Wall Street Journal, Two Economists Fuel Democratic Debate Over How Far Left to Go:
For decades, William Darity Jr. and Darrick Hamilton toiled in obscurity. They criticized mainstream economists and politicians for failing to address racial inequality, and touted more radical remedies of their own.
Now, with the 2020 presidential campaign under way and liberal Democrats ascendant the two economists are in the spotlight, thrust into the middle of an intraparty debate over how much to embrace big government and a race-oriented message.
Their signature ideas—guaranteed jobs for all adult Americans seeking them, government-backed trust funds for American babies and reparations for slave descendants—are being talked about on the campaign trail and, in the case of reparations, during a raucous congressional hearing in June.
The two African-American economists’ theories on “stratification economics,” which focuses on economic gaps between whites and blacks, have helped shape the rhetoric and platforms of several candidates. ...
Mr. Hamilton [is] an Ohio State University professor. ... Mr. Darity, a 66-year-old Duke University professor, and Mr. Hamilton, 48, have gained prominence as more Democrats decry the incrementalism they associate with Presidents Clinton and Obama. ...
They have teamed up to write more than 50 articles for academic and popular journals and books, and pioneered what they consider a new field of scholarship they branded stratification economics. They contend that mainstream economists tend to regard racial discrimination as a short-term market glitch that market forces will correct eventually. That logic, they say, leads to the conclusion that persistent African-American woes result mainly from their own failings, such as inadequate education or poor financial choices.
Policy makers, they contend, focus too much on employment, income and education and not enough on family wealth across generations. They say wealth is a better measure of household economic security—the ability to weather emergencies, pay for education, afford homes in good neighborhoods and take risks.
Their statistics show that black households headed by a college graduate have, on average, less wealth than those headed by white high-school dropouts, and that black households headed by someone working full time have less wealth than those headed by unemployed whites.
The racial wealth gap accumulated over years, they say, stoked not just by slavery but by 20th-century policies that helped whites and marginalized African-Americans. No matter how hard blacks work to improve their education or earn more, the two men say, they won’t catch up financially. Only significant government intervention can address the disparity, they argue.
July 17, 2019 in Legal Ed News, Legal Ed Scholarship, Legal Education | Permalink
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