Segregation today…Segregation tomorrow: it’s back.

Alabama Governor George C. Wallace made his objective clear:

“segregation today…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.”

Some black students at prestigious U.S. universities now seem to be endorsing that vow themselves, embracing division instead of diversity. In a contradictory effort, they are arguing for inclusion while espousing policies that support separateness.

A protest at Princeton ended Thursday night after the Black Justice League at the school made multiple demands, including that the school provide cultural space for black students on campus.

The school’s president, Christopher Eisgruber, agreed to discuss all the demands, but quickly capitulated to the “cultural space” ultimatum.

Student protests at Yale have had a similar impact.

Yaleprotest

Nicholas Christakis, the master of Silliman College at Yale, was surrounded by angry students after telling them to allow others to exercise free speech. One young woman launched into an expletive-ridden rant and told him to ‘shut the f*** up’.

Ignoring the bad behavior, Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, promised a doubling of budgets for four already established cultural centers, including an Afro-American Cultural Center.

Founded in 1969, the Afro-American Cultural Center provided a model for other more recently established ones.

Yale attempts to justify the cultural centers by saying they “…foster a sense of cultural identity and educate people in the larger community. They also act as optional social centers and community bases for students of a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, supplementing the social environment of the larger, pluralistic Yale College community.”

In other words, after Americans have struggled for decades to bring us all together, week-kneed administrators at universities across the country are acquiescing in, even heartily endorsing, racial separateness.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Black Student Union at UC Irvine recently demanded and secured an administration commitment to  create and fund a Black Scholars’ Hall and a Marsha P. Johnson Black Student Resource, Outreach, and Retention Center. The Black Student Union also demanded that the Center be  staffed by people picked by student representatives elected by the Black Students on Campus organization and three African-American Studies core faculty members.

“This seems reactionary and poorly thought out,” a reader commented on the Los Angeles Times’ website. “The only way the campus community and the institution benefit from diversity is to better integrate the African American and other underrepresented students on campus. This plan seems to facilitate and support isolating and segregating them.”

MIT has a community within a dorm called Chocolate City, “…a brotherhood of MIT students and alumni who identify with urban culture and share common backgrounds, interests, ethnicities, and/or experiences.”

At Brown University in Rhode Island there’s Harambee House, which is “…focused on perpetuating a sense of community, academic excellence, and leadership for all people of African descent.”

Harambee is Swahili for ” pulling or working together.” But self-segregation isn’t pulling people together; it’s pushing them apart, capitulating to pressure and reinforcing separatism.

After generations of schools denied admittance to blacks and only under pressure eventually opened their dormitories to residents of all colors and cultures, how ironic that many universities have now turned back the clock by allowing, even facilitating, separate housing and activity centers by race.

No matter the justification, they are a contrivance that do damage to all students, their schools and American ideals.

Some academics, overly eager for student approval, argue that faculty support for self-segregation is a good thing because it stimulates bonding. “We teachers have an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our students…on the basis of politicized racial identities,” wrote Amie A. Macdonald, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY.

This isn’t the way forward. It’s a way back, way way back.

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The fatuous fight for $15

mcdonalds

Hold the burgers, hold the fries! MAKE OUR WAGES SUPER SIZE!!! ‪#fightfor15

 

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month that he would set a $15 minimum wage for all state workers on his own and without legislative action.

Cuomo’s move will give raises to about 10,000 state workers, adding $20.3 million annually to state spending by the time the increase is fully phased in.

What the heck. No skin off his nose. The state doesn’t have to make a profit. Take it out of taxpayers’ pockets.

That seems to be the attitude of a lot of folks these days. Wages have been stagnant for years for most people and inequality is the topic de jour. Let’s give a whole bunch of people a raise.

But whatever people say to pollsters about their support for higher minimum wages, that doesn’t necessarily translate into a willingness to pay the higher prices for goods and services that often result.

Furthermore, a sweeping across-the-board $15 an hour mandate that might be bearable for a business in Portland also might be devastating for a small business in Astoria, Echo or Pendleton.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning policy organization with ties to the organized labor movement, says, “All workers deserve a wage sufficient to support themselves and their family.”

The problem is that the minimum wage was never intended to be enough to support a family and that even a $15 minimum wage would still be a long way from achieving that goal.

In Oregon, for example, a family of four needs to earn about $64,000 for a reasonably comfortable living. A $15 an hour wage in a full-time 40-hr week would translate into an annual income of just $31,200.

It’s not even clear that raising the minimum hourly wage to $15 would be a clear victory for all the poor. It would certainly raise the wages of many workers, but it would also likely lead to the elimination of many jobs traditionally open to unskilled minimum-wage earners. In addition, most of the benefits of an increase to $15 an hour would not go to people actually living in poverty.

In fact, about 50 percent of current minimum-wage workers are under 25, and about 25 percent are teenagers. The unemployment rates of both groups are already higher than the 5 percent national unemployment rate.

People without a job are much more likely to be living in poverty than those who are employed. Furthermore, many of those earning less than $15 an hour today are not the primary breadwinners in families. That being the case, a better way to address poverty would be to work harder to position the unemployed for the workforce and to target income supplements on low-income families through such programs as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

When I see a plaintive story about Suzie, a fast food worker who protests that she’s been working at the counter for 4 years and hasn’t seen any substantial raises, my first thought isn’t, “Well, double Suzie’s pay, youInstead, I think, “How can you justify a big jump in pay to someone who has been performing the same low-skill job for 4 years, with no increase in her expertise and no increase in her productivity that enhances the company’s bottom line?” That may sound brutal, but it’s how things work at every single successful company. It can’t be otherwise.

Supporters of the $15 an hour minimum wage also err when they say it won’t cost much. A $15 an hour minimum wage would not happen in isolation. There would be a cascading effect on other workers, thus a greater cost impact on the employer.

If you raise the hourly pay of the McDonald’s crew from $9.25 to $15 an hour, a 62 percent increase, can you leave the shift manager’s pay at $10.20 an hour, and so on up the ladder?

At some point a franchise owner will say, “enough!” McDonalds has tested automated self-service kiosks that have been shown to reduce customer wait times and generate higher sales than ordering from workers at the counter asking, “Do you want fries with that?” That may be the future if we go down the $15 road?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pay to Play: the Keystone XL pipeline

Jeff Koterba cartoon for February 5, 2014 "Obama Keystone Pipeline"

President Barack Obama announced today his administration’s denial of TransCanada’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

“It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel used by both parties rather than a serious policy matter,” Obama said.

He ought to know. It was his administration that turned it into a dollar-driven political football.

TransCanada Corp submitted an initial application to build the project to the U.S. State Department on September 19, 2008, 2605 days ago.

TransCanada knew the review process might take some time, but expected it to be generally non-controversial and to end with approval.

But nothing in ideology-riven Washington, D.C. is fast and simple anymore. Thanks to politics and the shrieking of special interest groups, the project became a pipe dream.

It’s been a hard lesson for TransCanada – and an expensive one that illustrates how lobbying and political contributions have become such a growth industry.

When TransCanada submitted its application it didn’t even have a full-time lobbyist in Washington, D.C. It took the company almost four years to open a Washington office in June 2012.

By that time environmentalist opponents had pounced, raising the issue to political and public prominence. In November 2011, for example, thousands of protestors encircled the White House and demanded that President Obama deny TransCanada’s application.

“…in just a few years, the political debate over Keystone has exploded into an entire sector of the Washington influence economy. Funded by multibillion-dollar oil companies, labor unions and ultrarich environmentalists, the fight has filtered into every crack and crevice of the nation’s capital,” Politico reported.

The Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets, says 163 clients reported lobbying on specific issues related to the Keystone XL pipeline in filings covering 2006 to the present.

Exactly how much was spent by both sides of the acrimonious conflict is unknown, but Politico guessed it was well into the tens of millions of dollars.

In 2008, TransCanada reported spending just $190,000 on lobbying, Open Secrets reported.. Since filing its application, TransCanada has spent a total of $7,160,000 just on lobbying.

That’s on top of all the political contributions to members of Congress by the oil and gas industry, much of which has been tied to the Keystone pipeline in recent years. According to Open Secrets, that totaled $23,891,355 in the 2010 election cycle, $36,756,574 in the 2012 cycle and $31,381,383 in the 2014 cycle, overwhelmingly to Republicans.

Even the Canadian government and the Clinton Foundation have gotten in on the action. In 2014, Canada’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development agency, a pipeline advocate, donated $480,000 to the Clinton Foundation in anticipation of Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency.

What a waste. In the end, Obama did what he planned to do all along.