Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

If “The Economy is Recovering” Why Is There a Surge in Homeless Children?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For the last three elections now, 2010, 2012 and 2015, corporate media and corporate politicians have ceaselessly assured us that “the economy” whatever that is, is “back on track”, wherever that is.

Despite what corporate media and politicians tell us, the positive indicators of soaring stock market valuations, rising real estate prices and the rigged unemployment figures that don't count the jailed, the recently released from jails and prisons, and those who've given up on finding work or those working part time who desperately want full time hours real life for most real people hasn't got any better since 2008 or 2009.

Last week an extraordinary and shameful study emerged from the National Center on Family Homelessness confirmed it by demonstrating that almost 2.5 million children in the US were homeless at some point during 2013. That's one child in every thirty, in what we're accustomed to thinking of as the richest nation on earth. In the most recent months for which statistics exist, the rate of homelessness among children is spiking, increased 8% nationally from 2012 to 2013, and by 10% or more in 13 states and the District of Columbia. In 2006 one in 50 children were homeless. In 2010 it was one in 45. Now, in the age of Obama, the 2013 number is 1 in 30.

The causes of homelessness among children are not your comforting stereotypes of drug use and mental illness. These are “comforting” because they encourage us to blame the drug-addicted, and pity the mentally ill, and our comfort keeps us from questioning the capitalist system which declares that we must have poverty in the midst of plenty, or wondering why we ourselves are no more than a month or two from homelessness.

America's shameful surge in homeless children is caused by the fact that wages are NOT rising, low income housing is NOT being built, and the stock of available housing is being demolished or cannibalized by gentrifying speculators. Speculators can't make money off stable neighborhoods, so the poorest have to leave wherever they are to make room for something else.

In California, the nation's most populous state 34% of households are paying more than half their annual income for rent, and while the state's minimum wage is $8 an hour, a 2 bedroom apartment at a third of annual income would require tripling the minimum wage to $25.78 an hour. The issue then, is poverty.

Millions of children are not suffering because their parents have suddenly become addicted, or neglectful or lazy or stupid. Their parents, many of whom are working as hard as they can, are simply not able to afford a roof over their heads. This is just capitalism. It may be a scandal, but it's no surprise.

This happens to be just the way that “the economy” works when it's “back on track.” It's time to tear up those tracks.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141119_bd_homelessness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:43pm EDT

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

 

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton & the Arkansas Two Step

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Back in September, Bill Clinton speaking at a dinner for corporate “philanthropists” seemed to publicly question the effectiveness of charter schools. What should we make of this?

The evidence is long in that the push for charter schools, driven by market fundamentalists has failed to improve the quality of education for most students. Still, the push to privatize is universally embraced by corporate media and the elected politicians of both parties, pretty much like imperial wars, gentrification and bailing out Wall Street banksters. Elite agreement on privatizing public education is so well established that Mitt Romney expressed agreement with President Obama's policies in that regard in their first 2012 presidential debate.

So does Bill Clinton's second thoughts on charter schools offer hope to emabattled communities and teachers in Chicago, Philly and hundreds of other cities? I wouldn't bet on it.

Remember back in 1992 when Arkansas governor Slick Willie Clinton ran for president? His surrogates and spokespeople told everybody who'd listen this was the chance for something they called the Peace Dividend. The recent fall of the Soviet Union, they said meant that a Democrat in the White House would be able to divert some of the vast sums that had gone to the Pentagon into housing, education, mass transit, jobs for youth, getting off fossil fuels, high speed intercity rail. After 12 years of Reagan and Bush it was a message people were more than ready to hear. They didn't call Bill Clinton “The Man From Hope” for nothing.

Of course once elected, the Clintons immediately “discovered” that “all the money was gone” because Reagan and Bush supposedly spent it all plus a lot more so there wouldn't be any peace divided, any extra to spend on those things at all. It was a deliberate transparent bait and switch, a classic Arkansas Two Step.

“There's a lot of Wall Street campaign cash, behind the push for charter schools, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not about to see all of it go Republican”

The Clintons and Democratic party leaders knew perfectly well they were never going to spend that money on mass transit, housing, education, jobs for youth, getting off fossil fuels and high speed intercity rail, but they also knew exactly what the Democratic faithful, that party's base vote and the activists who move that base vote needed to hear to get the job done.

It was a lesson the Obama campaign learned from the Clintons. Candidate Barack Obama's surrogates explicitly promised he would tackle mass incarceration and a host of other ills, if only we would shut up, line up and vote. And here we are.

There's a lot of Wall Street campaign cash, behind the push for charter schools, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is not about to see all of it go Republican. Hillary, Bill and now Chelsea are a package, as Doug Henwood puts it, a dynasty in the making. No matter which one you choose you get all three. They used to call Bill Clinton the “I feel your pain” president, because of his real political talent for convincing people of just that.

The music for 2016 is already playing. Democrats need ground troops, motivated union members and others to staff their voter registration drives and door to door campaigns. Democrats need to pretend to be a party of the people for at least a few paragraphs every couple years. That's the dance. And chances are that Bill Clinton's misgivings on charter schools, or whatever else are just another chorus of the old Arkansas Two Step.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, and subscribe to our free weekly email updates at www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe. That's www.blackagendareport.com/subscribe.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20141119_bd_arkansas2step.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30pm EDT

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

 

Ferguson Struggle Has Already Altered Black Politics

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“They have rejected the counsel of the local and national Black Misleadership Class.”

After Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon notified the National Guard that he might be calling on their services any day now and declared a state of emergency in anticipation of massive demonstrations, he appointed a 16 member commission to study the underlying social and economic causes of Black discontent in Ferguson. At some other time and place, this development might have been highly newsworthy, and some might even think it a hopeful sign for race relations. The press would pour over the biographies of the nine Black and seven white appointees, and speculate about what the governor meant when he said the commission was “empowered.” Empowered to do what – change the economic and social conditions in Black America? But the governor’s commission is irrelevant because the people of Ferguson are organizing to empower themselves, and that might be the beginning of the best news of the 21st century for Black America.

Whatever happens after the grand jury announces it decision on whether to indict the cop that killed Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson have already altered the political landscape. They have rejected the counsel of the local and national Black Misleadership Class, who specialize in diverting and suppressing any movement that threatens their patrons among the rich and powerful. They have seen through the con game run by the so-called Black power brokers, whose job is to head off any possibility of a rejuvenated Black mass movement. The fact that protests in a small town outside of St. Louis have put local, state and national security forces on high alert is testament to the failure of the Black Misleadership Class to contain the growing movement. And, if Al Sharpton and his local Missouri counterparts cannot keep the Black masses under control, then the appointees to Gov. Nixon’s Ferguson study commission have been rendered redundant before they begin.

“Great Leap Forward”

The people now know that the power is in the streets – a lesson that many had all but forgotten over the past forty years, a period in which the underlying social and economic conditions of Black life have scarcely improved in comparison with whites. This period saw the nation devolve into a Black Mass Incarceration State as methodically vicious and relentlessly racist as any regime in history. The Black Misleadership Class sought not only to divert Black people’s attention away from the massive imprisonment of Black youth and the rapid militarization of the police, they actively abetted the Mass Black Incarceration State, funding it in Congress and collaborating in the arrest of millions on the streets of nominally Black-run cities.

The leadership of the new movement that will grow out of Ferguson is not yet known, because it must be born in struggle. But we do know that the accommodationist preachers, corporate lawyers and professional Democratic Party politicians that have neutralized Black politics for the past four decades no longer hold sway among the grassroots. And that, alone, is a great leap forward. We can say with certainty that Michael Brown did not die in vain. His legacy is growing by the day.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and while you’re there, sign up for free email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20141119_gf_FergusonPanel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EDT