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Are all of us 'equal'?

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By Walter Williams
Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Are women equal to men? Are Jews equal to gentiles? Are blacks equal to Italians, Irish, Polish and other white people?

The answer is probably a big fat no, and the pretense or assumption that we are equal — or should be equal — is foolhardy and creates mischief. Let's look at it.

Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Female intelligence is packed much closer to the middle of the bell curve, whereas men's intelligence has far greater variability. That means that though there are many more male geniuses, there are also many more male idiots.

Watch any Saturday afternoon college basketball game and ask yourself: “Does this look like America?” Among the 10 players on the court, at best there might be two white players. If you want to see the team's white players, you must look at the bench. A Japanese or Chinese player is close to being out of the picture, even on the bench.

Professional basketball isn't much better, with 80 percent of the players being black, but at least there's a Chinese player. Professional football isn't much better, with blacks being 65 percent. In both sports, blacks are among the highest-paid players and have the highest number of awards for excellence. Blacks who trace their ancestry to West Africa, including black Americans, hold more than 95 percent of the top times in sprinting.

By contrast, blacks are only 2 percent of the National Hockey League's players. But don't fret about black NHL underrepresentation. State underrepresentation is worse. Most U.S. professional hockey players were born in Minnesota, followed by Massachusetts. Not a single U.S. professional hockey player can boast of having been born and raised in Hawaii, Mississippi or Louisiana. Any way we cut it, there is simply no racial proportionality or diversity in professional basketball, football or hockey.

A more emotionally charged question is whether we have equal intelligence. Take Jews, for example. They are only 3 percent of the U.S. population. But Jews constitute a whopping 39 percent of American Nobel Prize winners. At the international level, the disparity is worse. Jews are not even 1 percent of the world's population, but they constitute 20 percent of the world's Nobel Prize winners.

There are many other inequalities and disproportionalities. Asian-Americans routinely score the highest on the math portion of the SAT, whereas blacks score the lowest. Men are 50 percent of the population, yet men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as white men. Cervical cancer rates are five times higher among Vietnamese women in the U.S. than among white women.

Soft-minded and sloppy-thinking academics, lawyers and judges harbor the silly notion that but for the fact of discrimination, we'd be proportionately distributed by race across incomes, education, occupations and other outcomes. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere, at any time, that proportionality is the norm anywhere on Earth; however, much of our thinking, many of our laws and much of our public policy are based upon proportionality's being the norm.

Maybe this vision is held because people believe that equality in fact is necessary for equality before the law. But the only requirement for equality before the law is that one is a human being.

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

 

 
 


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