priorities, American style

September 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

“When a country places more importance on sports than on academic achievement, its decline is inevitable…”

“Until we get our collective head out of our ass and treat teachers and cops and sanitation workers and firefighters and the men and women we send into combat as the priceless resources that protect our lives, care for our children and make our country worth living in, we’re doomed to a future of self-centered stupidity and civic ignorance.”

Highest-Paid public employees, by state.  Click image to enlarge.

- From: Everything Wrong with America.  An article worth reading.  I think the title and tone are abrasive.  Be prepared for fairly course language.

Ferguson Missouri 2014 mapping tragedy

August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bloomberg Businessweek

What does a map have to do with a riot? Everything, in the case of Ferguson, Mo., where a police officer shot dead a black teenager, some residents looted and rioted, and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

See video to understand St. Louis and Ferguson from a more tangible perspective:

The crazy quilt that is St. Louis County government helps explain why violence broke out in Ferguson, of all the places in the country for a riot. It’s not because Ferguson is desperately poor; it’s lower-middle-income, with a healthy business district and a range of big, close-by employers.

It’s also not because civic leaders have turned their backs on Ferguson’s black population. John Gaskin III, a spokesman for the St. Louis County NAACP, is no pushover. He calls Missouri “the most racist state in the country.”  But he praises the leadership of key business leaders.

Fragmentation is the key.

The problem, rather, is that St. Louis is locked into a pattern of inequitable development, as shown in a remarkable series of maps that Iowa’s Gordon has posted on the Web.

“The Gateway City [St. Louis] is,” he writes, “by any measure, one of the most depopulated, deindustrialized, and deeply segregated examples of American urban decay.”

(Click here for a Bloomberg TV interview with Gordon and here for a series of maps showing the area’s population shift.) Fragmentation “is not the principal cause, but it certainly fed into what’s happening in Ferguson,” says Robert Cohn, author of The History and Growth of St. Louis County, Missouri.

Dating as far back as the 19th century, communities set themselves up as municipalities to capture control of tax revenue from local businesses, to avoid paying taxes to support poorer neighbors, or to exclude blacks. Their behavior has ranged from somewhat parochial to flatly illegal.

Ferguson is comparatively populous at about 21,000 people. Many of St. Louis County’s postage-stamp municipalities have fewer than 1,000 people. Champ may be the smallness champ, with a 2010 population of 13, all white

The result of fragmentation today is a county whose small towns are highly stratified by both race and income. As blacks move into a town, whites move out. The tax base shrinks, and blacks feel cheated that the amenities they came for quickly disappear, says Clarence Lang, a University of Kansas historian who has studied St. Louis. Ferguson flipped from majority white to majority black so quickly that the complexion of the government and police force doesn’t match that of the population. That mismatch was a key factor in the tense race relations that contributed to the riots and, perhaps, the shooting itself.

Taken from

The County Map That Explains Ferguson’s Tragic Discord by Peter Coy:

It is best to read the article for a more complete view.  It’s not long.

Today’s Term:  “White Flight”  Blacks move into town, and whites move out.  A term I heard growing up in Illinois, near St. Louis.  It defines St. Louis as a whole much more than I had ever known.



Ferguson Missouri 2014 core

August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Micheal Brown was a thug, why are all those people in Ferguson?

problems not people Javon Johnson

I had been researching to simplify, and make the issue more approachable.  Avoiding statistics and annectdotes.  This message wisely addresses the core of the issue that has people so fiecely protesting.   Think about the statement above as you watch the video at the link below.

“When this woman held up her protest sign at a vigil in Washington, D.C., she had no idea she would become a symbol of history.

"When this woman held up her protest sign at a vigil in Washington, D.C., she had no idea she would become a symbol of history." - Alternet

“When this woman held up her protest sign at a vigil in Washington, D.C., she had no idea she would become a symbol of history.” – Alternet


“It’s not about whether or not the shooter is a racist.  It’s about how poor black boys are treated as problems well before we’re treated as people.”
– Dr. Javon Brown

“I cannot believe I still have to protest the shit!!!”

See also: for a graphic example.

Ferguson Missouri 2014 side note

August 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

I have quite a bit to say/post about Ferguson.  No surprise.  My attitude and opinions will fluctuate as things develop both legally and civically.

Before I had anything written, I saw this video and have now forgetten my ideas.  I hope I recall them shortly – I wish that I had not seen this video.  The visual content is not graphically disturbing.  The ease in which a life is lost, tossed like garbage,  is shocking.

This is the shooting that occured in north St.Louis a couple of days ago.  Well after Micheal Brown was killed.  There is a longer version of this video.  The man that was shot was 23, wandering around being odd (mental illness?).  The photographer et al, were watching him and laughing.  I don’t know why the police showed up.

This serves as a wake-up for me and people that cannot comprehend the fear and frustration of life in such a context, especially raising a black son.

I endorse this message

July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment


most common spoken languages in U.S. – after English and Spanish

May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment


I found this both interesting and culturally informative.  This is a great country indeed.



Today’s map comes from Ben Blatt of Slate, who used data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. He created several other language maps, too, including each state’s top Native American, Scandinavian, and African language.

The Social Costs of “Unprecedented” Growth in US Prisons

May 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

New Report Slams “Unprecedented” Growth in US Prisons | Locked Up In America | FRONTLINE | PBS.

“The U.S. now holds close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners, even though it accounts for just 5 percent of the global population…The cost of America’s prison expansion has been staggering, the study notes. In most states, spending on corrections represents the third highest category of general fund expenditures, ranked only behind Medicaid and education.”

My concern is with the social costs,  for any race or class.

“The social costs have likewise been steep, particularly for minorities and the poor. In 2011, for example, about 60 percent of everyone behind bars was either black or Hispanic. Black men under the age of 35 with no high school diploma are now more likely to be in jail than working in the labor market, the report notes.

These trends extend to family life. In 2009, 62 percent of black children age 17 or younger, whose parents had not completed high school, had experienced a parent being sent to prison. Among white children, the rate was 15 percent.”

4 Disturbing Reasons the Private Prison Industry Is So Powerful | Alternet

May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

A major cause of the industry’s staying power is how deeply it has woven itself into the fabric of our public institutions and channels. What follows are some of the most invisible yet effective ways that the incarceration business embeds itself in our society like a splinter under the skin. 

1. Bankrolling Small Towns  Eloy, Arizona is a town of 10,500 whose financial health and civic culture basically revolve around the private prison system. It’s home to four CCA facilities, all migrant detention centers, and was paid a total $9 million in construction fees by CCA to build them. That revenue went to updating the city’s waterlines, purchasing more police cars and building a new playground, according to the Huffington Post.

2. Installing Friends in High Places  The revolving door between public and private correctional institutions allots the punishment industry an untold degree of influence in public policy without requiring the disclosure of public-private ties.

3. Receiving Secret Subsidies  In the construction and maintenance of their facilities, private prison firms have shrewdly secured the spoils of public money normally put aside for civic development projects.

4. Using Loopholes to Avoid Taxes  Last year, both the GEO Group and CCA were granted permission by the IRS to restructure themselves into REITs (real estate investment trusts), a designation that lets them escape corporate income taxes.  Instead of paying a corporate income tax, REITs dish out at least 90 percent of their taxable income to individual investors in the form of dividends. Investors then have to pay ordinary income taxes on those dividends, or at least that’s what is supposed to happen.  Out of fear that the real estate industry had too little actual cash on hand to pay investors, the federal government has permitted REITs to pay their investors in dubiously valued stock rather than cash since 2009.

4 Disturbing Reasons the Private Prison Industry Is So Powerful | Alternet.


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