Boston's 'classical tone'

The Boston Athenaeum, built in 1847.

The Boston Athenaeum, built in 1847.

"There is about Boston a certain reminiscent and classical tone, suggesting an authenticity and piety which few other American cities possess."

—E.B. White (1899-1985), essayist and children’s book writer, who moved to Maine from New York City.

Conn. mulls new tax system

The Connecticut State Capitol

The Connecticut State Capitol

From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and that state’s legislative leaders are considering replacing most of the state income tax with a payroll tax, though apparently not this year.

It would be a complex plan but the core of it seems to be to have employers pay a 5 percent state payroll tax on all wages and salaries. The assumption is that employers would cut pay by 5 percent to make themselves whole. This, it is argued, would end up reducing the amount that employees must pay in federal income tax and Social Security and Medicaid taxes. Behind this is, among other things, the state trying to find ways to offset the effects of the $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions (targeting mostly Democratic-run states) set by the Republican tax law of 2017 as well as to replace most of the Connecticut income tax.

Officials in neighboring states will, I assume, be watching to see what, if anything, happens with these Connecticut tax-reform ideas. In any case, the 2017 tax law will force numerous adjustments in state and local taxes in various places over the next few years.

Neeta Fogg/Paul Harrington/Ishwar Khatiwada: Measuring the GEAR UP program for R.I. students

From The New England Journal of Higher Education, a service of The New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe.org)

‘The federally financed GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program) was organized two decades ago with the purpose of increasing high school completion and college enrollment among low-income students. The College Crusade of Rhode Island’s GEAR UP program was designed as a long-term effort to buttress student success by providing various kinds of educational and social service supports beginning in the sixth grade and continuing through high school completion.

Back in 2015, the authors completed the first study in the nation that measured the net impact study of a GEAR UP program. That study track a cohort of entering sixth-graders who participated in the College Crusade GEAR UP program relative to a comparison group selected with the rigorous Propensity Score Matching (PSM) method that creates a comparison group with traits equivalent to the participant group at the time of sixth grade entry into the program. This baseline equivalency at the time of program entry means that differences in outcomes that occur between the participant and matched comparison groups are attributable to participation in the GEAR UP program.

That longitudinal impact study found substantial and statistically significant gains for a single cohort of GEAR UP program participants relative to the comparison group on the likelihood of completing high school on time and immediately enrolling in college in the fall following high school completion, providing evidence that the College Crusade of Rhode Island was able to substantially improve these two important educational outcomes of GEAR UP participants.

While high school completion and college enrollment have remained high priorities for the nation’s education system, in recent years, much greater attention has been focused on college retention and completion. This raises the question about the lasting effects of participation in the College Crusade’s GEAR UP program. Do the gains that the program provided in the sixth through 12th grades persist for participants once enrolled in college? At the time that these cohorts of students were participating in the College Crusade GEAR UP program, participants who were enrolled in college did not receive any systematic support from the College Crusade. This created the opportunity for us to examine whether the sizable impacts of GEAR UP participation in middle school and high school persist beyond high school completion and immediate college enrollment or do they fade out after entry into college.

Enough time has now elapsed for three cohorts of College Crusade GEAR UP participants to have completed their first year of college, providing an opportunity to measure the impact of participation in the College Crusade GEAR UP program beyond initial college enrollment.

The effects of participation in the College Crusade GEAR UP program are cumulative; that is, we found that the program was able to increase the likelihood of on-time grade attainment for participants relative to the matched comparison group for each year after initial enrollment in the sixth grade. The cumulative effects of these positive outcomes in each successive year for participants relative to comparison group students become quite sizable as students progress from middle school to college.

The chart below illustrates the divergent educational pathways of College Crusade participants and their matched comparison group counterparts. Beginning in the eighth grade, a gap emerges between participants and comparison group students in the likelihood of staying on track; and the size of this gap continues to grow in each successive grade/year. By the time of high school graduation, the gap had grown to 9.3 percentage points in favor of GEAR UP participants; 77% of the three cohorts of participating students had graduated from high school on time compared with just 67% of their counterparts in the matched comparison group. During the fall term following their expected on-time high school graduation, 56% of the three sixth grade participant cohorts had enrolled in college, compared with 42% of the three 6th grade comparison group cohorts.

Eight years after the beginning of sixth grade when these three cohorts of participants had enrolled in the College Crusade GEAR UP program, 40% had returned to college after the freshman year, relative to 30% among their matched comparison group counterparts.

This means that the cumulative impact of the College Crusade’s GEAR UP program was to increase the relative likelihood of a low-income sixth grader in Rhode Island to progress through middle and high school and complete a year of college by 35%.

The Pathway from Sixth Grade to One Year of College Retention, Combined Sixth Grade Cohorts, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10

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These findings reveal that the College Crusade’s GEAR UP program had a cumulative effect that reached beyond its formal goals of high school completion and college enrollment. The cumulative gains for participants relative to the comparison group increased each year though high school graduation and college entry. Beyond that, despite no formal GEAR UP services for participants once enrolled in college, the gains to their earlier participation in the program continued. No evidence of a fade out of the substantial positive effects of GEAR UP participation is found one year after participants had exited the program.

The first year results are promising, but the kinds of obstacles to degree attainment that low-income college students confront are associated with complex academic, social and financial issues that are somewhat different from the barriers that these students face in completing high school and initially enrolling in college Will these cumulative one-year college retention gains persist through college completion with no fade out effects? Stay tuned.

Neeta Fogg is research professor at the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University. Paul Harrington is director of the center. Ishwar Khatiwada is an economist there.














These findings reveal that the College Crusade’s GEAR UP program had a cumulative effect that reached beyond its formal goals of high school completion and college enrollment. The cumulative gains for participants relative to the comparison group increased each year though high school graduation and college entry. Beyond that, despite no formal GEAR UP services for participants once enrolled in college, the gains to their earlier participation in the program continued. No evidence of a fade out of the substantial positive effects of GEAR UP participation is found one year after participants had exited the program.

The first year results are promising, but the kinds of obstacles to degree attainment that low-income college students confront are associated with complex academic, social and financial issues that are somewhat different from the barriers that these students face in completing high school and initially enrolling in college Will these cumulative one-year college retention gains persist through college completion with no fade out effects? Stay tuned.

Neeta Fogg is research professor at the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University. Paul Harrington is director of the center. Ishwar Khatiwada is an economist there.



David Warsh: Our two show-biz presidents

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SOMERVILLE, Mass.

Over the course of 230 years, citizens of the United States have elected only two professional entertainers to the presidency: Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Both possessed an actor’s gifts: good looks; physical presence; a communicative face, in one man an infectious grin, in the other a much-photographed glower.

True, they took very different paths to the office. Reagan began as film actor, union president, and pitchman for General Electric Co. He turned to professional politician in his fifties, winning two terms as governor of California. Trump, a real estate developer and marketer, became a television personality in his fifties. Beginning in 2004, he played a puffed-up, airbrushed version of himself for 14 seasons on The Apprentice.

True, too, Reagan and Trump have left very different marks on the office. Reagan started out shakily, with Alexander Haig, Donald Regan, James Watts, and Ann Gorsuch, and wound up surrounded by good men, including Nichols Brady, James Baker and George Shultz. After being forced to fire National Security Adviser-designate Michael Flynn, Trump started out with some good men around him, Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, and Gary Cohn surrounded by the likes of John Bolton and William Barr.

But the most important attribute they have in common is often overlooked. Their success as entertainers in an age of new media made them shrewd judges of what their respective audiences expected of them.(Reagan was host of a popular weekly drama series, General Electric Theater, from 1954 until 1962, and honed his speaking skills visiting company installations.) Reagan proved able to expand his base dramatically and became a transformational president (Barack Obama agrees.) Trump himself is apt to catastrophically fade, once deprived of his props. But the legacy of the campaign he ran in 2016 is likely to dominate politics for another 20 years.

I count three major issues in 2016 (leaving aside the hate-mongering of lock her her up): immigration, trade and foreign wars. Forging a new consensus on those issues will be an issue for several presidential cycles. For a sensible survey of the often irreconcilable rights and responsibilities of the three basic constituencies – the would-be migrants, the polity they seek to join and those who are being left behind – see Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World (Oxford. 2013), by Paul Collier, a distinguished development economist. (I haven’t read Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World [Oxford, 2017].) Earlier Collier wrote the best-seller The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It (Oxford, 2008).

For a somewhat sterner view, read The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (Princeton, 2013), by Angus Deaton, a Nobel laureate in economics. Or wait for The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, in September. Then ask yourself if you think the U.S. is substantially different from Canada and Australia, where so-called “merit systems” prevail for allocating immigrant positions. Trump proposed something of the sort last week, a plan prepared by his son-in-law and a principal adviser, Jared Kushner.

Similarly, global trade will resume, but the contest with China for dominance won’t go away. The bad feelings on both sides from having come to the brink of a long-lasting trade war will take many years to subside. No one, not even William Overholt, author of a series of prescient books about the sleeping giant, most recently China’s Crisis of Success, can confidently predict the path relations will take. They’ll develop against the backdrop of whatever U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizser and his Chinese counterpart manage to achieve.

As for foreign wars, Trump’s relative caution with respect to North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran gives the lie to his habitual braggadocio. Don’t expect future presidents to be any more willing to intervene abroad militarily. Read America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (Random House, 2017), by Andrew Bacevich, if you doubt it. Perhaps all will campaign on promises to repair America’s seriously damaged diplomatic and intelligence services.]

Ronald Reagan’s presidency offered a genuine buoyancy. Trump offers mainly jingoism, chicanery and abuse. But both men sensed that voters were nearing a turning point in the zig-zag of American history. Sooner or later, legitimate Republican conservatives will turn on their usurper and his enablers. But for the present, Trump’s GOP is the party of innovation, even if it means trying to recapture the past.

Whether or not Trump is re-elected depends mainly on whom the Democrats nominate to run against him, and how that candidate chooses to run. Never mind the evangelicals. He or she can win with only a small portion of Trump voters in a Democratic coalition. In contrast, Reagan won a second term by a landslide, 525 to 13 electoral votes.

David Warsh, an economic historian and veteran columnist, is proprietor of Somerville-based economicprincipals.com, where this essay first appeared.

'Deviled by stone'

Robert Frost’s poetry gave New England’s stone walls an almost mythological significance. He wrote about this stone wall, on his farm in Derry, N.H., in his famous poem “Mending Wall.”    Credit: top: Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection; bottom: CCA 3.0.

Robert Frost’s poetry gave New England’s stone walls an almost mythological significance. He wrote about this stone wall, on his farm in Derry, N.H., in his famous poem “Mending Wall.”

Credit: top: Library of Congress/New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection; bottom: CCA 3.0.

“Stone upon stone

this weathered wall of stone

was built by men deviled by stone'

from poor fields yielding mostly stone’’

— From “A Farm in the Green Mountains (Thinking of Robert Frost)’’, by Dave Etter

Tough love

“The Maine Coast,’’ by Winslow Homer

“The Maine Coast,’’ by Winslow Homer

“New England has a harsh climate, a barren soil, a rough and stormy coast, and yet we love it, even with a love passing that of dwellers in more favored regions”

— Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924, Massachusetts senator and historian)



Alan MacLeod: In praise of some political 'purity tests'

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Via OtherWords.org

The Democratic primaries are heating up. One notable feature of the race is the strong presence of progressive candidates — which has many in the establishment wing of the party worried.

Former president Obama, whose moderate vice president, Joe Biden, is now in the race, recently decried the alleged “purity tests” he saw on the left. Obama worried that an “obsessive” ideological fanaticism was setting the party up for failure.

Indeed, in the political world, the term “purity test” is largely used by the establishment to chastise and attack the left.

For instance, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have refused to accept corporate donations for their presidential campaigns. Many outlets — The Atlantic, Politico, The Hill — described these pledges as a new Democratic “purity test” to establish progressive credentials.

Hillary Clinton scorned the idea, claiming that “under [Sanders’] “definition, President Obama is not a progressive because he took donations from Wall Street!” (Some might argue that’s accurate, as Obama has described himself as a 1980s-style “moderate Republican.”)

Another key issue in the primaries is health care. A lack of health coverage kills around 45,000 Americans yearly, and hospital bills drive the large majority of bankruptcies in America. Many Democratic candidates, including Warren and Sanders, support a Medicare for All system in response.

Yet New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has cautioned Democrats not to “make health care a purity test,” warning that Democrats who don’t support a single-payer system could be characterized as industry “shills.”

Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell was more scathing, attacking leftist “cranks” for supposedly embracing “empty slogans instead of evidence-based policy” on health care. (Never mind the evidence that Medicare for All would cover more Americans for less money.)

In contrast, attacks directed toward the left are seldom framed this way.

For example, Sanders appointed Briahna Joy Gray as his press secretary, who had previously declared she voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein in 2016. Instead of this being seen as the party expanding its appeal to third-party voters, many party loyalists said it was proof that Bernie was not a “real Democrat”.

In other words, they tried to excommunicate an ally for being insufficiently orthodox — but no pundits called it a “purity test.”

Nor did they say that about the anger generated by the decision of such candidates as Sanders, Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Beto O’Rourke not to attend the AIPAC conference. Nor about demands that the candidates embrace Trump’s regime change strategy in Venezuela lest they be accused of supporting a “dictator.”

Meanwhile, the left is told their preferred policies are either unrealistic or unpopular. “If Democrats want to destroy any chances of winning national office,” The Hill warns, “establishing purity tests is the quickest way to do it.”

But this is demonstrably not the case.

Seventy-five percent of Americans (and nearly two-thirds of Republicans) support Medicare for All. Three-quarters of Americans support higher taxes on the wealthy, while tuition-free public college is popular even among Tea Party supporters. One can make a strong case that these policies would attract rather than repel Trump voters.

This purity test trope is so blatantly used to defend anyone in power it sometimes stretches credulity to the breaking point.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Carolyn Dupont bemoaned the “rigid, self-righteous, and blind” progressives who criticized Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for wearing blackface as a young man. The column unbelievably compared this censure to the guillotines of the French Revolution.

When you hear the phrase “purity test,” be on the alert. The phrase is code for powerful people being pressured in ways they don’t like — and is often a shield against legitimate criticism.

Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. A longer version of this commentary appeared at FAIR.org.

The essential monster of Central Falls

The Wyatt Detention Center, in Central Falls, R.I.

The Wyatt Detention Center, in Central Falls, R.I.

I can see why many of the good people of Central Falls don’t like having the privately run Wyatt Detention Center in their heavily Hispanic city, especially since the jail has controversially housed some illegal aliens from South of Border. But the tiny and impoverished city needs the tax revenue from the facility, which employs some locals.

Perhaps when the ballyhooed new passenger train station/bus hub opens in 2022 in Pawtucket, making the two cities more accessible to people from Greater Boston seeking more affordable housing, and boosting local small businesses, tiny Central Falls will gain enough new tax revenue to offset the closure of Wyatt. The new transit center will connect riders to Boston and Providence and some Massachusetts communities in-between, as well as to T.F. Green Airport's InterLink and Wickford Junction. It might gradually transform Central Falls.

And would the looming prison be torn down, or could the relatively new structure (opened in 1993) be used for, say, some manufacturing and/or distribution functions? A high-security luxury hotel?

Chris Powell: Vaccination objections are not really religious

 SEKLET-VETENSKAP-50                 Poliovaccineringen inleds i Sverige 1957. Sjukdomen kallades ocks� f�r barnf�rlamning tills den upptr�dde �ven hos vuxna. Den senaste stora epidemin i Sverige var 1953. Bilden visar skolsk�terskan Birgit Rutberg som ympar Nils Birger Linderholm den 1 feb 1957. 
Foto: Ingemar Berling  Kod: 5/9909  COPYRIGHT PRESSENS BILD

Freedom of religion is freedom of belief and expression. It is not the freedom to do anything one pleases, though lately claims of religious freedom are being used to rationalize more craziness in Connecticut -- the resurgence of dangerous diseases arising from the failure to vaccinate schoolchildren.

That craziness marked a Connecticut General Assembly hearing the other day on whether the religious exemption should be removed from the state's vaccination law, now that the exemption is being claimed much too often.

One woman shrieked that her child would be vaccinated only "over my dead body." But the issue was not her death but the risk of premature death to her child and others.

Defenders of the exemption carried signs reading "My child, my choice," as if state government doesn't spend nearly a billion dollars each year for the care and rehabilitation of children damaged by their parents' terrible choices. No decent society can let children become the mere property of parents.

Another woman said, "God made my body perfect." Really? Has she never had a toothache? She well might reflect on why she never had polio, from whose scourge millions have been saved in the last 60 years thanks to the vaccines devised by Doctors Salk and Sabin.

Objections to vaccination may be based on conscience, personal preference, misapprehension, or ignorance, but to call them religious exaggerates them. At least no organized religion forbids vaccination, not even Christian Science, whose practice has been to submit to vaccination where required by law. Those claiming religious motives make no theological argument.

Indeed, state law doesn't require vaccination for children generally, only for those attending public schools, where risk of contagion is greatest. The parents who were so indignant at the hearing don't have to interpose themselves between their children and the state. Instead they can home-school their kids or enroll them in a private school indifferent to contagion.

People who want to pursue absolute liberty, including liberty to risk the health of children, can try living in the jungle. To enjoy the benefits of society, liberty must respect a few of society's rules. While society lately is being intimidated out of its self-respect, on this point it better hold fast. The religious exemption should go.

xxx

TWO FREE CAR THEFTS: Society isn't demonstrating much self-respect with legislation advancing in the General Assembly that purports to address the epidemic of car thefts and joyriding by juveniles.

Under the bill juveniles would not be subject to detention until they had committed their third car theft. While the kids are on their car-theft spree the courts are to provide them with more of the social services that long have failed to deter them, as police lately have reported the arrests of some youngsters for car thefts just days after their arrest and release for previous car thefts.

Now the law formally will tell the kids that their first two car thefts are free. That may be fewer felonies than some kids are already getting away with, but the principle is awful all the same.

The bill also authorizes a study of the causes of the youthful car-theft epidemic, as if nobody knows that it correlates closely with the child neglect and fatherlessness perpetuated by the welfare system.

But since that correlation cannot yet be openly discussed, people will just have to keep their cars locked. The law won't be protecting them any time soon.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Connecticut.

ReplyReply allForward

Yes, creative


Bless the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for suing in federal court a really ridiculous state Division of Taxation stance that a special sales-tax exemption for the works of published authors in the state applies only to fiction writers because, the division asserts, nonfiction isn’t “creative and original.’’ (The division also favors work by musicians and such visual artists as painters and sculptors.)

Of course, historians and other nonfiction writers, even including some journalists writing news and commentary articles, must often be highly original and creative in coming up with topics, and in crafting engaging narratives combining analyses and syntheses -- all with the aim of drawing and holding readers. There is artistry in this.

The ACLU’s argument is that the Division of Taxation’s distinction violates the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and the press. I don’t know about that but I do know it’s grossly unfair and illogical. Whether authors in general should get preferential sales-tax treatment is another issue. It reminds me a bit of when I worked for the old International Herald Tribune, technically a French company, we journalists had 25 percent lopped off our French income tax in what was in effect a government subsidy to encourage the practice of journalism; it was partly in reaction to the censorship during the Nazi occupation of France.

Safe space at 'PRIED"

“Nancy Bol’’ (low-fire clay, terra sigillata, low-fire glaze and decals), by Larry Buller, in the show “PRIED,’’ at the Society of Arts + Crafts, Boston, through June 30. June is Gay Pride Month. The society says: "PRIED celebrates and recognizes the individuals who create works that may or may not be made based around the image of a queer person, just as any other maker is not limited to creating works about their own identity. In essence, PRIED is both a safe space and creative platform for its artists, and a space that unapologetically challenges the viewer's expectations.’’

“Nancy Bol’’ (low-fire clay, terra sigillata, low-fire glaze and decals), by Larry Buller, in the show “PRIED,’’ at the Society of Arts + Crafts, Boston, through June 30. June is Gay Pride Month. The society says: "PRIED celebrates and recognizes the individuals who create works that may or may not be made based around the image of a queer person, just as any other maker is not limited to creating works about their own identity. In essence, PRIED is both a safe space and creative platform for its artists, and a space that unapologetically challenges the viewer's expectations.’’

Larry Buller, Nancy Boi, 2016, low-fire clay, terra sigillata, low-fire glaze and decals. 

Society of Arts + Crafts is now showing PRIED through June 30. Curated by Izzy Berdan and Dave J. Bermingham, PRIED is a celebration of LGBTQ+ artists and their work. June is Pride Month, and that means something different for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, from validation to hedonism to the questioning of queerness and sexuality themselves. On the other hand, not all the artwork in PRIED is hinged on that queerness. As Society of Arts + Crafts explains, "PRIED celebrates and recognizes the individuals who create works that may or may not be made based around the image of a queer person, just as any other maker is not limited to creating works about their own identity." In essence, PRIED is both a safe space and creative platform for its artists, and a space that unapologetically challenges the viewer's expectations. As Society of Arts + Crafts asks, "If one pries the closet doors open, are they willing to come to terms with all of the skeletons. . .and maybe the glitter?" Society of Arts + Crafts is located at 100 Pier 4, Suite 200 in Boston, Massachusetts and is open Tuesday&#8211Saturday 10:00 a.m.&#82116:00 p.m., Thursday 10:00 a.m.&#82119:00 p.m. andSunday 11:00 a.m.&#82115:00 p.m. For more information, please visit societyofcrafts.org/current-exhibition/pried.

UMass Dartmouth, Air National Guard to partner in cybersecurity

Entrance to Joint Base Cape Cod, in Bourne, Mass.    — Photo by Ktr101

Entrance to Joint Base Cape Cod, in Bourne, Mass.

— Photo by Ktr101

From The New England Council (newenglandcouncil.com)

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth has announced that it will partner with the Air National Guard to develop education and workforce training in cybersecurity for students and personnel at Joint Base Cape Cod.

This partnership with bring the 102nd Intelligence Wing staff and UMass Dartmouth faculty together to develop cybersecurity programs, certificates, and concentrations for undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, UMass Dartmouth will provide educational programs for the unit’s cybersecurity professionals.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson commented, “We are excited to work with the 102nd Intelligence Wing to strengthen the cybersecurity of our nation. UMass Dartmouth is fully committed to making sure our men and women serving in the armed services are future ready with the skillset and mindset to support the sanctity and security of the American dream.”

Josh Hoxie: Debunking myths about class and race

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From OtherWords.org

I don’t get that much hate mail — except when I write about race.

This spring I co-authored a report called “Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide.” My coauthors and I found that the median white family today owns 41 times more wealth than the median black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latinx family.

To fix it, we proposed new public programs, changes to the tax code, and a commission to study reparations for slavery, among other things.

The floodgates opened. My inbox, along with many comment sections at news outlets and on social media, overflowed with angry objections. Most of these blamed the wealth divide on poor individual decision making by people of color.

Are black families 41 times worse at decision making than white families? No — that’s a racist falsehood.

In fact, here are the three most common racist falsehoods I heard about the wealth divide — with data to explain why they’re wrong. Feel free to bust this out at your next family get-together.

Falsehood No. 1: Black and Latinx families have less money because they’re led by single parents.

Nope. A 2017 study from Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy showed that single-parent white families have twice as much wealth as two-parent black and Latinx families.

In other words, raising kids in a two-parent household doesn’t close the racial wealth divide.

Falsehood No. 2: Black people are poor because they’re less educated.

Hard no. A 2015 study titled “Umbrellas Don’t Make It Rain” found that black families led by college graduates “have about 33 percent less wealth than white families whose heads dropped out of high school.”

In fact, according to that 2017 Demos study, “The median white adult who attended college has 7.2 times more wealth than the median black adult who attended college and 3.9 times more wealth than the median Latino adult who attended college.”

In other words, higher education doesn’t close the racial wealth divide.

Falsehood No.3: Black people don’t work or are bad with money.

Definitely not. Demos found that white families actually spend more and save less than black families with the same income. Yet white families have way more wealth than black families with the same income.

The Umbrellas adds that “white families with a head that is unemployed have nearly twice the median wealth of black families with a head that is working full-time.”

In other words, not even income alone can close the racial wealth divide.

So if these arguments are all false, what’s really going on here?

The simplest answer is a history of oppression and inherited advantage. The impacts of slavery, sharecropping, Jim Crow, white capping, red lining, mass incarceration, and predatory subprime lending, among many other things, are still very much with us.

Many white children, by contrast, start life with a more robust safety net of family wealth. It may be as small as getting a few hundred bucks from their parents when they really need it, or as big as a few hundred thousand for things like college, weddings, or their first home.

Addressing these problems is a lot harder than blaming oppressed people for their hardship. But if we’re going to address racial disparities in this country, we must heed James Baldwin’s challenge that “nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

It’s not individual behavior that drives the racial wealth divide — it’s a system that many folks pretend doesn’t exist.

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Taxation and Opportunity at the Institute for Policy Studies.

'Gansett on the bay

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From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com

News that Narragansett Brewery will open a brewery in Providence’s Fox Point section next year was very cheery news indeed. For one thing, Narragansett Beer is a storied local name going back to the 1880’s. For another, it’s always a good sign when a company wants to make something around here. Manufacturing jobs tend to pay more than service ones, and that a popular consumer product will be made in Providence, and in a highly visible location at the head of Narragansett Bay, is good PR for the city and the state.

I assume, from a company picture, that Narragansett plans to have an outdoor beer garden with shared picnic tables, at the site, serving local food, which could become a summer tourist destination.

Let’s hope for colorful signage at the brewery, to attract attention from drivers on Route 195.

Wood breaking against the Maine coast

Work by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen in their show in the Ellis Beauregard Fellowship Exhibition at the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts, Rockland, Maine, through June 16. The gallery says:  ” Kavanaugh and Nguyen have collaborated in their art for more than a decade, and have become known for their inventive and immersive installations. For this exhibition, they use wood to mimic the coast of Maine and create a turbulent ocean breaking against the shore. The wooden waves look as though they may crash down and soak the viewer at any moment, and they keep the viewer immersed in the exhibition even as they stay dry.’’    Rockland is a major art center, anchored by the Farnsworth Museum of Art, as well as a fishing port.

Work by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen in their show in the Ellis Beauregard Fellowship Exhibition at the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts, Rockland, Maine, through June 16. The gallery says: Kavanaugh and Nguyen have collaborated in their art for more than a decade, and have become known for their inventive and immersive installations. For this exhibition, they use wood to mimic the coast of Maine and create a turbulent ocean breaking against the shore. The wooden waves look as though they may crash down and soak the viewer at any moment, and they keep the viewer immersed in the exhibition even as they stay dry.’’

Rockland is a major art center, anchored by the Farnsworth Museum of Art, as well as a fishing port.

The gallery says:

”Kavanaugh and Nguyen have collaborated in their art for more than a decade, and have become known for their inventive and immersive installations. For this exhibition, they use wood to mimic the coast of Maine and create a turbulent ocean breaking against the shore. The wooden waves look as though they may crash down and soak the viewer at any moment, and they keep the viewer immersed in the exhibition even as they stay dry.’’

Rockland is a major art center, anchored by the Farnsworth Museum of Art, as well as a fishing port.