Children of the prison boom.

By Lisa Wade, PhD

The United States imprisons more people than any other country. This is true whether you measure by percentage of the population or by sheer, raw numbers. If the phrase mass incarceration applies anywhere, it applies in the good ol’ U. S. of A.

It wasn’t always this way. Rates of incarceration began rising as a result of President Reagan’s “war on drugs” in the ’80s (marijuana, for example), whereby the number of people imprisoned for non-violent crimes began climbing at an alarming rate. Today, about one-in-31 adults are in prison. his is a human rights crisis for the people that are incarcerated, but its impact also echoes through the job sector, communities, families, and the hearts of children. One-in-28 school-age children — 2.7 million — have a parent in prison.

In a new book, Children of the Prison Boom, sociologists Christopher Wildeman and Sara Wakefield describe the impact of parental imprisonment on children: an increase in poverty, homelessness, depression, anxiety, learning disorders, behavioral problems, and interpersonal aggression. Some argue that taking parents who have committed a crime out of the family might be good for children, but the data is in. It’s not.

Parental incarceration is now included in research on Adverse Childhood Experiences and it’sparticular contours include shame and stigma alongside the trauma. It has become such a large problem that Sesame Street is incorporating in their Little Children, Big Challenges series and has a webpage devoted to the issue. Try not to cry as a cast member sings “you’re not alone” and children talk about what it feels like to have a parent in prison.

Wildeman and Wakefield, alongside another sociologist who researches the issue, Kristin Turney, are interviewed for a story about the problem at The Nation. They argue that even if we start to remedy mass incarceration — something we’re not doing — we will still have to deal with the consequences. They are, Wildeman and Wakefield say, “a lost generation now coming of age.”

The subtitle of their book, Mass Incarceration and the Future of Inequality, points to how that lost generation might exacerbate the already deep race and class differences in America. At The Nation, Katy Reckdahl writes:

One in four black children born in 1990 saw their father head off to prison before they turned 14… For white children of the same age, the risk is one in thirty. For black children whose fathers didn’t finish high school, the odds are even greater: more than 50 percent have dads who were locked up by the time they turned 14…

Even well-educated black families are disproportionately affected by the incarceration boom. Wakefield and Wildeman found that black children with college-educated fathers are twice as likely to see them incarcerated as the children of white high-school dropouts.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow hung like a weight around the shoulders of the parents of black and brown children. After Jim Crow, the GI Bill and residential redlining strangled their chances to build wealth that they could pass down. The mass incarceration boom is just another in a long history of state policies that target black and brown people — and their children — severely inhibiting their life chances.

Hat tip Citings and Sightings.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

I can’t help but think that the reason the rich and middle class find poverty so confounding is that they have that Hollywood version of poor people in mind: easygoing stoners and drunks with nice apartments and tons of free time, who have unlimited access to transportation and are held back only by an inability to make sound, long-term decisions. Why would you ever feel sorry for those people? Why would you ever help them? They should get off their asses and just go get a high-paying job writing greeting cards.

Policing the Gender Binary with Fox & Friends

In this clip from Fox & Friends Heather Nauert reports that Illinois State University recently relabeled its “family” restrooms as “gender-neutral.” She kicks off the segment by saying,”Someone call the P.C. police!” and warns that viewers are “not going to believe this one.” The giddy laughter of her off-camera colleagues is audible while she delivers her exasperated explanation of the new restroom symbols. The video is useful in any class wrestling with the social construction of gender, the gender binary, and consequences of rigidly enforced gender categories. People who identify as transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, bigender, androgyne, neutrois, and agender have often reported instances of ridicule and danger faced when using public restrooms. For this group, the labeling change means the difference between being able to safely use public restrooms at their university. What is interesting is not the change toward more inclusive signage at Illinois State University, but how Fox & Friends uses their platform as a major news network to actively police the gender binary. Nauert begins by framing the change as an instance of political correctness, a term that suggests the new signs are of trivial importance. The demeanor of both newscaster and her off-camera colleagues is another cue that viewers should not regard the change as an important or positive development at Illinois State University. Although times are changing, news programs still give lip service to the idea that their job is simply to give the public impartial (i.e., fair and balanced) information about important events. What is discussed less is the role the media plays in shaping the public’s understanding of those events and reconstituting the state of affairs where excluding people who do not conform to the gender binary is acceptable. 

For more information about bathrooms as a site of gender politics, check out our Pinterest board on the topic.

Submitted By: Lester Andrist

#46 in the Foundation for Economic Education’s Clichés of Progressivism series, written by Walter E. Williams

George Orwell admonished, “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.” That’s what I want to do—talk about the obvious.

Law professors, courts, and social scientists have long held that gross statistical disparities between races are evidence of a pattern and practice of discrimination. Behind this vision is the notion that but for discrimination, we’d be distributed proportionately by race across socioeconomic characteristics such as income, education, occupations, and other outcomes.

There is no evidence from anywhere on earth or any time in human history which demonstrates that but for discrimination there would be proportional representation and absence of gross statistical disparities by race, sex, nationality, or any other human characteristic. Nonetheless, much of our thinking, laws, litigation, and public policy are based on proportionality being the norm. Let us acknowledge a few gross disparities and decide whether they represent what lawyers and judges call a “pattern and practice of discrimination,” while at the same time thinking about what corrective action might be taken.

Jews are not even 1 percent of the world’s population and only 3 percent of the U.S. population, but they are 20 percent of the world’s Nobel Prize winners and 39 percent of American Nobel winners. That’s a gross statistical disparity. Is the Nobel committee discriminating in favor of Jews, or are Jews engaging in an educational conspiracy against the rest of us?  By the way, during Germany’s Weimar Republic, Jews were only 1 percent of the German population, but they were 10 percent of the country’s doctors and dentists, 17 percent of its lawyers, and a large percentage of its scientific community. Jews won 27 percent of Nobel Prizes won by Germans.

The National Basketball Association in 2011 had nearly 80 percent black and 17 percent white players. But if that disparity is disconcerting, Asians are only 1 percent. Compounding this racial disparity, the highest-paid NBA players are black, and blacks have won Most Valuable Player 45 of the 57 times it has been awarded. Such a gross disparity works in reverse in the National Hockey League, where less than 3 percent of the players are black. Blacks are 66 percent of NFL and AFL professional football players. Among the 34 percent of other players, there’s not a single Japanese player. But not to worry, according to the Japan Times Online(Jan. 17, 2012), “Dallas Cowboys scout Larry Dixon believes that as the world is getting smaller through globalization, there will one day be a Japanese player in the National Football League—though he can’t guarantee when.”

While black professional baseball players have fallen from 18 percent two decades ago to 8.8 percent today, there are gross disparities in achievement. Four out of the six highest career home-run totals were accumulated by black players, and each of the eight players who stole more than 100 bases in a season was black. Blacks who trace their ancestry to West Africa, including black Americans, hold more than 95 percent of the top times in sprinting.

How does one explain these gross sports disparities?  Do they warrant the attention of the courts?

There are some other disparities that might bother the diversity people. For example, Asians routinely get the highest scores on the math portion of the SAT, while blacks get the lowest.

Then there are deadly racial/ethnic disparities. Vietnamese American women have an incidence rate of cervical cancer that is five times higher than that of Caucasian women. The rates of liver cancer among Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese populations are two to eleven times higher than that among Caucasians. Tay-Sachs disease is rare among populations other than Ashkenazi Jews (of European descent) and the Cajun population of southern Louisiana. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest known diabetes rates in the world.  Prostate cancer is nearly twice as common among black men as it is among white men.

Then there’s the issue of segregation. The New York Times “Room for Debate” section on May 21, 2012, led with, “Jim Crow is dead, segregation lives on. Is it time to bring back busing?” The Civil Rights Project of Harvard University in January 2003 declared that schools are racially segregated and becoming more so, adding, “Civil rights goals have not been accomplished. The country has been going backward toward greater segregation in all parts of the country for more than a decade.”  Six years later, the Civil Rights Project at UCLA reported that “schools in the United States are more segregated today than they have been in more than four decades.”

Let’s look at segregation. Casual observation of ice hockey games suggests that blacks’ attendance is by no means proportional to their numbers in the general population. A similar observation can be made about black attendance at operas, dressage performances, and wine tastings. The population statistics of South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont show that not even one percent of their populations are black. On the other hand, in states such as Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, blacks are overrepresented in terms of their percentage in the general population.

Blacks are a bit over 50 percent of the Washington, D.C., population. Reagan National Airport serves the Washington, D.C., area. Like other airports, it has water fountains. At no time has the writer observed anything close to blacks being 50 percent of water fountain users. It is a wild guess, but I speculate that on any day, not more than 10 or 15 percent of the people at water fountains are black. Would anyone suggest that Reagan National Airport water fountains are racially segregated?  Would we declare South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont racially segregated? Are ice hockey games, operas, dressage performances, and wine tastings racially segregated?  Moreover, would anyone propose busing blacks to South Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Montana, and Wyoming and whites from those states to Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to achieve racial balance?  What corrective action might be taken to achieve racial integration at ice hockey games, operas, dressage performances, and wine tastings?

A little reflection shows that people give the term “racial segregation” one meaning for water fountains, operas, and ice hockey games, and an entirely different meaning for schools. The sensible test to determine whether Reagan National Airport water fountains are segregated is to see whether a black is free to drink at any fountain. If the answer is affirmative, the fountains are not racially segregated even if no blacks drink at the fountains. The identical test should also be used for schools. Namely, if a black student lives within a particular school district, is he free to attend a particular school?  If so, the school is not segregated, even if not a single black attends. When an activity is not racially mixed today, a better term is “racially homogeneous,” which does not mean segregated in the historic usage of the term.

I hope that the people who say schools are segregated won’t make the same claim about water fountains, states, operas, and ice hockey games.


  • There is no evidence from anywhere on earth or any time in human history which demonstrates that but for discrimination there would be proportional representation and absence of gross statistical disparities by race, sex, nationality, or any other human characteristic.
  • Casual observation of ice hockey games suggests that blacks’ attendance is by no means proportional to their numbers in the general population but that’s not evidence of “discrimination.”
  • For further information, see:
“Discrimination and Liberty” by Walter E. Williams:
“The Economics and Politics of Discrimination” by George C. Leef:
“Capitalism: Discrimination’s Implacable Enemy” by John Hood:
“A Chance to End Racism in America” by Wendy McElroy:
“Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?” by D. W. MacKenzie:
“Lending Discrimination: The Unending Search” by Robert Batemarco:

Breaking news: you’re now living in a world where the 80 richest people – that’s just one busload – own the same amount of wealth as half of the world’s population!

To tackle inequality, the world needs to know how bad it’s got – please REBLOG this to spread the word.

Some of what has gone on, in addition to an increase in the wealth/income ratio, is a capitalization of the increase in other kinds of rents, like monopoly rents. If monopoly rents get increased, if the market power of firms relative to workers gets increased, as when you have the ability of a few, like the banks, to get government guarantees — the value of that is increased and gets capitalized. And that increases wealth but it doesn’t increase capital. So it’s that distinction between wealth and capital that turns out to be critical.

What has happened repeatedly in recent years is that we’ve had monetary authorities allowing — through deregulation and lax standards —banks to lend more, but not for creating new business, not for capital goods. The effect of it has been actually to increase the value of land and other fixed resources [buildings, real estate, etc]. Disproportionately it goes to the increase in the value of these fixed assets.

If more of the savings of the economy leads to an increase in the value of land rather than the stock of capital goods, then worker productivity won’t go up. Wages won’t go up. So some of what is going on is that we haven’t been doing the kind of investment that we should be doing.

When you deregulate, you allow more lending against collateral. Then those who have the assets that can be used for collateral see those assets go up in price, like land. And so those who hold wealth become wealthier. The workers, who have no wealth, don’t benefit from that expansion. So the link is that credit affects land prices and fixed asset prices, and those go disproportionately to the rich. And that is a major part of the increase in the wealth.

Overwhelming majority of Americans also say the rich pay too little in taxes

A majority of Americans favor President Obama’s proposal to increase capital gains taxes on households earning more than $500,000 per year, and two-thirds believe that the wealthy currently pay too little in federal taxes, according to a newly released Associated Press-GfK poll.

The typical wealthy household pays a lower effective tax rate than many middle class workers.


White coats for black lives | December 10, 2014.

"…I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick…

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

From the article:

The gender breakdown shows that nationally, 12 percent of black girls received at least one-in-school suspension, whereas the rate for white girls is 2 percent, and for white boys it is 6 percent. The highest rate is in Wisconsin, where 21 percent of black girls are suspended, compared with 14 percent of black boys, 6 percent of white boys and 2 percent of white girls. In the Washington, D.C., black girls are suspended at 13 percent, and white boys are suspended at 12 percent.

Overall, black boys are more likely to be suspended than any group, at 20 percent.  The survey looked at 7.5 million black schoolchildren, 24 million white schoolchildren and about 11.5 million Hispanic schoolchildren across the country. Across all 50 states, black girls outpace their counterparts in suspensions.

Suspensions, when anger at child turns into policy. I have such complicated feelings about them. While it is important for schools to be consistent with whatever systems they have in place we can’t:

- Turn schools into mini-penal institutions. In HS we basically had long term in-school suspension where students took classes in a secluded part of the school and had to wear a specific uniform. They students were there for various lengths of times. Like the school was society and this classroom was jail. In school suspension can become a point where teachers grow unable to work with a student and just pass them off to the dean’s office at any chance they can to either prove a point or deny the student the right from enjoying the class learning environment as a means to change challenging behavior.

- Forget to incorporate plans with students that look at the root of the behavior and supports them through challenging times.

- Continuously TAKE LEARNING AWAY FROM STUDENTS WHO NEED IT MOST as the first punishment. 

Startling poll reveals what rich people really think of the poor 

Money has established itself as a reliable means by which to corrupt the soul, but perhaps there should be some inquiry into whether it also corrupts the mind.

A finding in a recent Pew Research Center poll spotted by the Washington Post suggests that a majority of the most financially secure Americans believe that "poor people today have it easy."

Professors are evaluated differently based on their gender.

This chart reveals that the results for a search of “genius” on evaluations is more likely to be used when describing male professors. The x-axis is the number of times genius is used per million words of text.

Source: Benjamin Schmidt, based on 14 million student reviews on the Rate My Professors site, 2015