Minneapolis is known as among the most liberal cities in the country. Their elected officials are diverse and there are many laws, policies, and programs to support the poor and disadvantaged. There is tolerance for cultural diversity. As I have said before, I am on the right, but in these areas, I am with my liberal friends. I want all to participate in the wealth this country has to offer and Minneapolis has more to offer than most cities.
But good intentions are not enough. According to a New York Times article I just read, “disparities in employment, poverty, and education between people of color and white residents are among the worst in the nation.” Black representation in the police force is about half the percentage in the general population. I don’t think any of us in the rest of the country are in a position to cast stones – we have had problems of racial intolerance and inequality everywhere.
While this short article is not the place to come up with the solution to racial inequality that has eluded us for four hundred years, I would like to throw in my support for two of the items mentioned in the Times quote above. Employment and education. We have tried addressing poverty directly through transfer payments (food stamps, welfare, public housing, etc.) and while these have helped address the symptoms, they have not helped solve the core problem.
Education in America is still very unequaal. From the founding of our country we came to a consensus to provide public education to everyone but to this day the difference in quality is dramatic based on the socio-economic make of the neighborhoods. Money is part of the solution but there are many other problems poor neighborhoods have that contribute such as high crime and poor infrastucture. Children learn largely from their parents so the problem is pepetuated from generation to generation. We need special programs with the purpose of raising the educational standard in these neighborhoods.
The first thing to improve employment is to have more jobs. In fact the improved jobs situation of the last few years has decreased the disparity in employment and income between whites and minorities. We can promote this by improving the environment for companies to grow and hire more people such as lowering corporate taxes, especially for small businesses. Improved education can help with employment, but many of the skills needed in today’s economy are not learned in school. Community colleges have become very focused on vocational learning and we might look into other job training programs and apprenticeships. The needs of industry are rapidly changing which means everyone needs more learning, but especially poorer communities.
Ok, the title of this article might not be fair, perhaps it should have been America Look in the Mirror, but I did want to catch your eye.