This is one of the most appalling news stories I’ve seen in a long time. It’s from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and it isn’t a parody: “Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5.”
The “study” apparently was done by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, based in Oakland, California, with an assist from another Oakland outfit, the Closing the Gap Initiative. So blame them, not me, for slandering African-American women:
In a groundbreaking report released Monday by a leading economic research group, social scientists turned a spotlight on the grave financial challenges facing an often overlooked group of women, many of whom could not take an unpaid sick day or repair a major appliance without going into debt.
Or, if you believe them, buy a cheeseburger.
Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600, … the median wealth for single black women is only $5.
That’s startling, all right. I don’t think it’s right, but to the extent that there is some kernel of truth there, what could the cause be? The Post-Gazette’s last paragraphs–the most appalling of the piece–suggest an answer:
Ms. Lui [director of the Closing the Gap Initiative] said the Insight report would be used to encourage the government to close the wealth gap and improve the outlook for women of color, just as it did for Americans who received land through the Homestead Act, and education through the GI bill.
“If wealth was based on hard work, African-Americans would be the wealthiest people in our nation,” she said. “It’s not about behavior. It’s about government policies. Who does the government help and who is it not helping?
“Our government knows how to build wealth for people. They’ve done it for others and they can do it for all of us. They need to focus some attention on women of color. Look at the situation and see what we need.”
How about this for a revised headline: “Those who believe that government handouts are the only path to prosperity have median wealth of $5.”