The Politics and Economics of Race in America by Carnoy


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The Politics and Economics of Race in America by Carnoy

Martin Carnoy wanted to achieve one of the most difficult, emotional, and political topics in America’s history. Faded Dreams: The Politics and Economics of Race in America addresses the subject of economic inequalities among minorities. For the past century, material goods have posed as the symbol of success and worth in our nation’s society. Carnoy argues that efforts to improve technology have changed over the past century, but the social problems in our nation continue. Carnoy agrees improvements have been made in the lives of minorities in America, but they have fallen short or have been dismantled. He focuses on three reasons: “individuals responsibility,” “persuasive racism,” and “economic restructuring.”
“Individual responsibility” refers to the issue that each person is the creator of his or her economic and social future. “Individual responsibility” assumes that markets are open to all. These markets reward those according to their worth and minorities are worth less then whites because they do not want a good education, good jobs, and improvements in their lives. According to Carnoy, “individual-responsibility” explanations place the blame of minorities’ continued poverty on poor choices made by two social players: minorities themselves and white politician trying to solve the problem of poverty. Minorities have chosen to play the “victims” when the conditions that made them the victims have disappeared. The white politicians have continued to supply solutions to the poverty of minorities that have been “victims,” therefore keeping minorities “locked” into the dependents status. Carnoy states that minorities have taken advantage of all they possibly can, but programs and legislation have continually abandoned their initial cause of helping minorities. Minorities simply need to work harder and the government needs to follow through with its plans to help minorities.
“Persuasive racism” refers to the issue of racial discrimination. Carnoy states there are two explanations for the racial discrimination. The first places racism at the level of the individual and collective individuals. White prejudice produces disadvantages and poverty for minorities, further creating prejudice by creating whites’ opinions of blacks. Carnoy states that throughout time the white business owners have discriminated against blacks and minorities by paying them less and placing them in the lowest positions. The second explanation states that today’s governments and markets are constantly biased. Minorities could never “catch up” to white society no matter what they do because there is continual racism.

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He believes that businesspersons feel they can repress the minority due to the continual racism in our nation’s history. He states that our Capitalistic economy would benefit if minorities had more money to spend and dispense in the economy. Carnoy feels that if the government would set the example, then other businesses would feel the same about minorities.
“Economic restructuring” refers to the argument that the world economy is changing and that people in poverty are “losers” in which many people around the world “will lose.” This idea states that it is not an issue of race, but an issue of class problems. Poor blacks, whites, and other groups fall deeper into recession due to the fast moving world economy. The world economy is never going to slow down; so all poor groups will become increasingly underclass. Carnoy states that America made steps back in the 1950s and 1960s to help the minorities, but slowly these ideas were lost due to new issues and political party changes. Minorities would take advantage of the help they were receiving, but the government would see the progress and figure that they no longer had to worry about continual help. Carnoy believes that “forgetting” to continue the assistance is the downfall of all government attempts. He believes that politicians and the government need to help create opportunities for minorities, who will hopefully take advantage of these opportunities.
Carnoy uses solid facts to greatly enhance his book’s purpose. The many graphs and personal accounts give you an exact feel of what happened and what was going on during different periods of history. Carnoy shows the different income levels and wages paid to minorities by the use of government graphs and numbers. This primary source allows the reader to get a clear picture of what was and is going on in our economy. Carnoy uses personal accounts to help the readers feel the conditions and accounts of what racism and discrimination was like. I feel personal accounts make the readers pay more attention to what is going on; Carnoy does a good job of maintaining people’s attentions.
Secondary sources help to solidify the points created by Carnoy. He productively uses a collection of books written by economists, journals published by economic groups, and magazines written during the different eras. The secondary sources fill the gaps and information pertaining to the subjects he writes about. Carnoy creates balance in the book between primary source use and secondary source use. This combination helps to create a precise book about the economic struggles of minority groups.
The Annals of the American Academy feels that Carnoy “finds truth” in all his explanations and uses solid information to address the issue of economic inequality in minority groups. The review states that Carnoy uses logic and data in “extremely valuable” ways. The author believes that Carnoy takes an issue with many different opinions and flaws, to create an explanation and understanding of what went wrong and how to improve on economic racism. The author also likes how Carnoy concludes with a plea to public officials to help the minority groups and be honest.
The American Political Science Review also feels that Carnoy did a nice job of placing all the facts versus the flaws. The author feels Carnoy supports his reasoning of economic inequality in a great manner. “Carnoy is one economist who puts economic analysis within the context of the political system.” “His work is balanced and empirically grounded.” The author feels that Carnoy’s book helps to contribute to the public’s understanding of politics and economic inequality.
My completion of reading Faded Dreams: The Politics and Economics of Race in America has left me with a negative thought. I knew before reading the book that minority groups did struggle economically compared to whites. I did not realize that it was due to reoccurring patterns in our society. I now see that our government does try to help the minority, but racism and labeling lead to a “giving up” by our government and society. I feel Carnoy did a nice job of explaining his thoughts in a clear-cut manner that did not blame anyone insensitively. I would recommend Faded Dreams: The Politics and Economics of Race in America to anyone interested in economics and racism in America.


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