Mike Schussler & His Failed attempt At Rewriting History
It is the American intellectual and NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabber who wrote recently in a piece for Time magazine that ‘…education is under attack by people wishing to rewrite history’. In such cases it is mostly people who should know better than to reimagine the truth to fit their own personal agendas. In 2013, November 11, one Mike Schussler, a respected economist in South Africa, published an article on Fin24 recklessly titled ‘Economists explains why whites earn more’. From that title alone you almost get a sense of what is to come in the article: white arrogance justifying itself. But bear with me.
This is how Schussler begins his piece: ‘White people earning six times more than blacks, screamed the headlines after the release of the 2011 census’. He goes on to concede that he has no ‘…doubt that whites earn more than blacks…’ before he goes on a defence mode by saying ‘although in a way it is too simplistic to state it as such’. From there onwards it only gets worse, and I must say Schussler deserves credit because like the rest of the men of letters who have always taken advantage of the illiterate, the economist does an excellent job of using statistics (we all know numbers are a problem for the people of this country, President Jacob Zuma would know… lol ***come on***) to bury an unsuspecting mind deep under a molehill of what he calls facts. At the end of the article he mentions that he even had a chat with the head of Statistics South Africa, whom Schussler says he agrees with him. Astonishing!
Here is why I have a gripe with Schussler and his piece: as the great Kareem Abdul-Jabber warns of people wishing to rewrite history, the economist seeks to do the same with statistics. Schussler in his mission to dupe makes a point of breaking down his argument into points. He is an educated man with a mind not to be undermined, so he makes sure that his argument is fluid, if so to speak. But in all those points that he makes, valid as they may be from a narrow point of view, comparing the livelihoods of blacks and whites, he conveniently ignores the cause of such discrepant circumstances: the past.6522
The first point Schussler makes is that of age. Comparing the 1996 and 2011 census whites have grown in age which means they have also climbed the professional ladder resulting in more salary. Here is the economist in his own words: ‘Firstly the median age of whites in the latest census is 38 years compared to 33 years in 1996. Black people’s median age is still 21 years. All population groups grew older, except black people… Based on the age difference, one would expect the typical 38-year-old to earn about 50% to 100% more than the typical 21-year-old’. One would ask: what happened to the black people? Why are they not aging? Sadly Mike Schussler does not tell us.
In his second point the economist tackles the thorny issue of education which currently as I write has pundits spewing words like ‘crisis’, ‘revolution’ and ‘uprising’ from newspapers to radio and television shows. The less I say about the giant of modern day media-social media-the better. Following from his point about age, here is Schussler educating us on the benefits of education: ‘One is the education dividend white people receive. More than 77% of whites have matric or a higher qualification, compared to just 35% of blacks, according to the 2011 census.’ The economist proceeds to write that, ‘Education and skills besides age have probably the biggest role to play here. If one population group has more skills than another, there will be a significant income difference. Years ago, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated it very simply in a report: “Learn more, earn more.”’ You cannot argue with the economist here. The constant seeking of knowledge has benefits for anyone who does so, including financially. Then again white privilege decides to creep in, echoing the undeniable fact that South Africa’s socio-economic structure was designed in such a way that has always favoured and continues to favour whites at the expense of the majority. Pay attention to this: ‘Based on training alone, one would expect a typical white person to earn about twice as much as a typical black person.’ During a period when whites are learning more so they can earn more, where are the black folks? Schussler still cannot account for the majority who from the arrogant language of the piece are anti-education and therefore lazy.
Still on the question of education Schussler relies on the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report to justify why whites earn more than the majority. He says: ‘According to the OECD report, people in developing countries with a tertiary education earn 62% more than people who have finished school. In South Africa the difference between a grade 11 and grade 12 salary is about 100%, regardless of race.’ Regardless of race? This is utter rubbish! Most competent and educated black people with university degrees and diplomas in the private sector are at the mercy of their white bosses who have never made it past Grade 11. These black professionals earn pittance which is spent on transport alone. That Mike Schussler has omitted such truths in his article indicates that he is a dangerous man who uses numbers to mislead. To his credit he admits that this wide gap is the result of apartheid just before he somersaults.
In his third point Mike Schussler disregards history and the reality of how lily white South Africa’s institutions of higher learning still remain. Here is the economist backtracking on his admission that colonialism had a major blow to African progress: ‘Thirdly, white people prefer very different degrees and skills to blacks. For example, more Indians and whites choose to qualify as chartered accountants, and many more of them study engineering as a percentage of their population group than others.’ I remember that one apartheid barbarian once said it was unnecessary for blacks to learn the dynamics of Maths and Science as they would not need it in their ‘natural’ line of work-meaning slaving in the kitchen and the garden. I believe it was further accentuated that the African mind is naturally untrained to grasp the complexities of Maths and Science-this is despite the often ignored if not denied fact that these aforementioned subjects originate from the African continent and that Timbuktu is home to the world’s first university. As the saying goes, a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Africans in South Africa began to believe the racist lies propagated by Verwoerd and his lot: they were naturally retarded to study complex courses. Those subjects were reserved for whites whose superior minds were ‘naturally’ capable of anything remarkable. Today Mike Schussler treads right in the footsteps of his forefather: blacks do not deserve decent salaries as they are uneducated.
Schussler is correct that my people often opt for less challenging courses like Travel & Tourism, Theology (one DA leader has a qualification in that field), Retail and so on. There are so many reasons why that is the case: it could be that they still believe that they are incapable of studying Engineering and Science, they are capable but wish to study something in line with their interest or they were not gifted in that particular area just like some white people are too slow to realise that Engineering and Science is not really their cup of tea. In fact Verwoerd did not just lie to my people, my white compatriots were also victims of his propaganda.
One aspect I wish to introduce is that of walking into a lily white university as a black student to study Accounting, Engineering, Law or Science: as an African in that space you are always undermined. Throughout the year you are told you are not intelligent enough to be in that lecture room, that such a complex course is not meant for you. I remember one lecturer often said to us: ‘Go to the Business faculty and try your luck there.’ Some people actually began to believe that they are indeed ill-equipped for such courses and they eventually dropped out. This here is scientific racism, dressed in humour to disguise its actual meaning while psychologically achieving its purpose. These points Mike Schussler fails to mention because they would defeat the purpose of his message: black people you are just not good enough.
‘Fourthly, compared with fewer than 54% of black people, more than 73% of white people are part of the labour force. These figures include unemployed people and represent everyone who works or wants to work. It stands to reason that a person must first work or at least want to work before he can earn.’ Not sure how many townships and villages has our learned economist visited in his entire existence to see the sort of squalor and poverty these ‘lazy blacks’, as he seems to imply, live in; the harshness they have to face just so they can make it to school. In Cape Town I have come across 25-years-olds who have never been to the city’s CBD (Central Business District). To assume that they are aware that lily white suburbs like Constantia, Camps Bay, Bishop’s Court and Hout Bay exist is probably to mock their deliberate, unfortunate background.
Granted there are those of my people that are too damn lazy to study and work or vice versa, but to paint all black South Africans with the same brush using the sophisticated language employed by Schussler in his condescending article is dangerous. As the article builds up it has already misinformed and misled its readers. ‘Fewer than 54% of black people’ versus ‘more than 73% of white people’ is deliberately meant to imply that Africans are lazy. It is curious that Schussler mentions the 2011 Census and conveniently forgets to mention the actual numbers of demographics of South Africa during that period instead of percentages. According to the 2011 Census that Schussler uses to rewrite history the population of South Africa stood at 51 770 560, Africans being the majority with just over 41 million. This means that Africans made 79.2% of the population back then. In comparison there were 4 586 838 whites in South Africa according to the 2011 Census, making a meagre 8.9% of the population while coloureds contributed 8.9%, which is slightly smaller than the number of whites. Indians made up 2.5% of the population while the remaining 0.5% went to ‘other’.
Therefore if you analyse the above data you realise that 54% of 41 million Africans is actually just above 22 million, a far cry from the 73% of 4 586 838 whites living in South Africa then, which comes to a total just above 3 million. This is an indictment on white privilege. How is it that most of the minority live comfortably post-apartheid while the majority scramble for a single slice of bread? Perhaps Mike Schussler, a two-time Sake24’s economist of the year, could help make us understand why that is the case instead of trying to bury the facts.
The fifth and sixth points are as if the economist wished to shoot himself purposefully on the foot. Here is the economist confidently showing off white privilege gained at the expense and on the backs of the indigenous people of this country and continent: ‘Fifthly, 9% of whites in work have their own business, compared with just 3% of blacks. The median employer earns about 2.5 times more than the typical employee. About 60% of all employers with more than 20 workers in South Africa are white people who have built their own private sector company.’
The last point that the economist makes is perhaps what drove me to write this piece in the first place. He asserts thus: ‘A sixth factor is that typical white people stay about 71 months with the same employer, compared with 51 months for blacks. Experience can therefore also play a role in the earnings of racial groups.’ As he does in the entire piece Schussler again elects to gloss over facts, concluding that Africans can never settle in one job for long. If Mike Schussler was worth his salt he would not have written this myopic piece and instead questioned the reasons that constantly force blacks to hop from company to company.
There are many reasons as to why blacks cannot seem to hold a job for long. One could be that one finds themselves serving under condescending supervisors like Mike Schussler who are always looking for something to prove their racist theory that blacks are inherently incompetent. And of course, which is often the reason, an individual could be looking for a better salary. I know this because I fall into that bracket. No African in my company earns a decent salary, and this again is a problem. The third reason is that Africans are always good but never good enough to make it into managerial positions. At some point in their careers, after years of seeing steady progress suddenly they hit a ceiling.
Over a week ago it emerged that a nationally respected ‘senior economist’ at Standard Bank Chris Hart was not actually a qualified economist. Like a character in a movie he had been acting all these years. This was discovered after Hart made a racist blunder on the social media giant Twitter accusing blacks of victimhood and alienating whites, leading to his suspension from one of South Africa’s four largest banking institutions. This begs the question, should a thorough investigation be commissioned, how many whites would be found out without qualifications but yet are occupying senior positions? These are the people that Schussler claims to be well educated. In the piece above I also make the claim that Mike Schussler is educated, perhaps and given his attempt to deny the fact that whites continue to benefit at the expense of the majority the economist should supply us with his academic transcripts, just so we are appeased. As for his preposterous article Mike Schussler should be dismissed as another privileged, racist white man trying hard to retain the status quo. Kgotsong!
Article by Seitiso Ntlothebe