Tag: Policy

Comparing Minneapolis wages to wages in North Minneapolis

TSS Admin

As Aristotle explored in his Metaphysics: Book Delta, the parts of something, say the parts of a city, are divisions of the whole that can be differentiated from one another by quantification or by qualification. In the sense of quantifying, North Minneapolis can be differentiated from Minneapolis by observational data, for example, unemployment rates, education rates, and wages.

In the sense of qualifying, North Minneapolis can be differentiated by recognition of area. But it should be noted that the geography of North Minneapolis is still the geography of Minneapolis. It is just a recognition of a specified area, which is not Northeast Minneapolis, South Minneapolis, or Southwest Minneapolis.

Furthermore, North Minneapolis is broken down further by quantification and qualification into area codes: 55411 and 55412. Thus, the 55411 and 55412 zip codes are distinguishable by name and specific geography, this is obvious, and by observational data.

For example, previous articles in this blog have shown the 55411 zip code to be the zip code with the highest number of reported crimes in North Minneapolis; whereas, previous articles in this blog have shown the 55412 zip code to be the zip code with the highest number of foreclosures over the past decade.

Graph 1

Utilizing this systemic approach, the wages between Minneapolis and North Minneapolis, specifically the 55411 zip code, can be differentiated and analyzed.

Thus, are the dynamics of the wages (how wages change over time) shown to be relatively equal to one another? Are the dynamics of the wages of the 55411 zip code shown to be greater than Minneapolis? Or are the dynamics of the wages of the 55411 zip code shown to be less than Minneapolis?

As Graph 1 illustrates, we can see that the wage rate of Minneapolis is steeper than the wage rate of the 55411 zip code in Graph 2. And we’re not just eyeing this. We can see this distinctly via the linearization equations in Graph 1 and Graph 2.

The linearization equation in Graph 1 (y = 6.4152x + 1083.1) shows a rate of 6.4 and the linearization equation in Graph 2 (y = 2.2805x + 823.6) shows a rate of 2.3, if both rates of change are rounded-off. Obviously, 6.4 is greater than 2.3, and by quite a bit. Why is this important?

Graph 2

Dynamically (how wages change over time), this shows the wages of Minneapolis are growing at a greater rate than the wages of the 55411 zip code. Of course, these equations also show that the average weekly wages of Minneapolis are between $250 and $300 higher than the 55411 zip code.

This little bit of information ought to provide policy makers with some much-needed direction to create and apply economic policy. Of course the operative modal verb is “ought to.”

So do you think local policy makers would consider differentiating between the part and the whole when creating economic policy? Or do you think local policy makers would just create and apply the same policy for both the part and the whole?


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Will Trump’s ‘color-blind’ pro-business policies help black entrepreneurs too?

A growing body of research has shown the power of entrepreneurship to help solve the economic problems of disadvantaged groups such as women, immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities.

This finding can be traced to a longstanding vision of entrepreneurship established by black Americans as a means of supporting their community and overcoming discrimination. The tradition enjoys enduring popularity as contemporary social surveys commonly report that more African-Americans regard self-employment as a desirable occupation than other racially defined groups.

Yet despite their commitment to entrepreneurship, blacks continue to have lower rates of self-employment than whites and other groups. The self-employment rate for unincorporated white-owned businesses was 6.9 percent in 2015, almost double the 3.6 percent for black-owned ones, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, black-owned businesses tend to be smaller, have fewer employees, generate less income and are generally less successful than those owned by whites.

Now that Republicans – who have long resisted efforts to pursue race-based policies aimed at supporting historically disadvantaged communities – control Congress and the White House, will those figures become even more lopsided as Donald Trump limits or ends affirmative action style policies that spurred big gains in the past? Or could “color-blind” pro-business policies such as reducing taxes and regulation lift all boats, including those of African-Americans, in equal measure?

To answer these questions, it helps to understand the reason black entrepreneurs are underrepresented in the first place. In a recent paper, one of us (Gold) examined common explanations for why this is the case.

Critical disadvantages

While some researchers and pundits have, controversially, blamed a lack of work ethic or aptitude for the dearth of African-American entrepreneurs, such race or ethnicity-based explanations of human abilities have long been discredited in social science. More commonly, a broad consensus of research shows that a variety of race-based forms of discrimination and disadvantage have played a critical role in limiting blacks’ ability and opportunity to start their own businesses.

Even a century and a half after Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, blacks continue to suffer a wide range of disadvantages. For example, blacks are commonly assigned lower credit ratings than whites who earn much less. Their neighborhoods are under-served by banks. In addition, black entrepreneurs are often excluded by racial barriers from networks that business owners rely on to get to know each other and exchange referrals, information and investment opportunities.

As of 2009, the average white family’s wealth was US$113,000. In contrast, the average black family’s wealth was about $5,700.

This has meant that blacks generally lack the resources, such as investment capital, education and previous work experience, needed to achieve entrepreneurial success.

Based on these findings, government policies that sought to encourage the growth of black entrepreneurship have commonly done so via affirmative action to compensate for this unique legacy. These included training and loan programs and requirements that government contracts reserve a fraction of work for minority-owned businesses.

Affirmative action backlash

However, affirmative action policies that allocate governmental benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender have been controversial, to say the least. They have been attacked by conservative politicians with legislation, social movements and court decisions.

Since the 1990s, the anti-affirmative action movement used state electoral initiatives to appeal directly to resentful white male voters – a group that became a key Trump constituency. The strategy led to the implementation of anti-affirmative action laws in several of the country’s largest and most diverse states. From 1996 to 2010, California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska and Arizona all passed such laws.

Among other factors, reductions in government and private sector support for minority entrepreneurship coincided with the decline in the number and profitability of black-owned businesses.

Now that Trump occupies the White House and Republicans enjoy majorities in both the House and Senate, indications are that the new administration will withdraw support from affirmative action and other race-based policies that encourage black entrepreneurship. In 2015, candidate Trump asserted that “I don’t think we need it (affirmative action) so much anymore.”

Trump and black entrepreneurs

So what does this mean for black self-employment?

For a start, it probably means African-Americans will no longer be able to access affirmative action policies to help them overcome their disadvantages in starting or running businesses.

On the other hand, however, black entrepreneurs may benefit from the Trump adminsitration’s promised creation of a social and economic climate conducive to business growth via pro-business policies such as lowering taxes and reducing regulations. In addition, Trump aims to invest extensively in infrastructure spending and revitalize American manufacturing.

At least in theory, these pro-business policies could benefit black entrepreneurs – alongside everyone else. Infrastructure investments and boosting manufacturing may be significantly beneficial to African-American entrepreneurs, especially if such contracts are distributed in a manner that matches these entrepreneurs’ skills and abilities. Historically, African-Americans have been active in manufacturing, albeit as workers rather than business owners. However, given their familiarity with this industry, the growth of manufacturing might yield special benefits.

Of course, the potential benefits received by black entrepreneurs under Trump’s economic policies depend on how these activities are organized and funds allocated. For example, will small businesses get a generous share of the contracts compared with large companies, few of which are owned by African-Americans? (Virtually all black-owned businesses are small in size.)

A test of ‘color-blind’ policies

All in all, this will be a test of whether the benefits of pro-business policies that don’t favor a particular group or race end up boosting black economic activity. Historically, as the data show, this has not been the case thanks to the legacy of discrimination, from slavery to Jim Crow to modern-day prejudices in the financial system.

If the pro-business environment is set up in a way that facilitates the growth of black entrepreneurship, the benefits of these policies should be evident in due time. Results could then support the virtuous circle that leads to increased earnings in black communities, which in turn spurs greater patronage of and investment in other black-owned businesses.

However, if entrepreneurial growth is negligible, then we may conclude that pro-business policies of the sort that were created by the Trump administration are insufficient to allow for the fulfillment of African-Americans’ longstanding desire to create a viable business community.

Steven J. Gold, Professor of Sociology, Michigan State University and Jeffrey R. Oliver, Visiting Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

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This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos and school choice: Eight essential reads

Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos, was questioned on a range of education issues during her confirmation hearing this week. Central to the debate is her major role in supporting school choice policies in her home state.

Her views on this issue are consistent with Trump’s, who during his campaign promised US$20 billion in federal funding for school choice. During the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump Jr. laid out a critique of the U.S. public education system:

“You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school.”

We turn to The Conversation’s archives to find out what the research says about school choice. And, who is Betsy Devos, anyway?

A billionaire and advocate

Betsy DeVos has never held public office, and neither she nor her children have ever attended a public school. This is unprecedented in the 35-year history of the position of secretary of education.

Her nomination has stirred up questions about her billionaire background and qualifications to serve.

Before her nomination, DeVos spent two decades working in education, primarily advocating for school choice in Michigan. The results of these policies have been mixed, writes Dustin Horbeck of Miami University.

“Stanford University released a study that claims that charter schools in Detroit have a slight edge over public schools. Conversely, a more recent study from New York City’s Independent Budget Office questions whether choice programs actually benefit lower income students.”

When answers depend on the question asked

“School choice” describes policies that allow families to enroll their children in schools other than the ones assigned to them by the public system.

In certain cases, parents may receive state funding – known as school vouchers – to send their children to schools of their choice.

Views on school voucher programs vary widely. As Cornell University’s Glenn Altschuler explains,
there have been school voucher programs since the 19th century, but it is in the past 20 years that the movement has gained steam.

The question is, do school vouchers improve student outcomes?

Michigan State University scholar Joshua Cowen says there is no simple answer:

“What we know about school vouchers depends on what we ask. And what we ask should be informed not only by traditional academic outcomes, such as test scores, but also by a new understanding of the many different ways that schools can contribute to student success.”

Are charters good or bad?

Charter schools offer another way of providing options to parents. These public schools are more autonomous than traditional schools. They are often organized around an educational mission or philosophy.

But, as Cowen writes, not all charter schools are created equally:

“Charters’ governance structure – who can operate a charter and what kind of oversight they face – varies by state. For example, while charter schools in some states are managed by nonprofit organizations, in other states they are run for a fee by for-profit companies.”

Success rates vary. As Cowen points out in a second article:

“One recent study of schools in 27 states containing 95 percent of the nation’s charter students found charter advantages overall, but not necessarily in every state. … Such differences are at least partly due to differences in state laws defining what constitutes a charter school.”

Among concerns about charter schools is trend that has recently emerged – cyber charter schools. David Baker and Bryan Mann of Pennsylvania State University sift through the data on this new hybrid between online learning and the charter school model. The outlook isn’t very good.

“Researchers found these trends across almost all states that they studied: They found lower learning growth in reading in 14 out of the 17 states, and 17 out of 17 states in math.”

Contentious debate

As to Donald Trump Jr.‘s call to look to other countries, Harvard’s Pasi Sahlberg gives us an insider’s look at classrooms in the country that is deemed to have the best school results in the world: Finland.

“In my previous job as director general at the Finnish Ministry of Education in Helsinki, I had an opportunity to host scores of education delegations from the United States. … A common takeaway was that Finnish teachers seem to have much more professional autonomy than teachers in the United States to help students to learn and feel well.”

This difficult debate may be best summed up in the words of University of Colorado’s Kevin Welner.

“Imagine a police officer pulls you over and tickets you for speeding. She tells you she measured you going 50.5 MPH in a 50 MPH zone. No, you reply, my speedometer shows that I was going exactly 49.5. The entire discussion would be absurd, since neither your speedometer nor the officer’s radar gun is sufficiently accurate to support the opposing claims, and a 0.5 MPH difference is not practically meaningful.”

The Conversation

Danielle Douez -Associate Editor, Politics + Society, The Conversation; Emily Costello, Senior Editor, Politics + Society, The Conversation, and Kalpana Jain, Senior Editor, Education, The Conversation

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder

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TSS: 2016 Year in Review

TSS Admin

2016 was a year of growth and transition for us, and what a year it was. But it would not have been possible without the support of our readers and followes – You.

We will continue to be a source of free thought and ideas. We don’t hold to any agendas or political leanings. We are not beholden to corporations, political parties, or elites. Our views here at The Systems Scientist, we also go by TSSNewsMag, are as diverse as humanity and we like that!

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We report and write on a wide range of topics (systems) from science, politics, policy, economics, space science, and everything in between. We do this because we believe that all of these (systems) topics are interconnected to one another.

Media has for far to long tried to separate these things as a way to drive up ratings or use it to cause division amongst the people. This is a misuse of data and resources which we at TSSNewsMag have made a promise to done our best not to do.

I think this quote sums up what we do here at TSSNewsMag:

We give you the facts. I told you information is power – knowledge is power. We can’t be in an ideological battle to redeem the soul of this country if we don’t have the facts. – Tavis Smiley

Once again thank you to all our readers and suppoters for a great 2016 and we look forward to a greater 2017!

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Despite economic discrepancies, would city councils go “Never Trump”?

By Matt Johnson

If president-elect Donald J. Trump were to follow through on his words to address urban discrepancies between black folks and all other groups, would city councils across the United States fight against him or would they accept his help?

Would they accept federal funds? Would they accept a plan of action along with federal funds? Would they accept a jobs plan along with a plan of action and federal funds?

In other words, if president-elect Trump made the deal sweet enough, would they accept a Marshall Plan to address the previous 350 years of socio-economic neglect? Or would they tell him to go pound sand out of hate and spite? Would they be “Never Trump?”

As I’ve illustrated in previous articles through data analysis, economic discrepancies between black folks and all other groups are still observable in the data and across multiple socio-economic factors. And an economic policy of $15 an hour, for example, is bread crumbs when it comes to addressing the reality of the current American economies. That is, there are two economies.

One is white and highly successful and one is black and can’t compete with the first one. And providing support and resources for black businesses to emerge and prosper is what will provide the horsepower for a successful economy.

Let’s address the data first.

The Economic Data

According to an analysis of data by Black Demographics, black and white businesses exist in two different worlds, For example, it is estimated that black businesses produce 1 million jobs per year, which would account for about “4 percent of the working-age population.” In contrast, it is estimated that white businesses create 55.9 million jobs per year. This would account for about 44 percent of the employed, white working population. And this is just the creation of jobs. This doesn’t include revenues produced by either economy.

BOB-charts-3The vast differences in revenues between black and white businesses are astonishing. For black businesses, it is estimated they generate revenues just short of $188 billion annually. In stark contrast, white businesses are believed to generate almost $13 trillion annually.

To put this into perspective, $188 billion would provide “every working-age” black American with $7,000 annually; whereas, $12.9 trillion would provide “every working-age” white American with $102,000 annually.

Of course these are national numbers and don’t take into account the variable discrepancies at the city level. However, it isn’t difficult to see that there is indeed two realities in many American cities. One only needs to look at cities such as Detroit, Dallas, Milwaukee and Minneapolis to see differences in unemployment, median household and family incomes, and wages and earnings, and geographical segregation.

And so the obvious question ought to be is, have these city councils, for example, proposed any economic policies besides the $15 minimum wage that would perpetuate the upward mobility of black businesses and thus the utility of this mostly isolated American group?

Would city councils say “No! Absolutely not!” if Trump followed up his rhetoric with federal support and resources?

President-elect Trump

President-elect Trump has mentioned on multiple occasions that he is interested in addressing discrepancies in American cities. Recently in a Facebook post on his page, President-elect Trump stated

We seek a future where every American child is fully included in the American dream.

The problems that plague our inner cities, or that afflict our poor rural communities are not permanent features of American life: they can be fixed, and together we can fix them.

2016-12-02-3Although some detractors would argue his words are just words, the opportunity to address historical discrepancies has presented itself; and to just brush it off as words and not an opportunity to address these historical discrepancies is irresponsible.

It is important for citizens to give the president-elect the opportunity to follow through on his words. Or is spite more important? Or is hatred more important? Aren’t citizens at least a little curious to see if he will follow through on his statements? Or is there too much confirmation bias to drudge through that additional information that may not fit “the narrative” may not be accessible for citizens to consider?

For instance, in a press release back in October, he stated

Today I want to talk about how to grow the African-American middle class, and to provide a new deal for Black America. That deal is grounded in three promises: safe communities, great education, and high-paying jobs.

My vision rests on a principle that has defined this campaign: America First.

Every African-American citizen in this country is entitled to a government that puts their jobs, wages and security first.

So now the question is, how would city councils respond to the President-elect? If these words are indicative of his willingness to sit down at the table with city councils, he did recently sit down with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, would they be willing to reciprocate? Or would their party’s policy and cultural narratives come first; that is, before the people who are most economically depressed?

City Councils

The first thing to understand is city councils in most major American cities have been dominated by the Democratic party for many decades. In the case of Minneapolis, there hasn’t been a republican on the city council since the early 1980’s.

What also must be understood is that the democrats have had a monopoly on economic, public, and science policies. There hasn’t been much diversity in political philosophy or policy application. Thus confirming one’s biases is easy when everyone agrees with you. This is human nature. All groups do it, including political groups. In other words, there is nobody there to keep the city councils honest, at least not until now.

So would the Austin, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, or Seattle city councils, for example, sit at the table with the President-elect? Would they accept a Marshall plan if Trump were to offer one? Or would they respond with a democratic narrative? Again, if words are indicative of how a person will proceed, then we must take his words at face value.

For instance, the words of Council Member Greg Cesar’s of the Austin City Council may be a sign of things to come. As he stated right after Trump won the election,

Lots of people, including Donald Trump, are calling for healing and unity today. I won’t call for healing. I’m calling for resistance.

In addition, it’s probably safe to assume that Council Member Kshama Sawant of the Seattle City Council won’t be accepting a cordial invite from Donald J. Trump any time soon. The Council Member is calling for a national boycott during the President-elect’s inaguration day.

It’s not unreasonable to assume there are and would be plenty of other city council members who would turn down an opportunity to sit down with Trump and address lingering urban issues. And if they respond in this manner, then citizens from both urban and rural American ought to be very concerned.

Final Thoughts

Let me be clear, there is no reason for the President-elect to post such statements on Facebook like the one he posted. What possible incentive does a racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobe have to state such things after he has already won the election?

It is easy to imagine some readers right now are performing some serious confirmation bias and mental gymnastics to figure out this discrepancy in logic. Even racists have a soft spot, right? If history is a guide, then they don’t.

When whites folks were partitioning black folks into undesirable neighborhoods in cities across the northern part of the country during and after the Great Migration of the 20th century, they weren’t considering the welfare of their American brothers and sisters.

They were considering how they could keep black folks away and how they could take and retain the vast majority of the economic, social, and municipal resources such as law enforcement, fire departments, libraries, and parks, for example. Providing resources for their new neighbors wasn’t even a thought to be considered. And clearly this has had a profound on the current “black experience” here in the United States.

The bottom line is democrats have had more than four decades to address these historical discrepancies. They’ve had four decades to create a Marshall plan and apply it to their most economically isolated citizenry. But yet, there are still two economies and black folks as a group lag behind in almost every socio-economic factor.

Malcolm X once said at the founding rally of the organization of Afro-American unity,

We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.

So if Donald J. Trump is the means by which these issues can finally be addressed through the federal government, would city councils heed the words of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz? Or would they tell the President-elect to go pound sand?


Matt Johnson is a writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog; and is a mathematical scientist. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News.

You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

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