Reading Investor’s Business Daily on a Dept. of Housing and Urban Development study showing that forced integration of neighborhoods doesn’t work by its own accounting, one is tempted to find a progressive foible in the fact that the Obama administration is trudging along with its ideology regardless. It’s another hoary cliché about government that when a pilot program has negative effects, it must mean that the only viable experiment would be to implement the idea fully.
I’d argue that the study actually does prove two things.
First, the ideologues pushing this stuff are lying about what they hope to accomplish:
From 1994 to 2008, HUD moved thousands of mostly African-American families from government projects to higher-quality homes in safer and less racially segregated neighborhoods. The 15-year experiment, dubbed “Moving to Opportunity Initiative,” or MTO, was based on the well-intentioned notion that relocating inner-city minorities to better neighborhoods would boost their employment and education prospects.
But adults for the most part did not get better jobs or get off welfare. In fact, more went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools.
The goal isn’t to inspire the inner-city transplants to the suburbs to change their ways and integrate with a healthier form of community. Some progressives might not mind that if it happened, but it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the goal is really to inject the suburbs with a large contingent of reliable Democrat voters.
The second lesson from the experiment is that the conservative view of matters is substantially correct. Simply putting a family in a different environment is not sufficient.
“Moving to lower-poverty neighborhoods does not appear to improve education outcomes, employment or earnings,” the study concluded.
Even then-senior HUD official Raphael Bostic, a black Obama appointee, admitted in a foreword to the 2011 study that families enrolled in the program had “no better educational, employment and income outcomes.”
Worse, crime simply followed them to their safer neighborhoods. “Males … were arrested more often than those in the control group, primarily for property crimes,” the study found.
People have to want to change themselves in order to take advantage of opportunities. The best plan is to do what we can to give them the tools they need in hard circumstances, but mostly to make sure that there are only minimal barriers for those who’ve decided to go for it. Unfortunately, eliminating barriers decreases the control of government officials and other powerful groups.