Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone. And welcome to the, uh, 107th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. You can call me JAG. I am the CEO of the Atlas society. We are the leading nonprofit organization, connecting young people with the ideas of Iran in fun, creative ways like graphic novels and animated videos. Today, we are joined by professor Rachel Ferguson. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I wanna remind all of you who are watching us on zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Uh, you can use the comment section to type in your questions, keep them short, and we will get to as many of them as we can. So my guest today, racial Ferguson is a professor of managerial philosophy at Concordia university, Chicago, and the director of the Liberty and ethics center at the Hammond Institute. She's also the co-author of black liberation through the marketplace, hope heartbreak and the promise of America, which applies a classical liberal lens to how both the violation of property rights and failed paternalism have contributed to deep injustices against black Americans while also celebrating black entrepreneurs. Who've overcome tremendous obstacles to create flourishing businesses and communities, professor Ferguson. Welcome again. Thank you for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:38 Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here.
Speaker 0 00:01:41 So you received your PhD in philosophy from St. Louis university, um, and you list Aristotelian virtue theory as among your interests of study. What were some of the early influences or experiences that encouraged you to pursue philosophy?
Speaker 1 00:02:00 Yeah, it's a great question. I actually grew up in a, a household with a lot of really open conversation. I'm a pastor's kid. Uh, both my parents were pretty deeply intellectual and we were in an extremely multicultural environment as well. Um, my church was multiethnic and so was my neighborhood. And actually, so was my household. I had foster brothers as well. And so, um, I was pretty used to thinking about questions of deep meaning and, and thinking about texts and how they got to be interpreted and things like that. So when I got to college, I was a bit lost. I actually changed my major about four times <laugh>, but, uh, I took a logic class. I remember my dad had been in the air force reserves and he said, everyone has to take a logic class. And so I signed up for logic and I thought, this is fun.
Speaker 1 00:02:46 This is like a game. And the other students in the class were more like, uh, sinners in the hands of an angry God, you know, <laugh>, they were struggling a lot. I ended up being the, um, person who was sort of organizing the study groups and my professor in on me and said, Hey, you're really good at this. You need to take more philosophy. And her name was Donna Sharon. She's actually had been a writer for the Cato Institute and had had a, a libertarian, uh, kind of mind herself. And she, and I absolutely just hit it off. Um, she really took me under her wing. Uh, I, she considered me kind of her intellectual offspring and having a mentor like that was, was so, so important. And, uh, she's the one who set me on my way.
Speaker 0 00:03:24 Well, that's, uh, that's a beautiful story. Um, and there's gotta be another story, uh, behind what led you to ride black liberation through the marketplace with your coauthor Marcus Witcher? I understand there's an interesting, uh, evolution of the project.
Speaker 1 00:03:41 Yeah, so I mean, you know, I, I did grow up with, uh, with black foster brothers who were from the inner city. They struggled with the criminal justice system in the back of my mind as a political philosopher. I always had the problem of the black American male sort of there right looming. And, uh, I live in St. Louis. I live, uh, just 10 minutes from Ferguson, Missouri. Uh, my, my university that I was at at the time was 10 minutes on the other side. So I was passing Ferguson all the time. And when the unrest occurred there, I really put a lot of effort into supporting the entrepreneurs. I'll, I'll never forget when the, um, black butcher shop spray painted on their wall. Uh, we did not kill Mike Brown, black owned business, right. They didn't wanna have, have their shop burned down. And I really wanted to support the entrepreneurs.
Speaker 1 00:04:25 I wanted to get people in St. Louis to be shopping in Ferguson, which is actually quite a nice area. And, um, so as that evolved, uh, colleagues began to come to me. They saw me as a person who cared about the community. They asked me to help, uh, students get to the Smithsonian, the opening of the, uh, African American history and culture museum. And I said, well, I can help you through the Liberty and ethics center, but I need to pursue my mission, right. In order to do that. I said, what if you give me five weeks of your social justice class? And I present a classical liberal account of the systemic oppression of African Americans. And at that time, I had a, an outline of some basic classical liberal insights about the minimum wage, uh, the, the beliefs of Frederick Douglas, uh, the, uh, abuse of them in a domain and the way that that affect black affected black Americans. And so that lecture series is actually the thing that ended up transforming into the book, because as I let people know about it, or I went around and, and offered tidbits of it in different places, I had a lot of classical liberals saying, you've gotta write this up. You've gotta write this up. Right. This is all of these insights need to be put together into one place.
Speaker 0 00:05:34 Well, spectacular. Um, and, uh, also a very good audio book I might add. Oh, good. <laugh> worth listening to and reading. And, um, in your introduction, you, uh, poit that one of the obstacles to coming to terms with past injustices and finding solutions to current challenges, uh, to black, um, uh, facing black Americans is the phenomenon of bundling. What do you mean by that? And, um, why do you argue that we cannot fully and fruitfully address issues of racial justice without first committing ourself to the process of unbundling?
Speaker 1 00:06:17 Yeah. Thank you for drawing attention to that, to that, uh, term it's, it's really important to me. I, I think we're in a very tribal, very polarized moment. There's a lot of contempt going around, uh, between groups and, you know, the, the formation of a party platform is gonna lend itself to this kind of bundling, right. I mean, you've gotta have a group of, of ideas that you're putting forward, and yet from a philosophical perspective, it doesn't necessarily make sense. Right. And so if I know what you think about Afghanistan, it doesn't mean I should know what you think about abortion, or I should know what you think about the environment. Those things may not have any, uh, uh, a relation in terms of your political philosophy. Um, or you may take surprising, uh, views on that, depending on, for instance, your understanding of the data.
Speaker 1 00:07:01 And so one of the things we need to do is to separate these issues and take them one at a time. And this is particularly important when it comes to black Americans, because they've never fit into the political categories of the majority culture. And so they don't fit into them now, you know, they tend to be the most centrist of the Democrats. Very pro-business pretty socially conservative actually. And, uh, and in many ways, kind of trapped in a two party system that doesn't really capture their, um, cultural heart, you might say. And so, uh, as a person who relates a lot to feeling politically homeless, uh, I thought, you know, why not bring the insights of classical liberalism, which is a kind of tribe busting approach, right? It's a way in which we can look at things. Sometimes the left gets something right. Sometimes the right gets something right. And sometimes they're both wrong. And so, uh, uh, we can ask people to, you know, sort of go on this emotional rollercoaster ride with us, where in one chapter you might be very familiar with the, the tone or the ideas that we're taking. And in another one you might feel very surprised or disturbed, and we're asking you to kind of stick with us and maybe become a, an anti-real person yourself.
Speaker 0 00:08:10 Well, I, I do think that there were quite a few surprises, uh, in, in the book and, and one of them, um, speaking of a highly bundled and highly charged issue was that of gun control. You cover it, uh, towards the end of the book, but since it's dominating the news, um, perhaps we can start with a history of guns and race in America.
Speaker 1 00:08:32 Yeah. So you can also look at a, an article that, uh, was published in the national review just a few months ago, uh, by myself and my co-author Marcus switcher called black, black gun rights matter. And we even get into more detail in that article, but, uh, we do deal with it in the book. Um, you know, the, the original gun control laws were all anti-black, they were only, they were only applied to black people. Um, whites of course, were encouraged to own guns and even required during the revolutionary period to own guns. Um, and so you saw many of those laws through the years. You really see the abuse of gun control laws in the convict leasing period that you see after emancipation and all the way up into the 20th century, where you had a lot of made up crimes that were criminalizing black men, so that they could be rented out to minds and farms as workers.
Speaker 1 00:09:25 And so you wanted to charge them with VACY or talking to a white woman or having a gun, which of course was totally normal in the late 19th century, everyone carried guns. And so it was a way to criminalize them and then, and then use their labor, um, in a violent, you know, extraction kind of way. And then of course, into the 20th century, it's actually the, the black Panthers who end up inspiring the first, uh, gun control laws because, uh, they were patrolling the neighborhoods where they felt that police were being, uh, brutal and they were patrolling them themselves, that black Panther party for self-defense is actually the full name of the black Panther party. And, uh, when there was kind of a crackdown on them, uh, they marched right into the state house with their guns in tow. And it freaked everybody out so much that, uh, they, they, they started passing serious national level gun control laws.
Speaker 1 00:10:18 And actually Ronald Reagan back in the late sixties was, was part of this, uh, in, in California passing, uh, gun control laws in response to the black Panthers and then, and then broader nationally. So even though the excuse was the assassination of MLK or of RFK, uh, really when you look at the actual congressional record, they're talking about the black Panthers that's, that's, who they were concerned about. And so you see that a lot of our history of gun control is anti-black. And you also see that, uh, when you look at the mass incarceration crisis that we're dealing with today, one of the charges that's often stacked, even in a meaningless way, like a, like a gun that's in the car while the person was committing the crime that still gets stacked, you get minimum sentences, mandatory minimums and or parole violations because somebody's carrying a gun. And so it's, it's a big, big source of the inequality that we see in mass incarceration with black men. Uh, even though blacks are actually less likely to own guns than whites. And so, um, you know, it's for anyone considering gun control, they, they, they really need to consider what the outcomes will be for the mass incarceration crisis as well, which shows that you can cross over kind of some of those right. Left concerns.
Speaker 0 00:11:28 Interesting. All right. Um, I have quite a few questions of my own, but I do wanna get to audience questions. So I want to remind all of you who are watching us, please go ahead, jump in the chat type a comment in, or a question. And, uh, we'll try to get to as many of them as we can. We will also post the link to the article that professor Ferguson mentioned, um, black guns matter, black
Speaker 1 00:11:55 Gun rights matter. Yeah. Black
Speaker 0 00:11:56 Gun gun rights matter from, uh, national review. Um, but I'm just gonna take a, take us a little bit further back, uh, in writing about black civil society. And self-empowerment, um, you compare the approach of Booker T Washington and w E B OI, uh, and suggests that there was more overlap than commonly believed. So perhaps, uh, give us a little background, tell us about the perception and the reality.
Speaker 1 00:12:25 Yeah. So you, you have to kind of blame Dubois on this one. Actually, Dubois is the one who kind of set up this idea that Washington was an accommodationist and that he was the one who really cared about black uplift because he was fighting for civil rights and Washington wanted to just keep white people happy and just focus on learning trades and things like that. Um, the thing that's very ironic about this whole story is that, uh, when Washington gave his Atlanta compromised speech, which was a very delicate situation, he was in front of a very diverse audience, including Southern whites. Uh, remember that Washington is way down in the deep south running the Tuskegee Institute. He is reliant on a lot of white donors. And so he has to step lightly and choose his words very, very carefully. And, uh, initially Dubois actually praised that speech.
Speaker 1 00:13:12 He said it was a great speech. It was 10 years later that he decided that it was an accommodation speech. Uh, so he kinda changes its tune. But the reason I say, uh, that, uh, it's, it's really a false dichotomy, the dichotomy between economic uplift on the one hand and civil rights on the other. And we see this because number one, Booker T Washington himself is actually secretly funding. A lot of the political efforts that are happening such as even one of Dubois's own cases, uh, involving the Pullman car company. And he's also secretly supporting boycots. And so Washington is, is trying to walk a very fine line in the deep south, but he's absolutely for, uh, the fight for civil rights and for, um, liberal arts education that goes beyond the trades. And he makes that he even argues that himself against the boys.
Speaker 1 00:14:00 He says, you know, I hire teachers from liberal arts schools. I'm not just about the trades, right. But we need it all. We need all that economic uplift. But the other issue is that Dubois's whole vision of, uh, civil rights actually is totally untenable without the black middle and upper class that was created by Booker T Washington's national Negro business league. I mean, the man really deserves an incredible amount of, of credit. There's a reason he was called the leader of the race, um, because he brought together this sort of group economy. So it's a kind of lifting yourselves up by your bootstraps, but not as individuals, but rather as, as blacks together in many, uh, you know, thick civil society institutions like the church, the mutual aid societies, the fraternal associations, et cetera, and the national Negro business league. And so you see, uh, people like Madame CJ Walker, the great hair care entrepreneur, she gave the NAACP the greatest gift they'd ever received.
Speaker 1 00:15:01 Um, you see the great publisher, John H. Johnson, a jet magazine, Ebony magazine. He's the one who decided to publish the pictures of Emett Till's body. Right? If we remember those terrible photos of that boy who was just brutally murdered, that was a huge turning point in the civil rights movement. And John H. Johnson said it was one of the toughest decisions he'd ever made, but it never would've happened. If there hadn't been someone with the kind of economic clout that John H. Johnson had. And, and you see this also in the great and, and very sort of classical liberal guy, TRM Howard, who hosted many of the early civil rights meetings, lots of guns, uh, making sure that his white neighbors knew that they were not to be messed with. And he also protected the family of Emmett till during their, uh, trial. And he was a black hospital. He was opening black hospitals and he was a black doctor. And so this black middle and upper class was absolutely pivotal to, um, funding and providing the lawyers for, and the clout for the civil rights movement that came later. So Booker T Washington really deserves more credit than he gets. And we try to kind of rehabilitate him in the book.
Speaker 0 00:16:09 Well, and you also are unflinching in recounting. Um, many of the atrocities that, uh, were committed, um, not just under slavery, but, uh, during reconstruction and afterwards. And, um, one of them was the burning of black wall street in Tulsa. And you seem to suggest that in addition to racial animus, other factors such as envy came into play at the ATLA society, of course, we focus a lot on values and virtues and vices. So I was very interested in hearing more about that.
Speaker 1 00:16:44 Yeah. And I, I actually taught a classroom many years called Dante and the virtues where, where we discussed the seven vices and the seven virtues. And the thing about envy is that it's worse than me jealousy, right? It's worse than just wanting what you have that can actually be kind of a productive tendency in humans. Uh, but it's, it's actually extremely destructive because envy is a status. Good. Um, and so what you want is to be above the other person. So I want what you have, and I don't want you to have it right. I wanna destroy your having it so that I can have it and be above you. And so part it's really not a separate thing. It's part and parcel of the racial hierarchy that we had going in the United States, that when you had a group like existed in Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma Greenwood was the black part of town.
Speaker 1 00:17:31 It was very well off. The, the black community was doing very, very well. They were doing a lot of trade with the white side of town. Um, it was extremely productive. And if we were thinking like good self-interested people, we would just pay attention to the games from mutual exchange, right. Uh, mutual advantage from exchange. But instead there was this sense of envy that really exploded. Uh, when, you know, there was a, an accusation might have even been false against a young man for kind of running into a girl and an elevator. The thing just lit on fire and you, and, and, and in three days, the, the town was destroyed. Um, 300 people were dead, uh, absolutely one of the worst atrocities in our history. And there are dozens of massacres like this in us history when there's a tension over what is the relationship between whites and blacks in our town going to be. And so it's really distressing to consider the fact that you have blacks really making it and living the American dream and, and doing the, the, uh, self-help, the black self-help, and then having those efforts destroyed and just how discouraging that can be, and almost running from state to state to get to a place where their rights will actually be honored.
Speaker 0 00:18:44 So when we discussed, uh, bundling and the imperative to unbundle the, the kind of tribal collections of positions and understanding, uh, race relations, um, today you see the modern democratic party, uh, as a bastion of, uh, progressivism, but, um, you give us a bit more of the, the history and the relationship between progressive and the eugenic movement. Uh, what were, tell us a little bit about that and what were some of the policies that it, uh, spurt.
Speaker 1 00:19:23 Yeah. So there was kind of a view, you know, you had sort of the rise of Darwinism at that time, but there was the view that, you know, if evolution is just allowed to take its course this, uh, wild capitalistic, you know, Robert Barron reality of the late 19th century was actually gonna maybe, um, inculcate the wrong sorts of people, um, through evolution. And so what we needed to do was guide evolution through the, the rule of the experts, right? And that's, that's really how I think of progressives. Progressives are central planners. They believe in the rule of the experts and that modern life is too complex to leave to, uh, sort of organic movements within society. And so, uh, you actually had an extremely popular eugenics movement. This almost can't be overstated. Uh, you can look at just very run of the mill textbooks, uh, particularly in economics, but in many, many areas that are laying out a racial hierarchy, uh, S are always at the top, blacks are always at the bottom whatev whatever else might have happened in the middle, that's pretty consistent.
Speaker 1 00:20:26 And the idea that in the United States, we needed to protect the Arian family, the male head of household. And one of the ways that we were gonna do that is by, um, protecting his wages. And so a lot of famous people involved in this stuff, including, uh, Woodrow Wilson, uh, Lord John, uh, John Maynard, Kanes Lord John Maynard CAEs was involved, um, Kellogg, the serial guy <laugh>, uh, you know, a, a lot of these really major, major players were eugenicists. Uh, some of, some of it went very far, like to the extent of wanting to sterilize people. And we did sterilize many native American and black women. Um, actually Fannie Lou Hamer was sterilized. They called it a Mississippi appendectomy. So if you went in for a problem, uh, while they were in there, they would just tie your tubes without your permission. And so that sort of thing was done.
Speaker 1 00:21:16 And of course the epileptics and other disabled people were sterilized, um, in the tens of thousands in the early 20th century. Uh, the last, actually the last of this happened in Sweden, it was popular in Europe as well. The last sterilization in Sweden was in 1971. So this is not that long ago. Uh, but we forgot how popular eugenics was because of course, during world war II, it got a, you know, bad name under Hitler, right. And so, uh, people distance themselves from the ideas. But, uh, Kane said, um, you know, uh, now that we've got the quantity question under control, we need to address quality, right? And he's talking about the population who gets to reproduce. So one of the ways that the economists did this is that they thought, uh, they had a very weird idea that black people, um, would just sort of die out under the right circumstances.
Speaker 1 00:22:08 It was very strange. I can't even believe they believed it, but they did. And so they wanted to, um, hike wages up high enough that employers would only hire these white men and that, uh, women, the disabled immigrants and black people would then be shut out. And Kellogg actually suggests at one point putting the minimum wage at $2 and 50 cents, which would've been outrageous at the time. It would've been very, very high and absolutely no one would've been hired, uh, except, uh, white men. And so that was part of the, the plan to sort of dis employ all of these other people. And then white women would be taken care of by their white husbands and everyone else could sort of die out or leave. And so that is the advent of the minimum wage as a matter of fact. So it was actually desired for its disappointment effects while today, uh, we tend to think of the disappointment effects as an argue against the minimum wage, but that was actually the argument for it made by the Eugen
Speaker 0 00:23:05 Fascinating. Um, and I think one of the more interesting innovations in your book is the way that you weave in lessons in classical liberalism with history. And one, of course the biggest lessons was the failure of central planning. You write that quote, ambitious attempts at social, socially engineering, the populace undermined and destroyed black property and contract rights at have return. What are some of the most egregious examples of that?
Speaker 1 00:23:36 Yeah, you know, it's interesting because when we think of the 19th century, we often think of the way that states' rights or, or even municipal, um, areas were abused in to exclude black Americans from their, their right to citizens. But in the 20th century, it was the federal government, uh, who spent its time doing this. And the, the, the, the three programs that I always mentioned together are redlining, which we hear a lot about, uh, these days, but to others that we don't hear as much about is the building of the federal highway system and something called urban renewal, which James Baldwin called Negro removal. And so all of these actually work together to create a really terrible situation, which we're living with today, right? Ghettoized people who are in extremely poor destabilized, inner city neighborhoods. And that's really what happened. So with redlining, what you have is the effort of the federal housing administration to keep white and black people separate.
Speaker 1 00:24:34 Uh, and they did this by refusing to ensure the mortgages for black or mixed neighborhoods. And there were actually even on record, and you can read this in Richard, Rothsteins the color of law. Uh, on record, you have attempts by banks and developers to create black neighborhoods or integrated neighborhoods in the FHA just says, no, they're just not allowed to do it. And how many attempts were never even tried, right. Because they knew what the FHA would say. And so at the same time, we we're doing the GI bills. So you're sending these white soldiers out to the suburbs to live there, you're subsidizing their housing. Uh, black soldiers have the GI bill, but they're not allowed to live in those neighborhoods. And the FHA won't approve anything in their neighborhoods. And so you have much higher housing costs for black Americans. Uh, very limited in terms of where they're able to go and then added on to this.
Speaker 1 00:25:25 In the 1950s, we, uh, passed the federal highway act. And for the next 40 years, we start building this massive, this was the biggest spending project outside of war that the federal government had ever undertaken. And what happened was that in every major municipality, as soon as you handed these municipal leaders, millions of dollars to do with, as they pleased, they put the highways right through the economic centers of black and Latino neighborhoods. They wanted to separate the black and white parts of town. And they also just wanted to get rid of areas of town that didn't look good to them. And so they did that with the highway. And let me tell you, if you build a big concrete wall between two communities, it makes it very hard to have good exchange going on and good economic exchange. So that was incredibly sttifying, but it was also scattering, a lot of the, um, social, uh, progress that had been made through private schools, churches, organizations, fraternal society, you know, everything that was gathering together in those black economic centers were literally just mowed down by the highways and the add insult to injury.
Speaker 1 00:26:32 Uh, we started the urban renewal program, which is slum clearance, and this is really just pure eminent domain abuse. So you just take black neighborhoods, decide that they're blighted, mow them down, replace them with much fewer, uh, numbers of apartments at much higher rates. Uh, blacks have to relocate to places that they can afford. And oftentimes their, their cultural institutions just crumble, because how can you restitute that when you're blown to the four winds in that sort of a way. And so what we see today with these very ghettoized areas that, uh, are cut off seemingly from everyone else, deeply isolated network poverty is how I often refer to it. This is really the legacy of these huge, progressive social engineering, central planning projects.
Speaker 0 00:27:21 All right. Well, um, if with your leave, I want to take a break from my questions. We've got bunch of really terrific questions and comments coming in from social media, uh, including a shout out to you from Dr. Philip D. Fletcher on YouTube.
Speaker 1 00:27:38 Oh, Phil. Good to see you. <laugh> I hear you. Yeah,
Speaker 0 00:27:43 That's great. Okay. Uh, from Facebook mark Cabot, uh, asks, has the welfare state helped or harmed African Americans?
Speaker 1 00:27:51 Great question. So chapter nine, uh, we deal with the great society. And, uh, I, I definitely agree with the conservative, um, critiques of the welfare state, the disincentives that are built into the way that our, our welfare benefits are set up are so egregious. And I'm actually gonna have some articles coming out on this over the summer. It's actually shocking. It's more shocking than even a lot of conservatives know. It's like a 95% marginal tax rate. I mean, it just completely removes any incentive. You could have to work really hard and deal with daycare and all of these things when you're losing. So, so many benefits. So, so you have a kind of desert, uh, not just a welfare cliff, but a welfare desert, the incentives are terrible. And the effect on family structure is very bad. And it's not just white conservatives saying that it's also black nationalists, like Malcolm X, right?
Speaker 1 00:28:41 Malcolm X blames the welfare system for breaking up his own family and, and, and causing the problems that he experienced in his life. And so, um, I think that's absolutely right. However, um, in the book, what we do is we kind of tell a little bit more of a nuanced story where we, we, we tell you about three things. So it's not just the welfare state and the disincentives of the welfare state. It's also, um, serious unemployment in manufacturing that actually arises from the, um, from the unions. So the unions are shoving up wages as high as they can go. And one thing that's often not understood is that unions in the private sector in America were just outrageously racist. Um, I mean, I mean really persistently racist. Uh, they really never got past that. Some people say they haven't even today, uh, in some cases, and, uh, you see more unionization, um, popular among black people in the public sector, but not in the private sector.
Speaker 1 00:29:40 And so, uh, what you have are unions that never let black people in, in the first place. And then when they were finally pressured to let them in, by that time, they'd already shoved up wages so high that they had sped up the process of automation and offshoring, of course, those things were gonna happen eventually, but by pushing up the wages, uh, faster than they normally would, they, they miss the window, black, black Americans really miss the window, but unemployment by itself, which is what progressives often wanna blame, for instance, uh, when it comes to family structure issues that arise, um, actually doesn't explain it because during the depression, you have high levels of unemployment and you do see delayed marriage, but the rates of marriage are high. They, they actually don't go down. Um, and, and in fact, those marriages lasted, uh, quite well.
Speaker 1 00:30:25 And so it's the unemployment with the disincentives of the welfare state plus actually the contraception shock, right? Because the contraception shock changes the sexual politics between men and women and sort of the reasons people got married, right. In some cases. And so what you get is the undermining of black family structure first, but then you see the same effects slowly take effect, uh, among poor Latino and poor white communities where you see the same sort of pathologies, very low levels of marriage, high levels of addiction, high levels of involvement in the criminal justice system. And so it's not so much a black issue, and we wanna be really careful with that, right? Once we get past the day jury stuff, that's happening up until the 1960s, we're looking at problems that can disparately affect black Americans, but actually affect a bunch of Americans besides black people.
Speaker 1 00:31:16 So we remember that there's three times as many poor white people as there are poor black people in the United States and they're government dependent too. And so you're seeing a lot of the same undermining there. And then the other thing we say in this section, just to add a little nuance to it is we really challenge conservatives. We say to conservatives, listen, if you wanna be critiques, uh, uh, uh, critics of the welfare state, you better be just as hard on corporate welfare because corporate welfare is gonna cause the same sorts of dysfunctions, uh, that, that social welfare is, uh, except in the corporate world. Right? And so you're gonna get all sorts of misinformation. Mal-investment, um, corruption. You're gonna see a lot of the same things. And so you better ride them just as hard as you write as you ride the social welfare.
Speaker 0 00:32:01 All right. From Instagram, Marco Muno asks, uh, it's actually a topic you write extensively about in your book. He asks is the solution regarding unjust criminal laws, just to reform them with a racial lens or abolish a bunch bunch of laws outright.
Speaker 1 00:32:22 Well <laugh> yes, we deal with this extensively. So I have five solutions that I discussed in the book, criminal justice reform, as one, we also talk about economic freedom, educational freedom, transitional justice, and neighborhood stabilization. So I'd be happy to talk about any of those, but when it comes to criminal justice reform, you're right in the first place, there's a bunch of things that are criminalized that just don't need to be, uh, criminalized at all. So we're obviously we're against the drug war. Um, and, and there's many other areas in which the criminal code needs to be heavily, uh, simplified. Um, so yes, uh, over criminalization is a major, major problem. Uh, the growth of the administrative state, the loss of men's REA yes, yes, yes. We need to get rid of a lot of those laws. Uh, sometimes we, we have things that are pushed up in their seriousness, so the level of felonies and they really don't need to be, they need to be misdemeanors.
Speaker 1 00:33:13 There's some misdemeanors that could just be tickets. Um, so there's a lot of, uh, ways that we could de de uh, legalize, right? A lot of these things or, or decriminalize a lot of these things. So I agree with that, but beyond that, there is a lot that I think that we can reform and we go through several ideas, uh, drawing a lot upon the work of, uh, the, the book injustice for all by Jason Brennan and Chris super not who are just really creative about thinking about ways to, um, to align incentives. Well, when it comes to say prisons or even police. Uh, but the other thing we really wanna point out here, and this is coming from John FAFs book locked in, is that the real crux of our criminal justice system is the prosecutor. Um, and the that's a local issue, right? That's local, who you, who you make your prosecutor, um, prosecutors have way, way too much power.
Speaker 1 00:34:04 Their offices are a black box. We don't know what goes on in them. Um, they're incentivized badly to just want a high conviction rate, plea, bargain, everything out so that they can get a high conviction rate. And of course we have a terrible system of public defense. And so we talk about lots of creative ways that we could bust up that kind of monopoly on who gets charged and what they get charged with. Um, and so one of the reasons I emphasize that is because if you look at a book, like say the new Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, you might think that this is all about the drug war. This is all about being anti-black, but that's not really true. I mean, a lot of our dysfunctions in the criminal justice system are, are like purely bureaucratic. Like they're just problems that are very boring to fix their process problems. Uh, like how do we incentivize our prosecutors or who, who pays the police right? Or whatever. And so, uh, many times we just need to bite the bullet and care about real boring policy issues and, uh, things like DEI trainings aren't gonna solve anything because that's not that kind of on the nose solution. Isn't actually what's at the root of the problem. And so we wanna get back down to the roots and get those really, really good legal processes in place that are gonna protect people's rights.
Speaker 0 00:35:17 Uh, well, you mentioned DEI and I, um, you know, that's, as you say, a kind of immediate solution, it's something very much in the news, uh, right now. And a lot of, um, different everything from military agencies to companies to, uh, big corporations or undertaking it. And so it leads me to another question we have here from Instagram MTO Mito, Tom asks, have racial tensions always been at this level of elevation, or is this something pushed more by certain special interest groups?
Speaker 1 00:35:54 Yeah, that, that's a really good question. Um, you know, I grew up in the nineties, I was a teen and a young adult in the nineties, and there's certainly a feeling of, uh, much more hopefulness in the nineties and more of a sense of, uh, togetherness, I guess. And so sometimes I look back and I think, well, what happened, you know, is, is some of this academic stuff that we get from the far left really ginning up a lot of this resentment, or is it real? And I actually think there's a real mix there. Um, you know, the, the story is never simple. Uh, I, I think there is some of that. I think sometimes we are over, I should say totalizing race. So race is actually an extremely important part of American culture and important and important part of American history. You cannot understand American history at all without understanding, uh, our history of race.
Speaker 1 00:36:43 So I don't mean overemphasizing it, but I think there's a one thing as Jonah Goldberg would say, right? Uh, there's a tendency to, totalize something, it needs attention, but it's not the only thing that needs attention, right? Stories are always multi causal. And so, uh, I do think that it is sometimes badly overstated by the left in academia at the same time. Uh, sometimes when things get better, it's kind of like consciousness raising when things start to get better. That's the moment at which you finally feel safe to admit how angry you are, right. If you think about it in kind of therapeutic terms. And so I do think there's a sense in which things are so good racially now that finally black people are able to say, you know, I really resent, uh, you know, that the fact that my parents were traumatized growing up under Jim Crow, you know, or I really resent the fact that my black church tradition isn't known or understood by the white church, you know, why don't they care about us?
Speaker 1 00:37:39 Aren't we, their brothers and sisters too. So, you know, I really resent the fact that, that my white friends don't know what I go through when it comes to the police and people following me around, you know, in stores and things like that. So, so I think a lot of that is real and I don't discount it at all. Um, I think it may be that we're finally at a moment where, where we need to face it. Um, now would it have been better if in the 1970s there had been a real, uh, facing, you know, maybe even a switching out of some of the, um, some of the officials, right? Like, like having police who were just defending Jim Crow yesterday, turn around and be the ones who were supposed to be defending the opposite the next day sounds like, uh, uh, an idea that won't work and it didn't work. Right. And so, uh, maybe there was a missed chance and now we're kind of paying the price for not taking that chance when we had it. And we're dealing with a lot of, uh, you know, how wounds can, can, uh, get worse, right. If they're ignored. And so I think there is some of that that's true too. So it's a real mixed bag.
Speaker 0 00:38:39 Okay. Um, boy, we just have a wealth of questions here. Um, right. Tina T six on Twitter asks based on what you were saying, do you disagree then with Herman hop
Speaker 1 00:38:52 Han Herman Hoppa
Speaker 0 00:38:53 HOPA.
Speaker 1 00:38:54 Yeah. Uh, disagree with him on what I know his theory of property rights. I do disagree with his theory of property rights, but I'm not sure if that's what you're asking me about. Uh, I like his
Speaker 0 00:39:04 We'll try to get,
Speaker 1 00:39:05 Yeah. I like his smallest beautiful. There's a lot of hyper local solutions that we look at, including our neighborhood stabilization. I think that part really goes well with his views, but, uh, we are classical liberals in the book. We are not ANCO capitalists. So, uh, just to be clear about that, we, we are, uh, minimal government people. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:39:26 Edgar, right on Facebook, uh, asks what is your take on inner city, public schools and the academic difficulties of the kids they're in.
Speaker 1 00:39:34 Yeah. Great, great question. We have a whole section on educational freedom in the book, and, you know, I wanna be really fair here. Um, cuz there's really two things going on. On the one hand, you do have a system where there is no competition, right? The public school system, you have automatic raises, you have automatic, you know, it's very hard to fire. Anyone read about the rubber rooms. It's insane. People who mess up on the job can just sit in a room and be paid for years. You know, it's, it's bizarre, right? So there's a lot of crazy incentives in the public school system. And a lot of reasons why, particularly difficult situations aren't gonna be handled well by the public school system. At the same time, I wanna be really fair and say, look, the situation in the inner cities is really, really difficult.
Speaker 1 00:40:16 You're dealing with problems stacked on problems, right? You've got kids who might not have eaten well that day you've got kids who have been, have been traumatized by living in a very high crime area. You have kids who's who are seeing high levels of addiction all around them. Uh, they don't have a ton of books in the home perhaps. Right? There's a lot of things at work there. They don't have parents who can get involved. A lot of the things that make county schools work well are just things like parent involvement, right? Or having a lot of books in your home, you know, having a lot of, uh, well educated parents who are kind of educating their kids themselves, right. And then sending them to school to sort of finish the job. So I don't wanna just blame public school teachers as though it's all their fault.
Speaker 1 00:40:57 It's also just a really, really difficult group to work with. And that's why we must have school choice because you have to introduce some competition that allows people the freedom to be creative. So for instance, in a very destabilized environment, it can be extremely helpful for kids to have a high level of structure. Now, most public schools are not even allowed to have, uh, a, you know, a military style, you know, you must wear black socks or whatever the rule might be, but that may actually help those kids feel very safe. It might, it might actually help acculturate families into a, a, a higher level of demand that's being put on their kids. Um, and, and we've seen that work right. And Thomas soul has written a whole book on successful charter schools just recently. And so there just has to be a situation in which funding can follow the student so that students can get into a school that is serving the specifically very difficult situation and needs that they're coming to the table with.
Speaker 1 00:42:00 Uh, and so I, I just wanna finish off by saying, if everything I said, finish off that question by saying, if everything I said about highways, urban renewal and redlining is true, then if we are basing our school districts on your zip code, right, your ability to go to school on your zip code, we are doing nothing but perpetuating that injustice. It's a geographic injustice through decades and decades of, uh, social engineering and we have to bust out of it. And the only way to bust out of it is to let those kids go to school somewhere else.
Speaker 0 00:42:31 All right. And, um, we're gonna put links again in all of the chats on all of the platforms to Rachel's book, black liberation through the marketplace, very important. Um, and I've looking at these dozens of questions we have, I definitely wanna get to yours, Ernest Fowler and my modern golf and, and Janie at ater, Betty, we're gonna get to them. But I also prepared a few for Rachel based on my, um, reading of her book. And one of the issues that, uh, you cover is this idea of transitional justice have to admit it was kind of new to me. So, um, how does your approach, how does it differ say from reparations or are they just different ways of describing the same concept?
Speaker 1 00:43:22 Yeah. Great question. So transitional justice is a little more of an unfamiliar, uh, idea. I think for people I actually learned about it through a wonderful article in Fata magazine called finally healing, the wounds of Jim Crow, which is written by my good friend, Anthony Bradley, uh, who is a black classical liberal himself. And what he's saying is that the sort of apartheid like system that we had in the United States is similar to international situations where you have major humanitarian violations that have occurred over generations and are society wide. So in other words, how do you address a justice problem when you're not looking at a particular crime, but a whole system of crime? <laugh> right. And, and that's a really tough question. And so there's a lot that goes into that. Um, one of them is actually looking at the local area, looking at ways in which you can go back and look at actual individual crimes.
Speaker 1 00:44:17 Um, and we see this in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So for instance, the white Republican mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma started an archeological dig to, uh, find out what really happened, uh, and, and to find out how many people really died. And, and, and to tell that story correctly, there's a whole concept of institutional memory in transitional justice, where we are telling the truth and we're honoring the survivors. And I think that's really important, um, because these were real crimes, uh, they were property crimes, they were violent crimes, neighbors, uh, burned their neighbors property. They, they, um, physically assaulted them. Uh, they, they, uh, courts failed to, to, um, defend their contracts, right. Uh, and left them high and dry. And so, uh, many of these things are even from a purely libertarian perspective, actual crimes. And so how can we go back and individually address them? How can we at the least address them in terms of institutional memory?
Speaker 1 00:45:13 And then finally, what do we say about reparations? Um, transitional justice can include reparations if that's appropriate. Uh, we, we gave reparations to the Japanese, for instance, that was a good example. Uh, the Japanese who were thrown into internment camps and their property was confiscated all received. I believe it was $20,000 from the federal government in the 1980s. Reparations is usually limited to a human lifetime. So it's not like we're going back to slavery. When we're talking about reparations, we're talking about Jim Crow, we're talking about things within our living memory. I know people who lived under Jim Crow, and I know people who impose Jim Crow, uh, that are still alive, right. And so that's in our living memory. Um, but what I do is I argue against those who have, uh, defended reparations with the idea of, uh, tax and spend right, that we're just gonna tax people and pay reparations in order to, um, right past wrongs.
Speaker 1 00:46:05 Because in fact, uh, white people did not benefit from the economic exclusion of black people on the whole. Um, they lost, right? Whenever you exclude a group and you don't let them improve their human capital, you don't let them move to where their labor's most needed. You don't acknowledge their inventions. Uh, they have no network to, uh, build their businesses. You're losing, you're losing everything. You could have exchanged with them. So we were all losers in the exploitation game and therefore it really would not be right to tax people. And then redistribute that, that wealth, what would be right is if the federal government, uh, actually sold a portion of its assets, uh, because we see with urban renewal highway construction and FHA redlining, that it was really the federal government in the Jim Crow period that committed so many of these crimes. And so it should be their assets that go to any kind of a reparations plan.
Speaker 1 00:46:59 And then, you know, I try to think of anything we might do in terms of supporting the business community, because we, what we really wanna do is build black wealth. And so we want to, and, and I think that's up for creative discussion, right? How we could best, uh, channel those funds. I don't mean to say that reparations is any kind of a silver bullet. I don't know whether it would work so to speak, uh, in terms of building black wealth, but I think there's a legitimate justice claim and it needs to be made against the federal government's assets. Well, our speaking of
Speaker 0 00:47:28 Controversial issues, uh, your epilogue covers all the controversial stuff as you put it. Um, and you acknowledged that it would hardly be possible to write a book about American race relations without being asked about things like critical race, the theory uh anti-racism and of course, reparations, which we just discussed. So to start with C R T uh, it seems pretty explicitly at odds with the classical liberal approach, you and your co-author take in the book. Why has it taken such firm root in academia?
Speaker 1 00:48:05 Yeah, I think this is a great question and I actually think there's one good reason that it has and one bad reason that it has. Um, and so, so critical race theory is openly anti-liberal right. Um, and, and so I actually quote Richard Delgado and Derek bell explaining that they're at least very suspicious of liberal law and, and maybe maybe much worse than that. And I actually think, uh, we can show through the great enrichment, the rise of global markets that, uh, liberal law has actually been the source of, of, uh, real liberation all over the world. So I just don't think that's a tenable view, but I do think that American classical liberals and conservatives have not always done a good job of telling their own version of black oppression, right. That's what, that's what I'm doing in the book. And I'm drawing attention to those that did Frederick Douglas, uh, Garrison, um, billard who helped start the NAACP Rose Wilder lane writing at the Pittsburgh career.
Speaker 1 00:48:59 One of the three mothers of libertarianism Zor, Neil Hurston, their TRM Howard, right. There are figures that were both pro probl and classical liberal, but it's also the case that, uh, black oppression got ignored by many of us. And so, you know, FA Hayek never mentions, uh, black exclusion, economic exclusion, even, even as he's writing the constitution of Liberty, right. Explaining how you benefit so much from having, uh, access to a system of liberal law. Uh, he doesn't even take notice of the fact and I've double checked. Uh, you know, he, he really didn't. And so what you see is that critical race theory is paying attention to the history of our law, and they are alive to the fact that, um, the liberal law was abrogated in many cases in order to exclude black Americans economically. And they're right. So I think in one case it's just drawing attention to something that's true.
Speaker 1 00:49:53 And, and others didn't, um, they didn't take up that space in the conversation, right. And so it got taken up by, by the far left and, and that's on us, uh, to take responsibility for that. But I think one of the, the bad reasons that it's taken hold is because, uh, maybe academics, this is kind of a Thomas soul point, academics and intellectuals, uh, you know, see themselves as, as problem solvers, they're philosopher Kings, right. Uh, you know, it's up to us to figure things out and tell people what to do. And if you believe in the information problem, if you believe in the failure of central planning, if you believe in organic fixed civil society institutions, if you want, if you wanna tolerate free people, just trying creatively to solve their problems, um, there's nothing the academics have to tell you, right? It's, it's not their job to, to decide how you should live.
Speaker 1 00:50:41 So I think there's a kind of attraction in academia to any system that can simplify down the story to one thing that they can then solve through central planning, um, or through a kind of ideological warfare, which is what we see, I think with, uh, with DEI, for instance. And, uh, and what we find of course is that these are massive failures. I mean, and, and there's a, there's a ton of, of data on this, by the way, this isn't just me spouting off my opinion. Um, there's a lot of data on diversity, equity, inclusion training, just absolutely not making your workplace more diverse. It just doesn't implicit bias training does not reduce implicit bias <laugh> biases. Uh, it can actually make biases worse. Um, and so that's an on the nose solution from a group of people who are thinking in terms of racism as the proximate cause of the situation we're in now with certain inequalities, but racism is actually the non proximate.
Speaker 1 00:51:38 Cause in other words, it's in the causal chain back there, right? But it goes on to cause things like the failures of the great society, et cetera, right? The way that the highways were constructed, we can tell that story. And then that does what it undermines families. It isolates people economically it kills their networks. Now we've got those problems, right? So what do we need? We need networks. We need mentors, right? We need parent mentors. We actually need that face to face, deeply personal, uh, work that for instance, um, the heroes of neighborhood stabilization are doing in many of our great cities. It's not something that's gonna be solved through policy. It's gonna be solved from the bottom up.
Speaker 0 00:52:16 All right, well, we've got seven, eight minutes left. Um, so I am gonna try to get to a few of these great questions that we've got coming in from all over social media. Um, speaking of academia, Ernest FLER on Twitter asks, what do you think about racial discrimination, college admissions, especially the Harvard incident,
Speaker 1 00:52:38 Racial discrimination in college admissions? Well, it's pretty egregious. Um, so you have Asian students who have been downgraded, uh, in their admission, uh, based on their personality, uh, which is pretty racist, uh, to say that they're boring, basically, even though they're very, very good students and, uh, Harvard didn't want a student body that was 50% Asian and I don't see why, um, what's wrong with a student body. That's 50% Asian, uh, that that's fine with me. Uh, especially if they're gonna be, you know, engineering, the bridge or whatever near my house. I want it to be the best it can be. Um, I do think that, uh, John Macor building on a lot of data developed by others is really right about the mismatch theory. Um, and this is the view that if the story telling is true and that many, uh, black people have dealt with, you know, very unfair, uh, educational backgrounds, neighborhood backgrounds, family structure, backgrounds, then it is going to be a struggle to reach the upper E echelons of education, at least in one generation, right.
Speaker 1 00:53:42 It's gonna take some time. Um, and so what you have are very intelligent black people, let's say you're going to the university of Michigan to become a doctor. Great. Um, if MIT or Harvard or someone like that bids you away because they want the affirmative action, um, admit you may end up not being able to keep up with the fast pace of that school. Not because you're dumb, but because you didn't go to a prep school, you didn't get special, a C T courses that your parents paid for. You didn't have the special science summer camps. You just didn't have access to those things that are allowing you to jump right in and go at that really fast pace. Uh, when you would have been very successful at university of Michigan, gotten through and become a successful black doctor. Now you're going to Harvard and you're deciding to major in sociology because you can't keep up with the pre-med classes.
Speaker 1 00:54:30 That's not helping the black community that's hurting it. Uh, right and he's showing, uh, the data that a lot of this is really true. This is really happening. We just need to give it a couple more generations to have all of us catching up from all of the damage that was done in the 20th century. And so, uh, a lot of these college admissions cases are, um, you know, well intentioned, but actually, uh, an unattended consequence of making things worse rather than better, you know, a very typical kind of hierarchy, an example of unintended consequences.
Speaker 0 00:55:01 All right, I'll take this one last question if we can. It's a big question. So I don't know if we're gonna be able to, uh, to manage it and Janie ACHA vedi on Instagram asks, how will the race relations change once whites become a, a minority in the USA? I'm not sure. Would you say that is,
Speaker 1 00:55:23 Uh, that, yeah, that's a very interesting question. I, I guess we're thinking that'll happen by about 2050 or something. Right. I think I've seen that, um, you know, I, let me put it this way. Um, you know, Americans given our history, we are obsessed with race, uh, and it's kind of unsurprising, right? Because we racialized slavery and we did, uh, we did establish white supremacy during Jim Crow, real white supremacy. Right. Not just, not just banding the term about right, but actual legal supremacy. Um, and so it's no surprise that we're obsessed with race, but let's be clear. Um, life is not about race. It's about culture. It's about culture. So is there a black American culture? Absolutely. Right. Um, now it's complicated, there's different subsections, right. But you can see it in the black church. You can see it in black music. Right. Uh, I, is there a white American culture?
Speaker 1 00:56:15 No, I don't think so. I think there's a Puritan kind of Northeastern culture. Uh, I think there's Southern laid back culture, uh, which is actually related to black culture. Uh, you know, I think there so re culture's regional, right. It's regional. I mean, that's a lot of reasons why there is a black American culture because most black Americans were in the south, uh, the Southeast. Right. And so culture tends to be regional. So why do I say that? I say that because it really doesn't matter what the percentage of the white population is. I think what matters is, is your region. It's, it's your, your actual culture? What are you shaped by? Are you shaped by, um, music? Are you shaped by religion? Um, are you shaped by the way you were educated? Um, those are really the questions that are gonna matter. And I think oftentimes some of the, um, racial animals that you get coming from the alt right, is actually, uh, actually really misguided, um, you know, black Americans are quite socially conservative, for instance, they're quite, pro-business, uh, a lot of immigrants, very socially conservative, deeply religious, uh, people deeply appreciative of the American constitution, very appreciative of the free enterprise system.
Speaker 1 00:57:23 Um, you know, there's really no reason necessarily in my mind to assume that because someone is coming in, uh, from another race, another country that they're not invested in the American ideal. Um, in many ways the, the leaders who are the most invested in being against the American ideal are a bunch of white people, right? They're rich white liberals, uh, that are, you know, professors in our, in our colleges. Um, and they're getting their ideas from, uh, white people in Europe, right. Uh, from Hagle and Marx and, uh Marusa and things like that. Right. And so, um, so it's not really a racial issue. It's a cultural one. And if what we're concerned about is, uh, is having an American ideal that we can come together on to some extent, I actually think that might be very possible in a highly multiracial, multiracial America.
Speaker 0 00:58:09 Well, on that much more optimistic note, I think that's a good place to end it. Um, but, uh, professor Ferguson, I don't know if there's anything else that, um, final points or issues that you wanted to add, and then of course where's the best way to, to follow you and support your work?
Speaker 1 00:58:27 Well, the one thing I always like to tout, cuz it's my favorite thing that I'm obsessed with is the neighborhood stabilization movement. Uh, you may have heard of Bob Woodson. He's well known in our circles, but there's also John Perkins, Bob Luton's wonderful book, toxic charity and Brian F's book when helping hurts. And these are all ways that I think that a free people of voluntary people like ourselves should really care about doing philanthropy, right. Making it really effective. Uh, and so I, I highly encourage you to read those books or look up my organization, love the lou.com that I work with in St. Louis, wonderful things are happening at the grassroots level. And I hope that we can all get on board with that. Uh, you can find me at Twitter, I'm at Liberty ethics. Please follow me. Uh, I have a lot of fun on Twitter. Uh, friend me on Facebook, Rachel Ferguson, uh, LinkedIn, I'm Rachel Ferguson at Concordia university, Chicago [email protected]
I blog, uh, mostly lately I've just been posting the articles that I'm publishing in various places. Um, and so I need to update that, but you can always find my latest [email protected]
rgusononline.com as well.
Speaker 0 00:59:32 Wonderful. We've put those links into the chats and again, her book is black liberation through the marketplace. Definitely pick it up, listen to it on audible professor Ferguson. Thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:59:45 Thank you. I really enjoyed it. Great questions.
Speaker 0 00:59:47 Yeah. Thanks to our audience. Uh, just on fire today. Really intelligent questions. Sorry. We didn't get to all of them, but Hey, you can find her on Twitter and so follow up. Um, and thanks to all of you who are watching out there. Um, if you enjoy this kind of programming, please consider supporting the ATLA society with a tax deductible donation. That's it for today, the ATLA society act. We'll see you back next week. Thank you.