Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties



Camden, New Jersey: America’s poorest city, mostly black & Hispanic; median household income= $18,007

IN 1995, the median white U.S. household was worth seven times as much as its typical black or Hispanic counterpart.

Today, the white-to-black household wealth ratio has widened to a jaw-dropping 20:1. The white-to-Hispanic ratio is a slightly less shocking 18:1.

That’s right, according to new Census data released by the Pew Research Center andreported by the Associated Press, the median white household in the United States is worth $113,149. The median wealth for a Hispanic household is $6,325. For blacks, the figure is a meager $5,677.

This is the widest gap since the Census began keeping track of such data in 1984. The ratio was 12:1 back then.

Something is very, very wrong in this country.

Yet conservatives want to dramatically slash government aid and services to the very people who need it most while refusing to close tax loopholes that allow corporations to grow richer by dubious means or raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans, who earn more than $200,000 per year. For comparative purposes, the bottom 20% of Americans earn, on average, a maximum of $18,500 per year.

“I am afraid that this pushes us back to what the Kerner Commission characterized as ‘two societies, separate and unequal,'” Roderick Harrison, former chief of racial statistics at the U.S. Census Bureau, told the AP, referring to the commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 to investigate the causes of the black uprisings that swept the nation that year. “The great difference is that the second society has now become both black and Hispanic,” he added.

Much of the gap can be attributed to stock and home ownership. Whites are more likely to have 401(k) plans, IRA or Keogh accounts and other stock holdings; such assets account for 28% of whites’ wealth, but just 19% of blacks’ and 15% of Hispanics’ wealth. The recent stock market recovery has buoyed whites’ wealth, while low stock ownership and high unemployment– nearly one in six U.S. blacks has no job— mean that blacks have fallen further behind.

Ironically, home ownership and the housing bust hurt Hispanics the most. They did very well during the housing boom, as many worked in the construction industry and many others bought homes in the states hardest hit by the housing market crash. Median Hispanic household wealth peaked at $18,359 in 2005, but plummeted a staggering 66% in 2009 alone.

Other shocking Census data:

– The overall wealth gap widened in America, with the richest 10% of households (those worth $598,435 or more) now holding 56% of the nation’s wealth (up from 49% in 2005).

– Asians are no longer the nation’s leaders in household wealth. Like Hispanics, many Asians live in California, which got slammed by the housing downturn. Median Asian wealth dropped from $168,103 in 2005 to $78,066 in 2009, a shocking drop. New immigrants from Asia, who are often poor, also contributed to this drop.

– More than one in three (35%) of black households and 3 in 10 (31%) of Hispanic households have zero or negative net worth, up from 29% and 23% respectively. For whites, the figure is 15%.

This shocking new data comes as the country faces a monumental budget crisis. President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers are trying to come to an agreement that would avert a U.S. default on its financial obligations early next month. Conservatives want to slash trillions of dollars of spending on social programs like Medicare and Social Security that help the poor while refusing to even consider raising taxes on the rich or even closing tax loopholes that allow corporations, many of which are enjoying record profits this year.

Meanwhile, the global War on Terror has cost American taxpayers $1,226,199,500,000 since 2001, with annual Pentagon budgets exceeding $600,000,000,000 or more.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has decided, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations are people, money is free speech and, therefore, corporations are allowed to make unlimited campaign donations while you and I, real flesh-and-blood human beings, are limited to $2,400 donations.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media, controlled, of course, by the wealthiest Americans (and some not-so-Americans), demonizes the poor while fomenting fear among the masses that increasing taxes on the rich would somehow result in an even more dire economic situation for the poor saps at the bottom of the pile.

Meanwhile, another Wall Street bankster  is Hoovering rails of Colombia’s finest and sipping Balvenie Cask 191 on his 130-foot Mangusta somewhere in the Hamptons.

Meanwhile, another homeless black war veteran is dying anonymously somewhere in some scorching alley in some crumbling Rust Belt city.

Wake up, America.

For your country’s sake, wake the fuck up.

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  1. Avid ReaderJuly 27, 2011 at 7:33 amReply

    Republicans are holding the country up for ransom since they do not have control of the oval office. They have concocted a fake problem and making every American suffer for their incompetency.
    During a recession, the government should be creating jobs to employee all of the manufacturing workers who have been put out of work by the ‘job creators’ Republicans keep talking about. We should be spending money on infrastructure jobs and putting these people back to work. How is China’s rail system more advanced that the US’s? It’s because of government investment. Why does Brazil have a more advanced transportation fueling network (offering Ethanol and Natural gas at every station) supporting 150 million car owners? It’s because of government investment.

    We need more government investment if we ever want to get out of this recession.

    Great Britain cut government spending last year and see how well that has worked. They are currently having major labor disputes and the growth rate has stagnated at .4% last quarter.
    They are in a deeper recession that in the US.

    I guess in life we don’t ever learn from other people’s mistakes, only ours.

    • Brett WilkinsJuly 27, 2011 at 7:27 pmReplyAuthor

      I wish we would learn from our own mistakes!

  2. JoeJuly 27, 2011 at 5:10 pmReply

    Huh, so it looks like 50+ years of welfare, food stamps, and free housing has really helped things for black and Hispanic Americans. Thank you Al Sharpton and Rev. Jackson for creating a culture of non working leaches in our country. I’m sure they will blame the lack of benefits or job creating republicans for this embarrassing wealth gap. Wake up.

    • Brett WilkinsJuly 27, 2011 at 7:27 pmReplyAuthor

      Is your ignorance of the structural and institutional barriers to upward mobility for people of color in this country intentional, or are you really that clueless?

    • STEPHEN PAUL DELSOLAugust 31, 2011 at 8:36 pmReply

      Blaming the victims for their poverty shows a lack of social conscience. Dr. Martin Luther King once said that Black people are told to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and they look down at their feet to discover that they have no shoes on!

  3. STEPHEN PAUL DELSOLAugust 31, 2011 at 8:32 pmReply

    The Pew Research Institute findings reported that the median household wealth gap between whites and blacks in American today is twenty to one. In dollar terms the white household is worth $113, 149, and the black household is worth just $5,677. The Hispanic household is $6,325.
    These figures are incredible, and the implications are earth-shattering!

    There is no way, that the African-American, and Hispanic households can recover from this depth of poverty any time soon. On the other hand, there is a great possibility that whites will recover their household wealth when there is an economic up-turn. The future of white America is good. The majority of white American children will realize the American Dream.

    The same cannot be said of African-Americans and Hispanics. The future of African-Americans and Hispanics is very bleak, indeed. There is little chance of Black and Hispanic children fulfillihng their American Dream in the foreseeable future.

    How can anyone with a moral social conscience not be deeply moved by the depth of poverty among African-American and Hispanics?

  4. BrandonNovember 13, 2011 at 1:48 amReply

    People keep trying to blamie the repubs, but the dems have a SUPER MAJORITY. They control the house, senate and presidency. Despite this, they still can’t get it right. Poor people and their advocates need a tea party or repub boogie man to blame. Otherwise they would have to face the fact that their bad decisions, and thus they themselves are to blame. Giving free money to people that can’t seem to manage even small amounts of money is not the answer. Personal responsibility is the answer and has been since civilization began. Whenever you point your finger 3 are pointing back at you. Try it.

    • Brett WilkinsNovember 13, 2011 at 11:16 amReplyAuthor

      Personal responsibility is great. But it is not the panacea that conservatives claim. Those who are its strongest advocates are usually from financially secure backgrounds, usually white males too. They don’t stop to consider how the game is rigged in their favor and against the more disadvantaged in our society. I though fairness was a conservative value, but apparently not. The structural barriers to upward mobility in our society are not only unacknowledged, but perpetuated by the ruling class and their gatekeepers. When inherent flaws and injustices are pointed out, many conservatives shockingly admit that they believe there needs to be “winners” and “losers” in society and that some people need to be “crushed.” This is shameful in such a wealthy nation as ours, where there are plenty of resources available to make sure that EVERYONE has a decent life. The misallocation of those resources and the cold-hearted manner in which conservative calculate their world-view are some of the great crimes of our time. History will not look kindly upon American conservatives’ callousness.

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