Live Long And Prosper

“Live long and prosper,” is a well-known greeting if you are a Trekkie. “Prosper and you will live longer,” for some this would be a better greeting to reflect these times. If you are an upper-middle-class or wealthy American, you realize how much truth is in this greeting. For the well-to-do, wealth and longevity is a part of the benefits package. Over the past few months, there have been studies published on wealth inequalities that perked my interest. Studies from Richard V Reeves, a senior fellow at Brooking and Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics at Harvard, are the major motivation for this rant. They discussed numerous points on why it is so hard to be successful in this country. There is wealth inequality, and something can be done to right the injustice. For this article, I will take on just three of the many solutions they suggested.

Reeves covered the geographical effects on health and income, and the hoarding of the benefits by the upper middle-class. Chetty had a lot to say about components that will improve your chances to move up the income ladder. He calls it income mobility.

What is the importance of geography on health and income? How long you live and how well you live that life depends on where you live. Where there are adequate health care facilities and professionals, longevity will increase. These follow the money. How much of an increase is a factor of income? More money results in a longer life. Nearly five years of increase life is reflected in the data. Individuals living in low-income areas have problems getting healthy foods and safe places for their children to play. They struggle more with health issues such as; obesity, blood pressure, and diabetes. They will not “Live long and prosper.”

Your zip code may be a reason for your health and income problems. Reeves have also identified another barrier to income equality. He detected that the upper middle-class hoard the opportunities available to move up in life. They limit access to the benefits through the discriminatory use of zoning laws, college entry, internship, and schooling.

Chetty’s study revealed that there are more opportunities for people to get out of poverty if they move to a higher income community.  He evaluated the results of the study “Move to Opportunity” for the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The study said by moving to a higher income area you can improve your income, education, marriage, and health. Trouble boys seem to fare better in a better neighborhood. None of this was unknown to the mothers and fathers trying to raise a family in a community plagued with drive-bys and junkies. Gentrification shows that some low-income neighborhoods are attractive and desirable. Chetty’s report calls for improvement in low-income areas to help those that do not want to leave their community of long standing.

My reason for this rant is to show that are many things that are used to deny you your share of the American pie. There many things we can do to fight the system. The right action will allow everyone to share the prosperity of this country; no matter who is in the White House. I don’t want tax cuts; I want tax reforms that limits deduct on mortgages to $300k. I want a minimum 25 % tax on all income above $500k. I want forgiveness of student debts beyond the average starting wages at graduation. I want the citizens to do congressional redistricting, not politicians. I want a mandatory single payer health insurance. These are the things I want so that I can “Live long and prosper.”

(The bibliography is included so that you can dig deeper and understand the games politicians play.)

Bibliography

Burtless, G. (2001, November 30). The rising longevity gap between rich and poor Americans | Brookings Institution. Retrieved June 9, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/the-rising-longevity-gap-between-rich-and-poor-americans/

Chetty, Raj, Improving Equality of Opportunity in America:  New Evidence and Policy Lessons. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l–6CzrJ4A&list=UUvDvWKy-27H-PxCTYi5cyfA

Growing Disparities in Life Expectancy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/110th-congress-2007-2008/reports/04-17-lifeexpectancy_brief.pdf

Reeves, R. V. (2016, May 25). Dream Hoarders | Brookings Institution. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/book/dream-hoarders/

The Price of Inequality. (2017, February 28). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Price_of_Inequality&oldid=767854839

Where Are The Good & Just Politicians

The judge is just. The minister is good. Can one person be good and just? Before you brush-off the possibility of someone holding positions as Judge and Minister being both good and just there are some that hold both positions. When decisions are require that they exercise goodness and justice; how are they to act? The question however is not about judges and ministers. The question is whether one can be good and just.

To administrate justice would in some circumstances negate goodness. A working definition of goodness should include moral excellence, kindness, and compassion. To define just should require one to be impartial, neutral, and fair. These definitions are properly expected of judges and ministers, but from politicians it appears that we must ignore who is good, just, and accept whoever is popular.

Politicians tell us that they will be good when they take office, but their past failed promises have not revealed that as true. What many have shown is they are greedy, selfish, and uncaring of those they represent. Once they are in office the power and influence corrupts their better nature. Goodness is a trait they quickly discard. They take the oath of office and become like hungry lions caring only for themselves. To find a politician that is representative of what Romans 13 calls “God’s minister… for good.” We the voters will have to look hard to find one.

Nations should show traits of goodness and justice. Those traits are exemplified in the way it treats the least among them. Our neighbors who seek citizenship should have a clear path to get it. They have lived beside us, shopped, worshiped, and obeyed the laws of the state. It is clear in the scriptures that we are to treat them as “one born here.” We should not detest the foreigner that lives among us, for we were once foreigner in this land.

Politicians, now is the time to give our immigrant neighbors the chance for citizenship. Let their children born here have all the full rights of a citizen. Elected officers everywhere, do what is good and just.

A Gap Too Wide: Income Inequality

 

Reports after report are sounding alarms about the widening gap of income between African Americans and white Americans. True, there is growing income inequality all over the world. For the newly developing nations, that are thriving to improve their citizenry lifestyle, this has not become a first tier concern. Economist Thomas Piketty (Piketty, 2014), suggested, that income equality problems would eventually be a part of the governing concern for all national economies.

America is currently grappling with finding solutions to this dilemma. Left without a solution the income gap will fuel a great deal of unrest. Fortunately, academics are churning out reports addressing this topic with many pointing to racial or gender, income disparities as foundational to the trouble.

What can be done about the income gap between black and white Americans? The sources of income differences are well documented. Black family structural weakness is an income constraint; for without two wage earners the gap is difficult to close. African American males are disproportionately incarcerated in their most productive years. Lack of early schooling, inadequate parental controls, low paying jobs, and racism contribute to widen the gap. The wealth of black families rarely exceeds funds needed to provide for emergencies. If there is a drain on savings or other investments, they will be difficult to replace.

The chances of overcoming the limitations of lower income do not bode well for African Americans. If they were born in the lowest income percentile, “moving on up” is a struggle. At the age of forty, 51% of them remain in the lower class. Black women are most prevalent on the bottom of the income ladder. New studies are showing that black females 25-34 are a sizable percentage of the growing class of discouraged workers. That implies they are not participating in the current job recovery.

Hard work is often suggested as a way to close the gap. Government officials hope that declining national unemployment rates will contribute to closing the gap. A one percent decline in the national unemployment rate means approximately 200,000 more jobs going to African Americans. The income obtained, hopefully, will be funneled into saving and investments.

Still, those blacks with assets are still finding themselves undercapitalized, when compared to the assets owned by white Americans. Values for white primary residences are oftentimes three times that of black Americans. Homes are the largest source of wealth for both races. Wealth accumulated in housing for most African Americans is still insufficient to bridge the gap. To leave this problem unsolved creates too wide of a gap to be able to build a prosperous and peaceful America.

The magnitude of the income problem requires that those working to eliminate the gap and those agitating for a solution must not allow this to become lost in the backroom swamps of Washington. What is sought is that all people are able to live the American dream. But, a dream to long deferred or denied will fester and stink like rotten meat; and one day explode.

 

 

PUSH / PULL

Writing is a push/pull task for me.. The push/pull comes when I read a well crafted article or a thought or issue begs for my opinion. Should I say something about the way my heart and head struggle with supporting Bernie or Hillary? Maybe I need to give my opinion on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammys performance or Beyonce’s Super Bowl show.

Sometimes it is good to sit back with my feet up and snooze through the urge.

music nots

Look out, here comes the push/pull.Should I write a word or two about Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce?  No, that is a long line to join and I am already weary of that news. Whether these entertainers were trying to raise my fear or anger, sleep is ruling this mind. Let Beyonce and Kendrick give sizable donations to organizations that are fighting to change this culture of police brutality and African American disenfranchisement. Let them adopt schools in low income communities and affect a change because of their involvement. Then, I will take my feet down, open my eyes, and be more than entertained.

Political Race

What should I write about Clinton and Sanders, and Trump and Cruz? Well, the push/pull here is greater. The primary is the 1 March in my state. My mailbox is groaning under the weight of the political junk mail and my email box is peppered with campaign requests for money. Bernie is telling me how much better my life will be if I vote for him. Hillary on the other hand is trying to become an Obama clone. Bernie and Hillary are so serious that for the lighter side of politics, one has to tune-in to the Republican candidates to find humor. Trump and Cruz are mean and nasty. The titles are reversible. My question to the Republican party, with all your money is this the best you can do? Do you seriously think that independent voters are going to cross over for these clowns?

It was nice to read about the Secret Service agent Oliver Grant playing Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto 1, doing a break in South Carolina.

Wait, Agent Grant is on to something. I think I will close down the computer and listen to Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin perform – Ave Maria.

Bye y’all!