John McWhorter has a sad, insightful column on black poverty. There's no question that racism has created a lot of problems in the black community, and that racism still shapes the lives of American blacks. But the minority of blacks who remain poor have problems other than racism--criminal records, early childbearing, dropping out. If the government can fix those, we haven't yet figured out how. Unfortunately, we haven't figured out how any one else can fix them, either. Very early childhood interventions seem to offer the best shot, but they make modest gains at enormous expense, and the government is already juggling a lot of priorities with limited tax dollars, so I'm not all that hopeful that we're ready to invest $20,000 per kid (about what the Perry Pre-School project cost in today's dollars) in early interventions that will pay off twenty to thirty years later, when fewer of the kids commit crimes.
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