‘Banning the box’ on criminal records is harmful leftist plot

The greatest moral claim of the political left is that they are for the masses in general and the poor in particular. That is also their greatest fraud. It even fools many leftists themselves.

One of the most recent efforts of the left is the spread of laws and policies that forbid employers from asking job applicants whether they have been arrested or imprisoned. This is said to be to help ex-cons get a job after they have served their time, and ex-cons are often either poor or black, or both.

First of all, many of the left’s policies to help blacks are disproportionately aimed at helping those blacks who have done the wrong thing — and whose victims are disproportionately those blacks trying to do the right thing. In the case of this ban on asking job applicants whether they have criminal backgrounds, the only criterion seems to be whether it sounds good or makes the left feel good.

An empirical study examined the hiring practices of companies that did a background check on employees they hired. It found that such companies hired more blacks than companies which did not.

Why? This goes back to decision-making by human beings in general. Since we seldom have all the facts, we are often forced to rely on generalizing when making our decisions.

Many employers, aware of higher rates of imprisonment among blacks, are less likely to hire blacks whose individual backgrounds are unknown to them. But those particular employers who investigate everyone’s background before hiring them do not have to rely on such generalizations.

The fact that these latter kinds of employers hired more blacks suggests that racial animosity is not the key factor, since blacks are still blacks, whether they have a criminal past or not. But the political left is so heavily invested in blaming racism that mere facts are unlikely to change their minds.

Just as those on the left were not moved by hard evidence before they promoted laws and policies that forbade employers to ask about job applicants’ criminal records, so they have remained unmoved by more recent studies showing that the hiring of blacks has been reduced in the wake of such laws and policies.

Moreover, the left is so invested in the idea that they are helping the disadvantaged that they seldom bother to check the actual consequences of what they are doing, whether that is something as specific as banning questions about criminal behavior or something as general as promoting the welfare state.

In the vision of the left, the welfare state is supposed to be a step forward, in the direction of “social justice.” Tons of painful evidence, from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, that the welfare state has in fact been a step backward toward barbarism — among low-income whites in England and ghetto blacks in the United States — does not make a dent in the beliefs of the left.

Surely the intelligentsia of the left have access to empirical evidence and the wit to understand such evidence. But the real question is whether they have the stomach to face the prospect that their crusades have hurt the very people they claim to be helping.

Examining hard evidence would mean gambling a whole vision of the world — and of their own role in that world — on a single throw of the dice, which is what looking at hard evidence amounts to.

Reader Comments

Next Up in News

Bicyclist struck by police officer
Bicyclist struck by police officer
A man riding a bicycle was hit and significantly injured by a northwest Georgia police officer early Thursday at the intersection of Thornton Avenue...
Trump refuses to say whether he will accept results of Nov. 8 election
Trump refuses to say whether he will accept results of Nov. 8 election
A contentious debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Wednesday night involving abortion, guns and the Supreme Court turned upside...
FBI searches for missing 11-month-old in southwest Atlanta
FBI searches for missing 11-month-old in southwest Atlanta
Local and federal investigators are working Thursday to find an 11-month-old boy reported missing in southwest Atlanta.
Trump campaign struggles with fallout over his refusal to commit to election results
Trump campaign struggles with fallout over his refusal to commit to election results
Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the third U.S. presidential debate. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Las Vegas – Donald...
Pedestrian killed was a Georgia Military College student
Pedestrian killed was a Georgia Military College student
A student at Georgia Military College was hit and killed Tuesday night as she walked across U.S. 29 in Fairburn, possibly toward a MARTA bus stop,...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com.

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.