Historian Says Don’t ‘Sanitize’ How Our Government Created Ghettos – MAY 14, 2015 3:16 PM ET

A helicopter flies over a section of Baltimore affected by riots. Richard Rothstein writes that recent unrest in Baltimore is the legacy of a century of federal, state and local policies designed to "quarantine Baltimore's black population in isolated slums."

A helicopter flies over a section of Baltimore affected by riots. Richard Rothstein writes that recent unrest in Baltimore is the legacy of a century of federal, state and local policies designed to “quarantine Baltimore’s black population in isolated slums.”

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Related NPR Stories

Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country’s metropolitan areas. Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.

“We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls ‘de-facto’ — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight,” Rothstein tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

“It was not the unintended effect of benign policies,” he says. “It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that’s the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies.”

Interview Highlights

On using the word “ghetto”

One of the ways in which we forget our history is by sanitizing our language and pretending that these problems don’t exist. We have always recognized that these were “ghettos.” A ghetto is, as I define it, a neighborhood which is homogeneous and from which there are serious barriers to exit. That’s the technical definition of a ghetto.

Robert Weaver, the first African-American member of the Cabinet appointed by President Johnson as his secretary of Housing and Urban Development, described many of the policies that I’ve described today in a book he published in 1948 called The Negro Ghetto.

The Kerner Commission referred to the ghetto.

Article continues:


West Virginia Is for Egalitarians – By Jordan Weissmann JAN. 27 2015 7:31 PM

Rising income inequality is a national issue. Actually, scratch that—it’s a global issue. But at the same time, it’s interesting to look at the rise of the rich on the state level, both because it might reveal a thing or two about inequality, and because Americans never tire of petty geographical rivalries.

Thar be rich folks in Connecticut. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Thar be rich folks in Connecticut.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This week, the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, released a very cool analysis of how the top 1 percent of earners in each U.S. state has grown its share of income since 1979. The overarching point is that the story of American inequality isn’t just about Wall Street financiers from New York or Connecticut gobbling up an ever-growing share of the country’s economy. Rather, the aflluent are pulling away from their neighbors all over the country, from Portland to Palm Beach.

This strikes me as an interesting, though not exactly surprising, point. One percenters aren’t all hedge funders and bankers. They’re doctors, lawyers, and business executives too, and sometimes live in places like Missouri and Tennessee. Of course, just because you’re in the 99th percentile of earners in, say, the deep south, that doesn’t mean you make the cut for the U.S. as a whole. In Alabama, for instance, it only took an income of $272,000 to make the 1 percent threshold in 2012, compared to about $394,000 nationally, according to the World Top Incomes database. But the last few decades have delivered a rising share of income to the workaday rich, too—the top 5 percenters, who bring down low six-figure incomes, and live all over. If you’re wealthy by any state’s standard, you’ve done pretty well over the last few years.

CEO pay up by 937% since 1978. That of the typical worker? 10.2%

CEO compensation has increased by 937 percent over the last three decades, according to a new study. The rise compares with a dismal 10.2 percent hike for the average U.S. worker over the same time frame, putting into stark contrast the relative fortunes of the superrich and everyday employees in an increasingly economically divided America.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at Jun 12, 2014 4.32

The report, released by the Economic Policy Institute on Thursday, found that average CEO compensation, which includes stock bonuses, was $15.2 million in 2013, up 2.8 percent from 2012 and 21.7 percent since 2010. That increase follows a trend since 1978 of CEO pay outpacing other economic growth factors. EPI says the 937 percent rise in pay is more than double the rate that the stock market grew in the same years.

The mismatched pace between CEOs and the typical worker means that CEOs earned on average $295 for every dollar their employees earned in 2013.

The report is based on an analysis of a database of CEO pay for the largest 350 public companies in the U.S. from 1978 to 2013.

Numerous studies have outlined the growing divide between America’s rich and poor, in which stock prices continue to climb past their pre-recession peaks, even as tens of millions struggle to make ends meet.

EPI’s report shows that CEOs are not only pulling away from average workers, but from other highly paid ones as well. Research found that average CEO pay was 4.75 times greater in 2012 than the typical earnings of others within the top 0.1 percent of the economy, suggesting that CEO compensation has been untied from the market forces governing the vast majority of American workers, even those making millions a year.

Despite the continued increase in pay since 2010, average CEO pay is still lower than it was in 2000, right before 2001’s stock market crash, and lower than in 2007, when it averaged $18.5 million, right before the global economic crisis.

The study’s authors posit that the continued rise in CEO pay has dramatic consequences for inequality in the U.S. They say that because the highest-paid CEOs tend to pay their executives more while keeping worker pay stagnant, increases in CEO pay drive wealth to the top 1 percent of earners. And because top earners tend to invest in the stock market, increasing CEO pay can also further concentrate wealth in assets that will never be accessible to average Americans.

“It is sometimes thought that the rise of CEO compensation is a symbolic issue and does not have consequences for the vast majority [of people],” the authors wrote. “However, escalating CEO compensation and, correspondingly, executive compensation more generally, have fueled the growth of the top 1 percent.”



Seventy-five Leading Economists Just Told Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage – Steven Hsieh on January 14, 2014 – 3:14 PM ET

1Economic Policy Institute

A group of seventy-five leading economists signed a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders in support of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

The letter, released by the Economic Policy Institute, endorses a Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage by ninety-five cents a year over the next three years, and then to tie further increases to inflation. The plan, which is sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA), received the support of President Obama in November.

The letter’s signees, including seven Nobel laureates, say the Miller-Harkin plan would increase the wages of close to 17 million low-wage workers.

“The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet,” the letter reads, “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”

The letter also disputes claims that an increase would have an adverse affect on employment of minimum-wage workers. A recent analysis by the EPI determined that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would grow the US economy by about $22 billion and create 85,000 new jobs. The study also found that the Miller-Harkin proposal would bring the minimum-wage value, adjusted for inflation, back to that of the late 1960s:


Source: Economic Policy Institute

A December Wall Street Journal/NBC poll revealed that 63 percent of Americanssupport raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Read Next: Saket Soni explores the increasing trend towards low-wage labor in America.ww