"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Martin Luther King Injustice Index 2011: Racism, Materialism And Militarism In The U.S.

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Oldspeak: “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values… when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967

From Bill Quigley @ Truthout:

As we remember the courage and hope of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we must not forget that he spoke out and worked against the injustices of our nation, particularly those of racism, materialism and militarism.  Indeed that is what made him so hated and so dangerous when he was alive.

We have achievements to celebrate: the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell;” the release of San Suu Kyi in Burma; the enactment of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights by the NY legislature that extends important labor rights to 200,000 nannies and housekeepers; the victories of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; and the exposure of secret US and other country machinations by Wikileaks, among

There has been progress in dismembering the laws of segregation which divided
our country.  We must celebrate the successes that many struggled to achieve.
However, as we celebrate those victories let us not lose sight of the challenges
still facing this country.

Here are some of the facts about racism, materialism and militarism in the US
which we should reflect on as we decide how best to carry on the radical
struggle for justice of Dr. King.  (For each fact, I provide a brief cite to the
sources which are listed at the end of the article).

Let us renew our commitment to the radical revolution of values for which Dr.
King gave his life as we turn to the realities of current life.

Racism: Health, Housing, Income and Jobs


Infants born to black women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to die than infants
born to women of all other races or ethnicities.  Black men and women are much
more likely to die of heart disease and stroke than their white counterparts.
Hypertension is by far most prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (42% vs. 29%
among whites).  Uninsured persons are only about half as likely to have
hypertension under control as those with insurance. Source: Centers for Disease
Control (CDC).

Twenty-five percent of black workers and forty-three percent of Hispanic workers
do not have health insurance, compared to fifteen percent of white workers. Source:
Kaiser Family Foundation

Overall, sixteen percent of all whites, twenty-one percent of blacks and
thirty-two percent of Hispanics do not have health insurance. Source: census


In cities with large African American populations, black segregation looks
pretty much the same as it did 40 years ago; Hispanic segregation is on the
rise.  Source: Princeton

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the crisis in subprime mortgages in minority
neighborhoods was not the result of riskier lending spurred by the Community
Reinvestment Act or a decline in underwriting standards.  Source: Princeton

Even with similar qualities (credit profiles, down payment ratios, personal
characteristics, and residential locations) African Americans were more likely
to receive subprime loans.  Similarly blacks and Hispanics were significantly
more likely than whites to receive loans with unfavorable terms such as
prepayment penalties.  The result: from 1993 to 2000, the share of subprime
mortgages going to households in minority neighborhoods rose from 2 to 18
percent.  Source: Princeton

Because predatory lenders could efficiently target entire minority neighborhoods
with subprime mortgages, larger numbers of people were affected than would have
had they been more geographically spread out.  In true layman’s terms, it was
like “shooting fish in a barrel.”  Segregated neighborhoods just made it too
easy to engage large numbers of people in this devastating scheme and this
multiplied the effect of the crisis. Source: Princeton

Black middle class families have been stripped of more wealth by the real estate
and foreclosure crisis than any single event in US history.  Due entirely to
subprime loans, black borrowers are expected to lose between $71 billion and $92
billion. Source: Devona Walker

Income and Jobs

Median household income for white families is $51,861, for black families is
$32,584, and for Hispanic is it $38,039.  Source: census

The Immigration and Enforcement Agency is on pace to deport about 400,000 people
this fiscal year, more under the current administration than any before.
Source: Slevin

The overall unemployment rate among whites is 8.5% and among blacks it is
15.8%.  For white teenagers the unemployment rate is 22% and among blacks it is
44%.  Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Materialism: Inequality and Poverty

The top 25 hedge fund managers were paid on average, more than $1 billion each
in 2009.  Source: Schwartz, New York Times

Between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of all income growth in the US went to the top
1 percent of the population; that top 1 percent also held a larger share of
income than any time since 1928, according to economists Emmanuel Saez and
Thomas Piketty. Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

There are 43 million people in the US living under the official poverty line.
While there are more white people living in poverty (30 million) than black (10
million) and Hispanic (12 million) poor combined, the poverty rate for whites of
12% is significantly less than the 26% rate for blacks and the 25% rate for
Hispanics.  Source: census

The bottom 20% of the US population have negative wealth, they owe more than the
value of all their assets.  From 20 to 40th percentile, the next 20% of the
population, average about $5,000 in wealth.  The middle 20%, from the 40 to 60th
percentile, own $65,000 in assets.  The next highest 20%, the 60 to 80th
percentile, are worth about $208,000.  From 80 to 90th, the average wealth is
$477,000.  From 90 to 95th, the wealth is $908,000 in assets.  From 95 to 99th
is $2,734,000 in wealth assets.  And the top 1%?  $13,977,000 in average
wealth. Source: State of Working America

Since the economic recession started there has been a 25% rise in the number of
people “doubling up” in housing by moving in with others, there has been a rise
in the number of homeless families, and in not one of the 50 states can a person
working full-time at one minimum wage afford a two bedroom apartment for his or
her family.  Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition

Militarism: Troops, Expenditures and Arms Sales

The US reports it has 1.4 million people in active military service in 143
countries around the world.  The top places for US military are:  Afghanistan
(105,900), Iraq (96,200), Germany (53,951), and Japan (34,385). Source: Department of

There are an additional 819,000 people in the Reserve and National Guard and
another 709,000 civilian personnel. Source: 2011 Census Statistical Abstract, Table 506.

The US spent $774 billion directly on its military budget in 2010.  The
Department of Defense budget was over $660 billion, counting the special
expenditures for Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Source: The Department of Veterans Affairs
was $114 billion for 2010.

The US spends much more on its military than any other country in the world.
Military spending has increased by 75% since the year 2000 and represents about
$2100 for every person in the US.  Excluding expenditures for veterans the US
military budget in 2009 was over $660 billion.  In second place globally was
China at about $100 billion.  France was third at $63 billion, the UK next with
$58 billion and Russia in 5th place spending $53 billion.  In fact the US spends
more on military than the rest of the top 10 countries in the world put
together. Source: SIRI

The US also leads the world in the sale of lethal weapons to others, selling
about one of every three weapons worldwide.  The USA’s major clients are South
Korea, Israel and United Arab Emirates. Source: SIRI

The US continues to hold 174 people in indefinite and illegal detention in
Guantanamo despite global calls for closure.  Thirty eight of those still being
held have won their habeas corpus petitions in front of federal judges but still
have not been freed. Source: Miami Herald.

The US continues to launch remote controlled unmanned predator drones into
Pakistan, a country we are not even at war with.  In 2010, US drones struck
Pakistan 118 times killing many civilians. Source: New America Foundation

The number of deaths in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are difficult to
calculate since the US only counts US deaths.  The US reports 1277 US military
have died in Afghanistan and 4427 died in Iraq.  The Iraq Body Count estimates
between 99,357 and 108,475 civilians have died in violence associated with the
war in Iraq. Source:  www.iraqbodycount.org

Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the total cost of
the Iraq war to the US is more than $3 trillion.  For this estimate he
calculated the actual military costs, the cost of treating and compensating
disabled veterans, a $10 increase in the price of oil (the increase in the price
of oil went from $25 a barrel when the US invaded Iraq to as high as $140 a
barrel in 2008), the increase in the federal debt and the borrowing that
demanded.  Source: Stiglitz


As we celebrate the life of Dr. King, let us realize the challenges that still
face those who seek a world of justice and peace.  He showed us that anger at
injustice can be combined with courage to create real hope for a better world.
Let us address the injustices of continuing racism, materialism and militarism
with the courage and hope that Dr. King displayed in his brief life.

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