Advancing a Free Society

A Defining Moment

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Governor Mitt Romney's statement about not worrying about the poor has been treated as a gaffe in much of the media, and those in the Republican establishment who have been rushing toward endorsing his coronation as the GOP's nominee for president — with 90 percent of the delegates still not yet chosen — have been trying to sweep his statement under the rug.

But Romney's statement about not worrying about the poor — because they "have a very ample safety net" — was followed by a statement that was not just a slip of the tongue, and should be a defining moment in telling us about this man's qualifications as a conservative and, more important, as a potential President of the United States.

Mitt Romney has come out in support of indexing the minimum wage law, to have it rise automatically to keep pace with inflation. To many people, that would seem like a small thing that can be left for economists or statisticians to deal with.

But to people who call themselves conservatives, and aspire to public office, there is no excuse for not being aware of what a major social disaster the minimum wage law has been for the young, the poor and especially for young and poor blacks.

It is not written in the stars that young black males must have astronomical rates of unemployment. It is written implicitly in the minimum wage laws.

We have gotten so used to seeing unemployment rates of 30 or 40 percent for black teenage males that it might come as a shock to many people to learn that the unemployment rate for sixteen- and seventeen-year-old black males was just under 10 percent back in 1948. Moreover, it was slightly lower than the unemployment rate for white males of the same age.

How could this be?

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