Race in America

Race in America

For most commentators, race and ethnicity are treated with emotion.  Commonly in America there are only two races discussed as in Nicholas D. Kristof’s piece in the NYT Race in America.  Americans understand from the title that it is about African Americans and whites.  That piece is about a book by an African American, “The Other Wes Moore”. Without reading it, persons familiar with Mr. Kristof or the NYT know that it is about an African American doing poorly – as in murdering a cop – due to the neglect or outright malicious treatment by white folks.

In Kristof’s piece, the reader will know in advance that there will be no comparison to success or homicide rates amongst sub-Sahara Africans in Africa or other nations.  There will be no analysis of the Asian Americans to discover how the white folks have impeded their progress and increased their homicide rate.  In the case of Mr. Kristof and the NYT, ten percent of the population of NYC and Bergen County, N.J. are Asian Americans.  If they just stepped outside, they would find lots of folks to study.  Second generation Asian Americans earn more than whites.  At least for Northern Asians, the homicide rate is puny as in their home countries.

When Presidential candidate Obama gave his Philadelphia speech on race, he revealed that his grandmother confessed she feared African American men she encountered on the street.  The unfortunate reality is that the level of violence and homicide is many times greater amongst African American men.  The liberal media thought it was a great speech and the conservatives did not comment on that remark.  The media live in some fantascy world.  When I heard the speech live, I thought Obama was making a joke. 

The Homogenization of the Races in Healthcare Reporting

A typical commentary by Tara Parker-Pope in the NYT:  America lags in maternal and infant mortality.  The data referred to is of the nation as a whole.  The data is massively skewed by the presence of a large population of low birth weight infants which are much more numerous amongst African Americans.  Reference to the March of Dimes web site, will enlighten the reader as to the behaviors which greatly increase the odds of having a low birth weight infant.  In Tom Daschle’s book, Critical, he gave only one – smoking.  It appears obvious, at least to me, smoking was less accusatory and more race neutral than the other drugs and behaviors.

Among other confusions, many journalists still do not understand that live births are recorded differently in some nations.  It is not unusual to see infant mortality data quoted in major newspapers or political commentaries which give the infant mortality in Sweden as half that of any other nation including their Scandinavian neighbors!

The fact is that adjusted for birth weight, American infants have as good an outcome as anywhere else.  Neonatology is a disproportionate and costly part of health care in America.  Americans are expert in neonatal care and trauma care, no doubt aided by the presence of a wealth of clinical material.  In the ABC program, Babyland, the white folks in Memphis were faulted for not doing enough to increase the survival of African American infants.  The mothers were as young as twelve.  ( The mother’s age below seventeen is a risk factor for low birth weight babies.)   Curiously, there was no reference to the fathers save for one eighteen year old father who was shot to death a few days after his offspring was born.  The fathers were not faulted.  There was no mention of birth control.  Planned Parenthood’s web site in Memphis offers all methods including termination.

T.R. Reid, a Washington Post journalist in “The Healing of America:  A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” had to travel to Japan to have a health care economist explain to him that the lower rates of HIV infection and trauma among other behavior related factors accounted for the longer life expectancy in Japan.

Outcomes for health care in general need to be adjusted for race.  Total longevity statistics in America are bad.  The global statistics are impacted by factors including trauma and drug abuse.  The average life expectancy of Native American men in South Dakota is 56 years.  I have not been to South Dakota, but I was stationed in Oklahoma.  The Native American men who live on the reservations have horrific levels of alcoholism.  Fox TV went to a South Dakota reservation, Rosebud.  The TV show on federal government health care was one of the worse programs.  In the last sixty seconds, alcoholism and diabetes were mentioned as prevalent.  One moderator was Judge Andrew Napolitano.  Fox has a cadre of excellent physicians as contributors.  At SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, there is one of nine offices of the Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA).

Usually Fox does better, but not always when it comes to racial commentaries.  Geraldo Rivera once had a discussion with a deranged actor, Richard Belzer.  They described Gov. Bobby Jindal as a person of color.  Vinod Khosla, a founder of Sun Microsystems is a person of Indian birth.  Since that phrase was adopted by persons wishing to feign sophistication when speaking of African Americans, I always suspected that sooner or later some media luminary would use it as a waste basket term for non-whites.  Non-whites should be  identified by their correct ethnicity.  They are not all one race.  Embarrassing.

The Asian American women of Bergen County, New Jersey live several years longer than the women in Japan.  This attests to the quality of health care in American as well as well as the life style of this mostly middle class group.  (The Asian Americans of Bergen County are a diverse group of North, South, and Southeast Asian origin.)

It is rare to see any reference to the method of controlling illegal drugs in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, or China.  Drug dealers are executed.  For the prospective traveler, Singapore has a web site which lists the drugs and quantities which earns one the death penalty.  The list includes cannabis along with various narcotics, cocaine, and methamphetamine and the quantities needed to qualify for the death penalty.  There are signs in the Taipei airport warning that drug trafficking in punishable by death.

In America, the media sometimes treats cocaine use and other forms of depravity as opportunities for entertainment.  Stephen Cobert and Congressman Robert Wexler amused themselves by pretending to use cocaine.  There is no doubt that Congressman Wexler has constituents who have lost family members to cocaine abuse.  Cocaine and other controlled substances have devastated the lives of persons of all races, but more so with African Americans.

In America, law enforcement is mitigated by cost concerns in American cities.  This is nothing new and predates Lindsay Lohan by many decades.  Over forty years ago, I challenged young prosecuting attorneys in my apartment building to be more strict in enforcement.  They informed my of the constraints imposed by costs of court time and the risk of jury nullification.  Most criminal cases were plead out.  California is dead broke partly due to the costs of trauma and criminal justice.  Random gun shots are not investigated in certain neighborhoods in Southern California-again a decades old practice.  In 2004, the New Orleans in conjunction with a local university attempted to study the response to 700 blank gun shots in on neighborhood in one afternoon.  There was no response.  No one called.  Without a wounded citizen, the public understands, if the media does not, that there is no money for investigation, no money for trial, and no money for incarceration.  This is an ominous practice and presages worse police restraint practiced in nations such as Brazil.

The present criminal justice penalties and procedures simply are not affordable.  The extensive use of the death penalty for drug trafficking or anything else in California is too costly.

Race According to the CIA World Fact Book

There is a source for information on ethnicity and other matters:  The CIA World Fact Book.  At least as of now, the CIA recognizes a number of ethnic groups.  For Brazil, it gives data for whites, 53.7%, mulattoes – a mixture of whites and blacks 38.5%, blacks 6.2%, other including Japanese, Arabs, and Amerindians at less than one percent.  Other sources give the Japanese population at 1.4%.

The same CIA Fact Book gives the American population as white 79.9%, black 12.8%, Asian 4.4% and Amerindian and Alaska natives 0.9%, and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders 0.18%.  Hispanics are listed at 15.1%, with the explanation that ethnicity is not specified.  Unlike Brazil, mulatto is not listed.  There is the history of slavery in the United States which encompassed mulattoes, but there was a similar history in Brazil.  Using a simple but accurate arithmetic analysis of blood groups of African American inductees in WWI, the white mixture was 22% at that time.

The CIA Fact Book for Mexico:  Mestizo – Amerindian-Spanish 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9%, and other 1%.

The CIA Fact Book for Haiti:  Black 95%, mulatto and white 5%.

For Cuba:  White 65%, mulatto and mestizo 24.8%, black 10.1%.

In all the descriptions, the CIA uses “black” in place of Negro.  The use of that term has led to some sloppy discourse by members of the jabbering class.  Black is a color and not a race.  White covers a host of ethnic types, and the CIA recognizes that for some nations.  The CIA does recognize racial diversity in many nations including some in Southeast Asia.  The list for Indonesia includes groups which are apparently unique to that nation.  The economy in Indonesia has evidenced a rapid growth in the last decade. 

The Post-Racial Society

This is a concept tossed around to describe the election and era of President Obama.  As with many political slogans, it is hard to know what the slogan means.  If it means the laws will apply without regard to race or ethnicity, that is a good idea.  If it means a meritocracy, that is what is needed.  That will bring out the best in all ethnic groups.  There is a lot of overlap in talents and ambition amongst the races.

That is not what President Obama, Sonja Sotomeyer or their cohorts espouse.  They support or demand affirmative action which is sometimes defined as diversity.  Diversity exists in Southern California and other urban areas.  When I practiced, I worked with persons who were born in at least 29 other nations.  That does not include my experiences in the military outside the United States.  We did not call ourselves diverse.  We were simply legal residents who wound up working in the same hospital.  Most jobs for anesthesiology staff in Journals did not specify ethnicity.  Ominously a few academic positions mentioned affirmative action or minority candidates encouraged.  Anecdotal rants by former anesthesiology residents were generally not positive.

At present in America, a minority is either an African American or Hispanic.  Sikhs such as South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nimrata Randhawa -aka Niki- Haley are not a minority.  In a study in the City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple noted that the Sikhs of Great Britain have higher than average family net worth.  Dalrymple was reporting on a London politician who wanted to redistribute wealth.  (Sikhs like European Jews are an ethnic group as well as a religious group.) 

Homicides are almost always readily classified as such and not ignored in America at the present time.  The World Health Organization tallies homicide rates. The rates are remarkably constant amongst ethnic groups despite changes in latitude and longitude.  In some cases the rate is clearly related to alcoholism.  Russians and other persons indigenous to the Baltic States have the most robust rates amongst white folks.  Greece has a consistently very low rate as well as a low incidence of alcoholism.  One might speculate whether the selection process of legal immigration lowers the alcoholism rate in Baltic immigrants.

Its the Data Stupid

There are scholars who have studied behaviors of various races.  The prior vociferous commentators on race such as T.R. Roosevelt and persons who influenced the rise of the Nazi regime were not methodical collectors of data but angry doctrinaires.  (Roosevelt was a fan of the Japanese, but not the Chinese.  Roosevelt and certain university professors believed that only Aryans were capable of governing.  We know how that worked out.) 

Modern scholars include Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein and Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen.  The latter is the father of Matti Vanhanen, the immediate past Prime Minister of Finland.  These scholars studied I.Q. in various groups.  The latter two related intelligence to GDP.  Homicide rates appear to have some relation to intelligence.  Drug abuse including alcohol augments depraved behaviors without question. 

No one appears to study the fraction of American GDP that goes for responses to violent crime.  Sudhir Venkatesh might persuade an economist in Chicago to study the costs related to the activities of the drug dealers who have provided the subjects for his studies.  Costs include the obvious criminal justice costs and also the costs for the care of their offspring.  The Federal Reserve Board should quantitate the cost of criminal justice and trauma care as a fraction of the GDP.  Most trauma involves a crime whether an assault or a vehicular accident.  More than half of vehicular accidents serious enough to cause trauma involve at least one impaired driver. 

The Media Race and the Other “F” Word

The f word is banned by the FCC.  There is another f word – fertility which is rarely used in the American media.  This is not so in most advanced societies in Europe and Asia.  Claire Berlinski is one American who broached the subject in Menace Europe.  She detailed the stunning decline in fertility amongst ethnic Europeans in Europe as well as the governmental efforts to encourage births.  Birth Dearth in Europe and Asia is the biggest story rarely told in America.  Thomas Friedman despite having traveled the world and having lived in Israel homogenized the races of the world in Hot, Flat and Crowded.