, yes. Should minimum wage laws be repealed and recreational drug use decriminalized? Again, the answer is yes. Would black Americans benefit from both, thus reducing disparities in health, wealth and crime statistics vis a vis white Americans? Yes.
    So why not just call it like it is? Because we want to curry favor with the left for some reason? Because we want to “engage” the left? I’m all for pointing out when the preferred policies of our leftist friends are working at cross-purposes, but again, you do not have to engage in acts of self-censorship in order to do so.

  • My basic assumption: One cannot be both a racist and a libertarian, period. Racism is unlibertarian. That’s my take. Whenever a self-described libertarian makes a racist or “racialist” argument, they lose their libertarian cred in my mind, and they have a steep climb with me in terms of convincing me about their ability to perform logical analysis.

    • martinbrock

      What constitutes a racist or racialist argument? African-Americans are 10% of the U.S. population but 75% of the NBA. If I argue that genetics has something to do with this fact, am I making a racist or racialist argument?

      • j r

        Depends what you mean by genetics and how willing you are to question your assumptions.

        For instance, the group of people outside the United States who are likely to be the most genetically similar to blacks are West Africans. Yet, if you look at a list of foreign-born players who made it to the NBA, you’ll find it light on West Africans and heavy on Eastern Europeans. Nigeria, with its population of 175 million, has sent 13 players to the NBA, while tiny Croatia, with 4 million people, has sent one less at 12.

        That suggests that there is more at play here than a simple black people jump real high.

        • martinbrock

          No one has suggested that genetic influences are simple, but I still don’t know if I’m qualified to call myself a “libertarian” by Ryan’s reckoning. A willingness to leave others in peace apparently doesn’t suffice.

        • Theresa Klein

          Blacks in Africa may not get fed as well during childhood.
          Improved nutrition has let to significant increases in average height over the past century.

      • Yes, and it would be easier to understand why that argument is wrong when you stop to consider that African-Americans are a genetically diverse group of people. Africa itself is an enormous continent with a wide range of genetic diversity – too wide to merit any strong conclusions about the genetics of “all Africans.” When you then further consider the extent to which the “African” population of North America has been genetically blended with the white, Asian, Latin and indigenous gene pools, all of which possess enormous diversity in their own right, you start to get a picture of how childishly simple it is to draw conclusions about African genetic basketball prowess.

        Even prima facie, the concept is ridiculous. There are no basketballs in nature. What exactly would be the evolutionary mechanism at work here?

        Now, you can choose to equivocate by saying that it’s not basketball that African people are great at, but running, jumping, hand-eye coordination, etc. But of course making race based claims about those things is much more difficult since there are as many great runners, jumpers, etc. among non-African populations as there are among Africans, and more importantly, there are more lousy black players than there are gifted ones.

        Also, if basketball playing were genetic, then why are so few children of the pros themselves professional players? We should expect to see basketball dynasties, should we not? Shouldn’t African Olympic basketball teams be a force to reckon with? And yet it is the Asian and European teams who place second best to the Americans.

        And I can go on and on. I haven’t even pointed out that many black Americans are descended not from Africans but from native Australians, Fijians, etc. What does “black” mean to you in terms of genetics, anyway? Who qualifies? Do Egyptians count? Tunisians? Is a Ugandan genetically equivalent to an Ethiopian?

        The whole idea is, I’m sorry, as ridiculous when taken seriously as it is when it is summarily dismissed.

        • Les Kyle Nearhood

          I think maybe you need to reconsider your assumption that there could be no genetic component in some physical skills. The evidence is pretty huge that there is some. The world record holders and runners up in sprint speed races are, both male and female, overwhelmingly of west African descent, even though coming from different nations, cultures, and socio economic backgrounds.

          • First, I didn’t say there was “no genetic component in some physical skills.” Second, by changing the subject to sprints, I take it we are on board with what I’ve said about basketball. Third, what is the level of genetic diversity among the record holders themselves, regardless of their nationality? Finally, what happens when we control for performance enhancing substances? (I know, I know. None of those record holders have been caught taking drugs, wink wink…)

          • Les Kyle Nearhood

            No I don’t think that last part would make any difference unless you think only people of west African descent would use performance enhancers.

          • I think record holders use performance enhancers, thus weakening the claim that their success is mostly genetic. Considering how widespread the practice is, it’s unlikely that we’d get a good read of the genetic factor, that’s my point.

          • Sean II

            “I think record holders use performance enhancers, thus weakening the claim that their success is mostly genetic.”

            Ugh. I only have to explain this because a guy who is definitely smart enough to know better (that’s you) has twisted himself into some painful-looking knots to hide from the obvious. But here goes:

            If a bunch of genetically average people compete with a bunch of genetically gifted people, while BOTH are using performance enhancers, the latter will still win.

            Which means…even if every record holder in the books turned out to be a juicer, that fact would do nothing to weaken the case for heritability in athletic talent.

            You’re grasping man, and it’s not a pretty sight.

          • Oh? Is world champion sprinting yet another thing you have special personal knowledge of?

          • Sean II

            Well of course the response had to be something like that. I mean, at this stage, what else have you got?

            When a man finds himself unable to soberly handle simple and obviously true statements like “black people perform well in the NBA” or “Kenyans are good in marathons”, that man has clearly performed the intellectual equivalent of gauging out his own eyes.

            I get why you’d do that. I really do. But there has to be at least some part of you that knows it’s bullshit, and wants to rebel. Here’s hoping you give it half a chance.

          • And so Sean II reveals himself to be a man whose opinion of Africans is that they are statists who are good at basketball. What’s embarrassing (for you) is that you would still have the gumption to be so condescending. Haha, sorry, I really don’t have much more to say to you here.

          • Sean II

            It’s not condescension. I just remember what it’s like to be in your position. I was an objectivist once, so I know how it feels to fanatically believe something in defiance of the evidence, because you think giving up that belief would tear the moral universe apart.

            Hell, I even believed the same thing you’re trying to believe now. I thought complete, Randian free will was the only basis for a just society, so I saw any notion of heredity as a major threat. I hated Rawls. I hated The Bell Curve when it came out. And I especially despised twin and adoption studies.

            I remember those guilty doubts that snuck into the back of my mind, knowing I had no real argument against the twin-adoption method, but feeling all the while that I must find a way to denounce it, or else.

            It’s not a good sensation……when you realize the only things going for your argument are that it’s popular, and that you NEED to believe it.

          • Sean, you’re nuts. First of all, I’m not an objectivist, so you’re nothing but wrong on that front. Secondly, and embarrassingly for you, I actually do happen to have special inside personal knowledge of the competitive track world. You do not have as much knowledge as you think you do.

            Anyway, I have better things to do with my Saturday than argue with a racist about whether or not racism is scientific. Haha honestly

          • Sean II

            I realize you’re not an objectivist, but don’t miss the lesson: you’re acting like one on this issue. You’re showing the same kind of dogmatism and willful blindness which people show when they’ve married themselves to a conclusion in defiance of plain facts.

            I’m not sure what your track record has to do with any of this, but I am very sure the best thing you could do with this Saturday is to stop being a close-minded enemy of the obvious.

            Good luck, though, if you choose to spend it some other way.

          • race

            Could you cite these twin and adoption studies please. Maybe then explain how they prove the case for racialist IQ heritability. Thanks.

          • Sean II

            A good place to start is google these things: Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, Arthur Jensen, Charles Murray.

            And by the way, it’s not about “racialist IQ heritability”. It’s just about IQ heritability.

            The central question is how heritable is intelligence. Other questions about how this tracks to race are secondary, but for obvious reasons significant.

            So…how heritable would you guess IQ is? Does 0% seem plausible? How many human traits can you think of where heritability = 0%?

          • race

            I know something of Jensen. As I recall he used the Cyril Burt studies early on. Burt was discredited as a liar and a looney (inflating the number of twins, inventing research assistants, etc). Murray- is not a scientist. The Bell Curve has only a little bit on theory. Murray depends on racialist scientists for his theory. Sure, they cite some mainstream sources- but the nitty gritty comes from Richard Lynn and other Pioneer Fund/Mankind Quarterly types. In other words, hard racists.

            What does the Transracial Adoption Study say? Why don’t you have a link? And why wouldn’t it be racial when it’s right in the title?

            For the racialists, you’ve mentioned two, it is about race and IQ. They are inseparable in their minds– even if heritability may be studied with these factors separated.

            The 0% (or 100%) trait heritability claim is a straw man. maybe only one major researcher believes that IQ (assuming it’s a real thing– though even Jensen admits it is an abstract term but then acts as if it isn’t) is a complete social construct. We are a product of our genes and environment.

            So heritability implies group. What groups would Murray and Jensen and Richard Lynn etc have in mind then– if not race?

          • Sean II

            Yeah, someone always does that. “Murray cited a guy who once cited a guy who once shared a Holiday Inn ice bucket with a known Klansman. Therefore, somehow, I get to ignore anything I don’t like.”

            Hard to count everything wrong with that line of talk. Reverse argument from authority, guilt by association, motives fallacy…plus who knows what else I’m missing.

            But there is one thing in your comment worth pursuing: if you don’t think IQ is 0% heritable, then tell me what seems reasonable to you. 5%? 15%? 50%? What?

          • race

            Richard Lynn, a Mankind Quarterly regular and editor, is a goto source for The Bell Curve’s most controversial chapters. In fact, 17 sources in the TBC have written for Mankind Quarterly, a journal open to fascist, neo-nazi, old school Nazi, anti-semitic, pro-apartheid, pro-Nordicist, anti-immigration, eugenicist, racial hierarchy “science”. Many of these researchers received money from the Pioneer Fund, founded by hardcore racists and dedicated from day one to “race betterment.”

            Your defense is playing possum. Granted, Murray is too clever to say the blunt things his sources do– most of the time anyway. It does require reading between the lines, knowing the names, sources and methodologies. Why all-of-a-sudden does this analytical procedure become a witch hunt for you? (and Steve Horwitz– who btw is steeped in a hermeneutic approach to economics.) Remarkable.

            At any rate, Richard Lynn has written what he believes to be a sequel to TBC: “The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ, and Inequality Worldwide is a book by Professor Richard Lynn, published by Washington Summit Publishers, June 2008. As its title implies, it builds upon the best-selling 1994 book The Bell Curve, by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.”

            Lynn makes all kinds of racist comments– and believes that Africa can never get out of 3rd world status because black people do not have the genetic potential for 1st world productivity– including morality. Hans Hoppe echoes these ideas.

            Of course, the question of whether there is any validity to these racialist claims is still to be answered. But you and Steve Horwitz will not even recognize that they are being made. But in your case– you have already intimated a race realism, as it is called. So you need to back your case for race/IQ heritability.

            Some traits are 100% heritable, maybe. Other, maybe completely variable. But intelligence? I don’t know. Is it an actual thing? Even Jensen admits it is an abstract concept– though he treats it as a a measurable thing 99% of the time. Steven Jay Gould appears to be mostly right in calling Jensen’s, and so many other racialists’, method “reification”.

            Funny that Charles Murray once burned a cross on a lawn as “a prank” when he was a teenager. Oh that kid.

          • martinbrock

            I assume that black basketball players are not seven times more likely than others to use performance enhancers, but maybe this assumption only reflects my racism.

        • martinbrock

          Genetic diversity does not rule out a preponderance of traits valuable to basketball players among African Americans. Genetic diversity also exists among men over six feet tall, but above average height is nonetheless valuable to basketball players.

          Basketball is not a game brought to Earth by Martians. It challenges extraordinary abilities existing among human beings before the sport developed. The sport developed to challenge these abilities, not the other way around. I have no idea why think this observation equivocal.

          That there are more lousy black basketball players is hardly relevant. There are more lousy human basketball players, but the genetic traits valuable to basketball players exist among human beings nonetheless.

          • race

            The fastest growing NBA player demographic is the foreigner– eastern European etc. Historical change is not a new phenomenon. Jews were once the big names in the sport– pre WWII (before it was a giant sport)- apparently.

            The nature v. nurture question is recognized by almost all– and by no means answered. The academic racialists usually add in a disclaimer to this effect– but then betray it by making explicit or implicit concrete quantifiable claims about race and heritability. That correlation does not prove causation seems to be ignored. Prof. Rushton declares that it’s 50% genes and 50% nurture and that races are discreet quantifiable and phenomena in which IQ represents well enough the general group immutability. Arthur Jensen puts it at 80% heritable.

            But how does one control for social construct?

          • martinbrock

            Precisely quantifying the influence of nature vs. nurture in athletics is not my point. Ryan’s formulation of who can and cannot be a “libertarian” seems to rule out all sorts of people who are completely willing to let others live in peace, free of any imposition, regardless of their race. If some of these people believe that genes account to some extent for the disproportionate number of dark skinned people in the NBA, or if some of them prefer to marry only dark skinned or only light skinned people, then I don’t know what this belief, or preference, has to do with their commitment to the free society.

          • race

            I was just trying to relay the point that few (maybe one) researchers make all or nothing claims about heritability. Racialism has been easily defended by pointing fingers at straw men such as this.

            You are right that racialist beliefs do not preclude libertarianism necessarily. But the empirical reality of racialism is that most adherents are violent scum. All academic libertarians with racialist beliefs that I have encountered– Hans Hoppe and Charles Murray are two well known examples– rely on the work of advocates of racial violence/forced separatism etc.

          • martinbrock

            “rely on the work of” sounds like guilt by association. Where has Charles Murray himself advocated racial violence or forced separatism?

          • race

            I made no direct claim of violence for Murray. Murray is not the most virulent– though I consider the enforcement of immigration law as it stands as a form of violence. Here he responds to John Derbyshire (an out an out racist) at National Review on the immigration question. Just a snippet:

            “4. Immigration reform must begin first with enforcement of existing immigration law. If it takes a wall, so be it.

            5. And while I’m at it, I’ll mention that English should be the only language in which public school classes are taught (except for teaching English as a foreign language) and in which the public’s business is conducted.”


            Murray is too damn politically astute to be obviously racist. You have to understand the reasoning and sources behind The Bell Curve. The names, the history, the methodologies….The Bell Curve is notoriously thin on theory– and where it can be found it ought to lead to more questions than answers.

          • martinbrock

            Immigration laws are violent impositions, and they are de facto racist. “English only” laws are fundamentally inconsistent with libertarian principles in my way of thinking, so Murray is not defending a libertarian position in these snippets; however, I can’t conclude from these snippets alone that racism is his motive.

            I don’t know the reasoning behind The Bell Curve, but I’m not convinced that simple racism is the reasoning.

          • race

            Most researchers say that we intelligence is a product of genes and environment. Looking for all or nothing statements is fruitless.

          • race

            I have learned that on issues of racialism, Holocaust denial, and pedophilia that the “guilt by association” defense is knee jerk and thoughtless. Well, truth be told, I haven’t argued with the last type of person and do not care to.

            The idea that Murray would cite Richard Lynn, a Mankind Quarterly and Pioneer Fund scientist, and not be a racist personally makes no sense at all. Murray is rather careful in how he says things, for sure. And he is probably not a neo-Nazi; but nonetheless…. If you see the historical context in which The Bell Curve was written as well– the republican revolution of the 1990s– and the intent of the authors to end Democrat affirmative action and early childhood welfare programs…. If you understand the historical precedence for such a tract as The Bell Curve as well: No idea, implicit or explicit, in TBC was new. All of it was regurgitated and predictable– cyclical even.

          • martinbrock

            You’re now associating racialism with Holocaust denial and pedophilia. I’ll just deny defending any of these positions myself and let it go.

            The Bell Curve cites hundreds of sources. How does Murray cite Lynn? On what point of fact?

            Probably not a neo-Nazi? Are trying to be generous here?

          • race

            A bunch of these guys into Holocaust Denial are also into racialism. Thankfully their world is relatively small. Other than that– it was an artistic point. Murray and Herrnstein cite Lynn as an expert on racial differences and use his IQ country data as solid facts. Lynn is not honest with data– and often uses minute or non-congruent samples to make blanket cases for millions of people under a heading of race/nationality. Even beyond that is what Steven Jay Gould–not without his faults in his own discipline, but probably the single best critic of IQ racialism–calls reification. The treatment of something that may or may not be there– that is at most abstract– as a real, measurable, reducible, rankable by race, phenomenon: “g” (representing inherent intelligence). Without a doubt, Murray and Herrnstein almost assume the validity of g regardless of their mitigating statements that intelligence is a product of both genes and environment (as almost all researchers say). In other words, the elements of biodeterminist beliefs that make up racialism do not require 100% heritability beliefs.

            It is that Murray and Herrnstein are leading the horses to water of racialism. Again, Murray as a propaganda artist will not be as blunt as Lynn. But they use Lynn’s racial numbers, combined with a belief in the biological foundations of g, and add in that environmental differences do not fill in the massive gaps between whites and blacks:

            “Let ’s state these conclusions in percentile terms:
            The average environment of blacks would have to be at the 6rh percentile of the distribution of environments among whites, and the average environment of East Asians would have to be at the 63rd percentile of environments among whites, for the racial differences to be entirely environmental. Environmental differences of this magnitude and pattern are implausible.” (299, The Bell Curve)

            The reader must put the puzzle together on their own and have the sophistication to see that Murray and Herrnstein are only tilting toward the biodeterminist position– but have no doubt that the glass is more than half full.

          • martinbrock

            Both “race” and “intelligence” are vague notions, but states enact countless, explicitly race-conscious policies, and sociologists argue endlessly over the cause racial disparities in IQ test scores. If I argue that racial discrimination explains the relative poverty of particular people or that cultural disadvantage accounts for the lower, average IQ test score of people checking the box beside “black” or “African-America” on a form, I’m playing the same game that Murray plays in The Bell Curve. Is everyone playing this game a racialist or only the people citing statistics published by somehow who has also published in Mankind Quarterly? The latter criteria doesn’t settle any controversy to my satisfaction.

            What percentage of heritability beliefs does the elements of biodeterminist beliefs that make up racialism require? All of these terms you use to describe Murray seem every bit as vague and open to question as “race” and “intelligence”.

            The quote seems only to assert what, according to you, practically every academic assumes, that genetics explains at least some of the difference in IQ test scores. It does not assert that biology determines economic outcomes, for example. People with the highest IQ test scores are not the wealthiest in fact. I’ve heard Murray make this point as well, but I’ve never heard him make a case for The Bell Curve that sounded like a racist vendetta.

          • race

            You misinterpret Murray and Herrnstein on this quotation. They are saying that there are inherent races (ethnicities); that these races are different inherently; that one key difference is intelligence; that intelligence is a measurable, rankable, reducible phenomenon representable by g, a number; that therefore races are distinguishable by inherent intelligence differences; and, as reinforcement, that environment does not explain away the enormous gap in black/white differences in intelligence. So even though nurture plays a role, that racism has had a negative effect, that nutrition may improve outcomes, that some blacks can be smarter than whites, etc: There is still a hard residual of natural racial order.

            All the disclaimers and exceptions are mere mitigation, not refutation.

        • Theresa Klein

          You may be neglecting the selective pressures imposed by slavery as well as the relatively small amount of time since the end of slavery that African Americas have actually had to genetically mix. Not to mention the isolating effects on the gene pool of racism.

    • K.P.

      Are there any particular reasons behind that assumption? Doesn’t Walter Block himself defend collectivism as being compatible with libertarianism?

      • There are many reasons, but I’m reluctant to expound upon them on someone else’s blog. I think Ayn Rand’s views on racism are spot on, regardless of what other shortcomings exist in her ideas. So that’s a good place to start for my own opinion. That might put me at odds with Block, I don’t really know. I do have tremendous respect for him, but I doubt I agree with a lot of his ideas since I’m not much of an an-cap or Rothbardian

        • K.P.

          Even if I didn’t get what I asked that was a very thoughtful reply, thank you.

        • Sean II

          Things are starting to make sense now, as I see where you acquired your outlook.

          That Ayn Rand essay is one of her most embarrassing (which is really saying something). Not only because, in classic fashion, she tries to settle a hugely complicated topic by throwing 3,500 words at it. No, the real embarrassment is that her essay is only tangentially a critique of racism. What it is, at heart, is a blanket denial of human nature. Right there in paragraph one she denounces “the notion that a man’s intellectual and character traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry”.

          In case anyone missed it, she’s making the absurd claim that heredity stops at the inner surface of the skull, and has no effect on the mind. This amounts to claiming the brain is magic, that it’s literally super-natural because it has no nature.

          Do I really need to point out just how badly science has slaughtered that idea?

          • Kenneth

            Not quite, Sean. I think you misread Rand (or are happily stretching in order to be able to metaphorically smack her). Her quoted words merely argue against the notion that all men’s intellectual and character traits are produced and transmitted based solely upon their racial characteristics as reflected by their internal body chemistry. That seems unexceptionable.

            Or am I stretching too much in just trying to defend the old bat?

  • J-Lib

    The direction to go is to go after the biggest targets of opportunity: the failed war on drugs, the police state and the prison-industrial complex, all of which in their multifarious ways are behind most of the complaints of minorities in this country and are easily illustrated via Michael Brown, the choke-out of Eric Garner in NY over alleged illegal cigarette sales, etc.

    Speaking of “illegal” cigarettes, there’s an entree into your point about markets. While some blacks do tend to get overly moralistic in demonizing alcohol and cigarettes, a good percentage of the population understand that you need some kind of “hustle” to get by and that selling loose cigarettes on the street isn’t even in the ballpark on the harm-o-meter compared to having jackbooted thug types stomping around choking people out, all in the name of enforcing the cigarette tax.

    “…“analytical egalitarianism” and against the racism of the Romantics, who saw markets as destroying the racial hierarchies they favored. …”

    Perhaps true, but no one will care about this obscure historical point.

    • Theresa Klein

      Speaking of “illegal” cigarettes, there’s an entree into your point about markets.

      It also relates to my point about making it easy for people to engage in low-level commerce. Minorities likely have everyday experience with all sorts of ways in which basic voluntary exchange is regulated out of existence. Not just in terms of the drug war, but just hocking cigs on the street can result in police harassment (and in this case death).

      Being in a disadvantaged position, blacks may have a harder time obtaining occupational licenses, or accumulating the capital needed to rent a separate kitchen to open a bakery, and so forth.
      Apparently it’s unlawful to sell home-made cookies without separating the cooking space from the regular kitchen, due to the health code. Plus, it’s apparent that petty bureaucrats tend to go after easy targets, and blacks are even easier targets than cute white teenage girls. Nevermind zoning, which makes it illegal to convert your home into a commercial space, such as by turning your garage into a bar or operating an open-air barbeque joint in your back yard. That sort of thing would have the cops coming down on you in no time.

  • J-Lib

    Another no-brainer is going after imperialism. Hardly any black folk, if you ask, are happy about the constant parade of foreign war after foreign war while black unemployment remains in double digits. The Cornel Wests, Louis Farrakhans and others who are brave enough to criticize the black mascot on this issue, should be supported by libertarians who have, after all, been making the same critique forever.

  • Matthew DeCarlo

    Steve, I really loved this piece. Does anyone have any authors, articles, or books where structural racism and public choice theory are explored together?

  • Krinein_ev

    Non whites favor social safety nets. Obviously they need some super-smart libertarian white people to explain in small words where their true interests lie. After all, the biggest problem other races face is an inability to think for themselves, amirite?

    • Theresa Klein

      I can see a pretty strong argument that non-whites ought to prefer a BIG over traditional welfare. Not that I’m a supporter of a BIG. But if you’re a poor minority, from that perspective, a BIG would be preferable to the various demeaning and restrictive requirements of the current safety net.

  • Theresa Klein

    I can think of two possible policies that might help.
    1. Enforcing the law as equally as possible – and that goes for both criminal prosecutions AND protecting people’s rights. Which means no more disproportionate targeting of blacks by any branch of government (that goes for petty regulators too).

    2. Making it as easy as possible for blacks to form their own businesses or just engage in informal commerce with eachother, so they are not dependent on whites for either jobs or handout. That means deregulating all sorts of low-skill jobs. I know this probably seems like I’m just picking this as an opportunity to grind an ax about food trucks and occupational licensing, but seriously. I can’t see how people cannot simply get creative and figure out services to provide one-another, except that the government must be getting in the way. Even if it is for a pittance, at least the services would be provided to other members of the black community and then people would be doing something productive that improves the lives of those around them.

    • Sean II

      “Which means no more disproportionate targeting of blacks by any branch of government…”

      How’s that supposed to work? Disproportionate to what? The raw census? The criminal participation rate?

      • Theresa Klein

        Obviously the criminal participation rate is going to be skewed. If a group is disproportionately scrutinized by law enforcement, lo and behold, you’re going to have a lot more people in that group convicted of crimes.

        I’m thinking maybe hire some statisticians and have them constantly analyzing every police departments stats on reported crimes, traffic stops, arrests, and so forth to look for any evidence of bias. As in, in supposedly random traffic stops are blacks being stopped more often that you would expect?

        • Sean II

          “Obviously the criminal participation rate is going to be skewed. If a group is disproportionately scrutinized by law enforcement, lo and behold, you’re going to have a lot more people in that group convicted of crimes.”

          So…you think this is why blacks make up 60% of the population in Baltimore and commit 94% of the murders?

          What’s really going on? Are 34% of those murders actually committed by whites who just get away with it because the cops can’t get hate out of their heads?

          Do you really believe that?

          • Theresa Klein

            There are lots of other crimes besides murder. I would put money on blacks being way more likely to be prosecuted for petty theft.

            But besides, the murder rate in Baltimore has a lot to do with the drug war, and blacks are subjected to more police scrutiny in the drug war (a well known fact) and the law enforcement presence drives the need for gang violence.

            I’m sure you’re familiar with all the arguments why the war on drugs creates the need for gang protection. The heavier the police presence the more violent the gangs are likely to be (the greater the risk of prison time, the more need there is to silence potential witnesses).

            Obviously if we got rid of the drug war a lot of this would go away.

            That should go without saying.

          • Sean II

            1) “There are lots of other crimes besides murder…”

            Okay, but disproportionate black participation holds for all of them. Especially all the violent crime categories.

            2) “But besides, the murder rate in Baltimore has a lot to do with the drug war…”

            You’re talking out of your hat. Those murders involve all the usual motives: sex, friendship betrayed, obsession with respect, boredom, psychopathy (i.e. no reason), gang wars, and occasionally money. If you don’t like taking my word for that, go ask a big city prosecutor or defense attorney. They’ll tell you some amazing stories.

            3) “I’m sure you’re familiar with all the arguments why the war on drugs creates the need for gang protection.”

            Again, that’s just bullshit dreamt up by libertarians like us who never bothered to get any data from the ground. Those gangs are NOT a rational response to security needs. They’re insanely self-destructive and irrational, and most of the kids who get involved know they’re throwing their lives away. They make no real money, they gain no safety, and they tell their outreach workers in no uncertain terms that their dream is is to die young and be remembered.

            4) “The heavier the police presence the more violent the gangs are likely to be…”

            That’s just bizarre. Gangs don’t fight the police, they fight each other. Why would the presence of more cops cause them to fight more often? If there really are more cops in the most violent gang areas (stipulated), then the parsimonious explanation is that the violence came first, the cops only later.

            5) “Obviously if we got rid of the drug war a lot of this would go away…”

            You don’t know that. If the drug war ends without changing the unemployment rate for young black males, things might actually get a bit worse.

          • JoshInca

            One cultural explanation for the higher rate of crime in black communities is that a perceived history of abuse has resulted in a cultural aversion to policing as a path to conflict resolution. In short that individuals with black sub-culture settle conflicts directly, with increased interpersonal violence, instead of using the state as intermediaries. This is a cultural pattern that has frequently been observed in immigrant communities which have not yet fully assimilated into the host culture.

            For example, one hundred years ago racialists were arguing that jews, italians and irish immigrants (and by extension the native population from whence the came) were genetically inferior as demonstrated by lower average IQ test and higher rates of criminal activity.

          • Sean II

            Interesting thought, especially with the historical comparison. There are obvious similarities between, say, Irish stereotypes in 1905 and black stereotypes today.

            Here’s the problem: I’d love to discuss possible explanations for disproportionate criminal participation among blacks (including the one you’re getting at above), but at the moment I can’t get anyone else to acknowledge such a thing even exists! Those few who will admit the facts insist they already have a complete explanation, which – big surprise – is 100% environment.

            Technical point: it’s certainly true that racists (why are we all suddenly saying “racialist”?) of a century ago said some nasty things about Jews, Italians, Irish, etc. But I doubt very much that they were using IQ tests to do it. Can you offer some evidence of that?

            Substantive point: As you know…just because some guy in the past was wrong about, say, Polish intelligence, doesn’t mean that another guy in another time is necessarily or even probably wrong about intelligence in some other groups. Those claims are independent, and must be treated thus.

            There’s a whole lot of stupid going on this thread, but one of the worst is arguments of the form: “Mr. X once said the As are Ps, but he was wrong. Therefore Mr. Y’s claim that Bs are Ps is obviously wrong and morally disgusting.”

            As always, the way forward is more science, not less. It’s not like people quit studying physics of biology after the caught Aristotle in his mistakes. Quite the opposite. The reason why they caught those mistakes is because they kept going ahead with the same line of inquiry.

            What’s happening here is just perverse. People are not saying “the study of race was once misused, therefore let’s study all the more carefully”. They’re saying “the study of race was once misused, therefore NO MORE STUDYING RACE!!”

            And yeah, they pretty much do shout it just like that…

          • Kenneth

            I’m assuming you don’t want to say “blacks are genetically dispositioned to commit violent crime at higher rates than other races” because that’s pretty hard to prove, but your words almost imply a “gut feeling.” How I love gut feelings… Comparing historic immigrant communities to current black communities wouldn’t work for too many reasons but that is a huge tangent. Why not compare your denial of the harm of systemic issues, like profiling, to the denial of white southerners of the harm of issues, like segregation, and see how closely your views align with theirs. I’m hoping this exercise will reveal to yourself the immunity you’ve been granting to yourself all this time.

          • Sean II

            “I’m assuming you don’t want to say “blacks are genetically dispositioned to commit violent crime at higher rates than other races…”

            Listen very carefully, because right now I’m gonna tell you what I’m saying so you don’t have to guess:

            Blacks as a group commit crime and especially violent crimes at rates higher than any other group in America.

            Now you go and read that sentence a couple times, Ken. Be sure and pay attention both to what is there, and what is not.

          • Kenneth

            You want to know what would be interesting? Is this a recent phenomenon are blacks ALWAYS disproportionately represented in crime stats. I wonder if blacks were disproportionately represented in the judicial system during slavery, Jim Crow, civil rights, leading up to the disproportionality that exists today. I do not know for sure but I suspect that it’s probably true blacks have always held high incarceration rates than any other group. Assuming that this does actually trace back through American history, I wonder what can be a plausible explanation that spans such a length of time?

          • Sean II

            It’s certainly worthwhile comparing present data with the past, but so what? Who ever said it wasn’t?

            Meanwhile you’re still trying to duck the facts. Blacks aren’t “disproportionately represented in crime stats”. Blacks really, actually, unmistakably commit more crime than their share of the census predicts.

            Now maybe they commit more crime AND also get a raw deal from the justice system, but even if both those things are true, the second doesn’t change the first. Why not?

            Because the numbers are too big (16% of the population, 50% of the murders – even the global racist conspiracy couldn’t make that appear so, if it wasn’t)…and because the race gap is LARGEST in crimes where it would be harder for some racist to fudge the numbers (murder, robbery, agg’ assault).

            Comes down to this: either you acknowledge that black criminal participation is disproportionate, and you’re a bullshit ideologue talking straight out of his ass.

          • Kenneth

            The statement is a truth of the world. I do not debate truth verified by data. I was referring to the causes of such a stat. Bias/racism is certainly one of them.
            Also, if the statement holds true for all American history than it would seem America has a history of criminalizing blackness. If it is a universal truth of American history than maybe this is more about the construction of an anti-black legal system than anything else.
            That blacks commit more crimes than other races is a fact. I don’t debate facts. What is not a fact is the accuracy of those numbers site to show disproportion. Those numbers are certainly influenced. That influence is my concern.

          • Sean II

            “Also, if the statement holds true for all American history than it would seem America has a history of criminalizing blackness.”

            Nope. That would not follow at all.

            In fact, that would hurt your argument very much. If blacks continue to be overrepresented in crime over a long range of historical periods and legal regimes, that would more likely suggest some intrinsic cause.

            Instead, you’re telling a very bizarre story where racism gets ever more powerful, even as it gets less popular. As an idea, racism has been on the decline since 1945. It makes plenty of sense to look from SOME lag between a decline in the belief and a decline in the practical effects. But you’re not arguing for that.

            You’re arguing that racism, ever sneaky, first allowed the civil rights act of 1964 to pass, then waited in the bushes for crime to increase. After that it cleverly waited until the crime peak of 1990, in order to spring it’s 25 year conspiracy into action by jailing loads and loads of young black men. And this it did, during a period when racial attitudes were becoming more liberal than ever in the history of mankind.

            Ken…honestly, does that story make one bit of sense?

          • Kenneth

            This is why you need to stop quoting one portion of my post and respond to the entire post! If it is a universal truth that as long as you’ve had an American legal system blacks have been over represented it can either be blacks are more to crime, in an American context, or America’s legal system is itself racist. It actually built on the idea that blacks are deliquents thereby criminalizing blackness. The problem is with your legal system or black people. You can compare black incarceration rates to blacks in other first world nations to get a sense of black delinquency. America has been racist/sexist since its inception. It certainly holds that that racism was a major building block, if not the central piece, of our legal system. There’s really no denying that our legal system was built with racism. And while social systems can change relatively quickly, legal systems move at a glacial pace. What’s the lag on 400+ years of legal racism?

          • Sean II

            The disproportion in black criminal participation holds just about everywhere you. It’s not just in the U.S.

            And BTW – the practice of quoting a particular part of someone’s post is common for two reasons: 1) To focus attention on a key point, and 2) To prevent people from denying things they said.

            You, for example, have said several times things that boil down to “because Jim Crow…um, how do we know the modern black crime rate isn’t fake?”

            I wouldn’t want either of us to forget you said that, so I excerpt.

          • Michael Byrnes

            If by “blacks as a group” you are referring to the black population of the US, then “blacks as a group” have not commited even one crime.

            Crimes are committed by individuals, acting alone or in association with other individuals. No race has ever or will ever commit even one crime.

            Criminals, regardless of the racial, ethnic, or any other groups to which they belong, should be punished. In accordance with the law and with equal protection under the law.

            They should be punished for their crime, and the punishment should be based ON THE CRIME. A murderer should be sentenced based on the circumstances of the murder, and nothing more.

            In particular, the race and ethnicity of the criminal should have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with 1) the resources invested by the state in investigating the crime, 2) the state’s decision to prosecute the crime, 3) whether or not there is a conviction, and 4) the terms of the sentence, should there be a conviction.

            That is not how our system works, though. Laws that do not explicitly single out black Americans can be enforced in such a way as to target black Americans. And it was not that long ago in our history when laws did explicity single out black Americans. Even today, our drug laws are designed in such a way as to single out black Americans for harsher penalties.

          • Sean II

            1) “…”blacks as a group” have not committed even one crime…no race has ever or will ever commit even one crime.”

            That’s the sort of tedious bullshit that makes people hate libertarians, and makes libertarians deserve to be hated. If someone said “the Egyptians invented hieroglyphics”, you wouldn’t piss your pants and say there is no such thing as “the Egyptians”. If someone said “the Japanese have humanity’s longest life-span”, you wouldn’t douche it up by insisting “the Japanese” don’t really exist. So don’t do that here, either. You know very well what it means when people say “blacks as a group” do X or Y, commit more crime, have greater risk of hypertension, etc. Don’t pretend not to. Because it isn’t clever, it’s just sophomoric and obnoxious.

            2) “Even today, our drug laws are designed in such a way as to single out black Americans for harsher penalties.”

            No, guy, you don’t in fact know that our drug laws are or were “designed” with the intent to single out blacks. That would be a very difficult thing to prove. You’re claiming a kind of knowledge – insight into the secret intentions of other people – that you almost certainly do not have.

            The only thing you really know is yes, there is a disparate impact. But disparate impacts can, and indeed often do, arise in the absence of any conscious intent.

            I remember quite well how, in the 1980s, it was considered racist NOT to demand severe penalties for crack cocaine. The argument went thus:

            a) Crack is killing the black community
            b) Special measures are needed to stop this
            c) That means more enforcement, harsher penalties, etc.
            d) Oppose this, and it means you don’t care about black lives.

            Go back and check those votes. You’ll find blacks and Democrats leading the charge for drug war escalation.

            And yet here we are a generation later, and guys like you (were you even alive then?) are just serenely confident in their belief that crack penalties must have been part of some elaborate New Jim Crow scheme.

            Try replacing that confidence with a little curiosity. It’ll change your life.

          • Michael Byrnes

            Ha. And I’m not even a libertarian.

            IN any case, why things happen and why people say they happen is not always the same.

          • race

            You are a racialist. Or racist if you prefer. That makes about 5 people who have noticed your bone-headed “gut feelings” elevated to pseudo-science. Correlation does not prove causation, chum.

          • Kenneth

            “Perceived history of abuse”?! Have you read about black history in America? How many times have you been stopped and frisked? Pulled over for no reason? Had an officer put his gun in your face because he thought you were threat? If you begin with the premise that blacks “perceive” abuse then we can’t begin to have a race discussion. Libertarians need to begin with the premise that blacks experience abuse from multiple institutions in our society. From there the question should be what are libertarian solutions to these problems.

          • Sean II

            ” Libertarians need to begin with the premise that blacks experience abuse from multiple institutions in our society.”

            That’s not a premise. That’s a conclusion.

          • Kenneth

            I didn’t mean to use “premise”, it should be a starting “point.”

          • Sean II

            That changes nothing. You’re still taking a heavily disputed and increasingly doubtful conclusion and just demanding that it be taken for granted.

            In that sense “starting point” and “premise” mean they seem thing.

          • Kenneth

            You really should read the zillion reports proving blacks are discriminated against in just about every area in life! There are literally studies upon studies upon studies that show blacks are suffer from discrimination in everything from housing to jobs to healthcare to legal services to education to the list going on indefinitely. Before you make a claim that is false you should go check the research. It is out there!
            Do you always only respond to the part of a post that you deem worthy of a response while ignoring the entirety of the post? You’ve taken quotes responded to that specific portion while ignoring the rest quite a few times. I’m just wondering why don’t you respond to entire post. Again, it is simply an epistemic inquiry. Nothing more than that.

          • Sean II

            “You really should read the zillion reports proving blacks are discriminated against in just about every area in life!”

            There is no such data.

            There is just a bunch of data showing that blacks suffer bad outcomes across a wide range of social stats.

            Bad outcomes do NOT prove discrimination.

            Discrimination is just ONE of many possible explanations for those bad outcomes.

            If you’ve never considered any other possible explanations, then…start now.

          • Kenneth

            Are you denying reality again? You seem to just ignore the truths about the world in which “you don’t give a shit.” Those “bad outcomes” are due to a person’s race. That’s the whole point of such studies. If you want to deny discrimination based on race actually exists please show something to support that claim. Like I said there are tons of studies that show race is the determinate factor for bad outcomes when interacting many institutions. This seems more like you wanting to deny an outcome because it doesn’t suit you rather than acknowledge the available data. Please tell me what are other possible causes of these “bad outcomes” when studies control for everything but race? Maybe the study participants are making up the claims about race. Maybe the researchers continuously forget to control for everything but race.
            Have you read many of these reports about discrimination in different sectors? I have read many of these reports detailing the insidious ways in which race is the only logical predictor of bad outcomes. I will assume you don’t read reports about discrimination. Before we can continue further our knowledge base should align better. If you want to suggest readings that you think I’ll benefit from please do. I suggest that you began an inquiry into reports on healthcare, housing, education, etc. Dealing with sexism, racism, and homophobia cannot be done through apriori investigation. I read interviews, there’s just certain things I would have never believed women, blacks, or gay people experience. I have experiential blind spots that skew the very definition of apriori.

          • Sean II

            Show me a couple studies of the kind you think prove discrimination, and I’ll show you what I mean.

          • Kenneth

            Please note, Sean, that you’ve contradicted yourself. You’ve said to Theresa that disproportion is valid because it holds true across the board. Yet you disavowed the actual places where it doesn’t make sense that that disproportion holds true in our discussion. Either it is a relevant factor or it is not. Please decide…..


          • Sean II

            “You’ve said to Theresa that disproportion is valid because it holds true across the board…”

            Yep. I said that. And “across the board” means “across the board for categories of CRIME”.

            Neither Theresa nor I nor anyone else here considers weed-smoking a crime. Thus I do not include weed smoking in my consideration of crime rates.

            Do YOU think weed-smoking is a crime? And if so, what the fuck are you even doing on a libertarian website?

          • Kenneth

            I’ve addressed the weed issue in my prior response a paragraph or so up. As my presence on a libertarian website if I do believe weed is a crime: I can believe weed is a crime and still find value in other solutions proposed by libertarians. I may hold some aspects of libertarianism as correct while others not so much. There’s lots of value here. Weed just adds more to that value!

          • Sean II

            Cut the crap, please: do you consider weed smoking a crime or not?

          • Kenneth

            Okay, but disproportionate black participation holds for all of them. Especially all the violent crime categories.
            This is where your profiling problem exists. When you make the claim that blacks are disproportionate across the board are you truly saying that blacks smoke weed more than whites? Drive under the influence in greater portion as well? How about prostitution? Blacks are disproportionate there as well. If every crime has a disproportionate arrest rate across the board, how do rule out law enforcement targeting a specific community?

          • Sean II

            I don’t give a shit about fake crimes like weed and DUI.

            I’m talking about real crimes, like murder, agg’ assault, simple assault, rape, robbery, burglary, & fraud.

            These all show disproportionate participation by blacks. I’d like to know where you think a sufficiently large bias effect could even be located.

            Victims of rape, robbery, and assault identify their own assailants, so you can’t pin those numbers on the racist cops. Likewise for most fraud cases, in which the perpetrators are known by name because they passed bad checks at Walgreens or 7-11. Not much wiggle room for the racist conspiracy there either.

            So that leaves you with burglary. Maybe, maybe you could make an argument that some black guys are catching the heat for white burglars. But even if that was happening all the time in huge numbers, it STILL wouldn’t do anything to make all the data we have from murder, rape, robbery, assault, and fraud go away.

          • Kenneth

            That you “do not give a shit about ‘fake crimes'” doesn’t mean the data is somehow invalid! You need to explain why disproportions exists across the board not just in subset categories. We cannot ignore whole swaths of data cause you don’t give shit.
            A second problem is that most crime is homogeneous. If you look at crime data you’ll see about 15% of crime is interracial. Which means for all the white victims are usually victimized by white perpetrators. Rape in particular is pernicious in skewing as most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. The homogeneity of crime poses another problem to our assertion.
            Finally you have another problem of the penal system inflicting harsher penalties, a jail sentence instead of probation, on blacks than other groups. University of Michigan did a study to show that.

          • Sean II

            1) The fact that most crime is intra-racial has NOTHING to do with criminal participation rates among different races. Why would it?

            2) Disparities in criminal penalties also have NOTHING to do with criminal participation rates.

            3) Nope, I don’t need to “explain” why whites smoke more weed than blacks, because weed shouldn’t be illegal, and therefore weed-smoking isn’t a valid category of crime.

          • Kenneth

            First off, whether or not you consider some crimes to be “fake crimes” does not matter! That a person can be arrested for these fake crimes is what matters. If you’re starting from the premise that the world ought to be this way to make claims about the way the world is then no need for us to continue discussing anything. I start from the world as is. The difference in original position creates two incompatible conceptions of the world. I’ll state why the three points mentioned are relevant and end there.
            The first point about “fake crimes” is relevant because they’re only “fake” to you! People are arrested daily for these crimes. Nothing you say or do makes those numbers go away. No amount of thought/belief negates those facts. This s a verifiable truth of the world. You can’t make it go away by closing your eyes. Also, I stated “whole swaths” of other crimes which are disproportionate, yet you chose to argue against “weed.” Marijuana is only one of many “fake crimes.”
            Second point about inter/intra-racial crime is about correlation between race and crime. If crime is mostly homogenous, FBI data and other sources show this, then we verify “participation” based the race of the victim, in addition to other methods. When you look at participation from both sides, the numbers are off in terms of participation from the race of the victim. If we use data to show participation rates from both sides we will see the numbers are off.
            The reason why disparities in penalties matter is the entire legal system, including the police, is bias against blacks. That bias is reflected in arrested for a crime. Getting caught with a few ounces of cocaine might entail you being a participant in a crime. Whether or not you do can totally be effected by your race.
            Ultimately I see three flaws: (1) your out-right denial of factual data of disparity in “fake crimes” makes your perspective unreliable at best, disingenuous at worse. (2) Your focus on “participation” rates discounts the victim as a participant to a crime. FBI data shows participation in crimes is more commonly homogenous. This being the case, participation rates of perps should racially match/closely match participation of victims. That is not the case. The disparities of participant victims with participant perps highlights another problem. (3) The very system by which data is collected, cops making arrest, is infected with a bias. That is a big claim so I’ll reduce it to saying that race plays a role in whether one will be arrested for particular crimes. Minorities get the short end there as they are more likely to be arrested for petty things. That will also inflate your numbers.
            I apologize for errors. I’m writing this on my phone.

          • Sean II

            Nope. That wall of words got you nowhere. Once more…

            1) The disparity is biggest in crimes where the police have little or no opportunity to skew things. Murder cases are very closely watched by lots of people. What are they, all equally racist and perfectly willing to frame people? And in cases of rape, robbery, assault, it’s the victims who tell us the race of the assailants. That’s just not up to the cops. What, are the victims all part of the conspiracy too?

            2) I see you’re trying to make a point about the intra-racial nature of crime, but you’re just not saying anything. True enough: in a typical big city, 7-9 out of 10 homicide victims are black, just as 7-9 out of 10 killers are black. I don’t know what you think that fact does for you, because it doesn’t help you (or me, really…it’s just irrelevant).

            3) “Minorities get the short end there as they are more likely to be arrested for petty things. That will also inflate your numbers.”

            I’ve already said we should leave the petty non-crimes out, and just focus on Part I crimes. Thus there is no risk of a loitering arrest being mistaken for a murder, and thus petty crimes have no effect on the numbers we’re talking about.

            4) Maybe this would work better if you took some risk, and tried to be specific. Pick a major crime category (murder, rape, robbery, assault) and tell me – show me – how you think it works. Show me how you think racism takes a whole bunch of those crimes and pins them on a whole bunch of innocent black guys. Explain how you see that happening, step by step.

          • Kenneth

            I am not debating a fact! Let’s get that out the way. It is clear based off data that blacks commit more crimes than any other group. The debate here is why(?) Or were you making statements in support of a fact? My assertion was the degree to which that is true is skewed. It’s a truth but it needs serious clarity.

          • Sean II

            “My assertion was the degree to which that is true is skewed. It’s a truth but it needs serious clarity.”

            Okay fine, but why? If it turns out, say, that young blacks are only six times more likely to commit murder, instead of the previously thought seven times…what big question hinges on that?

          • Kenneth

            You chose a one percent difference. For all we know that can be four percent difference. Accuracy is important as it will change policy. Policy will have direct consequences on the lives of people. I’m not interested in thought experiments. Enjoy thinking, I’ll enjoy doing.

          • Sean II

            1) The difference between seven times more likely and six times more likely is not a “one percent difference.”

            2) The way we know blacks aren’t being framed for 34% of all American murders* is…that’s totally fucking ridiculous. It would require conspiracy on an impossible scale.

            * Such is the difference between their share of the census and their share of the murders.