The Great DebateAlgernon Austin, Thora Institute and Demos
John McWhorter, Manhattan Institute
Orlando Patterson, Harvard University
Moderator: Felicia Lee, New York Times
The Future of Black America: The Burden of History or the Audacity of Hope?
Does the twenty-first century require a new black politics? For many, the success of Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Oprah and Richard Parsons signals the emergence of a post-race America where anyone with the right values and skills can succeed. For others, the persistence of segregated schools and the increasing numbers of blacks in America's prisons indicate that we are still living in the shadow of Jim Crow. What are the major obstacles to a prosperous future for black America? What are the best policies for moving forward - an effort to change values, an anti-discrimination offensive, or something else? Is it useful to continue to think about politics through the lens of race?
June 13, 2007, 6:30 PM
Donnell Library, Manhattan, NYC
20 West 53rd between 5th and 6th
Register here or call (212) 633-1405 x533
Sponsored by Demos and the Donald and Paula Smith Family Foundation
[Getting It Wrong: How Black Public Intellectuals
Are Failing Black America by Algernon Austin
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[Find out The Truth about "Acting White".]
“Innovative and zealous firms have lured unsophisticated shoppers by the hundreds of thousands into a thicket of debt from which many never emerge,” states the coverstory of Businessweek. (Brian Grow and Keith Epstein, “The Poverty Business: Inside U.S. Companies’ Audacious Drive to Extract More Profits from the Nation’s Working Poor,” Businessweek, May 21, 2007.)
American companies have discovered a new gold mine: the working poor. They are finding ever new ways to lend to the working poor for higher and higher interest rates. Businessweek reports that in 1989 poor households paid 16.8 percent more on their interest rate for their auto loans. In 2004, poor households were paying 56.1 percent more. In mortgage loans, the poor paid 6.4 percent more than the rich in 1989. In 2004, they were paying 25.5 percent more. For a wide range of products, from college loans to car loans, the poor are paying more.
Some auto dealers serving poor clients no longer post the prices of the cars they sell, but use software to mine customers’ financial records to find out the maximum the person can afford to pay. Tax-preparation companies give advances on poor people’s Earned-Income Tax Credit and they can then skim 10 percent off of the tax returns of the working poor. A 10 percent rate is a bargain compared to the interest rates exceeding 100 percent charged by other types of lenders who target the poor.
Now would be a good time to bring back usury laws that limit the amount of interest a company can charge. Businessweek also suggests bringing more mainstream banking to poor communities and educating customers.
How the New Loan Sharks Divide Up $250 Billion
[click on image for a better view]
--Algernon Austin, Ph.D.
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