Racists and (Many) Anti-Racists Make the Same "Zero Sum" Mistake

Minority groups are made worse off by racist practices, but so is the majority.

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[I posted this five years ago when the VC was hosted by the Washington Post, but given all the attention "anti-racism" has been getting since, and given that "anti-racists" seem to be doubling (or centupling) down on the zero-sum error, I thought it was worth reposting.]

Virulent racists and anti-racist activists would seem to have little in common, but in fact they tend to agree on one mistaken premise: Race relations are a zero-sum game. If whites are doing well, it's at the expense of members of other races. If members of other races are doing well, it's at the expense of whites.

On the racist (or "white nationalist") side, this assumption means that members of other groups need to be subordinated so that whites can thrive. For anti-racists, this means that since whites have benefited at the expense of other groups, whites will now have to give up their "privilege" and reduce their own standard of living to allow other groups to thrive.

In fact, whites, as a group, don't benefit from discrimination against, or oppression of, other groups, except perhaps psychologically if such discrimination and oppression make them feel superior and such feelings of superiority make them happy. But from a purely economic perspective, wealth comes from gains from trade, and the wealthier your trading partners, the more wealth you can accrue.

Let's consider as a real-world example the huge opening of economic opportunities for women in the past 50 years. Men, as a group, may have lost some psychic benefit in feeling superior to women, and one can argue about the social effects on marriage and family, but men as a group are much better off economically now that women can pursue all sorts of careers that were closed to them in the past. In pursuing careers commensurate with their talent, women make American society much wealthier, which means that men have better doctors, better products to buy, better job opportunities and so on.

The same dynamic applies, though not as obviously, when a majority imposes economic restrictions on a minority, whether through law, custom or some combination thereof. Let's say a young African American man born in 1920 had the potential to be a great scientist, but because of discrimination and racism instead wound up enmeshed in the criminal justice system. How did that benefit the majority? The majority lost whatever scientific contributions that individual could have made, was at risk of being victimized by his criminal behavior and had to use its tax money to pay for any jail time he may have served. Even if a potential scientist becomes a laborer rather than a criminal because of racism, that's still a loss to society, including to the white majority. Multiply such scenarios by millions of people, and the huge economic loss to the majority should become clear.

That's not to say that no individual white people could ever be made worse off by the absence of racism. A white baseball player in the late 1940s whose primary goal in life was to play in the major leagues might wind up getting "bumped" by a better black player once the major leagues began to integrate their teams. A white Christian whose sole dream in life is to go to Harvard would be better off if Jews and Asians were excluded.

But if we are looking at groups as a whole across significant stretches of time (you can generally make one group better off in the very short term by simply confiscating and redistributing another group's wealth), it should be clear that while it's obviously in the interest of members of minority groups not to face systemic discrimination and exclusion, it's also in the economic interest of the majority to not engage in discrimination and exclusion.

And just to spell things out, my argument is that white Americans would be more prosperous if we had never had Jim Crow and other forms of formal and informal discrimination. Of course, black people were made relatively worse off by racism, significantly so, but whites would have benefited from a lack of racism, too. Why didn't most whites recognize this? First, many believed that race relations are a zero-sum game. Second, there is a collective action problem. For example, white union members seeking to exclude blacks were concerned with preserving their own privileges, not with the effect their actions would have on the prosperity of whites in general. Finally, I don't discount the importance of the psychic benefits some get from feeling superior.

In any event, left-wing anti-racist activists often seem to fail to comprehend the basic economic logic discussed here. They instead call for whites to sacrifice their own interests to pursue social justice. Given that people are not always given to generosity, they would perhaps make more progress if they would explain that treating members of all groups fairly is actually in everyone's interest. This also has the virtue of being true.

To the extent the economic argument fails to persuade because some people find it psychologically pleasing to be a member of a dominant group that keeps other groups down, that's perhaps a good reason to encourage the de-emphasis in public life on racial and ethnic categories. Note that this is not a call for individuals from minority groups to give up ethnic or racial identification, or to ask for pure colorblindness while prejudice remains. It instead means that institutions, public and private, should have a strong presumption against dividing people by racial and ethnic category. For example, universities shouldn't have separate housing, orientations, commencements and so on for "students of color," officially designating some groups as "the other," even if they are doing so for what they perceive as benign purposes, as this accentuates rather than de-emphasizes group differences.

Not that long ago, there were many ethnic rivalries among white Americans that have largely ceased to exist: Germans vs. Scandinavians in the Midwest, as reflected in Sinclair Lewis's novels, is as good an example as any. The goal should be to make differences among whites, Asians, Hispanics and African Americans as psychologically marginal as differences between white subgroups are today.

[Addendum: I should have made it clear that while both blacks and whites were made worse off by anti-black racism, the negative effects fell quite disproportionately on blacks. But just because black people were made substantially worse off on average than were white people does not negate the fact that white people were made worse off as well.]

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  1. Zero sum is true the following sense: Short term a lot of things like school capacity is fixed. So admitting more blacks to elite NYC schools necessarily comes at the expense of Asians.

    Short term, the same is true of jobs, and corporate board positions. There are only so many CEOs, so many companies, with so many directors.

    Over the long term zero sum is *not* true and the premise of the post is accurate. However, the real flaw is 1)failure to recognize constraints such as insufficient school capacity (or also failure of the school system to improve schools so there are more elite schools; 2) The long term is too long for most people’s patience. They want a position and they want it now. ergo: Short term, zero sum quotas.

    1. “The non zero sum” changes happen slowly; as measured by productivity less than 1% a year. So you are forgiven if you don’t notice much change year to year. Heck it took decades for biracial couples to be common and accepted (Loving v. Virginia, 1967), and in some rural places might still not be.

      People simply cannot wait 30 years for a job, for a position at Harvard and Yale, etc.

      I am not a zero summer, I think this post is mostly correct. At the same time, people need to recognize that there needs to be some short term amelioration that does not harm or slow down the long term too much.

      1. Have you considered the possibility that we’re well out of the short term already, and the time for short term amelioration is over? That eventually you reach the long term, and, look around, you’re in it already?

        I mean, slavery was banned over 130 years ago, and Brown was decided 67 years ago. Jim Crow was crushed before most people around today were even born. The only formal racial discrimination you’ll find in America today is discrimination in favor of blacks, (And thus against everybody else.) and it’s been that way for decades.

        It’s hard to let go, I know, but it’s long past time to move on and stop with the racially discriminatory ‘amelioration’ already. All it’s doing now is prolonging racism.

        1. The performance of minorities in schools, especially in math and science, in particular in NYC (but elsewhere) tells me not yet. There are a lot of kids in middle school right now who are going to suffer through at least 5 years of underperforming teachers, because neither curriculum nor culture changes overnight.

          1. DWB comment – “The performance of minorities in schools, especially in math and science, in particular in NYC (but elsewhere) tells me not yet. There are a lot of kids in middle school right now who are going to suffer through at least 5 years of underperforming teachers, because neither curriculum nor culture changes overnight.”

            12″ pianist comment – “So the racist NYC school officials need stop blaming de-facto segregation for their failures and educate all of their children, regardless of skin color.”

            concur –
            It would be far better for those races & cultures left behind to change their culture to encourage achievement instead of demanding equal results

          2. Does Asians’ superior academic performance prove America racist against whites?

            If not, then blacks’ inferior academic performance doesn’t prove America racist against blacks.

            It’s true that culture doesn’t change overnight. But black culture isn’t white racism, and the problem at this point IS black culture. Not anything whites are doing.

            1. To amplify, what I think happened is that, due to historical reasons, blacks were disproportionately positioned to be culturally damaged by the War on Poverty. It also culturally damaged similarly situated whites, but the blacks bore the brunt of it due to being disproportionately poor.

              That they were disproportionately poor at the time was, indeed, a lingering effect of racism and Jim Crow. But all that did was put them in a position to have their (Then quite functional!) culture devastated by well meaning government programs that encouraged single motherhood, and kept people from moving out of areas where there were no jobs to be had.

              What you’re looking at today is NOT the result of racism. It’s the cultural damage caused by perhaps well meaning government programs that had disastrous effects.

              1. What you’re looking at today is NOT the result of racism. It’s the cultural damage caused by perhaps well meaning government programs that had disastrous effects.

                IOW, it’s the result of structural factors in society. Isn’t that what the CRT people are more or less arguing? I think some of the confusion revolves around differing definitions of the word “racism.”

                1. No, there’s nothing “structural” about “the war on poverty”.

                  And the key point is it hurt everybody who was similarly situated, it didn’t discriminate.

                  1. On that I agree. While black illegitimacy has climbed to disastrous levels versus the rate from the 1950s, white illegitimacy is nothing to write home about these days either.

          3. “The performance of minorities in schools, especially in math and science, in particular in NYC (but elsewhere) tells me not yet.”

            Nothing to do with race. Asians are a “minority”.

            Its culture and economics. Too many one parent homes for instance.

            Poor whites with a one parent home do no better or no worse. Is that racism?

          4. And this is exactly why discussions of the black IQ deficit are necessary. I would agree that it doesn’t matter, and that everyone gets judged as an individual. But if groups’ collective performance is going to be used as evidence that “something needs to be done,” then it’s legitimate to discuss the Bell Curve findings.

          5. It’s convenient, but intellectually and morally bankrupt, to blame teachers for the performance of certain groups of New York City students. Here’s a description from an actual teacher, which puts the lie to the posturing of sanctimonious suburbanites like dwb68. (If the link doesn’t display, it’s from Quillette on Feb. 10, 2019.)

            https://quillette.com/2019/02/10/public-educations-dirty-secret/

            1. Re: The linked piece…

              Unfortunately the title of this piece, “Public Education’s Dirty Secret”, is perhaps among its most alarming aspects. It reflects, I believe correctly, that the vast majority of the public in the US is oblivious to the state, and reasons for that state, of the public education system in much of the country but especially in areas where certain cultures prevail. Nothing here should be a “secret” to anyone who votes (sure, the particular vignettes would not be known to hardly anyone, but the texture should be familiar to anyone qualified to vote).

              Also, unfortunately, the passage

              Disruptive students must be removed from the classroom, not to punish them but to protect the majority of students who want to learn.

              is, I fear, overly optimistic. In many “challenging” schools by the time children growing up in such cultures reach High School it’s a small minority who “want to learn”. The notion of “learning” having value, if only for economic reasons, has simply not been instilled in them at home. About the only way to save the small minority who “want to learn” is through tracking where discipline is quite strict (but not without empathy) and probably in separate schools and if a student is a discipline problem or doesn’t try, they are booted back to the “regular” school. Of course, I suppose that would be “racist” and wouldn’t be allowed…

            2. This makes you wonder about the real reason teachers unions have been so resistant to reopening in blue districts with large black student populations. Is it possible the real reason underneath all the woke rhetoric is these nice white ladies want to stay away from their students as long as possible?

          6. Yeah, well it isn’t really the teachers fault because teachers can lead them to water, but they can’t make them drink.

            In any school rich, poor, or in the middle, if you take a close examination of the underperformers, 90% are underperforming because of lack of effort, if they are behind in reading it’s because they never pick up a book, and their parents never read to them. If they are behind in math it’s because they make no effort to do their homework. It’s a small percentage of students that chronically lag their potential where the problem is a lack of resources, it’s a lack of effort.

            That’s why I advocate for taking 10% of the current schools budget, and making incentive payments to parents, for modest improvements in reading and math scores (just 5% a year percentile improvement is achievable, and will compound quickly to significantly gains). In a school district like Baltimore 10% would free up 1600 per student that could be paid directly to the parents, rather than just flushing down the current schools toilet where they spend 16,000 per student and get absolutely nothing for their money, except well paid teachers and administrators that make no difference.

      2. “People simply cannot wait 30 years for a job, for a position at Harvard and Yale, etc. ”

        Well, since they’re not qualified for those things, they should be “waiting” all their lives for them.

        When you can only get ahead by racism (“Affirmative Action” is racism), then you shouldn’t get ahead

    2. “So admitting more blacks to elite NYC schools necessarily comes at the expense of Asians.”

      I’ve never understood this. The public school system needs to be able to educate Black children whether there are Asians around or not.

      So the racist NYC school officials need stop blaming de-facto segregation for their failures and educate all of their children, regardless of skin color.

      1. Sure, that’s true. But it takes a long time to change school systems, and years to see the effects.

        1. No, it actually doesn’t. Changing a school system takes about 2 years – less if you actually give parents a choice about which school to attend.

          Of course, you do have to fire all the bad performers so if you’ve let the teachers’ unions get in the way, it can take many years just to fix that problem. But that’s not the same as what you’re claiming. Once given the authority to fire bad teachers and institute accountablility into the system, even the worst performing schools have shown dramatic improvement in remarkably little time.

          I will concede, however, that it can take years to help the existing students who were crippled by their substandard education prior to the change to get back on track.

          1. Qualifier – I said “bad performers” and meant that. I later said “bad teachers” and that’s underinclusive. Bad administrators are even more destructive to a school than bad teachers. Sadly, they are often even harder to get rid of than the bad teachers.

            Giving parents an actual choice about the school, on the other hand, weeds them out fairly quickly.

        2. It will take much longer to change the culture than it will take to change the school system.

          Probably the best we can do in the mid/short term is to segregate the small percentage of students who are serious about learning (probably due to good parenting) into schools where continued attendance is contingent on behaving and trying (not necessarily just based on ability — a motivated kid with an IQ of 95 is as deserving, perhaps even more deserving, of a proper education as one with an IQ of 120 — although, obviously, the two should be on different academic tracks).

          It’s better to insure that those who have a chance of success be provided the opportunity to be so rather than diluting resources by giving those who, for whatever reason, have virtually no chance of success be given the “opportunity” that they will squander while pulling down the handful serious students with them.

    3. Cannot have a discussion of this subject without mentioning African immigrants. They have very dark skins. They outperformed whites in the 2010 Census. They are called the New Koreans. See a very dark person, they get chased by employers waving wads of cash and by admissions officials because they are top performers. One of them became President. His life experience had zero similarity to that of our homegrown misfits. African immigrants rebut all the lawyer cant. They have induced a different racial stereotype.

      They come from intact patriarchal families. They are Christian. They love America. They are more likely to register Republican than other blacks. They have very ethical standards if from places like Ghana, despite its abject poverty. It is culture, not skin melanin levels, lawyer geniuses.

      It will be important to track the performance of second and third generation immigrants, to see if they are corrupted by the US lawyer caused toxic culture of entitlement, of dependency, and of failure. In their place, I would go through the privileges and entitlements granted by the lawyer to our homegrown losers, like a shark through a school of fish. Yes, I have dark skin, but I will take that scholarship for losers despite my 4.5 GPA.

    4. “Zero sum is true the following sense: Short term a lot of things like school capacity is fixed. So admitting more blacks to elite NYC schools necessarily comes at the expense of Asians. ”

      Actually, that’s a demonstration of “negative sum”

      Because when you block the addition of qualified and intelligent students so you can add less qualified students who have the skin color you like, you damage everyone’s education.

      Since the classes now have to be dumbed down to the level of the poor quality students who’ve been added, you get a twofer:
      1: The smart kids who got in there on merit are getting a poorer quality education
      2: The dumb kids who got in on skin color rather than merit can’t keep up, and so learn less than they would elsewhere

      Everyone loses! Except for the racists running the show

  2. Stop surrendering language to extremists. They aren’t “anti” racism, they are just promoting a newer, trendier racism. If you must distinguish, I suggest “classical racists” and “neo-racists” most accurately and fairly describes the two groups.

  3. Yup. That’s why you can’t just undo racism with more racism. Picking the best candidate for the job regardless of skin color makes the system run more efficiently.

  4. “Virulent racists and anti-racist activists would seem to have little in common”

    Only to idiots. ‘Anti’-racists are just ordinary racists who happen to point their racism in a different direction. Instead of animus against minorities, they exhibit animus against the majority. Apart from that, they’re indistinguishable.

    1. Only in the sense that telling someone they have to give back what they were never entitled to in the first place is animus.

      Dress it up however you like, your position is that people are entitled to keep the benefits of ill-gotten gains. And the fact that the gains happened years ago is of no real relevance.

      1. Look, you’re demonstrating it yourself.

        I don’t have diddly squat that I’m not entitled to, and nothing I have was taken from anybody else. But you assume that, just because I happen to be so white I glow in the dark. (In between the freckles, of course!)

        My ancestors all migrated to this country after the Civil war, and ended up in the free state of Michigan. My father grew up doing logging and chain surveying in the upper peninsula, attended a bit of college there, and became a master machinist. You want to tell me what he took from blacks to do that? Maybe he stole their trees? Mom was a technical librarian for Uniroyal, did she steal her education?

        I spent my teen years doing farm labor next to braceros, went to college, dropped out to nurse mom back to health after a bad accident, and then became an engineer through apprenticeship and hard work.

        And I don’t have squat to “give back” to anybody. You think I do because I’m white, and you’re a racist. So you think of every white in the country as a beneficiary of racism, and don’t need to inquire into particulars, because we’re all the same, after all.

        1. I’m not assuming anything, and there would be major logistical problems in actually making compensation. I myself am white, and was homeless from age 14 to 16, so I have a pretty good idea that not all whites were born with silver spoons in their mouths. The real difference between us is that I don’t reject out of hand the idea that compensation for slavery and Jim Crow would be a good thing.

          And here’s the thing: Suppose the federal government decided to make actual, genuine, meaningful reparations. You would probably end up paying an extra buck fifty or so in taxes to pay for it. No single white person is going to lose his house, or his job, or his life savings over it. To hear your side talk, this would be the sack of Rome all over again. Well, it wouldn’t. The actual damage to any actual white person would be minimal, and it could do a lot for racial reconciliation and healing. So maybe your side could be grown ups about it.

          1. About half my ancestors, the ones on my mother’s side, fled Ireland during the potato famine. What do the British owe me?

            Nothing. At some point you’ve got to accept that the past is the past, and let it go. If you’re depending on somebody else to lift you up, you’re going to stay down.

            “Suppose the federal government decided to make actual, genuine, meaningful reparations. You would probably end up paying an extra buck fifty or so in taxes to pay for it.”

            If history tells us anything, it’s that, once you pay the Danegeld, you’ll never be rid of the Dane. You really think it would be a few dollars, one time? That’s hilarious.

            I would honestly rather have an outright, blood running in the streets, race war, than pay reparations. Millions for defense, not one damned cent for tribute. I owe not one cent of reparations, and I will make anybody who tries to take it from me pay in blood.

            1. “I would honestly rather have an outright, blood running in the streets, race war, than pay reparations.”

              This convinces me that stomping your bigoted, backward, delusional right-wing preferences into political dust and cultural irrelevance has been and will continue to be a righteous endeavor . . . even a pleasure.

              You get to whine about it as much as you like, but you will continue to lose and you will continue to comply with the preferences of better Americans. That’s the part that probably riles you so.

              1. I wouldn’t have phrased it quite like Arthur did, but the fact that you would prefer an actual race war to a peaceful solution tells us far more about you than it does about the issues at hand.

                1. The fact that you consider forcing whites to pay racial tribute a “peaceful solution” tells me a lot about you, in turn.

                  There’s nothing peaceful about forcing people to cough up ‘reparations’ for something they didn’t do, and there’s nothing ‘solution’ about something that wouldn’t be one time, but instead perpetual.

                  Like I said, if you pay the Danegeld, you will never be rid of the Dane. NEVER.

                  I oppose ‘reparations’, because I don’t see them ever ending, any more than I see affirmative action ever ending.

                  1. Any taxation to pay for anything that any individual taxpayer opposes could be characterized in the terms that you’ve used, and worse. But we all end up paying taxes for stuff we don’t like; that’s the nature of living under any government.

                    And the question here is whether the harm was such that a collective solution is appropriate. Some problems really are better solved collectively. Even if some people don’t understand why they should have to contribute.

                    1. Let me explain this.

                      “Reparations”, by definition, are compensation to somebody wronged, made by the one that wronged them. To demand reparations is to accuse, to pay reparations is to confess guilt.

                      As I wronged no one, I am incapable of paying reparations. And I flatly refuse to confess guilt for something I didn’t do.

                      The idea that a $1.50 one time payment would be the end of it would be hilarious if it weren’t so damned stupid. It would be a lot more, and it would go on and on, and when we refused to pay up there would be riots, and I’d just as soon get the riots out of the way without paying one goddamn red cent.

                      And your proposal solves nothing, nothing at all, because the problem isn’t a lack of money, and can’t be fixed by handing out money. It will only be exacerbated by handing out money, because the problem is actually a lack of self-sufficiency and the habits that lead to success, and you can’t fix that by putting people on the dole. You CREATE that by putting people on the dole! It was the dole that caused the problem in the first place, blacks were actually climbing up out of that pit before the war on poverty!

                    2. This subthread shows the original writer’s folly: assuming non-malice on the part of so-called anti-racists.

                    3. Brett, let me explain this: You are adding an element — made by the one that wronged them — that is not part of reparations. If your child breaks my window, and you pay for it, you’re not the one that did it, but you’re the one making me whole.

                      And even if “the one that wronged them” were an element of reparations, it’s met. The entity making the reparations would be the United States of America, which happens to be the same entity that allowed slavery and refused to suppress Jim Crow.

                    4. Suppose IBM makes reparations for something it did fifty years ago. Would today’s shareholders be heard to complain that they, personally, are not the ones who did it? Of course not. Because the entity — IBM — is the same, even if its employees and shareholders have changed.

                    5. From Merriam Webster:

                      “Definition of reparation

                      1a : a repairing or keeping in repair
                      b reparations plural : repairs
                      2a : the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury
                      b : something done or given as amends or satisfaction
                      3 : the payment of damages : indemnification specifically : compensation in money or materials payable by a defeated nation for damages to or expenditures sustained by another nation as a result of hostilities with the defeated nation —usually used in plural”

                      Dictionary.com:
                      “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.
                      “the courts required a convicted offender to make financial reparation to his victim”
                      the compensation for war damage paid by a defeated state.
                      plural noun: reparations
                      “the Treaty of Versailles imposed heavy reparations and restrictions on Germany””

                      Vocabulary.com:
                      “something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
                      compensation (given or received) for an insult or injury
                      compensation exacted from a defeated nation by the victors”

                      Yes, guilt is very much a part of the meaning.

                      “And even if “the one that wronged them” were an element of reparations, it’s met. The entity making the reparations would be the United States of America, which happens to be the same entity that allowed slavery and refused to suppress Jim Crow.”

                      The United States of America, which crushed the Confederacy, and then after an admittedly long delay, ended Jim Crow.

                      I repeat, I will pay not one cent of reparations, as I owe none, and any politician who even hints at paying such payments is dead to me.

                      You’re not getting your damned reparations.

                    6. Good lord, that’s a stupid thing to say. If you pay “reparations” because your child broke my window, yes, you are admitting that you are responsible for the harm – in this case, because you are legally responsible for everything your minor child does.

                    7. “I repeat, I will pay not one cent of reparations, as I owe none, and any politician who even hints at paying such payments is dead to me. You’re not getting your damned reparations.”

                      More big words from Birther “Stolen Election” Brett.

                      Who will continue to do as he is told, complying with the preferences of better Americans. But he gets to bluster and sputter and mutter about it.

                      Culture wars have consequences.

                      Carry on, clingers. We’ll know you know how long and how far, of course.

                    8. Rossami, having legal responsibility for something, and having actually done it yourself, are not the same thing, even though in both cases you may end up paying.

                      Brett’s position is that he, personally, didn’t do anything to the slaves and the victims of Jim Crow and he’s right. The question is whether regardless of that he, as a taxpayer, should be responsible anyway. My view is that the responsible entity is the United States, and the fact that there’s been a complete turnover in who is a taxpayer makes no difference. Any more than that there might be corporate liability in a civil action even if there has been a complete turnover in shareholders.

                    9. “and the fact that there’s been a complete turnover in who is a taxpayer makes no difference.”

                      There are so many problems with this proposal that I scarcely know where to start, but that will do.

                      Virtually everybody wronged, and everybody who wronged them, is long dead, and you don’t think that makes any difference. A new set of people, neither wronged nor having wronged, must put on some twisted morality play for your pleasure.

                      Any other historical wrongs involving long dead people you feel a need to compel unrelated people to vicariously sooth your conscience concerning? History is full of long ago wrongs, can you give us a list, so we have some idea when your need for absolution by proxy will be sated?

                    10. Second:

                      The black community has enjoyed ‘reparations’ by the billions of dollars. Generations of community grants, scholarships, affirmative action programs. Wealth has poured out like a river all my life. There is precious little evidence it’s helping. Measures like single motherhood keep going UP, not down.

                      Maybe it’s time for you to notice the treatment isn’t working, before you bleed your patient dry in an effort to cure their anemia?

                    11. Third:

                      Are you actively TRYING to make race relations worse? Because if you were, I’m not sure what you’d do differently. Encouraging blacks to think they’re owed something whites will never agree to give them is NOT a recipe for racial harmony!

                      You want equal rights? Fine, the case for that is obvious, and almost universally agreed to at this point.

                      You want people who never owned slaves to pony up to people who never were slaves? Nope, not going to happen. And encouraging people to have unrealistic expectations only creates hard feelings on both sides.

                    12. My view is that the responsible entity is the United States, and the fact that there’s been a complete turnover in who is a taxpayer makes no difference.

                      And what exactly is it that the United States did? Not kidnap people into slavery; that was done by Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans back in the Old World. Not bring slaves to America; that was done by individuals (first Spanish and Portuguese, later Dutch and English, and for a very brief time and in very small numbers, Americans). I suppose the United States government owned a few slaves, and it failed to abolish slavery (something it had no constitutional authority to do, as Abe Lincoln well understood). And it failed to abolish slavery in all of the territories (though it did abolish it in the Northwest Territories, and in the northern part of the Louisiana Territory, until the Dred Scott case held the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional–but I wonder how many African Americans today can claim to have been descended from people who would have been free but for the Dred Scott holding). But when I look back on what the United States (that is the government of the entire nation) did with regard to slavery, the obvious answer is: abolished it, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars (1860s dollars, at that)).

                      So the United States, qua United States, should be able to claim that the score has been settled, many times over.

                      But I’d be willing to contemplate the granting of reparations, not because it’s required in justice, but to shut up the SJWs once and for all. It would have to be a one-time payment, however, and it would have to be limited to the descendants of slaves held in the United States. (No reparations to recent Jamaican immigrants, I’m afraid; let them get their reparations from the Government of Jamaica, or the UK.) And the per-person payout would have to be reduced, in the case of mixed-race persons, by the percentage of non-slave ancestry. (Pre-emancipation miscegenation complicates the matter. I don’t think the descendants of Frederick Douglass should be penalized because his father was white and most likely coerced his mother. So they get 100% shares, except to the extent they had post-Emancipation white ancestors. Also, for sake of administrative convenience, I would not try to pro-rate the payout to those whose ancestors were freed some time before general emancipation. So John Mercer Langston’s descendants get 100% shares.)

                      But in exchange for that one-time payout (let’s make it generous–$6.4 trillion, or the present value, counting interest, of 40 acres and a mule paid in 1865 to each family of freedmen), everybody has to acknowledge that the debt is paid, and there will be NO MORE. And we can end all affirmative action programs, all other preferential policies aimed at redressing the imbalance caused by the legacy of slavery. If the recipients want to pool their payouts and buy several counties in Florida and turn them into a utopian community, then more power to them. Hell, I’ll even consider letting them form their own state–or declare their independence, if that’s what they really want. But the rest of us are done with beating our breasts and checking our privilege.

                2. …a peaceful solution…

                  Why stop at “reparations” and “reverse discrimination”? Why not do full-on “reverse slavery”? How’s that for “peaceful solution”?! (as long as it’s “duly enacted,” of course!)

                3. That’s a cheap shot. Deflection from the main substance.
                  Reparations, no matter how much, will never be enough and will NOT appease the race hustlers.

            2. Agreed. As we’ve seen with the “stimulus” which was really just vote buying under another name, once you provide it once, you’ll get demands for it forever. Every concession to organized black America has been met, not with gratitude, but demands for more, whether it’s cash payments, affirmative action, housing, small business loans for blacks, and so forth.

          2. Krychek_2 Said: ” Suppose the federal government decided to make actual, genuine, meaningful reparations. You would probably end up paying an extra buck fifty or so in taxes to pay for it. ”

            If we paid reparations to all of the black folks in the country (about 13% of 330 million people) and the costs were spread among the remaining 87% of the population, $1.50 per person would add up to a reparations payment of $10 per black person.

            What would you consider meaningful? I’d think $10,000 would be the minimum. That would cost about $1500 per person among the remaining population.

            1. If we are going to have reparations, I would support doing it in the form of community grants simply because of the difficulty in identifying which specific black individuals should benefit.

              1. We’ve been making community grants to minority communities for coming up on a hundred years now. If that’s what you’re going to consider “reparations”, then we seem to be done already.

                It’s worth nothing, however, that those community grants have been notoriously ineffective.

                1. And I would not argue that a one-time reparations payment in the form of community grants would fix every problem. It wouldn’t. But it would allow the issue to die because we could then say reparations have been made so the issue is now closed.

                  1. No, it would just exacerbate the extortion racket. As you’ve admitted we’ve been paying what you would consider reparations for decades, but your demand is simply MORE. No goal, no accountability, no metrics, no set in blood guaranteed that this time (unlike all the others) will be the last.

          3. A buck fifty? Blacks constitute about ten percent of the population, so a buck fifty from each non-black person would produce about fifteen dollars for each black person. Math is hard!

            1. You obviously missed my other comment that reparations, if they are done, should be done in the form of community grants rather than payments to individuals. So OK, two fifty.

              1. How would you describe Section 8 housing vouchers, affirmative action, women/minority business grants, black only scholarships, redistributive school funding, etc as anything other than community grants?

              2. So “community grants” totaling $750 million nationwide (300 million non-black Americans times $2.50) will solve our racial problems? Why doesn’t Bill Gates just chip in an hour’s income and we’re done.

              3. What would you say to a constitutional amendment that said that, after that one time reparations payment, no reparations would EVER be legal again?

                1. I responded to Rossami above before I saw Brett’s comment. I don’t know that a constitutional amendment would be needed, but I would be fine with making it clear and emphatic that this is a one-time payment after which the subject is closed. That’s what we did for Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. That way, even if the money ended up being flushed down the toilet, we can say that we’ve made reparations and the matter is closed.

                  1. All reparations should be subrogated for the value of their high rates of violent crime, their tax sucking government dependencies, and for their dropping real estate values everywhere they go, by their behavior. When very dark skinned Africans move in, values increase, crime drops, and revenues increase. It is their awful decisions, not the melanin in their skins.

                    1. To be fair, African immigrants are not representative of Africans as a whole, which is why they’re generally very successful here. When we get the average, meaning refugees from Somalia, they’re disasters.

      2. What ill gotten gains? I’m a 60s retired white guy that most would consider wealthy. I made good grades in school, got a useful degree, and worked my ass off thru a lot of industry turmoil.

        I always treated people with decency – no exceptions. Everyone who ever worked for me considered me a good, fair boss. Occasionally I would inherit a situation where a woman or a minority was subject to an unreasonable salary deficit, and I fought like hell with my superiors to get it fixed, even to the point once of telling them to give one of my female employees $10k of my bonus if they wouldn’t do the right thing and adjust her.

        So what ill gotten gains am I keeping?

        1. Well, that would require an hour or two of cross-examination before I could answer your question. If you look back over your life, though, I’m sure you can find instances when being a white male worked to your advantage, even factoring in your own hard work.

          1. Also, unlike Senator Warren I’ve got actual Cherokee in my lineage. Proven by paper records. The great Cherokee Chief Doublehead was my 7x great uncle.

            And there’s no connection to slavery back there.

            Seems to me that rather than owing something I am owed reparations. I’ll have my lawyer contact you regarding settling your debt to me.

            1. Didn’t Senator Warren have genetic proof of Native American lineage? I never really understood that whole kerfuffle.

              1. She had genetic proof of a tiny, tiny fraction of a percent of Native American lineage. Forget one drop, this was a few molecules.

          2. “If you look back over your life, though, I’m sure you can find instances when being a white male worked to your advantage, even factoring in your own hard work.”

            Nope. Looking over my life, all I can see is vast amounts of government racial discrimination for “blacks”, for women, and against “white males” like me.

            If there are any reparations owed, they are owed to white and Asian males who’ve been discriminated against under the rubric of “affirmative action”.

      3. What “ill gotten gains”?

        I’ve spent my entire life in an America where the only government racism was anti “White” and pro “Black”.

        My parents started with nothing, and earned everything they got. Not because of their skin color, but because of their individual merit and hard work

        All those Vietnamese boat people who came to the US, built lives, and are now having their kids discriminated against by the “anti-racists” started out with FAR less than 1970s American blacks. What is it they’re supposed to “give back”? The rapes? The enslavement / murders of their family members who didn’t manage to escape?

        The worst schools for blacks, the worst neighborhoods for blacks, are all in Democrat controlled cities / schools. Voted in to power by the people they’re screwing over.

        I don’t owe jack sh!t to people because of my skin color, or because of theirs. My success is mine

        1. Great point about the Vietnamese folks. A huge number of them set up as fishermen down on the Texas Gulf Coast, and at first the discrimination was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

          Now they’re generally successful and are members of the community. And yes, their children are being discriminated against by the anti-racists because they don’t fit in an Oppression Bucket, so they must be white.

      4. I will concede there are people who are not entitled to what they have accumulated, someone with a no show union or political job, civil servants that spend 2 hours a day actually working, Hunter Biden, to name just a few examples.

  5. My fear today.
    My grandsons, age 9 to ll are being denied opportunity due to the fact they are white males.
    Competitive scholarships limit the number of white males. Elite Universities limit the number of white males admitted.
    Come into the business world, interviews limit the the number of white males.
    Get the job and seek promotions….yep white males are bypassed in the pursuit of diversity. (diversity of skin color)

    On the aggregate, it is true, “a rising tide lifts all boats”
    But diversity has eliminated excellence, in favor of skin tone. At the very top percentiles of achievement, it is very much a zero sum game.

    But how do I talk to my white grandsons, and tell them the color of their skin absolutely limits their opportunities to excel?

    1. But how do I talk to my white grandsons, and tell them the color of their skin absolutely limits their opportunities to excel?

      Any coincidence that this is the same thing that many minorities have dealt with for generations?

      1. same thing that many minorities have dealt with for generations?
        That was then.
        Try living in the present. This current race war is fueled by the victim class demanding reparations for sins of our great great grandfathers.
        You insist on playing tit for tat, the escalation is going to be very ugly.

        1. Very ugly how, and for whom?

          The clingers have been losing ground for so long as any of us has been alive. That seems destined to continue. If ugliness develops, it won’t be my side that suffers.

      2. It also revealing that you admit discrimination is acceptable. For the “right” reasons.
        Rationalization started this mess, doubling down is your answer.

        1. Wow. You let your imagination run wild. Are you even responding to me? Crazy.

          I was merely commenting on the similarity of the language you used to that used historically by minorities, because I was curious if you were using it satirically, or if you were serious(ly that oblivious). Oblivious it is.

          1. I don’t know that it was oblivious. I read the comment more as a ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ complaint. I read the comment as an attempt to point out that the “anti-“racists are creating the very same racist outcomes that they used to oppose.

            1. Only if you choose to look at it that way. Here’s the alternative viewpoint: Regardless of how long ago it was acquired, the majority acquired benefits to which it was not entitled on the backs of minorities, and it’s time for compensation. There are, today, a lot of blacks who would financially be a whole lot better off if their ancestors hadn’t been enslaved and then later locked out of the market. Why should the majority be entitled to retain benefits that were stolen?

              Now, there are practical problems with how to administer compensation. But your position really boils down to people should just continue to suffer because of past wrongs.

              1. You paint with such a broad brush, and conflate all minorities with black Americans whose families suffered direct harm from the slavery.

                First, all minorities are no similarly situated in terms of outcomes despite prior institutional and cultural racism. Asian are the perfect example, particularly because many of the purported anti-racist policies generally intended to favor blacks disproportionally impat Asians, not particularly in areas such as education. Indians and Jews and other examples.

                Also, how do you account for minorities whose families never suffered any historical discrimination in the USA, but rather immigrated hear far later (both legally and illegally), and from day one received net benefits over the prior lives?

                Similarly, do poor whites who immigrated to the USA who never discriminated against American minority families (e.g., Italians, Polish, Irish, and even Holocaust-era Jews if you define them as “white”) and/or who themselves were treated as outsiders/minorities and certainly not “privileged”, also owe some or all minorities compensation?

                How much compensation is enough, and when does it end. It’s been largely illegal to discriminate against black Americans and other minorities since the end of Jim Crow, and billions of dollars has been spent in multitudes of programs to assist minorities achieve ever increasing equality of opportunity. Do you insist this continue, or even more draconian transfers of wealth occur, until there is some ill-defined equality of result?

                Moreover, do you believe there’s any inherent problems or concerns about very correctly describing and fighting the terrible ills of racial and other discrimination, and they implicitly condoning the use of race and similar factors in the same arenas where you claim it should be prohibited such as employment, housing, education, etc. You either believe judging people by their race or other characteristics is wrong, and act accordingly, or you don’t.

                Lastly, not every ill within the black community is the result of past racism, and it’s quite frankly racist to both suggest that blacks have no agency and opportunity and that all whites are racist. The discussion of racism in the black community against not only white, but other minorities, is something also to be considered (e.g., black opposition to gay marriage in California, antisemitism in groups like the Nation of Islam, the aforementioned conflict between Asians and blacks in public education, etc.)

                1. I wasn’t talking about minorities in general; I was specifically referring to blacks being compensated for slavery and Jim Crow. And, I acknowledged there are practical problems with implementation. I’m just not rejecting the idea out of hand based on the bullshit claim that the idea itself is anti-white racism.

                  1. I was specifically referring to blacks being compensated for slavery and Jim Crow.

                    Blacks have been compensated to the tune of $Trillions
                    The welfare state is huge disproportional towards blacks since the 60’s. That does not count affirmative action and business set asides for blacks over the last 50 years. Pigford is still running I think. Handing out $billions. A settlement that was supposed to be less than $100 million.
                    How do you plan to address 4th generation welfare families?
                    Living in the past is a guarantee to perpetuate the past.
                    Isn’t that the lefts real goal. Building a perpetual dependent class of citizens? Beggars are much easier to control.

                    1. You are a reprehensible, obsolete bigot, iowantwo. America has rejected your sorry, downscale, ugly thinking, and is better for it. In few election cycles, even the most dense Republicans will recognize the cost of this stale bigotry (which cost will be irrelevance at the national level and in modern, successful communities). Some of them will regret it. You? I can’t tell.

                    2. Arthur, saying stuff like that may make you feel better, but it contributes nothing to changing hearts and minds. Please stop.

                    3. You’re laboring mightily to change hearts and minds, I’ll give you that.

                      For the worse, but you’re trying to change them.

                    4. Brett, there are people like you whose views are cast in concrete and I would not waste my time trying to change your heart or mind. But I think the vast majority of Americans are open to considering opposing viewpoints at least some of the time. And in this country, change generally comes from the middle.

                      Which is why, and I repeat myself, Arthur isn’t helping.

                    5. We already have most Americans on board, Krycheck_2.

                      I see little reason to appease stale, ugly thinking. I see little reason to enable bigots to hide behind euphemisms. Trying to reason with belligerent ignorance, bigotry, and superstition is pointless, often counterproductive. I see scant purpose to trying to persuade gay-bashers, racists, misogynists, anti-Semites, xenophobes, Muslim-haters, and the like to change.

                      I respect your objection, but, as Mick and Keith always say . . .

                  2. The idea itself should be rejected out of hand because it’s impossible to do it in a manner that approximates fair. See my Cherokee post above. Don’t you owe me something?

                    1. I would have no objection to considering Indians for reparations, although as I said above, I think reparations need to be in the form of community grants rather than payments to individuals, because of the difficulty in deciding which individuals should qualify and for how much. On the other hand, pumping some money into community development could both take care of the reparations issue and also bring about positive change in those communities.

                    2. Any reparations should be in the form of individual payments. How else is Shaniqua going to afford a new sail phone?

                    3. K_2,
                      I’m glad that you would consider (only consider) American Indians for reparations. If there is one group in America that has been f*cked over more times with little to show for it, it is the American Indian. I recommend that you spend a week in New Mexico and avoid Santa Fe and central Taos.

                2. I suspect that Krychek_2 would argue that yes, they do owe reparations, because the very whiteness of their skin gave them an advantage that enabled them to succeed at the expense of the African Americans who were already here.

                  Of course, he’d then have to explain how recent Nigerian immigrants don’t seem to have been handicapped by the blackness of their skin.

                  1. This was mean to be a response to Barnford’s question, “Similarly, do poor whites who immigrated to the USA who never discriminated against American minority families (e.g., Italians, Polish, Irish, and even Holocaust-era Jews if you define them as “white”) and/or who themselves were treated as outsiders/minorities and certainly not “privileged”, also owe some or all minorities compensation? “

              2. Your “alternative viewpoint” is flat false. You said:
                “Regardless of how long ago it was acquired, the majority acquired benefits to which it was not entitled on the backs of minorities”

                That statement conflates the whites who actually were slaveholders and benefited from slavery with the many more people who emigrated to this country since the abolition of slavery but who happen to share a skin color.
                That statement conflates the minorities who were actually harmed with the much larger number of minorities who came to this country after those harms were abolished.
                That statement conflates the many whites who were in the country during the slavery period but were not slaveholders and thus did not “acquire benefits” to which they were not entitled.
                That statement ignores the many costs already paid by whites in freeing the slaves (roughly 2.5% of the entire US population during the Civil War) and since (massive community programs with trillions in funding).
                That statement blindly assumes that benefits and harms are effectively hereditary and ignores the rather extensive research on US social mobility. You can make a strong case that those directly harmed are due reparations. You can make a weaker case that the children of those directly harmed might be due something. By the third generation, however, any benefits or harms are thoroughly dissipated.

                In other words, who you are matters a lot. Who your parents were can matter some. Who your grandparents were matters pretty close to nothing. The people currently alive are not “suffering because of past wrongs”. They are suffering because of recent choices and recent luck.

              3. “the majority acquired benefits to which it was not entitled on the backs of minorities, ”
                K_2, that is one hell of a claim that you have no real evidence for. Just tell me why should a recent immigrant Hispanic pay reparations? What did he or she get that they did not deserve. Let’s change the ethnic identity to a Samoan, or Palestinian immigrant. What did they get that they did not deserve.
                How about an average gal from Germany who came here two years ago? what about 10 years ago or 20 years ago?
                Can’t you see the preposterous nature of your claim.

        2. It also revealing that you admit discrimination is acceptable. For the “right” reasons.
          Rationalization started this mess, doubling down is your answer.

          As someone put it: liberalism depends on situational ethics.

          1. You mean someone as unfamiliar with the tenets of liberalism as you are?

      3. “People did something bad back then, so now I have to do it to you, even though neither of us were alive back then.”

        I’m not sure that’s what you meant to say, but that’s what your words mean.

  6. In my professional arena (CPA/accounting) , in my athletic arena (competitive cycling) and in my social arena, there is virtually no racism. As such it is very disturbing that the professional organizations are going to great lengths to stamp out something that doesnt exist with the obvious result of creating racism where here to fore did not exist.

    1. You have to understand the purpose. The Marxist Chinese Commie Party has an interest in making our nation weaker. Racial struggle has replaced the failed class struggle as an aim of our enemy. All people who call others racist are called race whores. All race whores are agents of the Chinese Commie Party.

      You can read about agency law, to learn more. Here is one example. An actor in a movie is compensated by a formula based on gross income of the movie. If the movie is banned in China, his compensation will be $10 million, instead of $20 million. He therefore apologizes for his criticism of human rights violation by the Chinese Commie Party. His movie is allowed. Promoting the interests of the Chinese Commie Party has earned him an additional $10 million. He should be considered a servant (the legal term) of the Chinese Commie Party. Working for or even assisting the enemy is treason, punishable by the death penalty.

      When China attacks Taiwan, the agents of the Chinese Commie Party in the US should be rounded up, tried, and executed on the spot. An easy, screening identifier of such agents is being woke.

      Judge the US Code for yourself.

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2381#:~:text=Whoever%2C%20owing%20allegiance%20to%20the,not%20less%20than%20%2410%2C000%3B%20and

  7. In fact, whites, as a group, don’t benefit from discrimination against, or oppression of, other groups, except perhaps psychologically if such discrimination and oppression make them feel superior and such feelings of superiority make them happy. But from a purely economic perspective, wealth comes from gains from trade, and the wealthier your trading partners, the more wealth you can accrue.

    But you slide past the point. The “superior feelings” are extremely important to racists – enough so that they are willing to sacrifice economically to maintain them.

    To argue that one is not “better off” that way is circular. You are assigning your personal value system to others, and arguing that they are hurting themselves. They are not. They are acting on their preferences, which is what we do when we spend (or forego) money.

    You might as well say it was not in my interest to go to a movie I liked, and you didn’t, because I would have been better off to save the money.

    Economic behavior is about preferences. That’s what drives it. If I don’t want to serve Black customers in my restaurant, because that makes me feel superior, or because I just don’t like Black people, that may cost me money, but it doesn’t mean I’m worse off. Maybe not serving Blacks is more important to me than the new car I might buy otherwise.

    1. I don’t slide past that point, I just note that real life racists generally express the position that “those people” are taking our jobs, our places in school, our… whatever, and thus leaving “us” worse off economically. That argument is wrong, economically, and while it won’t persuade people who get a lot of utility from being racist from doing racist things even at an economic cost, it does blunt the political argument that racialist policies should be adopted because it will make X group better off. It just makes everyone poorer.

      1. I just note that real life racists generally express the position that “those people” are taking our jobs, our places in school, our… whatever, and thus leaving “us” worse off economically.

        Some do. But an awful lot of racism, especially in the Jim Crow south, was motivated precisely by that feeling of superiority rather than economic fears. What was generally expressed was dislike, or a general sense that Blacks were inherently inferior, not that they were an economic threat.

        Indeed, playing on that sense among working-class whites was considered, by some, to be an effective anti-union strategy.

        The “taking our jobs” business is mostly about immigrants, though of course “taking our places in schools” does tend to be broader.

        1. Yeah, I think Prof B is teetering on the edge of accepting the Marxist notion that material prosperity is everything.

          Throw acid in the face of an attractive 22 year old woman – what damages would make her satisfied that she had been fully compensated ? Not $10 million. Not $100 million. Not any amount of money at all.

          There’s more to life than money, or material wealth, and one of those things is status. Status is important to humans*, and critically important to male mating prospects.

          If you’re in the 25th status percentile, as a male, and your income is $50,000 a year, your mate value – which will affect which females are likely to be interested in you – will be pretty low.

          If you change the social structure, eg by racist laws, so that everyone’s income falls by 50%, but a third of the poeple who were previously above you in the social structure are now below you, your income has fallen to $25,000 but you’re now in the 50th status percentile. Your mate value has gone way up and loads of females who would never have considered you, now will do so.

          * not just humans – status is important to plenty of social animals

          1. Moving on to sexism.

            If the social structure is adjusted so that women are confined to lowly menial jobs, that will make all men more attractive !

            Since women typically prefer to mate with men of equal, or preferably higher, social status than themselves, the new social structure will adjust female ratings of themselves – downwards, and men – upwards.

            None of this is a recommendation of racist or sexist social structures – merely a plea to leave the Marxist obsession with money to the Marxists.

          2. I’m not sure what you and Bernard think you are arguing about. I’m saying that racists tend to believe that if the “out” group is doing better economically, it’s at their expense. And that this belief is false. Saying, yes, but they *also* want to feel superior doesn’t undermine the first point. Also, not all racism involves feeling superior. Historical antisemitism, for example, often had involved concerns that for whatever reason Gentiles are unable to compete with Jews. But these antisemites made the same mistake I identify, they think that if Jews are succeeded, it’s at their expense because it’s zero-sum.

            1. I leave bernard to speak for himself, but as for me…

              I’m not sure what you and Bernard think you are arguing about. I’m saying that racists tend to believe that if the “out” group is doing better economically, it’s at their expense. And that this belief is false.

              No it’s not. Because “better” is not necessarily a matter of material prosperity. If, say, lots of “outs” start doing better economically, then previous “ins” will be lower in the social pecking order than they were before (as income is a contributor, though not the only one, to status. Hence even if the “ins” gain economically by the “outs” new prosperity, that isn’t necessarily ‘better” overall for the “ins.”

              So it’s not simply a case of “also” wanting to retain higher status. When push comes to shove, so long as material wealth is sufficient for necessaries, it may be preferable to sacrifice wealth for status. Why do you think rich folk buy Ambassadorships ? Or create foundations with their names on them.

              As to economics, I agree that lots of people have a poorly founded zero sum approach to economics and the benefits of trade, but then some people who understand the economic benefits of trade have a poorly founded belief that those benefits are always and necessarily positive for each individual in society.

        2. “Some do. But an awful lot of racism, especially in the Jim Crow south, was motivated precisely by that feeling of superiority rather than economic fears…”

          OK, but what about racism today, specifically as defined by CRT folks? You know, structures of power that benefit white people without them even acknowledging it?

          “though of course “taking our places in schools” does tend to be broader.”

          The “taking our places in schools” is about replacing merit-based testing with criteria designed specifically to admit students based on skin color, no?

          1. The “taking our places in schools” is about replacing merit-based testing with criteria designed specifically to admit students based on skin color, no?

            Well, that’s a pretty coarse definition, but there is certainly some truth to it. OTOH, I’d say we need to be more careful in our measures of “merit.” It’s really not an entirely objective metric, like height.

            Simple case: A outscores B on SAT. But A had the benefit of tutoring, a better high school education, etc. What have you measured?

            And of course there are more complex cases by the millions. I actually do not favor racial quotas, but I do favor much better, clearer, criteria for admission.

            And I think the issue is difficult. Consider Harvard. Many more of their applicants are fully capable of doing the work and graduating than they can possibly admit. On what basis should the school choose?

            1. 1. I tend to agree. “Contextual” admissions are perfectly reasonable – if they are properly policed by ex post facto analysis – ie if you admit disadvantaged student B, by giving her a SAT bonus of say 50, expecting her to graduate with the same result as advantaged student A who has a SAT score 50 higher , then you need to measure, on graduation, whether your allowance was too big, about right, or too small. And then adjust your allowances accordingly for the next batch of admissions. Nothing unfair about that.

              2. If Harvard has got way more applicants fully capable of doing the work and graduating than they can possibly admit, maybe they’re making their courses too easy ?

            2. Simple case: A outscores B on SAT. But A had the benefit of tutoring, a better high school education, etc. What have you measured? You have picked the exactly one instance. And that is only one consideration of several to determine granting entry slots.
              After that, its performance.
              Unless you are in the hard STEM fields, book learning and degrees are not that important.
              Once in the job market, performance over the last two years is 70%, the rest is melding with company culture.

            3. Bernard,
              Let’s skip the SAT and concentrate on an exam that student take after a few years in college. And let’s say it is the Physics GRE. If you looked at the scores from 4 years ago. The distribution for Asians was 50 points higher than white, which were 50 points higher than Hispanics, which were 100 points higher than blacks.
              All these students thought that were qualified to enter a PhD program in physics.
              By the junior year it is hard to blame middle school. Fortunately there are some schools that offer 1 to 2 year remedial bridge programs. I am in favor and support such programs.
              But don’t tell me that the Asians don’t deserve admission.

            4. “Simple case: A outscores B on SAT. But A had the benefit of tutoring, a better high school education, etc. What have you measured?”

              You’ve measured A’s ability to do math, however he got it.

              OTOH, you see that A has darker skin than B. What have you measured?

    2. I agree that psychological benefit of racism can be very powerful and useful. I suspect that many pushing racist ideas as not racists themselves but rather see it as a way to exert power over others. They benefit from keeping racial tension high. This seems very evident now with Republicans pushing a culture way strategy rather than addressing real issues.

    3. “The “superior feelings” are extremely important to racists – enough so that they are willing to sacrifice economically to maintain them.”

      Of course. Its why poor non slaveholders supported the slave system.

      DB is pretty libertarian, libertarians think everything is about money. Its not, as 10,000 years of human history tells us.

      1. libertarians think everything is about money. Its not, as 10,000 years of human history tells us

        Tens of millions of years of evolution of social mammals.

        1. Incorrect. I don’t think that, nor do any libertarians I know. Libertarians do believe that incentives matter, and thus if it cost money to discriminate, discrimination will be less likely to occur, and the more it costs, the less likely. But I don’t think anyone really believes otherwise. If they did, there would be no reason to have antidiscrimination laws, which is just a way of making discrimination more costly.

      2. Poor non slaveholders supported the slave system? How?

        1. By dying for the Confederacy.

          1. The guys who died fighting for the confederacy fought for three reasons, in no particular order:

            1. They were conscripted.
            2. They were paid to take the place of a rich guy.
            3. They were defending their home and families from outside invaders.

            Rich guys and politicians stirring up shit and sending the lower economic classes out to die for it. Who’d have thunk it?

  8. No mention of the cost of incompetent affirmative action hires.

    Many years ago, I was told a story by a young man who had applied for a job at the local Edison company. He was told by the personnel man (not ‘H.R.’) that they couldn’t hire him because they had to hire black men. But not to worry. Inevitably, it seems, the person who got the job would show up the first day, and then come in late the next. In his second week, he’d call in sick. Next, he wouldn’t show up and wouldn’t even call. Then they’d fire him, and since they had fulfilled their hiring quota, they could hrie a white guy who would actually show up every day and do the job.
    There is no economic magic dust. Every decison has a cost.

    1. Thirdhand anecdotes are kind of like facts.

  9. Note that a white female sportscaster working WNBA finals was replaced by a black female. The white female was of the woke hectoring type, but that was not enough insurance for her. Skin color rules.

    1. The white one accused the black one of being an affirmative action hire. Hilarity ensued.

  10. While this is generally true, we are living in peculiar economic times. A fraction of a percent of the population has taken possession of nearly all economic growth since the 1970s; the bottom half has stagnated, and gotten worse when taking into account people are working harder and holding more side jobs to get the same income.

    This background means that while the economy in the last 40 years or so has not been a zero sum game for people at the top, it largely has been a zero sum game for people at the bottom. The perceptions of people at the bottom that people at the top’s gains have come at their expense are generally accurate, and are mostly supported by the economic statistics.

    This difference in the experience of people on the top and the bottom goes a long way to explain people’s reactions. When people at the top offer platitudes that work for people at the top but go against lived experience for people at the bottom, it’s understandable why people at the bottom would be skeptical.

    So I think more is required for an answer of the sort Professor Bernstein is giving than general platitudes. Why has nearly all the country’s economic growth in the last 40 years or so gone to the top couple of percent of the population? And why are people in the top couple of percent of the population mostly white, far more so than the general population?

    Both this discourse and the right-wing populist discourse share a theme that a small elite has taken over the country, kept everyone else frozen out, and kept all the benefits to themselves. The Trumpian right characterizes this elite as liberal and internationalist, associating it with the left. The progressive left characterizes this elite as white and racist, associating it with the right.

    But both are deeply resentful of the increasing economic equality in this country. Both see it as against what America ought to stand for. In many ways, the two sides have far more in common than either realizes.

    I don’t think Horatio Alger-style platitudes are going to work in this setting, for either side. I think it’s necessary to acknowledge people’s problems. And I suspect that a version of one of the left’s main points has something to it. When economic growth becomes a zero-sum game and a small eleite takes all the rewards, this is destabilizing to a democratic society.

    One can debate the causes of how our economy has become a zero sum game. But the fact that this has occurred is real. And not merely real, but so glaring as to be undeniable, an elephant in the living room loomimg over everyone’s life. Horatio Alger platitudes just won’t do here as an answer.

    1. “Why has nearly all the country’s economic growth in the last 40 years or so gone to the top couple of percent of the population?”

      Consider this from the perspective of a politician.

      First, you’ve got a ‘progressive’ income tax. That means that, even for a fixed amount of income, the worse income inequality gets, the more revenue the government gets. Government revenues would decline dramatically if income inequality declined!

      Second, extracting wealth from the wealthy is just more convenient than extracting it from people of modest means. If you ran a dairy, even if the total amount of milk was the same, which would you prefer? One cow, or 10,000 mice?

      Third, kickbacks and graft: People of modest means can’t pay you bribes, can’t be effectively extorted. Nobody in the middle class is going to hire your daughter for a well paying no-show job, or put your layabout drug addicted son on their board of directors. So, naturally, you prefer to have more of the nation’s wealth in the hands of the wealthy, where it can find its way into your pocket.

      Fourth, the votes of the middle class are more expensive to buy. And they tend to be ungrateful, figuring that they’ve earned what they have. The poor? Buying their votes with the dole is cheap, very cost effective. And then you can threaten to sic them on the wealthy if they get uppity, tell the wealthy you’re the only thing between them and the violent underclass.

      So, all in all, your politician finds the wealthy useful, the poor useful, and the middle class a waste of skin, whose existence is grudgingly accepted only to the extent they’re necessary to keep the whole system running.

      So is it any wonder government policy systematically promotes income inequality?

    2. Your argument doesn’t contradict David’s point. In fact, it kind of supports it.

      You’re generally talking about wage growth (indexed to inflation) versus productivity. We’re more productive now, but those gains are largely going to the top 1% (or really the top .1%). But that doesn’t address the relationship between the boats, not whether the tide affected all of them.

      Yes, relative wealth has concentrated at the top. But the economy as a whole is so much better now that even the bottom decile is much better off than it was 40 years ago. Hell, less than 50 years ago, my mother and her family lived in a rural home with no running water and barely any heat. That’s unheard of today. Even poor communities will have a lot of modern technologies and conveniences that nobody had 40 years ago.

      By comparing relative wealth, you’re treating the economy as a zero-sum game. But it’s not. Growth helps everyone, albeit in different amounts. We’re all better off; some are just more better off than others.

      David’s point is that, even with the same economic allocation, the delta between 1970s life and 2020s life on the whole would be even greater had we not had any racist policies, a fact that gets lost when you’re only comparing relative positions.

      1. It is quite possible that the desperately poor are better off than they were before Great Society programs got seriously underway in the 1960s and 1970s.

        However, a very large swath of wage earners are clearly worse off. Working class people cod think of home ownership, livable wages from 40-hour work weeks, relatively paternalistic employers, pensions and health care, and other benefits which have either simply dissappeared, or are supplied only by the goveenrment.

        1. Define “better off.” If by “better off” you mean you’re in a stronger position compared to others in the world, then they may be worse off. But on an absolute scale, no way they are better off today.

          I think of my grandparents. One worked in a factory for decades. She had a simple home in the country, with no air conditioning, a wood-burning stove, a TV that could barely get a signal, and drove around in unreliable cars. Now days, you could work the same job and reasonably have central air, a modern furnace, a cable-television package, maybe even high-speed internet, and cars with modern fuel-injection systems and modern electronics. No way that house in the 1970s was better than it would be today.

  11. It seems the real crime of White America, White Canada and White Europe were the achievements made due to hard work, innovations, accomplishments, etc that brought forth tremendous wealth and prosperity beginning in the 1400’s which the rest of the world was slowing to achieve. The crime was something in the white culture that encouraged the rapid advancement and achievements at rates faster than other cultures and races. Now, the white culture is supposed to feel guilty for the achievements of their forefathers.

    Would it not be better for those cultures and races left behind to adopt the culture which encourages advancement and achievements?

    1. Perhaps the issue here is that those who advanced did so at the expense of others. Did the American and European cultures pay a fair price for the resources and labor they used? It was both their own hard work and the hard work of others that produced wealth that basically went in one direction.

      1. Moderation4ever
        July.8.2021 at 9:10 am
        “Perhaps the issue here is that those who advanced did so at the expense of others. Did the American and European cultures pay a fair price for the resources and labor they used? ”

        The problem with that argument is that :
        1) The rapid advancement starting circa 1400’s was in europe which had virtually all white, with little or no slave labor.
        2) its well known in economics that slave labor is very inefficient ( the law of supply and demand) and slave labor and other forms of inadequate compensation for labor slow the creation of wealth. –

        1. Are you kidding? The 1400’s were the start of exploration and with that exploitation. No slavery in Europe but how many people in those backward countries where enslaved and robbed of their wealth. Slavery worked very well for many and built a lot of wealth for the slave holders. Go to Charleston, SC where the American Civil War started and look at parts of the city that were built by slaves for their white masters. Wonder why the war started in Charleston, it was because of the wealth build on slave labor.

          Take some time and learn some history.

          1. Moderation4ever
            July.8.2021 at 10:51 am
            “Take some time and learn some history.”

            Good idea – to learn all of history – not the one sided slanted view of white oppression history. Along with history – learn a little bit about economics.

            If slave labor built wealth, why did the northern states economies grow so much faster than the southern states. (hint – slavery impedes wealth creation).

    2. Let’s see….. what began happening in the 1400s that would have given “white culture” a leg up vis-a-vis other races?

      How about we ask that group of 1400s non-whites over there. You can find them chained up in the bottom of the boat or off fetching gold for the Spaniards.

      1. what began happening in the 1400s that would have given “white culture” a leg up

        Wait, let me guess, you think “white culture” invented slavery?

        1. Give it up – Anyone that argues that the Renaissance was built on slavery is an idiot.
          Equally idiotic is anyone that claims that the rest of the world had not been enslaving or exploiting each other for thousands of years before ‘the 1400s’.

        2. I’m not saying that at all. But until the 1400s, you didn’t have ships and navigation that would permit both widespread travel and the ability to bring those people back to your homeland as slaves. For example, once the Spaniards got to South America, they could start taking over areas, gathering resources, and exploiting races.

          The point is that it’s not necessarily “white culture” that gave them an advantage. It was a host of technological factors, including technology that gave Europeans both a leg up and then an ability to keep other races down.

          1. What?!
            The very word “slave” comes from the name Slav – and it was used because of the vast number of Slavs captured and sold as chattel.

            Romans were capturing Africans as slaves centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Greeks were doing it a thousand years before that.

            The proximity of Western Europe to Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and India shows that there was ample opportunity – and ample practice – of capturing different races for slaves without the need for deep-sea navigation.

    3. Yea, and white European culture and its descendants have been by far the most successful of all the way to the present. Some Asian cultures deserve mention also.

      Let’s get right to it all of these discussions strictly revolve around the “black” situation of the day whatever it may be.

      And no way no how do they have any responsibility in whatever bad situation has arisen on any given day.

      Absolutely nothing supports this theory. Many cultures have endured oppression for long periods of time and have emerged successful. How are the FUBU countries in Africa doing these days. Terrible. They alone are responsible for their situation.

  12. In fact, whites, as a group, don’t benefit from discrimination against, or oppression of, other groups, except perhaps psychologically if such discrimination and oppression make them feel superior and such feelings of superiority make them happy. But from a purely economic perspective, wealth comes from gains from trade, and the wealthier your trading partners, the more wealth you can accrue.

    Wow, when you put it like that you really start to wonder what the Sherman Act is all about. Clearly no rational company would enter into a cartel, because from a purely economic perspective wealth comes from gains from trade.

    1. “Clearly no rational company would enter into a cartel, because from a purely economic perspective wealth comes from gains from trade.”

      Market power comes from skin color now?

      1. wealth comes from gains from trade.”
        Profit comes from gain in trade. ie adding value.
        Weath comes from, fishing, lumbering, farming, mining

        That’s it. All the rest is just adding value and trading dollarsl

        1. But adding value through trade actually increases the amount of fish caught, trees cut, crops grown, metal mined, etc.

          Among other things, trade enables specialization, which increases efficiency, etc.

          Google “Adam Smith pins.”

          1. All that is 100% true and desirable.

            I was being pendantic about the word usage of “wealth comes from trade.”
            Wealth can only “come from” one of 4 areas.

      2. I was thinking of the other bit of the Sherman Act. (On a blog full of lawyers, I didn’t think that needed spelling out.)

        Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal.

        As you see, there is no requirement there for anyone to have market power. And for good reason. The whole point of a cartel is to create market power where otherwise there wouldn’t be any. And the effect of a cartel is to make more profit for the participants, to the detriment of society at large. Which brings us back to the original point I was trying to make: Prof Bernstein should avoid talking about economics, because he clearly doesn’t understand it very well.

    2. You must have either missed these two paragraphs, or thought that they only apply to individuals and not companies:

      That’s not to say that no individual white people could ever be made worse off by the absence of racism. A white baseball player in the late 1940s whose primary goal in life was to play in the major leagues might wind up getting “bumped” by a better black player once the major leagues began to integrate their teams. A white Christian whose sole dream in life is to go to Harvard would be better off if Jews and Asians were excluded.

      But if we are looking at groups as a whole across significant stretches of time (you can generally make one group better off in the very short term by simply confiscating and redistributing another group’s wealth), it should be clear that while it’s obviously in the interest of members of minority groups not to face systemic discrimination and exclusion, it’s also in the economic interest of the majority to not engage in discrimination and exclusion.

      1. Yes, I saw it, I just couldn’t follow the reasoning.

        Systemic discrimination or exclusion either is a restraint of trade, or can be meaningfully analogised to one. The point of a cartel is that you reduce the prices at which you buy, and raise the prices at which you sell. (And the same, mutatis mutandis, for quality and other parameters of competition.) That makes the group as a whole better off, permanently/indefinitely.

        The only thing is that a cartel may require payments between its members in order to make sure that each individual member also benefits from the cartel. (To wheel in some jargon, a cartel is definitely Kaldor-Hicks efficient for its members, but may not be Pareto efficient.)

        If white employers and white employees conspire to stop employing black people, that makes the white employers worse off and the white employees better off. But as a group, these white people are better off. (Because some of the increased labour costs can be passed on to customers.) And so there exists a rebate that the white employees can pay to the white employers that ensures that everyone is better off. For example, you might imagine a rebate in the form of an agreement to only buy from the companies that participate.

        Now this is a highly stylised example (aka ‘economics’), but the general intuition is clear. As a group, white people (or any other group – people whose name starts with a Q for all I care) benefit from conspiring in restraint of trade. But they may not be able to make that conspiracy internally stable.

        But that’s a different matter entirely from saying that it is in the economic interest of the majority, as a group, not to engage in discrimination and exclusion.

        1. No, that’s wrong, or at least the wrong analogy. A cartel in a particular industry can benefit from cartelization. But if every industry was successfully caretlized, then on the average everyone would be poorer.

      2. David B’s comment – “But if we are looking at groups as a whole across significant stretches of time (you can generally make one group better off in the very short term by simply confiscating and redistributing another group’s wealth), it should be clear that while it’s obviously in the interest of members of minority groups not to face systemic discrimination and exclusion, it’s also in the economic interest of the majority to not engage in discrimination and exclusion.”

        Concur –

        There is a false impression that slavery creates wealth for the master. While it is true in the short term, in the long term, slavery impedes the creation of wealth due to the inefficient use of labor. A good example is the difference in wealth creation and achievements in the northern states and the southern states during the 1700’s through the late 1800’s.

        1. It should be added that extensive illegal immigration from a neighboring poor country has much the same effect. An artificially cheap source of labor always discourages increases in efficiency.

  13. The funny part is that the left claims that zero-sum (either/or) thinking is one of the Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture.

  14. While I feel there is a point being made here, this human capital reasoning feel insufficient. How about abortion as as a contra example? The human capital loss from abortion does not enrich the majority with all those lawyers, scientists, doctors, bricklayers, tax payers that aren’t contributing economically. Therefore don’t have abortions? I’m not sure that’s very persuasive.

  15. In addition to the “psychological benefits” of being in a legally-dominant caste, there’s the specific benefit that cops and courts will tend to believe a dominant-caste member in preference to a nondominant-caste member, and even if a dominant-caste member does something bad to a lower caste, the higher-caste person would get a lesser penalty imposed on him.

  16. You lost me at the statement “racists and anti-racists have nothing in common”. See the alleged “anti-racists” are the most racist folks around. They judge everything, every outcome based on race.

    They are exactly the same as the traditional racists.

    1. Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t supposed to be an English style manual. Ministry of Love, anti-racist, etc.

      1. Well, in an observational sense, it was a style manual. He was reporting on things he was seeing in the left at the time.

        They’ve just grown more blatant and widespread since. But he didn’t make that stuff up out of whole cloth.

  17. Point of order:
    On the racist (or “white nationalist”) side, this assumption means that members of other groups need to be subordinated so that whites can thrive. For anti-racists, this means that since whites have benefited at the expense of other groups, whites will now have to give up their “privilege” and reduce their own standard of living to allow other groups to thrive.

    The “anti-racists” are just racists who hate different people. They are properly referred to as racists, because that’s what they are

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