Home > Uncategorized > Thomas Edsall Sees a Link Between Racial Segregation and “Trouble”… I See the Same Link Between ECONOMIC Segregation and “Trouble”

Thomas Edsall Sees a Link Between Racial Segregation and “Trouble”… I See the Same Link Between ECONOMIC Segregation and “Trouble”

July 17, 2019

Thomas Edsall’s column in today’s NYTimes is titled “When Segregation Persists, Trouble Persists“. The kind of “trouble” that persists is the reinforcement of negative white stereotypes of blacks, the inability of blacks to improve educationally or economically, and the continued vicious circle of poverty. Like all of Mr. Edsall’s columns, this one is full of graphs, quotes from political and social scientists, and lots of links to supporting articles. At the end of the article he includes several quotes from researchers who believe in the power of racial integration, summarizing their sense of optimism or pessimism about the future. Here’s that portion of the article:

I asked a number of those I contacted, all of whom support integration, whether they were optimistic about the prospects of school and community integration. The answers varied:

Rucker Johnson of Berkeley was positive:

I am very hopeful because the research evidence is strong about the path forward, about the lessons we can draw on from past efforts, and there’s a groundswell movement and revival of integration efforts led by current students across the country who are dissatisfied by the segregated environments they are confined to and demanding a response from those adults in positions of power.

Douglas Massey of Princeton: “I tend to be on the pessimistic side when it comes to housing segregation.”

Ann Owens of U.S.C.:

As far as pessimism/optimism goes, in a world of rising income and other inequalities and a tendency toward policies that emphasize individual choice and responsibility and market-based reforms, integration is not going to just magically happen. It’s certainly possible, but it will take a political will and a public orientation toward the collective that, in my opinion, does not currently exist.

Ingrid Gould Ellen of N.Y.U.:

Many white households continue to harbor racially based stereotypes about neighborhoods, associating the presence of minority neighbors, and in particular black neighbors, with declining property values, disinvestment and crime. Over time, I’d like to think that these associations are weakening as integration becomes more prevalent.

Sean Reardon of Stanford:

Racial intolerance (and outright racism) seems on the rise, and white-black income and wealth disparities remain very large and have not narrowed in decades. So there is little reason to expect much decline in racial segregation in the near future, particularly given the lack of policy interest in addressing it. Economic segregation likewise shows no sign of declining. So I am currently pessimistic, given today’s political and economic winds, but am more hopeful about the long arc of the future, which I think will ultimately bend toward equality and fairness.

As I noted in a comment I left, I am pessimistic about any efforts to equalize opportunities given the experiences in my home state of NH where economic segregation persists despite a series of lawsuits won by property poor districts.

The vicious circle Mr. Edsall describes in Southern Cook County IL based on RACE is identical to the vicious circle we have in NH based on ECONOMICS. In NH, affluent, well educated parents avoid a purchasing ANY home in a property poor district with a critical mass of children raised in poverty. Instead they purchase a more expensive home in a district with college educated parents. Why? Because the property taxes they pay will be identical and they know that their home will hold its value and their children will attend schools with better teachers, better facilities, and a “better peer group”.

The way to address economic inequality is obvious: impose a progressive income tax and increase business taxes. This would provide the funds needed to improve the schools in less affluent communities and in turn improve opportunities for children in those communities and improve the well-being of those who live in property-poor districts.

Alas, affluent parents and businesses oppose ANY form of broad-based taxes designed to “redistribute” resources to those in need. Broad-based taxes that could provide the resources needed to help those in need has been shelved in favor of “policies that emphasize individual choice and responsibility”.

Live free or die- but only if you can afford it… and, as Anne Owens noted, as long as we live in a country that favors “…policies that emphasize individual choice and responsibility” New Hampshire’s credo will be our nation’s credo… and the Horatio Alger dream will die along with democracy.

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