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Prison reform: An unlikely alliance of left and right | The Economist

How can we square the fact that we are the number one nation in the world in the number of people we put in prison, that an African American male is more likely to end up in jail in today’s America than he would have been under South Africa’s Apartheid regime?  According to the London Economist, China is a distant second in number of people incarcerated despite its significantly larger population.

This facts serve to put into perspective the real and urgent need to reform our “crime and punishment” system.  It is simply too expensive and the statistics clearly show that affects Americans from different communities in disproportionate fashion.

Historically, crime and punishment have been an ongoing challenge for all empires and for all leaders.  American is miserably failing in this regard and we can’t afford to continue down this path of wasting human life in a criminal justice system that is a revolving door with little accountability and without rational goals that serve society as a whole.

What will it take to get America to invest in its young in the areas of education, job training and re-training and, frankly, in a more robust and inclusive view of an America that invests in its most challenged urban and rural areas with a view to the future?  Prison reform could yield a significant downpayment on new more enlightened policies that could bring together both sides of the isle for the sake of millions of families and young people.

“ERIC HOLDER and Rick Perry (pictured) have little in common. America’s attorney-general is black, liberal and uses the word “community” a lot. The governor of Texas is white, conservative and says “God” a lot. Last month Mr Holder’s Justice Department sued Texas for allegedly trying to make it harder for blacks to vote. Last year Mr Perry ran to unseat Mr Holder’s boss, Barack Obama.

On one thing, however, the two men agree. On August 12th Mr Holder said: “Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law-enforcement reason.” He then unveiled reforms to reduce the number of people sent to America’s …”

MORE via Prison reform: An unlikely alliance of left and right | The Economist.

Filed under: African American, Blogosphere, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Discrimination, Guns on our streets, Minority Males, News, Parenting, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Economy, Public Policy, Unemployment, WeSeeReason, , , ,

Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Killing of Trayvon Martin – NYTimes.com

Florida justice on trial as the nation watches the justification of profiling and following that led to a senseless killing.

“George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights, was found not guilty late Saturday night of second-degree murder. He was also acquitted of manslaughter …”

More via Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Killing of Trayvon Martin – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: African American, Blogosphere, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Discrimination, ethnicity in politics, Guns on our streets, Intolerance, Jurisprudence, Minority Males, News, Parenting, , , , ,

The Rise of Single Fathers | Pew Social & Demographic Trends

Given the focus on women’s liberation and the bad rap that minority men get regarding fatherhood, men as a popular media category, have not been portrayed favorably–especial so called “men of color.”

The Pew Foundation shares recent data that documents increasing “single parent fatherhood.”  It appears that men are increasingly taking on the role of parent on their own.

 

“A record 8% of households with minor children in the United States are headed by a single father, up from just over 1% in 1960, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey data.The number of single father households has increased about ninefold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.1 In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.As a result, men make up a growing share of single parent householders.2 In 1960, about 14% of single parent households were headed by fathers, today almost one-quarter 24% are.There are some notable differences between single mothers and single fathers. Single fathers are more likely than single mothers to be living with a cohabiting partner 41% versus 16%. Single fathers, on average, have higher incomes than single mothers and are far less likely to be living at or below the poverty line—24% versus 43%.

SDT-2013-07-single-fathers-02

Single fathers are also somewhat less educated than single mothers, older and more likely to be white. Compared with fathers heading households with two married parents, single dads are younger, less educated, less financially well-off and less likely to be white. In this report, fathers include those men who are ages 15 or older, who are the head of their household, and who report living with their own minor children biological children, step-children or adopted children. Fathers who are living in a household headed by someone else are excluded from the analysis, as are fathers whose children are not living with them.The term ‘single father’ includes men in a variety of family circumstances. About half 52% are separated, divorced, widowed or never married and are living without a cohabiting partner; some 41% are living with a non-marital partner; and a small share 7% are married but living apart from their spouse.3Cohabiting single fathers are particularly disadvantaged on most socio-economic indicators. They are younger, less educated and more likely to be living in poverty than are fathers who are raising children without a spouse or partner in the household.Overall, two-thirds 67% of households with children are headed by two married parents; in 1960, this share was 92%.4″

More via The Rise of Single Fathers | Pew Social & Demographic Trends.

Filed under: African American, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Minority Males, News, Parenting, , ,

Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist

Affirmative action rears its ugly head once again as the usually intellectually rigorous London Economist magazine publishes an article (link below) making an argument on the deleterious effects of affirmative action policies for beneficiaries, institutions and societies in general.

The main problem with the article is that it sees people of color (or ethnic minorities) as both the “weak classes” and the beneficiaries of these policies.  The article writer fails to understand that a good number of people belonging to the so called “majority” or “white” as the article calls them, are also tremendously disadvantaged and cyclically in poverty by region and sometimes by religious group or region of the country (Catholics compared to Episcopalians and people from the Appalachia region compared to New Yorkers).

The overwhelming majority of people in America are so called “White.”   Poverty is not simply a skin color problem.  Affirmative action is not perfect and plenty of examples can be found of cases in which it is abused or inappropriately taken advantage of.  This does not mean that there’s no need to address historical differences between groups that have experienced circumstances which precluded their development in the educational and business fields, for example.

When  society invests in the children of the poor to ensure that future generations can continue to prosper and contribute to society in greater ways we all benefit.

When specific groups have been locked out for so long that lack of education, sophistication or opportunity defines their relationship to society, then society has a responsibility to address that condition.  Whether we see that “responsibility” as a moral or as a self interested proposition, does not really matter.  The fact is that when societies invest in their citizens they benefit all of society and improve their lot vis a vis other societies who experience the drag and social dislocation caused by an underclass.  The following article in the Economist fails to understand this simple logic.  Read it and tell us what you think?

“ABOVE the entrance to America’s Supreme Court four words are carved: “Equal justice under law”. The court is pondering whether affirmative action breaks that promise. The justices recently accepted a case concerning a vote in Michigan that banned it, and will …”

via Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist.

Filed under: African American, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Education Policy, ethnicity in politics, Feminization of Poverty, Gender, Gender Policy, ideology, Intolerance, Latinos, Minority Males, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, , ,

State of the Union 2013 and Public Opinion | Pew Research Center The President to the Republicans: Boogie oogie oogie!

The Pew Foundation’s research arm did a nice job on a survey on “the State of the State of the Union Address.”  It appears that President Obama is riding a tremendous popularity and approval wave into a second term that is already characterized by a buoyed economy with clear skies ahead.  The President’s victory on the fiscal cliff seems to have sealed the deal, as the President enters his second term with the Republicans in shambles and, perhaps more importantly, with Americans believing in this two term President the opposition tried to paint as a boogyman.  The President seems to be smiling on, like the baby boomer that he is, saying: “Boogie oogie oogie!”

“President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the nation on Tues., Feb. 12. A survey released ahead of his speech found that 43% of the public views the president’s address as about as important as past years’ addresses, and a third (32%) say Obama’s speech will be more important than those in past years.

Here’s a roundup of Pew Research findings across 10 of the biggest public policy issues:

The Economy

The economy and jobs remain the public’s top two priorities for the White House and Congress.

57% of Americans (and 74% of Republicans) say that President Obama won the battle over the “fiscal cliff.”

Americans took a dim view of the fiscal cliff deal, saying it would hurt: the economy (46%), people like themselves (52%), efforts to curb the deficit (44%).

Read more about Pew Research findings on the economy

Debt and Deficit

72% of Americans now say reducing the deficit is a top priority, up from 53% in Jan. 2009, including 84% of Republicans, 67% of Democrats and 71% of independents.

Majorities of Americans oppose most deficit reduction measures, including reducing funding for education (77% disapprove), reducing transportation funding (67%) and reducing funding to help low-income people (58%).

There are wide partisan gaps on many debt reduction proposals, including reducing military defense spending (+35 points Democrats) and reducing funding to help low-income people (+29 points Republicans).

74% say a combination of program cuts and tax increases is the best way to reduce the deficit.

Read more about Pew Research findings on the debt and deficit

The Middle Class

The median income for a middle-income, three-person household fell to $69,487 in 2010 from $72,956 in 2000 (in 2011 dollars.) Median net worth among the middle-income tier fell 28% to $93,150 in 2010 from $129,582 in 2000.

85% of those in the middle class say it is more difficult today than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living.

The middle class blamed their difficulties on: Congress (62%), banks and financial institutions (54%) and large corporations (47%).

Middle-class adults say they are: Democrats (34%), Republicans (25%) and independents (35%); conservative (39%), moderate (35%) and liberal (22%).

Read more about Pew Research findings on the middle class

Gun Control

51% of Americans say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 45% say it is more important to protect gun rights.

47% say mass shootings reflect broader societal problems, 44% call them isolated acts of troubled individuals.

There is broad public support for background checks for private and gun show sales (85%) and laws preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns (80%).

There are large partisan divides on creating a federal database to track gun sales (35-point gap, Democrats favor), implementing a ban on assault-style weapons (25-point gap, Democrats favor) or having more teachers and school officials with guns in schools (33-point gap, Republicans favor).

Read more about Pew Research findings on gun control

U.S. Foreign Policy

83% of Americans say that “we should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home,” up 10 points since 2002.

40% say the U.S. relies on military strength too much to achieve its foreign policy goals, 44% say about the right amount and 10% say too little.

63% say the U.S. should be less involved in Middle East leadership changes.

Americans largely approve of the use of drones to target extremists, unlike most other nations surveyed.

71% say defending the nation from terrorism is a top priority.

60% support withdrawing troops from Afghanistan “as soon as possible.”

Read more about Pew Research findings on foreign policy

via State of the Union 2013 and Public Opinion | Pew Research Center.

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