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.
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?
The New York Times today explores the mixed results of our so-called war on poverty, a battle that has been ongoing for 50 years now. Their conclusion? Some progress in some areas, not so much in others.
Why should we expect anything else? Our collective action to eradicate racial poverty has been in place for only 50 years, a mere blip in the history of our nation, a history in which outright deep discrimination ruled the day for more four centuries. Slavery itself was an accepted practice until 1865, having persisted since 1581 when the first slaves put to work in North America. In other words, slavery was legal in the new world for 284 years.
In the absence of a better rationale for compensatory actions, shouldn't we at least spend that same amount of time working to right our collective wrongs?
Many conservatives believe it's well past time for black people to stop getting special attention. They want to eliminate affirmative action and the voting rights act. They want to shred the safety nets that support poor people, a disproportionate number of whom are black. They want to resurrect the death penalty, which is also prejudiced against black people. The white separatist movement is alive and sick.
At some point in the future, our society may be in a moral position to overcome centuries of racial abuse and discrimination. That point has not yet arrived. Not even close.
We won't reach 284 years as a post-slavery society until 2149. Until then, it's on us to make things right.
While we'll be taking the NCGA to task for 'cutting off the bootstraps' of poor and working-class North Carolinians, we don't want to talk about Poverty without doing something about it. Please help us lend a hand.
Republicans aren't making it any easier for poor and working-class families; instead, they're removing the means families have to escape poverty. Our General Assembly has "cut off the bootstraps" of the working class by killing jobs, shifting the tax burden to our hardest-working citizens, putting education out of reach, and cutting access to the ballot box. Republican policies are symptomatic of a moral poverty -- the idea that the path to prosperity should look more like a tightrope than an open road.
Some dismal news from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which released a report on child heath and well-being in the states. North Carolina ranks 35th with one in four children in the state living in poverty. Though there were several improvements listed, including higher graduation rates and improvements in early childhood programs, the overall report, which tracks 16 different factors, underlined the challenges now and the impact new policies that reduce funding for education and reduce unemployment benefits and tax breaks for low income families will have in the coming years. The state dropped one position overall, but fell to 39th in economic-well being.
Submitted by KatyMunger on Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:50pm
Friends -- as the far right steamrolls over our state, it is more important than ever for us to show the world that not all of North Carolina is a reactionary backwater intent on living in the 1950's. This coming Saturday is a great opportunity to come together and take a stand: please, join Progress NC and many other groups (some posting here) as we support our brothers and sisters at the NAACP in this year's HKonJ march to the General Assembly. This is the year to show our strength! To join us, just show up at Shaw University in Raleigh on February 9th and look for the Progress NC banner. Trust us: you'll have a great time and you *will* feel your power. Complete flyer after the jump.
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