Listen now (69 mins) | Yascha Mounk and Heather McGhee discuss how to better unlock the potential of all Americans.
McGhee seems more reasonable than many "equity" advocates, and I appreciate that. But I'm still not buying it.
She asserts regarding PPP loans that there is showing that "even controlling for other factors, white-owned businesses and larger businesses received [more] PPP loans than black and minority-owned small businesses." But why are we conflating white with big and black with small? She is refuting her own point that race favoritism is necessary. If whites are more likely to own large businesses, and large businesses are unfairly favored, then clearly the solution is to stop unfairly favoring large businesses, and the racial equity will follow.
Ms. McGhee didn't directly answer the question about racial preferences, even though it was put to her in a watered-down form, asking simply if it isn't counterproductive. The real question is "How do you justify advocating something that on its face is illegal under the same law that makes it illegal to have a government program that says 'blacks need not apply'?"
Saying that "Well, the law hasn't gotten us what we want, so we'll have to ignore it," isn't a workable system.
I question other aspects of Ms. McGhee's descriptions and prescriptions, but this one seems the most blatantly and demonstrably wrong.
Is America (the United States) systematically racist? There are a number of ways of looking at this, but they all yield the same answer. No.
1. The US and Canada have very different racial histories. However, the black/white income gap is remarkably similar. See “Black Canadians and Black Americans: Racial income inequality in comparative perspective” (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233008532_Black_Canadians_and_Black_Americans_Racial_income_inequality_in_comparative_perspective).
2. One clue is to look at societies where ‘racism’ (the white kind) hasn’t existed for a very long time. The Haitian Revolution was 217 years ago. If ‘white racism’ was really such a powerful force, then Haiti should be highly successful. That does not seem to be the case.
3. The per-capita GDP of Singapore is only 34X of Haiti. The US/white role in each country has been quite small. Both countries are removed from the USA and yet show disparities even larger than found in the USA.
4. In World War II, Japanese-Americans were interned in various camps and typically lost everything. Yet, by the middle 1960s, they were more successful than whites in America. Back then, racism towards Japanese-Americans wasn’t hypothetical or limited to the internment camps. See “ALIEN LAND LAWS IN CALIFORNIA (1913 & 1920)” (https://immigrationhistory.org/item/alien-land-laws-in-california-1913-1920/).
It should be noted that the Japanese-Americans in question were hardly elite. They were brought to America as farm laborers. However, even after the Word War II camps, they were highly successful. See “"Success Story, Japanese-American Style” (New York Times (1923-Current File); Jan 9, 1966)
5. It turns out that all of the most successful ethnic groups in America are non-white. Some are wildly more successful than whites. Some statistics. Median Household income for Indian Americans ($107,390), Jews ($97,500), Taiwanese ($85,566), all Asians ($74,245) is greater than Whites ($59,698). As can you see, non-white ethnic groups are at the top and Jews earn (far) more than non-Jewish whites.
These numbers are real, but have two major problems. First, Asian households tend to be larger than non-Asian households. Using personal income provides a better measure than household income. Asian personal income is also higher than non-Asian personal income. However, the positive gap is not as large as the household income gap. The second problem is the nature of the 1965 Immigration Act. The 1965 Act favored (rightfully so) highly educated immigrants over less educated immigrants. The cliché Indian-American immigrant to the US is a doctor. Of course, that is a cliché. However, it is a cliché because it has some element of truth to it.
6. It turns out the school funding is not equal across the United Sates. New York state spends the most (over $24K per-student, per-year) and Utah spends the least (around $7K per-student, per-year). However, the results almost exactly the opposite of what ‘white racism’ theory predicts. Utah has higher test scores that New York state. Of course, ‘white racism’ theory would predict the Utah would spend more than New York state. That isn’t even remotely true.
7. Police fatalities are not equally distributed by race. In 2019, just 17 Asians were killed by the police. For whites the number was 406, and blacks 259. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain the amazingly low number of Asians shot by police. For a typical factoid, in one year, two Japanese-Americans were arrested for murder. Not 200, or 200,000. Just two.
8. The Asian incarceration rate is 74.5% lower than the white incarceration rate and 95% below the black incarceration rate. ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
9. It turns out that schools discipline rates are tracked by race. See Figure 15.3 of “Indicator 15: Retention, Suspension, and Expulsion” (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/raceindicators/indicator_rda.asp). ‘White racism’ can not possibly explain these astounding differences.
10. That statistics for SAT scores, college enrollment/completion, arrests, etc. are all readily available by race. You can even find COVID-19 vaccination statistics by race. Invariably, you will find racial disparities and invariably Asians will be on top. So much for the mythology of ‘white racism’.
11. It turns out that other groups are almost as unsuccessful in American life as blacks. Of course, these groups have no history of slavery, Red-Lining, Jim Crow, etc. Why are these groups almost as unsuccessful as blacks? The traditional excuses don’t come close to explaining the disparities. For example, according to Pew median family income for the Hmong (in 2015) was just $48,000 vs. $71,300 for whites (Pew, 2014). The rather large differences in family income among Asians are used to claim that the “model minority” status is a “myth”. It’s not a myth, but what people sometimes call a fact. Pew (2014) found that average household for Asians was $77,900.
12. The Jussie Smollett case provides yet another proof that ‘systematic racism’ doesn’t exist (at least in the US). If ‘systematic racism’ was real, criminals such as Jussie Smollett wouldn’t need to go around inventing hate crimes, because they would have plenty of actual material to use. The fact that people like Jussie Smollett invent hate crimes is one indication of how rare such things are. Of course, some types of hate crimes do occur. No one talks about them because they aren’t PC.
13. An economist by the name of Roland G. Fryer (Harvard, with collaborators) has looked at this issue in some depth. Take a look at “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names” and “Racial Inequality In the 21st Century – The Declining Significance of Discrimination” (NBER). The abstract from the first paper reads “In the 1960's, Blacks and Whites chose relatively similar first names for their children. Over a short period of time in the early 1970's, that pattern changed dramatically with most Blacks (particularly those living in racially isolated neighborhoods) adopting increasingly distinctive names, but a subset of Blacks actually moving toward more assimilating names. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which the rise of the Black Power movement influenced how Blacks perceived their identities. Among Blacks born in the last two decades, names provide a strong signal of socioeconomic status, which was not previously the case. We find, however, no negative causal impact of having a distinctively Black name on life outcomes. Although that result is seemingly in conflict with previous audit studies involving resumes, we argue that the two sets of findings can be reconciled”.
We passed civil rights legislation and were moving toward civil rights 2.0... a society that would judge people only on their demonstrated character and not on any racial or other group identity. When asked by Don Lemon what he thought we should do to improve race relations in this country, his guest Morgan Freeman said "stop talking about it. stop calling me and you and black man... as we are just a man."
The problems in the black community were caused by decades of failed liberal and economic policies that gutted American working class opportunity at the very time blacks were poised to capture much more the middle class. Trapped in a cycle of poverty and expected government help, this provided political opportunity for the Democrats. But then it also provided a political opportunity for opposition to the Democrats to explain how those policies were perpetuating minority misery.
Hence the desperation to move toward toxic identity politics and wokeism. Its the racist cops and racist white males. It is the Republicans and their fascism. See, look there. Don't look at us. Don't look at the Democrat political establishment comprised of educated elites who are pursuing their path to even greater wealth by supporting the corporate oligarchs, Wall Street and the WEF globalists... who bought up the corporate media and all work together in a giant elite money-hording cabal to brainwash the electorate to keep supporting them despite the family destruction they cause.
It does appear that this is all unraveling. Thank God. The people are waking up and rejecting the junk of the elites. And the minority voter is starting to understand that it isn't racism or misogynism that is the problem... but classism. The elite educated professional class wealthy against everyone else.
Blacks today are being held back by the upper class that claims to be their salvation... not racism.
1) If I understand correctly, systemic racism is the primary cause of economic inequality. While I understand that racism plays a role, I don't understand how racism is the cause of non-black inequality.
2) How is it that racism is always the sole or explanation for inequality when there are so many other factors that have far greater correlation, i.e., family structure and completion of primary education?
3) What does Heather make of the fact (noted by her) that the implementation of the great society and affirmative action correlate with an increase in inequality following the period 1930-70 of relatively low inequality. Is there any connection?
4) Lastly, it would be interesting to hear Heather's thoughts on the recently published
The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate.
I would love to see a debate between Heather McGee and zthomas Sowell.
I found the conversation fascinating but there are two places where I disagree with McGhee's thesis. First, her contention that the US is systemically racist seems to be based on outcome, versus process. People will always perform at different levels and assume these disparities are based on bias is incorrect. It's like assuming the race is always fixed, unless it always ends up a tie.
Second, I found it disappointing that there was no mention of single parent birth rates in the black community. In 2021, 70% of the black children in the US were born to single parents. This figure is fairly consistent all the way back to the mid 1970s. No reasonable person working in a think tank would dismiss this figure as meaningless. Children of single parents are swimming upstream economically. To me, this is the main driver of the income gap. When we consider how low the single parent birth rate is among Asian Americans, it's no surprise how well that group performs economically.