Poverty & Economic Justice

Bishop William Barber receives MacArthur "Genius" award

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Shining a light in the darkness of social injustice:

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Thursday named 25 people, including academics, activists, artists, scholars and scientists, who will receive $625,000 over five years to use as they please.

Rev. William Barber, former president of the North Carolina NAACP, was among the 2018 winners, honored for his work to build coalitions to fight racial and economic injustice. Barber, the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, oversaw the Forward Together Movement, which held weekly "Moral Monday" marches and sit-ins while the General Assembly was in session for several years to protest laws passed by the Republican-controlled legislature on issues from voting rights to Medicaid.

I'm not usually one of those people who demand protocol be followed, and Barber himself would probably rebuke me for pushing the issue, but: He should no longer be referred to simply as "Reverend" Barber. In addition to his PhD which should be acknowledged, he has also been elevated to Bishop. And it's not just an honorary title or North Carolina-specific, it's the real deal:

On the dire need for an overhaul of Minimum Wage

Times have changed, for the worse:

Only one-in-five workers earning minimum wage are teenagers now, and about the same percentage of people are married. About 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage or less are working part-time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work. Many want but can’t find full-time work.

Most of the others are constrained by child care, health problem, or school schedules from working more. If we think about those individuals who would see a benefit from an increase, the average worker is older, less likely to be working for discretionary income and more likely to be supporting a family.

Bolding mine. Not trying to insult your intelligence, but since I've had to explain the meaning of the word "discretionary" to college grads about six times in the last few years, I might as well do it again here. It dates back to the 14th Century, and denotes somebody has the power to "judge or choose" courses of action. Often tied with "age of ascension" in certain cultures granting adult status. But in this context, it means you have the freedom to decide how to spend the money you've earned. And when your rent, utilities, and food requirements outpace your earnings, that choice has already been made for you. I know that's long-winded, but I've heard too many Democrats parrot that "just for teenagers" meme lately when minimum wage comes up, and I wanted to drive a stake in that meme's heart. Something I've also heard, which makes sense on a certain level: "We need to bring back the EITC to give these folks a boost." Yes. But not as an alternative to a minimum wage increase. Why not? Because the EITC is taken from tax revenues, and not from the private-sector employer who *should* be paying better. And before you say that next thing:

Income inequality by race in NC stark and staggering

And it creates a formula of generational poverty that's almost impossible to reverse:

Disparities in outcomes did not come out of thin air; they arise from systems and policies, past and present, that create barriers to economic opportunity for people of color. For example, inequity in pay, rooted both in occupational segregation and in people of color being paid less for doing the same work as their white colleagues, is a major reason that communities of color struggle with higher levels of poverty.

African American workers in North Carolina were paid roughly $3.25 per hour less on average than their white colleagues in 2016, a gap that compounds rapidly over time into a monthly pay disparity of almost $600 and a deficit of more than $6,700 annually. The gap is even larger for Hispanic workers in North Carolina, who are paid $5.34 less than whites on average, which compounds into a pay gap of over $11,000 annually.

These numbers sound more like something that would have been compiled back in the 1950's than just last year. And while many folks I know prefer to write stuff like this off as merely one more example that Capitalism is inherently corrupted and needs to be replaced, in many ways, that's just a cop-out. It gives you an excuse to not even try and fix the wage disparity problem, and I have a big problem with that. Here's more:

Is Teach For America promoting "separate but equal" schools?

Charlotte's problems with diversity and integration may have a new apologist:

While the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board talks about breaking up racial and economic isolation, Teach For America Charlotte is holding a forum on making “hypersegregated” schools successful.

On Dec. 15, two national speakers will discuss ways they’ve seen schools thrive without significant numbers of white or middle-class students. The free forum is part of its “New Reality Speaker Series,” focusing on poverty and academic success in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The first, on CMS history, was held in October.

Of course efforts have to be made to improve education in ways that don't rely on re-integration as a cornerstone. But that work needs to continue, as well. It not only benefits the students in their achievement, it also helps the community become less polarized around race. And as obvious as that may seem to those reading, there are many in the field of education who still fall for the arguments put forward by anti-integration elements of the 60's & 70's:

Must-read article on poverty in the South

When the planners don't include you in their formulas:

What Scott saw in Clayton County was a place ill-equipped for the influx of poverty. Just 10 miles south of the new condominiums in Atlanta, the county had no public housing and a few modest bus lines — a service that had started only this year, after a referendum passed. The main streets lacked sidewalks, and Scott often found herself tiptoeing alongside traffic.

“This place isn’t meant for poor people,” Scott said.

NC fast food worker's strike tomorrow morning

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