Slavery Wasn’t A “White Blessing” Either
“We missed the blessing of slavery that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in—and so a lot of people call this ‘white privilege’….let’s get over the phrase…I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing’ because I’m living in the blessing of the curse that allowed me to grow up generationally in Atlanta.”
He said this in a forum about race where he was present on the stage with Dan Cathy of Chick fil A and the rap artist Lecrae. Of course the Twitter/Instagram/cable news backlash was rapid and more than understandable.
I’m not interested in joining in and tossing a brick at him. I don’t like Twitter mobs, even when they have a point.
But I am interested in weighing in on the unexamined premise of the quote, one which might well be shared by Pastor Giglio and his detractors – that slavery was good for the American economy.
I want to make a nerdy economist point here. I’ve always had a problem with the premise that slavery was economically effective. This basic narrative is that slavery was highly economically productive, but of course morally indefensible. A similar argument was made about communism (which is another form of slavery), in which some anti-communists conceded to the idea that communism was efficient, but that this efficiency came at the loss of human freedom. The fall of the USSR revealed that it was far from economically efficient. Seems like we should also seriously question the efficient-but-evil presupposition about slavery. It wasn’t just evil — it was stupid too. As a system it was economically stagnating. It held the South back. The US didn’t become the world’s largest economy until after abolition and reconstruction. If slavery made America great, why was the South an economic laggard, while the North led the world? It is waste of a man to turn him into an animal or a machine. A mind really is a terrible thing to waste.
That’s how economics got dubbed ‘the dismal science’ by Carlyle. He saw that advocates of free markets were attacking slavery along economic as well as moral grounds. Carlyle wanted to keep a class system built on top of a slave class. At the time poetry was known as ‘the gay science’. Carlyle believed that you could not have a higher class which could read and write poetry unless you had a slave class. So economists were trying to abolish slavery and replace it with a market system, which traditionalists understood meant the end of their free ride. And you know what? We didn’t lose poetry. We just lost bad poetry inked by the listless children of the aristocracy.
Slavery was a curse. It certainly was a horrible curse to the slaves, but in a very real sense, it cursed the whole economy of the South. Both curses still reverberate with us today.
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.