Sunday, July 10, 2011




Blacks' economic gains wiped out in downturn
A generation that played by the rules and saw progress falls out of the middle class

7/10/2011 12:13:44 PM ET
BALTIMORE — Growing up black in the segregated 1960s, Deborah Goldring slept two to a bed, got evicted from apartment after apartment, and watched her stepfather climb utility poles to turn their disconnected lights back on. Yet Goldring pulled herself out of poverty and earned a middle-class life — until the Great Recession.
First, Goldring's husband fell ill, and they drained savings to pay for nursing homes before he died. Then Goldring lost her executive assistant job in the Baltimore hospital where she had worked for 17 years. The cruelest blow was a letter from the bank, intending to foreclose on her home of almost three decades.
Millions of Americans endured similar financial calamities in the recession. But for Goldring and many others in the black community, where unemployment is still rising, job loss has knocked them out of the middle class and back into poverty. Some even see a historic reversal of hard-won economic gains that took black people decades to achieve.
Goldring remembers her mother taping the blinds to the wall so no one could see them stealing electricity. She remembers each time she sat on the curb with her three brothers, surrounded by her family's belongings, waiting for a new place to live. Sitting on those curbs, she promised to always pay her bills on time.
Now, after finding herself poor again, "the only word I can say is devastated," says Goldring, 58.
"For me to live that life we were so comfortable in, we never had to worry about finances, we always had money where I can help my kids and my grandchildren — to go to calling my daughter to borrow $100 because I can't pay a bill ..." Goldring's voice trails off as she struggles to hold back tears.
Economists say the Great Recession lasted from 2007 to 2009. In 2004, the median net worth of white households was $134,280, compared with $13,450 for black households, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute. By 2009, the median net worth for white households had fallen 24 percent to $97,860; the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170, according to the EPI.
Algernon Austin, director of the EPI's Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, described the current wealth gap this way: "In 2009, for every dollar of wealth the average white household had, black households only had two cents."
Since the end of the recession, the overall unemployment rate has fallen from 9.4 to 9.1 percent, while the black unemployment rate has risen from 14.7 to 16.2 percent, according to the Department of Labor.
"I would say the recession is not over for black folks," Austin says. He believes more black people than ever before could fall out of the middle class, because the unemployment rate for college-educated blacks recently peaked and blacks are overrepresented in state and local government jobs that are being eliminated due to massive budget shortfalls.
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Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion, says the anti-discrimination laws passed in the 1960s took decades to translate into an increase in black economic security — and that was before the recession.
"History is going to say that the black middle class was decimated" over the past few years, Wiley says. "But we're not done writing history."
Cleaning hotel rooms
Goldring was born and raised in Baltimore, and her mother was single for much of Goldring's childhood. At 16, she dropped out of school and went to work cleaning hotel rooms.
"That's when I first met white people. Some of them would stay a month at the hotel. They would have all their children with them," she remembers. "I thought, one day I'd like to hang out at a hotel."
She didn't know any middle-class people in her all-black neighborhood. "Where we lived, everyone struggled. We just struggled a little harder," she says. "If the lights stayed on for a whole year, if we didn't get put out, I thought we were doing really, really well."
At 21, pregnant with her second child, Goldring decided to get her GED. Then she went to community college, got a degree in secretarial work, and began a career.
She met her husband in 1983. He had a steady job as a heating and air-conditioning installer, and owned a brick two-bedroom home in Morgan Park, a leafy, integrated neighborhood.
With two incomes, money was not a problem. He liked to travel. She had never been out of Maryland.
"I thought, 'Is this how rich people live?'" Goldring remembers. "From where I was to where I ended up, it was way different."
Her husband had been married before. As a condition of the divorce, his daughter's name was added to the deed of the house. After Goldring's husband died in 2007, Goldring took out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with a 6.5 percent interest rate, to purchase the house outright.
Everything was fine until her hospital "restructured" in 2009. Her boss, a senior vice president, was transferred to the corporate office. Executives were now sharing secretaries. A few months later, they let Goldring go.
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No more family vacations. No more trips to the mall. No more filling the grocery cart.
But what Goldring misses the most is her checkbook. Her unemployment payments arrive on a debit card.
"Just being able to pull out my checkbook and pay a bill, even though there might not be much left in there," she says. "I really miss that checkbook with my name on it."
Spike in unemployment
Last April, black male unemployment hit the highest rate since the government began keeping track in 1972. Only 56.9 percent of black men over age 20 were working, compared with 68.1 percent of white men.
Chris Wilder, a Philadelphia journalist, lost his job in 2008 as the media industry suffered huge losses. Unemployment benefits amounted to about one-third of his salary. Ever since they ran out, his income has been near zero, other than sporadic freelance work.
If not for a policy in his apartment co-op to assist people who lose their jobs, "I might be living with my mother," he says.
He has felt depression and anxiety. He's gone from a six-figure salary to having to check his balance before using his bank card. "I miss being able to go into a store and go off budget," he says. "Now, when I go to shop for something, I have to stick to exactly what I came to get. I never have money to buy anything else."
Wilder, 43, grew up solidly middle class, the son of a newspaper editor and a college administrator. Now the single parent of a 15-year-old, he has managed to keep his son in cleats and baseball camps, but thoughts of dying poor have crept into his mind. All of his savings are gone.
"It's definitely harder for black people to get jobs," Wilder says. "With the economy as bad as it is, people are hiring nephews and family friends and friends of friends. It's hard for black people to break that cycle. We don't own or even run the big companies."
"It's hard to keep jobs as well, because they're gonna 'last hired/first fired' you," he adds.
Wilder isn't giving up on finding a job in his field, "but I should."
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"I call everyone. I send resumes. It is extremely rare that I get a call back," he says. "When I was growing up, I never imagined there would be a time when I was out of work for three years."
College-educated blacks fared worse than their white counterparts in the recession. In 2007, unemployment for college-educated whites was 1.8 percent; for college-educated blacks it was 2.7 percent. Now, the college-educated unemployment rate is 3.9 percent for whites and 7 percent for blacks.
"I've definitely played by the rules," Wilder says.
He's not desperate enough to break the law, but "I see why people become drug dealers."
Becoming a drug dealer
Horace Davis did become a drug dealer. He illustrates another dimension of the recession's impact on blacks: While law-abiding folks are falling out of the middle class, those who got in trouble with the law are further than ever from a second chance.
After serving four years for drug trafficking, Davis walked out of prison into the middle of the recession in 2008. "I thought to myself, I'm older, I need to get a job, move on. The dope game was dead to me," Davis says, sitting on a concrete porch in an Asheville, N.C., housing project.
In the past few decades of the "War on Drugs," harsh drug sentencing laws have sent a disproportionate number of black people to prison, even though blacks are not more likely than whites to sell or use drugs, according to a 2008 report by the Sentencing Project. Today, about 280,000 African-Americans exit prison each year. They are often the last of the last to be hired.
After Davis got out, he spent months applying for dozens of jobs mopping floors or flipping burgers. He carried a letter from the state offering a $2,500 tax credit for hiring ex-offenders. He got one call back, from a chicken restaurant. "We'll be in touch," Davis remembers them saying. They weren't.
"Nobody wants black felons in their businesses," says Davis, 26.
A 2003 University of Chicago study by Devah Pager sent young white and black "testers" to apply for real low-wage jobs. Some of the testers were randomly assigned felony convictions. The study found that whites with felonies were slightly more likely to get callbacks than black applicants without criminal records.
"The penalty of a criminal record is more disabling for black job seekers than whites," Pager and other researchers wrote in a follow-up study in 2009.
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Davis says he learned skills in prison: "How to cook, clean, horticulture, janitorial. I can do it. I've been trained. Tile, carpentry, mortar, edging and trimming, all that. I can operate a backhoe, a roller. Any opportunity to do something that would show my talents, I'd do it. It would be my ticket out the streets.
"I just need someone to give me that chance. A nice construction job, anything. I would hold onto that until I die."
Some economists say the real black unemployment rate is as high as 25 or 30 percent, because government figures don't count "discouraged" workers who have stopped looking for jobs and dropped out of the labor force.
Davis now falls into that category — partly due to societal forces and partly, he knows, because of his own bad decisions.
Recently, police said they caught Davis with a half-ounce of marijuana. His trial date is approaching. As a habitual felon, he could get a 10-year sentence.
Bitter irony
Some see a bitter irony in soaring black unemployment and the decline of the black middle class on the watch of the first black president.
"I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone," Princeton professor Cornel West told recently.
He said Obama had sold out the poor and become "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats ... I don't think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama."
Yet many jobless blacks do not blame their plight on the president.
"I have no problem with Obama when I look at what the alternatives are," Wilder says.
Goldring doesn't think Obama is doing a bad job either. "The unemployment situation is not the best, but I don't think it has a lot to do with him," she says. "Fixing this economy, it's going to take time.
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Wiley, the Center for Social Inclusion director, says Obama should be applauded for several initiatives that have helped the black middle class, such as programs to modify certain mortgages and forestall foreclosure due to job loss.
She would have liked Obama to aggressively counter the suggestion that first black president would be showing favoritism if he specifically helped black people.
"It's the right thing to do for the nation," she says. "Black people are a huge segment of the population, they're especially hard-hit, and the country cannot recover if the black community — as well as the white community and others — does not recover."
Homeownership hits record
Black homeownership hit an all-time high in 2004, with 50 percent of African-Americans owning their homes, according to census data.
Today, the black homeownership rate is 45 percent, compared with 74 percent for whites. Nearly 8 percent of African-Americans who bought homes from 2005-2008 have lost them to foreclosure, compared with 4.5 percent of whites, according to an estimate by the Center for Responsible Lending.
Goldring remembers that when she got a foreclosure notice from the bank, "I bawled."
Her son, Chris Fredericks, says she was "vulnerable, more than I have ever seen her, but she still kept moving."
He was incredulous that his mother was in such a position. "At any point, you can slip back. It's just the way the economy is going," he says. "Once you get into a spiral, there's no telling how far down you could go."
One day, at a counseling session on how to prevent foreclosure, Goldring learned about a new Maryland program that offered help to people who were behind on their mortgages due to layoffs or medical bills.
She thought it was too good to be true. It wasn't.
The Emergency Mortgage Assistance program, financed by federal money, offered a zero-interest loan of up to $50,000. The money would pay off up to a year of back mortgage payments, plus up to two years of regular payments. All Goldring had to do was pay 31 percent of her current gross income, or the full mortgage payment if she got a new job close to her original salary.
Story: Black workers' crisis may linger after upturn
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And so on a sweltering June day, Goldring stood before a podium in her freshly mulched back yard, flanked by a congressman, the mayor, the lieutenant governor, and other officials. The sound of chirping birds filled the air. Cameras rolled as the dignitaries told Goldring's story, using her as an example to spread word of the Emergency Mortgage Program to other struggling homeowners.
"I want to thank you for your courage," said the lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown.
"I know you did everything right," Brown said. "You worked hard, you saved diligently, but challenges never overtaking our will sometimes overtake our wallets."
Goldring stood in front of the microphone and exhaled.
"After this," she said, "the only good thing would be to be employed, once again."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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“What's needed to discourage illegal immigration into the United States has been known for years: Enforce existing law.” ….. CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR



Lie #1: Legals that think our nation’s laws and sovereignty should be obeyed are racist. There’s nothing more racist than a Mexican! When poor from Central America cross the border into Mexico they are apprehended and put in prison. When an employer in Mexico hires an illegal, he is fined and jailed.

Lie #2: Illegal aliens take jobs Americans won't do.
Truth: Americans are willing to do most jobs at a fair wage, but they won't do those jobs at "slave wages" or minimum wage. Thus, American workers are constantly replaced by illegal aliens willing to work for half or a third of what American workers once received. These jobs that once afforded a middle class life style now only offer illegal alien workers poverty level wages, resulting in the shrinkage of the "American Middle Class" and the enormous growth of an ever increasing "underclass" dependent on government entitlements.


Lie #3: Illegal aliens contribute more to the economy and tax base than they take.
Truth: A large portion of illegal aliens work for cash "under the table" paying no taxes. The great majority of illegals make $6 $8 per hour, ($12,480 $16,640 per year). At such income levels, not only is there no tax due, but they also qualify for the "earned income tax credit". In California, public education alone costs over $7,500 per pupil. Multiply that times 2 4 children, add the costs of free school breakfast and lunch, free medical care, food stamps, housing subsidies, and other entitlement "give aways". Harvard Professor George Borjas estimates illegal immigration costs the U.S. 70 billion dollars per year and Californians $1,300 per household annually in additional taxes. The Center for Immigration Studies estimate that the average Mexican illegal alien will use $55,200 more in public services during his lifetime than he pays in taxes.

Lie #4: Without illegal alien farm labor, a head of lettuce would cost $3.00.
Truth: It already costs $3.00. You just make a $1.00 down payment at the grocery store. The government finances the other two dollars until tax time, when the additional $2.00 balance is extracted from your wallet in the form of higher taxes. The Agriculture industry gets cheap labor and higher profits, while shifting all the social costs of illegal immigrant labor to the American tax payer.

Lie #5: Most illegal aliens come here only to seek work and are law abiding "citizens".

Truth: In Los Angeles, as of January, 2004, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens. A confidential California Department of Justice study reported in 1995 that 60 percent of the 20,000 strong 18th Street Gang in southern California is illegal; police officers say the proportion is actually much greater. The bloody gang collaborates with the Mexican Mafia, the dominant force in California prisons, on complex drug distribution schemes, extortion, and drive by assassinations, and commits an assault or robbery every day in L.A. County. The gang has grown dramatically over the last two decades by recruiting recently arrived youngsters, most of them illegal, from Central America and Mexico.

“The principal beneficiaries of our current immigration policy are affluent Americans who hire immigrants at substandard wages for low-end work. Harvard economist George Borjas estimates that American workers lose $190 billion annually in depressed wages caused by the constant flooding of the labor market at the low-wage end.” Christian Science Monitor
Tomgram: Andy Kroll, The 60-Year Unemployment Scandal
By Andy Kroll
Posted on July 5, 2011, Printed on July 5, 2011
Americans care about them more than any other issue, so every poll tells us. The presidential candidates are already crafting their stump speeches and talking points around them. President Obama has seen the writing on the wall and regularly tailors his message to emphasize how many of them he has created. I'm talking, of course, about jobs.
These days, politicians are falling all over themselves to explain why they're the right candidates for the job of creating more jobs. Here was the president at an LED lighting manufacturing plant in North Carolina recently: "Today the single most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work. I will not be satisfied 'till everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers some security." And here was GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, at the official unveiling of his presidential campaign at a farm in New Hampshire: "From my first day in office, my number-one job will be to see that America once again is number one in job creation."
Such comments offer a preview of what, given dismally high unemployment figures, will surely be a job-centric 2012 presidential campaign. And TomDispatch can offer its own jobs guarantee for the coming campaign season: for all the verbiage about jobs that will be coming your way, there’s one part of the American jobs crisis deserving screaming headlines that the politicians won’t be talking about. And yet it’s a scandal that goes back decades, as TomDispatch associate editor Andy Kroll points out. It should be the shame of the nation. Instead it’s the jobs crisis we know nothing about. Tom
What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Jobs
How Racism, Global Economics, and the New Jim Crow Fuel Black America's Crippling Jobs Crisis
By Andy Kroll
Like the country it governs, Washington is a city of extremes. In a car, you can zip in bare moments from northwest District of Columbia, its streets lined with million-dollar homes and palatial embassies, its inhabitants sporting one of the nation's lowest jobless rates, to Anacostia, a mostly forgotten neighborhood in southeastern D.C. with one of the highest unemployment rates anywhere in America. Or, if you happen to be jobless, upset about it, and living in that neighborhood, on a crisp morning in March you could have joined an angry band of protesters marching on the nearby 11th Street Bridge.
They weren't looking for trouble. They were looking for work.
Those protesters, most of them black, chanted and hoisted signs that read "D.C. JOBS FOR D.C. RESIDENTS" and "JOBS OR ELSE." The target of their outrage: contractors hired to replace the very bridge under their feet, a $300 million project that will be one of the largest in District history. The problem: few D.C. citizens, which means few African Americans, had so far been hired. "It's deplorable," insisted civil rights attorney Donald Temple, "that... you can find men from West Virginia to work in D.C. You can find men from Maryland to work in D.C. And you can find men from Virginia to work in D.C. But you can't find men and women in D.C. to work in D.C."
The 11th Street Bridge arches over the slow-flowing Anacostia River, connecting the poverty-stricken, largely black Anacostia neighborhood with the rest of the District. By foot the distance is small; in opportunity and wealth, it couldn’t be larger. At one end of the bridge the economy is booming even amid a halting recovery and jobs crisis. At the other end, hard times, always present, are worse than ever.
Live in Washington long enough and you'll hear someone mention "east of the river." That's D.C.'s version of "the other side of the tracks," the place friends warn against visiting late at night or on your own. It's home to District Wards 7 and 8, neighborhoods with a long, rich history. Once known as Uniontown, Anacostia was one of the District's first suburbs; Frederick Douglass, nicknamed the "Sage of Anacostia," once lived there, as did the poet Ezra Pound and singer Marvin Gaye. Today the area's unemployment rate is officially nearly 20%. District-wide, it’s 9.8%, a figure that drops as low as 3.6% in the whiter, more affluent northwestern suburbs.
D.C.'s divide is America's writ large. Nationwide, the unemployment rate for black workers at 16.2% is almost double the 9.1% rate for the rest of the population. And it's twice the 8% white jobless rate.
The size of those numbers can, in part, be chalked up to the current jobs crisis in which black workers are being decimated. According to Duke University public policy expert William Darity, that means blacks are "the last to be hired in a good economy, and when there's a downturn, they're the first to be released."
That may account for the soaring numbers of unemployed African Americans, but not the yawning chasm between the black and white employment rates, which is no artifact of the present moment. It's a problem that spans generations, goes remarkably unnoticed, and condemns millions of black Americans to a life of scraping by. That unerring, unchanging gap between white and black employment figures goes back at least 60 years. It should be a scandal, but whether on Capitol Hill or in the media it gets remarkably little attention. Ever.
The 60-Year Scandal
The unemployment lines run through history like a pair of train tracks. Since the 1940s, the jobless rate for blacks in America has held remarkably, if grimly, steady at twice the rate for whites. The question of why has vexed and divided economists, historians, and sociologists for nearly as long.
For years the sharpest minds in academia pointed to upheaval in the American economy as the culprit. In his 1996 book When Work Disappears, the sociologist William Julius Wilson depicted the forces of globalization, a slumping manufacturing sector, and suburban flight at work in Chicago as the drivers of growing joblessness and poverty in America's inner cities and among its black residents.
He pictured the process this way: as corporations outsourced jobs to China and India, American manufacturing began its slow fade, shedding jobs often held by black workers. What jobs remained were moved to sprawling offices and factories in outlying suburbs reachable only by freeway. Those jobs proved inaccessible to the mass of black workers who remained in the inner cities and relied on public transportation to get to work.
Time and research have, however, eaten away at the significance of Wilson's work. The hollowing-out of America's cities and the decline of domestic manufacturing no doubt played a part in black unemployment, but then chronic black joblessness existed long before the upheaval Wilson described. Even when employment in the manufacturing sector was at its height, black workers were still twice as likely to be out of work as their white counterparts.
Another commonly cited culprit for the tenaciousness of African-American unemployment has been education. Whites, so the argument goes, are generally better educated than blacks, and so more likely to land a job at a time when a college degree is ever more significant when it comes to jobs and higher earnings. In 2009, President Obama told reporters that education was the key to narrowing racial gaps in the US. "If we close the achievement gap, then a big chunk of economic inequality in this society is diminished," he said.
Educational levels have, in fact, steadily climbed over the past 60 years for African Americans. In 1940, less than 1% of black men and less 2% of black women earned college degrees; jump to 2000, and the figures are 10% for black men and 15% for black women. Moreover, increased education has helped to narrow wage inequality between employed whites and blacks. What it hasn't done is close the unemployment gap.
Algernon Austin, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., crunched data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that blacks with the same level of education as whites have consistently lower employment levels. It doesn’t matter whether you compare high-school dropouts or workers with graduate degrees, whites are still more likely to have a job than blacks. Degrees be damned.
Academics have thrown plenty of other explanations at the problem: declining wages, the embrace of crime as a way of life, increased competition with immigrants. None of them have stuck. How could they? In recent decades, the wage gap has narrowed, crime rates have plummeted, and there's scant evidence to suggest immigrants are stealing jobs that would otherwise be filled by African Americans.
Indeed, many top researchers in this field, including several I interviewed, are left scratching their heads when trying to explain why that staggering jobless gap between blacks and white won't budge. "I don't know if there's anybody out there who can tell you why that ratio stays at two to one," Darity says. "It's a statistical regularity that we don't have an explanation for."
Behind Bars, the Invisible Unemployed
So what keeps blacks from cutting into those employment figures? Among the theories, one that deserves special attention points to the high incarceration rate among blacks -- and especially black men.
In 2009, 7.2 million Americans -- or 3.1% of all adults -- were under the jurisdiction of the U.S. corrections system, including 1.6 million Americans incarcerated in a state or federal prison. Of that population, nearly 40% percent were black, even though blacks make up only 13% percent of the American population. Blacks were six times as likely to be in prison as whites, and three times as likely as Hispanics. For some perspective, consider what author of The New Jim Crow Michelle Alexander wrote last year: "There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began."
Incarceration amounts to a double whammy when it comes to African-American unemployment. Rarely mentioned in the usual drumbeat of media reports on jobs is the fact that the Labor Department doesn't include prison populations in its official unemployment statistics. This automatically shrinks the pool of blacks capable of working and in the process lowers the black jobless rate.
In the mid-1990s, academics Bruce Western and Becky Pettit discovered that the American prison population lowered the jobless rate for black men by five percentage points, and for young black men by eight percentage points. (Of course, this applies to whites, Asians, and Hispanics as well, but the figures are particularly striking given the overrepresentation of blacks in the prison population.)
Even that vast incarcerated population pales, however, in comparison to the number of ex-cons who have rejoined the world beyond the prison walls. In 2008, there were 12 million to 14 million ex-offenders in the U.S. old enough to work, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). So many ex-cons represent a serious drag on our economy, according to CEPR, sucking from it $57 billion to $65 billion in output.
Of course, such research tells us how much, not why -- as in, why are ex-cons so much more likely to be out of work? For an answer, it’s necessary to turn to an eye-opening and, in some circles, controversial field of study that may offer the best explanation for the 60-year scandal of black unemployment.
Twice as Hard, Half as Far
In 2001, a pair of black men and a pair of white men went hunting for work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each was 23 years old, a local college student, bright and articulate. They looked alike and dressed alike, had identical educational backgrounds and remarkably similar past work experience. From June to December, they combed the Sunday classified pages in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and searched a state-run job site called "Jobnet," applying for the same entry-level jobs as waiters, delivery-truck drivers, cooks, and cashiers. There was one obvious difference in each pair: one man was a former criminal and the other was not.
If this sounds like an experiment, that's because it was. Watching the explosive growth of the criminal justice system, fueled largely by ill-conceived "tough on crime" policies, sociologist Devah Pager took a novel approach to how prison affected ever growing numbers of Americans after they'd done their time -- a process all but ignored by politicians and the judicial system.
So Pager sent those two young black men and two young white men out into the world to apply for perfectly real jobs. Then she recorded who got callbacks and who didn't. She soon discovered that a criminal history caused a massive drop-off in employer responses -- not entirely surprising. But when Pager started separating out black applicants from white ones, she stumbled across the real news in her study, a discovery that shook our understanding of racial inequality and jobs to the core.
Pager's white applicant without a criminal record had a 34% callback rate. That promptly sunk to 17% for her white applicant with a criminal record. The figures for black applicants were 14% and 5%. And yes, you read that right: in Pager's experiment, white job applicants with a criminal history got more callbacks than black applicants without one. "I expected to find an effect with a criminal record and some with race," Pager says. "I certainly was not expecting that result, and it was quite a surprise."
Pager ran a larger version of this experiment in New York City in 2004, sending teams of young, educated, and identically credentialed men out into the Big Apple's sprawling market for entry-level jobs -- once again, with one applicant posing as an ex-con, the other with a clean record. (As she did in Milwaukee, Pager had the teams alternate who posed as the ex-con.) The results? Again Pager's African-American applicants received fewer callbacks and job offers than the whites. The disparity was particularly striking for ex-criminals: a drop off of 9 percentage points for whites, but 15 percentage points for blacks. "Employers already reluctant to hire blacks,” Pager wrote, “appear particularly wary of blacks with known criminal histories."
Other research has supported her findings. A 2001-2002 field experiment by academics from the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, uncovered a sizeable gap in employer callbacks for job applicants with white-sounding names (Emily and Greg) versus black-sounding names (Lakisha and Jamal). They also found that the benefits of a better resume were 30% greater for whites than blacks.
These findings proved a powerful antidote to the growing notion, mostly in conservative circles, that discrimination was an illusion and racism long eradicated. In The Content of Our Character (1991), Shelby Steele argued that racial discrimination no longer held black men or women back from the jobs they wanted; the problem was in their heads. Dinesh D'Souza, a first-generation immigrant of Indian descent, published The End of Racism in 1995, similarly claiming racial discrimination had little to do with the plight of black America.
Not so, insist Pager, Darity, Harvard's Bruce Western, and other academics using real data with an unavoidable message: racism is alive and well. It leads to endemic, deeply embedded patterns of discrimination whose harmful impact has barely changed in 60 years. And it cannot be ignored. As the old African-American adage puts it, "You've got to work twice as hard to get half as far as a black person in white America."
Is There a Solution for Black America?
Tracing black unemployment in America since World War II, there are two moments when, briefly, the gap between black and white joblessness narrowed ever so slightly -- in the 1940s and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For example in 1970, unemployment was at 5.8% for blacks and 3.3% for whites, a sizeable gap but significantly better than what followed in the Reagan era. Those are moments worth revisiting, if only to understand what began to go right.
According to University of Chicago professors William Sites and Virginia Parks, those periods were marked by a flurry of civil rights and anti-discrimination activity on the federal level. A series of actions ranging from the creation of the Fair Employment Practice Committee in 1941 to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which mandated the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, write Sites and Parks, had "dramatic impacts on employment discrimination."
But those gains of the 1970s were soon wiped out. The thinning of union membership and the dwindling power of organized labor didn't help either, after decades of pressure on employers to end discrimination against workers of color.
Today, in terrible times, with the possibility of social legislation off the table in Washington, the question remains: What, if anything, can be done to close the jobless gap between blacks and whites? When I asked Devah Pager, she called this the "million-dollar question." This form of discrimination, she pointed out, is especially difficult to deal with. As she noted in 2005, many employers who discriminate don't even realize they're doing so; they're just going with "gut feelings." "It's not that these employers have decided that they are not going to hire workers from a particular group," Pager told me.
What won't work is relying on discrimination watchdogs to crack down more often. The way federal anti-discrimination law works, it's up to the person who was discriminated against to raise an alarm. As Duke's William Darity points out, that’s a near impossibility for a job applicant who must convincingly read the mind of a person he or she doesn’t know. Worse than that, the applicant who wants to lodge charges of discrimination also has to prove that the discrimination was intentional, which, as Pager’s experiments make clear, is no small feat. Under the circumstances, as Darity told me, perhaps no one should be surprised to discover that blacks "grossly underreport their exposure to discrimination and whites grossly overreport it."
Of course, fixing a problem first requires acknowledging it -- something the nation has yet to do, says the Economic Policy Institute's Algernon Austin. To put blacks back to work, lawmakers should invest federal money directly in job creation, especially for black workers. Other avenues for putting people back to work, like a payroll tax credit won't do the trick. "We've spent billions in trying to build jobs overseas" in war zones, Austin told me. "But if we invested that money here in our cities, we wouldn't have this racial gap."
But how likely is that at a moment when, in a Washington gripped by paralysis, any discussion of spending in Washington begins and ends at how much to cut? The painful reality of permanent crisis for black workers is here to stay. That’s how it seems to blacks in D.C., especially those who live east of the river. In April, another group of protesters took to the 11th Street Bridge to demand more D.C. hires, and the following month, the group D.C. Jobs or Else took their complaints to City Hall. But progress is slow. "We're being pushed out economically," said William Alston El, a 63-year-old unemployed resident who grew up in D.C. "They say it’s not racism, but the name of the game is they have the money. You can’t live [in] a place if you can’t pay the rent.”
Andy Kroll is a reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine, and an associate editor at TomDispatch. He's appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Current TV, and Democracy Now! to discuss the economy and its ills.
Copyright 2011 Andy Kroll
Indicating he wanted an amnesty attached to the E-Verify legislation, the President added, “We may not be able to get everything that I would like to see in a package, but we have to have a balanced package.”

Most Voters Think President Obama is More Liberal Than They Are - OBAMA IS BANKSTER OWNED BUSH IN DRAG!

Most Voters Think President Obama is More Liberal Than They Are



WASHINGTON — This is one anniversary few feel like celebrating.
Two years after economists say the Great Recession ended, the recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.
After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven't kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy's meager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.
Workers' wages and benefits make up 57.5 percent of the economy, an all-time low. Until the mid-2000s, that figure had been remarkably stable — about 64 percent through boom and bust alike.
Executive pay is included in this figure, but rank-and-file workers are far more dependent on regular wages and benefits. A big chunk of the economy's gains has gone to investors in the form of higher corporate profits.
"The spoils have really gone to capital, to the shareholders," says David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates in Toronto.
Corporate profits up
Corporate profits are up by almost half since the recession ended in June 2009. In the first two years after the recessions of 1991 and 2001, profits rose 11 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
And an Associated Press analysis found that the typical CEO of a major company earned $9 million last year, up a fourth from 2009.
Driven by higher profits, the Dow Jones industrial average has staged a breathtaking 90 percent rally since bottoming at 6,547 on March 9, 2009. Those stock market gains go disproportionately to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, who own more than 80 percent of outstanding stock, according to an analysis by Edward Wolff, an economist at Bard College.
But if the Great Recession is long gone from Wall Street and corporate boardrooms, it lingers on Main Street:
Unemployment has never been so high — 9.1 percent — this long after any recession since World War II. At the same point after the previous three recessions, unemployment averaged just 6.8 percent.
— The average worker's hourly wages, after accounting for inflation, were 1.6 percent lower in May than a year earlier. Rising gasoline and food prices have devoured any pay raises for most Americans.
— The jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that vanished in the recession. Higher-paying jobs in the private sector, the ones that pay roughly $19 to $31 an hour, made up 40 percent of the jobs lost from January 2008 to February 2010 but only 27 percent of the jobs created since then.
Settling for less
Kathleen Terry is one of those who had to settle for less. Before the recession, she spent 16 years working as a mortgage processor in Southern California, earning as much as $6,500 in a good month, a pace of about $78,000 a year.
But her employer was buried in the housing crash. She found herself out of work for two and a half years. As her savings dwindled, the single mother had to move into a motel with her three daughters.
They got by on welfare and help from their church and friends. Terry started taking a 90-minute bus ride to job training courses. Eventually, she found work as a secretary in the Riverside County, Calif., employment office. She likes the job, but earns just $27,000 a year. "It's a humbling experience," she says.
Hard times have made Americans more dependent than ever on social programs, which accounted for a record 18 percent of personal income in the last three months of 2010 before coming down a bit this year. Almost 45 million Americans are on food stamps, another record.
Ordinary Americans are suffering because of the way the economy ran into trouble and how companies responded when the Great Recession hit.
Soaring housing prices in the mid-2000s made millions of Americans feel wealthier than they were. They borrowed against the inflated equity in their homes or traded up to bigger, more expensive houses. Their debts as a percentage of their annual after-tax income rose to a record 135 percent in 2007.
Not since the Great Depression
Then housing prices started tumbling, helping cause a financial crisis in the fall of 2008. A recession that had begun in December 2007 turned into the deepest downturn since the Great Depression.
Economists Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Carmen Reinhart of the Peterson Institute for International Economics analyzed eight centuries of financial disasters around the world for their 2009 book "This Time Is Different." They found that severe financial crises create deep recessions and stunt the recoveries that follow.
This recovery "is absolutely following the script," Rogoff says.
Federal Reserve numbers crunched by Haver Analytics suggest that Americans have a long way to go before their finances will be strong enough to support robust spending: Despite cutting what they owe the past three years, the average household's debts equal 119 percent of annual after-tax income. At the same point after the 1981-82 recession, debts were at 66 percent; after the 1990-91 recession, 85 percent; and after the 2001 recession, 114 percent.
Because the labor market remains so weak, most workers can't demand bigger raises or look for better jobs.
Fewer quitting jobs
"In an economic cycle that is turning up, a labor market that is healthy and vibrant, you'd see a large number of people quitting their jobs," says Gluskin Sheff economist Rosenberg. "They quit because the grass is greener somewhere else."
Instead, workers are toughing it out, thankful they have jobs at all. Just 1.7 million workers have quit their job each month this year, down from 2.8 million a month in 2007.
The toll of all this shows in consumer confidence, a measure of how good people feel about the economy. According to the Conference Board's index, it's at 58.5. Healthy is more like 90. By this point after the past three recessions, it was an average of 87.
How gloomy are Americans? A USA Today/Gallup poll eight weeks ago found that 55 percent think the recession continues, even if the experts say it's been over for two years. That includes the 29 percent who go even further — they say it feels more like a depression.
“All of these writers proceed from a fact of American life that is becoming impossible to deny: the sharp divergence in the fortunes of the banks and investors, on the one hand, and the broad mass of the population, on the other. The Wall Street giants, the very firms that precipitated the financial crisis, are doing better than ever. They are planning record bonuses while unemployment continues to soar and wages are declining at a rate not seen in decades.”
“Herbert (“Safety Nets for the Rich,” October 20), adopts a populist tone, complaining, “Even as tens of millions of working Americans are struggling to hang onto their jobs and keep a roof over their families’ heads, the wise guys on Wall Street are licking their fat-cat chops over yet another round of obscene multibillion-dollar bonuses—this time thanks to the bailout billions that were sent their way by Uncle Sam, with very little in the way of strings attached.”
Underlying both columns is the concern that the Obama administration’s promises of “hope” and “change” are increasingly perceived by those who voted for Obama as hollow phrases. Rich complains that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is “tone deaf” and that “an air of entitlement” wafts from the administration.
People are beginning to feel that they have been duped into lending their support to a government that is unreservedly serving the interests of the banks. To the layer of the liberal establishment represented by Obama’s journalistic would-be advisers, the eruption of opposition to the Obama administration would be an unmitigated disaster.


“So what about California? The economic well-being of many metropolitan areas in the Golden State has been sinking precipitously since 2006. This year, three California regions--Oakland, Sacramento and San Bernardino-Riverside--have sunk down into the bottom 10 on the large cities list. That's a phenomenon we've never seen before--and never expected to see.” FORBES

One tragic thing about this book is that it was written in 2003. Since then the Mexican occupation has doubled. Welfare to illegals is up to $20 BILLION in California. Welfare to illegals in sanctuary city Los Angeles is past $600 million per year, while Mexican gangs murder all over the state. Yet the lifer-politicians continue to fight for open borders, more perks for illegals, and their illegal votes!
"Victor Davis Hanson brings a lifetime of experience in California's Central Valley to this indictment of multiculturalism and mass immigration." -- Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies