Power To The People: Unless The People Don’t Toe the NRA Line

I do so love the Tea Party Darlings, like Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who spout platitudes like “popular will,” and “freedom” until it actually comes around to people expressing a “will” and exercising their “freedom” in ways the National Rifle Association doesn’t approve.

Nevada voters approved Question One (pdf)  in the 2016 election.  The initiative requires background checks for gun sales in the state.  558,631 Nevada citizens voted in favor of the question; 548,732 did not. The Question passed.   Now, the “will of the people” isn’t quite enough for the State Attorney General to follow  along.  No sooner did the initiative pass than the AG was releasing an opinion that it could not be enforced [RGJ] in spite of the fact that there are other states with similar laws which have found ways to work with the FBI to keep their streets and communities safer.

And, the story continues in a January missive to the AG:

“We are gravely concerned that Mr. Laxalt misused and misinterpreted the power and duties of the Office of Attorney General,” Wynn and Jones wrote in the letter to the governor. “For these reasons, we write to request that you uphold the enforcement of this law irrespective of your opinion of this law.”

In their missive to Laxalt, the campaign leaders wrote: “Nevadans elected you Attorney General because they trusted you to fulfill the sacred duty of all our elected representatives to implement and enforce our state’s laws. It is well-known that you actively – and visibly – opposed this new law. However, the election is over and now it is your responsibility to implement a policy supported by a majority of your constituents because they know it will make our state safer.”

As I suspected, this is far from over — politically and legally. [Ralston]

There’s a kernel of truth herein:  No election is ever final IF the National Rifle Association and its hand-maiden (in the Margaret Atwood sense of the term) Republican Party, aren’t satisfied with the results.

Mr. Laxalt took the oath prescribed by the state of Nevada in 2015:

  I, ……………………., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States, and the Constitution and government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding, and that I will well and faithfully perform all the duties of the office of ……………., on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help me God; (if an affirmation) under the pains and penalties of perjury.

Well and truly performing the duties of the office of Attorney General means implementing and enforcing the laws of the state… even if he doesn’t necessarily like them.  It’s a dangerous precedent to set when an elected official decides which laws are practical and which are not.  Note: The AG isn’t saying Question One is unconstitutional. He’s saying he can’t enforce it.  And he can’t enforce it because he’s not actively cooperating with federal agencies to do so.

And, yes, it may well take litigation to force the Attorney General of the state of Nevada to do his job if that means bucking the NRA and its Tea Party allies.   Thus much for Popular Will and Freedom from Corporate Interests.

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11% of Nevada Households could lose affordable health insurance plans

The Republicans are all but giddy over repealing the Deathly Obamacare! The “Failure,” which isn’t failing by any stretch of the imagination; the “Socialized Medicine,” which in fact subsidizes the private marketplace for health insurance coverage…  And what of those subsidies which help pay for health insurance plans in Nevada?

Nevada has 79,876 enrolled in the ACA marketplace. 71,472 of them are receiving Advance Premium Tax Credits, that would be 85%.  48,736 policy holders in Nevada are receiving Cost Sharing Reductions; 61%. [KFF]

Shouldn’t it be interesting when 85% of the Nevadans who are enrolled in marketplace health insurance plans find out that with “repeal” comes the prospect of getting no help to pay the premiums for the family health insurance policy?

What are the options?  Buy cheap policies, some of which meet the Consumer Reports standard for Junk? Drop coverage and let medical problems wait until it’s time to take a trip to the ER? 

Let us remind ourselves that there are some 751,165 households in the state of Nevada, and 79,876 of them are enrolled in an ACA marketplace private health insurance plan.  That’s about 11% of the households in the state standing to lose assistance securing affordable health insurance policies.

We also need to remember that these households are those which do not have employer provided health insurance for their family members – like small business owners, independent contractors, low wage contract laborers…

Next time the GOP rants on about “helping the Working People of America,” or “protecting small family businesses”  remind them they didn’t mind shoving the props out from under these people when it came time to help them get affordable health insurance.   Is this OK for Senator Heller and Representative Amodei?

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Patterns in Politics from Congress to the Promised Press Conferences

That didn’t take long.  A mere 12 hours ago the Republicans in the House of Representatives wanted to put the OCE under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee; disallow the OCE from accepting anonymous tips from whistleblowers; stop investigating anything if the House Ethics Committee wanted the investigation stopped; not investigate anything that might have happened before January 3, 2011; not discuss its findings or even hire a spokesperson; and, not investigate any criminal cases or turn allegations of corruption over to law enforcement agencies. [BuzzFeed]   Then came the questions, perhaps the best of which was: When has anyone accused Congress of being TOO ethical?  Now the House Republicans have scrapped the plan. [The Hill]

However, watch for a pattern here.  This “jurisdictional” issue has been raised before, in the case of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  [HFSC 2013] [MPA 2016] Here’s a prediction for 2017 – the House Republicans will try to “reform” financial regulations by placing the CFPB (the outfit that caught Wells Fargo manipulating its staff and customers) under Congressional control.  What about a Republican controlled Congress having jurisdiction over mortgage lending practices and pay-day lenders could possibly go wrong?  Oh, well, there was that mess back in 2007-2008…

One thing about which there doesn’t seem to be much controversy: The Russians hacked the Democrats. (Except if you ask Trumpster Flack Kellyanne Conway, The Trumpster, or Vladimir Putin.) The geeks were on to this back in July 2016 when Motherboard posted this article.  The New York Times has a compilation of reports on Russian hacking.  In the face of all this actual evidence we have the Trumpster’s contention that “he knows things,” [CompWorld] and Conway’s advice that we should be listening to Julian Assange…[cnbc].  The Trumpster will have more to say, promise the flack, later this week.  We should add those comments to:

1. The April 2011 Trumpster comments that his investigators “couldn’t believe what they were finding in Hawaii” (about the President’s birth certificate.)  Trumpster told Meredith Vieira he had investigators there; however, there’s still no evidence he actually sent investigators to Hawaii. [HuffPo 2016]

2. On April 27, 2011 the Trumpster vowed to release his federal income tax returns.  We’ve not seen hide nor hair of these to date.

3. August 9, 2016:  the Trumpster says that his wife Melania will have a press conference to settle details about her immigration to this country. [Hill]  No press conference yet.

4.  September 9, 2016: The Trumpster vowed to release more detailed medical records. [BloombergNews]  Nothing released to date.

5. December 12, 2016: The Trumpster postpones his press conference on his business conflicts of interest for “a month.” He had told reporters on November 30th there would be a press conference on December 15th.  [MMA/Bloomberg]

I’d not advise anyone to hang by their hair or hold their breath waiting for the Trumpster to divulge any information on any of these topics much less on the hacking.

And, again, there’s a pattern.  One of the things that an overwhelming amount of scientific investigation and analysis tells us is that global climate change is very real. Faced with this, the energy industry fought back with attempts – not to attack the science itself – to sow doubt, and to promote those “doubts” in popular media. [guardian] This play goes back to the Tobacco campaigns of an era past.   Now, it’s “hacking.”

17 United States security and law enforcement agencies report that the Russians hacked the Democratic Party, and election efforts.  That’s 17 out of 17. There’s no doubt here.  Except – backers of the Trumpster using popular media to sow doubt.  We’ve seen this pattern before, and before, and before. The media keeps falling for it.

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There they go again! GOP assault on Medicaid

It’s no secret the Republicans in Congress want to slash the social safety net. It’s also no secret Medicaid has been one of the favored targets for years.  The not-so-new-idea of late is to fund the program based on block grants.  There are some strong arguments against this:

(1) Block grant funding is set. Should a state have program costs exceeding the block grant funding one of two options are available – either appropriate state funds to make up the difference, or cut back on services or eligibility.

(2) The traditional match rate has been 50%, meaning that the state is insulated to some extent from unexpected cost increases and thus can ensure health insurance coverage for low income residents.

(3) When baffled by actual numbers, Republicans often return to the high-flying rhetoric about making the program more “flexible” under state control.  No. In reality the states already have that “flexibility” in terms of services covered, ways providers are paid for those services, the delivery of services, and eligibility levels.  [FUSA pdf]

Those who could see their health care access cut if Medicaid becomes a block grant program are those in Nevada who are earning $16,105 per year for an individual, or $32,913 for a family of four. (2014)  The ACA expansion of Medicaid allowed the state to add approximately 187,100 low income workers to the benefits.  Repeal of the ACA would obviously jeopardize this expansion, and cost the state approximately $1 billion in federal funds. [KFF and FUSAorg]

Consider for a moment that about 160,700 people in Nevada are employed in “accommodation and food services” jobs in which the average (mean) wages are $25,360 per year, the 10th percentile wages are approximately $16,450.   Or, we could look at health care support services with 18,860 employed at average (mean) wages of $33,900 with $22,470 at the 10th percentile and $26,500 at the 25th percentile.  [DETR]  Not to put too fine a point to it, but slashing Medicaid in Nevada would quite possibly have a negative effect on the ability of those employed in “accommodation and food services” to access health care, and these are the people who  work in one of Nevada’s major industries.  Home health care personnel wouldn’t fare much better.

When all else fails the Republicans haul out the “bankrupt system” allegations.  To the contrary, the Medicaid expansion has been a definite benefit to Nevada and other states:

    • CBO estimates show that the federal government will bear nearly 93 percent of the costs of the Medicaid expansion over its first nine years (2014-2022).  The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost of covering people made newly eligible for Medicaid for the first three years (2014-2016) and no less than 90 percent on a permanent basis.
    • The additional cost to the states represents a 2.8 percent increase in what they would have spent on Medicaid from 2014 to 2022 in the absence of health reform, the CBO estimates indicate.
    • This 2.8 percent figure significantly overstates the net impact on state budgets because it does not reflect the savings that state and local governments will realize in other health care spending for the uninsured.  The Urban Institute has estimated that overall state savings in these areas will total between $26 and $52 billion from 2014 through 2019.  The Lewin Group estimates state and local government savings of $101 billion in uncompensated care.  [CBPP]

A further note about uncompensated care, we need to look at the example of Pennsylvania and its latest report on the impact of expanded Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act:

“For the first time in a decade, Pennsylvania’s 170 general acute care hospitals in 2015 saw a drop in charity care spending, saving the average hospital about $200,000 over 2014, according to state data obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Coupled with a nearly $300,000 drop in bad debt at the typical hospital, hospitals saved about $500,000 on uncompensated care in 2015, according to data from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

The state hospital association and patient advocates alike believe the drop in spending on charity care and bad debt is due to the impact of the Affordable Care Act, which is what experts said they believed caused a similar drop for the 24 states that adopted the ACA in 2014, as reported in the Post-Gazette series, Counting Charity Care, last year.”  [PPG]

Thus, in their ardor to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash Medicaid support by turning the program into a block grant disaster, Representative Amodei (R-NV2) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) may need to explain:

(1) Why reducing support for a program which serves the least well remunerated among us – especially in one of our major industries – is a bright shining idea?

(2) Why eliminating programs which reduce uncompensated care costs to local hospitals and health care providers is also such a great notion?

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Filed under Amodei, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Medicaid, nevada health

Happy New Year Nevada: Here’s what we lose if the ACA is repealed

Perhaps we should now speak of two varieties of what was formerly known as the “Fog Of War.”  The older form is often attributed to Carl von Clausewitz (but never verified), the Nebel des Krieges, or the “uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by those engaged in military combat.”  Then there seems to be a more modern form, in which the Republicans fight against “Obamacare” and promise to Repeal and Replace it without inconvenience to anyone.  Or, the uncertainty of what to do when the fight stops being strategic and starts being ever so inconveniently tactical.

One of the elements that is truly popular is the ACA provision forbidding insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history (the pre-existing condition provisions in policies).  69% of the country favors this provision including 75% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans, and 63% of independent voters. [KKF]

Perhaps this is a popular feature of the Affordable Care Act because 25% of Nevada’s non-elderly population, or 439,000 people  could be denied health insurance coverage if the pre-2010 rules were re-established for health insurance companies. [KFF]  If a person is without health insurance the problems are well documented.

“Lack of health coverage, even for short periods of time, results in decreased access to care.  Adults with gaps in their health insurance coverage in the previous year were less likely to have a regular source of care or to be up to date with blood pressure or cholesterol checks than those with continuous coverage.16 Children who are uninsured for part of the year have more access problems than those with full-year public or private coverage.17” [KFF] (emphasis in the original)

The pattern from this point on is predictable.  No health insurance, less likelihood of consistent care, less care begets more serious health problems, and more serious health problems are more expensive, especially if treatment is deferred until the emergency room is required.    MEPS has some 2013 data which is on point:

“Average expenses for people who had one or more visits to the Emergency Room were $1423 in 2013, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). Median, or typical, cost was $703. For people ages 45 to 64, the cost was substantially higher on average ($1840). Uninsured people under age 65 averaged $1627 in expenses ($572 median), of which they paid almost 1/3 out of pocket. While average cost for those age 65 and up was about $1500, Medicare recipients paid only about 5% out of pocket. Median charges for children under age 18 were $471 to $477.”  (Full chart here)

The standard Republican response is that people ought to have Health Savings Accounts, and/or pay more out of pocket. [PUSA]  Therefore, our 439,000 Nevadans would be on the hook for emergency room treatment of approximately in the range of $703 to $1423.  Uninsured children? The parents would be liable for costs of at least $471 for that rash, laceration, abrasion…whatever the little critter managed to do to itself.  It’s all well and good to babble on about some theoretical notion of Personal Responsibility, but …

Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Health Plans aren’t for everyone.  For example, the median household income in Nevada is $51,847 and the average household has 2.72 people.  The average mortgage payment is $1,442, and average gross rent is $973. [Census] Those in Clark County can expect to pay out $177.22 per month on utilities, and another $352.74 on groceries (at least) per month. 

We played with some of the numbers back in 2015, and the pressure on average families in the Silver State was obvious then:

“For the sake of the argument let’s propose that the family has one car, which means  ownership costs of $517.00, and operating costs in the western region of $236.00 per month. [IRS] Subtract another $753 from the monthly budget. Now we have $1,848 left for the remaining expenses.

Basic utilities in Las Vegas run about $175.56, and in Reno about $130.00; let’s call it in the middle and estimate monthly utility bills of $150.00; now we have $1,698 in the check book.

Now for the groceries.  A family of four can just get by on about $146 per week and eat healthier on about $289 on the higher end. [USDA pdf] Let’s settle for the “moderate” plan which will cost our average family of four about $1,062 per month if the kids are over 6 years of age.  Now there’s $636.00 left.”  [DB]

Without too much more arithmetic it should be clear that High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts are a nice idea if (1) a person is generally healthy with no family history of serious illnesses; and (2) a person is wealthy enough to afford to put aside “extra” money each month for the Health Savings Account.  Return with us now to elementary school arithmetic.

We’ve been speaking of households in terms of their Median household income. So, we know that half the households in Nevada are earning less than $51,847 per year.  We also know that 14.7% of Nevadans have incomes below the poverty line ($24,250 for a family of four in 2015).  We also know that 22.8% of Nevadans under the age of 65 and below 138% of the poverty line did not have health insurance at any time during 2015. [TP.org]  Speaking about an HSA to those whose households are trying to function with incomes below the median and barely above the poverty line seems almost cruel.  It doesn’t do to bellow “personal responsibility” when the individuals and households in question don’t have the “personal resources” to meet this exalted standard.

It’s perhaps even more cruel to imagine the days when an insurance company in this or any other state could decline coverage for previous treatment of: alcohol or drug abuse Alzheimer’s or dementia, arthritis, cancer, cerebral palsy, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, Crohn’s disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, epilepsy, hemophilia, hepatitis, kidney disease or renal failure, lupus, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, obesity, organ transplant, paraplegia, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, pending surgery or hospitalization, pneumocystic pneumonia, pregancy, sleep apnea, or strokes. [KFF]

Yet, this is precisely what the Republican Congress has in mind … repealing the Affordable Care Act, with it’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions and replacing it with … something…. somehow … some way… in some form… when the only two definitive responses have been “using the emergency room,” and “HDHP + health savings accounts.”  In short, back to the bad old days.

No more light on the subject, just more Nebel des Krieges from the Republicans, including Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) and Senator Dean Heller.  It would be well for them to blow off some of the fog and illuminate precisely what they want to do.

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, nevada health

Work With Him? Why? It doesn’t seem to pay.

Let’s guess it won’t be too long before some pundit expounds on the necessity of the Democrats to “work with the (Trumpster Fire) Administration” because not to do so will be to risk retribution in the off year elections.  To which I will call… the southbound product of a northbound male bovine.  Why?

A man who doesn’t pay his bills isn’t likely to be a good negotiating partner. No matter what the closing price may be, he’ll probably try to get out of it. Proof, you ask? Try the June 9, 2016 edition of USA Today.  “Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills.”  Need more?  On the same day, the Wall Street Journal ran essentially the same information, and if suppliers and vendors couldn’t get paid why should anyone think he’ll keep to his bargains now?  CNN highlighted small business owners who got the Trumpster Treatment.  The Atlantic magazine described the Trumpster’s many ways to avoid laws, contracts, and ethics.   And, then there were the “Freedom Girls,” the young dancers who didn’t get paid.  Any questions about why the Trumpster can’t get talent to perform at his Investiture?  Performers are business people, they depend on getting paid, and this man doesn’t exactly have a track record of paying much of anyone – including an 82 year old immigrant for services rendered.

A man who doesn’t stand for anything won’t be a reliable partner in any deal.  He hates the Electoral College?  He did in 2012.  Now he loves it.   In 1999 he was very Pro Choice.  Now he says he’s Pro Life aka anti-abortion. He’d have us believe that he manufactured his products overseas because the “system made him do it.”  Really?  It’s not like there aren’t perfectly profitable clothing manufacturers in the US.  He’s anti-immigration – but, wait, he needs foreign workers for his winery.  For that matter, he has a decades long record of hiring foreign workers.  Thus, for anyone sitting across the table from him the message is reasonably clear – whatever he says he believes today may not be what he purports to believe tomorrow.

A man who lies doesn’t care what he negotiates because there’s no way to hold him to his end of the bargain.   Remember when he said he didn’t settle cases? And then there was the settlement in the Trump University fraud case.   Oh, how he saved jobs in Indiana – but wait, more jobs left the state than stayed, and those that were left weren’t guaranteed.  Then there’s the matter of conflicts of interest with his businesses – he doesn’t have any conflicts? Wrong? Handing them over to his children will satisfy the law? Wrong again.   If you believe he is going to cut the carried interest tax loophole with an Administration full of Goldman Sachs and hedge fund managers – I have some used cars I’d like to unload on you.

A man who hides his side of the negotiations while demanding his opponents operate in complete transparency isn’t reliable.  Where are those tax returns?  What do they show about conflicts of interest? Potential involvement with financial institutions he’s tasked with regulating while they hold his paper?  Involvement with foreign countries who may have “something on him.”

It isn’t simply a matter of Doing to the GOP what they did to President Obama for 8 years…stall, delay, deny, and obfuscate… Democrats have no evidence that this incoming administration will deal honestly, forthrightly, and with any form of stability.  Until they do, there’s no rational person on the planet who should ever believe anything coming from the Trumpster White House.

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Race, Poverty, and Stereotypes

The Census Bureau compiles statistics on poverty and the poverty rate in the United States. Their chart for 1959 to 2015 shows 13.5% of Americans living in what is officially designated as poverty, which translates to approximately 43.1 million Americans. [Census pdf]  Poverty in this country is measured as a function of the number of members in a household with a range of $12,082 for a single person to $49,177 for a family of nine or more people as of 2015.  [Link to Chart]

The Numbers

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 9% of white families are “in poverty,” 24% of African American families, 21% of Hispanic American families and 14% of ethnic groups categorized as “other.”    Other numbers to keep in mind: As of this morning we have 325,178,412 people living in this country, and 82,184,000 households.  [Census dwnld]  77.1% of our population as of July 2015 was white (61.6% not Hispanic or Latino); 13.3% African American; 1.2% Native American; 17.6% Hispanic or Latino; and, 5.6% Asian American. [Census]  Thus, “yes,” the percentage of the total African American and Hispanic American families in poverty is higher than the percentage of white families in poverty – but to get a more accurate picture of the “face of poverty” it should be noted:

76% of African American families are NOT living in poverty; 79% of our Hispanic or Latino families are NOT living in poverty… so when the reporter on the television starts droning on about  income, poverty, and other statistics and the film rolls on with the stereotyped footage of the “inner city,” we need to recall that we’re looking at what mostly white media producers think poverty looks like.

The Persistence of Prejudice

The reality is that if a person is single, living in a central city, female, member of an ethnic minority group,  and southern, then there’s the likelihood that cuts in social safety net programs will be the most damaging.  [IRPHowever, the point needs to be made yet again: “Social scientists and others have long made the observation that the media over-emphasizes people of color in coverage of poverty and government benefits.”  [Root]  Not certain about this? Start with the Luther, Kennedy, Combs-Ormes study for the University of Tennessee, of media coverage from 1993 to 2000.  Add the American Progress report on stereotypes in poverty policy published in 2012.   It isn’t too difficult to surmise how we’ve moved from poverty policy based on the needs of the ‘deserving white widow’ to the African American welfare queen (who never existed) in modern political discussions.

The media attention has a history:

“…starting around 1965, the discourse about the War on Poverty became much more negative, and that was for a few reasons, one of them being that programs that the administration had been promoting were now out in the field, and people, especially conservatives, were starting to take aim at them. And the media started to portray those programs much more negatively as being abused by people who didn’t really need them, as being inefficient and so on. And it’s really right at that time — and it’s a very dramatic shift in the media portrayal — that the imagery shifts from poor white people, positively portrayed, to poor black people, negatively portrayed.” [Moyers/Gilens]

This stereotyping plays into a narrative among a decreasing number of whites about the motivations of African Americans.  While support for overt discrimination has declined, some of the underlying attitudes may not have diminished as much as might be desirable.   There appears to be a gulf between the theoretical and the practical among white Americans about the role of government in promoting equality: “In general, though, apart from these nuanced differences across types of implementation, this set of questions makes it clear that whites are more willing to support the principles of equality than commit resources to its implementation.” [Illinois Edu

In terms of racial stereotyping there’s good and bad news, the good news first:

“The overall patterns for stereotypes show that between 1990 and 2004, there was a striking decline in the percentage of whites who report negative stereotypes of blacks. But after that point, the levels have remained constant (see Figure 9 (W) above). For example, in 1990, two out of three whites rated whites as harder-working than blacks; a percentage that declined steadily until 2004, when the figure was just about half that level (37 percent). From 2004 to 2014, though, the percentage of whites endorsing the stereotype ranged from a high of 42 percent in 2006 to a low of 34 percent in 2014. The belief that blacks are less intelligent than whites similarly declined from 57 percent in 1990 to just over one in four in 2004 and since then endorsement has stabilized at 23 to 27 percent.” [ Illinois Edu]

And, now the bad news:

“On the one hand, these results about the declining use of stereotypes may provide some reason for optimism. Whites are less willing (in a survey interview) to draw sharp distinctions between racial groups on the traits of intelligence and laziness. However, caution is advised against making too much of these findings. First, social desirability pressures may be particularly at work on these kinds of items. It has become increasingly socially unacceptable to admit to believing in racial differences of this type, and thus surveys may under-estimate levels of stereotype endorsement. Indeed, evidence from laboratory studies of “unconscious” stereotyping suggest that stereotypes continue to shape how whites think about race and racial groups (Fazio et al., 1995; McConnell and Leibold, 2001).”  [ Illinois Edu]

Therefore, when that tape depicting “inner city life” rolls behind the reporter commenting on recent statistical releases on income inequality, social safety net programs, or economic opportunity it rolls before a white audience ready to accept the theoretical desirability of equality, but not so anxious to implement policies designed to assist people who are still held to be “lazier.”

Thus the White Face of Poverty, obscured by the Black image of inner city disadvantage, perhaps allows some voters to continue their illogical dependence on the idea that one can be theoretically pure while being a rugged individual, and demanding others be the same: “Presumably, then, voters imagine that pledges to slash government spending mean cutting programs for the idle poor, not things they themselves count on. And this is a confusion politicians deliberately encourage.” [Krugman]

Meanwhile, there’s Owsley County, Kentucky, home to about 4,461 people, of whom 98.3% are white, with a median household income of $20,985 per year, and 42.4% of its population living in poverty. [Census]

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