News About Inequality - March 2009
'Special Report: The Color of Opportunity'
'Haiti's Woes Are Top Test for Aid Effort'
- New York Times, March 31, 2009
About 46 million more people are expected to tumble into poverty this year amid the largest decline in global trade in 80 years, according to the World Bank. The results ripple through every index. An additional 200,000 to 400,000 infants, for example, may die every year for the next six years because of the crisis, the bank said.
Amid the turmoil, the United Nations is reminding the world's wealthy nations, however embattled their finances, not to forget the poorest.
'Restaurants Favor Male Workers, Report Finds'
- Reuters, March 31, 2009
While New York is a melting pot of races and cultures, racial and gender discrimination is still prevalent in the city's restaurant industry, according to a study released on Tuesday.
City restaurants hire and promote white men more often than women and nonwhite workers, the study by The Restaurant Opportunities Group said.
'At Clinic, Tales and Health Concerns of Hispanics'
- New York Times, March 28, 2009
Getting health care is increasingly difficult for many illegal immigrants. Previously allowed to use Medicaid, people here illegally are no longer eligible, except for children, pregnant women or those with emergency cases. Some illegal immigrants are too afraid to approach a public hospital like Hennepin, fearful that any official interaction might tip off immigration agents.
'France's Ethnic Minorities: To Count or not to Count'
- The Economist, March 26, 2009
How can a country decide if ethnic minorities are thriving when it refuses to acknowledge they even exist? France has grappled with this conundrum for years. Under its egalitarian ethos, it treats all citizens the same, refusing to group them into ethnic categories. It is forbidden by law to collect statistics referring to "racial or ethnic origin". Yet even the casual visitor notices how multi-ethnic France is - and how few non-whites have top jobs. Now a new plan seeks to make it possible to measure "diversity".
'States Consider Drug Tests for Welfare Recipients'
- Washington Post, March 26, 2009
Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.
The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.
'Hidden Homeless Emerge as U.S. Economy Worsens'
- New York Times, March 26, 2009
Emergency shelters brimming with homeless people in California's capital are quietly turning away more than 200 women and children a night in a sign of the deteriorating U.S. economy. The displaced individuals on waiting lists at St. John's Shelter and other facilities often turn instead to relatives or friends for temporary living quarters, perhaps moving into a spare room, garage or trailer. The less fortunate might sleep in their cars or a vacant storage unit.
They are the hidden homeless. And their ranks appear to be growing as rising joblessness and mortgage foreclosures take their toll in Sacramento and other U.S. cities, experts say.
'Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA'
- Amnesty International, March 25, 2009
Over 30,000 immigrants are detained every day. This is triple the number detained just ten years ago. Immigrants can be detained for months or years without any meaningful judicial review - this despite international human rights standards requiring judicial review.
It costs about $95 per day to detain someone, while effective alternatives only cost $12 per day. These more affordable alternatives are often not considered and the use of such programs varies greatly region to region.
'Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns'
- New York Times, March 25, 2009
As the operations manager of an outreach center for the homeless here, Paul Stack is used to seeing people down on their luck. What he had never seen before was people living in tents and lean-tos on the railroad lot across from the center. "They just popped up about 18 months ago," Mr. Stack said. "One day it was empty. The next day, there were people living there."
Like a dozen or so other cities across the nation, Fresno is dealing with an unhappy deja vu: the arrival of modern-day Hoovervilles, illegal encampments of homeless people that are reminiscent, on a far smaller scale, of Depression-era shantytowns.
'A Slippery Place in the U.S. Work Force'
- New York Times, March 21, 2009
Like many places across the United States, Morristown, Tennessee has been transformed in the last decade by the arrival of Hispanic immigrants, many of whom are in this country illegally. Thousands of workers settled in Morristown, taking the lowest-paying elbow-grease jobs, some hazardous, in chicken plants and furniture factories.
Now, with the economy spiraling downward and a crackdown continuing on illegal immigrants, many of them are learning how uncertain their foothold is in the work force in the United States.
'The Competition for Low-Wage Jobs'
- New York Times, March 18, 2009
In a continuing series on immigration, Room for Debate this week moves on to the issue of how the economic crisis affects immigrants - both legal and illegal.
We've asked several experts how the recession might alter competition for lower-wage jobs between workers born in the United States, who previously shunned these jobs, and immigrants who have been willing to take them. If competition for these jobs increases, what does it mean for immigrants who don't have a social safety net to rely on?
'Where Education and Assimilation Collide'
- New York Times, March 14, 2009
Walking the halls of Cecil D. Hylton High School outside Washington, it is hard to detect any trace of the divisions that once seemed fixtures in American society. Two girls, a Muslim in a headscarf and a strawberry blonde in tight jeans, stroll arm in arm. A Hispanic boy wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt gives a high-five to a black student with glasses and an Afro. The lanky homecoming queen, part Filipino and part Honduran, runs past on her way to band practice.
But as old divisions vanish, waves of immigration have fueled new ones between those who speak English and those who are learning how. Walk with immigrant students, and the rest of Hylton feels a world apart. By design, they attend classes almost exclusively with one another. They take separate field trips. And they organize separate clubs.
'The Global Crisis and the Poor: Toxins Trickle Downward'
- The Economist, March 12, 2009
"POOR countries are innocent," says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian managing director of the World Bank. They did not contribute one jot to the global credit crunch, and their banks and firms have few links to global capital markets. For a while, it seemed as if the rich world's mess might even pass them by. But innocence, it seems, will not protect anyone.
A financial crisis that began in New York and London and spread to manufacturing in rich, then industrialising countries, has now hit the "bottom billion." The consequence will be dreadful. The World Bank reckons that between 200,000 and 400,000 more children will die every year between now and 2015 than would have perished without the crisis.
'As Indian Growth Soars, Child Hunger Persists'
- New York Times, March 12, 2009
Small, sick, listless children have long been India's scourge - "a national shame," in the words of its prime minister, Manmohan Singh. But even after a decade of galloping economic growth, child malnutrition rates are worse here than in many sub-Saharan African countries, and they stand out as a paradox in a proud democracy.
'America's Youngest Outcasts: State Report Card on Child Homelessness'
- The National Center on Family Homelessness, March 10, 2009
This report describes the plight of America's homeless children. For the first time, comprehensive information about our country's most vulnerable children is synthesized in a single report, giving us the opportunity to focus on the needs of these children and to galvanize a comprehensive response.
'As Jobs Vanish, Motel Rooms Become Home'
- New York Times, March 10, 2009
As the recession has deepened, longtime workers who lost their jobs are facing the terror and stigma of homelessness for the first time, including those who have owned or rented for years. Some show up in shelters and on the streets, but others are the hidden homeless - living doubled up in apartments, in garages or in motels, uncounted in federal homeless data and often receiving little public aid.
'New Study Offers Stark Portrait of Shelter Youth'
- Covenant House, March 10, 2009
In one of the largest-ever studies of homeless youth in New York City history, researchers at Columbia University's Center for Homelessness Prevention, in partnership with Covenant House -- the City's largest agency serving street youth, offer a stark portrait of youth disconnected from the world of work and education and with intense histories of family violence.
"This has got to be a wake-up call for all of us who care about kids," said Kevin M. Ryan, President of Covenant House. "Half of our kids are reporting violence in the home. One in five report being beaten by an object. These kids shared experiences with us that no young person should have to experience."
'Blacks, Hispanics have steeper end-of-life costs'
- Washington Post, March 9, 2009
Striking new research shows dying blacks and Hispanics have much steeper treatment costs than whites, sobering evidence that racial health-care differences continue right up until death.
It's not that minorities are being charged more than whites. It's that they tend to get more costly, intensive treatments including feeding tubes and other invasive medical procedures near death. That's in sharp contrast with what often happens throughout their lives, when minorities are less likely than whites to get aggressive medical care.
The results raise a troubling question about whether medical resources for nonwhite patients are "misallocated over a lifetime," with minorities receiving more treatment at the end, when there is little chance of improving or extending life, the study authors said.
'Economic Ill Winds Hitting Africa'
- BBC News, March 9, 2009
Africa is a long way from the eye of the global financial storm. But there are early signs of the international economic winds doing damage to the continent.
The good news for Africa is that it has little direct exposure to the credit crisis. African banks have not invested much, if at all, in the problem financial assets at the heart of the crisis.
But there are likely to be several indirect effects. The global downturn has undermined demand for many industrial commodities, which are important exports for several African countries. This includes oil in Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea, and copper in Zambia.
'In Environmental Push, Looking to Add Diversity'
- New York Times, March 9, 2009
National environmental organizations have traditionally drawn their membership from the white and affluent, and have faced criticism for focusing more on protecting resources than protecting people.
A 2007 study commissioned by the environmental law group Earthjustice found that the "greenest Americans," many of them members of environmental groups, were overwhelmingly white, over 45 and college-educated. "The focus of green groups has been to target the greenest Americans," the author Cara Pike said, "and as a result, we've left other people out of the equation."
'Medical Care in Romania Comes at an Extra Cost'
- New York Times, March 8, 2009
Romania, a poor Balkan country of 22 million that joined the European Union two years ago, is struggling to shed a culture of corruption that was honed during decades of Communism. Alarm is growing in Brussels that Romania and other recent entrants to the European Union are undermining the bloc's rule of law. The European Commission published a damning report last month criticizing Romania for backtracking on judicial changes necessary to fight corruption. And Transparency International, the Berlin-based anticorruption watchdog, ranked Romania as the second most corrupt country in the 27-member European Union last year, behind neighboring Bulgaria.
Romanians say it is the everyday graft and bribery that blights their lives, and nowhere are the abuses more glaring than in the socialized health care system.
'Hispanic Enrollment in Schools, Colleges Rising'
- Washington Post, March 5, 2009
Roughly one-fourth of the nation's kindergartners are Hispanic, evidence of an accelerating trend that now will see minority children become the majority by 2023.
"The future of our education system depends on how we can advance Hispanics through the ranks," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "In many cases it's going to be a challenge, because they are the children of immigrants, and their English is not as strong. Many have parents without a high school or college education."
'U.S. Recession Boosts Role of Community Health'
- Reuters, March 5, 2009
[There were] 16 million people who used community health centers for primary health care including dental and mental health care in 2008. Nearly 40 percent of those have no health insurance and one-third are children, according to government figures.
The centers focus on preventive medicine and could play a big part in reforms for the health sector, which is groaning under the cost of federally funded health insurance programs and the weight of 37 million uninsured.
'Economic Crisis Starts to Hit World's Poorest Countries'
- International Monetary Fund, March 3, 2009
After first striking the advanced economies and then emerging markets, a third wave of the global financial crisis has begun to hit the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries, threatening to undermine recent economic gains and to create a humanitarian crisis, said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
'A Home on the Internet Shelters Beijing's Homeless'
- New York Times, March 3, 2009
South of Tiananmen Square, mazelike neighborhoods are being bulldozed and grand shopping promenades erected, but homeless people keep resurfacing.
The police and official city management squads conduct regular sweeps to chase the vagrants out. They crack down especially hard in periods like this week, when annual parliamentary sessions are getting under way at the Great Hall of the People. But after each raid, people creep back into pedestrian tunnels and covered walkways to sleep.
Now, for once, modernity has come to the aid of the homeless people of Qianmen...
'Many Immigrants Still Till the Land of Opportunity'
- Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2009
A stream of recent data has indicated that both skilled and unskilled immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere are homeward-bound due to the U.S. economy. But gardeners, who generally have a firmer footing, aren't giving up. Despite little schooling, many of them have achieved financial success, providing a secure place in the U.S. middle class for their families and college education for their children.
'Protecting Afghan Women From Abuse'
- New York Times, March 2, 2009
Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, a more egalitarian notion of women's rights has begun to take hold [in Afghanistan], founded in the country's new Constitution and promoted by the newly created Ministry of Women's Affairs and a small community of women's advocates.
The problems they are confronting are deeply ingrained in a culture that has been mainly governed by tribal law. But they are changing the lives of young women...
'Americans at Risk: One in Three Uninsured'
- Families USA, March 2009
This study sheds more light on one of the worst predicaments facing our country today: 86.7 million Americans went without health insurance at some point in the last two years, and nearly three-quarters of these people were uninsured for six months or more. With one out of three Americans uninsured, and with the weakening economy making job-based health insurance increasingly difficult to hold on to, American families are at risk.