The July 4 holiday provided Century Foundation fellows, staff, and bloggers with a bit of much-needed R&R. But the holiday weekend didn’t keep our faithful readers away. Here’s what you were reading in between eating hot dogs, catching baseball games, and taking in the latest summer blockbusters.
Part 3 of Century domestic policy intern Mike Cassidy’s look at the status of race relations 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech was the most-viewed item of last week. Cassidy points out that 2009’s Great Recession hit black Americans the hardest hit, with foreclosures and unemployment rates among blacks about twice as high as those of their white counterparts. As Cassidy says, “to be black in America is to accept recession with regularity.”
Jake Anbinder, Century’s infrastructure intern, delved into one of the less-talked-about consequences of the immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in late June. The bill would require that all international travelers pass through passport control on departure, as well as on arrival. Non-citizens would be photographed and fingerprinted on departing flights. But, says Anbinder, “Barring a sea-change in the way our airports operate,” any possible implementation of such a process will “result in longer lines and even more frustrated passengers.”
Policy associate Ben Landy’s most recent Graph of the Day debunks a study that purports to show that income inequality just isn’t a problem in the U.S. The study arrives at this conclusion by adding the value of a person’s home into her/his income. That’s sketchy, but defensible. The study slides over into outright intellectual dishonesty by cherry-picking dates; it begins in 1989, just before house prices began an historic buildup, then ends in 2007, right before the housing bubble popped. Similarly, 1989 represents historic highs for the stock market. As Landy says, this choice of date ranges “can only be interpreted as having been selected to elicit their intended result.”
Racial demographics in the Old South (aka, the 11 states of the Confederacy) are changing rapidly; soon much of the South will be “majority minority,” or less than 50 percent white. Because Republicans continue to have difficulty winning votes among nonwhites, some have argued that the days of the Old South as Republican stronghold are numbered. Century blogger Doug Williams, a Southerner whose roots are in political organizing, says that such conclusions might be hasty. Decades of neglect have left Democratic organizational infrastructure in tatters. “Demographics,” Williams writes, “may be on the Democrats’ side, but most of the state-level party organizations in the South are a long way away from having the capacity to take advantage of those changes.”
Jake Anbinder returns with an Independence Day-themed post looking at the very strange world of state fireworks regulations. Many states are quite happy to sell the most dangerous of fireworks—but only if those purchasing said fireworks live in another state. Residents of the state, on the other hand, are often restricted to less dangerous varieties. These two-tiered laws allow states to collect tax revenue from fireworks sales while simultaneously shifting the costs of said fireworks (e.g., injuries, fires, etc.) to the taxpayers of another state.