Category Archives: Our blog

A Snapchat Nation

imagesBy Jibreel Mahmud

We are becoming a second-to-second collective in this country. What I mean is that day-by-day we are becoming a more technologically oriented nation. We have access to information all around the world in a microsecond. We have become accustomed to coverage of events, entertainment, etc. to be delivered to our eyeballs within the moment we want it.

The rise of social media such as Vine and Snapchat have whittled our conversations down to 6 and 10 second pictures and video clips. In the case of Snapchat, once you view a colorful photo or “story” a friend it is gone after that initial viewing.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, our collective attention span as of 2015 is less than that of a goldfish.

The rise of technology and social media is a factor in this staggering decrease in attention span. This is a fine example of Technological Determinism. Where the technology of one society shapes the culture at large. Speaking for myself, in the last few years I have been using my phone much more frequently than I ever have before.

I have noticed decreased dedication ability when focusing on one task. Watching a movie on my phone that I’ve been eager to watch is dashed by the desire to check Facebook, or text a girl I’ve been talking to.

Even writing this blog is delayed by invasive thoughts of doing something else. With access to ongoing issues all over the world it is difficult to dedicate ourselves mentally or emotionally to one thing for a long period of time.

Tragedies that have occurred in recent years, whether they be school shootings or any recent terrorist attacks, have faded from the public who at the height of the hysteria were gung ho for systematic change have died down and the collective pain we felt has faded. Nothing registers or permeates as vividly as it down about 15 years ago.

At CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, educator Tim Wise brought up many excellent points relating to the title of this blog. He discussed that in history class we are given a glimpse of the horrific treatment of Blacks during their time as slaves during the civil rights movement of the 1960s but we are not always shown to us in school due to the shame our country felt.

Like Snapchat, we are given something and due to our decreased attention spans we see it and it’s gone forever never seen again. It almost never goes further than the classroom discussion. I can speak to this because in the majority of my history classes once I learned something for a test it was gone. Only now have I begun re learning what I thought was dull and unnecessary.  With this decrease in our attention spans I have to ask can we learn from our mistakes if we can’t remember them? I suppose it’s just as Mr. Wise said, we are living in a “Snapchat Nation.”

Who Will Save The Middle Class?

With income inequality on the rise, middle class earnings stuck, and more people being forced to rent because of lack of money, the middle class has been stagnant for years. Before the financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. already took first place for containing the highest disparity of wealth in the industrialized world. Since then, the gap between the wealthy elite and the remaining 99 percent has only worsened with those in power now in possession of over 70 percent of all monetary assets. With the 2016 presidential elections rapidly approaching, can any prospective candidates offer this change?

When it came to economics during the Republican president debates, the worries of the middle class were largely passed over for other topics. During this time, I only counted three times that the phrase “middle class” was spoken. Whenever the topic of the middle class became the focus of discussion, the candidates seemed intent on trying to one-up each other with bigger tax cuts that only benefited the already wealthy elite.

On the other hand, Democrats mentioned the middle class eleven times. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has solidified her campaign around gaining benefits for average working class families: increasing child care support, decreasing the cost of public college costs, and demanding required paid leave. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has spent a considerable amount of his campaign blasting the one percent, saying that “we are living in a rigged economy where 57 percent of income is going to the top one percent; it is immoral and wrong that the top tenth of one percent in this country own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” To save the middle class, Sanders wants to create more well-paying jobs, tax the rich, and overhaul systems that spread inequality such as our current criminal justice system.

-Quenton

The Gender Wage Gap

Women comprise half of America’s workforce. Yet oddly enough, for every dollar a man nets, women earn roughly 77 cents. How is that just? How can something so one-sided exist in a progressive society such as the U.S.? The gender wage gap is a massive hindrance to a woman’s equity and chance at the world. Even right here in Connecticut the gender wage gap is alive and well. As a matter of fact, Connecticut holds the widest wage gap out of all the states in the Northeast, with the city of Fairfield containing the leading difference. Good find.

In the U.S., more than one in three women live in poverty or are hovering around it, and four out of ten kids living in poverty belong to families that only contain a sole female parental guardian looking after them. Too many of these lone women are dealt with numerous responsibilities and surmounting odds: paying rent, figuring out a way to earn money and still find time to spend with family, scraping up enough money for presents, etc. How are they supposed to face these challenges and provide for their loved ones with lesser wages? With these conditions, are they supposed to?

When single mothers take on the responsibility of providing for the welfare of their family, something has to give: their hopes and aspirations. Dreams are cast aside, sometimes forever, to make sure that there is a roof above their kids when they are sleeping. Still thinking of pursuing a degree at a college? How can you with health care and child care breathing down your neck? It’s ironic that for a nation that was built around the American Dream, many of its female citizens have to sacrifice that right because of an archaic attitude that still sadly exists today: inequality.

-Quenton

“Urine, Utopia, and Us”

 

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Someone wiser than me (yes, that person exists) once said, “Don’t piss on me and then tell me it’s raining”. Well, it is in deed raining my friends and the showers are quite warm and golden.  Okay then, enough with the metaphors let’s get down to the point; the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting nothing. Yep, here we go again with that same ole socio-economic shizz.

Hold on,  I know that people have been saying that for years but just in case you still don’t get it… there are levels to this shizz, people. The late great German philosopher, economist Karl Marx explained it centuries ago in his book entitled The Communist Manifesto when he spoke of the high and mighty bourgeoisie (Donald Trump, Steve Jobs and the Koch inequality_304brothers) and the lowly proletariat (you). In his writings Marx spelled out the levels and reasoning for the American capitalistic construct of the bosses (the 1%) and the workers (the 99%).  He even speculated on an economic system where there would be a equitable division and distribution of wealth and resources among all of the people (Utopia). Of course the bourgeoisie (old and new) rail against this notion of equality because of  their inherent superiority complex issues. So, we must plod on with this current capitalist system.

 

Okay, if the collected works of Herr Marx is a mite too lofty and deep for your taste then you may wish to sample a bit of the wisdom of a much more recent thinker. French economist Thomas Piketty.  In his book Capital in the 21st Century,  Piketty rallies us to action by informing us that “Power cedes nothing without demand.”  In short, if you don’t find our current socio- economic situation  to your liking then you need to get off your ass and do something. Graphs and pie charts are good but,  your best economic indicator  of your wealth is your wallet. Protect yourself in this season of Golden Showers.   Think about it!

submitted by Braxton Gray

Kitten Pic

 

Can Twitter Predict Your Income?

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Everyone loves to use social media. A 2014 study conducted by the Pew Research Center reported that 52 percent of online adults use two or more social media sites. In 2013, that number stood at 42 percent.

Pew Research Center Internet Project January Omnibus Survey.
Pew Research Center Internet Project January Omnibus Survey.

These statistics serve to show the increasing importance social media has in today’s world. People are expected to be proficient on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Forbes has even provided a guide for potential job seekers to use social media to land a job.

One of the most widely used social media websites is Twitter.

It’s been used for presidential campaigns, surveying opinion, and has been the source of some of the biggest breaking news stories in recent memory.

But now there’s a new use for the popular social media site.

Your tweets can tell how much income you earn according to researchers from University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, University College London and Microsoft Research.

Your tweets can predict your income, according to a recent study.

The team of researchers analyzed 5,191 Twitter users, and more than 10 million tweets. Researchers created an algorithm that pulled in words that people in each code class used distinctly.

Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • People who make more money, express more fear and anger on Twitter. Optimists tend to earn less.
  • Tweets from lower income brackets included more swears, while higher brackets discussed politics, corporations, and the nonprofit world more frequently.
  • Lower-income people use Twitter primarily for  communication while higher-income people use Twitter for disseminating news, and professional aspects.

Some of these findings are particularly interesting. For instance, why do people with more money express more anger/fear, while people with less money express more optimism?

The study does show, however, the value society has given social media. In a short time, social media has gone from an unknown to a mainstream component that is scientifically studied by top researchers.


 

By: Jackson Rioux

A Look at College Scorecard

The U.S. Department of Education recently released its redesigned College Scorecard website. The 2.0 version has drawn both criticism and praise.

Supporters have called the website “revolutionary,” and cited the massive amount of useful data as a resource for high school students and families to analyze.

After being left off the White House's College Scorecard, Hillsdale College cited its conservative principles as the reason for its omission.
Hillsdale College cited its conservative principles as the reason for its omission from College Scorecard.

Detractors have said the website shuts out conservative schools and limits a college decision to a “single number.”

One school even said it was excluded from the website because it “Doesn’t count students by race.”

Personally, I think College Scorecard is a step in the right direction. It may not be a “finished product,” but it is definitely an upgrade from the 2013 version.

Statistics from Central Connecticut State University
Statistics from Central Connecticut State University

Look at the graphic to the right. The average cost of the college is broken down into family income brackets. This is an extremely useful tool for a high school student.

The website also takes other important factors into account. This includes, graduation rate, earnings after school, financial aid, etc.

Other popular college information websites such as Naviance and Collegeboard simply don’t go into this amount of depth.

Similar info from Collegeboard. Which do you find more helpful?
Similar info from Collegeboard. Which do you find more helpful?

This doesn’t mean College Scorecard is perfect. Improvements can certainly be made.

Continuing to build upon this information, and even going more in-depth is a must for the U.S. Department of Education.

With more information, college decisions may not be so difficult and stress-worthy for wealthy, and particularly, struggling families alike.


By: Jackson Rioux

Capitalism, Class, and Cash by Braxton Gray

Poor vs RichQuick,  get out your magnifying glass because the American middle class is shrinking! If trends of wealth and inequality continue as they previously have, America may digress into a third-world socio-economic state. Before you dismiss this as dramatic bulls_ _t just stop and consider that right now you as a young consumer are probably taking money out of your own pocket and making someone of the “one percent” even richer while you fall further into the “99 percent”. This is not to say, “stop buying stuff!”, because that’s not gonna happen. We live in a capitalistic society. That being said, let us get to the chief purpose of this blog….to explore the connection (or disconnection) between wealth, inequality, and race in America.

In upcoming posts we will delve into how the many (99%) are being left behind by the few (1%) and how race is effected by these divisions. This subject will be investigated using examples taken from a host of reference material gathered in an effort to inform and also entertain. The purpose here is not to overthrow our current American economy and society but just to gain a better understanding of how and why sometimes… Black and Brown don’t make Green. THINK ABOUT IT!

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A Shift in Ideology for the GOP?

Photo Credit: www.pressherald.com

This Washington Post article is a fascinating story because it shows the current climate of the country regarding income inequality.

As the topic becomes more important, opinions seem to be reforming in the Republican Party.

“Republicans are striking an increasingly populist tone these days,” writes Amber Phillips.

Some contenders are no longer attempting to ignore or debunk income inequality like Conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly has on his popular television show.

Instead, top GOP contenders including Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and others are discussing big changes.

This includes going after “big banks” and even implementing a higher tax on the wealthy.

Donald Trump has said, “I want to lower taxes for the middle class…the middle class built this country…not the hedge fund guys.” Jeb Bush also believes regulation is needed for the “bad banks.”

Everyone knows talk is cheap, but it is promising to see candidates stray away from typical GOP ideologies and realize the income/wealth gap is a major problem in today’s society.

Whether these candidates sincerely mean it or are just simply appealing to the masses to earn votes remains to be seen.

One can only hope it is the former and not the latter.

By: Jackson Rioux

Welcome to the Wealth/Income Inequality Blog

IMG_3393On this blog, you can read the work of some incredible CCSU students who are spending the fall of 2015 studying the causes and effects of wealth and income inequality through the prism of race.

Ferguson. North Charleston. Baltimore. None of those places just happened, and none of those places are all that different from New Britain, except perhaps in size.

We hope you learn from our blog. We hope you come back again and again. Mostly, we hope to get a conversation going.

And we hope you’ll consider attending our Bridging the Gap event on Dec. 10, where we’ll have food, activities, and displays of students’ work from the semester, as well as Tim Wise as our keynote speaker.

You can find out more about last year’s event here.

Photo by Spenser Sedorey