Working twice as hard to get half as far (Five by 8 – 9/02/10)

1) Racial disparities. Speaking in the Twin Cities last night, sociologist Algernon Austin said the metro area has the biggest disparity in black-white unemployment rates of any major metropolitan area in the country, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

He narrowed the reasons why down to three, the first of which is discrimination. The final two, he went on to explain, are more specific to the Twin Cities.

The Twin Cities has a higher high school dropout rate for African Americans and lack of education is a major contributor to unemployment.

and…

The relatively young age of the African American labor force in the Twin Cities is also a factor, because younger people have higher unemployment rates.

So where do we go from here? One solution offered by members of the panel following Austin’s speech was a proposition to ban private employers from asking about the criminal record of job seekers in the first steps of the application process (it’s currently banned by public employers, apparently). Good idea? Bad idea? Tell me what you think.

2) The gold rush. Journalism school, unfortunately, doesn’t teach its students a whole lot about personal finances, but it does teach you how to spot B.S.:

As tempting as the sound of gold coins clinking in my hand is, forgive me, Gordon Liddy, if I don’t pick up the phone right this minute.

But wait, you say, doesn’t gold offer a secure investment? It certainly has in recent months, David Moon said on Marketplace last night. “It only makes money as long as people move their money into gold,” he said. “The reason we pay attention to it is because marketing works.”

3) Manny being Manny. Slugger Manny Ramirez is now with the hated Chicago White Sox, and he’s speaking Spanish in press conferences, even though speaks English fluently.

Hey, if we get to see him pulling stuff like this in Target Field, I’m all for the excitement it could bring to our very own AL Central pennant race.

As long as it doesn’t get too exciting, that is. Respected Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman warns that he is not as over the hill as we’d all like to think.

4) Getting into the holiday spirit. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, will wrap up next week. Since early August, more than a billion Muslims across the world have been abstaining from water, food and sex during the daylight hours to teach themselves about patience and spirituality.

There’s more to it than that, Dr. Bushra Dar, a Family Medicine physician at Allina Medical Clinic told a Startribune blogger. Dr. Dar has been raising funds to send to flood-stricken Pakistan.

“Removing worldly distractions such as food and other petty affairs allows the believer to spend their time immersed in remembrance, thankfulness, and repentance before God. Likewise, during this time Muslims strive harder than usual to do good deeds, as the reward for righteous acts is multiplied many times over in Ramadan, through God’s mercy.”

If anyone needs mercy now, Pakistan does.

It’s been noted before that aid to Pakistan is no where near as much as the aid Haiti received after the January earthquake, and Pakistan’s links to terrorism are often named as a reason why. A BBC reporter in Pakistan says those fears are unfounded:

These areas are of no strategic interest to anyone because they have neither exported terrorism nor do they have the ambition to join a fight against it. Their only export to the world outside is onions, tomatoes, sugar cane, wheat and mangoes.

5) It’s not duck or rabbit season; it’s bear season. And according to the Ely Timberjay, it’s looking like this will be a good year.

The latest population estimate from the Department of Natural Resources does point to an upswing, mostly as a result of lower bear permit numbers the past few years.

Needless to say, please know what you are doing, like these guys do, before you head for the woods.

  • Dropout rates and youth may play a role, but to me, the racial disparity in MN would seem to be mostly about blatant, outright discrimination. As much as I love this state, I’m constantly struck by just how openly racist many Minnesotans still are.

    Until I moved here ten years ago, I had never in my life (I’m in my mid-30s) met an educated white adult who was willing to openly say to another educated white adult that s/he believed black people to be inferior/dangerous/lesser than whites. (And I’ve lived in Alabama, which is surprisingly quite racially integrated and harmonious by comparison to us.) Here, I seem to encounter such people everywhere – white people who are not only convinced that blacks are a problem to be avoided, but are so sure of their opinion on the subject that they just assume I must share their view and will therefore not be offended by it.

    It’s likely, I suppose, that this is the kind of character flaw that disappears with time, as the old, racist generation dies off and the younger set that grew up side by side with people of other races takes their place. But the fact that Minneapolis is still so geographically segregated – blacks on the north side or in the poorest areas south of downtown, whites on the south side or the suburbs – worries me. Are today’s Minneapolis kids growing up just as full of racial misconceptions as their grandparents? Or has the influx and relatively successful integration of Somali/Oromo immigrants somehow helped to dull the edge of race-based discrimination? I wish I knew.

  • JackU

    Hey, if we get to see him pulling stuff like this in Target Field, I’m all for the excitement it could bring to our very own AL Central pennant race.

    If we have a chance to see him pull that kind of stunt at Target Field then it will be good for the hometown nine. I don’t think the White Sox plan to use Manny in the field. A comment on ESPN radio the other morning made it sound like one of Manny’s problems this year in LA was that playing in the field took a lot out of him. So I expect Ozzie to use Manny strictly as a DH. If they have to put him in the field then they are more banged up then we are.

  • bsimon

    “So where do we go from here? One solution … was a proposition to ban private employers from asking about the criminal record of job seekers in the first steps of the application process (it’s currently banned by public employers, apparently). Good idea? Bad idea?”

    I’ll go ahead and argue that banning employers from asking about criminal records is a bad idea. While it doesn’t do much to help adults, the real problem has to be solved in the schools – education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. A side benefit, of course, is that if we can improve the dropout rate (i.e. reduce it) we should see a correlation in youth crime rates – i.e. higher graduation rates lead to lower crime rates, which addresses the ‘problem’ of employers asking about criminal backgrounds.

  • Al

    \\ban private employers from asking about the criminal record of job seekers in the first steps of the application process

    Wouldn’t a better idea be to figure out why more young African Americans have criminal records and work on preventing that from happening in the first place? Wouldn’t that benefit our communities and the job seekers themselves? This, of course, isn’t an easy task, but then no real solution to the problem is going to be.

  • Al Heebsh

    \\While it doesn’t do much to help adults, the real problem has to be solved in the schools – education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

    bsimon – While I agree education is an important part of turning this around, dumping the problem and the blame solely on schools and teachers isn’t the answer. Check out my comment on the August 31 NewsCut post “A Race to Nowhere?”

  • Bonnie

    We need to figure out how to get to these children early, and that means getting to their parents. Whites have access and comfort levels with ECFE and parenting programs and parenting education is the key to children being successful in school. Progressive employers are incorporating parenting education seminars at worksites. But no one wants to fund parenting education. There are great programs out there that are being starved to death. It’s the only way to break the cycles.

  • Ken Paulman

    This handy infographic explains why the gold coin thing is a scam.

  • bsimon

    Al Heebsh writes

    “dumping the problem and the blame solely on schools and teachers isn’t the answer.”

    Al, I wasn’t being clear; I used ‘schools’ as a proxy for education; to be more specific, I think that we, as a society, need to place more value on early childhood development. My understanding is that kids living in poverty are often not ‘ready’ for kindergarten, both developmentally and behaviorally. The studies I’ve seen show that programs like Head Start are very effective at preparing their enrollees for school. So I think that we need to expand such programs for children living in poverty. I suspect that if more kids are prepared for school when they enter the school system, we’ll see improvements in school scores & reduced drop-out and truancy rates.

  • Al

    I agree with you bsimon. My point is that early childhood ed works great if kids are in it. It works great if parents support it and model acceptable behavior at home. But at some point we have to figure out how to get loser parents on track or get the kids out. Many of these parents are kids who had kids, and often came from the same situation themselves. We have to end the thinking that leaving kids in families with criminal, drug-using, or abusive parents is better than removing them from the situation. We have to put aside our thoughts that it is their family problem when things get that bad. The kids deserve better from us when the parents screw up this bad. When are we going to address those kids who don’t make it to Head Start because the parents strung out on drugs?