Small-Business Health Care
The National Federation of Indepen-dent Business launched an aggressive health-care campaign to urge policymakers to deliver real and meaningful health-care reform for small business. Kicking off the campaign, “Solutions Start Here,” NFIB sent a letter to the presidential candidates challenging them to develop reform proposals that support small businesses, the backbone of the U.S. economy. Small businesses are disproportionately burdened by health-care costs. Of the 46 million Americans without health insurance, more than 27 million are small-business owners, their employees or their dependents. Under current law, they don’t enjoy the same tax breaks, coverage or pooling options as large businesses and corporations; on average, they pay 18 percent more for the same health-care benefits. Insurance premiums have jumped 129 percent in the past eight years.
Asian- and African-American patients have a higher risk of dying than Caucasians after being admitted to hospitals for major injuries, according to a study. The “Racial Disparities in Mortality Among Adults Hospitalized After Injury” report was published in the February issue of Medical Care and used data from Hawaii and 21 other states from 1998 – 2002. It found 2.1 percent of Blacks and 2 percent of Asians (including Pacific Islanders) died in the hospital following a significant injury. Whites had a lower death rate of 1.5 percent. Other ethnic groups were about the same as Caucasian patients.
The study examined 489,025 hospitalizations and focused on patients 18 to 64 with injuries mostly to their head, legs, chest, spleen or liver. Researchers found evidence that physicians might “unconsciously incorporate negative racial stereotypes into their assessment of patients, and this likely affects treatment decisions.”
The franchising sector expanded by more than 18 percent from 2001 to 2005, adding more than 140,000 new businesses and 1.2 million new jobs to the nation’s economy, according to a study prepared by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers on behalf of the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation. The study, released in March, says the rate of growth in employment was three times higher for franchise businesses than for the economy as a whole. Direct economic output of franchises grew by more than 40 percent to $880 billion in 2005. Payrolls among franchised businesses also grew at a faster pace than other businesses, expanding nearly 22 percent to $279 billion between 2001 and 2005, the study says.
Predatory Loans Lawsuit
The NAACP and lead counsel Brian Kabateck, of Kabateck Brown Kellner L.L.P., filed papers to fast-track their federal class-action lawsuit against mortgage firms that, they argue, systematically steered African-American borrowers into predatory loans: CitiMortgage, Suntrust Mortgage, GMAC Rescap, JP Morgan, National City, First Horizon, Ameriquest Mortgage Co., Fremont Investment & Loan, Option One Mortgage Corp., WMC Mortgage Corp., Long Beach Mortgage Co., BNC Mortgage, Accredited Home Lenders, Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage Corp., Encore Credit, First Franklin Financial Corp., HSBC Finance Corp. and Washington Mutual Inc. A 2008 study by United for a Fair Economy estimates losses of between $164 billion and $213 billion for subprime loans taken by people of color during the past eight years.
United Nations experts said thousands of Black families would continue to suffer displacement and homelessness if the demolition of 4,500 public housing units in post-Katrina New Orleans is not halted. The U.N.-appointed experts urged U.S. and local government leaders to further include current and former residents in discussions that would help them return home, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Local officials said the U.N. experts were too detached from the complexities of the post-Katrina city to claim razing of the buildings was racist. Since the storm in August 2005, the city’s Black population has plummeted by 57 percent, while the white population fell 36 percent, according to U.S. Census data. Blacks now make up roughly 58 percent of New Orleans compared to 67 percent before the storm. Blacks have been in the majority for about three decades.
Online shopping by African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and other minorities has increased dramatically during the past five years, according to a new report from The Media Audit. Among African-Americans, 40.6 percent now shop online, compared to 27.1 percent five years ago. More than 20 percent now make five or more purchases in a year and 10.9 percent make more than twelve purchases. Seventy percent of Asians now shop online, compared to 55.8 percent five years ago. More than 46 percent make five or more purchases in a year and 24.9 percent make 12 or more purchases. According to the report, 41.8 percent of Hispanics now shop online, compared to 27.7 percent five years ago. In addition, 23.5 percent of Hispanics make five or more purchases in a year and 12.3 percent make 12 or more purchases.
The Northwest African American Museum, a new museum in Seattle, is dedicated to African-American history in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and British Columbia. The 19,000-square-foot museum, which opened in March, is in the former Colman School in Seattle’s Central Area. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle bought the property from the Seattle Public Schools in 2003. The museum is part of the Urban League Village, a $22.6 million project at the school. The upper floors of the iconic brick building have 36 units of affordable housing.
Louisiana tourism officials unveiled the first 26 sites on an African-American Heritage Trail running from New Orleans to northern Louisiana. There are 26 stops on the trail to begin with, although that will be expanded. Included are the expected—plantations with details about slaves’ lives and the early roots of jazz—and the unexpected, such as Melrose Plantation, built and owned and operated by a former slave, who in turn became a slave owner. An old-time, black-and-white photograph of two young black men, one holding an accordion, serves as the “face’’ of the trail. Places on the trail include the Hermione House Museum in Tallulah; the state capitol in Baton Rouge, where P.B.S. Pinchback served as the first Black governor in U.S. history from December 1872 to January 1873; and Congo Square, in New Orleans, where slaves were permitted to assemble on Sundays.
A U.S. Postal Service rate increase takes effect May 12. For consumers and businesses that frequently use the USPS for shipping, there will be savings for those who purchase select postage online through authorized PC Postage vendors. Outside of the cost of oil, one of the biggest costs that most businesses are facing is that of postage. With the increase, more businesses are expected to cut back in their postal use. More and more businesses are going paperless, even to the point of sending invoices via e-mail, and corporations are drastically cutting back on direct mail and catalogs, with some suggesting that direct mail could be going out the door.
For the first time, six people of African descent — four African-born, one African-American and one Caribbean — are on this year’s Forbes billionaire list. They are Ethiopian-born Mohammed Al Amoudi, construction and real-estate mogul, with a total net worth of $9 billion; commodities maverick Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, with a net worth $3.3 billion; U.S. television and movie producer Oprah Winfrey, net worth $2.5 billion, the only Black billionaire listed for three straight years; Sudanese-born telecommunications mogul Mo Ibrahim, also with a net worth of $2.5 billion; Patrice Motsepe, South African gold magnate, net worth $2.4 billion; and Jamaican-born investor Michael Lee Chin, net worth $1.8 billion.