Writing on chronic poverty in North Carolina, where it was recently revealed that four of the ten cities in all of American with the worst poverty increases are in (SURPRISE!) North Carolina.
Standard & Poor’s piled on last week, concluding that the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has become so extreme it’s damaging the entire economy. S&P declared such intense disparity markedly hampers economic growth and has slowed our anemic recovery. And that’s Standard & Poor’s, not The Nation magazine. North Carolina has among the worst economic inequality rates in the country. Over the last three decades, the top 1 percent of Tar Heels saw their incomes grow by 98.4 percent, while the bottom 99 percent inched up only 9 percent.
Gene is required by the state legislature to sign off on his commentaries with "He does not speak for UNC." That's unfortunate, because UNC and every other institution in America would be blessed to have his eloquent words spoken on their behalf. Too bad Republicans have their eyes and ears covered.
Today's missive speaks to an issue that is the elephant in our collective room. Simply put, the Republican party looks nothing like America in the slightest. So no matter how much spin and PR they put forth, the truth is laid bare for everyone to see.
I'm glad the Republican ruling junta has tried to silence Gene Nichol, the distinguished professor at the UNC School of Law and director of the school’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Because they sure stirred up a hornet's nest.
In an op-ed column in the News and Observer today, Professor Nichol first gives a nod in the direction of our hapless deputy assistant governor McCrory:
How can one be governor of the state with the second-highest percentage of hungry babies and never mention it? What does it take to be deemed important?
Gene Nichol is now required to warn UNC and add a disclaimer any time he writes something for publication.
Printed under the column were [Nichol's] name, his title as the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor and this statement: “He doesn’t speak for UNC.”
Since late October, the disclaimer has appeared whenever Nichol, a provocative and prolific writer, pens a piece for the newspaper’s opinion pages.
According to email records obtained by the N&O, Nichol, a former dean and college president and well-known liberal, has also been asked by his bosses to give them a day or two days’ notice – a “heads up” before his columns appear
That's because Nichol speaks truth that the powerful don't want to hear. And some of the powerful react with indignation.
Republicans are whining again that mean old Governor Perdue is planning an appointment to fill the recently vacated seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court ... gasp ... instead of handing the task over to His Magnificent Presence. She should move ahead with her plans no matter what.
Timmons-Goodson announced her resignation last week, and Perdue has expressed an intention to fill the seat before Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory takes office in January.
That would probably require Perdue to dispense with the 18-member commission for nominating judges. Perdue’s own executive order calls for the governor to choose from among three candidates nominated by that commission. People close to the nominating process say it would probably take longer than the four weeks remaining until McCrory’s inauguration.
The obvious choice is Sam Ervin, who would have won the election in November if Pope hadn't intervened. If Ervin isn't interested, an equally powerful choice would be North Carolina's progressive hero, Gene Nichol. In either case, we don't need a nominating committee or a long, drawn out process. We need an appointment, not a bunch of drama, and we need it now.
The truth is, government and the private sector have not adequately addressed the historical and structural causes of the deep poverty in Eastern North Carolina. The truth is, long before the Great Depression and the recent Great Recession, thousands of God's children of all colors lived on the edge of survival. The truth is, the recent economic and ecological tornadoes just made this structural poverty worse."
That's Reverend Barber, and here are a few words from Gene Nichol:
If the pregnant woman objects, the physician is required to proceed with the government-mandated instruction. Thankfully perhaps, the law doesn't demand that the patient be restrained from closing her eyes or covering her ears. But if she chooses to do so, her doctor, against his own preference and considered medical determination, must continue to show the images and repeat the state's command.
I'm not kidding. This isn't some odd addendum to George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." It is the law of North Carolina.
The U.S. Census bureau delivered, on Thursday, the expected news. Last year, 1 in 7 Americans lived in poverty. That represents the highest rate, nationally, in more than 15 years. The total number of us, almost 44 million, living below the stringent federal poverty standard (about $22,000 a year for a family of four) was the highest in our history.
Massive differentials exist across both income levels and stages of life. Even high-income black households have demonstrably less wealth than comparable white families. And, for example, black heads of household between the ages of 50 and 65, preparing for retirement, report at the median about $17,000 in assets. Similarly staged whites, on average, have $143,000. And single black women fare much, much worse than single black men.
My own sense of it is the national Republicans are now saying, clearly, even if by indirection, "We're the party of the 2 percent." We're willing to further bust the budget, to countenance massive teacher and first-responder layoffs, to leave millions out of work, to permit our beyond-frayed social safety net to crumble, to increase what is already the steepest income inequality in the Western industrial world and to flatly discard the concerns of "the least of these" in order to bolster the economic prospects of a relative handful of the wealthiest people in the United States. Some mission that.
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