This week we were presented (via a correspondent on Twitter) with some interesting but confusing data from Pew Research Center on “Racial and Ethnic Wage Gaps” in the USA. This is the chart we were sent:
It comes from this article on the Pew Research Center website: “Wealth inequality has widened along racial, ethnic lines since end of Great Recession”
published December 12, 2014.
Hey this isn’t even news! So why are they just now shoving this nonsense in our faces?
While we know fully well that there are indeed disparities between wealth of black, Hispanic and white workers due to racial discrimination and the legacy of slavery in the US, these numbers seemed a bit overblown; we simply don’t know many “white” workers whose net worth is $141,000. And we know a lot of black and Hispanic workers whose net worth is well over $11- or $13K.
The numbers seem to be shorthand for showing white workers how well they are doing compared with blacks and Hispanics, with an eye towards driving jealousy among workers over who’s getting the most “tar-tar sauce” from the US’ greedhead capitalist class, busily ripping ALL OF US off 24/7/365.
Obviously, if this data includes all the US billionaires (who are mostly white) among the calculation of “white wealth” then the data is skewed to make it look like white workers are doing great while black and Hispanic workers are surviving on air.
Also, a closer look at the data shows that there is something else weird going on here: it indicates that between 1983 and 1989, the wealth gap between white and black workers expanded from 8% to 17%! Now, we were working then; and we’re unable to recall our incomes jumping nearly 10% over that period. Nor can we recall that time when black workers’ incomes magically rose by something like 14% over a 3-4 year period, as the chart indicates happened between 1989 and 1992.
The whole thing seems a bit much… and designed to piss off workers and inflame racism between us; all based on some questionable data interpretation by the august Pew Research Center – a thoroughly pro-capitalist think tank.
So we asked the world (via Twitter) what the sources were for the claims made in these charts; Pew Research nicely tweeted us a link to the article again (which we had already seen). But this time we spotted the link to the data upon which their article and the accompanying charts were based: it was hidden under the words “Federal Reserve notes” in a link:
Reading this we saw that there were some large apparent discrepancies between what the Pew Research Center’s researchers were presenting to the public as “racial disparities” and what the source for their data actually said.
Point #1: Nowhere in this document is the data broken out into 3 separate “racial” categories. In this source document, there are only TWO racial groups delineated: “Nonwhite or Hispanic” and “White non-Hispanic”:
Also, if we read the “methodology” section which describes how the survey was done, we see that “[f]or greater comparability with earlier SCF data, the data reported in this article ignore the information on ethnic identification available in the surveys since 2004, but respondents reporting multiple racial identifications in the surveys starting with 1998 are classified as ‘non-white or Hispanic.'” (p. 37). So there may be more detailed racial data that breaks down the categories into more than two, or even more than three categories, but it’s not here in this document cited as their source by the Pew researchers in their own article.
Even more “amusingly”, in digging for all this info we found something far more interesting: the data on the distribution of wealth and income in the US between the top 10% and the “bottom” 90%.
[It’s a bit strange talking about the VAST MAJORITY of the US citizenry as being “the bottom”, isn’t it? But when it comes to the distribution of wealth in ANY capitalist society, this is really how things shake out in the final analysis. And it’s not OUR terminology, anyway: it’s how the banksters at the Federal Reserve – themselves all well up in the “top” 10% – who look down on the REST OF US as being the “bottom 90 percent”!]
Well now at least we all know where we stand in the eyes of the US bourgeoisie!
But let’s take a closer look at the findings here. What ARE the “Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income and Wealth” here in the “Land of the Free”(TM)?
Got that? The top 3% receive nearly 1/3 of the INCOME of the entire USA annually! It’s good to be a capitalist king!
But now when we look at WEALTH – overall WEALTH… lol! The numbers get really disgusting!
Here’s the view of the accompanying chart:
That black line trending steadily downward for the last 25 years is YOU, dear working-class brothers and sisters. That solid green line moving just as steadily upward represents the trillions of dollars you’ve handed over to your capitalist class masters ‘lo these many years.
So the 3% own 54.4% of the nation’s wealth. Let that sink in a minute. Add to that the wealth of the next 7% – “the middle class”, if you will – (whose “share” of the national wealth was 20.9% in 2013) and you see that the “top” 10% of the population owns over 75% of the nation’s wealth! And in this great, free “democracy” of ours… the “bottom 90%” (i.e. we, the wage slaves) get to “share” 25% of the nation’s wealth! Ah, freedom! Ah, democracy! What a joke.
Unwilling to bring THIS to our attention a year after they did their “study”, the Pew Research Center chose instead to highlight a cranked-up, phony distortion of the income distribution in the USA which pretended that white workers possess 10 times the wealth that black and Hispanic workers do, when in FACT it is the top 3% of whites who own the VAST MAJORITY of that wealth attributed to “whites”!
Now why do you suppose the Pew Research Center would want to do such a mean thing to us?
It’s called DIVIDE AND CONQUER, brothers and sisters. It’s one of the capitalist class’ oldest tricks – in fact, they learned it from the landed aristocracy and the monarchists the nascent capitalists overthrew because they stood in the way of the bourgeoisie obtaining the kind of wealth once only enjoyed by… kings and queens and their courtiers! But after 400 years of the evolution of the capitalist system, which promised that “a rising tide” of economic wealth created by capitalism would “lift all boats” we see instead that only a very few yachts are being lifted to heights unimagined by the kings and queens of old, while the VAST MAJORITY of humanity is left in their canoes… at the bottom of the ocean!
Moral of the story: don’t take the racist bait when it’s offered to you by the apologists for the capitalist system!
We’ll say it yet again: THERE IS NO FUTURE FOR YOU, WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNDER CAPITALISM! The capitalist system must be overthrown and replaced with a revolutionary socialist workers government which distributes the wealth of the world equally among all the workers of the world who create that wealth through our labor-power. We need a society in which jobs, food, clothing, housing, health care and education are GUARANTEED to all as rights, not as favors bestowed upon us (or not) by the 3%. The capitalist revolutions promised us the right to merely PURSUE happiness; the SOCIALIST revolution will GUARANTEE that we will ACTUALLY OBTAIN that promised happiness by providing the actual means of existence to ALL, instead of the dreams and empty promises of the capitalist system.
Workers of the World, Unite!
Independent Workers Party of Chicago