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Maybe it is well known that the major discrimination faced by blacks in the South originated from government laws like Jim Crow laws that institutionalized something that good economics seemed to have been eroding. But how well known is the fact that early efforts by governments to provide (modest) welfare benefits to the poor were also discriminatory?

In David Beito’s excellent, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, he shows that this discrimination was rampant in the South. For example, although the black population accounted for 21% of Houston’s total population in 1920, not a single black family received a public relief pension.

Discrimination may or may not be rampant when people are free to transact with one another on peaceful terms, but please spare me the notion that when the very racist people that are within our society end up with the levers of power that somehow they alter their ways. Or please spare me the idea that only non-discriminators end up in government. I am becoming decreasingly skeptical of the institution of government as being bad and increasingly skeptical of the constitution of the folks that populate the world I live in. More on that in a future post.

Here is another incident reported in Beito’s book:

(William Washington Browne) declared a war of independence against white financial control. Citing his unhappy experiences with insurance regulators he cautioned that, “white men try to break up every plan the Negro has. In order to split the log, you must find the seam,. White men find the seam of our union and unless we are strongly united, they will split us up.”

Matty Brown … depicted the United Order of True Reformers as an economic self-defense league in an era of Jim Crow. … many members of the UOTR fought back with political action when the city of Richmond introduced Jim Crow streetcars. They helped organize boycotts and offered meeting facilities for protesters.

One Response to “Discrimination by the Welfare State Itself”

  1. Michael says:

    It’s really interesting and infuriating to read about the civil rights movement pre and post civil war; ex-slaves gained freedom one equal par with the owners, but a Confederate guerrilla war eventually got Jim Crow (even drove official black representatives from the house in a de facto coup). How we regard President Wilson as a good guy is beyond me.

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