Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life to the struggle for racial equality. The vast racial economic divide remains a fact of American life more than forty years after his assassination.
White 7.5%, Black 15.8%, Latino 11.0%
Ratio to White: Black 2.1 to 1, Latino 1.5 to 1
Median Family Income (2010):
White $70,000, Black $40,000, Latino $40,000
Ratio to White: Black 57¢ per dollar, Latino 57¢ per dollar
Poverty Rates (2010):
White 9.5%, Black 25.7%, Latino 25.4%
Ratio to White: Black 2.7 to 1, Latino 2.7 to1
Education - Adults with College Degrees (Bachelor’s or Higher) (2010):
White 33.2%, Black 20.0%, Latino 13.9%
Ratio to White: Black 60% as likely to have a bachelor’s degree, Latino 42% as likely to have a bachelor’s degree
Incarceration Rates (2009):
White 0.39%, Black 2.39%, Latino 0.97% of the population is in prison
Ratio to White: Black 6.1 times more likely to be in prison, Latino 1.5 times more likely to be in prison.
Average Family Net Wealth (2007) Near the Height of the Housing Bubble:
White $675,000, Black $134,000, Latino $185,000
Ratio to White: Black 20¢ per dollar, Latino 27¢ per dollar
Dr. King described the civil rights victories of the 1960s as having achieved “a degree of decency, not of equality.” Racial economic equality remains a disturbingly elusive and distant dream. In wealth and incarceration, the Black White divide has worsened in the last thirty years. The economic situation for the average Latino family has deteriorated overall relative to Whites since 1980.
Read our 2012 State of the Dream report, The Emerging Majority, for more details on how we got here and where we are headed. In the report, we look thirty years ahead to 2042 when the Census Bureau projects that people of color will become a majority of the population. We examine the trends in racial ineqaulity over the last thirty years, since the election of Ronald Reagain in 1980, and project those trends thirty years forward to 2042.
|DOWNLOAD STATE OF THE DREAM 2012|
The last 30 years of public policy have hindered progress toward Dr. King's dream of racial equality. Thirty years from now, people of color will collectively represent the majority of the U.S. population. If we continue along the same governing path, the racial economic divide will remain in 2042 and, in many regards, will be considerably worse.
The racial economic divide is a national embarrassment. Eliminating it should be a moral imperative, and as the non-White share of the population grows, it will become an increasingly urgent economic necessity.
United for a Fair Economy’s ninth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report, State of the Dream 2012: The Emerging Majority, assesses the state of the racial economic divide since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and uses the trends of the last thirty years to project thirty years forward to 2042.
We find that the past thirty years of public policy has done little to address racial economic disparities. If the current trends continue, the racial economic divide will be immense in 2042 across a wide variety of indicators. Progress toward economic parity between Black and White is slow and inconsistent and, in some cases, inequality is increasing. Latinos who account for most of the growth of the population are, in most cases, experiencing a decrease in economic well being relative to Whites.
If the current trends continue:
Income: Black and Latino median incomes will be 61 cents 45 cents, respectively, for every dollar of median White income in 2042. Blacks will have gained only 4 cents while Latinos will have lost 15 cents of median income relative to Whites from 2010 to 2042.
Poverty: In 2010, poverty rates among Blacks (25.7%) and Latinos (25.4%) were more than two and a half times the White poverty rate. By 2042, the Black and Latino poverty rates will remain 1.9 times and 2.6 times that of the White poverty rate.
Jobs: The current unemployment rates stand at 7.5 percent for Whites, 15.8 percent for Blacks and 11 percent for Latinos. In 2042, Black and Latino unemployment will be 1.8 times and 1.5 times higher than White unemployment, respectively.
Wealth: By 2042, Blacks and Latinos will both have lost ground in average wealth, holding only 19 cents and 25 cents for each dollar of White wealth. The average net worth of Black and Latino families in 2007 was 20 cents and 27 cents, respectively, for every dollar of White net worth.
Higher Education: Black adults were 60 percent as likely to have a college degree as White adults in 2010, while Latino adults were only 42 percent as likely as Whites to have a college degree. By 2042, Black will be 76 percent as likely as Whites to have earned a college degree; Latinos will have become even less likely (37 percent) than Whites to have a college degree.
Incarceration: In 2010, Blacks were a staggering 6.1 times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites. Latinos were 2.5 times more likely than Whites to be incarcerated, and this figure does not include the disproportionately Latino population being held in immigration detention centers. In 2042, Blacks will still be six times and Latinos two times as likely as Whites to be incarcerated.
It does not have to be this way. Public policy does not have to follow the course that it has been on since Reagan. The growing share of the non-White population presents an opportunity for Blacks and Latinos to build political power. In the current era of extraordinary economic inequality, the fate of the vast majority of the White population is more connected with the economic interests of Blacks and Latinos than with the ruling political elite.
Shifting from the dominant conservative public policy direction of the last thirty years that has not addressed racial equality will require a broad coalition dedicated to eliminating the racial economic divide.
We need policy solutions that will significantly reduce the racial divide. Foreclosure relief, federal aid to states and targeted job creation programs are needed to both combat the economic slump and to reduce racial economic disparities. Longer-term strategies including wealth-building programs, increasing taxes on the rich, strengthening safety net programs, ending the war on drugs, and humane immigration reform are needed in order to substantially reduce the racial inequality.
The racial economic divide is the legacy of centuries of White supremacy practiced as national policy. As a nation, we honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday, but we tolerate the perpetuation of racial inequality that he dedicated his life to fighting. If we do not change course, our economy will not be able to bear the swelling numbers of Blacks and Latinos out of work, in poverty and in prison.
Absent a powerful and sustained political movement aligned not just along the lines of race but by economic interests, Whites will still make a disproportionate share of the national income and hold an overwhelming majority of the nation’s wealth and power in 2042.
With a new year before us and new battles ahead, we at United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth are proud to announce to you our forthcoming book, The Self-Made Myth — And the Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed, available nationally on March 5th.
Through this book, co-authors Brian Miller (Executive Director, United for a Fair Economy) and Mike Lapham (Project Director, Responsible Wealth) expose the societal damage wrought by the myth of "self-made" success — one that undercuts progressive taxation and investments in the common good.
The Self-Made Myth lays the foundation for a more honest understanding of success. The book includes profiles of business leaders who recognize the public investments that have contributed to their success, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Ben Cohen (co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s), Kim Jordan (CEO of New Belgium Brewing), and many others. In acknowledging society's hand in their good fortune, these remarkable individuals make a compelling case for why they should pay higher taxes.
The Self-Made Myth is already earning the advanced accolades of several national figures, in addition to a foreword by Bill Gates, Sr. Here are a few highlights:
"It is critical to change the conversation about how wealth is created, who creates it, and the role of government, and this book does that effectively and importantly. And it couldn’t be more timely. I urge you to read this book and get engaged in the debate about progressive taxes."
— Bill Gates Sr.
"After decades of disingenuous bashing of community and our common interests, this book serves as a reality check, reminding us that no one can survive without the contributions of the rest of us."
— Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun
"Miller and Lapham debunk the self-made myth that has been bought and sold by the corporate media. I urge anyone who cares about forging a more just and fair economy to buy this book, and take its smart ideas to heart.”
— Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor & Publisher, The Nation
"This book challenges a central myth that underlies today’s anti-government rhetoric: that an individual’s success is the result of gumption and hard work alone. Miller and Lapham clearly show that personal success is closely tied to the supports society provides. Must reading for all who want to get our nation back on track."
— Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor
How we view wealth creation and individual success shapes our views on taxes, regulations, public investments in schools, research and infrastructure, CEO pay and more. Our goal with The Self-Made Myth is to change the way people view success, and in doing so, change the way they view critical public policy choices.
Brian and Mike will soon embark on a book tour, joined in select cities by individuals profiled in the book. They will discuss how others can translate the ideas in the book into political action for an economy that works for all people, not just the rich. Stay tuned for updates about events happening in your area.
You can help us now by spreading word about the book to others in your community and online networks. We're also in the middle of our year-end fundraising efforts. How strongly we finish in 2011 will help to determine how effective we can be in 2012. If you haven't already, please make a donation to support this important work.
Thanks and Happy New Year!
This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) introduced a great piece of legislation that's been months in the making—the Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act.
Back in April 2011, the CPC, with the support of UFE and other allies, fought to counter the onslaught of attacks by deficit hawks on both sides of the political aisle. The CPC's People's Budget became progressives' answer to Rep. Paul Ryan's "path to prosperity," which was actually just a path to more disparity.
While the People's Budget didn't pass, it helped to stave off Ryan's destructive plan. Members of the CPC decided to hit the road to have conversations with real people—not just the wealthy or corporations masquerading as people—in order to develop a legislative plan that would respond to their most pressing concerns.
As these progressive legislators moved from town-to-town, the Occupy Movement emerged, grew and the country erupted with social and economic justice activism. At the same time, the Rebuild the Dream project, a collaboration of over 80 organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals, created the "Contract for the American Dream," a point-by-point plan to repair the economy. UFE wrote the tax fact sheet for the Contract.
More people than ever are becoming aware of how devastatingly unequal the U.S. economy has become and are taking action to restore fairness to it. A chart demonstrating income inequality became a popular protest sign! A protest sign! (It still surprises us.) Clearly, the CPC couldn't have picked a better time to be with the people.
The result of the tour — the Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act— is the best piece of legislation we've seen in a long time.
The comprehensive bill simultaneously addresses the jobs crisis, the budget deficit, never-ending wars and wasteful military spending, all while protecting and strengthening Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, much of the plan is paid for through higher taxes on millionaires, Wall Street banks and other large, tax-dodging corporations. Every single one of us should take every opportunity to promote this bill within our communities and demand support from our elected officials.
This plan isn't just for the 99 percent; it's for all 100 percent of us, because we're all in this together. Learn more with this bill summary:
The Act for the 99% creates over 5 million jobs over the next two years and reduces the budget deficit by over $2 trillion over the next ten years while protecting the programs Americans rely on.
KEY JOBS CREATION PROVISIONS
- Emergency jobs to put America to Work: creates 2.2 million jobs through on-the-job training and direct hire programs for cops, teachers, firefighters, construction and maintenance workers for schools, parks and public land workers, work study jobs for students, health providers including nurses and assistants and a new Community Corp to take care of our neighborhoods.
- Buy America: requires materials for government contracts are manufactured in the U.S.
- Infrastructure bank: establishes an infrastructure bank that will allow private sector partnering with regions, states and localities to create infrastructure projects
- Protection of our wounded veterans – ensures that our veterans are not discriminated against in the workplace for time spent receiving treatment for injuries
- Investment in infrastructure and transportation – provides $50 billion to fix our crumbling roads, bridges, rail lines, sewer systems and to upgrade power lines and mass transit systems
REVENUE INCREASES AND SAVINGS
- Fairness in taxation – requires people who make over $1 million a year to pay their fair share, raising $800 billion
- Defense spending - A rare consensus has emerged among a wide range of policymakers that any deficit reduction plan must tackle defense spending; ending unnecessary programs saves $280 billion
- Unchecked war spending - restricting spending in Afghanistan to planning and executing a responsible troop withdrawal saves ≈ $1.2 trillion
- Oil and gas industry and polluter taxes – the oil and gas corporations are among the most profitable on Earth; ending tax giveaways and requiring polluters to clean up their mess will raise over $60 billion
- Wall Street and speculators tax - The financial sector shattered the global economy – this 0.03 percent tax disincentivizes dangerous speculation by slightly raising the cost to trade, which raises $350 billion
- Making Work Pay Tax Credit – this progressive tax refund puts money into the pockets of those who need it most to boost the economy; it would be extended for 2 years
PROTECTING MEDICARE, MEDICAID AND SOCIAL SECURITY
- Public option – allows a public option to operate with private insurance companies in the health care exchanges; saves $88 billion
- Negotiate drug prices – allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies saves $156 billion
- Enhancing Medicaid rates – the fastest way to support state governments is to restore the increased federal Medicaid matching rates
- Scrapping Social Security cap - Social Security by law cannot contribute to the deficit; however people making over $106,800 do not pay taxes on the additional income. To ensure long-term solvency, this requires anyone making over $250,000 to pay the normal social security tax on their upper income
The Super-Committee didn’t fail. The failure was the creation of the Super-Committee itself. It was created as a result of the false, politically manufactured debt ceiling crisis last August. By not reaching an agreement, the Super-Committee produced the best outcome of any of the options that were on the table in this terribly misguided process.
Despite not reaching agreement on a deal or grand bargain to reduce the deficit in the Super-Committee, $1.2 trillion will still be cut from the federal budget. Those cuts will be distributed equally between the military and federal programs other than Social Security and health benefits for the poor and elderly. Slashing government programs is exactly the wrong priority with the economy as weak as it is now. However, the Super-Committee did succeed in appropriately focusing much of the cuts on the bloated military budget, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and blocking Republican attempts to hand out even more new tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.
The automatic cuts mandated by the August debt ceiling fiasco will be devastating to non-defense discretionary programs – a category that makes up only about 15% of the budget and includes education funding, unemployment insurance, veterans benefits, and virtually all federal spending other than the military budget, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest payments. But literally every other proposal in the Super-Committee was worse.
Rather than focusing on the long-term deficit, congress should have tasked the Super-Committee with addressing the actual immediate problems raging in our economy, including disastrous unemployment and the lack of jobs, the ongoing mortgage crisis, and runaway economic inequality.
Jobs are the best way to rebuild the economy and to lower the deficit. When people get back to work, they’ll start buying goods and services and paying taxes. And with taxes on the rich at historically low levels, any good budget or deficit proposal should start with ending tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest few. Poll after poll shows that these are the priorities of a huge majority of the American public.
Instead, the Super-Committee was headed toward a very bad deal. Democrats on the Super-Committee blocked Republican members’ demands for even bigger tax cuts for the rich coupled with deep cuts to social insurance programs. If those proposals had passed, the result would have been higher unemployment, serious harm to everyday Americans -- and worsening deficits.
It isn’t a failure that the Super-Committee didn’t accept the train wreck of bad policy and misguided priorities that Republicans proposed. In today’s Tea Party fueled political environment, it’s something to be thankful for.
Read UFE and Responsible Wealth's full letter to the Super-Committee here (PDF).
While many of the movies coming out of California feature product placement and glitzy movie stars, some innovators are using the film medium to teach us the realities of our present and the possibilities of our future.
The Story of Stuff Project came out with its first video in 2007, describing the process by which the creation and disposal of “stuff” in our lives affects communities at home and abroad. (In the same year the first Transformers movie banked over $700 million in the box office.) Though founder Annie Leonard and team at Free Range Studios only expected 50,000 hits for a “20 minute cartoon about trash,” the video has now enjoyed 15 million views—extraordinary popularity for any product in the environmental awareness genre.
In the years since, while the Transformers franchise was busy grossing another eight hundred million and then billion dollars in the box office, the Story of Stuff has transformed from a popular web video to a national brand, producing a video series on how we can make things better. Their latest video, entitled The Story of Broke, reveals that the U.S. is not broke, but rather home to a broken economy. We should have plenty of money to build a better system, Leonard says—if only we would invest our resources right.
As the Super Committee prepares to release its suggestions for addressing our debt, The Story of Broke offers its own ideas. To start, Leonard wonders aloud what happens to her tax dollars.
“I send in my hard earned cash every month, and so do you! If everyone did, we’d have plenty of money. Now, what we’ve got to work with shrinks a lot thanks to corporate tax loopholes and unprecedented tax breaks for the richest among us. But even after those we’ve got over a trillion dollars. If we’re broke, what’s happening to all that money?”
A lot of us scratch our heads at this question, but Leonard helps to cast light on the answers. First, she points out the elephant in the budget—the military. At $726 billion, military spending accounted for over half of the discretionary budget in 2011. Next, she discusses the “dinosaur economy,” or the linear system of overproduction and quick disposal described in The Story of Stuff, which we prop up through “life-support” subsidies and bailouts.
These facts echo calls that anyone near financial districts in major cities has heard in the past few months. The Occupy movement popularly decries the fact that “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” Calls to cut off support to Bank of America and other monolithic corporations have been loud and clear. Hearing them, one might wonder: How did we get here? How did our budget priorities get so skewed?
“These guys know how to ask for it,” Leonard answers as buff cartoon characters punch fists menacingly into their palms. “Their lobbyists and giant campaign contributions let our government know what they want, and what they’ll do if they don’t get it.”
While the Story of Broke demonstrates that the legislative branch has acted at the behest of these corporate interests, we the power to change those fiscal choices. Using our votes and our voices as leverage, we can redirect the billions of dollars channeled into “dinosaur subsidies” toward a better future. For instance, Leonard says, of the $10 billion spent on oil and gas subsidies (even in times of record profits), half could provide solar energy to 2 million households, and the rest “could retrofit half a million homes, creating jobs and saving energy year after year.”
In the fight for economic justice, UFE ensures that corporate lobbyists aren’t the only voices in the policymaking arena. Occupiers pitching tents across the country are exercising their freedom of speech rights as well, and in this moment of economic crisis it is more important than ever to do so. At a recent UFE board meeting, we discussed the concept of “precarity,” naming situations of uncertainty, such as economic crises, as instances where corporate interests capitalize on instability to sway the government in their favor. But these precarious moments also provide opportunities for the other 99% to take back power, she said. That’s where we come in.
Between now and November 23rd, you can help to urge the Super Committee and others in congress to structure the budget around the needs of the 99%. We need a federal budget that will make a better future possible—one that becomes so vividly clear within the green lines in the Story of Broke. This is the kind of action the Story of Stuff has been calling for since…well, since Transformers first came out.
“See? We can rebuild the American dream,” Leonard says brightly in The Story of Broke. It will take a unified movement for tax fairness to fund a people’s budget and a government that is accountable to all of us, not just the rich.
“We can afford to have a healthy environment, good jobs and a top notch public education, but not if we continue subsidizing the dinosaur economy. So the next time you have an idea for a better future and someone tells you, ‘That’s nice, but we don’t have money for that,’ you tell them—‘We are not broke. There is money, it’s ours, and it’s time to invest it right.”
Today, Rep. Jim McDermott released the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2011, and United for a Fair Economy, Responsible Wealth and our allies have his back. The bill is an effort to raise taxes on the top one percent to benefit the 99 percent... literally.
The main thrust of bill H.R. 3467 is to restore pre-Bush era estate tax rates and levels, with a maximum marginal rate of 55 percent and a $1 million exemption. Of course, tax rates and exemption levels are only part of what was compromised by President Bush's hatchet job. Rep. McDermott's estate tax bill would also address various loopholes that have enabled the extremely rich to avoid taxation and amass even more wealth.
The estate tax, while not a be all, end all solution to our fiscal crisis, is of vital importance to the U.S. economy. It represents the principle of meritocracy — that hard work, not the reproductive lotto, should be the basis for upward mobility.
Our country has become one of the most economically unequal and socially unjust industrialized nations. So, the estate tax also represents a fundamental change that needs to take place—the reduced concentration of wealth, and thus, political power in the U.S.
As flawed as our political system may be — as much as I sometimes wish we could replace it all together — it's still important to elevate truly progressive policies that arise in that system. Too often, such policies don't ever see the light of day. For those of you who think our economy is in disrepair and want to support a concrete solution, this is one of 'em.
Become a pro-estate tax advocate, and speak out as constantly and publicly as you're able. Talk about it to your friends, families and colleagues. Share this link on your social networks, and write your local media. Hammer your senators and representative with a message that you want the wealthiest among us to pay more to protect the common good of our country. Tell them you support a strong estate tax.
Democrats on the Super Committee have already offered $400 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, even though Republicans still refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy. In fact, they want even more tax cuts for the wealthiest households.
A bad deal is worse than no deal at all. Your senators need to hear that you want a deal that will serve our country as a whole, not just the rich.
Please call your two Senators right now at 888-907-1485. Tell them:
- At least half of the total deficit reduction package should come from increased revenues that would improve tax fairness by increasing taxes on wealthy people and corporations.
- At least half of any spending cuts should be made by reducing unnecessary military expenditures.
- There should be no cuts that impact beneficiaries of key social programs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and other programs that help middle- and low-income families).
Any proposal that does not meet these principles should be rejected.
If you'd like to learn more before you call, register for today's update on the Super-Committee with Senator Al Franken. This 20-minute educational phone/web event begins at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon (Wednesday, November 16) and is hosted by our friends at the Coalition for Human Needs.
This call will provide you with an overview of ongoing Super Committee negotiations, which includes disastrous plans to further reduce tax rates for millionaires, while slashing Medicaid and other essential programs and raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67. None of this does has to happen. Register now to learn more.
If you can’t join the call with Sen. Franken, check out this helpful summary of the Super-Committee proposals.
Hundreds of individuals from 47 states signed our open letter to the Super-Committee. Yesterday, we issued a press release noting that over 100 high-wealth and upper-income people were among our signers. We're actively working to publicize this effort with several members and supporters of Responsible Wealth. The letter is being hand-delivered to Congress today.
The twelve members of the congressional Super-Committee charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction are nearing their November 23rd deadline. The decisions that they make will determine the direction that our country and economy take for years to come. They will be making choices about the future of vital social programs, tax policy and military spending.
There are two ways that you can get involved right now.
- Add your name to our sign-on letter to the Super-Committee (details below), and please forward the letter to anybody that you think might be interested, especially upper-income taxpayers, investors and wealthy individuals.
- Register for an important update on the Super-Committee with Senator Al Franken put on by our friends at the Coalition for Human Needs. You can join this emergency update next Wednesday, November 16 at 4:00 PM by phone or online. Register for it now. The update will cover Super-Committee negotiations that include disastrous plans to reduce tax rates for millionaires, while cutting Medicaid and other essential programs, and making people wait till they are 67 to get Medicare. This doesn't have to happen. Find out more on Wednesday in the 20 minute update.
Details about the letter:
Super-Committee members need to hear that wealthy individuals, investors, and business owners support our priorities. We are seeking signers of a letter to the Super-Committee. More than 40 upper income taxpayers have already signed our letter in the last two days. The letter says:
- At least half of the total deficit reduction package should come from increased revenues that would improve tax fairness by increasing taxes on wealthy people and corporations.
- At least half of any spending cuts should made by reducing unnecessary military expenditures.
- There should be no cuts that impact beneficiaries of key social programs (such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, education, and other programs that help middle- and low-income families).
- Any proposal that does not meet these principles should be rejected.
Click here to add your name to the letter today.
Some Democrats on the Super-Committee worry that the economy would be hurt if there is no deal. They need to understand that a bad deal is worse than no deal. Hearing from people like you will persuade them to hold firm for a deal that truly benefits our country. That’s why it’s important that you sign the letter to the Super-Committee by Sunday, November 13.
People who are not wealthy individuals, investors, and business owners can also sign the letter to show their support.
To increase our impact, we will release the letter to the media next week and put media in contact with signers who want to speak out. We’ll also send the letter to all members of Congress before they vote on any package from the Super-Committee.
Please make sure to invite people you know to join you in signing the letter. You can also print a copy of the letter and ask friends and relatives to sign it.
Today, my colleague (TFOC Coordinator, Karen Kraut) burst into UFE's communications spread with excitement beaming from her every pore:
Maz! I just opened Yahoo to check my personal email, and this was on the front page. It's a video about income inequality! This is really mainstream. Can you believe it?
UFE has been working to raise public awareness of economic inequality for 15 years, so this is certainly call for excitement. Yahoo News' video on income inequality, the first in their "Remake America" series, is accessible and deserving of the most views you can help to generate.
They includes testimonials from struggling people, many of which may sound familiar to you:
I was making a good living. That's basically disappeared.
Back in the day, you had good paying jobs. Now...it's minimum wage. Who can live off $10 an hour?
It doesn't matter how hard I work. I work hard..but I don't get anywhere.
We're still making less, but the prices of everything are skyrocketing.
How do I pay for groceries?
I tried to refinance my home, so I could keep my house, and I was told that I didn't make enough money.
They use social math to place income inequality into context—a messaging strategy that we at UFE regularly employ. The average U.S. worker's salary ($49,445) could pay for 10 months of health insurance, 5 months of college tuition, and buy 10 percent of an average home. On the other hand, the average Fortune 500 CEO's salary ($11.4 million) could pay for 300 years of health insurance, 200 years of college tuition and buy 34.5 new homes.
They connect the dots between economic inequality and the deterioration of other indicators of social wellness. (For more, read The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.)
One interviewee expressed a sentiment that most of us likely share:
I think the most unfair thing is that the people who need help the most are the ones that aren't being listened to.
Perhaps most important of all, they use this video to address just that by asking these regular folks what they think the solutions are.
Some ideas are to reform the existing system: "The rich are gonna be rich. You want to fix that? Get rid of loopholes, fix the tax code!"
Others desire more unity: "I went down to Occupy Wall Street...just to see, does our country have the guts to go through the change that is going to be required?" UFE fully supports the Occupy Movement. We encourage all people to support Occupy Wall Street and their local occupations. Here's how you can get started.
One gent noted with an air of giddiness, "This is an issue that, for the first time in the 30 years that this has been happening, could really have an effect on the election." It could. But as flawed and corrupted by corporate money as our political system is, we'll have to raise the awareness of millions more and mobilize an unprecedented vote for candidates that will challenge this devastatingly unequal status quo.
There is no single thing we can do to bring about the change we need; there are a lot of things we must do on as constant a basis as we can manage. Sharing this video is one of them.
Please help us spread the word about this new job posting!
United for a Fair Economy seeks a full-time development director to join our staff team. This position encompasses responsibilities in four areas: Development Team coordination, planning and oversight, major donor relations and grant work.
UFE is a unique organization within the non-profit, social change sector in that nearly 70% of our funding comes from individual donors as opposed to grants. As such, we need a development director with a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of fundraising.
For more details, please see the Development Director job description.
Please help us spread the word by forwarding this message widely, posting the job listing wherever you can, and suggesting any leads you may have to Ruth Orme-Johnson at email@example.com.
|Photo h/t jonesor on Flickr|
For as long as unemployment data by race have been collected (about 39 years), black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites. Today, the black unemployment rate is an alarming 16 percent. If discouraged workers are included, that number would be much higher.
The causes of disproportionate unemployment in the black community are many and varied, but economists believe that the main three are the lingering effects of discrimination, the educational attainment gap and economic segregation.
The erosion of manufacturing jobs in recent decades, coupled with the anti-government attack on public-sector jobs, have worked together to exacerbate these historical inequalities.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates that between 1979 and 2007, manufacturing jobs held by blacks fell from 23.9 percent to 9.8 percent. The auto industry, for example, has had above-average employment for blacks for a long time, but it has crumbled, meaning that the loss of jobs has been devastating for that community.
Similarly, the assault on public-sector workers — teachers, social workers, food inspectors and more — has a clear racial impact. United for a Fair Economy’s 2011 State of the Dream report notes that blacks are 30 percent more likely than the overall workforce to hold public-sector jobs, and 70 percent more likely to work for the federal government.
Unemployment levels experienced in the black community continue to concentrate high levels of poverty in already-struggling communities, which has profound social effects in perpetuating a downward spiral of crisis. Children growing up here are exposed to high rates of crime and violence, to low-quality foods, and to some of the worst-performing schools, with a lasting impact throughout their lives.
Policymakers in Washington must take bold action to break this cycle. Leaders need to target job creation and retraining strategies in communities hardest hit by the Great Recession. Targeting job creation strategies will help lift struggling black communities in ways that the “shovel-ready” focus of previous job creation efforts cannot.
That’s one reason the Congressional Black Caucus in 2009 called for more job creation funding for economically distressed communities. As unpalatable as it is to the austerity mindset in Congress, increased federal government spending is necessary to keep people working, including black Americans.
This op-ed was originally published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on October 25, 2011.