Thursday, April 27, 2006

Black Executives Seek Stake in Nats' Future

Black Executives Seek Stake in Nats' Future - Washington Post

Lerner Expected To Get Nationals - Washington Post

It is great that Blacks are competing to see who will own the Washington Nationals professional baseball franchise. It speaks volumes for the opportunities that this country holds, that Black men and women, of extraordinary contribution, can amass commensurate wealth to ‘play’ at this level.

But how representative are these accomplishments of the plight of 39 million Black Americans, as a whole. The answer is they are not very representative at all. According to the Urban League for the year 2004, the average Black person’s relative equality index, compared to Whites, is but 73%, on measures of progress, including earnings.

Some might consider this to be good news; against the old adage that a Black man must work ‘twice as hard’ as a White man, to gain the same reward. These figures more accurately state that he must work 27% harder. But is this adjusted number really reflective of racism or efficiency?

If Blacks come to the economy with educational preparation and skills that reflect this same 27% disparity with Whites, then the pay disparity we see is really a market-based response, and not racism. In fact, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research reports that in 2000 Blacks graduated from high school at a rate that was 27.6% less than Whites. This similarity is not coincidental.

What does this translate to in national impact? If we apply this 27% difference to Gross National Income (GNI), we get a difference of $9,359 between Blacks and Whites. If we then convert this to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the per person measure of all yearly goods and services of the country, this difference comes to $11,276. Finally, if we then multiply this GDP times 39 million Blacks, the total comes to $440 billion per year in GDP that Blacks do not contribute because of their skills deficit.

Whatever the cause, it is this deficit in contribution that is holding Blacks at the bottom of the country’s economic ‘totem pole’, just as it is a surplus in contribution that allows individuals of wealth to buy baseball teams. The potential purchasers of the Washington Nationals are an extreme minority of Blacks, and while we should cheer for their continued success, we should not be lulled into false confidence of Black progress.

The figures of the GDP deficit tell a more consistent, accurate and gloomy story about Black plight, and indicates the magnitude of the changes that need to occur.

James C. Collier


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