Monday, March 19, 2018

Last Call For Race To The Bottom

A groundbreaking new Harvard study of my generation (late Gen X/early millennials born from 1978-1983) finds that even when black men come from wealthy families, have similar education to white men, have similar family situations with stable two parent households, and even coming from families with similar net worth, they earn significantly less than white men.

Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children.

White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households.

Even when children grow up next to each other with parents who earn similar incomes, black boys fare worse than white boys in 99 percent of America. And the gaps only worsen in the kind of neighborhoods that promise low poverty and good schools.

According to the study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard and the Census Bureau, income inequality between blacks and whites is driven entirely by what is happening among these boys and the men they become. Black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults.

“You would have thought at some point you escape the poverty trap,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and an author of the study.

Black boys — even rich black boys — can seemingly never assume that.

The study, based on anonymous earnings and demographic data for virtually all Americans now in their late 30s, debunks a number of other widely held hypotheses about income inequality. Gaps persisted even when black and white boys grew up in families with the same income, similar family structures, similar education levels and even similar levels of accumulated wealth.

The disparities that remain also can’t be explained by differences in cognitive ability, an argument made by people who cite racial gaps in test scores that appear for both black boys and girls. If such inherent differences existed by race, “you’ve got to explain to me why these putative ability differences aren’t handicapping women,” said David Grusky, a Stanford sociologist who has reviewed the research.

A more likely possibility, the authors suggest, is that test scores don’t accurately measure the abilities of black children in the first place.

If this inequality can’t be explained by individual or household traits, much of what matters probably lies outside the home — in surrounding neighborhoods, in the economy and in a society that views black boys differently from white boys, and even from black girls.

One of the most popular liberal post-racial ideas is the idea that the fundamental problem is class and not race, and clearly this study explodes that idea,” said Ibram Kendi, a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. “But for whatever reason, we’re unwilling to stare racism in the face.”

The disparity is so bad that black boys from wealthy families end up earning about the same as white men from working-class families, if not less.  The study also finds that white boys from working-class families have a significantly better chance of being wealthy than black boys do.

The most interesting finding is that the race gap doesn't exist between black and white girls from wealthy families...but both groups earn significantly less than white men.  But here's what killed me when I read it:

The new data shows that 21 percent of black men raised at the very bottom were incarcerated, according to a snapshot of a single day during the 2010 census. Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.

 More than 20% of black boys from the poorest families in America end up in prison.

Oh, and black Americans of my age group are considerably less likely to be married.  Black kids from the top 1% of families are less likely to be married than 80% of white kids.

The system is broken and it has been for decades.  Or rather, it's working as designed to generate plenty of "product" for the prison industry.

But what this study does is put to rest the zombie lie that somehow white Americans are being discriminated against, that it's hard to be white in America, and that black Americans are somehow getting all the special treatment.  We've got an entire political party built on that lie currently, and the most racist president since the Civil War (although Woodrow Wilson remains high on that particular list) and for now it has near total control of the country.

Maybe this will start to change peoples' minds, but when has America ever paid attention to fact on race?

Meanwhile In Bevinstan...

Things aren't going very well for Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.  He figured by this point in 2018 he'd have both his pension bill that takes the retirements of thousands of Kentucky teachers taken out back and shot, and that his across-the-board state budget austerity cuts would be well in hand with the new GOP majority in Frankfort.

Then reality happened.

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover's career imploded after he resigned the speaker's post over a sexual harassment scandal, un-resigned, then resigned again after the furor got too much to handle.  Republican State Rep. Dan Johnson got caught in his own sexual assault scandal, committed suicide, and his wife ran for his seat and lost to a Democratic teacher in the special election to replace him.  Now it looks like the pension bill, Bevin's crowning achievement in the field of punishing those evil, greedy, overpaid teachers, is dead on arrival and Bevin is going to take the blame for stepping on his own crank.

Senate Bill 1 would end traditional pensions for future teachers and cut retired teachers’ cost-of-living allowances, among other cost-saving changes.

Senate leadership has said it will be difficult to pass such a bill before the legislative session ends April 13. 
“It has a very limited and difficult path forward at this point in time,” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Wednesday. 
Bevin pointed out that he has fully funded the system, which had gone years without full funding. 
But he said continuing to put more and more money in without structural change would be “like putting water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom of it. ...We have to patch the bottom of the bucket in this case before we fill it up.” 
The video statement came just days after Bevin’s comments in a radio interview drew outrage from teachers. 
On Tuesday while speaking to a Campbellsville radio station, Bevin said teachers who oppose Senate Bill 1 were “selfish” and “ignorant,” and he compared them to disloyal Americans who hoarded rationed goods during World War II
“This would be like people having mass demonstrations about, ‘No I want my butter, I want my sugar, I’m going to keep all my steel and my rubber and my copper, and to heck with the rest of you people, you better keep giving me mine,’” Bevin said. “...It’s just straight up about wanting more than your fair share.” 
Teachers responded Thursday, speaking out against the governor’s characterization at “walk-in” rallies in protest of SB 1. 
Bevin said in the video Saturday that he has “tremendous respect for those of you who are teaching.”

Too little, too late.  Bevin's trying to save his cuts, but even in Kentucky, Republicans can and will get burned as the Trump effect drowns the GOP nationwide and they know it.  Republicans in Kentucky already have horrific press here this year, and "passing a bill to wreck teachers" on top of two massive sexual misconduct scandals and Bevin being a giant asshole just might be enough to actually hand the House back to the Dems.  Maybe.  (That's a long shot.)

But that's how bad things have gotten for Kentucky Republicans this year.

Oh, and the budget is still a complete disaster.

The Senate has no plans to raise taxes on painkillers and cigarettes — a move the House approved to raise about $500 million over the next two years for education and other programs. 
The Republican-led Senate is in the process of writing its own version of the state’s two-year budget, but leaders won’t yet say what their decision to jettison the proposed tax increases means for education. 
“I don’t know about that. You’ll have to wait and see our budget,” Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told reporters Friday after voicing opposition to the tax increases. 
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said Friday the full Senate is expected to vote on its budget bill next Tuesday or Wednesday after it is approved by the Senate budget committee. 
Republican House leaders said the extra money by their proposed tax package would be used largely to reverse spending cuts to education programs proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin, also a Republican. 
The House plan includes raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes by 50 cents to $1.10 and levying a 25 cent tax on prescription opioids each time a dosage is sold by a distributor to a pharmacy, the first such tax in the country. 
With the extra revenue, the House offered more to education than Bevin proposed, including funding for transportation at K-12 schools, a state subsidy of health insurance costs for retired teachers who aren’t old enough to qualify for Medicare, the main funding formula for schools and public universities. 
Stivers said there is “a real question” about the legality of taxing opioids. He said the tax on cigarettes would not be good policy because it would be based on a shrinking source of revenue. 
Once the Senate approves its budget bill, a conference committee made up of leaders from the House and Senate, will be formed to iron out differences between the two chambers.

Half a billion dollars in new taxes on Kentucky smokers (and yeah, we have one of the highest smoking rates in the nation at 30%)  isn't going to win over a lot of friends I'm thinking, not to mention taxing prescription painkillers even being legal.  Vice taxes are regressive, period, and it's only going to hurt people in the long run.

In the short run, who knows what the Kentucky Senate will do.  Kentucky is an economic disaster right now, and the blame falls squarely on Matt Bevin's "leadership".

The Return Of The Revenge Of Shutdown Countdown

It's that time of year again as the six-week punt by Republicans in February still means that without a spending bill by the end of the week, the government shuts down again (and Mitch McConnell definitely hasn't met his promise on DACA funding.)  The catch is both sides know election season is imminent and the GOP can't have this mess around their necks, which means Democrats are holding a lot of leverage this time.

The House and Senate need to pass their massive 2018 spending bill before the government shuts down on Friday. Senior sources from both parties on Capitol Hill tell me they expect they'll get the deal done — though there's plenty of last minute haggling.

The big picture: This spending bill will cost more than $1 trillion and will further add to the deficit, which is likely to reach at least $800 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. Republican leaders and Trump will sell the spending package as a much-needed boost to military spending. House defense hawks, led by House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, campaigned aggressively for this boost. And Democrats will rightly be thrilled that they've forced Republicans to capitulate to fund so many of their domestic priorities.

But fiscal conservatives are furious. "[Leadership is] going to say we funded our defense," one conservative House member told me. "And they will ignore the fact they've bankrupted our country in the process."

"People will start to say 'Why does it matter who's in power'?" added the member, who asked for anonymity because the bill has not been published yet.

Behind-the-scenes: During a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill last week, a deeply frustrated conservative House member said he wanted to introduce a motion to rename this week's spending bill the "2018 base voter suppression bill," according to a source in the room. We expect that the ultra conservative House Freedom Caucus members will vote against the bill, and that the deal will ride through with Democratic votes. (A common view within leadership and the administration is that the Freedom Caucus was never going to vote for the bill anyway.)

Which would mean that in the end, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats beat the House GOP Freedom Caucus.


Republicans are going to have a really tough sale on a budget that starts at the point where we start at an $800 billion deficit a year and those massive, massive cuts that Paul Ryan wanted?  He'll get some, but nowhere near what he wanted.  And with the very real likelihood that Ryan will no longer be Speaker come January, he knows he has lost his last chance.

Maybe Pelosi's good at her job, guys?  Just saying.  


Related Posts with Thumbnails