National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Horace Cooper joined SiriusXM host Amanda House on Breitbart News Sunday to talk about a new blueprint for improving black communities.
Cooper is the co-chair of Project 21, the black leadership network that is out with the new blueprint.
“Project 21 is an organization made up of black Americans who do not embrace the progressive vision — black Americans who recognize the importance of family, the importance of independence as opposed to dependence, that believe in small government, that want to support and encourage an environment in America where there are limited regulations, and there’s opportunities for people to achieve, and that embrace the kinds of faith and values that we believe are essential for any community to have success,” said Cooper.
“Notably, what policies we embrace are not ‘black-centric,’” he added. “They are the kinds of policies that America’s success over 200 years are built upon. We believe that the very kind of success that took a colony, a breakaway colony, and turned it into the most powerful country on the planet – if we continue to apply those principles in all areas, we’re going to see the same kind of success again.”
“We stopped doing that, starting in the 1960s, but we are returning to that. We believe that is the key to success and prosperity to everyone,” he said.
Project 21 recently produced a “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” containing 57 recommendations, which will be published in topical groups over the coming weeks. Cooper focused on the part of the blueprint that describes how America became a great power.
“We are a country that was built on faith,” he said. “We are a country that had so much importance given to family. We are a country that started with the idea of a small government. We understood the importance of independence for the individual.”
“We did these things and it helped us to rapidly overcome all of the other challenges and obstacles that other countries faced. The thing is, along about the 1960s, the entire country decided to take a little time-out. It was almost as if we said we had gotten tired of winning,” he lamented.
Cooper said the Sixties saw tried-and-true ideas tossed out in favor of failed European philosophies repackaged as exciting “new” ideas for America’s youth, coupled with a “cultural attack that denies the importance of the family and denies, in particular, the importance of faith.”
“This has been very, very hurtful for our country. It has been devastating in the black community, but it has been harmful for all Americans,” he said.
“In black America, seven and a half out of ten births are out of wedlock,” he noted. “That is a terrible, terrible circumstance. As late as the 1950s, that number wasn’t even in the 20 percent level.”
“Here’s the thing: it is getting as high, as rapidly, in the Latino community, and also in the white community. What we’re seeing now is, close to half of all births in the United States are occurring outside of wedlock,” he said. “Black America can act like a canary in the coal mine. We see the failure to complete school. We see the more likelihood to be involved in criminality and with prison. We see lower income potential, unemployment excesses.”
“These things are correlated with this breakdown in the family. Our platform says, ‘Let’s try the success policies that worked well in America. Let’s try adopting, promoting, and pushing those. It’s not going to just help black America – which it will – it will be great for the entire country,” he recommended.
Cooper applauded the recent House bill calling for tougher work requirements for welfare as a step in the right direction.
“It has been an awful idea to tell people that if they have a setback, don’t worry, the federal government is here to provide for you,” he said.
“It is not the case that we are arguing nobody should ever get any assistance of any kind. But it is the case that what we have done is taken a system that should provide immediate temporary help and transition you into independence into one that has turned into a lifetime – not just a lifetime for yourself, but for your children and for your grandchildren,” he said.
“The House of Representatives just passed a measure saying if you’re going to receive food stamps and you’re able-bodied – not handicapped, not suffering a disability, and not elderly – you need to be working. You need to demonstrate some type of work activity. All it takes is to leave the workforce for as little as ten months and you will find it is very, very difficult to compete in the workforce. We have people that are out of the workforce 10, 20, 30, or even 50 years long. That is cruel, and that is destructive,” he contended.
Cooper said it was necessary to “separate the greedy from the needy.”
“Today Big Government doesn’t draw that distinction, and it’s been harmful for all involved,” he said.
“We also want to do things about making it easy for everyone to work,” he added. “We’ve adopted a platform: No Taxation Without Education.”
“How come if you’re 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, even 21 years of age, and you are not yet either a high-school graduate or a college graduate, you work at fairly low or modest income – that means minimum wage – and you find that the single largest tax assessed on your income is for Social Security and Medicare, programs that are supposed to be the kinds of things that we set up as a way so then over your professional working career we’re assisting you in what’s going to happen when you retire?” he asked.
“We now say at the earliest age you’re going to submit to this requirement, even if we’re not doing anything to make sure that the program is sound anyway, and the younger you are, the more likely it is that all that’s been promised to you, we’re not going to give you,” he explained.
“Why don’t we say something entirely different? While you’re trying to get on your feet, before you complete your education, before you start your formal professional career, why aren’t we allowing you the ability to go into the marketplace and say to your employer, ‘Hire me, give me a chance, let me earn a little spending money – oh, and by the way, you’re not going to have to worry about the cost?’” he proposed, referring to the employer payments that must match worker contributions into these programs.
“If you could reduce that, you would make employment very, very attractive for the least skilled among us, instead of now making it so that every employer wants the highest skilled person possible because the fixed cost of hiring people is so high,” he said.
Cooper energetically defended another Project 21 proposal, the elimination of federal minimum-wage laws, which would boost employment in “socio-economically depressed zip codes.”
“Today, an employer doesn’t want to locate in socio-economically depressed areas, and that means unemployment in those communities tends to be higher,” he noted. “That can be in rural parts, you can think of West Virginia. That can be in urban parts, you can think about Detroit. Wherever this is, employers are trying to avoid those kinds of places, partly because the skills that are necessary and the cost of having an employee are so high.”
“I want to make this really simple and straightforward,” Cooper said. “I’m going to mention three places where you can get steak. One is at Denny’s. You can get a steak and egg breakfast. Two is at Outback, you can get one of their outback specials. Three is Morton’s Steakhouse, you can get a quality steak at Morton’s Steakhouse.”
“If the federal government were to announce that we’re artificially requiring every steak sold in the United States must be $75, it would immediately make it impossible or most unlikely that anyone would go to Denny’s and buy a steak,” he continued. “You don’t go to Denny’s because you’re prepared to spend $75 for just one entree. So either Denny’s no longer makes steaks available, or they only sell one or two, and they’re stuck with this inventory they can’t use.”
“But guess what? The more family-oriented priced steakhouse Outback would also suffer. That’s almost two and a half times the regular price of their steaks. That would mean that their whole business model of letting a family go out and enjoy a nice meal would no longer be possible because it’s simply not affordable,” he continued.
The conclusion of Cooper’s analogy was that the most expensive steakhouses would benefit from such an absurd arrangement because all customers would be forced to pay premium prices.
“That’s what we do with the minimum wage,” he said. “We insist that the price that is paid for this person be substantially higher, double or triple what their value is, so employers will search high and low until they find people who absolutely are worth this money. The problem is, this large group of people that are not don’t get their first job – the place where you learn and pick up the skills so that you can be marketable.”
“We say, let’s take in these depressed socio-economic areas, let’s allow people to work for lower than minimum wage. That’s the kind of reform that’s built on the success America had, because we went for the lengthiest period of our time with no minimum wage, and it meant no barriers to entry. People could work, they could pick up skills,” said Cooper.
Breitbart News Sunday broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 each Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern.