Tuesday, July 26, 2011

State of the Economy: Where's the Wealth?

When commenting on the state of the economy, someone close to me had this to say: People stay poor because they don't save their money or use it wisely. And penalizing the people who are responsible for their money, making them carry the burden [for the poor] is classism, bordering on socialism.

I was stunned. It was the second time in recent weeks I became painfully aware of the importance of history. Specifically this nugget of truth: when African Americans don't know their history, they leave themselves open to repeat it. That means their foundation in the present is shaky at best.

Most European Americans know a thing or two about English history. Before the film's opening credits they probably knew the Other Boylen Girl by name or could tell you that, while Elizabeth would soon be Queen, her beloved Dudley would never be King of England. After school many Jewish American children attend cultural studies to learn about their rich history.

But outside of Black History Month, Harriett Tubman and WEB Dubois, how many African Americans know the history behind why a disproportionate percentage of people of color remain in poverty?

For me, that statement about the poor may as well have indicted my father and his legacy. It was a slap in the face to everything he worked for all his life.

My dad was one of the wisest people I know. He was a military veteran, serving in World War II and the Korean war. He worked hard and saved virtually every nickel and dime he earned. He took pride in his home he invested in it for his family. He saved all his life and when I was old enough, he walked me and my piggy bank filled with weekly allowance straight to the nearest bank to open up a savings account.

But he couldn't save his way out of poverty. And no matter how comfortable our lives were, and how middle class we strived to be, the fact is that house he worked hard to make a home is smack in the middle of what is now a crime infested ghetto. The wealth he saved for all of his life barely makes a decent down payment in today's economy.

Poverty has little to do with who saves what. It has everything to do with who is denied opportunity and who isn't.

My dad didn't deserve to be refused housing in certain neighborhoods or to have the value of his home artificially kept low. He didn't deserve to be redlined out of his wealth.

But how to you explain this to someone who hasn't lived it firsthand? I was grateful to stumble across Tuesday's segment of the Rachel Maddow show, hosted by Melisssa Harris-Perry, which outlines why the new conservative talking point, that people are poor because they are careless with their money is not only not true, but also ignores the underlying issue of racism that is at the core of economic disparity in this country.

Use the link below if the video box doesn't appear.

The Rachel Maddow Show: US wealth gap reflects racism's legacy

Dr. Thomas Shapiro, the Pokross Professor of Law and Social Policy at Brandeis University, talks with TRMS guest host Melissa Harris-Perry about a new report showing a wider than ever wealth gap between whites and people of color.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christian Science Monitor: The big lie is crumbling

Now that Rupert Murdoch's media empire is crumbling at the seams, it's a good time to dissect his propaganda machine. Fox News, specifically, is a dangerous outgrowth of rampant Republican fear mongering at the expense of people of color. While phone hacking is beyond outrageous, what's truly cause for concern are the abuses of power by New Corps, his media conglomerate, and the misinformation it thrusts onto the political debate.

President Obama was right in describing Fox as "destructive to [America's] long-term growth."

Of course spreading misleading and blatantly wrong information is nothing new. It was a pinnacle of the Hearst empire in the 50s and 60s. However, Hearst never had such global reach, nor the ability influence global markets with a bed of lies.

The Christian Science Monitor recently looked at President Obama's accomplishments contradicting some of the misinformation:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Blame Game

Today I got a robo-call from Dick Morris, the conservative pollster and hooker patron, trying to "take America back" -- I guess from President Obama -- by buying his book in order to "make America great again." Forget the fact that the majority of Americans voted for Obama and still support him. The call went on to call the President an "idealog who rammed the deficit up to 14 trillion dollars by expanding government to likes never seen in American history. Really?

Unfortunately it's all a lie. I've been a conservative for years, but if the conservative ideals are worth fighting for, why do Republicans feel the need to lie to get others to support them?

The truth is adeptly told in this Washington Post article written by Lori Montgomery, Published: April 30. She writes:

"The nation’s unnerving descent into debt began a decade ago with a choice, not a crisis.

In January 2001, with the budget balanced and clear sailing ahead, the Congressional Budget Office forecast ever-larger annual surpluses indefinitely. The outlook was so rosy, the CBO said, that Washington would have enough money by the end of the decade to pay off everything it owed."

She goes on to do the simple math that sums up our deficit woes:

"Big-ticket spending initiated by the Bush administration accounts for 12 percent of the shift. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have added $1.3 trillion in new borrowing. A new prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients contributed another $272 billion. The Troubled Assets Relief Program bank bailout, which infuriated voters and led to the defeat of several legislators in 2010, added just $16 billion — and TARP may eventually cost nothing as financial institutions repay the Treasury."

And Obama?

"Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus, a favorite target of Republicans who blame Democrats for the mounting debt, has added — 6 percent of the total shift."


You can read it for yourself here:


In the meantime, I have a great idea: Let's stop blaming President Obama for the enormous hole dug into the economy by the Bush tax cuts. In reality, if you cut billions of dollars worth of income out of the economy, you get exactly what we have today, a massive deficit.