D.C.’s Rich Get Richer (and Black Folks Get Nowhere)


If George Bush wanted to make record rates of income inequality a major legacy of his administration, he has succeeded wildly right here at home in D.C. A new study by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute shows that the nation’s capital leads the country in both high poverty rates and the income gap between white and black people.

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The median income for white people in the nation’s capital has skyrocketed to $92,000 in 2006, from $55,000 in 1980. (Apparently all those lobbyists here are really bumping up the numbers!). But the city’s black population (nearly 70 percent of city residents) has actually seen its median income fall since 1980, by .6 percent to $34,500. D.C.’s poverty rate is the highest it’s been in a decade, and the unemployment rate among black adults is at a 30-year-high. These numbers are all the more stunning when you consider how bad things were ten years ago: the District government was creeping out of bankruptcy, Marion Barry was mayor, and the Redskins has just decamped for Maryland.

The latest bump in poverty and unemployment has occurred during a time of great prosperity in the city, and it’s worse than nearly every other major city in America. I can never figure out why the political establishment isn’t more ashamed about this. But I guess if you can let New Orleans drown, it’s not that hard to ignore the starving masses in the shadow of the White House.

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