August 28th, 2013 is the fiftieth anniversary of the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. However, looking back, we should also recognize another momentous anniversary—the seventy-fifth anniversary of the passage of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, because both events are related. The job-losses experienced by blacks in the decade preceding 1963 was a direct result of the minimum wage laws implemented twenty-five years earlier. In fact, prior to the passage of that act, black unemployment was actually lower than white unemployment. This is because an important segment of education was eliminated—on-the-job-training through entry-level jobs. Doctor Thomas Sowell explains these facts in this video and in his book Intellectuals and Society (Begin video at about 23 minutes).
In fact, the loss of entry-level jobs combined with ready access to state-supported welfare created a situation where low-income people of all races became more and more dependent on the government for support. These “New Deal” welfare measures, also implemented during the 1930s, resulted in a multi-generational shift toward dependency. Sadly, many people who possessing great creativity, initiative, and drive, felt themselves locked out of the system, so they turned their innate talents toward crime or fighting the system itself. This accounts for the growth of both crime and radicalism during the 1960s.
So while everyone is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary, please don’t forget the importance of the seventy-fifth. The answer to the problems of one can be found in the other.