Rantz: Inslee says credit scores are racist but his admin uses them to hire

Jan 4, 2021, 6:16 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2021, 6:01 am
Gov. Jay Inslee, credit checks...
Gov. Jay Inslee puts out his glasses to better spot inequities. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Governor Jay Inslee says using credit scores as one of the determining factors for insurance is racist, as it disproportionately impacts people of color.

Yet, the Inslee administration uses credit scores to assess whether applicants are best suited for some jobs. In other words, Inslee uses the very tool he claims is insidious and must be stopped.

Inslee isn’t merely a hypocrite. By his own flawed logic, it also makes him a racist.

Inslee says credit scores, history promote inequity

In 2020, everything was racist. And in 2021, everything will be about promoting “equity,” an increasingly meaningless term that woke, white, progressive politicians use to signal their virtue. Moreover, it panders to communities of color. I find it condescending, demeaning, and sometimes a bit racist.

In announcing his “historic commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” in December (a commitment he apparently didn’t hold before the end of 2020), Inslee announced he’s backing Senate Bill 5010, merely piggybacking on the work being done by the Insurance Commissioner and Senate Democrats. The bill bans the use of credit scores and history when determining rates for auto, homeowner, renter and boat insurance.

“Credit-based insurance scores historically and disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities because of inequities embedded in our credit system,” Inslee’s staff wrote on his behalf.

To be clear, Inslee himself isn’t doing anything here. He’s simply signing onto work other people are doing, while trying to benefit from the branding associated with the social justice activism. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to call Inslee out for his lazy, phony woke-ness.

Inslee the hypocrite… and racist?

Inslee’s administration is hiring and some jobs require applicants to submit to background checks. These checks include an extensive review of the applicant’s credit history.

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is currently hiring a number of positions, for example. But if you want the job as a Financial Examiner Supervisor, you’ll have to survive a “credit record history.” It doesn’t “necessarily preclude employment but [it] will be considered in determining the applicant’s suitability and competence to perform in the position.”

Using Inslee’s twisted logic, one might conclude this means the DFI discriminates against people of color. Ironic given his budget funds “an equity office as a tool to root out racism and other forms of discrimination in state government.”

Will FDI get rid of this factor in determining an applicant’s suitability? No. They’re defending it.

Inslee’s office has no answer

Inslee’s office can’t quite square away the governor’s public comments on credit scores with his administration using credit history to judge applicants.

One spokesperson told me that, “These are a relatively small number of jobs and don’t take away from the overall goal of the proposal.”

It’s true that a small number of current job openings require applicants go through credit checks, but if credit checks are racist, isn’t one instance of racism simply one too many?

For his part, DFI Director Charles Clark notes these checks are prudent given the role of his department. In an email, he wrote in part:

Washington state has set certain statutory licensing and registration criteria on individuals who want to work in our regulated financial industries. Because these individuals handle consumers’ financial affairs and have access to critical personal and company information, including financial data, the legislature has required that those working in the industry must first demonstrate to DFI financial responsibility, character, and general fitness such as to command confidence of the community to warrant a belief that the business will be operated honestly and fairly.

Again, using Inslee’s absurd logic, one might call this … institutionalized racism.

Of course, DFI is right to offer credit checks and I’m glad they do. Why? Because they’re not racist. In a role like most under DFI, credit checks are necessary to ensure you’re hiring the right people for the job.

Credit scores (and checks) aren’t racist

Using credit scores and history to determine insurance rates is responsible. Not everyone pays their bills on time — regardless of race. Sometimes the reasons are legitimate, other times they’re not.

Critics argue it’s a racist tool because, even though credit scores are blind, it weighs acts where communities of color (particularly Black Americans) are at a disadvantage. But some of the analysis leaves much to be desired.

In the Washington Post, for example, Michelle Singletary mostly complains about how systemic racism is to blame for not paying bills on time. She complains that Black felons have to note that they committed a crime, thus have a harder time getting a job, which makes paying bills more difficult.

All of this, she argues, isn’t just racist but causes a snowball effect that hurts one’s credit score. It’s light on facts and heavy on both assumptions and blame-gaming. Of course, none of these issues impact low-income whites, Asians, Latinos, or Native Americans, I guess. Or perhaps we’re just groomed to see everything through a racial lens, rather than a usually-more-accurate socio-economic one.

The goal of an insurance company is to offer coverage to you at a rate that makes financial sense for everyone involved. Taking on too many high-risk customers ends up raising the rates for everyone (that includes people of color). Though I suppose that means it’s not disproportionate. And that’s what this is about.

But, but, but… disproportionate!

When Inslee, or any other activist, claims a disproportionate impact, all it means is a group is at a higher likelihood (sometimes small, sometimes large) of a result than another group. But it doesn’t tell you why.

It does, however, prejudge it as inherently wrong and implies some kind of -ism.

And the only time it matters to activists is when it’s a minority demographic (gender, sexual, religious, racial, etc.) that activists want to pander or cater to. Activists would celebrate credit scores if straight, white, Christian men were the ones disproportionately impacted.

And, to be clear, woke elite progressives don’t protect all minority groups. Sometimes, they don’t even acknowledge them.

As a Jew, I was once considered a minority. But the progressive movement has been overtaken by vicious anti-Semites who, to borrow a progressive phrase, “erase our identities” and portray us all as privileged white people. Sound like a bigoted stereotype? It is — unless you view the people you’re targeting as white, which gives you carte blanche to rip into them.

Asians also suffer from a lack of acceptance. When Asians do too well, they’re treated as privileged white people. Why? Because it gets in the way of the talking point that only white people can excel in this country.

Equity really means equal outcomes, which isn’t equity at all

When radicals like Inslee claim they’re promoting equity, they’re implying it’s a response to combat racism. They’ll even claim it’s leveling the playing field. But it’s not.

Inslee isn’t looking for equality, for we’ve already, by and large, achieved that. He and other activists want equal outcomes, which is inherently unequal. Everyone should pay the same for insurance, regardless of their history of paying bills on time. That raises everyone’s rates because we have to make up for the irresponsible customers, so it’s hardly equitable. It also, of course, will disincentivize people from paying on time and being all-around top-notch customers.

But it does provide a superficial bit of equity. It means little beyond a virtue signal that Inslee and others can claim progress. The superficial nature is why Inslee condemns the very tool his own administration proudly — and rightly — uses itself. He doesn’t really care about the issue. He just wants you to think he does.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Parler and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Inslee says credit scores are racist but his admin uses them to hire