This is a national security issue in the making …
W. Kamau Bell’s “The Wealth Gap” episode from his United Shades of America CNN series will air tonight, which triggered me to think about a specific racial crisis America will face two decades from now, if economic inequity isn’t addressed.
“Sometime after 2040” is what I hear after I ask about the year when America’s population of color will grow to a point where they will decide national elections without broad support from White voters.
Let’s run with that assumption for a moment. I downloaded historical consumer household data from the US Federal Reserve Bank, and then performed a quick-and-dirty regression analysis to forecast net worth by race 19 years from now.
The future looks even worse than today’s wealth gap. For the sake of brevity, I simplified the forecast by comparing just Black and White households.
Black net worth in 2019 was about 13% of what you would see in White families. My forecast — which assumes no significant policy changes, financial market crashes, or pandemics — says the Black-White wealth ratio will drop to 12 percent by 2022, and then maintain that level through 2040.
Again, this assumes no policy change, financial market crash, or pandemic, but we already know that the poor and people of color almost never emerge from the winning end of those adverse events.
Marginalized people of color in America will inherit more political power than ever two decades from now, but will lack the economic power to build and strengthen their communities — making political might another wasteful symbol of the “wokeness” renaissance.
A future hashtag of no consequence. A declaration without muscle. A bragging right without the freedom to truly thrive.
The Fed’s data points to additional danger signs, like the racial differences in debt-asset ratios, income levels, and even asset components. We’re talking about decades of unchecked economic warfare against people of color.
The blowback from the wealth gap will worsen. America’s tax base will take a hit, social determinants of health will deteriorate, and America will experience longer recovery periods after market crashes.
America will also be in a weakened position to lead responses to future pandemics.
But the large gap in fortunes between ultra-rich Americans — who will likely maintain their refusal to pay taxes on their wealth — and everyone else will widen to some new and outrageous level. I don’t even need an analysis to say that.
And let’s not forget the growing number of Americans of all races who have fallen from middle-class status and landed in the lower-middle-class bracket. Or worse.
Sure, this 2040 voter population can begin to elect politicians who are all about racial equity, but fixing the wealth gap will not happen quickly.
And some of you are in for a big, 2040-and-beyond surprise if you don’t see a national security issue brewing from all this …
America should have addressed the wealth gap decades ago, but it cannot let another year pass without doing something radical … like making sure everyone gets a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream.
I plan to be very present for United Shades of America tonight …
song currently stuck in my head: “sunday” – zenesoul & thehonestguy