Sunday, November 29, 2015

Last Call For Hillary On Race

Michael Eric Dyson puts up a big piece in TNR on how awful Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were on race, but thinks Hillary has learned from those mistakes, proving that Michael Eric Dyson may actually be even more clueless than Cornel West on the Blackademic front.

I was once a vocal surrogate for Obama. But I grew disillusioned with his timid responses to racial crisis, with how willing he was to disclaim his racial affiliation, and more grievously, his shirking of his political duty—“I’m not the president of black America,” he has said. Obama will undoubtedly go down as one of the most important presidents in our nation’s history. But his accomplishments on race will not be what gain him that distinction.

All of which leaves us with an important question: What can Hillary Clinton do for black people as president? She possesses neither her husband’s performative charisma with black folk, nor Obama’s undeniable blackness. She must instead wield the sort of power that politicians would, in a better world, solely rely on: public policy. If we were betrayed by Bill Clinton, and suffered dashed hopes under Obama, maybe, just maybe, we will get from Hillary Clinton what we most need and truly deserve: a set of political practices and policies that reinforce the truth that black lives must, and do, finally matter.

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has exhibited a greater sophistication about race, increased sensitivity about how blackness is lived in our country, and a deeper awareness of how the small brutalities of racism rend the fabric of the social compact after first spoiling the flesh of those at the bottom of society. If there were disturbing racial echoes in Hillary’s first attempt to gain the White House, what’s to guarantee we won’t get blinkered in a fog of racial sensitivity now? Has Hillary Clinton changed? Have we?

And Dyson goes on to answer his question with "Well, I spent time with Hillary and she seemed to listen to me (unlike her husband and Obama) which is good because I have all the answers."

No really, that's the other 85% of the article.

Also please buy his book on Where Obama Went Wrong, coming soon.

Depressing, huh.

The Debt Millenium

Wealth inequality is only getting worse among young people of color, because their families can't help them out.  Even worse, for a lot of black and Hispanic families, younger people are expected to help their parents instead of the other way around.  Generations of wealth inequality have left people of color out in the cold for decades now, but it's never been as bad as it is now, as Mel Jones at The Atlantic details.

Wealth inequality can’t be discussed without talking about race; within the American context, they are inseparable. So the fact that Millennials of color feel the impact of a precarious financial foundation more acutely is not a surprise. For black Millennials in particular, studies point to a legacy of discrimination over several centuries that contributed to less inherited wealth passed down from previous generations. This financial disparity stems from continuous shortfalls in their parents’ net worth and low homeownership rates among blacks, which works to create an unlevel playing field.

As a result, the median wealth of white households is 13 times the median wealth of black households. In addition, the most recent housing bust is estimated to have wiped out half of the collective wealth of black families— a setback of two generations.

“It was just incredible,” Shapiro said. “It hit hardest those groups latest to becoming home buyers.” Homeownership makes up a large amount of black families’ wealth composition, accounting for over 50 percent of wealth for blacks, compared with just 39 percent for whites. Shapiro also pointed out that the people impacted by the housing crisis were likely to be the parents of Millennials.

Even with equal advances in income, education, and other factors, wealth grows at far lower rates for black households because they usually need to use financial gains for everyday needs rather than long-term savings and asset building. Each dollar in income increase yields $5.19 in wealth for white American households, but only 69 cents for black American households. In addition, while many Americans don’t have adequate savings, the rate is far higher for families of color: 95 percent of African American and 87 percent of Latino middle-class families do not have enough net assets to meet most of their essential living expenses for even three months if their source of income were to disappear. If Millennials of color aren’t getting as much financial help, it’s because there’s just not as much help for their families to give.

It’s more than just lack of “pocket money” from parents that impacts Millennials of color. The last significant stop on life’s journey is often an economically definitive one too, when parents and grandparents pass away and leave an inheritance.

According to the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, white Americans are five times more likely to inherit than black Americans (36 percent to 7 percent, respectively). And even when both groups received an inheritance, white Americans received about 10 times more. “It’s really a double whammy,” Shapiro said. On the flip side, black Millennials and other low-asset groups are much more likely to go into debt when a family member passes away. It’s not uncommon for some families to throw bake sales and engage in other fund-raising activities to bury their relatives.

A 2013 Washington Post article also noted that “black families rarely benefited from inheritances and gifts to help them make down payments on homes. The result was that black families typically bought homes eight years later than whites, giving them less time to build equity.”

“That’s an eight-year window of not paying rent and building equity,” Shapiro said.

And the life cycle of homeownership-related matters is an onerous one for black Americans to begin with. The researchers Kerwin Charles and Erik Hurst found that black mortgage applicants were almost twice as likely to be rejected for a loan in the first place, even when credit profile and household wealth were controlled for.

All that adds up to a nightmare, especially for black Millennials.  White families can pass on inheritances, gifts, and financial help to get started when times are tough.  Black and Hispanic families cannot.

The playing field has never been level in America, and it never will be in your lifetime. And now we have a generation of white politicians in the GOP making sure it never, ever happens, period.

The stage for this was set hundreds of years ago.  Every time black wealth was created, it was destroyed and moved up the ladder to whites.  America has been doing that for its entire existence.

Why would 2015 be any different?

Sunday Long Read: By The Rich, For The Rich

Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner is showing the way how to turn a blue state into a red one, and he's got enough money at his back in a post-Citizens United America now to pull it off...because the real people running Illinois are only concerned with one color:


The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.

They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians taxed too much, spent too much and drove businesses and jobs from the state. They had refused to help those who would take on the reigning powers in the Illinois Capitol. “It is time for us to do something,” he implored.

Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

“It was clear that they wanted to change the power structure, change the way business was conducted and change the status quo,” said Andy Shaw, an acquaintance of Mr. Rauner’s and the president of the Better Government Association, a nonpartisan state watchdog group.

The families remaking Illinois are among a small group around the country who have channeled their extraordinary wealth into political power, taking advantage of regulatory, legal and cultural shifts that have carved new paths for infusing money into campaigns. Economic winners in an age of rising inequality, operating largely out of public view, they are reshaping government with fortunes so large as to defy the ordinary financial scale of politics. In the 2016 presidential race, a New York Times analysis found last month, just 158 families had provided nearly half of the early campaign money.

Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.

Most of them lean Republican; some are Democrats. But to a remarkable degree, their philosophies are becoming part of a widely adopted blueprint for public officials around the country: Critical of the power of unions, many are also determined to reduce spending and taxation, and are skeptical of government-led efforts to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else.

The robber barons are splitting up the country among themselves with their billion dollar fortunes and have been so successful that there are only a handful of blue states left to break.  Illinois is in the ringer now.  Massachusetts, Maine, and the rest of New England are next, Minnesota, New York, and the West Coast are holding out.

But what does that matter when the vast majority of the country is controlled by the ultra-elite anyway, and all of them are dedicated to making themselves richer?

Especially since there is nothing we can do to stop them?

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