A 12-Step Economic Recovery Program for African-Americans

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Every American
seems to have an opinion on the causes of perpetual poverty among
blacks, despite the inconvenient statistical fact that black families
have dramatically risen in wealth over the last four decades.
Discussions today have as a kind of background noise the black
underclass, which seems impervious to all government programs
to lift this statistically unrepresentative group out of poverty.
So, in the spirit of helpful do-goodism, which is the politically
correct update of what used to be called the white man’s burden,
here are my suggestions. They begin with a presupposition: class
position isn’t primarily about one’s level of income. Class position
is mainly about one’s worldview: one’s theory of cause and effect.

  1. Join
    a church
    . I don’t mean some shrinking, liberal, mainline
    denomination, especially one whose name begins with the word
    “United.” I mean a Bible-preaching, hell-fire-and-damnation
    church, which warns people weekly that moral transgressions
    produce negative results. Avoid the never-ending liberal blame-shifting.
    “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me,
    she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said
    unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the
    woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis

  2. Donate
    ten percent of your income to your church.
    This practice
    is called tithing. It announces to yourself and your church’s
    deacons, “I rely on God for my money, and ten percent off
    the top is a token of my faith that there’s more where that
    came from.” In short, “Every good gift and every perfect gift
    is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
    with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James

  3. Finish
    Graduating from high school or college doesn’t
    make you smart. It makes you reliable. It sends a message
    to prospective employers: “This person finishes what he starts,
    even if what he starts is inherently boring, such as school.”
    This is the kind of person employers want to hire. Finish
    what you start. “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put
    his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom
    of God” (Luke 9:62).

  4. Get
    married and stay married to the same person.
    This takes
    advantage of the productivity offered by the division of labor.
    It’s also a huge motivation for you to get a job and keep

  5. Get
    a job and keep it.
    There are no dead-end jobs. All jobs
    are stepping-stone jobs for people who are willing to pay
    the price to move up. When a job turns into a dead end, start
    working harder, longer, and smarter to persuade your boss
    to give you a promotion. He’ll notice. There aren’t that many
    good workers around. “And the keeper of the prison committed
    to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison;
    and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it” (Genesis
    39:22). You’ll get a promotion — or a job offer from
    your boss’s competitor. “And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See,
    I have set thee over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41).

  6. Work
    cheaper initially
    . Want to overcome resistance to hiring
    you? Lower your price. It’s amazing what business owners’
    greed and their desire to exploit an opportunity, i.e., you,
    can do for your job prospects.

  7. Master
    It doesn’t matter what, just something. Find
    out how to do something really well. Read everything you can
    about it. Practice what you’re read. Take a night school class
    on it in your spare time. Which means. . . .

  8. Stop
    watching so much television.
    TV may be free; your time
    isn’t. Those sit-coms aren’t funny. It doesn’t really matter
    how a weekly TV drama turns out. Abandon the concept of spare
    time. Your motto from now on is TANSTASP: There
    ain’t no such thing as spare time. Jesus said: “I must
    work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night
    cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

  9. Volunteer
    to help others.
    It doesn’t matter what you volunteer to
    do. There is plenty of work to be done, and plenty of people
    who need help. You will also find yourself in closer contact
    with successful people — other volunteers — as well
    as people who need help.

  10. Set
    some goals.
    You need lifetime goals (age 70), mid-term
    goals (a decade from now), and short-term goals (every quarter).
    Age catches up with you.

  11. Save
    ten percent of your after-tax, after-tithe income
    . It’s
    good discipline, and the money adds up over time.

  12. Start
    a business.
    Begin working for yourself on Saturdays. This
    means that you must go out and persuade customers to hire
    you, so that you don’t get harmed too badly if one of these
    employers “fires” you. Spread your employment risk.

These twelve
steps work equally well for Euro Americans, Latin Americans, Asian
Americans, and Native Americans.

21, 2003

North is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit http://www.freebooks.com.
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