An overview of Thomas Sowell’s Discrimination and Disparities

Every Leftist, and especially the Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters, should read and understand Thomas Sowell’s Discrimination and Disparities.  Sowell wrote for Forbes magazine back in the ’90s, and it was always my favorite column.  He is still brilliant.  Here are some highlights, though the book has so much more that you’ll want to read it yourself.

Minimum wage increases hurt the employment rates of blacks more than whites.  Leftists don’t know that (bad), or they don’t care (really bad). 

It is less profitable to put stores in dangerous areas because of higher theft rates and lower sales volumes.  The higher prices are to compensate for those issues.  The poor aren’t being gouged, as those stores are still less profitable than those in safe areas.  But the law-abiding poor do suffer because of the lawbreakers.  The Leftist response, which is to attack and defund the police and refuse to prosecute crimes, only exacerbates the situation. 

Building laws designed to slow housing growth drive up real estate rates dramatically, hurting the poor the most.  It caused half of the black population to move out of San Fransisco. 

Groups generally self-segregate.  He gave many examples, but just one is how Jews from different parts of the world tended to not only settle in the same primary area but within that area would also settle within sub-groups based on their country of origin.  So it is no surprise that blacks would tend to self-segregate.  “Red-lining” is likely part of rational discrimination, where an area is a poor prospect for everything from loan repayments down to being able to deliver pizzas safely.

Blacks were often well integrated in the north and in cities like San Francisco until southern blacks moved there in large numbers.  They were demonstrably more violent and disliked even by the blacks already in those locations.

Geography plays a significant impact on levels of education and advancement.  Even when of the same race, mountain people groups always lag behind coastal groups because their access to information and commerce is limited.  That’s geography, not bigotry – although Leftists are certainly bigoted in how they refer to mountain peoples.

Politicians who risk nothing continue to pretend that moving people from poor neighborhoods to middle-class neighborhoods will magically change their plight.

A study of that program published in the Journal of Human Resources concluded: “We did not find evidence of improvements in reading scores, math scores, behavior or school problems, or school engagement, overall or for any age group.” Another study of the same program published in the American Journal of Sociology concluded that “there is no evidence that extra time spent in low-poverty integrated neighborhoods improves economic outcomes.”

It turns out that for many people living in poverty, it was their own bad decisions and lifestyles that got them there.  So force-fitting them in more affluent neighborhoods — with your tax dollars, of course — doesn’t change the worldview of those being imported, but it does harm those already living there.  And it isn’t just white people complaining:

According to the Chicago Tribune, the resistance of working-class and middle-class blacks “in some cases has been fierce.” Black homeowners have “protested, loudly” at public meetings that they “didn’t want ‘those people’ moving back into their rejuvenated neighborhood.” Often homeowners at public gatherings “would shout at officials that they’d worked hard to get where they were and that they didn’t want to live next door to people who would just tear up their homes. They called them ‘project people,’ ‘lowlifers’ and ‘freeloaders.’”

Leftists were wrong on eugenics in the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, and now they are wrong on discrimination.

American Progressives took the lead in promoting genetic determinism in the United States then, as they later took the lead in promoting the opposite presumption that disparities imply discrimination in the second half of the twentieth century.

In what seems like an endless “law of unintended consequences” reel, Leftists almost always make problems worse. Here’s another example, where they oppose criminal background checks.

. . . those particular employers who automatically did criminal background checks on all their employees tended to hire more young black males than did other employers.

One professor thought he was being discriminated against for being black when in his own words it had everything to do with how he was dressed.

Professor Wilson’s sarcasm and anger were directed at people whose reactions reflected a greater concern for their own personal safety than for his sensitivities. His account suggests that they were not racists, for merely by wearing a tie he avoided tensions on both sides, even though wearing a tie did not change his race.

Sowell had a keen insight into how free market economics helps blacks, because even racists will hire them and pay market wages if they need the manpower. This happened after the Civil War. Some whites would collectively try to limit black wages, but if your crops will rot if they aren’t picked then you might be inclined to violate that agreement and to pay blacks a higher wage.

While racists, by definition, prefer their own race to other races, individual racists—like other people—tend to prefer themselves most of all.

Housing restrictions, typically put in place by Leftists, are racism disguised as environmentalism.

The racial impact of these housing restrictions was more pronounced than many racially explicit restrictions. By 2005, the black population of San Francisco was reduced to less than half of what it had been in 1970, even though the population of the city as a whole was growing.43 In an even shorter span of time, between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, three other California counties—Los Angeles County, San Mateo County, and Alameda County—had their black populations decline by more than ten thousand people each, despite increases in the general population in each of these counties.

More “law of unintended consequences” at work. By trying to force businesses to hire unqualified workers they reduce the opportunities for qualified minorities to get jobs.

When a federal agency can so easily make charges of discrimination on behalf of workers from racial or ethnic minorities—charges that can be costly and time-consuming to defend against in the courts, or charges that can force costly settlements out of court—that reduces the value of hiring black or other minority workers, even when their job qualifications are equal to the job qualifications of other workers who present no such legal risk. Employers therefore have incentives to locate their businesses away from concentrations of minority populations, so that they will not be as legally vulnerable to costly charges of discrimination if their work force does not end up with the same demographic makeup as that of the surrounding population.

The Left assumes that any disparate outcomes must be because of racism.

What was equally implausible was that black-owned banks were discriminating against black applicants. But in fact black-owned banks turned down black applicants for home mortgage loans at a higher rate than did white-owned banks.

People across the political spectrum often assume that people in different wealth quintiles always stay there, but there is a surprising amount of movement between them.

A University of Michigan study that followed a given set of working Americans from 1975 to 1991 found that 95 percent of the people initially in the bottom 20 percent were no longer there at the end of that period. Moreover, 29 percent of those initially in the bottom quintile rose all the way to the top quintile, while only 5 percent still remained in the bottom 20 percent.

No, police aren’t racist against black speeders. Blacks, on average, speed more than whites.

Another violation of the law that can be tested and quantified, independently of the police, is driving in excess of highway speed limits. A study by independent researchers of nearly 40,000 drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike, using high-speed 1,636cameras and a radar gun, showed a higher proportion of black drivers than of white drivers who were speeding, especially at the higher speeds.

There are several key factors that impact whether you are likely to be poor, such as marriage.

For example, despite the high poverty rate among black Americans in general, the poverty rate among black married couples has been less than 10 percent every year since 1994. Do racists care whether someone black is married or unmarried? If not, then why do married blacks escape poverty so much more often than other blacks, if racism is the main reason for black poverty?

Reducing tax rates typically increases tax revenues paid by the rich, but Leftists ignore that or think it makes bad politics to agree with facts.

In 1920, when the highest tax rate on the highest incomes was 73 percent, people with incomes of $100,000 or more paid 30 percent of all income tax revenues. After the tax rate on the highest incomes was cut to 24 percent, people in that same income bracket paid 65 percent of all income tax revenues in 1929.76 Nevertheless, in the world of words, these were called “tax cuts for the rich”—and have remained so ever since, in utter disregard of empirical evidence as to the actual amount of tax revenues collected from high-income taxpayers at different tax rates. There were similar results from later tax rate reductions during the Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

Leftists abuse words 24×7. We should never concede to saying “wealth redistribution,” because that implies that it was distributed arbitrarily to begin with, and not based on providing value to customers.

Although such verbal displays—insinuations as distinguished from arguments—may be in aid of a redistributionist agenda, neither income nor wealth can be redistributed when it was not distributed in the first place, but earned directly from those who valued whatever was sold.

The “acting white” backlash in many black communities that holds blacks back is seen in similar ways in poor white parts of England.

As Dr. Theodore Dalrymple described the situation among England’s white underclass: If you don’t mend your ways and join us, they were saying, we’ll beat you up. This was no idle threat: I often meet people in their twenties and thirties in my hospital practice who gave up at school under such duress and subsequently realize that they have missed an opportunity which, had it been taken, would have changed the whole course of their lives much for the better. And those who attend the few schools in the city that maintain very high academic standards risk a beating if they venture to where the poor white stupids live. In the last year I have treated two boys in the emergency room after such a beating, and two others who have taken overdoses for fear of receiving one at the hands of their neighbors.

Sadly, Leftists have convinced too many people that any differences in outcome are only because of malevolent racism.

When there are major disparities in outcomes among men who are all in the top one percent in IQ, and among siblings raised under the same roof, as well as discriminated-against minorities being more economically successful than those discriminating against them—as has happened in the Ottoman Empire, many Southeast Asian countries, and much of Eastern Europe, for example—the insistence on believing that human biases are the primary cause of disparities in outcomes ignores a vast range of evidence to the contrary.

This quote exposes a fundamental problem with Critical Race Theory.

But what can any society today hope to gain by having newborn babies in that society enter the world as heirs to prepackaged grievances against other babies born into that same society on the same day?

OK, that was a lot of quotes, but I could have done dozens more. Read the book or anything else by Sowell.

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