Charting a Course

Four NGO’s have banded together to fight inequality: Action Aid, Greenpeace, Oxfam and Civicus. All joined to bring attention to the lopsided concentration of wealth, what we often call the 1%, something they see as undermining efforts to combat global poverty, environmental degradation and social injustice. In their statement, the four said, “We will work together with others to tackle the root causes of inequality. We will press governments to tackle tax dodging, ensure progressive taxes, provide universal free public health and education services, support workers’ bargaining power, and narrow the gap between rich and poor.” The statement also declared that “Decisions are being shaped in the narrow interests of the richest, at the expense of the people as a whole.” Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, a long-time activist in these causes puts it this way, “Corporations writes the rules, pay the politicians, sometimes illegally and sometimes via what is called legal, which is financing their campaigns or massive lobbying. This has got completely out of control and is leading to the breakdown of modern democracy.” Ben Phillips of Action Aid said that “…we need to shift power away from the 1% and towards the rest of society to prevent all decisions being made in the narrow interests of a privileged few.”

Perhaps these organizations and their spokespeople are idealistic, perhaps they are asking for too much, but they are positing an idea, almost a dream, and as thus are charting a course for many to follow.

On Majority-Minority States

A headline I read: The rise of the majority-minority and the near majority-minority states. They were referring to a key demographic trend. In plain English it means that whites will no longer be the majority in several American states in the near future and those we presently call minorities, meaning Latinos, Blacks and Asians taken as a group, will become the majority. But in a culture with as much racial baggage as that of the United States, one needs to tiptoe around issues of race, and specifically what could be called the darkening of America, hence this pseudo-academic jargon to describe a straightforward phenomenon. Besides, surely the idea of not scaring whites is also a factor. The facts are fascinating. By 2060 the population will be 44% white, down from 80% in 1980. Presently there are 4 majority-minority states—that is states where whites are no longer a majority. They are: California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas. In the next five years, Maryland and Nevada will join the ranks. In the 2020’s Arizona, Florida, Georgia and New Jersey will be. By 2060 22 states will be majority-minority and will account for 2/3rd of the American population. Such demographic changes have many political implications. But too they will be a great impetus for learning to live with diversity and transcending the ideas of race. Maybe by then we will have given up this awkward and euphemistic idea of majority-minority and discovered a new vocabulary.