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Scott Winship @swinshi
, 10 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
OK, @coldxman picked a bad day for his essay arguing that black culture is "primarily" to blame for the black-white wealth gap, as I'm home with my sick kid and need a break from Teen Titans. /1
First, let me applaud him, as he is apparently an undergrad writing a decently sophisticated argument and an African American, which makes his contrarianism on the topic that much more risky. But a few thoughts in no particular order /2
First, there are a couple of straw-man args in here: the idea that the wealth gap is ALL due to slavery and New Deal discrimination and the idea that people who want government to address the wealth gap just want cash transfers. /3
Second, that Amy Wax parable created to argue that only blacks can help themselves may or may not apply to the wealth gap, but one can't assume it does just because it accords with one's priors. /4
Third, some historical quibbles. The North got plenty rich from slavery, which is why, for instance New York City was pretty ok with slavery over most of the 19th century. King Cotton made lots of people rich in the north. /5
Also, as ever, conservatives need to consider that the better performance of Immigrant Group X may reflect selective migration--the best/brightest/most entrepreurial leaving for America. African American "migration" was..."selective" in other ways. /6
Fourth, the endless debate in sociology grad programs as to which is more impt, structure or culture, is misguided. History and institutions and residential patterns structure culture. Put anyone in a given environment, and they'll be more likely to act like everyone else in it
Fifth, equating blacks and whites in terms of income or education doesn't equalize all the dimensions of racial inequality. Blacks are FAR more likely to live in concentrated poverty and FAR more likely to remain in poverty across generations. /8
Finally--lucky I have to jump on a conference call!--there's an unacknowledged normative view in the essay that equates "success" with wealth accumulation. What's wrong with consumption? If the author is right, it would force us to re-evaluate the importance of wealth gap, /9
...but it's only one's opinion whether saving is "better" than consumption. Glad that you wrote the piece though. /fin
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