Politics: In his memorial service speech in Dallas, Obama took the opportunity to bash the country he leads, rattling off several supposed failings to explain unrest among blacks. In doing so, he peddled some blatant falsehoods.
In the speech, Obama tried to explain why it is that there's so much tension between blacks and the police these days (without, of course, mentioning his own role in fomenting those tensions). Here's what Obama said:
"That so much of the tensions between police departments and minority communities that they serve is because we ask the police to do too much and we ask too little of ourselves. As a society, we choose to underinvest in decent schools. We allow poverty to fester so that entire neighborhoods offer no prospect for gainful employment. We refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs. We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book. ... We know these things to be true."
Actually not one of those things is true.
Underinvest in decent schools? Government spending on elementary and secondary education has steadily increased from already high levels. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, real spending per pupil climbed roughly 5% from 2002 to 2013 -- to an average of more than $11,000 per student. New York City spends more than $20,000 per pupil, Philadelphia, $19,000.
In any case, money isn't the same as quality. Texas spends less on education than California but gets far better results. The problem isn't that schools are underfunded, the problem is too much bureaucracy, too little competition, powerful unions that oppose change, and lack of accountability.
Allow poverty to fester? The federal government spends more than half a trillion a year on "income security" programs -- food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing and the like. This year, outlays will total $525 billion, according to Obama's Office of Management and Budget. That's up 24% since 2008. If poverty is festering, it isn't for lack of taxpayer money.
Refuse to fund drug treatment and mental health programs? Federal spending on drug treatment programs has more than doubled since Obama took office, going from $14.8 billion to $30.6 billion
As far as mental health programs go, a recent Government Accountability Office report found 112 programs -- spread across eight federal agencies --- that provide mental health services.
Just four of these agencies report that they spent "about $5.7 billion for programs that specifically targeted individuals with serious mental illness in fiscal year 2013."
How exactly does this constitute "refusing to fund" these programs?
Flood communities with guns? Economist Mark Perry notes that there's an inverse relation between gun ownership and homicides.
"The gun-related homicide rate of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 population in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2013 makes those recent years the safest in at least 20 years, and possibly the safest in modern U.S. history." Yet gun ownership rates soared 50% from 1993 to 2013.
Easier to buy a Glock than a book? Obama has been using this line for a while now, but he never cites a source. Probably because it makes no sense. It's illegal for anyone under 18 to own a gun, which means a teen would have to buy one on the black market, where they will cost something like $1,500. A school textbook? Books are easily available at libraries and textbooks are distributed free at schools. Meanwhile, a decent laptop at a local Best Buy sells for half the price of a legally bought Glock.
Immediately after making these blatantly false claims, Obama said "if we cannot talk honestly and openly (about these things), then we will never break this dangerous cycle."
He's right about that. But he should be pointing the finger of blame at himself, not the rest of us.