Response to Racism is Encouraging but Economic Inequality is Bigger Issue

By Ted Mitchell
Published May 01, 2014

The response to NBA's L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's recent racist remarks has been overwhelming. This week the Globe and Mail even carried a two-page folio on the subject.

You might think it's a good thing for so many people to get indignant about racism. But they all miss the point. This war is already won.

America has for the most part conquered racism. It is working away at sexism, LGBT and religious discrimination. The only thing left to do is wait for the older folks who still hold discriminatory obsolete opinions to die.

But there is a much bigger problem that hardly anyone is talking about, and that is economic inequality.

This isn't my idea, it comes from a 2006 book I reviewed by Walter Benn Michaels called The Trouble with Diversity.

With every year that passes, the western world gets more economically unequal. The uber-rich, like Donald Sterling, are lambasted over private racist remarks, while hardly anyone questions whether the money they make is morally defensible or bears any relation to their contribution to society.

But it's not just the rich, although they are the most guilty of perpetuating an effective oligarchy that we pretend to call democracy.

It is everywhere, at every level of income. An obsession with money is redefining the world we live in to be only about money. Money justifies all manner of horror to people and the environment.

It is defensiveness about money that blocks out meritocracy and keeps the powerful in their positions despite young talent who should easily out-compete them.

It is the unease with which the media deals with the financial world, giving them way more respect than they deserve.

The Occupy Wall Street movement could hardly get any traction from the public, but one old rich fossil says something racist in private and it's roundly denounced all over the media.

Western civilization has a huge problem in that we risk being defined by money above all other values. Anything that seems to have similar power, like religion in America, is actually just an economic facsimile that has little to do with the values that are advanced in the Bible.

So don't take the bait. The real issues of our time are economic inequality and money defining everything.

Ted Mitchell is a Hamilton resident, emergency physician and sometimes agitator who recently completed a BEng at McMaster University. He is fascinated by aspects of our culture that are harmful, but avoid serious public discussion.


View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 10:12:14

Real estate magnate Sterling's net worth (~$1.9b) is roughly 360 times the average salary of an LA Clippers player (~$5.3m), which is roughly 112 times the average Californian's income ($47,401 in 2013).

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 10:55:17

Not that I completely disagree with the writers thoughts, however the writer has missed how msm presents issues.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Joshua (registered) | Posted May 01, 2014 at 23:41:13

The Austrian psychologist, Eric Fromm, once argued that all people should receive the same wages, regardless of job class. As for jobs, the only important ones, according to students at most secondary schools in Hamilton, are the ones that make you rich. Few and far between are the students who seriously pursue the arts; two years ago, at the new Henderson High, zero students qualified for a local church's scholarship as there were no senior students pursuing music. Our social ideas about the importance of money are affecting our children and our relationships with one another.

Comment edited by Joshua on 2014-05-01 23:48:57

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 00:05:42

Joshua, is it our thoughts really or the thoughts of sociopaths who run and lead policy?

It is pretty apparent how things are shaped just looking at our local university where the business school sits. Are they really receiving a higher level education or is it just job training?

Does having a bunch of letters behind your name more meaningful to the opposite of those who give back in time to community service and earn say an honorary degree?

Should we be discussing opposites such as arrogance vs sincerity?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 16:09:11

"...while hardly anyone questions whether the money they make is morally defensible or bears any relation to their contribution to society."

Ted, couldn't people raise the same question about the money you make?

Who decides what is "morally defensible"?

Sterling is wealthy because he is a businessman who took tremendous risks and provided a good or service that people chose to purchase of their own free will. For every Sterling there are thousands who lose their shirts in business.

You need to stop being envious of other people's wealth.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 17:56:18

So the Capitalist weighs in, not that this person has anything positive to say. The writer does work in the medical field, which does save lives opposed to the what the capitalist does for a living.

I will say that many who work in the medical profession are part of the priviledged class, they have no clue about many they come into contact with.

My own doctor is oblivious to my concerns of the workld we live in, thus I view my doctor as a non entity, as that is what my doctor deems me as, a non entity.

There is a disconnect, really with those oin the medical world. How can someone try to talk to me about stress, yet there is no dialogue about the government that has caused so much stress? Are those who work in the medical profession with their letters and such behind thier names oblivious to what they adovcate for???

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By none of it is finished (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 18:33:13

While inequality is a very important issue and point to make, I don't think racism is nearly as "conquered" as the reader thinks. In fact none of the issues are near any great gain. We may have made strides but they all seem to fade and return.

I think though we should be looking at the whole with all these issues and work together instead of trying to fight for which is most important.

I think it will take a major shift of huge proportions to truly stamp out any to any large degree. And we all need to work together to get it done.

One other thing I will say about economic inequality, that will last as long as we live in a money based system. What is the alternative? A practical alternative? I am sure they are out there, I am still learning and do not claim to have all the answers. I would like to hear more on that rather than simply defining economic inequality as the larger problem.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By politico (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 18:46:43

"America has for the most part conquered racism."
Are you kidding me? Ted Mitchell, which planet are you living on?
In America, racism and inequality are intertwined.
Racism is alive and well in America.
The majority of poor people are black.
The majority of people who are incarcerated or on death row are black.
The majority of people with no health care are black.
It may not be fashionable anymore to publicly preach racism, but you can be assured it is still widely and insidiously practiced!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Joshua (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 23:28:11 in reply to Comment 100834

What about Mark Boyle, the Moneyless Man? What about the Industrial Workers of the World?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Joshua (registered) | Posted May 02, 2014 at 23:34:00 in reply to Comment 100828

I suppose what's upsetting is what's being done with the wealth. It's being squirreled away, off-shore somewhere, or it's being manipulated by an accountant to dodge taxes, or it's being held up without re-investment in some savings account, accruing interest of one kind or another. Even if it is given philanthropically, that's done so that taxes are lowered by way of charitable donations or to increase the goodness of a brand, so that more sales result. The fundamental issues, whether we need the Los Angeles Clippers, whether sports ownership of any kind is necessary, whether this is something for which money should be exchanged in any case, remain unaddressed.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools