Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Case for Urban School Vouchers

Urban public schools are failing tremendously. The causes: a lack of school competition, a greater percentage of kids with learning disabilities, and insufficient parental supervision. It cannot only be poverty, the fallacy we have been trained to accept, because developing countries have well educated kids. The reality is: urban youth take a look around, and realize that their success cannot be measured by their surroundings, in turn; they do whatever seems necessary to change those surroundings, as fast as possible.

Some sell drugs. To those that do, it leads to a quick fix. The goal: make enough money to move out of the ghetto. This –despite however lucrative the trade is– is by its very nature a rather dangerous career choice. No more dangerous than joining the military or becoming a police officer –because you are surrounded by elements of extreme risk– but dangerous none the less.

Fixing urban schools is not an easy task. Democrats are ardent supporters of the public school system. In suburban areas, where population density is less stagnant, this makes sense. But In Urban school districts, where teachers become outnumbered by the demands of their students, “it’s retarded,” to borrow a phrase from urban vernacular. Instead of trying to fix the public school system, which has met with little to remote success, Republicans focus on giving urban youth a decent education through school choice.

School choice programs offer learning opportunities in a better, and more stable environment; an environment that can foster student growth, enhance achievement, and produce outcomes that parents can be proud of. When Democrats fight against school choice and voucher programs they are inevitably saying to urban youth, we will pay for you to get a bad education to ensure that we get re-elected. Republicans say, a good education is better than gold. Voucher programs give students the ability to attend schools outside of bad neighborhoods at an affordable price.

HHR Book Review: Dennis Kimbro on Black Wealth Creation

Dennis Kimbro, The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires, New York, 2013, Palgrave Macmillan

In 1955, when Martin Luther King Jr. led the Montgomery Bus boycott, there were only five Black millionaires in the United States. There are now 35,000. Dennis Kimbro has done a great service for those aspiring to similar heights in his latest book The Wealth Choice. These pages aren’t just for black Americans but anyone interested in sustaining the values for wealth creation and carving a path to prosperity.
In his years interviewing and profiling black millionaires Kimbro purposely avoided the ultra-rich – entertainers like Oprah and Jay-Z. Black Americans, he feels, need to emulate the everyday successes built away from the spotlight. And the economic stats on Black America suggest there hasn’t been a more crucial time to promote the message of wealth creation:
  • The median wealth of White households is 20 times that of Black households
  • Nearly one-third of White households own 401(k) or thrift savings accounts, compared with less than one-fifth of African American households
  • Approximately 35 percent of African Americans had no wealth or were in debt in 2009
  • Twenty-four percent of African Americans spend more than their income compared with only 14 percent of all Americans
Early in the book Kimbro emphasises that wealth isn’t about cold hard cash or mindless materialism. ‘Wealth and abundance are not measured in terms of possessions and money,’ he writes, ‘but in relationships, values, knowledge, and action; in what we do, not what we know.’

These are things that can obviously grow in the absence of money. ‘I was wealthy when I was dead broke,’ as one of Kimbro’s respondents said. ‘I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew I’d do it. It was only a matter of time.’

The importance of finding a passion is central to wealth. 70 percent of his respondents, for example, agreed with this adage: ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’

And decent financial habits – prudent spending, limited extravagance and so forth – aren’t a part time gig but central to the millionaires Kimbro surveyed. ‘They don’t implement wealth-generating habits only when they feel the need to do so; rather, they habitually live in a state of wealth.’

When asked to list the keys to their success, millionaires rank hard work first, followed by education. The majority of those profiled, for example, rise at 5.30am and retire at 11pm. ‘Millionaires,’ Kimbro notes, ‘are five times more likely to say they are always available for business by e-mail or phone and three times more likely to admit that they regularly work evenings and weekends.’

Education doesn’t always consist of certificates or testamurs but means constantly growing and absorbing information. In fact, as Kimbro said in one interview, many millionaires only began their education once they finished university. This reminded me of Stephen Fry’s witty underscore that an education is what you get in the time between classrooms and tutorials.

Ideally, The Wealth Choice should be absorbed with some more practical financial tips, especially if you’re a young person. For example, when turning the pages I was reminded of Ramit Sethi’s advice, which promotes automating your savings and focusing on big wins rather than financially eeking your way through life.

Regardless, The Wealth Choice is a good philosophical building block and a recommended read for anyone.


About the Author: Sean Jacobs is an Australian and co-founder of New Guinea Commercea website he runs in his spare time which promotes good governance, economic growth and next generation leadership in the Indo-Pacific. He has previously worked as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development to Fiji, a consultant to the United Nations in Papua New Guinea and as a federal policy adviser in the area of national security. He currently lives in Brisbane, Australia.

What caused the Ferguson riot exists in so many other cities, too

Experience teaches black men that police officers exist not to protect them, but to criminalize and humiliate them. Few black boys get through adolescence without a story of police harassment, and with age, their stories proliferate. Aggressive police tactics turn black males into subjects of suspicion and skeptical scrutiny. This makes them vulnerable to harassment, whether their crime is real or imagined. Black men engaged in innocuous activities — walking home from a corner store, holding a BB gun at Walmart, leaving his bachelor party — become targeted as criminals by authorities.

With each negative encounter, black men build up antagonism toward law enforcement. They develop defense mechanisms and toughen up to protect their pride and perceived respectability. With this built-up hostility, interactions over minor offenses, like suspicion of selling loose cigarettes, become quickly charged.

Source: The Washington Post. Read full article.

Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Black Attitudes to Policing

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was a few days away from starting college, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri—a region with a prominent African-American population. The circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear; however, eyewitnesses have said that Michael Brown had his hands in the air when he was shot dead. As a result of the killing of Michael Brown, the city of Ferguson has been in uproar, and the anti-police sentiment is palpable. While most of the protesters have been peaceful, there have been some opportunists who used the disarray as an opportunity to steal from stores throughout the neighborhood. Of course, those who revel in presenting the worst images of black America have obsessively focused on the looting—as if the looting by some makes Brown’s death justifiable.

The angry protests in Ferguson are the natural consequence of decades of frustration that black communities across America have been harboring due to abusive policing. It is intellectually dishonest to try to address the issue of negative attitudes among blacks towards the police without first addressing the underlying concerns black citizens have about law enforcement. Fundamentally, the reason why negative attitudes about police exist is precisely because of policing practices and policies that fail to recognize and respect the humanity of black citizens. It is nonsensical to continue a policy like stop-and-frisk that casually violates the Fourth Amendment rights of young black citizens of the United States—and then wonder why many young black citizens have a negative view of the police. Moreover, keeping violent and heartless officers on the streets and trusting them to ethically police communities that they are culturally disconnected from is a recipe for disastrous social conflict.

While many are quick to point out the moral reprehensibility of supporting cop killers, those same people are reluctant to repudiate the actions of even the most corrupt and violent police officers. Support for cop killers and support for corrupt, murderous officers are both morally reprehensible actions; however, it is indisputably true that the culture of loathing law enforcement—which, in its most vicious form, is evidenced by killing police officers—is an outgrowth of the years of brutality that black people have experienced at the hands of violent police officers. Again, although both are unmistakably evil, it is important to acknowledge that one evil precipitates the other.

One of the most popular refrains whenever a black man is unjustly killed by a white police officer is, “Most murders of black people are committed by other blacks. Why do we only care when it’s a white-on-black murder?” One cannot help but notice that the intent of this line is not to demonstrate any concern for the loss of black life. The fundamental concern of those who gleefully repeat this incantation is the exoneration of whites who kill blacks. Those who repeat this line demonstrate a deep sociopathic callousness that only a thorough dehumanization of blacks can engender. Imagine if blacks routinely responded to the deaths of white police officers at the hands of black cop killers by saying, “Most murders of white people are committed by other whites. Why do we only care when it’s black-on-white murder?” If that rhetorical question sounds weird to you, but the former rhetorical question about black-on-black crime is simply an inoffensive run-of-the-mill comment, perhaps you need to check your soul.