August 18, 2006

Once a Fool, Always a Fool

Andy Young put his foot in it by claiming that first Jews, then Koreans, and now Arab small merchants are exploiting black folks in their neighborhoods. Hired as a spokesman for Wal-Mart, he had to quit.

The minority-controlled UCLA Law School student government invited this fool as the commencement speaker back in the stone age when I graduated.

His equal-opportunty bigotry conceals an ignorance of economics. Where there is a higher risk of crime and many people don't have cars, stores must be smaller, and as a result charge higher prices, or they won't make a profit. Small stores also give credit informally, which "big box" stores don't. Ethnic groups with active extended family structures and a work ethic make more effective small merchants than those who lack both. Their children become Americanized and join the meritocracy, and the old retail enterprises either disappear or get passed on to the next ethnic group.

And last time I looked, black folks were allowed to open businesses under the same terms as immigrants.

I remember years ago in DC, after the MLK assassination riots had burned out the small retailers, a black cab driver (one of the last non-Africans to drive a cab in that city, perhaps) told me how stupid it has been to burn out "the Jew stores."

All over the world there are mercantile minorities--Lebanese in West Africa and the West Indies, Chinese in Polynesia and Indonesia, Jews all over the place a generation or two ago, East Indians in East Africa--who always fill a necessary function and also become the objects of resentment. Thomas Sowell has it nailed.

Andy Young, on the other hand, is an idiot, who has been pimping off the legacy of the very dead civil rights movement for years.

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