NPR’s Morning Edition
has found what it says is the explanation for the troubling gap in wealth between blacks and whites in America. In a story by Pam Fessler today
, NPR concludes that there are two main, related factors: first, that white people inherit more wealth from their relatives; and second, that white people are given higher expectations to meet. Black people, by contrast, inherit less and expect lower levels of success.
To demonstrate this contrast, Fessler presents two women--one white, one black--who “aren’t that different” in their personal circumstances: “Both were raised by single mothers who struggled financially. Both worked hard to get where they are today.” Yet the white woman is better off financially, thanks to the car she received from her mother when she started working, and the $60,000 her husband inherited from his great aunt.
[caption id="attachment_220208" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="NPR's white family thanks their great aunt"]
The black woman would be even worse off--homeless, in fact--if it weren’t for the help of government and non-profit organizations. In effect, Fessler implies, charity and the state are the “great aunts” for black people. The corollary--which Fessler does not discuss--is that if you cut government spending, you’re a racist. (By similar logic, President Barack Obama is racist for wanting to cut tax deductions for gifts to non-profit organizations.)
[caption id="attachment_220212" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="NPR's black family thanks Uncle Sam"]
Fessler excludes a key fact, however--one that may go a long way towards explaining the economic differences between her two examples: the white woman is married, and the black woman is not.
Indeed, it is not even clear that the black woman was ever married; Fessler just tells us that she and her daughter’s father “split.” (If they had been married, the terms of the divorce could have helped her financially to some degree.)
NPR wants us to conclude that even if America is no longer a racist society, the effects of past racism require us to maintain and grow a welfare state we can no longer afford. It hides evidence that the ongoing breakdown of the black family--with 70% of black women unmarried
--may play a key role, just as the left has suppressed that evidence in the decades since Daniel Patrick Moynihan first tried to bring it to public attention.
No matter what we decide marriage should be, whether traditional or open to same-sex partnerships, the major reason it is a subject of heated debate is that it confers certain social and financial advantages that informal relationships do not enjoy.
To report that the gap between blacks and whites is due to the legacy of racism, and to ignore the role of marriage, is to polarize further the debate about the role of government in our lives.