Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Jennings Defends Wealth Disparity Forum
Each time I've posted something here, someone tells me not to "feed the trolls." Most of the folks on this thread seem to be thoughtful, not mean-spirited and hateful, so I'll ignore their advice.
I'd like to clarify a few points:
First, the $3.4 million grant paid for only about $10,000 of the "Justice For All" portion of the over-all planning effort. Frankly, I would argue that the most valuable and desirable purpose of government is to attempt to guarantee equal access to opportunity. If you believe in the free market, then you should believe in it being a fair market. We are simply raising questions about
whether the free market is, indeed, fair. I don't think anyone in the group suggested that all of us white folks are racists. But we'd be lying to ourselves to suggest racism isn't a factor in market distortion.
Second, the task force was formed to enable people of color to voice their concerns; that freedom of speech is one of those pesky little rights enumerated in that most American of documents, the Bill of Rights. CACLV provided the staff support to facilitate that voice.
And that voice did a damn good job, as those present at the 2-hour forum included two school superintendents, a college president, three foundation directors, community and economic development officials, bankers, CEO's of two well-regarded local companies, the United Way, and others. To a person, we heard high praise for the forum.
Third, there is barely a hint of asking the rich to give up a penny. This, as the report said, was about opportunity, not entitlement.
Fourth, Bernie, with all due respect, we have been doing homeownership counseling for 20 years and, yes, we are especially focused on helping lower-income and minority homebuyers. And HUD has been funding it, along with those Commie bankers, for most of that time.
Folks, read the report. It's not radical, really. And we think it can make progress on the uncivilized level of disparity in our world. What's so bad about that?
What is bad about that report, which I have not seen anywhere online, is that it starts off by playing the race card. It attempts to argue that wealth disparity exists because of racism.
Anyone who did read the report would realize it does call for more funding to urban school districts, that quality pre-kindergarten be provided to low-income families. Local colleges are told they must offer 50 scholarships per year to children of color. Employers are called on to provide subsidies. A living wage, not a mere minimum wage, is advocated. Large purchasers are expected to buy from under-represented groups. Some of these are good ideas, and I agree with most of them. But they do require the rich to give. They do call for wealth redistribution.
I am sure the forum was popular to the invited participants.But it was a simplistic and jingoistic approach to a nuanced problem that extends beyond race. Whether Alan knows it or not, there are poor white people, too. I'm one of them.
As for the task force, it lacked the very diversity complained about in the report. Not one token whitie. Doesn't the pesky First Amendment apply to us, too?
Alan's homeownership counseling program is open to one and all. The program advocated in the report is one "marketed to homeowners of color." That's discriminatory and violates the Fair Housing Act.
Finally, I agree that the $3.4 million HUD grant funded other projects, including the Envision LV report. I agree a free market needs to be fair, and believe that Congressman Charlie Dent had some ideas about fairness that were mysteriously absent in the one-sided report.