The Next 100 Days

As Obama’s first 100 days draw to a close, new research shows that addressing today’s economic crisis will require reinvesting in a bedrock American principle: Opportunity. The State of Opportunity, released last week by The Opportunity Agenda, measures our nation’s progress in ensuring that all Americans, and our nation as a whole, have a fair chance to achieve their full potential. The results are sobering.

Drawing on a large body of government data, the report charts opportunity on a range of indicators—economic security and mobility, equal access, democratic voice, the chance to start over after missteps or misfortune, and a coherent sense of community—across a variety of sectors—from employment to education to housing to criminal justice and beyond. Because the most recent year for which most government data is available is 2007, the report provides a unique picture of opportunity just before today’s crisis took hold.

It shows that Opportunity was both highly uneven and highly unequal for millions of Americans before the recession that began in December of 2007. Over 37 million Americans—12.5% of our nation’s population—were living in poverty in 2007, while the rates for Latinos and African Americans were a staggering 21.5% and 24.5%, respectively. Almost 11% of full-time workers were already living in poverty that year.

Significant gender and racial wage gaps existed in 2007, with women making just 78.2% of men’s median wages, and women with a college degree earning just 65.2% of the wages made by equally-educated men. Latinos earned just 72.6% of the white median wage, and African Americans earned 75.2%. Latina women earned just 58.7% of all men. Overall, the richest 20% of Americans earned almost half (47.3%) of all income in the country, and the richest 5% earned 20.1%.

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The State of Opportunity in America (2009) Released

The Opportunity Agenda is pleased to announce the release of our 2009 State of Opportunity in America report. The report documents America’s progress in protecting opportunity for everyone who lives here, and finds that access to full and equal opportunity is still very much a mixed reality.

By analyzing government data across a range of indicators, this update of our 2006 and 2007 reports assesses our progress in attaining opportunity for our nation as a whole, as well as for different groups within our society. The report paints a vivid picture of opportunity at the dawn of the current economic crisis. But even before the downturn, different American communities experienced starkly different levels of opportunity. The nation has made great strides in increasing opportunity in some areas and for some communities, but many groups of Americans are being left behind in ways that hard work and personal achievement alone cannot address.

These past few years have seen an economy in turmoil, impaired financial mobility, marginal prospects for educational advancement, and a broken health care system. These conditions thwart the nation as a whole as it strives to be a land of opportunity for the 21st Century. At the same time, women, people of color, and moderate- and lower-income individuals and families are being hardest hit and left behind as they face multiple barriers to opportunity.

These barriers are a problem not only for individuals and families, but also for our economy and nation as a whole. They also present an opportunity. Addressing them now would translate to thousands more college graduates prepared for a 21st Century global economy, millions of healthier children in stronger communities, higher wages and greater productivity for American workers, far fewer mortgage defaults and bankruptcies, and far less strain on our social services and justice system. Conversely, the areas of improved opportunity revealed by our analysis represent a foundation and lessons on which to build as the nation works to restore the American dream for everyone who lives here.

To download the report, please visit

ATTN: Call for Sex, Gender & Body Bloggers and Writers.

I am beginning a new blog that deals with individuals and communities that identify around some aspect of Sex, Gender or Body.  I have pasted a copy below of a post I just published on my blog.

I hope that it is not in bad form to announce it here on an existing community blog.  Since this blog focuses on politics, and my new one will only deal with politics as it pertains to the larger body of conversations on SGB, I do not believe that I am undermining this blog's reader base.  If anyone has an objection to my posting this, please let me know and I delete this entry.

- gadfly

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A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Polyamory Movie

This week, I attended Clarisse Thorn'sSex+++ Film Series at Hull House in Chicago.  This feature was a film on polyamory, entitled: When Two Won't Do.  The film is a documentary created by two people exploring polyamory for themselves.  There was a discussion group afterward.  The response to this film series has been overwhelming and Tuesday was no exception, with upwards of 70 people crammed into a room that expected maybe 40.

(Cross-posted at The National Gadfly)

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 203

With the massive Salmonella recall, the problems with food and pet food contamination from Chinese products, and the general increase in food prices, I am adding listings of local food co-ops for many states I cover. Generally, these offer lower prices and higher quality than general supermarkets. Some require an investment of time and/or money, but some do not. I shopped at a food co-op as a student in San Diego in the 1980's and it really kept my food bills way down. Currently my wife and I have joined the Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn, the largest food co-op in America, and although we find aspects of it inconvenient, we do find the prices are much lower and we eat far more healthy now. And NONE of the products we buy were part of the massive recall I discussed a few weeks ago. So take a look at any listings I give for your state, and let me know if you know of any I missed.

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