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Monday, November 14, 2005

France and The US Race Riots of the 60's

Professors Gerald Posner and Gary Becker compare and contrast in their excellent blog the French riots with the race riots in the US from the 1960's.

Becker explains how the US cities worst hit by riot resulted in the worst post-riot economic conditions. The refusal of entrepreneurs and insurers to re-enter such neighborhoods or cities or the high costs for those that did return led to a decrease in wealth. Becker posits that recognition of the terrible after-effects may play a part in the lack of such recurrence (except for the Rodney King riots that also left terrible economic repercussions in its wake).

Posner thinks that the high unemployment of Muslims in France (the French do little statistical analysis of the race and nationality of its workers) has led to this riot syndrome. He opines that maybe affirmative action raised blacks in America to levels of opportunity that quelled the spirit of hopelessness. France has no comparable employment policy.

Clearly, rioters do not hold a 9-5 job, live in homes with mortgages to pay or come home to oversee their children's homework assignments like us American parents. However, I would credit affirmative action less and the positive effects of our relative free market economy more for the dearth of riots in America. Also, the French rioters do see and hear a deluge of anti-Western propaganda from their media as well as a global Muslim jihad (not criticized by Muslim moderates- see Dennis Prager on this issue) to inspire their criminal activity.

Posner has a Pollyanic hope for France:

Perhaps these riots will give greater power to the few politicians in France who recognize that important economic reforms are needed to help all young Frenchmen get jobs, and to allow them to advance in the economic hierarchy when they demonstrate the requisite talent and ambition. Economics cannot predict with any confidence how such reforms will affect the prospects of further riots, but these reforms would surely improve the position of young immigrants, regardless of their religion or country of origin.

Which France is he talking about? The one that faces reality squarely or the one I have seen during my life?

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