The news media are trying to rationalize violent riots.
CBS News published a piece headlined, “Protests underscore worsening racial wealth gaps: ‘Justifiable anger.’” Authors Aimee Picchi and Irina Ivanova exploited the murder of George Floyd to suggest that the “nationwide protests” have also drawn “attention to the stark socioeconomic differences between black and white Americans.”
The authors paid specific attention to Minneapolis: “Despite its progressive image, Minneapolis struggles with some of the nation’s greatest racial inequities.” For CBS News, this included “wide gaps in wealth and income that effectively exclude many of its black residents from the city’s prosperity.”
The article cited lefty organization Liberation in a Generation co-founder and co-executive director Jeremie Greer, who stated that “All that systemic racism that people of color have experienced in that city is coming forth.”
Then came the kicker. CBS News summarized bits of Greer’s comments that attempted to justify the violent protests in Minneapolis and beyond on the premise of inequality:
“Minneapolis and other U.S. cities suffer from racial inequities that ‘can be suffocating for black and brown people,’ he added. ‘If we don’t fix the systems of systemic racism, we will see bursts of anger like this over and over and over again. It’ll be justifiable anger.’”
What is worse is that CBS News appeared to agree with Greer’s ridiculous statement in the next paragraph:
Indeed, the protests that have spread across the U.S. underscore the precarious financial lives of people and communities of color in Minneapolis and beyond.
But using income inequality to make an assessment about economic conditions is a specious measurement to use. Even CBS News undercuts its own point in a buried paragraph where it states: “To be sure, economic growth in recent years has bolstered the fortunes of millions of Americans — including people of color — lifting the standard of living for many middle-class households.”
But CBS News conceded this only to complain that “those gains haven’t overcome the obstacles for the 24 million Americans who live in high-poverty neighborhoods (defined as areas where more than 3 in 10 residents live below the official poverty line).”
CBS again connected poverty to inequality just a few paragraphs later. According to the story, “At the same time, America’s wealthy communities are pulling ahead, with residents in those areas enjoying the bounty of the past several decades of economic growth, [Economic Innovation Group CEO John] Lettieri said.”
The CATO Institute’s Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edwards and R. Evan Scharf Chair for the Public Understanding of Economics Ryan Bourne disagreed with using wealth inequality as a measure for understanding poverty November, 2019:
[W]ealth inequality data tell us nothing about levels of poverty or prosperity and thus are not useful for guiding public policy.
CATO Institute Senior Fellow Michael Tanner wrote in 2016: “There is little demonstrable relationship between inequality and poverty. Poverty rates have sometimes risen during periods of relatively stable levels of inequality and declined during times of rising inequality.”