Sowell on Minority ‘Underrepresentation’

April 7, 2010 at 11:52 (Uncategorized)

Sorry, buddy. This is common sense and logic, so I doubt anyone will listen to you.

Often some minority, with no political power, has outperformed the dominant majority in lucrative or prestigious professions — the Tamils in colonial Ceylon, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Chinese minority throughout southeast Asia, the Huguenots in France, the Ibos in Nigeria, the Japanese in Brazil, the Lebanese in West Africa, the Jews in medieval Spain. The list could be extended almost indefinitely.

Yet, through sheer assumption and repetition, the opposite view — that any “under-representation” of any group in desirable situations or their “over-representation” in undesirable situations must be due to the way they are treated by others — has become the prevailing dogma of a secular religion.

Not only the media and politicians, but intellectuals and even the highest courts in the land presume discrimination when some groups are “under-represented” in an employer’s work force or are “over-represented” among children disciplined in school. Tests that show some groups more proficient than others are declared to be “culturally biased.” Higher infant mortality among some groups is assumed to be society’s fault for not providing “access” to prenatal care for all.

A major factor in the housing boom and bust that created the present economic predicament was massive government intervention in the housing market, supposedly to correct discrimination in mortgage lending. How did they know that there was discrimination? Because blacks were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than whites.

It so happens that whites were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than Asian Americans, but that fact seldom made it into the newspaper headlines or the political rhetoric. Nor did either the mainstream media or political leaders mention the fact that black-owned banks turned down black mortgage-loan applicants at least as often as white-owned banks did.

There was never the slightest reason to expect the different racial or ethnic groups in the United States to have the same credit ratings or the same behavior or performance in any other way, when both racial and non-racial groups of various sorts have for centuries had radically different patterns of behavior and performance in countries around the world.

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