"We've done historic things for the black community; I would argue, more than any other governor," said Governor Bruce Rauner on June 19, Juneteenth.
Governor Rauner recently professed appreciation for African-American entrepreneurs, which gives us a chance to answer this all-important mathematical question:
If money can be measured in love—and how else would a private equity buccaneer like Rauner measure it?—then who does Rauner love more, black people or Jeff Bezos? That's Bezos as in the world's richest man, the head of Amazon, one of the world's richest companies, which Rauner and Mayor Rahm are trying to lure to Chicago with an handout of at least $2.25 billion.
Uh-oh, I'm breaking into a sweat because this will require a mathematical calculation of the kind I haven't attempted since freshman year at Evanston high school, when I was a young, struggling scholar in Sam Sibley's algebra class.
Rauner's comments came during an appearance on WVON's Mornings With Maze Jackson and Charles Thomas
. Rauner told the radio show hosts, "We've done historic things for the black community. I would argue more than any other governor."
That led to headlines like this one in the Sun-Times
: "Rauner: I've done more for African-Americans than 'any other governor.'"
I'm going to refrain from going on about how Rauner almost put dozens of black-owned day care centers out of business by unilaterally cutting the state's child-care assistance program.
In an appearance at a church in East Garfield Park on Tuesday, Rauner got a little more specific, boasting about "the $15 million in grant money in the new state budget to be made available to minority businesses in Illinois," according to the Sun-Times
That would be the state budget passed thanks to Democrats, who overcame Rauner's veto last year and hiked state taxes. Rauner's still pounding Democrats for that even as he brags about using some of that tax revenue to distribute $15 million to black businesses.
That's like Donald Trump praising himself for stopping the separation of children from parents at immigration detention centers even though he was the president who started separating children from their parents in the first place.
Anyway, at the church, Rauner went on to say that "black entrepreneurs take the risk, but they've got extra burdens, more barriers, more discrimination, more lack of access. And we've got take that down, eliminate those barriers and get equal access."
I agree, though I'm not sure what risks, burdens, and discrimination Bezos overcame to justify a $2.25 billion handout. And that $2.25 billion is only an opening-round offer from Rahm and Rauner. They will undoubtedly have to jack it up to lure Bezos and his second Amazon headquarters in Chicago.
Back to our math problem. Rauner's offering $2.25 billion to Bezos and $15 million for all the black entrepreneurs in the whole state of Illinois. Not sure exactly how many black entrepreneurs there are in Illinois. But according to the U.S. Census, there were around 312,ooo minority-owned businesses in the state back in 2012. So let's just use that as a ballpark figure. If you divide Rauner's $15 million by 312,000 that's—ugh, hold on, let me carry the one and subtract the two and . . .
About $48 per business! Party time, baby!
OK, look, I may have struggled in freshman-year algebra class. But even I know that $48 is a whole lot less than $2.25 billion.
Rauner may not have done much for African-Americans. But Christmas comes early and often for white billionaires.