Black and Blue
Published on: January 20, 2011
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  • Luke Lea

    “When we talk about American social models and the need to go beyond what I’m calling the blue social model and on to liberalism 5.0, race needs to be discussed.”

    Not. It derails every honest attempt to come to grips with our deepest social problems.

    (Admission: I haven’t read beyond this first sentence yet, so I am prepared to eat my words; but I’m also willing to bet a good bottle of wine — I’ll wait before proceeding. 🙂 )

  • engineer

    Once again Dr. Mead has written a thoughtful essay on a timely topic. However, public employees of all colors will be dealing with an economic earthquake just as enormous sectors of Americans have in previous eras. Back in the 1930s, the Dust Bowl destroyed what had been a thriving agricultural economy on the plains. I entered the industrial manufacturing work force in the late 1970s and the tale of my career has been a matter of dealing with globalization and out-sourcing that has led to multiple changes in employers and cities.

    The current dysfunction from the blue model has overweighted public employment. Groups that are disproportionately represented will take the disproportionate hit. Other racial and ethnic groups took the penalty in previous economic dislocations. One would hope that we will be able to develop mechanisms to smooth the transition and redeployment of workers into other sectors of the economy instead of simply hustling people off into a premature retirement or being cast off their farms and put at the mercy double digit unemployment and even higher unemployment.

    In sum I find myself in substantive agreement with Dr. Mead but have a difference in tone. The nation is best served by not wasting talent with high unemployment, but deference to PC shibboleths will only slow down the necessary reforms. To that end, it is incumbant on the reformers to emphasize the broadest advantages of reform.

    I forget who wrote the song about the loss of the unicorns because they were too feckless to get on Noah’s Ark, but ultimately, the bitter enders of the Blue model are likely to find themselves facing a similar overwhelming flood.

  • Torgo1

    Yay! More affirmative action! That’s the ticket! I can think of a hundred things more important right now than finding new ways to coddle a minority group.

    And get an editor for [casual blasphemy deleted — ed]’s sake.

  • Thunderchief68

    Hmmm,it would seem that hiring pracitces in the public sector makes a prima facie case for disparate impact on the non-minority members of society. 🙂

    Just as an aside there is a more current version of the 2003 report on minority share of Federal Goverment jobs at

  • Desiderius

    This is what it will take to get the good liberals (as opposed to the leftists who bully them into submission) who hold our society together on board.

  • CG in Chicago


    I don’t think the author is advocating “affirmative action”, I think he is pin pointing why a particular ethnic group votes the way it does. If anything, he is pushing for education, not affirmative action.

    Personally, I think that bringing skilled trades training back into urban high schools would be a great start. They don’t ship heating/cooling repair overseas. And your BMW mechanic can’t live in Germany.

  • civilliberties

    I think this is an interesting discussion by Dr.Mead. This may be off topic but I wonder how is it that the rise of Blacks into government was accompanied by the descent of present day Detroit, Camden, Oakland, Birmingham, Vallejo, New Orleans, Newark, Grand Rapids, St.Louis and other Black majority cities? Whereas correlation is not causation, it seems to me that a discussion of Blue 5.0 has to take into account the track record of this experience of Black governing capacity.I’m not aware of any other “ethnic” group that has a similar record. Perhaps Dr. Mead could address this issue and incorporate it into his analysis? Otherwise the essay is interesting, but thin.

  • Ok, I’m ready to begin. The only unusual expertise I can claim is based on experience: I’ve lived up close and personal with the bottom half of society for my whole working life (starting 1961) amongst all races, ethnicities, and in all geographical regions. I am intimately acquainted with the everyday realities of working-class life. For mental reasons we needn’t go into I was plunged to the very depths of society and bobbed up slowly. I’ve been dirt poor, working poor, and prosperously middle-class poor (there is such a thing) with plenty of company along the way. Menial and manual labor are my middle names.

    This will be slip-shod and brief but here goes. The major problems are of class not race, the confusion of which only makes them unsolvable . There are five major factors (and not your usual list in the way they are analyzed) driving the problems of class, each of which has either been caused by government policies, or can only be cured by them.

    In no particular order they are school disfunction, urban hypo-giganticism, and a trio of interacting factors driving wages down. A sixth factor which might be added is the out-of-touchness of our governing class, which touches on the realities of human biodiversity and its unrepresentative mismatch with the diversities below — but again, these are things which need not and ought not be talked about in terms of you-know what in order to be solved. I won’t even deal with them here.

    The major point I want to make is that most of the racial and ethnic tensions in our society would simply disappear if it were possible for the simpler sorts of common people to lead happy, humanly fulfilling lives, which today is well-nigh impossible. In the short run, at least, this will involve “new models of subsidy and support” in place of the old ones — way too complex to analyze here beyond saying it must include free public education (reformed — think web cameras in the class rooms and huge central high schools combining huge vocational/academic curriculum a la carte, voluntary self -tracking) and universal medical care not tied to employment.

    In the medium term (next several decades) we must take into account the fact that the natural distribution of income in a market economy is not the right or best one, nor even the most efficient. As anyone who reads Friedman’s Chicago lectures-notes on micro-economics will know, the efficiency of markets always begins by assuming a given (in some sense accidental) distribution of resources — native smarts, training, inherited wealth, accumulated savings, and the state of the society one happens to be born into (family, class, infrastructure, property rights, level of development, etc. etc.) This means wage subsidies financed by a graduated expenditure tax which can only be implemented with the cooperation of our allies — yes, the only domestic solutions are international in nature: grow up and get over it.

    As for the long-term, the problem lies in our overgrown megalopolises: we got to get out of them — something only government can make happen. Eisenhower built the interstates and created suburbia. Something similar has got to happen on a larger scale — the ultimate stimulus.

    Sorry, but these are only hints and are the best I can do, a blind man with fat fingers. I probably owe you that bottle.
    best, Luke

  • three chord sloth

    “As a percentage of the labor force, manufacturing jobs peaked in 1973.”

    Are you sure about that stat? I think manufacturing jobs, as a percent of employment (post WWII), peaked in 1953… not 1973. The raw number of workers in manufacturing peaked in 1973, not the relative number.

  • What I have never understood is the absence of entrepreneurship in the black lower middle class. Why are the small shops and basic services in black neighborhoods owned by Koreans ? When I was growing up in Chicago 60 years ago, it was Jews and that led to anti-Semitism in blacks that exists today. In previous poor ethnic groups, the shops and services were provided by the same ethnic group. In the 1960s in Boston, the North End was heavily Italian, to the degree that the Mass General ER had an Italian interpreter. There were third generation residents who spoke only Italian. All the shops and restaurants were Italian owned.

    Until this is explained, there will be few alternatives to government jobs for them.

  • Maximus

    The blue social model is unsustainable and the black population voting for it had better grow up quick. I mean no disparagement, but the protection the Civil Service gave to those unwilling to pursue education and enlightened family dynamics is over. We will all hve to start competing and the reliance on Government is a recipe for disaster for those waiting on more big Government solutions. Prepare yourselves a big change is coming..

  • Peter

    Mr. Mead, I fear your your thoughtful discuss dances around two taboos.

    First, many middle class jobs that blacks have are actually welfare in disguise. This is surely obvious in the public sector. I mean, just look at the over staffing and cost of urban public schools as one example.

    But it is also true to some extent in the private sector, too, what with affirmative action.

    The second and more important taboo is this. What if those intelligence studies, that show blacks, as a group, have a significantly lower IQ than whites and Asians, are true? Then what?

    I know we’re not suppose to contimplate such a thought and that’s because the ruling elites do not like the spectrum of answers to the “then what?” question.

    A lower intelligence does not make a person ‘bad’ by any means, but it does means that that person would not do as well as others in a competitive society.

  • Katherine

    This is an important essay and I want to consider it before making any comments, but I wanted to say thank you for writing it. I would love to see an active comments section as people consider the wisdom distilled here.

  • Mead is correct. The Reagan Revolution did not touch the inner cities, which remained under the dead hand of Socialism, identity politics and tax-and-spend Democrats.

    Affirmative action is not the answer. We need something else.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Mr. Mead Mead assumes that the demographically older black middle class which has found government careers in disproportionate numbers is capable of reproducing, in succeeding generations, the personal values and behavior which enabled them to succeed. They haven’t. That’s the problem.

    The main reason is collapse of black families. Black mothers who raise children without fathers around pretty much lack the means of defeating the disastrously suicidal values taught by their children’s peers.

    Blacks who have succeeded in government careers mostly grew up with their fathers around. Most blacks under 35 years of age did not have their fathers around when they were under 15, and they lack both the educational attainment & skill set necessary to obtain government jobs, and the minimum personal discipline & values required to make careers there.

  • M. Report

    Bill Cosby for President !

    Ah, Mr. President, during this crisis,
    do you think Blacks will take help,
    and orders, from other Blacks,
    that they will not from Whites ?

  • Jimmy

    Thank you for this essay. It needed to be said, especially the part about states’ rights.

    The problem is even worse when you think about the racial disparity between currently retired state and local public employees and new entries to the state and local work force. Constitutional and contractual considerations practically guarantee that the largely white existing retirees will see no diminishment of their retirement benefits. The problem will be dealt with by drastic reductions in the benefits promised to new hires who are disproportionately from non-white groups. Residents of large metropolitan areas, a disproportionate number of whom are not white, will pay higher taxes and endure reduced services so that their local governments can make good on lavish promises made to mostly white public employees in prior decades.

  • DC Lovell

    Great article, but this is a cruel world for most. We can’t continue to prop up people of any color via government jobs. The main reason is the absolute and insane relationship between politicians and public sector unions. Had this incestuous relationship not conspired to trade votes for government favors the current imbalance would not have occurred. It seems to me the best thing to do at this point is to scale back the compensation to pre-corruption levels.

  • Tom Holsinger

    DC Lovell,

    It’s not merely a question of “propping people up … via government jobs.” You and Professor Mead both overlook the significant differences in employability (education, skills, self-discipline, etc.) between black age cohorts due to the disintegration of black families. There are major employability differences between the black age cohorts born before 1965 and those born after 1980.

    Professor Mead correctly pointed out that blacks were subject to significant private employment discrimination, before the civil rights revolution, which had after-effects for some time later. He errs in assuming that the overall employability of the black age cohorts born since then is comparable to those born earlier. Things started to change at that point for reasons noted at the time by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

  • AndyJ

    I too grew up in a segregated south. However, my county had blacks outnumbering whites by 10+:1. IOW, I gre up around rich and middle class blacks and whites. I saw both distrust and respect that comes from success on both sides.

    I live in the west now. Mostly I agree with what you have said. I would like more people to realize that all of us have skills and abilities and that skin color is not either and to treat it as one is to become less aware of the central human question, “Who can I trust?” All human relations are based on trust. No business gets done unless there is a degree of trust. No friendships, love or marriage can exist without trust.

    The use of any racial generalities blinds us to the ones who should be put at a distance from all we love and cherish.

    In the segregated south of my childhood, one’s reputation for trustworthiness transcended color. Those who used color were usually the ones that should not be trusted.

  • mac

    I worked for the Federal Government at GS-15 level. I was also in a situation where I worked with lots of minorities, mostly black. To be blunt, the black employees were almost invariably not the equal of their white or Asian peers.* The USG paid them the same money but didn’t get the same work.

    Moreover, the problems of absenteeism, theft, drugs, violent assaults were considerably worse with black employees. There was just a pervasive refusal to take responsibility for their job or their actions. At one point almost every black male employee I had was having their paycheck garnished to pay for arrears in child support.

    I’m sure that part of the problem was that the black employees knew they were almost immune from consequences for underperforming. They might not get promoted but that appeared to be a matter of little concern for them. Many times while I worked there I thought that if I was in private business I would never, under any circumstances, hire an American black as an employee.

    This is not to say there were no good black employees; there were. However, as an employer you can’t really know the caliber of an employee until after you hire them and see how they work. If the hire turns out to be unsuited, if they are black it’s a real problem. With a white you’ll have a much easier time terminating their employment. With a black it’s almost guaranteed that there will be a discrimination complaint, no matter how egregious the employee’s dysfunctions. That’s a headache a small businessman just can’t afford.

    For the USG, particularly the branch I was in, the supervisors had simply given up. They knew they were stuck with these people unless they committed a felony crime in front of numerous witnesses. Even then, they were likely to be only transferred.

    As an aside, that taught me a lesson. I learned never to believe anyone singing the praises of an American black USG employee who was being transferred into my division. Such dulcet tones were the happy noises made by a person who was in high hopes that one of their major personnel problems was going to be foisted off on some other poor soul.

    Back to the USG. Starting in the 60’s, the USG decided the civil service was going to be the employment source of last resort for blacks. There was a deliberate sacrifice of quality performance in order to provide greater employment of blacks.

    It isn’t coincidental that it was in the 60’s that respect for government at all levels started to decrease. People expect competence and performance from government; that’s what they believe they are entitled to for their tax dollars. Instead, they have received increasing levels of incompetence and underperformance. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and it certainly isn’t appreciated. Check the polls to see what Americans think of the efficiency and worth of their government. It’s not a pretty sight.

    If you want an answer about the black problem, I’ve got one for you. Meritocracy, and the ending of affirmative action. The majority of the NFL and NBA aren’t black because they received government largesse or affirmative action, they’re black because they are the best athletes available at their positions, proven so through the harshest of competitions.

    Unless you believe that blacks just can’t cut it academically, what needs to be done is to say that there aren’t any more breaks to be cut. Tell blacks and hispanics that they either reach the same academic performance levels as whites and Asians or they don’t get accepted/hired.

    Will fewer blacks be hired in the near future after such a change? Undoubtedly, at least initially. However, the change will make those blacks who do make the cut accepted as equal to their white and Asian peers, something that isn’t the case now. Moreover, it will have the beneficial effects of a) removing the perception of institutional unfairness held by those who are the victims of affirmative action, and b) make our government more efficient through being staffed by more competent people.

    The reality is that American blacks have destroyed themselves through what Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” I recall a comment from a black worker being urged to take advancement courses as promotions were in the offing for qualified personnel. His response was, “Man, don’t you know the fastest way to put a nigger to sleep is to put a book in his hands?”

    That attitude has to change, but it won’t as long as there are subventions and subsidies for poor performers simply on the basis of their color. Moreover, they aren’t necessary and we just can’t afford, as a society, to be stupid anymore. When we led the

    One last comment: the current system is dying. There is now, and will be much more, serious anger about the way we got there. Fairness in government behavior is not going to be optional in the future. If it expects to be willingly supported by the majority of its citizens in a deepening crisis, the government cannot be seen as being prejudiced either for or against any particular ethnic group. If the government doesn’t reform its current procedures, the growth in the ranks of those who even now think the government does not have the consent of the governed will be exponential. Nothing good can come of that.

    *In fairness, I should note that I also occasionally worked with black USG employees from the Cayman Islands and Guyana. There was a great difference between them and the American blacks. Their work ethic and acceptance of responsibility was the equal of their white and Asian peers. I should also note that they didn’t seem to think very highly of their American black counterparts. Working with those guys made me think that the problem has much less to do with color and a tremendous amount more to do with culture.

  • Anonymous II

    It’s interesting that alarms always are sounded when something is going to affect black citizens. If it’s going to disproportionately impact whites, that’s okay.

    What would change if we removed the race astigmatism from our eyes? We would then say that workers in the public-sector and heavily subsidized private sector jobs will be affected by a reduction in budget spending. There is no reason to mention race. My concern for these workers would not be reduced — but playing the race and trying to make me more concerned for them because they have some African genes in their background does nothing but make me feel that I am hearing what is unnecessary.

    Unless blacks plan to argue forever that they need special treatment and entitlements, the time may have come to take up the challenge of being individuals — let’s help city workers and health care workers make the transition to new jobs if they must, and let’s do it without the race card waving over us.

  • Jane Adams

    Mead alludes to historical conditions that were very different for Blacks compared to all other immigrant ethnic groups. But there’s more: For most of America’s history, most Blacks were slaves — property, rather that propertied — and those who weren’t faced major barriers to becoming propertied and accumulating capital. In contrast, many immigrants come from propertied backgrounds, bringing “cultural capital” — social and technical skills and ambitions — as well as actual capital through family and landsman relationships. Some were the truly impoverished and dispossessed, but far more were the ambitious but redundant sons and daughters of merchants, craftspeople, and smallholders who could both envision and afford to emigrate. And, because of ethnic solidarity, they often gave hands up to their poor compatriots. Black emigrants from the South were ambitious, but they were largely without either cultural or financial capital. That’s the underlayment shaping the historical factors that Mead so cogently sketches of arriving late to the table.

    One query: Mead asserts that “a less bureaucratic and less statist society can be a richer and a happier one.” But it seems that this optimistic future entails lower pensions and, for many, lower wages with greater insecurity. Richer and happier for whom? I hope this is addressed in future posts.

  • “If we start talking about cutting government employment, scaling back unsustainable government pensions and similar ideas, we need to be clear: we are going to be striking at the economic foundations of a substantial chunk of the Black middle class. . . . This matters.”

    No, it really doesn’t. They will be no less blue for the cuts. Indeed, they will be all the more blue if they are cut. The cuts are inevitable, which you acknowledge. The impact will be negligible because those impacted are mainly those who already are inclined to vote blue. The goal should be to convince those whose jobs are not eliminated that economic prosperity for all will redound to those at the bottom of the chain who have managed to hang on to their jobs.

    That is, those blue workers are better off with a more prosperous populace than without. They will benefit from prosperity more than from austerity. That a low-level worker benefits more when rich folks spend money than when they stay home.

  • Luke Lea

    Off topic, I know, but Jane Adams says: “In contrast, many immigrants come from propertied backgrounds, bringing “cultural capital” — social and technical skills and ambitions — as well as actual capital through family and landsman relationships.”

    That was true in New England. Further south it was quite a different story. People forget about that other form of slavery, indentured servitude. It may have been temporary but it involved defenseless women and children — orphans, in many cases, kidnapped off the streets of London and Liverpool — and while it lasted they were treated as bad if not worse than Africans, in whom their masters had a long-term interest.

    Here are some links:

    This is just another instance of the way that race gets in the way of discussing the cultural disadvantages of many other lower-working-class groups.

  • Luke Lea

    By the way, for a touching and in some ways authentic glimpse into the world these other ethnics inhabit, I recommend this video:

    You should not condescend. These are hard working people. Kind people. Honest people. I know them.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Karl, you and Professor Mead should more carefully differentiate between reductions in government employment through layoffs, and through attrition. You assume that layoffs in significant numbers will occur. I deem this unlikely for demographic reasons.

    Mere failure to fill vacancies which appear as current employees retire, are promoted or transfer to new positions does not present a threat of unemployment to current employees (save that promotions will eventually be fewer & slower). You’d be surprised at how rapidly the numbers of public employees can be reduced through this simple attrition.

    The reason is the demographics of those currently employed. There is a bulge in the age cohort known as baby boomers who are hitting retirement age right now, and this is as true for public employees as private employees.

    Mere failure to replace retiring employees in as great numbers as the retirees will dramatically shrink the public employment rolls over the next 5-10 years, and so reduce employment opportunities for qualified blacks.

    Professor Mead errs, however, in assuming that follow-on black age cohorts have the employabilty characteristics of the older black age cohorts in public employment. The educational deficiencies and behavior problems of younger black age cohorts, resulting from collapse of black families, make disproportionate numbers of them (males particularly) unemployable even by public entities.

    This baby boomer retirement wave issue is not as great for blacks as whites, but it is still there. And there are bulges in the black age cohorts of public employees hired in the period immediately following the civil rights revolution as the de jure and de facto barriers against blacks went down faster in public than private employment.

    Black public employees in those age cohorts will retire in the next 10-15 years simply due to age and physical infirmity. At that point their pensions will be issues, but those issues are coming up first for whites due to the baby boom demographic bulge hitting retirement age right now.

  • topcat

    Michael Kennedy asks about the absence of black entrepreneurship, i.e. “shops and services in black neighborhoods”.

    Tom Holsinger points to the effects of the disintegration of the black family.

    Aren’t these both the same? Seems to me that those shops and services are mostly family enterprises.

  • Yawn…

  • Seven degrees

    The problem is & will always be too much govt. whether we are speaking of blacks or others. Mead is really saying that blacks have grown dependent on government. Star Parker calls it the “government plantation.” The movie What Black Men Think which features black liberal & conservative black men in interview blames LBJ & The Great Society & white guilt for the beginning of the downward spiral of black families & the emergence of the ghetto culture.

  • Forrest Higgs

    I wonder what part of “protected employment” it is that Walter doesn’t understand? Eventually, the people financing it start to resent having to finance it intensely. Look at the heavily skewed demographics and the even MORE heavily skewed salaries in the public sector and you should begin to understand the anger of ordinary people who work in the private sector.

    There is no such thing as a level playing field for people wanting to get into public sector jobs.

  • Joe Lammers

    Good article. As some of the other posters have pointed out however, the breakdown of the Black family has negatively impacted the work skills and employ-ability of many younger Blacks.

  • Hugh Miller

    I appreciate this essay so much! This issue is very important but you can not find any discussion of this issue within those blogs populated by the right! Conservatives seem to want to ignore this issue, either because they do not have any idea what to do about it or they really do not “believe” the statistics and facts that are so obvious to Mr. Meade! I have argued this issue with those on the right and they seem to always come back to the personal responsibility of the individual and refuse to acknowledge the responsibility of society!

  • Jim

    “For all its limits, the blue social model was good for the blacks.”

    This is both fantasy and folly, and calls into question Mr. Mead’s very grasp of reality, not to mention his credibility with respect to any “solutions” he proposes. The “blue model” has utterly devastated black America, and the damage would take generations to repair even if we had the candor and wherewithal to take it on. The problems, all based on the culture of dependency and the breakdown of the family, are NOT confined to the cities as Mr. Mead suggests.

    Thanks to the zero-sum toxicity the Democrats have cemented into race relations in the US, all for their own political gain and power, these problems will get no better in our lifetimes. So sad and disgusting…

  • A few years ago, I met a human resources professional who worked for Macy’s in Chicago. She told me that the cash registers at Macy’s, in addition to recording exchanges of money for product, are also used to collect data concerning the efficiency and accuracy of employees, and that Macy’s fires employees who make significantly more mistakes per day than the typical employee does. The reason we were discussing this is that Macy’s, an equal opportunity employer, tends to hire alot of blacks that it fires pretty soon after they hit the sales floor and fail to master the computerized cash register. “The blacks can’t learn the cash register at Macy’s” was her statement, which I directly quote.

    What is actually happening here is that Macy’s is measuring IQ. The irrefutable finding that the average black African has an IQ of 70, while “African Americans” average 85, means that it is an unusual black whose learning and cognitive skills are not seriously deficient relative to the average white. The whites have no problem mastering something as trivial as a cash register, however computerized. The average black can’t do so, and fails to do so.

    You now know why Barack Obama and his fellow travellers in the Democratic Party are so bent on increasing government payrolls at all levels. Civil service laws prevent productivity, accuracy, and intelligence standards from being applied to most government employees. The average black can not learn to accurately run a computerized cash register, but they can sit around and get paid by the rest of us to do nothing.

    Government payroll as income redistribution and welfare scheme.

  • Les

    Mr. Mead, I agree with much of what you’ve written, but I also think that you give very little thought to the impacts that high levels of immigration (both legal and illegal) are doing to the American workforce. The worse impacts are on those Americans at the bottom of the wage scale. We can not continue to have what amounts to open borders in an economic climate of deindustrialization, technological advancements (that reduces employment), globalization, unfail trade agreements like NAFTA, and mercantilist trade practices by China, India, S. Korean and other Asian nations. It will be virtually impossible for the black community (and poor whites) to achieve a secure economic situation if their wages can be continually undercut by immigrants who will work for less money. There have been numerous articles about how blacks disappeared from the restaurant and the construction industry because employers hired Hispanics (often illegal). If you persist in your support for the current immigration climate then you by choice are supporting Allan Greenspan’s position (paraphrasing) “that the USA needs lots of immigrants because American workers earn too much money.” If we tightened immigration laws and lowered the annual influx, then as the economy expanded, there would be an impetus for employers to hire blacks (and other poor Americans) and a rise in wage levels. BTW, your rather pointed observation of “drastic cuts” in immigration in post WW1, were followed by improving living standards for Americans at the bottom, which you fail to mention. You are only telling half the story by failing to point out the correlation between the present immigration situation and the plight of poor Americans (regardless of their ethnicity or race). Case in point, Edward Schmacker-Matos in his recent Wash Post article talked about how he and his wife hired an illegal alien housekeeping, then proceeded to get her legalized and educated. If they had had some sense of conscience, it would have been better had they hired a legal American worker and helped her. Isn’t this always the case, you liberals love to talk about how you want to help Americans, but in practice, all too often, you choose to hire cheap, usually illegal aliens rather than giving American workers a job.

  • Robert Heiler

    When the author said that it matters, I beleieve he was making a statement on policy, not politics. The reason it matters is that the strategy you outline will probably not result in sufficient popular support to achieve its policy ends. This is true partly because of a political dynamic that ties a large swath of the hispanic vote to the blue-voting Blacks. As long as conservative solutions can be construed — however incorrectly or unfairly — as tinged with racism, the inevitable demise of the blue philosophy will occur too slowly, and those solutions will came too late.

  • Wiles

    Mr Mead is describing the US situation very precisely. My only complaint is the assumption that society will have political choice in designing the next functioning state of society. As the current structure is overwhelmed and breaks down, I suspect the reorganization will be in response to circumstance and forces that are not under the control of societal leaders. Reorganization will leap forth as opposed to designed. Fixed income markets around the world may end up firing the first sign that systemic change is coming whether we want it or not.

    Thanks for the insightful set of articles.

  • Anthony

    Legitimate inclusion as maintained by American Creed brings 5.0 into successful economic/social arrangements. That is, admission of historical basis and representation Blacks warrant on these North American shores absence of caste, sterotype,exclusion, and tangential scapegoating has to be integral component in moving beyond blue model to WRM’s seriously considered propositions.

  • Nightelf

    Mead seems to think that the “blue social model” is failing but somehow wants to retain ‘blueness’–in this case the habit of defining people by their skin color. Now we know that from the point of view of sociology only those things which can be measured are relevant, but the original sin of racism was that people’s skin color was a proxy for their being. ‘Blue’ doctrine perpetuates that myth by refusing to get off the race thing. The blue obsession with ‘diversity’ maintains the racist assumption that somehow blacks are ‘different’ than whites, though these differences are no longer considered inferior.

    While dividing people in racial groups ‘blue’ doctrine has in fact injured blacks tremendously. I recall a liberal writer in the 70s (Stephanie Koonz) who wrote in celebration of new definitions of ‘family.’ She has a chapter where she lists the advantage of single motherhood, how it’s so great for the children. Who needs fathers? They just abuse women and children and maintain the patriarchy. This sounds like a joke now, but 30 years ago it was taken seriously.

    Government can’t help people as separate ‘groups’ based on race and ethnicity. Those categories may be interesting form the point of view of sociology, but are useless for public policy. Blue 5.0 looks a lot like 4.0. Maybe it’s time to become a…conservative.

  • Darby

    Dr. Mead, a superb article, thank you. I am not Black so I found this an excellent article to help understand the Black experience and interests. I understand you point about Black government employment and the Black community support for liberal policies. People of all colors vote their interests. What has puzzled me about the Black populations near unanimous support for liberal policies, to me, are its dramatic failures in advancing the Black communities interests. The most glaring to me, and in my opinion of greatest negative impact on the Black community, is schools and education. In my view the Black community (and other minority communities) are not getting quality education at a level of most White communities. This is the MOST important thing required to advance the Black community into greater success. While liberal policies speak constantly about education, it is clear their policies have failed, and miserably so. Just go to any inner city poor neighborhood school and see for yourself. For all the talk, policies and money spent, these have clearly failed. This failure disproportionately affects the Black and other poor minority communities. But the Black voters continue to support the liberals who have brought them this poor education that undermines their own future. It would seem the Black community votes for policies that in some cases undermine their interests and hold them back. Perhaps I am wrong on this perception and Blacks, while voting for liberals actually do not share their vision on education policies, but as far as I can tell this is not the case. Some political diversity within the Black community might yield some changes in this critical area by changing policies that are repeated decade after decade, and for the inner cities, have resulted in near failure for poor minority populations.

  • Frank Badomi

    Herrnstein and Murray in “The Bell Curve” noted that although blacks are afflicted disproportionately by certain problems, the fact that blacks are only 13% of the population means that far more whites are afflicted by the same problems than blacks. Therefore, any effort on the part of government to “correct” such afflictions needs to be directed to conditions and not to a particular race.

    As to the fact that blacks, regardless of their socio-economic status, reliably vote 95% Democrat, that characteristic was set in the 1930s, when FDR decided that the role of government was to provide not promote the general welfare, the Constitution notwithstanding. This was decades before any Civil Rights legislation. Further, Southern Democrats provided the harshest opposition to Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s, not Republicans.

  • Bill

    Having passed my 60th year as an attentive observer of our American culture and social progression, and having just read Juan Williams’ “ENOUGH: The Phony Leaders, … “, my observations would include: determining some method to persuade urban Blacks that their national leaders, (MSM supported, politically driven by white guilt, blue ‘liberals’/statists, centralists) are not acting for improvement of Black individual living standards. These self appointed Black leaders appear to been, the past 40 yrs., motivated more by maintaining constituent dependency. A lot more can be said, but I came to this personal conclusion several years ago.

  • Troy

    I have one problem with this article. The author seems to be operating on the premise that public sector jobs are disproportionately held by african americans. I have not seen the numbers for the past few years, but about ten years ago the black community represented both about 16-17% of the population and the same % of government jobs. I would like to see the evidence that the numbers have changed, otherwise I see this as just another call for something the author believes in without compelling evidence to back up their theories.

  • What makes you so sure government will contract? As we slowly come out of the Great Recession we will simply go back to old ways and kick the can down the road. It seems to me that change only happens through crisis and with Wall Street now made whole and with Federal, State, County and Municipal employees have not experienced any real layoffs.

    The next step is to raise taxes subtly through fees and inflate the monetary system to pay off the debt.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Walter Russell Mead’s opening sentence concludes, “… race needs to be discussed.”

    A discussion of race issues in America, which is a code word for “issues related to black Americans not of recent immigrant descent”, is useless unless the social pathologies of black culture are included in the discussion. This includes but is not limited to the disintegration of black families, which is more a result than a cause of these pathologies.

    Mead’s reluctance to acknowledge this is evident in his unspoken assumption that the black age cohorts born since 1980 are as employable as those born earlier, particularly those born before 1965 whom form the overwhelming majority of blacks now in public employment.

    His liberalism 5.0 model plain dies given the unemployability of so much of the younger black age cohorts.

  • Anthony

    Chorale Satana, your anecdote of Macy’s hiring and employee practices may psychologically assuage your predisposition to seek rationale for inherent ethnic issues but your scientific attributions, vis-a vis American cognttion averages, are blantantly incorrect and need careful data analysis!!

  • Mittymo

    The Dems entrench their base by creating permanent underclasses. But Dems’ financial support comes from big business that buys protections that hobble competition (laws & regulations) & labor bosses, who live in luxury off members’ contributions.,0,5332722.column

    Think the Dems want those at the bottom to break out & benefit from upward mobility? [Heck –ed] no; those that do might become conservatives!

  • A simple change that would help all of the underclass regardless of race would be to make it possible to get ahead by saving money. Today it is our policy to make saving a loser via inflation and taxes. If inflation were checked by tying the dollar to gold or a basket of commodities, and earned interest were tax exempt at least for say the first $1000/yr, a whole new dynamic of future orientation would be created.

  • Darby

    I note a few posts here suggest Blacks have lower IQ’s than others, which I assume they imply Blacks are genetically less intelligent. As a scientist, let me put such racist thoughts to rest, as they are NOT based on science. The truth is, Blacks, Whites and other races are quite intermingled at a genetic level. Big differences in skin pigmentation do not mean big differences at a genetic level. In fact, most all Whites (except perhaps some Icelandic populations) have Black DNA and vice versa. The irony of a White racists claiming genetic reasons for bigoted beliefs is almost too much to bare. It is most definitely not true based on genetics, and we have data to prove it. Environmental factors can affect intelligence, such a malnutrition, especially during childhood. But that is true for Whites, Blacks and any other human, irrespective of race.

    Poor school systems, forced on Blacks and other poor people is a big factor in poor people entering and doing well in the work force. This as I mentioned earlier is what puzzles me when Blacks advocate liberal causes that are hurting their own interests, such as the education of their children.

  • Kersa

    If you want grammatical and logical consistency when you write about race, then you should refer to blacks as “African-American”, which is the phrase most comparable to Italian, WASP, or Jew.

    If you are writing about blacks vs. whites (a group that includes olive and yellow tones), then you should refer to skin color, and you should keep it lower case.

    Trying to make skin color into a proper noun is not a neutral act. It is an action that moves us all away from the stated goals of integration.

  • FDR won the political support of Blacks while the Democrats were still the party of segregationists and the Klan. He did so by advocating “blue” welfare state policies that aided poor blacks and whites alike. Most ethnic groups, blacks included, vote with their economic interests in mind.

    Similarly, Reagan won the votes of ‘Reagan Democrats’ because their economic security was provided by the private sector (via unionized manufacturing jobs), so they felt free to vote based on their cultural affinities for the GOP.

    The lesson we can draw from that history is this: if conservatives want groups that depend on government jobs and government-subsidized jobs to support the necessary shrinking of government, they will need to offer Americans in the bottom half of the socioeconomic scale a plausible chance of earning a decent living in the private sector, one that the status quo of insourcing and outsourcing doesn’t offer.

  • baron

    first things first, reverse black out of wedlock births and 2 expose the black leaders keeping blacks dependent to get their votes see pj orourke

  • Norm Hapke

    I think on the economics of the black experience Mead is pretty on target. However, I believe he ignores the cultural part of this equation, specifically the problem of fatherlessness first brought up by Moynihan in ’65, where 35% of Black children were born out of wedlock. Many commentators like Charles Murray, especially on the right have, without glee but with sorrow, concluded that this is a huge cultural problem that is the genesis of much of the social pathologies of the inner city, and by the way, one that elites caused by example (think Jody foster) and policy (think AFDC). Since ’65 the rate has gone over 70% with concomitant explosion of problems. Unfortunately, Hispanic rates are 49% and ‘white’ rates approaching 40%. This means that adding to the problems of the Black middle class finding jobs is this huge class problem of understandably wretched parenting in young, single-parent families now of all races contributing social problems to the blue ones that Mead mentions.

  • LouGots

    The problem with granting Blacks an affirmative action estate in perpetuity it that there is no reason why the rest of us should buy it. The implication here is that we may not contract the failed “blue” theory of the state because people we should feel guilty about have come to depend upon it.

    Guess what. “New Americans,” i.e. those who arrived or whose forebears arrived after the Civil War mostly do not feel we owe African Americans the sweat off our–shall we say–the sweat off our brows.

    Those “White privilege” theories are what they tell each other in the universities: we’re not buying it.

  • A. Lincoln

    Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

  • Excellent article. Interesting points, good analysis. As a general rule, I believe we would not be where we are today in this regard had we pushed poor people off the gravy train long ago. We wold probably still have the problem discussed with a large number of blacks in government jobs being left out in the cold if the “model” changes, but those that are now on the government dole would now, in my view, be functional contributors to the American system, and would not be subject to the poor side of the “model.” My fear in implementing your concerns with the changing of the “blue social model” is in continuing anything that separates us because of race. I believe it is the very insistence of focusing on race that keeps racism prevalent in America today. Nevertheless, your points are excellent. And, if we can involve blacks more in the new social order, maybe they will, as a group, start to see the benefit of the conservative viewpoint and (gasp!) become Republicans. Thanks for the new (to me) issue to be pondered.

  • Frank Badomi

    Darby says:

    “I note a few posts here suggest Blacks have lower IQ’s than others, which I assume they imply Blacks are genetically less intelligent. As a scientist, let me put such racist thoughts to rest, as they are NOT based on science…Poor school systems, forced on Blacks and other poor people is a big factor in poor people entering and doing well in the work force.”

    Darby the “scientist” has not read “The Bell Curve”, and Herrnstein and Murray’s documentation that blacks as a group have an 18 point lower IQ than non-blacks. The same chapter documents that Orientals as a group have a 3 point higher IQ than non-Orientals. [Does that have anything to do with half the Bronx High School of Science being Oriental…I wonder]. And that those psychometrics results were well known within the community but not spoken [because some facts are not consistent with the government grants that “Darby” relies on for his salary, my explanation, not Herrnstein and Murray’s]. And that psychometric results in Africa show the same difference versus the world population.

    What if it’s not all nurture and no nature as Darby the “scientist” insists? That doesn’t mean “screw them”. It means you need a different approach to solve the problem, and you can’t solve the problem until you recognize the problem, right, Darby?

    And as for the schools, Washington DC, overwhelmingly black, recently ended its program of schools independent of the union shackled public school system. So who is “forcing poor school systems” on whom?

    This morning is the second consecutive -9F morning here in NJ, the third consecutive negative Fahrenheit morning, when we rarely see single digits Fahrenheit and never negative. Tell me about global warming, ah, climate change, Darby the “scientist”!

  • Michael

    In response to Kersa’s post, saying that “African-American” is more appropriate than “Black”… How is “African-American” more appropriate when the group of Americans commonly referred to as “Black” includes people who are not of African descent? You are just being PC, rather than grammatically correct, which is not useful in honest conversation.

  • Edward

    Good start at understanding the issue, but you need to also look at underachievement in schools and black-on-black violence. It would be interesting to see how America’s rank in the world on life expectancy, violent crime, test scores of our kids in school, drop-out rates, prison population, average income, etc., would be if blacks were removed from the data. This is not to imply we should exclude blacks from our country, but might help us focus on real cures.

  • Anthony

    Murray and Hernstein’s citation is mis-stated and used without context Frank Badomi. However, their quarter cebtury old book “Bell Curve” has been convenient resource for many pusedo scientists reaching to justify predisposed “unscientific viewpoints.” Further, the argument/discussion ought to be about 5.0’s 21st century relevance to Americans and their social/economic arrangements.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Norm, the disintegration of black families did not CAUSE the destructive pathologies of black culture. Those already existed but were suppressed. There is considerable evidence that those undesirable behavior patterns had existed during the period of slavery, and a fair amount of evidence that they originated in, and were carried over, from black Africa. That evidence includes the same group behavior patterns becoming much more obvious in black Africa as it urbanized.

    Black culture is hardly unique in having such destructive group behavior patterns. Lots of ethnic urban cultures do but, as in black culture before AFDC, those were suppressed.

    What the disintegration of black families did was remove one of the major inhibitions to spread of those destructive pathologies, i.e., the presence of fathers interested in the development of their young children. Mothers by themselves are much less capable of teaching their children not to emulate undesirable behavior by their children’s’ peers, and by older males who have no interest in the children’s’ welfare.

    You are quite correct that this is not limited to blacks – my wife teaches continuation high school in a mostly Hispanic area, and deals with those problems every day.

    But it did happen to blacks first, on a massive scale, and reasonable arguments can be made that close to a majority of black males under 30 are essentially unemployable (and females aren’t that much better). This has major consequences for Mead’s proposed liberalism 5.0. The unemployability of younger black age cohorts is an elephant in the living room for liberals. They can’t admit it exists due to political correctness, but failure to do so renders anything they say about race dead on arrival.

    Changing the subject, this employability issue for younger black age cohorts has been impacting public employment for years now, and is objectively verifiable. It’s now something which will purportedly happen in the future.

    A fruitful source for academic investigation here lies in federal exemptions, from normal civil service hiring and promotion rules, for Department of Defense agencies (probably others too, but this is certainly true for DOD). The development of those exemptions, and the extent of their use, almost certainly have paper trails.

    Some federal agencies simply have to get their jobs done, and cannot tolerate the existence of too many useless [deleted — ed] drones of the sort described by mac in his post No. 21 earlier in this thread. Those agencies get exemptions from normal civil service rules so they can have enough employees who do their jobs effectively for the agencies to carry out their missions.

    Another place to look for such evidence lies in the federal agencies that have transferred major offices out of Washington D.C. in the past 20 years. The unemployability of the local black labor pool has a fair amount to do with that and, while the agencies involved will deny it, statistical analysis of their labor force, via the handy civil service reporting rules, should provide interesting results. This applies in particular to DOD agencies/offices which have dispersed out of D.C. due to post-9/11 rules about reducing the vulnerability of key agencies/offices to terrorist WMD attack. The agencies/offices involved have used this as a welcome opportunity to shed their problem people and hire replacements that aren’t black. Such major demographic changes in their labor force should be easy to track.

  • Tom Kinney

    Had not hitherto considered this issue of black public sector workers and yet it’s an obvious one when you think about it. Where are affirmative action jobs most likely to manifest? Public sector hires, a practice which was helpful to make up ground when first installed, but is no longer affordable nor appropriate.

    Plus, I would argue that the election of Obama is proof positive that America is the one nation on the planet that is post-racial. It wasn’t as if 51% voted for Obama and 49% opposed him based on his race. My estimate would be around 1-3% did that, no more. And the vast majority of conservatives, though they don’t like his policies, are very proud that America elected a biracial president. It will be decades before a single EU country follows suit.

    This article is yet another example of Mr. Mead’s covering of issues liberals must face but MSM fails to cover for fear they’ll be seen as going against liberal interests. Good corrective by Mead and by doing so he’s wisely pushing liberals in the only direction they have left between here and extinction; that of a move back toward the center. Perhaps even center right. A perpetually stuttering economy will continue to push liberals to the right and this could be the case for years to come.

    Many here immediately thought “affirmative action” when Mead brought up the subject of how to prepare for the specter of black public worker layoffs. As did I. Though he doesn’t go into it in depth, it remains the most substantial issue he’s brought up. A healthy and growing black middle class is something America must nourish continually. Only successful blacks can show, through credible example, others the way out of poverty and low self-confidence. Yet how can we peel off the black hires from the public sector workforce without falling back on yet more affirmative action programs that disable at the same time as they enable? It is a thorny question. Rest assured, though, that America–#1 in the world when it comes to integrating its disparate ethnicities–will find a way.

    And as usual here, some amazing emails in the comments section; the best and most consistently intelligent and thought-through comments on any blog or website anywhere.

  • Kersa

    Michael, I don’t care how you divide or describe the demographic in question, I am merely pointing out that the argument that we must capitalize the word “black” because “black” is somehow the equivalent of “Italian” is not logical, and it is not harmless.

    Capitalizing the word “Black” is the real PC stupidity.

    If you care enough about these people to want to capitalize what they’re called, just so that they don’t feel bad about being lower-cased, then come up with a proper noun, instead of trying to make their skin color into a proper noun.

    The problem isn’t that we’re failing to capitalize the word “black” – a word that shouldn’t be capitalized in the first place. The problem is that we’re so obsessed by PC concerns that we can’t come up with a word that doesn’t offend someone, somewhere.

    If the black community is going to holler at the idea of being described by a proper noun (for instance, African-American, or Negro), then they really lose any claim to be offended when the word describing them is not treated like a proper noun, but is rather treated like what it is.

    Stop trying to have it both ways.

  • Affirmative Actio

    We must always remember the first form of Affirmative Action was called “White Privilege”. Those who reap the benefits of the future your ancestors sowed. Even if they suffered sever poverty were not denied the right to read; they were not denied access to education materials and there families were not “shipped down river”. This discussion is about eduction and perspective. Of course, if you do not understand the history you would believe that Affirmative Action for blacks was the first form of Affirmative Action, but remember you winning in a race, while others have strapped you down is NOT a fair race. Now that we are in the 21st Century you can’t just yell at the person that was held back for years and say “why the [heck — ed] are you so far back in the race.”

  • There is a lot more coming down the line to blind side WRM’s “Liberalism 5.0” than the collapse of the American Black family structure.

    We have a revolution in cheap genetic sequencing that will make absolutely clear that all men are not created equal for employment.

    See: “The looming crisis in human genetics” Nov 13th 2009,

    The US Military has recognized this for a long time. The Armed Forces Service Exams are intelligence tests. Not all people have the inherent aptitude to do all things. Intelligence tests are a very good proxy for determining aptitudes.

    When you are dealing with life and death decisions involving nuclear weapons and the operation of multi-billion dollar ships and aircraft, you cannot avoid doing everything you can to put the most competent people you can into those slots.

    There is a reason that the American military is exempted from civil rights discrimination laws in general and the Supreme Court mandated Racial/Gender “Disparate impact” decisions in particular.

    The coming era of cheap genetic screening will take that “screening for aptitudes” to a whole new level.

    For instance, there’s specific brain chemistry that turns out to be absolutely a requirement for functioning at the highest levels of competence in American Military Special Operations. And it’s genetically _inherent_. It’s nothing that you can teach.

    You either have it or you don’t.

    Every person tested in the SEALs and Delta has the brain chemistry – which involves the release of a natural tranquilizer under stress – and absent that _inheritable_ brain chemistry, you simply cannot reach their level of ‘hardcore’ competence.

    Can you train to improve all applicants to Special Operations positions? Yes. And given equal training, some people will get to a certain level and others will get to another level.

    In this particular example, what makes the difference between “making it” and not is inherent. Because to get to that point you’ve already had all the training in “hardcore” competence any person can stand. To make the next step you have to have the inherent brain chemistry.

    So, what happens when the US Military starts using that cheap sequencing technology that the Economist highlighted to screen all applicants for those Special Forces positions for that brain chemestry, before they spend any money on training?

    And then applies that screening technology to more and more positions, and other identified traits, on the basis of training cost savings?

    How long before Department of Energy nuclear plant security forces do the same?

    Or Border Patrol SWAT teams?

    Cheap genetic screening is a technological killer application & social/cultural Roe v Wade all rolled into one that will be used by someone, somewhere, in the world. Thus everyone, everywhere, will follow or lose out in global competition.

    The US and other nation’s military’s will genetically screen for desired traits in soldiers in terms of dealing with stress, ability to maintain alertness, and other factors. The implications and advantages for getting good pilots, special forces troops and other combat specialists is simply too high to put up with PC academic cant or Supreme Court decision Ivy Towerism.

    Small businesses and _electronic internet dating services_ will do the same, whatever the implications for Federal civil rights or the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    This is one where too many people can gain too much economic, political, and power advantage, for any political/legal force to stop.

    Studies since the “Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life” (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray have pretty well proved that the “black race” as a group has marginally lower average intelligence than others. (And yes, people are individuals not averages, but “Disparate Impact” doctrine is based on averages, not individuals.)

    “A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World” (Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Gregory Clark all but comes out and says that economic success for really large groups is a matter of genetics.

    Not to mention group behavior patterns.

    This is where the credibility collapse of the Left’s “social outcomes science” like human caused “Global Warming” sets them up to be mugged when hard genetic science kills the Left’s PC beliefs on “Everyone’s ethnicity is irrelevant to social behavior” multi-culturalism.

    Things like the Americans with disabilities act and many civil rights laws will not be able to survive the competative economic and other benefits of using cheap genetic screening.

    WRM should consider what the political implications of this genetic screening technology in convincing American whites that

    a) They are not uniquely guilty of racism,

    b) Old style racism was based in real, provable, ethnic-genetic behavior tendencies and

    C) Federal /State/Local Laws that ignore A & B are discriminatory against the economic and legal interests of whites;

    is going to do for making really nasty domestic American politics, starting with the 1960’s Voting Rights Act, racial preference set asides in government contracting and education quotas.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @ed I note that the military is one of the country’s most racially diverse and racially integrated institutions. The career of Colin Powell and many of his colleagues suggests another take on this subject.

  • Luke Lea

    I second comment # 36 by Les:

    When it comes to immigration and trade with low-wage countries like Mexico and China, the liberal elite attitude towards the working poor in America boils down to, “Let’s you and him share.”

    It is unpatriotic madness, the course our country is on.

  • Corlyss

    See Charles Murray the pragmatic sociologist’s view of the underclass and its pathology as well as how it has spread like the ebola virus among Western “blue” nations, esp. those that have added uncontrolled immigration to their catalog of problems. Kinder, gentler, “we have to do something to help the poor more than we already do with our redistributionist policies,” Kumbaya-singin’ ain’t gonna fix these problems. Intentions be damned! Results matter most!

  • Trent J. Telenko


    There are several very important points you gloss over or are unaware of.

    1. Colin Powell is the son of an immigrant and had an intact family structure growing up. This is not true of 80% of American black males under 35 in 2011. (It is still true of most black military officers. “Intact” family being defined as having their father around thru age 15.)

    2. We are as far today (2011) from Desert Storm (1991) as Desert Storm was from Vietnam (1973). Powell’s military is not the current military, for which the majority of Special Operations troops of the Vietnam era would not qualify against the standards of today’s new recruits.

    3. Per #2 above, Powell started in a draft Army and did not come up the Special Ops or combat pilot tracts to his stars. He came up the Staff officer-political tract to his stars.

    4. The American all volunteer military is becoming a sectional, multi-generation civil service family (the officer corps is dominated by multi-generation service families) organization…an organization dominated by your Jacksonians.

    See this article from The Atlantic:

    The Military’s Deepening Geographic Divide

    It’s always useful to control for population and look at figures on a per-capita basis, as the commenters point out. This changes the landscape in subtle ways which seem to reinforce Secretary Gates’ point and our own initial analysis. The geographic concentration of the military becomes even more pronounced. The variance across states is quite substantial: 13 states are home to fewer than ten military personnel per 10,000 people, while six states have more than ten times as much and three have more than 200 military personnel per 10,000 people.

    Aside from relatively high concentrations in Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, and North Dakota, the military is overwhelmingly concentrated in two distinctive areas of the Sunbelt: The southeast running from Virgina and North Carolina through Kentucky and down through South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi; and the corridor from Texas through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. Texas and California now drop out. The upper mid-west and the northeast, especially New England, which tend to be more liberal and left-leaning than the rest of the nation, have very low concentrations of military personnel.

    All in all, this further reinforces Secretary Gates’ point about the military becoming more distant and isolated from the American population broadly.

    See as well this:

    Today’s Army: Smarter, Richer, Southern
    By Spencer Ackerman
    October 7, 2010

    The study Ackerman drew his article from said:

    ‘The south had the highest recruitment rate while the northeast had the lowest.’

    Study Link here:

    And that study noted that black enlistment was well below their national population percentage.

    Which is, to my mind, sad. The military has been, historically, the primary route to advancement for African Americans.

    It does, however, accurately reflect what the collapse of the Black Family and inner city public school districts are having on the employment skills of Black males under 35 years of age.

    Secretary Gates concerns over this, which Ackerman was writing about, can also be seen as a scion of the Codevillan Ruling class reacting with horror to the fact that the US Military has turned into a middle class institution with little to no participation by the Ruling classes.

    One that only accepts upwardly mobile from the lower classes. “Upwardly mobile” being defined as having what it takes to finish High School or high school equivalency, without a drug conviction.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Mr. Mead, it is very material that Colin Powell’s parents were Jamaican immigrants rather than American-born blacks. There are major behavioral differences between blacks of recent immigrant background and American-born blacks. This was noted in several pror posts here:

    #21 by mac: “In fairness, I should note that I also occasionally worked with black USG employees from the Cayman Islands and Guyana. There was a great difference between them and the American blacks. Their work ethic and acceptance of responsibility was the equal of their white and Asian peers. I should also note that they didn’t seem to think very highly of their American black counterparts. Working with those guys made me think that the problem has much less to do with color and a tremendous amount more to do with culture.”

    # 46 by me: “A discussion of race issues in America, which is a code word for “issues related to black Americans not of recent immigrant descent”, is useless unless the social pathologies of black culture are included in the discussion.”

    Trent Telenko’s comment about the coming social and political effects of cheap, effective and useful genetic tests is regretably accurate. You underestimate the importance of public approval of laws. American, particularly Jacksonians, do not behave like Europeans.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @ a number of commenters: the argument seems to whipsaw between genetics (Blacks are inferior for certain things due to their DNA) to culture: the collapse of the Black family is reducing the numbers of young Blacks (especially males) able to participate fully in American life. It looks to me that cultural and social factors have more to do with these problems than genetics; this more or less reinforces my point that 4.0 liberalism is dysfunctional — and supports optimism that social progress toward 5.0 will work out to mean greater opportunities for Blacks and better race relations generally.

  • Trent Telenko


    You should go to and mine their articles on American military recruiting and demographics.

    Their primary audience is American junior and field grade military officers, senior enlisted and defense contractors. So they are free of politically correct cant.

    See the following article links:

    Generation Gap Causes An Officer Shortage
    September 26, 2009:

    Rich Kids At War
    October 30, 2009:

    Desperately Searching For The Skinny
    October 16, 2009:

  • End Drug Prohibition.

  • Mrs. Davis

    social progress toward 5.0 will work out to mean greater opportunities for Blacks and better race relations generally.


    5.0 will be designed and lived by people who grew up with Affirmative Action, not separate drinking fountains. When I, 60, told my son, 14, that I could recall those times during my youth and that I recalled seeing peaceful protesters in America dispersed by fire hoses and cattle prods on the evening news he was astounded. Whether this was due more to his amazement at my antiquity or how recent those events were to our time is not clear.

    This is the same son who at age 6 came home from first grade in a California public school to ask whether all black people were dumb as a result of observing the performance of the students bussed into his school.

    We’ve elected our black president. The richest woman in America is black. There aren’t many ceilings left to penetrate. And it’s hard to make the case that the de jure system is biased against Blacks. So, even though Blacks may not have made all the progress we might wish, it will become harder and harder to justify the current preferences to generations that don’t remember why they were granted.

    And if 5.0 involves a diminution in the size of government as the Blue reign ends and a more Jacksonian reign begins, Blacks may well suffer disproportionately leading to greater racial tension. Opportunities will continue to exist for all but may not be realized by many due to self inflicted cultural separation and inability to work effectively in the predominant culture.

    It isn’t always up and to the right.

  • Trent Telenko


    In addressing the on-coming reality of genetic testing, you are looking a lot like the Environmental Movement in reacting to the E-mails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University.

    The reality of genetic screening being a factor in military employment is upon us. Military medical research has identified specific, inheritable, physical attributes needed for highest levels of combat performance.


    February 23, 2009

    Lessons In Survival

    The science that explains why elite military forces bounce back faster than the rest of us.

    By Ben Sherwood

    Morgan’s research—the first of its kind—produced some fascinating findings about who does the best job resisting the interrogators and who stays focused and clearheaded despite the uncontrollable fear. Morgan looked at two different groups going through this training: regular Army troops like infantrymen, and elite Special Forces soldiers, who are known to be especially “stress hardy” or cool under pressure. At the start or base line, the two groups were essentially the same, but once the stress began, and afterward, there were significant differences. Specifically, the two groups released very different amounts of a chemical in the brain called neuropeptide Y. NPY is an abundant amino acid in our bodies that helps regulate our blood pressure, appetite, learning and memory. It also works as a natural tranquilizer, controlling anxiety and buffering the effects of stress hormones like norepenephrine, one of the chemicals that most of us simply call adrenaline. In essence, NPY is one of the fire hoses that your brain uses to extinguish your alarm and fear responses by keeping the frontal-lobe parts of your brain working longer under stress.

    Morgan found one very specific reason that Special Forces are superior survivors: they produce significantly greater levels of NPY compared with regular troops. In addition, 24 hours after completing survival training, Special Forces soldiers returned to their original levels of NPY while regular soldiers were significantly below normal.

    With so much more NPY in their systems, the Special Forces soldiers were much more clearheaded under interrogation stress and performed better according to the trainers. Special Forces soldiers really are special and different from the rest of the Army. They stay more focused and engaged in a crisis and bounce back faster afterward because their bodies produce massive amounts of natural anti-anxiety chemicals. In the fog of war—and everyday life for that matter—that’s a major advantage.

    Cheap individual whole genome testing to isolate the genetic markers of these super-stress resistant soldiers and sailors will happen in the next few years, if not already.

    Remember, once an American signs on the dotted line, Uncle Sam owns free access and implied voluntary consent to collecting that servicemen’s DNA for any use “In the best interests of the service.”

    The usual use is for identification for next of kin. It will not remain the only use. Total genome sequencing costs are at the $1000 dollar level per person and falling. Screening for innate capabilities to avoid incurring non-value added training costs is guaranteed in the current Federal fiscal environment.

    Remember as well that the size of the American military is decreasing, so the standards for those who remain are higher.

    If a racial group’s average intelligence and upper range stress (or other militarily significant performance) is lower than others in the selection pool. That racial group is going to be disproportionately removed from American military service due to the vast majority of their bell curve being lower than other groups in meeting the initial entry standards.

    This sort of hiring behavior would be a sure loser before the Federal courts under the statistical requirements of the “Disproportionate Impact” doctrine in racial hiring.

    Fortunately for the American Military, it is exempt from such civil rights laws and judicial doctrines. Right now, about 2/3 of all American males doesn’t meet American military entrance requirements. The 1/3 that does meet those requirements are racially diverse, but they ARE NOT REPRESENTATIVE of the current American racial mix and will be less so over time.

    As for private industry, you absolutely will see that sort of genetic screening for exactly that same brain chemistry in foreign deep diving firms working on off shore oil drilling contracts, especially after the BP Gulf spill.

    Lloyds of London and other international (non-US)insurance firms will force it as a condition of the policy.

    International insurance requirements will drive genetic screening in high risk employment worldwide and to Hades with what American civil rights laws and Supreme Court rulings says.

    Between that, and the American military using the same genetic screening technology, the ability of Liberalism 4.0 to get the respect for existing civil rights laws, Federal Court “Racial Statistically Disproportionate impact” doctrines and other race-preference hiring laws that put American firms at a competitive disadvantage in the world will tube.

    If you don’t have “consent of the governed” for Liberalism 4.0, and denial that the basic tenets of Liberalism 4.0 are disproved by provable physical reality, any attempt to create “Liberalism 5.0” is doomed.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @ Trent: You are telling me that you already know what the new science will reveal when it is finally discovered. I prefer to respond to scientific conclusions after they have been reached. It saves time.

  • Tom Holsinger

    The enormous behavioral differences between recent black immigrants and their children (such as Colin Powell), and black Americans of long-time American descent, is THE most effective proof of Mr. Mead’s point in post No. 24 above. Cultural and social factors definitely seem to far outweigh genetics here.

    It would be productive, but professionally awkward if not career-threatening, if a formal academic study could be performed comparing the native black African tribal origins of black immigrants to America from British possessions such as Jamaica, etc., to American blacks whose ancestry mostly goes back to the pre-Civil War period. That would further other studies more focused on genetic factors in asocial behavior.

    While it might be professionally safer, though, to track socialization of 3rd & later generation black descendants of black immigrants from British empire possessions into native black American behavior patterns, there is a problem here. The thoroughly racist post-World War One restrictions on immigration to America were not lifted until the Kennedy & LBJ administrations, so there might not be enough 3rd & 4th generation descendants of black immigrants from British possessions to provide statistically valid samples.

  • Prologue

    Women may be in a similar precarious position. I well remember the beginnings of feminism in the 60’s. It looked like fields were opening up for women throughout the economy, but over the decades women have shown a preference for the public sector. They are over-represented in public education, universities and government bureaucracies at every level. When those jobs begin to disappear, women may well find themselves in the ranks of the un- and under-employed. It will be interesting to see how this development will affect marriage and divorce statistics.

  • Trent Telenko

    >I prefer to respond to scientific
    >conclusions after they have been reached.

    You need to spend more time at the futurepundit blog. The scientific conclusions are being reached right now.

    It is now a matter of waiting for their economic and political exploitation.


    Some Consumer Preferences Heritable
    2010 October 06

    Which excerpted from this link:

    …the following quotes:

    “We examine a wide range of consumer judgment and decision-making phenomenon and discover that many—though not all of them—are in fact heritable or influenced by genetic factors,” write authors Itamar Simonson (Stanford University) and Aner Sela (University of Florida, Gainesville).

    The authors studied twins’ consumer preferences to determine whether or not certain behaviors or traits have a genetic basis. “A greater similarity in behavior or trait between identical than between fraternal twins indicates that the behavior or trait is likely to be heritable,” the authors explain.


    “The authors discovered that people seem to inherit the following tendencies: to choose a compromise option and avoid extremes; select sure gains over gambles; prefer an easy but non-rewarding task over an enjoyable challenging one; look for the best option available; and prefer utilitarian, clearly needed options (like batteries) over more indulgent ones (gourmet chocolate). They also found that likings for specific products seemed to be genetically related: chocolate, mustard, hybrid cars, science fiction movies, and jazz.”

    and this post:

    MAOA Gene Influences Gambling Versus Risk Aversion
    2010 January 14

    Which had this link:

    and exerpted the following from it:

    Several recent papers have explored the molecular genetic basis of economic risk taking. With 95 subjects, Dreber et al. [12] showed that the dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) exon 3 repeats are associated with financial risk taking. This was replicated independently in a 65-subject study by Kuhnen & Chiao [13] who found additionally an association with the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR). Zhong et al. [15] proposed a neurochemical model relating dopamine and serotonin tones respectively to valuation sensitivity over gains and losses and derived its implication on risk attitude over risks involving moderate probabilities. They tested and validated their hypothesis with a gene association experiment showing that dopamine transporter (DAT1) is associated with risk attitude over gains and that an intronic 17 bp variable number of tandem repeat of serotonin transporter (STin2) is associated with risk attitude over losses. Roe et al. [14] showed that economic risk attitude is associated with several vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2) SNPs. The present paper is the first investigation of the neurogenetic correlates of attitude towards longshot risks observed through laboratory-based economic experiments. Our findings complement existing evidence about the role of MAOA in the modulation of personality traits including harm avoidance [23].

    If you don’t think major corporate marketers worldwide won’t jump on this when individual genome sequencing drops to less than $100 a person…

    The “first mover advantage” on exploiting this technology will determine the economic fate of nations.

    Consider simple things like insisting on DNA samples as a DNA identification requirement for passports, national ID cards, national vehicle operator licenses and then handing that data over an economic entity associated with the regime in charge to mine it for whatever they can.

    It may well be that economic entities in states that lack “Liberalism 4.0” style individual civil rights will gain larger data bases of DNA population samples to do genome sequencing statistical exploitation studies on sooner.

    And please carefully note the Chinese names in the scientific paper referenced by above.

  • Trent Telenko

    Tom H.

    There is already a simple forced-culture experiment that is readily accessible for “culture versus genetics” comparisons of the American “Black” population.

    See the following link:

    Which made the following statistical observation of cultural behavior — murder rates in 20 to 34 year olds in 2000 — in the American military population versus by race in the civilian population:

    Homicides in the military are relatively low, around 5 percent of all military deaths—less than half the rate accounted for by suicide. In contrast, homicide is a major cause of death among young African American men in civilian life—accounting for 35 percent of deaths to African American civilian men ages 20 to 34 in 2000, and 11 percent of deaths among African American civilian women in this age group. The comparable 2000 figures for whites were 8 percent for men and 6 percent for women. African Americans face a lower risk of homicide in the military than in civilian life.

    To restate:

    The murder rate in the military is 5% for servicemen of 20 to 34 years of age.

    The murder rate in 2000 for black civilians in the same age range is 35% for males and 11% for females.

    The 2000 murder rate for white civilians of the same ages is 8% for males and 6% for females.

    A culture versus genetic influences study of military servicemen of all races can be done using DNA identification samples already in the Defense Department’s hands.

    You can do statistical comparisons of “average military black behavior” to “average population black behavior” in terms of muder rates and see exactly what the genetic “nature versus nurture/culture” components are, as well as for whites as a “Control Group.”

    I strongly suspect the political will to go there is non-existent.

  • Tom Holsinger

    Trent, the behavior disparity between American military personnel and civilians is so great that I very much doubt the statistical validity of the murder rate comparisons you draw.

    OTOH, I agree that the ongoing rate of change in the cost of DNA analysis vs. the economic utility of the analysis results means employment requirements for DNA testing will pretty much overwhelm political objections absent a popular consensus in favor of the political objections. Democrats and lefties assume that they can stuff laws and judicial decisons down the throats of a population which does not accept the underlying justice of those laws & decisions.

    Public acquiesence concerning unpopular laws and judicial decisions should not be assumed. Americans, particularly Jacksonians, do not behave like Europeans. And, once they start rejecting some laws & judicial decisions, it will become progressively easier to do so.

    I also agree that the public debate on the use of DNA tests for economic and financial reasons will dramatically affect public opinion on the nature vs. nuture controversy. I am not so sure, however, how the latter debate will come out, because I have more professional experience with insurance companies than you do.

  • peter

    Is Kersha kidding? Who made her (or him, I can’t tell, I apologize) the punctuation and social commentary Queen?

  • Carl

    Darby knows nothing of science. You can identify race very easily without looking at skin pigmentation, because there are huge numbers of genetic differences between races. Have a look at African albinos, they look totally unlike Caucasians despite having white skin. Which is not surprising since they have been genetically separate for tens of thousands of years (hundreds of thousands in the case of white people’s Neanderthal DNA). The problem with environmental causes is that different genes obviously cause people to create different environments for themselves.

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