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The GOP’s ‘culture of poverty” gambit

daniels 600The 2014 mid-term elections are just eight months away – and the Republicans are worried about black voters again.

They have good reason to be – that is, to worry about a repeat of 2012. Then, despite the best efforts of GOP-dominated state legislatures to block blacks' access to the polls, black voters' turnout rate surpassed that of whites for the first time ever. That achievement, along with the substantial turnout of both Hispanic-American and Asian-American voters, helped underwrite President Obama's decisive re-election victory.

Equally important, Obama's name on the ballot was only partially responsible for blacks' march to the polls, because the black vote had been rising markedly since 1996.

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New studies shatter myths about African-American cohabitation and marriage

cohabit 600WASHINGTON – Decades of research and the warnings of African-American mothers everywhere are being challenged by an emerging body of research that finds no link between cohabitation and chance of divorce. Further, researchers are asserting that cohabitation actually boosts the stability of resulting marriages for women who typically have lower marital rates – such as African-American women.

As one study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Families asserts, "...the positive association between cohabitation with commitment, and marital stability existed only among select subgroups of women who faced greater risks of dissolution (i.e., women who were black, had a premarital birth, had less than a college degree, were raised in single or stepparent families, or had more than the median number of sex partners)."

According to Census data, married couples lead 28.5 percent of African-American households. Many African-American couples choose to share their lives before they are willing or able to make it official. This is particularly true for low-income couples that find cohabitation economically convenient, or as a solution to unexpected economic problems.

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Do you live in fear of an IRS audit?

auditfear 600It is no secret that one of the biggest fears people have is receiving an audit notice from the IRS. It ranks right up there with being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Of course, the IRS does nothing to alleviate this fear because the more frightened you are, the less likely you will be to cheat on your taxes.

The IRS audited one out of every 104 tax returns in federal fiscal year 2013. It's becoming increasingly evident that the greater your total income, the more you'll attract the agency's attention. Last year, the IRS audited about 10.85 percent of taxpayers with income greater than $1 million. The audit rate dropped to 0.88 percent for those with income less than $200,000.

Some of the audits were taxpayers pulled at random. The rest of the returns are selected for examination in a variety of ways.

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Health crisis is real

fletcher 600My friend is awaiting health insurance. This is not academic. She's afraid that she might have cancer. Think about what it says about a society that someone concerned about a serious illness has to wait to see whether they have the right insurance to cover a potentially life-threatening crisis.

For those who are procrastinating in getting your personal health insurance, I would suggest that you are gambling. And while the "cards" may play out in your favor, they also may not.

My friend has to wait till she gets her health insurance because, like many other workers, she is employed by a company that does not offer health insurance. They do not offer much in the way of time-off either. It is all part of a larger pattern. Each day that passes, workers find that they have to cover more and more of what, at one point, people took for granted. No health insurance; no pension; no sick time; little, if any, vacation. It starts to feel like the days prior to the advent of labor unions.

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8 sneaky racial code words and why politicians love them

codeword 600When Paul Ryan talked about a "real culture problem" in "our inner cities in particular" this week, he wasn't the first American politician to be slammed for using racially coded language to get a point across. Far from it.

Ian Haney López, author of "Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class," says it's not just the promotion of old-fashioned racial stereotypes that we need to worry about. Rather, he argues, it's the manipulation of racism in service of very specific goals.

López's book focuses on elected officials' ability to tap into bias without being explicit about it, all to gain support for what he calls "regressive policies," which, ironically, hurt working-class white people as much as people of color.

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