|The idea of Forced Busing once prompted people to react|
Overall, the city workforce is 38 percent white, 36 percent black, 18 percent Latino and 6 percent Asian, according to statistics from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (which, unlike the Census, considers race and Latino origin to be mutually exclusive). So the municipal workforce is slightly skewed toward whites and significantly skewed toward blacks. Latinos and Asians are substantially under-represented.
However, several departments deviate substantially from these overall numbers. The Fire Department is 77 percent white. Several smaller departments (the Landmarks Commission, Office of Emergency Management, Civilian Complaint Review Board and Office of the Mayor) are also more than 50 percent white.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Juvenile Justice is 78 percent black. The Equal Employment Practices Commission is 63 percent black and the larger agencies of Human Resources, Correction and Children's Services are all more than 60 percent black.
In 2007, the advocacy group Adversity.net examined the racial hiring practices of Washington’s Executive Departments and Independent Agencies, from the Department of Education to NASA. The group discovered that with a very few exceptions, federal entities dramatically overfulfill their “Diversity” quotas. Indeed, the best agencies at hiring Blacks put the Post Office of lore to shame: the Controlled Substance Ordering System, the Government Printing Office, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, for instance, overhire Blacks at 800, 500, and 400 percent, respectively. Even the “worst” agency for employing African-Americans, über-nerdy NASA, overhires Blacks at a clip of 50 percent.
In this line, government entities have increasingly dropped their mission of, well, governing in favor of the greater cause of minority outreach and empowerment. In America, one could lament, the Black man is either dead or in jail—or enjoying guaranteed benefits working at the State Department.
"It's really especially poignant that this year during Black History Month, the Republican leadership has proposed a budget for fiscal year 2011 that will fall most heavily, mind you, on the backs of the most vulnerable in our society: African Americans, Latinos, and poor, those who have been shut of the American dream," said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who described the cuts as ill-timed and destructive."At a time when we should be remembering and uplifting the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans, to the history, culture, civil rights and economy of America, we are literally during this month debating steps that will severely undercut and undermine that legacy," she said.
Lee also criticized Republicans for saying "so be it" when asked their reaction to the idea that cuts to government spending might hurt U.S. job growth. "So be it," she repeated. "That's not what the Civil Rights movement was about."
Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) also connected the spending cuts to civil rights, and said improving the GOP spending bill is imperative. "I do believe that if we focus on these continuing resolutions that we've been debating, we can have a much better future than the history has been for African Americans in this country," Clyburn said.
"This is not befitting of the final day of African American History [Month]," added Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of the spending cut plans.
H.R. 1 would cut more than $61 billion from current funding levels, but is not expected to move forward in the Democratic Senate. However, the House on Tuesday is expected to approve a two-week spending bill that cuts $4 billion from current spending levels. The $4 billion in spending reductions would include hundreds of millions of cuts in education, health, housing, energy and water programs.
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) made a point of saying that spending cuts could hurt all Americans, including African Americans, and said he would fight to maintain funding for certain programs. "We will fight to protect the Department of Education," he said as an example, adding that it "means something" to have that department.
Despite the hyped talk of China's rise, most Americans operate on the assumption that the U.S. is still No. 1.
But is it? Yes, the U.S. remains the world's largest economy, and we have the largest military by far, the most dynamic technology companies and a highly entrepreneurial climate. But these are snapshots of where we are right now. The decisions that created today's growth — decisions about education, infrastructure and the like — were made decades ago. What we see today is an American economy that has boomed because of policies and developments of the 1950s and '60s: the interstate-highway system, massive funding for science and technology, a public-education system that was the envy of the world and generous immigration policies. Look at some underlying measures today, and you will wonder about the future. (Watch TIME's video "Why Cities Are Key to American Success in the 21st Century.")
The following rankings come from various lists, but they all tell the same story. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), our 15-year-olds rank 17th in the world in science and 25th in math. We rank 12th among developed countries in college graduation (down from No. 1 for decades). We come in 79th in elementary-school enrollment. Our infrastructure is ranked 23rd in the world, well behind that of every other major advanced economy. American health numbers are stunning for a rich country: based on studies by the OECD and the World Health Organization, we're 27th in life expectancy, 18th in diabetes and first in obesity. Only a few decades ago, the U.S. stood tall in such rankings. No more. There are some areas in which we are still clearly No. 1, but they're not ones we usually brag about. We have the most guns. We have the most crime among rich countries. And, of course, we have by far the largest amount of debt in the world.
The Rise of the Rest
Many of these changes have taken place not because of America's missteps but because other countries are now playing the same game we are — and playing to win. There is a familiar refrain offered when these concerns are raised: "We heard all this in the 1980s. Japan was going to dominate the globe. It didn't happen, and America ended up back on top." It's a fair point as far as it goes. Japan did not manage to become the world's richest country — though for three decades it had the second largest economy and even now has the third largest. It is also a relatively small country. To become the largest economy in the world, it would have to have a per capita GDP twice that of the U.S. China would need to have an average income only one-fourth that of the U.S. to develop an economy that would surpass ours.
But this misses the broader point. The Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, who has just written a book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, puts things in historical context: "For 500 years the West patented six killer applications that set it apart. The first to download them was Japan. Over the last century, one Asian country after another has downloaded these killer apps — competition, modern science, the rule of law and private property rights, modern medicine, the consumer society and the work ethic. Those six things are the secret sauce of Western civilization."
And guess what the secret sauce -- the seventh KILLER application that sets the West apart -- of undoing that 500 years of creation the West (okay, we do mean white people here) is responsible for?
Do you understand that saving what is left of America means completely dismantling every last vestige of Black Run America? It means rejecting equality and egalitarianism, ideas that rule over the hearts and minds of those in power. In essence, do you really want Atlas to shrug?