Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Last Call For The Obamaconomy

After years of income gains going only to the wealthiest Americans, 2015 finally saw the rest of the economy turn the corner as the country recorded its first middle class gains since 2007 and a sharp drop in the nation's poverty rate.

The Census Bureau released new numbers on Tuesday showing that, after a brutal economic recession and years of stagnation, real median household incomes rose from $53,718 in 2014 to $56,516 last year. That's a 5.2 percent rise — the first statistically significant increase since 2007. 
But, as NPR's Pam Fessler notes, "the median household income was still lower than it was in 2007." 
The official poverty rate decreased to 13.5 percent for last year, a drop of 1.2 percentage points. That represents 3.5 million people who are no longer in poverty and is the largest annual percentage point drop since 1999, the Census Bureau says
The supplemental poverty measure — an alternate way of gauging poverty, which takes more factors into account — also dropped significantly, falling by 1 percentage point to 14.3 percent. 
"Poverty dropped for whites, blacks and Hispanics, as well as for children and seniors," Pam reports. 
The number of people with health insurance also rose. More than 90 percent of Americans are covered by health insurance — an increase of 1.3 percentage points since 2014, and growth of 4.3 percentage points since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Bureau says. 
Last year, 29 million people did not have health insurance, representing 9.1 percent of the population. 
Across the board, the Census Bureau's 2015 numbers show significant signs of progress and reflect a recovering economy. 
The 5.2 percent increase in median household income, in particular, was impressive — "one of the largest year-to-year increases that we've ever had," Trudi Renwick of the Census Bureau said. 
Income rose in every region of the country, for every age group of household head, with statistically significant increases for almost every racial group.

But there was one group that didn't share in the country's growth:

But as The New York Times' Nate Cohn points out, rural America didn't experience the same growth as the rest of the country. The median income for people living outside of metropolitan areas dropped 2 percent, to $44,657.

Economic anxiety in the heartland!

Seriously, America's cities are booming.  Red state farm country, not so much.  But hey, guess what? They get to vote too, and they've put their money on Trump.  The ultimate NYC city slicker.

That makes sense, right?

North Carolina Goes Into The Crapper, Con't

Apparently since losing the NBA All-Star Game wasn't enough to make NC Gov. Pat McCrory and the rest of the NC GOP in the legislature to drop the state's ridiculous and discriminatory HB2 law, it's time to hit the Tarheel State where it hurts: March Madness.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association said on Monday that it would relocate all seven previously awarded championship events from North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year because of concerns over laws passed by the state that it said violated the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The N.C.A.A. said the decision by its board of governors was based on “the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections” that conflicted with the organization’s commitment to “fairness and inclusion.”

Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, said in a statement. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”

The move by the N.C.A.A. comes less than two months after the National Basketball Association said it would move next February’s All-Star Game from Charlotte as a protest against a North Carolina law that canceled anti-discrimination protections for L.G.B.T. people. Earlier, a number of performers canceled concerts in the state, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Itzhak Perlman.

The N.C.A.A. said on Monday that the legal situation facing L.G.B.T. people in North Carolina was unique because of what it called “four specific factors.”

Among them were laws that barred transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity and laws that allow government officials to refuse to provide services to L.G.B.T. people.

The N.C.A.A. also criticized a North Carolina law that forbids local municipalities from passing their own anti-discrimination laws that included sexual orientation or gender identity. Five states and a number of cities have also passed laws that bar public employees and representatives of public institutions from traveling to North Carolina, which the organization said could be interpreted to include student athletes and university athletics staff members.

In addition to losing the first and second round NCAA men's basketball regionals in Greensboro, the state is also losing soccer, lacrosse, tennis and baseball regional and championship events.  Losing the women's College Cup soccer championship is a blow, but being the Governor that lost March Madness in North Carolina is something that really will get Pat McCrory ejected from office faster than you can say "Demon Deacons".

The Southeast regionals get held in Greensboro pretty much every year, as we take our college basketball pretty damn seriously back home in ACC country, and believe me when I say this is damn well going to get the attention of voters in NC. McCrory is in real trouble because of this.

And I can't wait for him to get the hook.

A Streetcar Named Connector

Cincinnati's streetcar is now in full swing this week, branded the Cincinnati Bell Connector (because everything has naming rights in 2016) and passengers are, for now, lining up to get around downtown.

Lunch in Over-the-Rhine or at The Banks Monday?

Definitely, said streetcar riders. On its first full day of paid rides, lunchtime meant stuffed streetcars.

The Enquirer rode the Cincinnati Bell Connector for several loops during the morning commute and lunchtime to see how popular it was on its first day of paid operation. Crowds had jammed the new streetcar over the weekend - when it was free to ride.

Ty Harris, 30, of Over-the-Rhine hopped on the streetcar at Findlay Market at 7:30 a.m. to get to his job at General Electric at The Banks.

Harris thinks he'll be a heavy user of the streetcar, using it to get to work and lunch in Over-the-Rhine, previously too far from GE's temporary home on Fourth Street.

"This will be incredibly convenient," Harris said.

There was light ridership from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Roughly a dozen people rode at any given time in one streetcar, using it to get to work.

Lunch was an entirely different story. There were lines for the pay machines and, at times, nowhere to sit.

Mary Cassidy-Anger, a Cincinnati native in town on business from Washington D.C., was at The Banks when she decided to ride up to Over-the-Rhine for lunch and to see how much the neighborhood flourished since she left.

"This is a much better way to get around than driving," she said. "I don't have to worry about parking,"

Tammy Monjaras lives in Landen and works at Franciscan Media in Over-the-Rhine, an hour-long commute. She rode the streetcar at lunchtime Monday to help her gauge a new commute. She'll ride the bus and use the streetcar to get to work. on Liberty Street.

The streetcar opened Friday at noon, a project eight years in the making. The $148 million streetcar runs on a 3.6-mile loop, from The Banks to Over-the-Rhine, making 18 stops.

It costs $1 to ride for two hours, or $2 for a day pass. Ridership is projected at 3,000 people a day.

Two bucks for a day pass definitely beats paying several times that for parking, especially if you can take a TANK or Metro bus into downtown to beat parking completely.  Next time I hit downtown, I definitely want to try this out.  Well, that is if the bomb threats don't keep shutting the service down but of course you have to expect problem during the first week.

Still, the real question is if streetcars will still be full in January, or next spring, or five years from now.  So far at least the streetcar seems to be pretty popular, especially in hipster OTR. 

Now, getting this to the rest of Cincy?  That's the real challenge. And there's always Mayor Cranley, who was elected to scrap the streetcar completely, and will face voters in 2017 after throwing up his hands and saying "Meh, it's probably not so bad."

But for now, the streetcar is on the go.


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