Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Last Call For Minding The Gap

One of the biggest criticisms that people have when saying systemic racism somehow doesn't exist is that America is the land of boundless opportunity, and that higher education is key to being able to take advantage of that opportunity.  If poor black kids choose to not learn to read or write or do math correctly, then no wonder they remain in poverty.

If that's true, then what explains the massive and continual wealth gap for black and Hispanic folks who do graduate college and still make far less money?

From 1992 to 2013, the median net worth of blacks who finished college dropped nearly 56 percent (adjusted for inflation). By comparison, the median net worth of whites with college degrees rose about 86 percent over the same period, which included three recessions — including the severe downturn of 2007 through 2009, with its devastating effect on home prices in many parts of the country. Asian graduates did even better, gaining nearly 90 percent.

This statistic actually makes me physically ill.  It's gut-wrenching.

To understand just how disappointing these results are, look at the impact during this period on comparable groups without college degrees. Blacks without degrees, in large part because they had much less to lose, experienced a 3.8 percent drop in wealth. Whites who didn’t graduate from college lost nearly 11 percent. The wealth of Asian nongrads fell more than 44 percent. 
There is not a simple answer to explain why a college degree has failed to help safeguard the assets of many minority families. Persistent discrimination and the types of training and jobs minorities get have played a role. Another central factor is the heavy debt many blacks and Hispanics accumulate to achieve middle-class status. 
The collapse of the housing bubble played havoc with college-educated black and Hispanic families, who on average accumulated a huge amount of debt relative to the size of their paychecks. They borrowed a lot to buy homes, only to see them plunge in value during the mortgage crisis. While the average value of a home owned by a white college graduate declined 25 percent, homes owned by black and Hispanic grads fell by about twice that. 
This loss was made more devastating by the fact that blacks and Hispanics tended to have more of their wealth concentrated in their homes than whites and Asians, who, on average, accumulated more assets in the stock and bond markets, primarily through retirement accounts. 
The housing boom and bust particularly whipsawed college-educated Hispanics: From 2007 to 2013, their net worth fell a whopping 72 percent. 
One lesson, according to economists at the St. Louis Fed, is that borrowing too much to get a piece of the American dream often undermines any hope of sustaining it.

This is why college affordability should be of primary importance to black and Hispanic families, and why I'm very glad to see such plans come from Democratic candidates.

It also explains very much why Republicans want to slash university funding and refuse to do anything about student loan debt.  If you have to literally mortgage a home in order to afford college, in the long run you're breaking even at best.

This is why Republicans want to limit college to those who already have the wealth to be able to afford it.

The GOP War On Women Continues

Republican governors in the South aren't bothering to wait for investigations or the truth.  The doctored videos "exposing" Planned Parenthood are just a cover to defund Medicaid at the state level and take health care services away from poor women, who in these particular red states are overwhelmingly black.

Following in the footsteps of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has directed his state's Department of Human Services to terminate its Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood. The termination will be effective in 30 days
In a statement, Hutchinson said, "It is apparent that after the recent revelations on the actions of Planned Parenthood, that this organization does not represent the values of the people of our state and Arkansas is better served by terminating any and all existing contracts with them. This includes their affiliated organization, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma." 
The announcement comes in the wake of outrage over heavily-edited sting videosreleased by anti-abortion activists alleging a litany of offenses by Planned Parenthood. The Obama administration contends that cutting Planned Parenthood off from Medicaid funds breaks federal law.

Again, this is something that Republican governors have been wanting to do for a while now, but they needed a convenient excuse for cover, and boy, did they ever get one.  This isn't about preventing abortions (they're going after the major source of contraceptive care for poor women).  It's not about providing an alternative either (all of these governors are on record rejecting Medicaid funding, and want to repeal Obamacare and its funding increases for community health centers).

No, this is about punishing the people that put Obama in office, in particular women, and especially women of color.

Ay, Carly!

There's been more than a little talk about how Carly Fiorina "won" the FOX News second-stringer debate and has established herself in the Pack Of People Only Somewhat Behind Trump, based on her intelligence and business record. But as NYT Dealbook reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin reminds us, Fiorina's business record is her main reason for disqualification.

For much of this early campaign season, in the crowded field of Republican candidates, Mrs. Fiorina didn’t look as if she had much of a chance at the White House. But recently, in the afterglow of her impressive performance in the first Republican debate, Mrs. Fiorina has begun to make significant gains in the polls that have made her a more formidable candidate. She has attracted attention for her sharply articulated pro-market policies and broadsides against both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald J. Trump. 
And so it is curious to those of us who have reported on her business career that there has not been a greater focus in recent days on her “track records and accomplishments,” as she suggested she should be measured by. 
Even more striking, Mrs. Fiorina, the only former female chief executive among the candidates, continues to promote her business experience on the trail, yet she was fired by Hewlett-Packard after the company’s stock dropped by half in 2005. She has long blamed her failings at running the technology giant on the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the deepening recession in Silicon Valley after the Sept. 11 attacks. 
In an essay published late last week, Mrs. Fiorina also said she lost her job because of her maverick management style. “When you lead and when you challenge the status quo, you make enemies,” she wrote in the essay published on CNN’s website. “It’s why Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney and Mike Bloomberg have all been fired.” 
While those four business icons all received pink slips at some point in their careers (as a young man, Mr. Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper for lacking imagination), none presided over such a sharp decline in one of America’s great companies
“Experience can be a badge of honor or a badge of shame,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, who wrote a recent essay about Mrs. Fiorina’s travails. In an interview, he compared Mrs. Fiorina to the captain who caused the shipwreck of Carnival’s Costa Concordia in 2012. “He will never be trusted with a public leadership role. Captains of industry must also be accountable.” 
In September of 2001, I remember sitting in a theater in midtown Manhattan, listening raptly as Mrs. Fiorina announced Hewlett-Packard’s merger with Compaq and boasted about the combined company’s prospects. 
“Hang with us,” she said on that same day in a conference call with reporters. “It’s going to be a great party.” 
The party never happened, but the hangover was brutal. Hewlett-Packard is still recovering from the ill-conceived merger nearly 15 years later, and recently decided to split the company up. There were some 30,000 layoffs. Its stock price plunged and badly lagged its competition.

There's a reason why Fiorina got her clock cleaned by Barbara Boxer by ten points in 2010's California Senate race in a year where Republicans made record gains elsewhere.  She's a terrible candidate across the board, and I frankly have no idea why she's running,  She basically destroyed Hewlett-Packard and her record as CEO alone should have even Republicans recall the antics of the last terrible CEO in the Oval Office, one George W. Bush.

Fiorina's an also-ran and isn't going anywhere.  Besides, Republicans have a MUCH bigger problem in Donald Trump right now.  A new CNN poll this morning still shows Hillary Clinton easily beating all contenders. Oh, and the Republican candidate that she would have the largest margin of victory against?

Carly Fiorina, by ten points.  Fiorina's faring even worse in the general election than Trump is against Clinton.

But please, keep banging that drum, kids.


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