The Audacity of Reality


audacity of reality

The night of November 3, I sat in front of my television completely dumbfounded. My mother sat next to me praying quietly, big tears streaming down her cheeks. My generally apathetic brother was sending excited text messages. People around the globe were literally dancing in the streets.
While the whole world was in a simultaneous state of reaction, I just sat there. All the mixed emotions that had built up over the course of the campaign had wound themselves into an impossible knot. I expected to feel the excitement, relief and hope that were there but there was also a heavy dose of disbelief.

As Barack Obama moved from the kid with the sweet story -- but no chance -- to the savvy leader of the Democratic Party, I asked myself the same question that others had throughout the campaign: "Is America really ready for a Black president?"

Can Labor Revive the American Dream?


The financial markets are in tatters, consumer spending is anemic and the recession continues to deepen, but corporate America is keeping its eyes on the prize: crushing organized labor. The Center for Union Facts, a business front group, has taken out full-page ads in newspapers linking SEIU president Andy Stern to the Rod Blagojevich scandal. The Chamber of Commerce is capitalizing on the debate over the Big Three bailout to claim that "unions drove the auto companies off the cliff," while minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators insist on steep wage cuts. A December 10 Republican strategy memo revealed their central obsession: "Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor," the memo read. "This is a precursor to card check" -- a clear reference to the Employee Free Choice Act.

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More Americans Join "The Poor" But the Term is Taboo

Editor's Note: When Michael Harrington wrote The Other America public discourse was full of talk about "the poor." Not so today, writes NAM education editor Annette Fuentes, when we use many euphemisms to avoid the term.

"Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is."
-Ben Franklin

We've come a long way from Ben Franklin's view of poverty as, if not a state of grace, then certainly no badge of dishonor. As the United States spirals toward a seeming second great depression, "the poor" are conspicuous by their virtual absence in the news media's coverage or -- or politicians lip service to -- the increasingly hard times Americans face. Instead of "the poor," we get "low-income" and "working families" and other more palatable terms for an economic state-of-being that most Americans would prefer not to acknowledge.

Communities Foreclosed

As soon as he told her they wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage, Ruben Loera’s wife’s heart clenched. She started packing away the angels and pulling down the paintings. Five months later and one step away from foreclosure, half-empty boxes are piled in a corner of the living room in their home in Maryvale, a suburb of Phoenix, Ariz.

Public Transit Investment Fuels More Jobs

Editor's Note: Investment in mass transit creates and sustains jobs far better than highway construction writes NAM contributor Carli Paine.

OAKLAND, Calif. – In response to the current economic crisis, the Obama administration has pledged to pass an aggressive economic recovery bill to create jobs and jumpstart the U.S. economy. President Obama requested that the proposed legislation be completed by the time he takes office.

Last week, Democrats in the House of Representatives revealed their economic recovery package, which calls for $90 billion in roads, bridges, waterways, and transit infrastructure investments. Public transportation capital investments would receive $10 billion under this proposal and $30 billion would go for highway construction.

Greening our Infrastructure

By Alex Wilson

After the Economic Stimulus Act in early 2008 (which gave us shopping money) and the huge bank bailout later in the year failed to turn around a tanking economy, attention has turned to another massive stimulus bill—one that would fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges.

At first glance, it sounds good. Public works programs, as we saw in the 1930s when hundreds of thousands of workers were employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), can play a huge role in putting people to work and boosting the economy. A public works program focused on infrastructure could do the same thing.

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Deployed And Deported -- Immigration law hurts military families

Editor's Note: Yolanda Guevara in the Army Reserve worries that while she is away in Iraq or Afghanistan, her husband could be deported. This report was produced by The Justice and Journalism Fellowship Program for Ethnic Media, supported by the McCormick Foundation at the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism.

Yolanda Guevara knows she could be called up at any moment.

Guevara is a rear detachment commander for her Army Reserve unit, which has already been deployed to Kuwait. It’s a matter of time before she would have to leave her husband and three children in North Carolina to join her unit. Even now, she is sent away from home for anywhere from three days to two weeks to various places in the country—a job she says would be difficult to manage without the support of her husband.

“He works part time but whenever I have to go out … he’s there for me,” Yolanda says. “I don’t think I could be in the military without him.”

For many military families, the thought of being deployed would be enough to deal with, but Guevara also faces the possibility that her husband, Juan, will be deported back to El Salvador in a few months.

Why You Should Be Screaming for Higher Taxes


US economic growth has been strongest when our taxes have been high. During World War II, then under Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, our upper marginal tax rates were between 88-92%. Read those numbers again. They are astonishingly high. Those were our strongest growth years.

I never expected to say this. Pelosi's right, Obama's wrong.

Do keep in mind that we are talking about higher taxes on the richest members of society, the very richest. So, unless you're among that elite group, don't panic for personal reasons.

Keep in mind, also, that we are speaking only of income taxes.

You have certainly heard, several thousand times, that tax cuts lead to economic growth.

That's not true.

Moderate tax cuts lead to a flat economy. (The Johnson tax cuts, usually misnamed the Kennedy tax cuts, lead to 16 years of virtually no growth.)

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Green Worker Cooperatives


Making business healthy and profitable in the South Bronx
When environmentalists approach poor communities of color, often the first impression they make isn’t very promising. “The mainstream environmental movement is full of rich, white people who try to tell people of color what to do,” says Omar Freilla, the founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, a grassroots, green enterprise in the South Bronx.

Predatory Lending and Foreclosure

Illustration: Foreclosures © 2007 Daryl Cagle

The Gonzales family wanted to purchase a home, but could only afford a mortgage of $2,700 per month. Although their conversations with the mortgage broker were in Spanish, their loan documents were entirely in English, which they could not read. It turned out that their mortgage cost them $4,700 monthly and carried an interest rate that adjusted up in six months. Before long, the Gonzales family was paying $5,000 per month, twice what they could afford, and without any hope of getting out of the mortgage because of a $16,000 prepayment penalty, which they had been unaware of.

Caroline Washington, an 83-year-old African American woman living in San Francisco, was induced by her broker to refinance her home three times in three years, causing her $52,000 loan balance to balloon to $240,000. Forced to make monthly payments of over $1,600, which represented nearly all of her fixed income, Ms. Washington lost her home to foreclosure.

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