It is Black History Month, and as people reflect on the struggles and accomplishments of African-Americans over many decades, many agree that “more can be done” to ensure economic opportunity for all Americans.
But the demand that the “more” must be done by government through a stronger safety net, wealth redistribution and mandated equality measures overshadows the years of evidence that indicate more often than not, government programs fail. They disincentivize wise choices, diminish individual will, limit educational opportunities, and create burdensome regulations that hinder entrepreneurship and increase the cost of living for families embracing the notion that advancement is their responsibility.
Consider urban planning, for example. “Smart growth” measures implemented by cities that are designed to reduce urban sprawl, which prices lower- and middle-income families out of the housing market by limiting the quantity of housing, the land available for housing, and the types of housing that are allowed. Housing economist Wendell Cox finds that the white home ownership rate is 50 percent above the rates for Hispanic and African-American households, and he attributes much of this difference to prescriptive zoning, which drives up the cost of housing. Government-driven solutions declaring a right to own a home is not the answer. That philosophy led to the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
In the area of education, charter schools offer parents — particularly those in urban areas — educational options for their children where previously they were relegated to a failing public school.