Warning: the income gap between races is widening in America

Summary: We begin the Trump years with generations of progress unraveling in the healing of America’s racial divide, with the likelihood of further deterioration quite high. We should understand what’s happening to better prepare for what’s next. A new study looks at the causes of the widening income gap between black and white Americans. It makes for enlightening but depressing reading.

"Nevermore" says the Raven.

Divergent Paths:
Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014

By Patrick Bayer and Kerwin Kofi Charles.
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), November 2016.

“The economic fortunes of black Americans relative to those of whites have improved greatly since the end of the Civil War, but convergence has been both glacial and imperfect. Substantial racial differences in wealth, income, and numerous other economic markers remain and there are signs that the closing of some of these gaps has significantly slowed or even reversed in recent decades. In this paper, we study the evolution of black-white earnings differences among prime-aged men from 1940 through the Great Recession.”

Their findings are disturbing. Many Americans considered the progress of black Americans since WWII, and especially since the 1960’s Civil Rights bills to be among our finest accomplishments — belated recovery from the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. This adds to the research showing that progress has stalled. More specifically, the racial income gap for upper income black Americans has narrowed while the gap for those in lower income brackets has widened.

The reasons for this have been obscure. The racial gap in educational attainment and school quality have narrowed since WWII. Why have black men in the middle and lower income groups done so poorly? Their analysis concludes that the gains went to black men that managed to gain the education credentials that our society uses as the gateway to prosperity.

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Review of “Sully”: an example of fake history in the making

Summary:  James Bowman describes a small but telling example of making fake news in the film Sully, showing how Hollywood turns an episode of skillful piloting into a fake morality tale about a heroic individual vs. an irrational bureaucracy. People watch films and learn not just about the specific incidents depicted, but also the larger lessons they show.

 

Film review: “Sully sullied?

By James Bowman.

American Spectator, 23 September 2016.

Posted with his generous permission.

Should we be troubled by the Clint Eastwood’s mild falsification of what actually happened after “the Miracle on the Hudson”?

Whatever else it does or doesn’t do, Clint Eastwood’s Sully makes an interesting case study for those of us who think a lot about the relationship between movies, or popular culture in general, and real life. Because the whole story of “the Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009 took only seconds to unfold, and because it was caused by Canada geese being sucked into a jet airliner’s engines and was therefore seemingly uncomplicated by any human drama behind the scenes, it must have been obvious to Mr. Eastwood from the start that some such drama had to be confected for the movie — if not quite ex nihilo then by way of exaggeration of what really happened.

He chose an inquiry by the National Transportation Safety Board which actually took place months after the plane’s “forced water landing” — as Captain Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) insists on calling it, as opposed to a “crash” — relocating the hearing to the days immediately after the event and showing his hero, still suffering from post-traumatic stress (we can watch his CGI nightmare of crashing the plane into Manhattan), being badgered by his bureaucratic inquisitors for taking an unnecessary risk with his passengers’ lives by ditching in the Hudson instead of making an emergency landing at one of the New York area airports. A computer simulation is said to have found he could have made such a landing. Sully, then, in the time-honored fashion of courtroom drama, gets to explain to his dunderheaded tormentors why the simulation is wrong.

It never happened in real life, but the story sort of fits with a familiar movie “narrative” of corrupt bureaucrats working against ordinary guys and gals who have behaved heroically and on behalf of corporate interests, in this case the airline (U.S. Airways, as it then was) and its unnamed insurers, who are supposed to be trying dishonestly to prove the hero no hero at all. There is also, slightly buried here, a man-vs.-machine drama — the computer simulation versus Captain Sully’s having “eyeballed it” — as well as just a hint of man-vs.-media as, for a brief moment at least, the TV reporters who are such a big part of the story scent scandal arising out of the NTSB inquiry.

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Stratfor: Italy After the Referendum. What comes next?

Summary:  Brexit and Trump’s election were followed by hysterical predictions of doom by experts, helping journalists manufacture exciting news for their apathetic audiences. Italy’s citizens defied their centrist technocratic leaders, producing yet another round of ominous forecasts. For those who like their news straight and sober, here is an analysis of Italy’s situation by Stratfor.

Stratfor

Italy After the Referendum
Stratfor, 6 December 2016.

Introduction

Italy’s voters have spoken loud and clear. During Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reforms, more than 65% of the country’s electorate turned out. Nearly 60% of voters rejected the measures, prompting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign immediately after the results were announced, as promised. Renzi’s quick resignation, coupled with the international market’s staid response to the vote’s outcome, suggests that the immediate repercussions will not be as dramatic as some in Italy and abroad had expected. Nevertheless, Italy’s political and financial troubles will endure, as will its threat to the eurozone.

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Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%

Summary: Trump appoints an all-plutocrat “Strategic and Policy Forum”. No need to guess what comes next. Congratulate Trump for running as a populist, the most effective political con in US history. It is the inevitable next step as our elites explore and exploit our gullibility. This can inspire us to push for reform of American politics, while we still can.

“Every nation has the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre (lawyer, diplomat, philosopher), Letter #76 dated 13 August 1811, published in Lettres Et Opuscules Inédits.

Project New America

In 2008 the world saw the strange spectacle of the Left fantasizing about the coming era of Obama. Elected despite his minimal experience in office, they saw him as The One bringing hope and change, to “begin the process of changing our politics and our civic life“. This culminated in the mad award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him in October 2009. In 8 years he broadened our wars, beginning unprecedented programs of surveillance, assassination, and suppression of whistle-blowers — plus the giving the health care industry the unaffordable cornucopia of ObamaCare (covering more people, but with health care spending projected to grow at over 2x faster than GDP).

Now the Right does the same. Elected as a populist, he prepares to rule as a ring-wing plutocrat, assisted by solid conservative majorities in both Houses of Congress — one of the largest political cons in US history. We need not guess what comes next. His executive appointees for domestic policy are mostly billionaires and far-right activists. In Washington people are policy.

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Trump prepares for a strong military response to jihadists. We’ll win anyway.

Summary: Trump’s two key defense appointees, General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor and General James Mattis, suggest Trump will intensify our war with jihadists. Obama did so, and only helped spread the jihadist struggle. Trump is unlikely to do better because this is primarily a cultural conflict — with America the overwhelming favorite to win. This is a repost from May 2015, about a lesson refused to learn.

“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
Speech by President Bush, 20 September 2001.

Crusade vs Jihad

We attack Islam with invincible weapons

The people of fundamentalist Islamic regimes suffer an unrelenting bombardment by a callous great power that casually and thoughtlessly destroys their society with high-tech weapons against which they have no defense. It attacks at a people’s most vulnerable point: their children, interrupting the delicate transfer of beliefs from one generation to another.

Radio, television, rock music, Hollywood blockbusters, video games, the internet — all bombard their children with images of affluence, of easy sex, of enjoyable booze and drugs, of freedom from patriarchal authority — showing them a more attractive way of life. We attack them like a high-tech Pied Piper.

Western culture acts as a virus, with the American strain its most virulent. A more accurate analogy is that our culture acts as a mass meme displacing weaker ones. In Silicon Valley they speak of “mindspace.” America exports our ways to fill the minds of the world’s people — crowding out their native culture. Martin van Creveld describes this as “colonizing the future.”

The vital centers of Middle Eastern Islamic culture — Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria — adapt, albeit slowly and painfully. But what of the more fragile and rigid societies? Such as Saudi Arabia (and the other Gulf States)? To survive in the 21st century their leadership class must understand western methods. So they send their young men to western schools, from which most return infected with western values. They hide their vices behind the walls of their wealth, with weekends in Paris and Bahrain. But their people nonetheless know. This undermines the Princes’ shallow authority and inevitably weakenes the Princes’ alliance with the Wahhabi ulema, the state’s foundation.

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Stratfor looks back at 2016, the breakout year for cybercrime

Summary:The media and military experts thrill to news about the A-10 and the latest nuclear submarine. Meanwhile new tools for cybercrime and cyberwar reshape the world. The FM website has covered these stories, puncturing the myths that fit them into a useful narrative for governments. Here Stratfor summarizes the events of 2016, the breakout year for cybercrime.

Stratfor

The Year in Cybercrime: Exploiting the Weakest Link.
By Threat Lens of Stratfor, 30 November 2016.

Forecast

  • Hackers will continue to rely on social engineering tactics to exploit their victims.
  • State and state-sponsored actors will turn increasingly to cybercrime to advance their national interests.
  • Technological improvements to counter cybercrime will not protect against human vulnerability.

Analysis

The rise of the internet and related technologies has transformed the world, revolutionizing nearly all aspects of everyday life, including crime. In September, the Global Cyber Security Leaders summit in Berlin highlighted the cyberattack tactics that pose the greatest concern to security professionals. Many of these coincide with the threats that we have covered over the past year on Threat Lens, Stratfor’s new security portal. Some transcend criminal activity and involve state or state-sponsored actors using tricks of the cybercriminal trade to advance their countries’ agendas.

Though the weapons used to conduct cyberattacks are relatively new — and rapidly evolving — the tactics have been around for centuries. Over the past year, several major crimes have combined the new platforms and greater access that the information age affords with the age-old art of social engineering. The tactics described below are by no means the most sophisticated of their kind, but they have proved to be some of the most successful and enduring.

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Slow Economic Growth

Three important things to see in today’s jobs report

The monthly jobs report creates a flood of exciting news stories.  Most of these discuss small fluctuations in its many numbers, most of which are just statistical noise. Here are three things you need to know about job and wage growth. They are the key trends seldom mentioned in the news.

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