You may have seen Walter Russell Mead fretting of late about the hash Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's cronies have made of the city pension fund. (h/t Heliogabalus) Mead is wowed by both the scale of the graft--
...corrupt and incompetent trustees appointed by Democratic officials over many years in Detroit are responsible for almost half a billion dollars in investments gone wrong.
--and the indifference of the press:
I honestly don’t know why there is so little national outrage about this despicable crew and the terrible damage they have done. ...The 41 year old Kwame Kilpatrick may well be the worst and most destructive American of his generation; his two terms as Mayor of Detroit are among the most sordid and stomach churning episodes in the storied history of American municipal corruption.
The question of Afro governance has long intrigued Euro-Americans, especially in the South. The latter feared the former's great numbers meant they would one day take control, a disaster because (1) they would trample Whites' rights and (2) they were unfit to govern. The ten-year Reconstruction nightmare, they say, proved them right. J.W. Garner:
In some instances the board [of supervisors] was composed entirely of illiterate negroes. Although their duties necessitated calculation and computation, there were instances in which no member could do the smallest operation of arithmetic, and their highest mark of erudition was the ability of the president to sign his name to a record, the contents of which he could not read. In Issaquena County, in 1874, every member of the board was alleged to be an illiterate negro.
... In Madison County, every member of the board was colored, and the maximum of learning among them was the ability of one to sign his name mechanically. There was not a justice of the peace in the county who could write his name. [...] shortly before the meeting of the grand jury, they usually got some friendly white neighbor to write up their dockets for presentation at the proper time. (1)
J.W. Burgess, on the outrageous expenditures of the all-Negro South Carolina legislature:
It was the most soul-sickening spectacle that Americans had ever been called upon to behold. ... In place of government by the most intelligent and virtuous part of the people for the benefit of the governed, here was government by the most ignorant and vicious part of the population for the benefit, the vulgar, materialistic, brutal benefit of the governing set. (2)
Men of the 19th century drew their conclusions about Afro governance from simple observation. They watched Haiti, they watched Liberia, they watched Afro-Americans conduct their own affairs. Today the data-set is richer--50-plus African nations now independent for half a century, as well as a growing number of American cities led by wholly black government. In surveying this landscape, two words come to our lips again and again--'corruption' and 'ineptitude.' Why?
The temptation to blame outside forces, as we have seen, is strong. The instinctive pity and revulsion we feel when faced with a group of people so seemingly inept can cause us shame, so we attempt to redirect blame. 'Other people made them this way,' we say. 'It is inconceivable that their problems could be rooted in their own make-up.'
At Those Who Can See, we argue that the evidence points strongly in the other direction. We propose that in the aggregate, traits which lead to good governance are in acutely short supply in Sub-Saharan Africans. Let us examine the evidence.
Future time orientation
The ability to plan ahead is the hallmark of a well-functioning individual, group, or government. According to Richard Lynn,
The first study to demonstrate differences between blacks and whites in the delay of gratification was carried out by W. Mischel in Trinidad in the late 1950s. He offered black and white children the choice between a small candy bar now or a larger one in a week. He found black children were much more likely to ask for the small candy bar now, and this difference has been confirmed in three subsequent American studies.
Williams and Ramirez came to similar conclusions in 1974. They studied three racial groups of schoolchildren in a 'relatively poor economic region of a South-Western area in the United States':
'Results showed that at the fourth-grade level Black and Mexican-American children were more prone than Anglo children to accept the immediate gratification rather than choose the later and bigger reward.'
Castillo et al., in a 2011 study on Georgia schoolchildren, came up with the same results.
In 2011, Wang et al. conducted an unprecedented simultaneous experiment in 45 countries to test the future-time orientation of college economics students. The three highest-scoring countries were Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, with future-orientation scores of 89%, 88%, and 87% respectively. The lowest-scoring country (and one of only two Sub-Saharan African) included was Nigeria, at 8%.
Saving and reimbursing loans
Other signs of high future-orientation are one's ability to save money:
In 2009, the median net worth of white households was $113,149, compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks. That gap is about twice as large as the 1 to 10 white-to-minority wealth ratio that prevailed during the two decades before the recession.
And to pay back loans in a timely way:
The 1987 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study consisting of 6,338 cases reports default rates as follows: whites—5 percent, Hispanics—20 percent, American Indians—45 percent, blacks—55 percent.
A report by Freddie Mac of 12,000 households in 1999 found the highest percentage of poor credit ratings was among blacks (48 percent). The next highest was among Hispanics (34 percent), while whites had the lowest at 27 percent.
Planning one's family
In 2001, the unplanned pregnancy rate for Afro-Americans was twice that of Euro-Americans.
A sober governing body is made up of people who know when to take risks and when to avoid them. Risk-taking behavior among Afros has been shown to be high relative to other groups.
Lynn: In the 1989-93 American Teenage Attitudes and Practices Survey, 9,135 youths aged 12 to 18 were asked to consider the question: “I get a kick out of doing things every now and then that are a little risky or dangerous.” 56.9 percent of blacks agreed, as compared with 38.6 percent of whites.
Studies have shown that Afro-Americans are less likely than other groups to wear seatbelts, and more likely than other groups to drive above the speed limit.
In addition, Afros are less likely than other groups to secure children under five in car safety seats.
Taking steps to avoid contracting disease is a risk-limiting behavior. Afros have shown they are either less willing or less able to take such steps. This is true for sexually-transmitted diseases:
- In 2007, approximately 48% of all chlamydia cases occurred among Blacks.
- In 2007, approximately 70% of the total number of reported cases of gonorrhea occurred among Blacks.
- In 2007, 46% of all cases of P&S syphilis reported to CDC were among Blacks.
As well as HIV:
Despite representing only 14% of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections in that year. Compared with members of other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths.
Willingness to commit
We want our leaders to be able to make commitments and to follow them through. One indication of this is their readiness to do so in other areas of life:
Blacks in the United States, Britain, France and the Caribbean are less likely than whites to marry or enter into stable relationships. In an American survey of 18-to 64-year-olds carried out from 1990 to 1996, 61 percent of whites were married but only 35 percent of blacks. The most likely to be married were East Asians (66 percent).
The Kinsey data on college graduates, collected in the 1940s and 1950s, found that 51 percent of blacks were unfaithful to their spouses during the first two years of marriage compared with 23 percent of whites.
Desire to serve the public
The 'res publica', or 'public thing,' was the Roman ideal of the commonwealth to which the government official should devote himeself. A humble attitude of service to others is still held up as a key trait of a good public servant. Unfortunately, in the aggregate, Afros exhibit less of this trait than others. The Inductivist:
In a new study in the Journal of Research in Personality, it was found that, compared to whites, blacks have a higher average score on several measures of narcissism. Going from large differences to small ones, blacks are much more self-absorbed (d = .83); entitled (d = .61); they are more likely to be grandiose exhibitionists (d = .57); to see themselves as good leaders (d = .45); to feel superior (d = .37); to think they can fool most people (d = .29); and to try to avoid rejection at all costs (d = .24).
Ability to think critically--to create logical connections--is fundamental in all areas of life, and no less in governance. Intelligence tests, which measure this ability, show consistently that Afros are less endowed with it than other groups. This is shown in IQ tests:
As well as in other tests which function as their proxy, such as the SAT, ACT, LSAT, bar exam, MCAT, medical board exam, military entry exam, civil service exam, and teacher certification exam.
* * *
In the same way it is accepted today, without too much fanfare, that Afros can jump higher and run faster than Euros, it was once accepted that Euros can organize and think ahead better than Afros. This was in fact once the conventional wisdom, whatever one's political bent. A conclusion reached by simply watching Blacks and Whites in action.
But mere observational anecdotes are no longer needed, as today study after study charts for us the real group behavior differences between Afros and Euros. One can only imagine that genetic science, as it careens ahead at breakneck speed, will soon reveal to us even more of these secrets.
In 1904 T.N. Page wrote,
The North, for the present far removed and well buttressed against any serious practical consequences,...has ever insisted on one principle and one policy, founded on a conception of the absolute equality of the two races. The South, in direct contact with the practical working of every phase of the question, ...resolutely asserts that the conception on which that policy is predicated is fundamentally erroneous, and that this policy would destroy not only the white race of the South, but even the civilization which the race has helped to establish, and for which it stands, and so, in time, would inevitably debase and destroy the nation itself. (3)
One hundred years ago, Page's words may have sounded alarmist. Worried though he was, he could probably not have imagined the end of segregation, the ensuing flight of Euros from cities, and these cities' governments falling one after another into Afro hands. The current state of Detroit, Birmingham, or Gary, IN would be unfathomable to him.
If the U.S. really were a country in which one racial group governed far less skillfully than the other, and the former group were put in charge of a great many city and school governments, what would the result be? One need not ask, only look: Where Blacks rule, state takeover of municipal boards and state takeover of school boards have become par for the course. Where a less able hand falters, a more able one is needed to sweep in and steady the ship.
This American experiment in Afro municipal government is young. It is only now beginning to bear its fruit. To all who believe that healthy cities are essential to a healthy nation, the canary in the coal mine that is Detroit should sound as a grave warning. A warning that may leave Washington decision-makers looking far back in history to find a wise policy response.
(1) Garner, J.W. Reconstruction in Mississippi. NY: Macmillan. 1901.
(2) Burgess, John W. Reconstruction and the Constitution, 1866-1876. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902.
(3) Page, Thomas Nelson. The Negro: The Southerner's Problem. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1904.