Commentary

America’s growing inequality is well-documented. Less discussed is its intersection with another of the country’s defining trends, growing diversity.

Racial disparities in wealth are vast. And addressing inequality now and in the years ahead, means thinking seriously about the racial wealth gap and the steps we can take to ameliorate it.

The idea of a property-owning democracy is no longer the reality in the United States. Edward Wolff finds that the wealthiest 10 percent own 90.9 percent of all stocks and mutual funds, 94.3 percent of financial securities but only 26.5 percent of the debt. For the middle class, their home makes up 62.5 percent of their limited wealth.

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Wage insurance like this is actually just one of a range of policies that could all be fairly described by the phrase “wage insurance”—efforts to protect families from shocks to their income, or from barebones wages more generally. Americans already benefit from some of these policies—they aren’t something that only exist among the usual suspects, Scandinavia or Canada.

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The fourth quarter of the Obama presidency has been relatively active when it comes to higher education. Last year alone, the Administration announced a proposal to make two years of community college tuition-free, finalized and released a treasure trove of data on earnings and loan repayment data by college as a substitute for its once-vaunted plans for a College Ratings system, came out with a Student Aid Bill of Rights, and issued regulations intended to streamline the confusing set of student loan repayment options.

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When diversity activists began campaigning a few years ago for tech companies to disclose their employee demographics, the truth was revealed. What resulted was a lot of handwringing over the state of diversity in tech and some commitment from companies, including Twitter to do better. Sadly, few companies have moved the needle. But for Twitter, that failure could be its undoing. Worse, for would-be tech workers, if a company with Twitter’s user profile can’t get diversity right, there’s little hope for the sector overall.

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Last month, President Obama inaugurated yet another way to encourage Americans to save for retirement. In the new myRA accounts, workers can save up to $15,000 in a low-fee investment plan that, like a government savings bond, guarantees the principal. The accounts are a small step toward helping households save, but they are not an effective solution to the coming retirement crisis.
 
Starting in 2020, the numbers of very low-income elderly will rise sharply as the retired population soars to almost 56 million.
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The Democrats need young black voters. But the political party of our parents doesn’t seem to know how to reach us — the black millennials they can’t afford to lose — this time around.

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Advocates of automatic voter registration won two legislative battles in Oregon and California this year, and lost another in New Jersey when GOP Governor Chris Christie vetoed automatic registration legislation last month.

The elections board said registration activity is back to levels from previous odd-numbered years. Part of the issue, the board said, was local social service agencies had been printing registration forms that were not coded as coming from these agencies. Issues related to DMV's online address updates also are being addressed, Strach said.

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