Monthly Archives: February 2018

Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years

By Tracy Jan

NEW YORK, NY – A woman walks by housing projects in the crime ridden Brownsville section of Brooklyn. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute released on Monday.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination as well as racial segregation.

  • 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared to 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.
  • The rate of homeownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the last 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.
  • The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the last 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4 times more likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared to 5.4 times more likely in 1968.

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the<a class="colorbox" …read more


Nobody knows how many members the NRA has, but its tax returns offer some clues

By Christopher Ingraham

The booth of the National Rifle Association (NRA) at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The National Rifle Association is one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying groups, due in large part to its base of millions of politically active members.

But nobody really knows exactly how many dues-paying members the NRA has, because it doesn’t publish annual membership figures beyond periodic allusions to “five million members” — see, for instance, the quote from NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre prominently displayed above the group’s 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference booth in the photo at the top of this page.

We can, however, get a rough approximation of NRA membership by looking at how much money the group brings in each year via member dues. That information is made public through the group’s IRS filings, which have been compiled by ProPublica and Mother Jones. Those numbers show a lot of annual variation, with no clear trend in recent years — a sign, perhaps, that membership is flattening out.

The NRA sells single-year renewable memberships for $40, with multiyear and even lifetime membership options available. It also periodically offers discounts for renewals or new memberships. That variation in price makes it impossible to reverse-engineer exact membership numbers from total membership revenue: For instance, $1,500 in membership revenue could come from 38 annual membership renewals or from one new lifetime membership.

Still, the group’s total annual revenue from dues is a useful, if rough, barometer of the number of individuals who find the NRA’s cause compelling enough to join the group. And that number has fluctuated considerably in recent years.

Since 2004, the group has averaged about $128 million a …read more