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Wealth Disparities Likely to Grow

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NEWS ANALYSIS

By George E. Curry, TheDefendersOnline.com –

(NNPA) A widening gap between the mega-rich and the rest of society, documented in a recent congressional study, is likely to create even larger economic disparities between African-Americans and Whites.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report that stated: “For the 1 percent with the highest income, average real after-tax household income grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007.” By contrast, 60 percent of the population in the middle of the income scale (the 21st through 80th percentiles), the growth in average real after-tax household income was just under 40 percent. For the 20 percent with the lowest income, their after-tax income grew by only 18 percent over that same period.

The 47-page CBO report is titled, “Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007.” It showed that the share of after-tax household income for the top 1 percent more than doubled over the period studied, rising from nearly 8 percent in 1979 to 17 percent in 2007.

The most affluent 20 percent of the population received 53 percent of after-tax household income in 2007, an increase of 10 percent over 1979. Put another way: The top 20 percent earned more after-tax income in 2007 than the combined income of the other 80 percent of Americans.

These figures are fueling the heated debate over the Occupy Wall Street movement that has spread throughout the country and around the world. But that discussion has virtually ignored the plight of Blacks, who have already seen the wealth gap widen during the most recent recession.

A State of the Dream report issued earlier this year by United for a Fair Economy chronicles African-Americans’ stalled economic progress.

“In 1947, Blacks earned 51 cents to each dollar of White median family income,” the report recounts. “By 1977, Blacks were earning 56 cents on each dollar in White income, a gain of five cents. Most of those gains were made in the 1960s.

“Then, as the backlash took hold, progress slowed – and stopped. By 2007, Blacks earned slightly over 57 cents (57.4 cents) to each White dollar, a gain of just one penny in thirty years. Two years later, as the Great Recession set in. Blacks lost a half-cent, ending at 57 cents to each White dollar of median family income.”

Such erosion has led to the widest wealth gap on record between Blacks and Whites.

In July, the Pew Research Center issued a report that stated, “The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households.” It explained, “These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these groups for two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.”

The bursting of the housing bubble in 2006 and the high unemployment rates have devastated communities of color.

Median home equity for Whites declined by 18 percent between 2005 and 2009, from $115,364 to $95,000. Meanwhile, Blacks lost 23 percent of their home equity, from $76,919 to $59,000.

Black long-term unemployment was also higher than that of Whites, which is usually the case during a recession. Black unemployment increased from 8.6 percent to 15.6 percent during that period; White employment rose from 3.7 percent to 8 percent.

Black wealth, already much less than Whites, worsened.

“From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66 percent among Hispanic households and 53 percent among black households, compared to just 16 percent among white households,” the Pew report stated. “As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.”

The $5,677 in Black wealth in 2009 was less than half of the $12,124 in Black wealth just four years earlier.

In order to get ahead in the future, clearly African-Americans will need to diversify their financial holdings beyond housing. As the Pew report noted, “Whites and Asians are much more likely than Hispanics and blacks to own financial assets. More than 80 percent of whites and Asians own interest-earning assets in financial institutions, compared with about 60 percent of Hispanics and blacks. Whites and Asians are also three to four times as likely as Hispanics and blacks to own stocks and mutual funds shares…A sizable minority of U.S. households own no assets other than a motor vehicle. In 2009, that was true of 24 percent of black and Hispanic households, 8 percent of Asian households and 6 percent of white households.”

The racial and ethnic wealth gap was already horrendous. Reports of a wider economic divide between the haves and have-nots have shown that the problem is getting even worse.

Supreme Court Could Decide to Review Health Care Reform Nov. 10

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Special to NNPA from Afro-American Newspaper –

The nation’s highest court could decide whether to review President Barack Obama’s health care reform law as soon as Nov. 10, Politico reports.

Five opponents of the law and the Obama administration have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the law’s requirement for all Americans to buy insurance is constitutional. Five of the six requests have been sent to the court already, according to Politico.

Opponents of the law, including 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business, Liberty University and the Thomas More Law Center, and petitions from the Obama administration will be under consideration.

In a private conference on Nov. 10, the court could decide if they want to hear the issue, and would announce their decision on Nov. 14. Justices could also defer a decision until a later conference.

Politico said the Supreme Court is expected to hear the issue because the administration has asked and circuit courts have issued conflicting decisions on whether the mandate is constitutional.

Texas Radio Ad Offers Hand Gun Training--But Not If You Supported Obama or are Muslim

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper –

If you want to take advantage of the Texas law that allows adults to carry a concealed handgun, Crockett Keller will be happy to help you learn how to handle your sidearm—as long as you didn’t vote for President Obama or are a Muslim.

Keller, a licensed gun dealer authorized to train and certify handgun owners for handgun carrying permits in Mason, Texas, is paying for radio ads to voice his twin passions—gun advocacy and distrust of Muslims, socialists and Obama supporters, according to Reuters.

Keller said in the ad for his class on how to effectively use a concealed pistol, “If you are a Socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class.” Keller goes on to explain that you will be barred from taking his class because…“you have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law.”

Keller’s approach to teaching may trigger a challenge to his gun instructor credentials. After Keller’s ad began in Mason, a town about 120 miles away from the state capital in Austin, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued the following statement: “Certified instructors are required to comply with all applicable state and federal statutes, and conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion would place that instructor's certification at risk.”

Reuters has reported that the department has initiated an investigation into the matter.

The class, typically a one-day course, teaches gun carrying methods and gun use, in addition to how to clean and maintain a handgun. Texas allows adults to carry concealed weapons if they have successfully completed a class similar to that being advertised by Keller.

Keller wrapped up his radio by saying: "With no shame, I'm Crockett Keller. Thank you, and may God bless America.

Serial Rapist in Dallas Targeting Women from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

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Special to the NNPA from the Florida Sentinel Bulletin –

Police in the Dallas area are hunting a suspected serial rapist who appears to be targeting alumnae members of one sorority, and each of the victims told investigators the assailant seemed to have personal knowledge about them. Four alumnae of the same sorority — black women in their mid-50s to early 60s — were raped in their Dallas-area homes over the last 11 months, apparently all by the same assailant, according to an alert sent out by the Plano, Texas, Police Department.

The most recent of the attacks occurred around 9:15 p.m. Friday in Corinth, police said. The police statement did not identify the sorority, but the Dallas Morning News reported that it was Delta Sigma Theta, and that the sorority had sent out email alerts to alumnae. Some alumnae of the sorority told ABC News that they themselves had not received the email alerts, but said they had heard about them from others. Besides the attack in Corinth, in Denton County, two of the rapes occurred in Plano and other in Coppell, both of which are in Dallas County.

The suspect, who is seen in a surveillance video released by the Plano police, is described as a black man, estimated to be in his late 30s to mid-40s, 5 feet seven inches to 6 feet tall and 250 to 300 pounds. He has a trimmed beard and short hair, and possibly a receding hairline, police said. Each of the four attacks happened between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. According to the Morning News the alerts also advised that police have requested a full list of each chapter’s members.

“I am sure this is alarming and the area DFW Chapter presidents have received many phone calls in reference to these incidents,” the email said. “Our National President, National First Vice President and Regional Director are aggressively gathering information to distribute to the chapters.”

Iowa Investors in Large 'Land Grab' in Tanzania, Refugees to Lose Homes

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By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

Oct. 25 (GIN) - A group of Iowa-based investors is winding up a deal with Tanzania for an 800,000 acre parcel, now home to over 160,000 people.

Several generations of families, former refugees from Burundi, who have successfully re-established their lives by developing and farming the land over the last 40 years, will be displaced against their will. They will lose their livelihoods and their community. Once they are gone, AgriSol Energy will move in.

According to the AgriSol, an investment company, the land deal will benefit local farmers, increase food and energy security in the area, maintain sustainable farming practices, and offer “opportunities to buy commodities at production cost.” But AgriSol will have the final say in all matters.

“Locals will have little to no bargaining power, and any development opportunities for local farmers will be on terms set by AgriSol,” the Oakland Institute said. Similar deals have been struck to increase production of biofuel crops.

A letter to AgriSol from the environmental Sierra Club notes: “This will be a 99 year lease on unfavorable terms, a step back towards Tanzania’s colonial past; that, reportedly, disputes are to be arbitrated under International Chamber of Commerce rules in London, which will further disempower local peoples; that AgriSol has demanded a change from the current prohibition of genetically engineered crops which threaten the local biodiversity and contaminate local crop species; and that biofuel production will subtract from the production of local food calories in favor of an export-oriented product.

A write-in campaign by Oakland asks the company to drop the initiative. It can be found at www.oaklandinstitute.org.

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