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How Washington’s Progressive policies have harmed minorities

The Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. (AP)

Take something as simple as bike lanes. Seattle resident Nicholas Kerr looks that such million dollar projects around the city and argues they are an example of how Progressive policies harm minorities.


Kerr, a marketer/developer, recently authored a column in The National Review titled “The Incredible Whiteness of Washington State’s ‘Progressive’ Policies.” In a nutshell, Kerr argues that Progressive policies that have flourished in Washington over the past few decades have had a drastic effect on minority communities.

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Which speaks to things as seemingly unrelated as bike lanes. As Kerr writes:

Nina Martinez has lobbied against another favorite progressive policy, bike lanes, arguing that they “displace the underprivileged and reapportion to the privileged, public monies.” And she has a point. “Residents who have access to a working bicycle are more likely to be white, male, and under 45 years of age,” the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) found. “Older residents and non-white residents are the least likely to have access to a working bicycle.” Moreover, as the most recent U.S. census found, only 2.8 percent of Seattle residents commute to work by bike. In a city that spent $12 million for a one-mile bike lane and has a 1.4-mile, almost $25 million project underway, both of which will mostly be used by white males, it’s hard not to conclude that progressive policies are disproportionately benefiting one race.

Bike lanes are a pretty simple concept. It gets more complicated when you consider issues such as home ownership or education.

“I think the general point I’m making in the article is that ideology is more important than outcomes when it comes to minorities,” Kerr said. “And the Washington state Progressives … like to say they are the party that does the best for the poor, but when you measure it in terms of outcomes they deliver, minorities get a pretty raw deal.”

Recently, state lawmakers passed budgets that deny charter schools funding, for example. Charter schools are predominantly filled with minority students.

“The cap that was lifted for local funding is going to fund the public schools,” Kerr said. “But charter schools, which are public schools, the Senate version of the bill said they would allow that cap to be lifted for charter schools. But Progressive House Democrats said ‘no way.'”

“There’s an over-representation of minority kids in charters schools,” he said. “Because all the minority parents want to get their kids into these charter schools because the public school option is absolutely terrible.”

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Then there’s home ownership. He grew up in Seattle’s Central District — historically where the city’s minorities lived.

“The unrestrained spending … has resulted in skyrocketing property taxes …” he said.

Kerr notes that 49 percent of African Americans in King County owned a home in 1970 — much higher than the national average at the time.

“It’s plummeted now, down to 28 percent,” he said. “…Not to mention all of the Progressive growth management act regulations, and other land use regulations, have added considerably to the cost of a home here.”

Read Kerr’s full thought piece here.

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