Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) devil

Kentucky voters who supported Republican Matt Bevin in his race for Governor began to recognize a sickening reality in the weeks after the election. Many of them had effectively voted away their access to health care.

Stories about these voters took on a consistently hostile tone, criticizing their foolish vulnerability to racist appeals. That reaction is not only unfair, but deeply counter-productive. White Americans, especially those dependent on disappearing blue-collar jobs for their livelihood are not voting against their interests when they respond to racially-tinged populist appeals. Until we understand the concrete, structural significance of white supremacy to our economy and our political order we will continue to be baffled by the behavior of millions of influential white voters.

Late in his life, Dr. Martin Luther King began to shift the focus of his work beyond race toward poverty. King held out the charitable belief that elevating the awareness of lower income whites to their condition might offer a pathway to a post-racial coalition among America’s lower-earners. He described his insights in a 1968 sermon, centered on his conversations with police while he was jailed in Birmingham. Here’s a digest of his comments on that interaction:

“And when those brothers told me what they were earning, I said, “Now, you know what? You ought to be marching with us. You’re just as poor as Negroes.” And I said, “You are put in the position of supporting your oppressor, because through prejudice and blindness, you fail to see that the same forces that oppress Negroes in American society oppress poor white people. And all you are living on is the satisfaction of your skin being white, and the drum major instinct of thinking that you are somebody big because you are white.”

As he was wont to do, King spread a Hallmark-card sheen on that interaction, but his jailers did not set him free. They did not join hands with him. They did not march by his side then or at any time after.

For all his many insights, King seems to have failed to perceive what professor Derrick Bell would describe thirty years later. In the strictest sense, blue collar white workers were not voting against their interest by supporting racist politicians. They were rallying around their last tie to a form of racial solidarity that for centuries had delivered meaningful, material rewards. Voters in the Kentucky counties most desperately dependent on the welfare state voted overwhelmingly for Romney in 2012 and elected a Tea Party extremist Governor in 2015. By the same logic, that cohort of voters is flocking to Donald Trump and ignoring Bernie Sanders.

The material rewards of racism are as real as the bars that separated King from his jailers. On one side were men who held secure government jobs for life. Though their incomes were modest, they enjoyed guaranteed health care and a pension. The machinery of a deeply oppressive system was calibrated to spare them from its most violent tendencies. Those men saw (and sometimes meted out) the worst abuses that system could deliver. By virtue of the racial heritage they shared with wealthier whites, they enjoyed a thin, but vital degree of protection. Those jailers held down government jobs with pensions for one reason and one reason only – their skin color. And they knew it.

On the other side of the bars were men with few economic prospects, despised, and subjected to relentless oppression, humiliation and violence. The only crime those prisoners had committed was their defiance of white supremacy. King’s jailers recognized that race was the only force keeping them outside that cage. They feared what would happen to them if black citizens were given equal treatment. Many white voters continue to see that same potential in the growth of a post-racial America, their last tie to their modest collection of privileges cut, the last advantages and protections of their race terminated. White support for the likes of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz emerges from a terrible logic that we ignore at our peril.

In King’s lifetime we were already experiencing the dawn of a new global capitalist order, bringing with it innovation, prosperity and disruption on an unprecedented scale. For all our present angst about income inequality, the trend toward extreme outcomes we see today was already in motion by the late 50’s. An economy built more on talent than on muscle respects only one color – green. Racial preferences were standing in the way of a new world of profit. King had a potent ally he never recognized.

As the knowledge economy shifts into second gear it is fueling greater and greater variation in incomes. Those with the education, positioning and drive to get in the game have a chance to reap inordinately large payoffs. Those who do not compete successfully get less than in the past. It is an economy of extremes. That thick layer of predictable, middle income jobs is thinning steadily.

An obvious solution might be to deliver a basic level of income and lifestyle for everyone, without regard for old concerns about “need.” Pay for it with taxes on the higher earners who made it into the express lanes of the knowledge economy. Those who want to reap the rewards of the knowledge economy will be free to do so. Those who either don’t want that high-pressure, high-speed lifestyle, or for some reason cannot perform there, will be prevented from falling into penury.

One glaring political problem blocks this move. A large minority of US voters who might seem like the prime beneficiaries of this reform are determined not to go there. Lower income whites, especially in the South, are not interested in a new deal. They want to restore the old one.

Under the old deal, white men got preferential access to all of the best jobs available. Generations of white families earned their living in the fire or police departments, or worked in road construction, sanitation, or public works. Sons worked alongside fathers in union jobs at a local factory. They had every reason to expect that their children would have a chance to follow in the family tradition.

Global capitalism and the rise of the knowledge economy destroyed that simple, yet dignified way of life. As the demands of competition intensified, political will behind generations of racial preferences broke down. Race and gender-based protections for whites weakened or melted away.

Economic outcomes for those who earned an education, moved to big cities, and poured themselves into an exciting and demanding competition bloomed. Capitalism drove down the price of practically everything except for the labor of a smart, talented, educated human being. Salaries for educated professionals exceed anything broadly available just a generation ago while the range of products and services available for that money has exploded. For many, this is a bright new age of wonder, defined by affluence, freedom and seemingly endless potential.

Those who had hoped to join their uncles at the assembly line, in local government or public service jobs found fewer options available. Most importantly, in political terms they faced fresh competition from those who had been locked out of those roles in the past. People who, from their perspective, were the most American Americans, found their relative lifestyles dented, unable to achieve the economic security a previous generation of blue collar whites took for granted. Meanwhile, for all their continuing struggles, minority families have seen their relative incomes and well-being improve.

Whites with a college education and a chance to earn a living in a professional or technical field seldom have more than a distant attachment to racism, varying by how much they’ve learned or how much exposure they’ve had to a wider world. For those who come from a blue-collar tradition, especially manufacturing, mining or public service families, this new world is a rapidly unfolding catastrophe. They aren’t just falling behind, they are dying off.

Expanded access to Medicaid isn’t merely a poor compensation for what they’ve lost, it’s a stinging insult. White racial solidarity across income levels cannot be dismissed as a sentimental attachment, an opiate for the white masses. It has always been a cornerstone of their well-being. From the perspective of blue collar workers, affluent whites pushing “political correctness” or “diversity” are traitors. Having climbed the ladder they are sawing off the bottom rungs.

What the Trumps and Cruz’s of the world offer these voters is a chance to put the genie back in the bottle. They want to restore an America that reserves its bounty for “good, hard-working” white people, where women know their place and behave as humble, modest women should. Where a white man doesn’t need to slog through years of “socialist indoctrination” at some godless university to earn a chance at honest work. They offer a government that will ‘take my country back’ blocking a mythical wave of greedy newcomers who haven’t earned their place from stealing what little is left over after the wealthy take their share. They promise to put “uppity” minorities in their place, suppressing the supposed wave of crime and general thievery perpetrated by lesser races who would steal from the more deserving.

Want to convince lower income white Americans that they are voting against their interests? Explain how you can offer them something better than white supremacy. When we understand what white supremacy actually delivered for these folks, the scale of our challenge in building a just post-racial society becomes evident.

Perhaps King failed to recognize the depth of the challenge he faced in trying to forge an alliance with lower income whites. That said King didn’t become an American secular saint by setting modest goals. No one who is serious about challenging racism in America should ignore the structural, functional importance of bigotry.

With that obstacle squarely in sight the power of our Goliath becomes clear. So does his weakness. King always insisted that peace was inseparable from justice. Once we recognize that racism in America is more than just a moral compromise or a product of ignorance, we start to see the flaw in our efforts to date. Our approach to racism over the past forty years has placed the bill for white supremacy at the feet of the white families who benefited least. Affluent whites have walked away and retained their accumulated rewards.

Until we address this imbalance we will continue to be hounded by populist politicians profiting from fear and hate. The longer we ignore the problem, the more powerful will be our reckoning. This devil will have his due.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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282 comments on “Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) devil
  1. asd says:

    Wow – great article. Brb, reading the rest of the stuff you’ve written.

  2. […] From the GOPLifer archives: Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) devil […]

  3. […] Yes, Republicans have been pandering to racists since the Sixties. However, in light of Trump’s appeals, complaints of “dogwhistle” signaling from Republican candidates now seem quaint. When Republicans still felt the need to conceal any racism, we could credibly believe (sometimes with good reason) that appeals no to racism were no more than empty posturing. Everyone understood that in most cases the dogwhistle was a cynical distraction. It is precisely that ruse, that failure to follow through on the veiled promise of white supremacy, that so many white voters are now rebelling against. […]

    • Technospeak says:

      Are you sure you’re not some sort of closet democrat… Your positions show just how grievously the Republican party has left it’s true agenda and been captured by the Religious/Conservative movement. I find it hard to countenance such positions from a GOP member when the overwhelming spiel from them seem to be a series of dog whistle signalling as you call it pandering to the basest instincts of primarily white men. I have long thought that if I was a US citizen I would be some form of Fiscal republican with liberal compassionate leanings or if you prefer a fiscally prudent democrat. The way the GOP potrays itself these days just scares me. As an African, used to true tyranny and wanton Government, the shrill war mongering and cynical positions i thought the party espoused left me cold and afraid. Your blog is opening my eyes to the fact that the GOP, the party of Abraham Lincoln is purely going through a bad time and isn’t just some nativist gun-loving nut case inspiring union.

      • Ken Rhodes says:

        GOP Lifer is a “real” Republican. The ones who have overwhelmed the party in recent years are the RINOs. They have purloined the name, but they have little memory of, or use for, the principles that made the party a major force in American life for a hundred years, encompassing (in my lifetime) Thomas Dewey, Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren, Theodore McKelden, and George HW Bush.

        They call themselves Republicans, but I (and GOP Lifer) don’t recognize the party they’ve created.

  4. […] Sympathy for the (blue-eyed) devil […]

  5. Ryan Ashfyre says:

    Here we are in 2016 and what better way to start off the year than with yet another round of “political insiders” predicting what’s going to happen? Spoiler Alert: Republicans think Trump will flame out, Rubio will become their savior and all will be well in GOP World.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/insiders-predictions-2016-217264

  6. 1mime says:

    It’s a new year, and in all the “look backs” popping up, I thought this one evaluating President Obama had sufficient substance and validity to merit posting off topic.

    We may soon be offered a new alternative in Ted Cruz. Fundraising reports show he garnered almost $20M in last campaign report, with over $500K in dedicated monthly donations. His fundraising detail reveals both PAC and grassroots contributions and he appears likely to win the Iowa primary.

    It appears many think the time has come for America to be run from an evangelical, fundamentalist, ultra conservative position. One thing is certain, there will be a clear choice for President of the United States in 2016.

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/obama-report-card-good-bad-and-incomplete

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/ted-cruz-fourth-quarter-fundraising-20-million-217243

    • 1mime says:

      Actually, while I’m “off topic”, here’s an interesting related historical slide show about a city in the deep south that will celebrate its 300th birthday in August, 2016. Lots of activities will be planned. For those who’ve never visited Natchez, Mississippi, and are interested in how “the old south lived”, this celebration may offer you that opportunity. The city ranks up there with the best of the “old south” in all its glory and racial history, as its wealth was built on plantation crops. It represented the archtypical aristocracy that Sara referred to in her piece in Alternet on the South. Still does.

      http://natchezms300.com/

      • MassDem says:

        I’ve been to Natchez on vacation (in August-go figure) & it is a fascinating place to visit. Not at all what I expected for MS, but it is a tourist town. I learned that “The Civil War” is more properly called “The War of Northern Aggression” down there. Fancy that! If you go, make sure to drive down from Jackson on the Natchez Trace– an amazingly scenic road.

    • vikinghou says:

      If Cruz is elected I’m taking the family back to Sweden!

      • 1mime says:

        I would be interested in a Lifer “what if Cruz is elected” scenario….what happens to the ascendancy of the fundamentalist movement? What happens to choice? Gender equality? Defense? Separation of church and state? SCOTUS appointments? And, on and on….

        We have visited Sweden in June….It was very nice there at that time of year, Viking (-; Me, I’m with Homer. If I am to exile myself, it will be somewhere I can wear shorts!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The idea that a large percentage of regular Americans would be attracted whatsoever by Ted Cruz us just completely at odds with my experience. I could be living in a massive be bubble, but I don’t think so.

        I’m confident that the only ppl even paying attention at this point are going to tend to the fringes of either party, or people (like those of us here) who take a disproportionate interest in politics.

        I’m ptetty sure the average voter asn’t thought much about any candidate yet. When they do, and when they really dig into the candidates, I’m still pretty convinced that Cruz would lose in a historical landslide.

      • 1mime says:

        Therein lies the problem, Rob. The “average” voter doesn’t dig into the candidates. They are responding to their own feelings of frustration and anger as mirrored by the candidates. How else could a rational person explain Trump’s base? Look at what Cruz is doing with his campaign. It’s tactically very smart. He’s pulling together the evangelicals, the low information voters, the fundamentalists. He’s building a solid ground game, just like he did when he came out of nowhere and decisively beat Lt. Gov. Dewhurst in TX for the U.S. Senate. Google “Ted Cruz’ Strategy” and you will be surprised at what the analysts are saying. It doesn’t matter that he is disliked by so many thinking people,(us, and his Senate colleagues), or even the GOP leadership, if anyone can upset Trump for the GOP nomination, I really believe it will be Cruz, not Rubio. I would absolutely hate it, but, unlikely? Absolutely not.

        Here’s one take. There are many. I sincerely hope they are all wrong, but to dismiss these seasoned political watchers? No way.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ted-cruz-calculates-a-path-to-the-nomination/2015/10/09/a5d6d3a6-6dff-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html

      • Gayla says:

        Good by viking…………….

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      If nothing else, one certainly has to concede that Ted Cruz is by far the most intelligent and dangerous individual to try and court the far-right vote in this country that we’ve seen in a very long time. As things currently stand of course, his chances of being elected president are virtually nil, but that doesn’t make the prospect any less frightening.

      In retrospect though, Cruz deserves his due credit for foreseeing just how far Donald Trump would go, particularly when virtually everyone else, myself included, thought he would’ve flamed out a long time ago, though I have my suspicions that even Cruz didn’t expect The Donald to be quite THIS formidable. True, it would come as no surprise if he were to win Iowa, but Trump still holds a commanding lead nationally and more than his fair share of likely wins in other early states, like New Hampshire and South Carolina.

      If that scenario plays out, then it’s all going to come down to my own home state of Florida; which, barring a political earthquake, has already been decided.

      Jeb! has already flamed out nationally and he’s barely hanging onto fourth place in his own home state. Rubio’s a stubborn third, closely behind Cruz, but Trump holds a commanding lead of roughly double that, and even if by some political miracle, Jeb! quit the race and every single one of his supporters went to Rubio, that still wouldn’t be enough to overtake The Donald. The only other person with modest support is Carson, and his supporters are more likely to go to either Trump or Cruz rather than Rubio.

      Long story short, either Trump or Cruz is going to lay claim to the Sunshine State and that will be the end of Rubio. That’s when things are going to get unpredictable and very, very interesting.

      • 1mime says:

        Ryan, interesting observations. This Atlantic article, “Why America Is Moving Left”, Peter Beinart, gives Rubio a better shot while offering deep analysis of the leftward shift in America. It’s a long, very interesting, well-researched piece. I’m interested in your response if you read it. Beinart clearly credits the Millennial group for keeping the tiller fixed in a steady push to the left, but it is his reasoning that I found so interesting.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/why-america-is-moving-left/419112/

      • 1mime says:

        Another question, assuming Trump takes FL, what happens in your state in a Trump/Clinton match up?

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        Firstly, if it’s Trump vs. Clinton, my home state will absolutely go Democratic; it’s not even a question. Trump will get absolutely throttled among Hispanics and Cubans in Democratic strongholds like Miami-Dade County and elsewhere and that will be the end of it.

        As far as state-wide politics goes, with the Florida Supreme Court’s recent decision approving new congressional districts, Democrats should be able to pick up a fair number of House seats.

        In addition to that, a lower court ruling (which, as far I’m aware hasn’t been overturned or been subject to review by the state Supreme Court as of yet) has approved new maps – http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-senate-redistricting-court-ruling-20151230-story.html – for the state Senate. Of those, 21 districts voted for President Obama, albeit by slim margins, in 2012 and 19 voted for Mitt Romney. Now that’s not to say that Democrats, currently outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate by a lopsided 26-14 will suddenly be able to reclaim a Senate majority for the first time in decades. If the decision stands, I do think they’ll be able to make significant gains, but I’m not about to count my chickens before they hatch, even if Donald Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket, so we’ll have to see what happens.

        As far as the state House goes, Republicans have an absolutely overwhelming majority there and I haven’t heard any news of any new maps being drawn in that respect, so that’s off the table for right now.

        That aside, and as for Mr. Beinart’s article, I agree with you in that it’s an interesting piece; much of what he writes coinciding with Lifer’s analysis in that we’ve a generation of Americans growing up, myself being one of them, that is the most irreligious, socially liberal and least nationalistic that we’ve seen in our entire history. Anyone can see that this is going to have enormous political repercussions in time. It could usher in a new era of liberal dominance that Lifer has mentioned or, if Republicans get their heads screwed on straight, it could help revive them to national prominence again. There’s just no telling where all this is leading until we see it with our own eyes.

        One thing I will say though is that the political alignment of this generation, IMHO, is wide open. They aren’t so much Democratic or Republican as they are, like me, people who just want to see the damn thing work. Yes, they largely vote Democratic right now, but if a Republican Party came along with an agenda like the kind that Lifer has aspired, I sincerely believe it would be overwhelmingly supported, particularly among the young.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for your response. I agree…more important than party is that government works, except: I have to admit to a strong affinity for most of the liberal positions and doubt the Republican Party would ever meet me half-way. I support: women having an unfettered choice in making decisions about their own bodies; equal pay for equal work; equality of gender, race, sexual orientation in personal lives and in the workplace; the belief that man is contributing to and must make adjustments for his contributions to global warming; a safety net for the less fortunate and the elderly; universal health care (health access being a “right” not a privilege); the vast wealth divide needs to change.

        You think there’s any hope for my GOP induction? (-:

  7. texan5142 says:

    Rafael just asked his followers to “Strap on the full armor of God” , it is going to be comedy gold this new year.

  8. flypusher says:

    Is Bevin back peddling?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/bevin-medicaid-expansion-plays?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    Hard to tell, as it’s nothing but talking at the moment.

    • 1mime says:

      I am curious as to what Bevin means by “making people undependent on medicaid”…..

      • texan5142 says:

        Went to the article twice to read that in context and I think it means he has not a clue of what he speaks.

      • flypusher says:

        I think he realizes following through on what he promised would hurt a lot of his voters. Whether he finds a way out is another story.

      • 1mime says:

        Why shouldn’t I be cynical about someone who campaigns on destroying the ACA then, AFTER he is elected, is looking for a way out? To be full.stop.cynical,, could it be the money it will cost the state of KY to eliminate federal aid? It couldn’t be the people who will lose health care, not that most of them didn’t vote for him and against their best interests…..but, we’ve had that discussion and we know the answer to that conundrum…

        The “business” of governing is quite different than campaign rhetoric. Real people, real problems, tough choices. The world is not black or white and, IMHO, this is the basic fallacy of the conservative movement. How do you “spin undependent”? If the people of KY are fortunate, Bevin “might” have enough humility and sense of survival to hire competent advisers. We’ll see if the “peter” principle applies.

        What will it take to for people to grasp and rebel against the consequences of trickle down economics, austerity, and cuts that hurt all but those who are already doing well?

        Undependence?

    • MassDem says:

      Bevin could roll back the Medicaid expansion entirely but that would be deeply unpopular.
      So he has decided to try for a 1115 waiver to “transform Medicaid”, but HHS has to sign off on anything he comes up with, and I doubt they would sanction anything that prevents people from receiving health care. Lucky for him that gives him an out–he can always say that he wanted to make changes, but the darn Feds wouldn’t let him.

  9. MassDem says:

    Not to be outdone by objv, here’s my gift-
    The best political ads of 2015

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/2015-top-ads-217163

    Oddly enough, I found the Cruz ad funny & the Carson ad moving. But my favorite of the bunch has to be the Rand Paul spot.

  10. objv says:

    Happy New Year!

    My gift to you is a calendar for next year. No need to thank me. It was nothing. Note: He has blue eyes.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/28/europe/gallery/vladimir-putin-calendar-2016/?iid=ob_lockedrail_bottomlist&iref=obnetwork

  11. Samuel Smith says:

    Okay, I’m going to have a whack at an issue that I know is important to both myself and Sara, and I’m going to do so because I’m not sure I’ve seen a room full of smart people ignore an elephant for so long.

    Here’s the question: what percentage of the problem we’re discussing traces to fundamentalist Christianity? (Hint: most.)

    I grew up Southern Baptist, and that organization is a powerful ally in the war against enlightenment, justice, fair play, equality, you name it. And if erased it from the face of the earth you’d find the war against racism tilting noticeably in your favor.

    I’m not dismissing the way others here have framed this general question, but from where I sit the social conservative strain of American Christianity is THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE FACE.

    I’m almost certain Sara is going to have a perspective on this, and she’s probably not the only one.

    • flypusher says:

      I absolutely agree with you about the fundies (and we have discussed them before). But as an illustration that even something as awesome as the 1st Amendment has a downside, we can’t do much about them as long as they don’t cross that line of actually breaking laws. They are free to sell and people are free to buy.

      I think it is a hopeful sign that their influence over the culture is fading (People’s exhibit A: that awesome judicial smack down from Dover). But they’re being dragged off their pedestal kicking and screaming, so there’s going to be some noise for a while.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      I have about five years of blog posts devoted to this subject, so yeah: I’ve thought some about this. But the thing about fundamentalisms (all of them, not just Christian) is that they’re a weed that grows in some very specific soil. Or, for another metaphor: they’re a symptom of social pathology, not a first cause.

      Fundamentalism grows where modernism’s promise has failed people. In the South, modernism never had much of a chance: from the day the first Cavalier immigrants arrived, it’s reflected their royalist obsession with social and economic hierarchies, with the concomitant disdain for progress, modernity, technology, and education. It’s not at all surprising that the religious institutions that arose there would take on an important role in promoting the worldview and values inherited from the Cavalier and Borderer settlers. Serfs have to be carefully cultivated to know their place and accept their fate. Their owners need to know that God has blessed their dominance. For that, there’s no tool like religion.

      This was anti-democratic enough when it was confined to the South — but as I’ve written here, it’s now spread to contaminate much of America. And Sam’s right: our democracy is far worse off as a result.

      • flypusher says:

        One thing I’d be optimistic about, cities like Houston are becoming very international. That has a corrosive effect on those close-minded parochial Southern attitudes.

      • 1mime says:

        Except for those who still set fire to mosques….Houstonians are quite accepting….except where granting equal rights is concerned….guess it all depends upon “which” Houston you live in…

      • MassDem says:

        This is a bit OT, but I read your essay, and while it is very kind to us Yankees, in truth it glosses over a lot of our history. We haven’t been so kind and beneficent as one might conclude from your work.

        Aside from the cold hard truth that most of the early New England fortunes were built on the slave trade, we also had the small matter of being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and all of the bad and good that came out of it.

        Child labor, wage slaves, abuse of workers, we had it all in the North. In fact, one could make the case that our current business culture is reverting more to how workers were treated in the Northern mills than the Southern plantation: free, but not free if you get my meaning.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        It wasn’t pretty in the North, true — but compared to both the attitudes that ran the South and the horrors those attitudes caused, there was no comparison. The Industrial Revolution was brutal; but the agricultural regimes that supplied it were far, far more so (and continue to be, where they remain).

        And yeah, the grand houses of the New England coast were all built on the slave trade. But at least they had the basic decency not to keep slaves themselves, which further points to the Yankee’s well-developed capacity for shame.

      • MassDem says:

        Oh, but we did have slaves. Not as many as in the South, but certainly more than none.

        http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/09/26/new_englands_hidden_history/?page=1

      • Creigh says:

        Right, cause or effect? We noted a few posts back that religion is a handy and powerful
        tool for stirring up “us versus them” sentiments.

      • Hi Guys

        I have a question
        Why is the “South” so poor?
        I know they lost the rebellion but that was a looong time ago

        Why are they still so poor?

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Read my article. They were founded from the get by a specific group of Englishmen who believed utterly in aristocracy — and you can’t be a have without a whole system of have-nots to support you. Southernomics depends on maintaining this hierarchy, and has from the very first. (The layout of any small Southern town tells you all you need to know here: there are usually a very few grand houses around the town square where the people who own everything live; and a whole lot of rickety little cabins where everybody else lives. Inequality has always been vast in these places, and that was by design.)

        Their poverty has nothing to do with the war, and everything to do with the worldview that made the war necessary in the first place — a worldview that’s still strong (and spreading) in the US to this day.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree with Sara’s explanation that the South was organized around the aristocratic model in which there were the propertied and everyone else. Critical to the success of this model was to deny educational and economic opportunity to Blacks and women. Astonishingly, LA maintained the Head and Master law until 1982 which fundamentally gave the husband all rights to manage community property!!! Land ownership was another key component. Reserved mostly for the gentry, people were indentured to other people’s land for their jobs, homes, and even to grow their own food.

        Keep ’em dumb, happy, and pregnant.

      • moslerfan says:

        Demonstrating once again that having 1% of the people hoarding all the money ( and property) does not result in a healthy economy.

      • 1mime says:

        And, yet, the practice continues….

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Eh…not that the fundies are any picnic, but most of the big-time racists I know haven’t set foot in a church in years. All would nominally identify as “Christian”, but that just means they want to be in the cool kids club.

      My family members were raised on the lower end of the socio-economic scale, and the old guys at my golf club are wealthy asshats with no conscience. None of them worry too much about god in those equations.

      I would go back to being poor and competing for resources (or being not-poor and competing for resources) when you believe, because you’ve been taught to believe, that you are more deserving of those resources (e.g., jobs, schools, government contracts).

      Although the Southern Baptists probably weren’t high on the helpful list, there were more than a fair number of White Christians pushing hard in the civil rights movement.

    • 1mime says:

      Samuel, Lifer has presented various iterations of this subject numerous times. Check out his archives (his home page). One of the posts I thought was his best was a very thorough historical progression of the development of the South and the rise of religious fundamentalism. I have shared it many times with friends.

      I agree that fundamentalism is a serious problem in the U.S. Those of us who live in the south and witnessed the rise of the Southern Baptist Church, have long felt there was something “radically wrong” in its teachings and practices. But, they stayed in their nest and leadership was content to focus its narrow thinking on its own membership. It was not enough. Ultimately, a more “grandiose” vision led them into politics where they would impose their beliefs and infiltrate the larger social and political arena. That is where things are at present -pushing party agendas to the far right, challenging and opposing candidates who are not “conservative enough”, training their sights on judicial membership to buttress their legislative agendas at local, state and federal levels, replete with hateful rhetoric. We’ve seen the mega-wealthy patron enable their activities through obscene levels of campaign financing in which offers they control the message, the messenger, and the process.

      The hypocrisy and narrow agenda of those within the fundamentalist movement who profess to be “motivated by God” is threatening our social, political and cultural stability in America. Racism and inequality are natural extensions of their religious phobia. Add to this a political philosophy that deeply believes in and legislates in ways that exacerbate the wealth divide, and you have the mess we witness today. As so many here have noted, it will take time – for the bigots to die, to slowly change people’s minds and hearts, and more time to implement changes in our institutional policies and laws that will bring about broad equality. Our young people who see through this crap and want equality of opportunity for all are our greatest hope for change but each of us has to commit to making personal stands for equality as and where we can….our thoughts, our actions, our votes.

    • vikinghou says:

      This discussion reminds me of the old joke about how Britain got rid of its undesirables. America got the religious fanatics and Australia got the convicts. It seems Australia received the better deal!

      • 1mime says:

        I had never heard that story, Viking! It’s a good one. We’ll have to get Duncan to weigh in on how the story looks from the other side of the pond!

      • duncancairncross says:

        Britain exported it’s troublemakers to the whole world in the times of the empire

        “A Campbell in some wild foreign land could be doing some good – here in Kintyre he is just a bloody nuisance”

        (Having known a few Campbells and MacDonalds I have always believed that the Campbells didn’t massacre enough of them)

        This started when James VI became king of England as well and started clearing the troublemakers from the borders and continued for hundreds of years

        When Stalin did his purges just before WW2 a lot of the officers he purged had recognisably Scottish names

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, one of the great books on the history of Australia is “The Fatal Shore”, by Robert Hughes, 1988. If you are just curious, or plan to visit, it is finely written and meticulously researched.

    • 1mime says:

      Not that you need any more discouragement on your concern about Christian fundamentalism, but this ought to open a few eyes to the “anointed one”.

      http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/rafael-cruz-declares-son-ted-cruz-anointed-

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, this Daily Kos article explores the deeper meaning behind John Boehner’s resignation. It is right on, in my opinion, about the “limits of crazy” he had to work within and what Paul Ryan is now running up against.

        “To understand the pressures that brought about Boehner’s demise as an ideological split badly misconstrues the situation. The small band of right-wing noisemakers in the House who made Boehner’s existence a living hell could not identify any important substantive disagreements with the object of their wrath. . . . The source of the disagreement was tactical, not philosophical. Boehner’s tormentors refused to accept the limits of his political power. . . .
        This discontent runs much deeper and wider than Boehner. . . . Boehner had the misfortune of leading, or attempting to lead, his party in an era when it had run up to the limits of crazy, where the only unexplored frontiers of extremism lay beyond the reach of its Constitutional powers.
        What is important here is not that Republicans object to the limits of their power, but that Republicans apparently cannot accept that such limits even exist. Greg Sargent recently caught this in a very revealing FOX News poll:
        [Republicans] failed to block Obama’s transformation of the country; that must be because they didn’t even try, so they must be complicit. But this failure, too, is structural. Republicans don’t have the votes to surmount Dem filibusters or Obama vetoes….Indeed, the Fox News poll unwittingly captures what is particularly problematic about this last one. It finds that 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by their party, and that 66 percent of Republicans don’t think their party did all it could to block Obama’s agenda. The poll asks why respondents think their party leaders failed at this: they didn’t really want to stop Obama; they weren’t smart enough; they would rather fight each other. The Fox poll doesn’t even offer respondents the option of choosing the real reason — that Republicans structurally lack the votes!”

        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/09/26/1425070/-The-Dark-Truth-Of-John-Boehner-s-Resignation?detail=emailclassic

        If there is ever a more important reason for Democrats to GOTV, they need to read and understand this study in splitting reality from crazy. It must drive reasonable Republicans mad. How do you govern responsibly when there is a faction that is nuts that blocks the political process and a constituency, who refuses to accept anything but a bloodbath?

    • vikinghou says:

      Thanks fly,

      That rant pretty much encapsulates all of the themes we’ve been discussing here. The comments are pretty priceless too. Lot’s of venom against Fox News for being too liberal. Yikes!

    • texan5142 says:

      Yikes! Some crazy people posting at that site.

      • flypusher says:

        People whose jobs involve exposure to radiation have to be mindful of their annual total effective dose equivalent. The same concept applies to some of those comments sections.

    • MassDem says:

      Well, that was….something.

      A minor quibble: just for once, could one of these hyper-patriots actually give an explanation of exactly how Barack Obama has disrespected/shredded/trampled the Constitution? Repeating the charge over and over, without a single piece of evidence given, is more truthiness than truth.

      The author is right about one thing though, when he says “The United States of America that we grew up in, and in some cases fought for, no longer exists.” Unfortunately for him, it’s not coming back no matter who wins in 2016, even if that person is the ever-elusive “genuine conservative”. Societies are always in flux; we can no more return to the 1950s than we can to the 1850s. We have no choice but to suck it up and face whatever future America has in store. Based on the arc of history it is likely to be better than current America (eventually).

      • flypusher says:

        I suspect disrespecting/shredding/trampling the Constitution is a lot like “activist judge”- it’s all about whether your ox is getting gored or not.

        I also suspect the “where’s the respect for my culture?” line is more about “why can’t my culture dominate anymore?”

  12. 1mime says:

    As big as our equality problems are in the U.S., it is useful to maintain perspective by relating to what is happening in other places in the world. No excuse for short-comings in a civilized society, but, humbling in its gravity.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/01/04/war-of-words-annals-of-activism-laura-secor?mbid=nl_291215_Daily&CNDID=24419463&spMailingID=8387431&spUserID=MjczNzc1MDk3OTgS1&spJobID=823106871&spReportId=ODIzMTA2ODcxS0

  13. Tuttabella says:

    Lifer writes: “Explain how you can offer them something better than white supremacy.”
    ***********************************
    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea of “replacing” White supremacy ever since you brought up the idea in the previous blog entry.

    How do you “replace” something like White supremacy? Do you phase it out? Is it already on its way out? What do you replace it with? For Whites, what could be “better” and more supreme than White supremacy?

    Furthermore, you talk of “them” when “them” is also “you,” since, as you have rightly and humbly pointed out on more than one occasion (thank you for that), you have reaped the rewards of White supremacy yourself, much more than poor Whites have. Are you ready to relinquish your own White supremacy?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      As you suggest, you could share some of your wealth with the rest of the population to create a more just society. However, you would still remain “supreme,” since this act would take away none of your Whiteness, and bestowing your wealth on the underprivileged could be seen as the gift of the supreme to those of lower stature, and you could decide at any time to withhold that wealth, or to place conditions for the receipt of your gift. Because you have the control, you would also retain the power.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      If you are not willing to relinquish your own White supremacy, can you ask that of others?

      Just some thoughts . . .

      • flypusher says:

        Being part of the educated caste, it’s easy on my end. But White supremacy is going to end, make no mistake about that. It’s in the demographic tea leaves. 2060 (or is it 2040?) is bandied about as the year when Whites are no longer a majority. They’ll still have a plurality (i.e. still be the largest group) for a while longer, and it’s not likely all the other groups can form a unified voting bloc, but there is going to be a shifting of the power balance. It’s like the globalized economy- you can’t stop it, but you can hope to manage it to maximize benefits/ minimize pain. Some people will resist this, and some may do it violently. I hope that Roof’s horrid crime is an anomaly rather than a sign of things to come, but we need to get prepared for the latter possibility.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m in favor of a society where we are all treated the same according to our actions, not our color or gender. Achievement and wealth opportunity should be color-blind and gender-neutral. I am certain I enjoy privileges for being “White”, but that is a circumstance of birth. I neither overtly seek these privileges nor expect them. I expect to be judged by my actions.

        It will take a very long time in America to eliminate class stigma much less racial and gender discrimination. It should be the goal of each person to contribute to this change in the course of their lifetimes. We do so by how we treat others and by teaching our children about being just. It’s both that simple and that difficult.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        I agree entirely

        As far as reparations are concerned – that would have to be done very carefully – you can’t fix a wrong after everybody is dead – The Romans invented a statute of limitations for that reason

        If anybody was mad enough to put me in charge I would have a symbolic reparation
        A one time Wealth Tax – Sliding scale 0% to 10%??
        To apply to everybody
        And a one time “Reparation Payment” to be paid equally to all citizens

    • goplifer says:

      Your question is what’s holding up the next post, probably until after New Year’s. Observing this situation is nice. Writing about it is better. Now what? I have in fact benefited from the situation I’m describing. In the course of looking at it more closely, I’m starting to realize just how deep those benefits have been. How do I participate in a solution?

      I’m not the sort of person who brings my own woven-hemp bags to the grocery store. I don’t drive an electric car. Collective problems demand collective solutions. Those very visible demonstrations of “concern” have always struck me as a bit too righteous, more about social positioning, more bumper-sticker than action.

      At a political level I have a lot of ideas about we can respond differently to questions of racial justice. At a personal level…look I don’t know. Basically, I’m reluctant to pay the price for this all by myself, toward no end whatsoever. Not sure that sort of empty gesture would accomplish anything for the price. I’m all for carrying a fairer portion of the burden of our history – as part of a resolution, not merely as a righteous gesture. I’m not a hippie. I’m going to stay engaged in the political process and work toward a real resolution.

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure that responding this exclusively by posting a few zingers on a blog is any more than a dodge. I’m really torn about this and I’m hating it. This wasn’t supposed to be a series of posts about me, but that’s where it’s heading.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually, I do appreciate your honesty in recognizing and acknowledging how you have benefitted from being White, and I appreciate your acknowledging the plight of poor Whites and your pointing out that it’s necessary to understand their situation as well instead of just mocking them.

        Continually mocking “old White people” and patting oneself on the back for supposedly being better than them leads nowhere. We are all in this together.

      • flypusher says:

        “This wasn’t supposed to be a series of posts about me, but that’s where it’s heading.”

        Will it make it easier to expand this to more of us? I get the impression that most of the people who post here are highly educated Whites of middle age and older. Our backgrounds will differ, but we seem to have arrived at a similar place. What do you think that we as a group need to do that would be beyond token/feel good gestures?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Lifer, I do believe in the power of writing. Opening up minds and making people think is a great accomplishment. Just look at Mr. Coates.

      • 1mime says:

        Chris, we are all imperfect. Fly is right, we are going on this journey together and you are helping us by leading the way. The fact that we are all trying to be better people and want fairness for others is a start. This issue will not be resolved by any one person’s actions, yet it cannot be solved without each person making an effort. Actions are still the most honest expression of justice.

        As to the question, “how do we participate in a solution?” Each of us will have to find our own way in this regard, and it will be imperfect in its means. There is so much that needs to be done individually and collectively – in our system of justice and in our application of justice, in our politics and in educational and employment opportunities, in our neighborhoods and churches. These systemic changes may look daunting but I’ll bet they prove easier than changing peoples’ minds and hearts.

      • vikinghou says:

        My father, who is still robust at age 92, grew up in a little farming town in Iowa that was essentially composed of 100% Swedish immigrants. He was the first in my family to be born in the USA. During his childhood he had no experience with people of different ethnicity. Then Pearl Harbor happened and he enlisted in the Navy. Of course, in the Navy, it is necessary to know how to swim, and swimming lessons were part of the basic training program. He was astounded during one session during which some white sailors left the pool in a panic when a group of black sailors jumped in. It was his first experience with racial prejudice and he was confounded. So he was entirely unaware that there was any white privilege until he saw the big wide world. My grandparents, who emigrated from Lapland in northern Sweden, certainly weren’t exposed to black people, so there wasn’t any built-in prejudice in the family. And that prejudice wasn’t transferred to me during my upbringing either.

        The lesson is that children must be taught to have prejudicial attitudes. From previous posts some of you may have noticed that I like to use film and theatre clips to illustrate political and social topics. Songs from two Broadway shows came into my mind: “You Have to Be Carefully Taught” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific (1948) and “Children Will Listen” from Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods (1987). It turns out that Barbra Streisand sang a medley of both songs during one of her concerts.

        So what is it going to take to stop parents from teaching children to hate people who look differently or have different (or no) religious views?

      • 1mime says:

        I totally agree, Viking. It’s not just a matter of the old bigots dying off as they have reared their children in this horrid racism. For those who have broken away, great, but too many 40-50 year old people mirror the prejudices of their bigoted parents.

        If Lifer is seeking long-term solutions to inequality, surely the place to begin is by teaching our children respect for others. This doesn’t address short-term economic inequality, but, it can instill values in our young that will form the core of their adult behavior and influence economic and social equality.

      • texan5142 says:

        Not to dumb it down, but instinct does us all well, it is learned behavior that is the crutch/bane of society as it pertains to social structure. Racism, bigotry, etc. are hard to ferret out in a society when one complains of indoctrination as one indoctrinates.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Texan, you’re right. Little kids are the only true color-blind members of society. They’re too young to see people in terms of race.

    • Ryan Ashfyre says:

      Yes, yes, and YES, white supremacy is on the way out and good riddance to it. And I say that as a still young white male who, in all likelihood, has benefited from that in ways that even I don’t completely comprehend even now. I disagree with the idea whole heartedly as I believe that one’s success in society and in the broader world should be met purely by his/her own personal merits and efforts.

      That aside, when people like Lifer and others talk about “replacing” white supremacy, what they really mean is replacing it with an economic system of opportunity that can grant these people the same relative sense of economic security and the like that they experienced under white supremacy, only without the blatant racism and degradation of minority groups.

      Now, as most all here likely know, there will be those who will never relinquish the idea of white supremacy for as long as they live. There is no “replacing” it for them, even if you gave them the most secure, streamlined and opportunity-laden economic engine the world’s ever seen. I think such people quite small in number; and though it may sound cold-hearted on my part, I have just one thing to say about those people…

      Good riddance to bad rubbish. You won’t be missed.

      That said, I’m an optimist who believes at the overwhelming majority of people just want an economy that they can feel works for them and gives them the opportunity and security they need to live their lives to the fullest and pursue their dreams. A lot of them will need a helluva lot of convincing that things like a federal minimum income and the like is the way to go, but they will come along eventually, even if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it.

      • 1mime says:

        I am looking at this issue far more broadly, Ryan. If economic fairness is perceived as the “cure-all” for White Supremacy, that’s not nearly enough. It’s only a means to a different end. True equality means not even thinking about one’s color or race or class. It includes economic benefits predicated upon one’s efforts and intellect rather than one’s race. When we get to this point in our thinking, true progress will be made. It is going to take a long time, but it is a necessary and important journey that each of us has to make on our own. You can’t “exorcise” White Supremacy.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Ryan wrote: I’m an optimist who believes at the overwhelming majority of people just want an economy that they can feel works for them and gives them the opportunity and security they need to live their lives to the fullest and pursue their dreams.
        ******************************
        Yes, well said. That would be a good “replacement” for White supremacy that White supremacists might actually go for.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        @1mime: First of all, I’m not saying that economic fairness and/or security is a so-called “cure-all” for WS. There’s no way it could be, but changing the economic dynamic that it created will make significant progress for many people in showing them that it IS possible to create an economy of opportunity for all without it being at the expense of others.

        Now, as I’ve already said, there are still going to be those that will never accept this. They will go to their graves believing that white people are better than everyone else and that they should stand at the top of the proverbial heap as if according to near divine providence.

        It may sound cold and unfeeling, but it’s an unfortunate part of our reality that those people are just going to have to grow old and die out as a part of white supremacy’s extinction. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the truth.

        In the meantime, you’re right in that this is going to be a campaign of hearts and minds where progress is made little by little in the actions that each and every one of us takes every day. I have every confidence that this will happen, and when it does, the last vestiges of white supremacy will not go out with a bang, but with a soft, inaudible whimper.

    • objv says:

      Good points, tutt. I’ve been wondering why Lifer has not addressed the inequalities in the tech industry. Blacks and Hispanic percentages of workers are only in the low single digits and women are woefully underrepresented. Instead of kvetching about old white men in the South,why not discuss the fact that young white men (and Asians) on the West Coast have locked up tech jobs.

      • objv says:

        Drat this phone. I’m helping my daughter move into her house and she has no Internet yet.

      • objv says:

        Going out to shovel snow. I’ll be checking back later.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Why can’t we do both?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, you blue-eyed devil with a blue dress on! I hope you’re having a happy holiday season.

      • 1mime says:

        Turtles is correct, we should do both…or, all….inequality is inequality. For those of us who grew up in the South, our racial experience is more familiar and personal. As Viking noted, she didn’t have this experience where she lived as a young person so is unable to relate as intimately as some of us can. Inequality has a wide reach. Realistically, I don’t think it’s possible for anyone over the course of their lives to escape exposure in some form or another but the experience may not be as intensely experienced.

      • objv says:

        Tutt, I hope your holidays are happy and bright as well.
        Right now, I’m a blue-eyed devil with a thick fleece (and long underwear) on.

        It’s a pity that Lifer has had to resort to using racial slurs and sterotypes. I’ve always considered my blue eyes to be my best feature. Now, he’s gone and ruined it. At least the online ethnic slur database concedes that blue-eyed, white people are the scariest all.

        At least, I have that going for me. BOO! 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, I’m a “brown-eyed girl.” “Do you remember when, we used to sing . . . ?”

      • objv says:

        Yup, tutt. Brown eyes are actually my favorite since my daughter, sister, and husband all have dark, brown eyes.

  14. MassDem says:

    Yesterday I heard a rerun of an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on NPR. The transcript is well worth reading, especially in light of the recent grand jury result in the Tamir Rice case.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/12/29/461337958/ta-nehisi-coates-on-police-brutality-the-confederate-flag-and-forgiveness

    • 1mime says:

      As White people, we simply have no clue what Black people deal with every day. I still interact personally with Black women who help me with my husband’s care. We talk and the experiences they and family members and friends face in their lives clearly shows the danger and bigotry they face daily. It’s so wrong. And, you are correct, their children see and hear all of this and are deeply affected by it. Some of it is Black on Black violence and some is simply a world that doesn’t work equally for all people. The biggest problem, they tell me, is that things can spin out of control in an instant. The uncertainty of their lives is appalling.

      • BigWilly says:

        I don’t know where you live mime, but I do not have the same black/white dichotomy where I live. It’s just not here. Most people are too busy living their lives and going about their business to be concerned with race. I thought this was the result you were hoping for, I don’t know why you’re so preoccupied with the 20th century’s version of racism.

        What I deal with is usually very respectful recent immigrants, the occasional dolt who sees my Saxon name and thinks it’s Jewish (newsflash McDouch is not WASP), or sees my middle name and pronounces is Gee-Off. Think about it. I work in retail. Your money’s good here. We buy and sell goods. We’re not too concerned with your personal morality, as long as it’s not egregiously out of conventional bounds.

        We’re all racist here, all the time, and we love it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

      • 1mime says:

        I absolutely do want people to be able to live their lives without even thinking about race or gender or class, for that matter. I’m not sure what your point was in your statement. My world is so small because of my husband’s care and this limits my ability to interact in the broader society. Possibly this limits my ability to perceive, I don’t know. But, I am fortunate to have daily interaction with people who do live in the big world, and they share their experiences. I try to understand and be a bridge between races. In the process, I am certain I receive much more than I give.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I do sometimes wonder if an inordinate focus on racial injustice is actually projection on one’s part.

        I know an elderly White gentleman, very politically liberal, who constantly talks of how Black people have to deal with being looked down on “every single day of their lives, all day long,” and I have to wonder if that is actually how he looks at them. I haven’t had the heart to ask him, though.

      • 1mime says:

        Tutta, I don’t understand how you can extrapolate from your gentleman friend’s concern about Black people to wondering if he actually looks down upon them. Are you doubting the sincerity of his concern?

      • BigWilly says:

        “I’m not sure what your point was in your statement.” Me neither.

      • Tuttabella says:

        Mime, I do believe my friend is sincere in his concern for Black people, but in a teensy condescending sort of way.

        I’m probably also guilty of projecting myself. None of us is off the hook.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      What I like about Mr. Coates’s perspective is that he presents the case for reparations, not as something to be based on society’s generosity, benevolence, or pity — subjective feelings which can easily morph into stinginess, hatred, or contempt — but as something that should be based on simple JUSTICE, which is objective and unchanging, if we understand it correctly and don’t distort it.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Disagree
        There is a reason the Romans invented the statute of limitations
        You can’t go backwards – because you would never stop
        Slaves, – Native Americans, the tribes they displaced…..
        You can’t stop!
        So you set a time when there are people still alive and stop there

        Now that is for reparations
        What you can do is a re-balance – and help ALL of the Poor and take money from All of the rich

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That makes sense. My main point is that whatever we do should be based on fairness and justice, which is objective, and not do it as though we’re doing Black people a favor.

  15. Eljay says:

    Anyone have thoughts on an equities and commodities Financial Transaction Tax of 1% on both buyer & seller?

    • 1mime says:

      I know that achieving a 15% tax on capital gains was a big fight so expect a FTT of even 1% would bring down the house. I am in favor of eliminating “carried interest” as a tax dodge and taxing these profits/gains as ordinary income. If you look at the tax cut proposals of most of the GOP candidates, they all envision even greater cuts for the wealthy – further exacerbating the wealth divide. I don’t know how you appeal to people for whom there is simply never enough money and who do not “see” what is happening to the majority of people. I guess it boils down to the company one keeps….if all you know are other rich people who share your opinions about keeping more of your money, you may not even know there are poor people….

    • moslerfan says:

      One of the best explanations of tax policy was written in 1946 by Beardsley Ruml, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve bank of New York. In a short paper (http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/RUMLTAXES.html) he explains what purposes taxes serve – and raising revenue for Federal spending explicitly isn’t one of them (although it is for State and local governments.) Here’s what he gives as the purposes of Federal taxes:

      1. As an instrument of fiscal policy to help stabilize the purchasing power of the dollar;
      2. To express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income, as in the case of the progressive income and estate taxes;
      3. To express public policy in subsidizing or in penalizing various industries and economic groups;
      4. To isolate and assess directly the costs of certain national benefits, such as highways and social security.

      A tax of the size mentioned wouldn’t have that much of an effect on any of these purposes. Sometimes a tax issue could be seen as an issue of fairness (carried interest and stepped-up basis come to mind) but I don’t see that as very important here.

      • 1mime says:

        Wealth inequality – we little people don’t begin to fathom how stacked the deck is in this regard. To think that I believed people went to Bermuda for its blue water and fine beaches….

        “Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/business/economy/for-the-wealthiest-private-tax-system-saves-them-billions.html?emc=edit_au_20151229&nl=afternoonupdate&nlid=41048410

      • Hi
        You guys are missing the purpose of the “Financial Transaction Tax” and the proposal was a lot less than 1%
        I think it was 0.01%

        The problem is that “robots” are buying and selling shares at an enormous rate – high speed transactions
        This churn does not do anybody any good except for the owners of the robots who are effectively parasitic on the useful exchange of stocks

        The idea was a small enough tax that it would not effect the actual function of the stock market but would remove the profit from the high speed transactions

        As such it appears to be to be totally the sort of thing Ruml was talking about

      • Creigh says:

        One of the pathologies of inequality is the co-opting of government for private purposes. Not surprisingly this includes manipulation of the tax code.

      • moslerfan says:

        Duncan, Bernie did propose the FTT as a way to finance free college tuition. I’ve seen where it was proposed as a way to curb high speed trading, but I haven’t convinced myself that high speed trading is a significant problem, although clearly it serves no public purpose. The tax code already taxes short term capital gains more than long term capital gains.

    • lomamonster says:

      1% is way too high. It would have to be a very, very small fraction. Almost zero.

  16. MassDem says:

    Interesting article this morning on Alternet on the use of austerity to control political debate.

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/sneaky-way-austerity-got-sold-public-snake-oil

    • 1mime says:

      I had an opportunity to attend a small dinner event in the late 80s which featured CEO of P & G, Owen Brad Butler as keynote speaker. He was there to speak about his role as chairman of the Committee for Economic Development, or CED, (mentioned in the article you linked, MassDem) as it was commonly known, and the work of the blue ribbon executives serving on the committee. Their charge was from Congress. They were to determine, as business leadership, what needed to be changed in public high schools to produce a better educated graduate for America’s workforce. What they found was that making changes at the high school level was too late. In fact, as they continued their work, they moved progressively down through middle school, elementary school, and pre-school programs until they arrived at the answer they were seeking. The answer to preparing young people adequately for the workplace began in the womb! IOW, socio-economic factors were the greatest determinant in how likely a student would exit high school (or not) with workplace proficiency.

      Mr. Butler said the committee was stunned with the results of their findings as it indicated a deeper, more fundamental problem than simply fixing public high school curricula, teaching methods, and student application. It began with a woman who was mature enough to have a baby, who had adequate nutrition during pregnancy, received adequate pre-natal care, and had the mental capability to introduce the child to the basic skills they would need to enter a pre-K program. The report was dead on right. It corroborated everything those of us who were working in the field knew, but now that we had the attention of this important group of CEOs, possibly their report would result in meaningful action steps through Congressional directive. Actions that would begin to focus on the real, underlying problems in educating children within public education. Sadly, to my knowledge, nothing happened as a result of this excellent, honest report.

      Thanks for that trip down memory lane, MassDem.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        “It began with a woman who was mature enough to have a baby.” Yes. Duh, right?

        I’m currently working on a statewide project to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy. Our position is that access to the full range of tools needed to allow people to plan their families — including contraception, abortion, and pre-contraception and prenatal care — is absolutely central to the well-being of children. The studies show overwhelmingly that parents who are emotionally and financially ready have children with far better outcomes than those who are forced into having kids they’re not ready for. The kids are smarter, healthier, better-raised, better educated — in other words, these families succeed on a far larger scale on every metric that matters, and that success tends to carry on through the generations. Your CEO got this, all the way down.

        Back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, when much of our current policy around reproductive planning was first put into place, this understanding was widespread from right to left. Everybody knew this. Somehow, though, it’s become yet another place in which the disconnect between people’s ideology and their lived experience makes clear thinking impossible — where right-wing crazytude has distorted our view of how healthy children, families, and societies happen.

        If we’re doing data-driven policy, we help people plan their families — both when they want to avoid pregnancy, and also when they’re ready to parent. Period. Anybody who proposes that this is not in the public interest is selling religion, and hurting millions of real people (some born, others not yet with us) in the process.

      • 1mime says:

        I had a long talk with a young Black woman (around 30 years old) about family planning. She gets it. Married, two children, working while completing her nursing degree. She had a birth control implant installed after last child. Lasts for 3 years, then she said she’ll figure out if she wants another pregnancy as her personal, professional and financial life will be in better control. Bravo…..

        Her sister in law, OTOH, is gaming the system with child after child, housing vouchers, food stamps, and gosh knows what else. It is people like this that drive all of us nuts on the issue of family planning AND abuse of the safety net. When the purpose of having children is to subsidize unemployment, I have nothing but disgust for them. Fortunately, the woman I spoke with understands that she and her family will benefit more long-term by making better choices here and now, but it’s hard to struggle while someone else feeds on the taxpayer’s tit. All I could do was encourage her to continue thinking smart and long.

        Those women who abuse the system destroy its legitimacy for all those who are trying so hard to “not” use it. To make good choices. To live independent lives and build a future. To help their family move out of poverty. Bottom line, when you are Black and poor, it is critical to delay having children. It is criminal that those who are religious ideologues have made it so shameful (as Fly pointed out) and difficult for poor women (of whatever race) to make their own choices about their bodies.

        I applaud your work and sincerely hope it succeeds. I can’t work on that level but I try to encourage those who are receptive to plan.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        You don’t like people who “game the system”
        And a friend of a friend knows about somebody who does

        Have you tried to work out how this woman is “gaming the system”??

        IMHO these people are like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster – they don’t actually exist,

        They are Reagans Cadillac driving welfare queens – they don’t actually exist
        And if they do they are not “gaming the system” to get the benefits
        they are lying –
        IMHO it is not possible to have extra kids and make a profit out of the benefits
        BUT
        It is possible to lie about having extra kids and make a profit that way

        But again you would have to lie about a lot of kids to get the benefits that the well off get

      • duncancairncross says:

        nine kids?
        nine welfare queens?

      • 1mime says:

        Nine kids who have a pretty good chance of becoming welfare queens like mommy.

        People do things like this. And, it’s wrong to deliberately use the system through having babies to get government support. That support, that safety net is important, and it’s needed and it shouldn’t be abused. You don’t have to be a conservative to be concerned about abuses like this. There are legitimate reasons to apply for welfare assistance and then there are those who use it to avoid working. It’s the latter group who create the impression that “all” who utilize the safety net are fraudulent, and that is definitely not true. There are, however, those who do and that is wrong. Period.

      • flypusher says:

        A big part of the problem are people who place more priority on shaming women than they do on the welfare of children.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        We’re in the process of mapping systemic blocks to people getting what they need to plan their families. One of the biggest and most intransigent blocks we run into is the very attitude you describe — which, oddly, doesn’t even seem to be all that dependent on welfare funding (though it can’t be helping matters). “What happens, happens.” It’s all God’s will. The babies come when they come — and there’s nothing you can or should do to get in the way of this.

        It’s a kind of learned helplessness that researchers have noticed in a lot of places around the world. (Which was both a reassuring and frustrating thing to find out, I can assure you.) In the US, this fatalism is endemic in the lower classes. They don’t feel like they have control over anything in their lives, so they don’t even try to take control. It’s literally a form of depression that takes people over when poverty has ground them down.

        The ones who escape it are the ones, like the sister you describe, do exercise that control muscle. Gallup did a meta-study last year that found that a lower-class American, regardless of color, has a 70% chance of making it into the middle class if they simply do three things IN ORDER: 1) graduate from high school; 2) get a full-time job; and 3) get married before they have kids. Other research adds a fourth one: wait until you’re 21 to get married (25 is better). Do all of that, and your odds of rising are actually pretty damned good.

        This is simple stuff, and it should be conveyed as a basic social expectation to every school child starting in first grade. Instead, we keep running into people *in our own movement* who act like allowing 16-year-olds to make the choice to become parents is somehow empowering. It’s not. The stats are overwhelming: it’s going to ruin these girls’ entire lives, to the point where arguing for it is arguing for for a passive form of child abuse.

      • flypusher says:

        Duncan, Reagan’s “welfare queen” was a real person, but not what the stereotype depicts:

        http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/12/20/255819681/the-truth-behind-the-lies-of-the-original-welfare-queen

        Truth is scarier that fiction!

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        No doubt, there are idiots in the world who have kids thinking that the welfare benefits will be a nice bonus, but in no world does the additional welfare benefit adequately cover the costs of raising the additional child.

        Now, if the family is neglecting the children and not adequately providing for them, they might eek out some tiny “profit” from the welfare, but that is actually probably much more “work” than just getting a job at McDonald’s.

        Sure, there might be a few who attempt to game the system, but they are probably lying if they claim to be successful at it (or somewhat delusional).

      • 1mime says:

        You might be surprised to learn how much money can be pulled in, and even if it’s not much by our standards, if you have free housing, food stamps and SSI, it can add up to a whole lot more than a lot of people’s net pay. I was surprised, and, disappointed. Let me simply say, it was “eye opening”.

    • 1mime says:

      Amazingly, I was able to find info on the original report by the CED, MassDem….the internet still amazes me…all from the comfort of my home….28 years after the fact! For those who are interested in this area, here is the executive summary of the Children in Need report issued by the Committee for Economic Development in 1987.

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1987/09/09/07200003.h07.html

      • MassDem says:

        Thank you for posting that report, 1mime. Everything it said resonated so much with me. Almost 30 years on and our society still hasn’t learned those lessons…it’s disheartening.

        I’ve worked with children from homes like the ones you describe, and often they are far behind their peers in school. It’s hard to focus on your studies when your home life is chaos and you aren’t getting enough to eat. And yet the schools and the teachers get blamed when these kids do poorly on standardized tests, as if the 6 hours we spend with the child (if they even show up every day) is enough to offset all of the challenges in their lives.

        Don’t get me wrong, I care about ALL of my students. But I resent the fact the society has off-loaded the problem of poverty onto the educational system while at the same time cutting back on other supports for these kids.

        Grrrrr…I’m done ranting now.

  17. flypusher says:

    I was cogitating on this bit of one of Chris’ replies (and absorbing the new Star Wars soundtrack) on my drive back from Central TX this morning:

    ‘My grandfather despised anyone who would read a novel, or almost anything besides the Bible. After all, he’d explain, why bother reading something that “isn’t true.” ‘

    This gets back to a point I’ve raised before, how the $&%¥ do you even have a dialog with a person like that, let alone work with them to craft a political solution that eases the big economic/social/demographic transition that’s underway here. Seriously a person of that mindset has as little in common with someone like me as is possible for 2 people who live in the same country. I doubt he would have been willing to meet most of us even an eight of the way. Can’t make the horse drink.

    Chris’ ideas require the political process to make them reality. So would any number of alternative plans. I don’t see the Tea Party contingent getting swayed towards any reordering of society anytime soon. I’ll go with the assumption that the GOP has pretty much zapped it’s chances of winning the White House few at least the next few election cycles. The Senate likely shifts next year. This probably results in a SCOTUS shift to the left, as I don’t see Scalia and Thomas holding out that long. But the Tea Party faction probably keeps enough pull in the House to stall any meaningful change for the near future.

    So you can’t make the horse drink, but can you make it come to the realization that choosing to be thirsty is your own personal responsibility? I have to wonder if we are going to literally let the people of this mindset have their own space apart, where they can have exactly what they want, and see where it gets them. In a sense they’ve done that to a lesser degree in places like Kansas and Kentucky. I absolutely do understand all the arguments against allowing states to choose to resume discriminating. The idea bugs the hell out of me even as a thought exercise. But some people learn from reading, some people learn from watching others, and some people just gotta pee on that electric fence.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Too bad the South didn’t win that war. Let them have their own racist, uneducated, shitty jobs utopia.

      • 1mime says:

        Some of us live in the South, Rob. We aren’t very happy about many things that go on, but this is where we’ve gotta be for now. Time for older bigots to die and younger people who believe in equality to come forward. There’s still going to be a lot of hurt between now and then. That’s a fact.

      • flypusher says:

        Rob, I don’t think we’d be better off for having the South win, but I do so wish that the Reconstruction had not been so totally FUBARed. That was a missed opportunity to deal with the birth defects/ original sins that were slavery and White supremacy.

        1mime, not all the bigots are old. How old was Roof when he murdered 9 innocent people? 19? There are also young people caught in this shift and if they see no prospects they’re more likely to drink the same poison.

      • 1mime says:

        All bigots are not old – we agree on this, but how many of the young bigots do you think are reared in households by the old bigots? What influence does the home environment play in shaping a child’s values? Income and class are powerful motivators of more than the young and stupid. There are a lot of old rich people who share their phobias and their bigotry.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Good points Fly and Mime.

        My comment was more borne out of frustration then any actual realistic policies.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Fly, I don’t trust what I was taught about reconstruction, the whole carpetbaggers and ignorant Negroes in legislatures meme.

        Was reconstruction FUBAR’d up or given up by a weary nation with a majority not all that opposed to Jim Crow anyhow?

        If anyone has a solid source on reconstruction, please name it. I would like to read it.

      • flypusher says:

        Bobo, you can start with this bit about the election of 1876, which features a familiar controversy with Florida:

        http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/compromise-of-1877

        Basically the GOP sold out the former slaves.

      • flypusher says:

        Also the matter of having Johnson instead of Lincoln running things:

        http://millercenter.org/president/biography/johnson-impact-and-legacy

        Some people rate Johnson as even worse than Buccanhan.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      Interestingly, Fly, I spent some time last month with a bunch of people who think they’re finding a way to bust through that wall. Their theory (which they are empirically testing, in partnership with some Yale researchers) is that on a great many issues, the real cognitive wall is the one that stands between their externally-given ideological positions (theory, if you will) and their own lived experience (practice).

      This splitting is what exasperates us, because it’s easy for us to see the hypocrisies that result from it. Uncle Manny hates gay people because his church tells him that’s what God expects (theory). But he also knows his dentist is gay, and is generally OK with that (practice). Aunt Edna thinks abortion is always wrong (theory), but when her 16-year-old daughter turned up pregnant, they were straight off to the clinic — and she still thinks this was the right choice for “real emergencies” like the one her daughter faced (practice).

      There are ways to talk to people that are very effective at helping them bridge these cognitive gaps. I can’t say too much about this now — the study is still in process — but the results are good enough to offer considerable hope that we can move a good portion of the country back to a reality-based mode of thinking. It will not be easy. These conversations are very labor-intensive. And it will take a while. But it’s looking likely that it can be done.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        In my own experience, I often found common ground with very conservative folks when trying to solve a problem. Perhaps that removes the discussion from the theoretical to the practical.

      • flypusher says:

        Please keep us posted on that Sara. I agree with you on the potential of “practice”. It’s not coincidence that pretty much all the GOP politicians who changed their positions on LGBT issues did so after someone close to them turned out to be in that group.

      • 1mime says:

        Sara – agree. The conversation I had with the 50 year old female Trump supporter (in my home over lunch following Christmas….which, of course, makes a difference in how they respond) on the reasons she supports Trump….most of which, as I indicated earlier, were poorly grounded if not outright incorrect. It took a great deal of patience and circular dialogue (which she at least was receptive to) to help her examine her reasoning. Given a second opportunity, knowing what I am dealing with, outside of a family gathering, I might make some real inroads with her. She’s smart, she’s simply afraid and angry because she finds herself in a precarious financial situation with few concrete options. I offered reasoned, soft rebuttals for her arguments and I could see a little light going on. I was dealing with a college graduate here, so there was that. My parting comment was to thank her for sharing her concerns, to wish her the very best in her job search, to keep me posted because I care about her, and to urge her to read more widely on some of her positions. We parted friends and hopefully, the “splitting” experience benefited her and it helped me be more sensitive and develop better communication skills for the next situation – which – will arise.

  18. Rob Ambrose says:

    Grand jury doesn’t indict on the Tamir Rice case.

    Thats pretty ridiculous. The standard for a GJ indictment is so low they say a DA could get a GJ to indict a ham sandwich.

    I don’t know that there is definitely enough for a criminal conviction, but for there to not even be an indictment for what anybody with eyes can see deserves one is a disgrace.

    • vikinghou says:

      I’m shocked too and am afraid this will further inflame what’s already a tense situation around the country.

      • 1mime says:

        Heart breaking and disgusting, all at the same time.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The prosecutor says “We don’t second-guess police officers,” in his explanation.

        Which is exactly the problem. We all know what he said to be true, I’m just shocked he actually said it. Police officers are never doubted, unless video evidebce is so overhwleming that it cannot be ignored.

        Never mind that Ohio is an open carry state. Even if it WAS a real gun, he would have been within his rights to be carrying it.

        They say he “pointed” it at the cops. Really? The vudeo doesny show that. Leaving out the fact that he was dead within three seconds of the cops rolling up on his position like its Fallujah, why would someone point a gun at cops they know to be fake? In what universe does that happen?

        This whole thing stinks. If there’s one case where BLM prices its worth, its this one. Video evidence showing pretty clearly the shooting was unjustified, and a victim that doesn’t have the baggage of a Michael Brown or Eric Garner.

        At least, he SHOULDN’T. Ive read plenty of comments on blogs that basically say “who cares how old he is? Kill all the baby n*****s before they grow up to be be big ones”.

        But no…..def no race problem in America :/

      • Turtles Run says:

        Rob wrote: The prosecutor says “We don’t second-guess police officers,” in his explanation.

        When prosecutors refuse to question the actions of the police then what chance is there to go after the wrongdoing of police officers.

        They do say a DA can prosecute a ham sandwich, problem is you have to want to prosecute the sandwich.

        The low bar that the SCOTUS set for police shootings is ridiculous, it needs to change.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Prosecutors around the country routinely refuse to prosecute cops for anything. They’ll often tell you this very bluntly: they have to work with the police every day, and their jobs can become literally impossible to do if they’re on the wrong side of the cops. Also, most DAs are politically ambitious, so prosecuting cops pretty much ensures that they will fail in a job that’s often a critical stepping stone to bigger things.

        There are stories readily available on the Internet of prosecutors who, in spite of the above pressures, tried to send a cop to jail. They typically find themselves immediately cut off from access to any police information about *anything*. Some have been personally threatened and harassed. Cops generally believe they have a deal with the DAs, and will not hesitate to issue strong reminders to a DA who dares to forget that.

        So, no, there will be no help forthcoming from DAs. If we want to hold cops accountable, we’re going to have to create far more independent systems to do it.

      • flypusher says:

        “So, no, there will be no help forthcoming from DAs. If we want to hold cops accountable, we’re going to have to create far more independent systems to do it.”

        Maybe we are going to literally have to make all excessive use of force incidents into Federal cases. The conflict of interest is too great with the way we handle things now. Or at least have a grand jury version of change of venue.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Fly – I do not think the change of venue is enough for grand juries. The local DA will still handle the case and the cops in his jurisdiction will be paying close attention. I believe the federal route is the best course to dealing with this issue.

      • flypusher says:

        TR, My thought is to have a different DA do the case. For example if there was an incident like this in Houston, you move everything to Dallas or San Antonio or any other TX city. The DA there handles it. Obviously there would need to be some new laws passed. I would also be fine with the Feds handling it too (but Fed involvement does raise some people’s hackles in a way that keeping it in state wouldn’t). But we do need to bypass this conflict of interest. We expect judges to recuse themselves for a lot less.

    • flypusher says:

      DOJ, do your job.

      • vikinghou says:

        Amen.

      • 1mime says:

        Someone here who is a legal eagle, please explain how the next step in the Tamir Rice case goes forward. What is necessary for DOJ involvement, what are the chances that the GJ decision will be overturned…what are the chances that justice will be able to be achieved in this particular situation.

        This is a serious set of questions, not commentary. I’d like to know how this will proceed from here.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      There was never going to be a conviction on this.

      The police screwed this up from the get-go, but once they (stupidly) pulled up five feet from a person they thought had a gun, even the slightest twitch by Rice is going to result in Rice getting shot.

      Incredible stupidity by the police of putting themselves in that situation, but once they were there, they were not going to be convicted of anything.

      There would have to be tape of them saying, “We are going to pull up right next to him and blow his Black ass away” before there was going to be any justice in this situation.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Sure, but it wasn’t some anonymous officer that put the cops 5 ft from Rice.

        It was the same cops that shot him and the same cops that should be facing justice.

        If the cops involved are deemed justified because of the situation the cops in question put themselves in (by driving 5 ft away from the kid) how can it be said that they’re not responsible?

        I do agree that if a cop is in a position where he has to make a split second choice, he doesn’t have time to wait to see if the gun is real or not. But if the cop PUT himself in that position needlessly and without direction (that move is def not in the training manual) I don’t see how it falls back on him.

        Not to mention the video shows none of that. The only person who testified to that is the cop himself. Since the initial report was proven false by the video that cop didn’t know existed at the time, why would his word mean anything?

      • 1mime says:

        The fact that it has taken so long to render a GJ decision was a pretty good predictor. What a horrible outcome, even if it was predictable.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Rob…absolutely the dudes who pulled up next to and shot Rice are responsible for all of their actions and mistakes, but there is no way that there was going to be a conviction on this.

        As much as I want to hang these guys out to dry, I’m not sure I would feel the same way if they simply said, “wow, we fucked up royally and never should have pulled up that close to the kid, but once we were there, it looked like he was raising his gun, so I felt like I had to protect myself.”

        If I screw up on my job, a report is late and a client is unhappy or maybe I really, really do a bad job on a project, and a client loses a big lawsuit about it. No one dies.

        The cops screw up there job, there is a decent chance someone dies. The cops are responsible for their mistakes, but I’m not sure they are criminally responsible.

        We might want cops to be held to a higher standard, but if that is the case, we would have to seriously raise the entry requirements and standards to get a police job, completely re-do the way cops are initially and ongoingly trained, and substantially hike up the pay structure. I would suggest that your only hope of those three things is the potential to change the way the training is conducted, but no one wants to swallow the time and dollars to do that.

        I don’t know what you want the DOJ to do here. At best, they are going to say the department needs better training on how to handle these situations because what they did here escalated the threat to themselves and to Rice, but the DOJ won’t see this as a criminal issue (or if they do, they will as a political move with no real thought they could get a conviction either).

        The dude shot in the street outside of the Burger King would have a better chance at justice than Rice. That video clearly shows the victim moving away from the cop. Rice’s video is too fast (because of the actions of the cops) to argue that once the cop stepped out of his car, he was fearing for his life.

        Note, I’m not an attorney, so if someone with more legal chops than me can identify a realistic way to convict the cops in the Rice case, I’ll happily start taking that position rather than the much more depressing position I have now.

    • MassDem says:

      UNBELIEVABLE.

      What I want to know is how come such worthy citizens like Jared Lee Loughner, Dylann Roof, James Holmes and their ilk are all taken alive yet Tamir Rice is dead.

    • Crogged says:

      Listen, this particular case isn’t so clear cut. The difference between what the 911 caller said and what the dispatcher told the police is telling. Why wouldn’t the police roll right up to a man displaying a gun on a children’s playground-which is what the dispatcher told the officers.

      Everyone is so quick to judge and getting the real facts is much harder than we realize despite this instant knowledge device in our pockets. Here in our own city we still don’t know the entire truth regarding Deputy Goforth-but we do know blaming BLM was ridiculous.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The video is pretty clear cut. Without a report of shots fired (and even with them) its not in any way shape or form standard police procedure for two beat cops to storm the position without knowing anything about the situation, the layout of the area, any hostages etc.

        For the protections of the cops AND civilians AND the suspect.

        You also realize Ohio is an open carry state right? If nothing else, since holding a gun is totally legal, and “brandishing” is a pretty vague descriptor, the move was totally inappropriate.

        Not to mention, the lack of any medical care whatsoever for around 10inutes. An off duty FBI agent was the one who finally administered first aid.

        Not saying this is clear cut murder. But to say there is nothing here worthy of even a trial is a travesty of justice. Period.

      • flypusher says:

        “Why wouldn’t the police roll right up to a man displaying a gun on a children’s playground-which is what the dispatcher told the officers.”

        Because that’s an incredibly stupid tactic? (Assuming this isn’t tongue in check)

      • Crogged says:

        This is a children’s playground and a ‘black man’ has a gun. The first responders are there to protect children (MY CHILD) who may be in imminent danger. They were told it was a ‘black man with a gun’ not a teenager with a bb pistol. You can’t create a training program which replaces the good instincts of officers.

        Look at the video in a new light-what if you were told your child was at a playground where a man had been threatening people with a gun-or if you were told the surly kid down the street had his bb gun out? You roll up and the ‘black man’ points his gun towards you. What do you think those officers felt when they saw who the ‘black man’ was?

        Get real, quit judging.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, without digging out the original articles, the audio report reported: there is a male in the neighborhood park , could be a juvenile, who appears to have a gun, it might be a toy gun.

        Wouldn’t the appropriate police response be to respond, park within a safe distance from the “reported suspect”, ask him to put down the gun and raise his hands? Also, there were NO other people in the area. Kid was alone. Instead, police screeched to halt within feet of the kid (which would have been rather threatening and alarming to anyone, much less a kid), and there were 3 seconds before they began firing.

        I absolutely want police to protect our parks, cities, etc. But I am becoming afraid of bad police. If I, as a college-educated, white senior feel this way, what would a young, 12 year old kid feel like who had a toy gun (does everyone here remember “toy” guns our kids played with?), who saw a car hurtling at him in a park he probably played in often, screeching to a stop within feet of him, two policemen jumping out of a police car with guns drawn shouting at him? Putting myself in his shoes, I would have frozen….afraid to move….and, that is probably exactly what happened….

        No, Crogged, this was a travesty and the police handled it horribly and an innocent kid lost his life. He never had a chance. Period.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, here’s a thoughtful article from the NYT on the Rice GJ verdict and background. According to this article, the caller indicated fear that the kid with the “gun” might hurt others on the playground….so, without doing a lot more research, there could have been other kids there….however, I watched that video a lot of times and I never saw anyone but Rice and the two officers. Wanted to clarify that point from my earlier comment. I lifted a quote within the article by a pastor who was active in seeking the officers’ arrests as it affirms the essence of the problem for the Black Community.

        “There have already been plans for a response, both at an immediate level and a long protracted struggle,” said the Rev. Jawanza Colvin, the pastor of a Cleveland church who signed the affidavits this year seeking the officers’ arrests.

        But Mr. Colvin said Monday’s outcome had long been anticipated.

        “The fact that we are not surprised,” he said, “is in and of itself an indictment of the culture of the criminal justice system.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/29/us/tamir-rice-police-shootiing-cleveland.html?emc=edit_th_20151229&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=41048410&_r=0

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Ohio is an open carry state. I agree its ridiculous, but there is nothing illegal about any man carrying a gun near a playground.

        If the dispatcher had said “man with a gun” without saying “black man” do you think they would have done the same thing? In an open carry state?

        Somehow, I doubt it.

      • flypusher says:

        Rice didn’t point the gun at the cops. He didn’t have time. I doubt he had time to even process what was happening before he got shot.

      • Crogged says:

        I’m not denying a racial component-nor would I be quick to say one is in play. I don’t know anything about the neighborhood where this happened, I don’t know if the police involved knew the neighborhood well.

        And ‘open carry’ on a playground makes the job for the officers easier?

        We got rid of lead paint-what the hell is so different about guns. I’ve made my position here very clear over the last year-if you dump hundreds of millions of guns into a population how can you pretend not to understand more people will get shot. We are choosing guns over people every f__g election, every two years, amen.

      • flypusher says:

        Crogged, I think open carry is asinine. So is permitting the sale of toy guns that look too much like real guns.

        Concealed carry with a rigorous training / license requirement, fine with me.

      • 1mime says:

        Also, the policeman who fired the shots that killed Rice was a rookie.

      • Crogged says:

        I suppose I’m ‘ok’ with concealed weapons except for the preposterous premise and illogical conclusion.

      • Crogged says:

        Mime-there is a difference between the ‘original report’, the first 911 call and what the dispatcher told the officers. There was nuance in the first 911 call-which was completely absent from the call from the dispatcher to the police. From what they were told-they ‘saw’ a man-they were predisposed to see what they had been told would be there-which is a human element we often overlook in real life. Our brains don’t hear the negative-tell me what you see in your mind when I say “There’s not a dog”.

      • 1mime says:

        If the dispatcher failed to accurately report the situation to the police, that’s the first thing that was wrong, however, regardless what the dispatcher told them, the two policemen approached an individual who was alone (meaning, no one in the hood was in any danger except the kid), exhibited extremely aggressive behavior, and basically gave the kid/person no chance. (The 3 second rule at our house (-: means you can still eat it) Surely, all police protocol in situations like this require a different approach and surely more effort to communicate with the individual. Consider also that errant shots could accidentally kill someone in the neighborhood. As I stated earlier, the policeman firing the shots that killed Tamir Rice was a rookie. I will be interested to follow this and see if he is still on the force. At best, he got terrible training, at worst, he used his training incorrectly. The result is still the same, he’s alive and Tamir is dead. Who paid the price for this policeman’s lesson in life?

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve been in on a discussion of this on another forum, and to call it “heated” is an understatement. Things like the failure of the dispatcher to relay all the info, the lack of he orange tip, Rice being large for his age, what his parents may or may not have taught him to do, etc. did contribute to this tragedy. But the single biggest factor, the one thing that had the best chance of avoiding this if it had been done differently, is the tactical blunder of the cops rolling right up on that kid and forcing that split second decision. The cops had other options. There has been so much nit-picking on where Rice’s arm was really moving and what he was intended to do with the gun, but to me that’s just useless smokescreening. Given the speed at which this all happened, I seriously doubt that Rice had the chance to even process what was going on, much less make a conscious decision about what to do with his hands. The cops didn’t give him a chance because of a decision (to roll up that close) that they didn’t have to make, and should have known was the wrong call.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Fly,

        “The cops didn’t give him a chance because of a decision (to roll up that close) that they didn’t have to make, and should have known was the wrong call.”

        That is the main source of the FUBAR situation. They did it wrong. Very wrong, and it resulted in Rice being killed.

        Is that a criminal offense?

        At least in the US, with cops pulling the trigger, that is not a criminal offense.

        And I’m not sure it should be.

        i suspect it will be a civil settlement, but I struggle with putting a cop in jail for making a mistake (and for now, all we know is that it was a mistake).

        Now, the cop shooting the dude holding a knife outside Burger King, absolutely a criminal offense (it probably won’t be, but it should be).

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, if you have time, please read the NYT link I posted for Crogged. In it, it clearly states that this policeman had been in trouble in another police department for problems relating to how he managed his behavior. The Cleveland Police Department never reviewed this other report about the officer.

        I would love to know exactly what police protocol states about approaching an “armed” suspect…Surely, this should have been handled differently. Meanwhile, what has been learned by the police department from this experience? What has been changed, procedurally?

        As the NYT piece quoted, this incident (and I use that term lightly) was a perfect storm of bad judgment, poor execution, and mistaken action.

      • duncancairncross says:

        OK let’s put this another way
        I make an appalling bad decision in my car and I hit and kill somebody

        That would be treated as a criminal offense?
        I could be put in jail for it?

        Is that not the same thing
        A terribly bad decision by somebody in charge of lethal equipment resulted in an avoidable death

        If the car incident is criminal so is the gun incident

      • flypusher says:

        “i suspect it will be a civil settlement, but I struggle with putting a cop in jail for making a mistake (and for now, all we know is that it was a mistake).”

        I can understand the struggle. So what accountability can be had in the absence of criminal charges? Civil settlement? Yes. How about barring these cops from any future employment as LEOs? How about the DOJ at least investigating the Cleveland PD and making any shortcomings public (like as was done with Ferguson)? Let them also review the criminal case, at least for the sake of having a party with no conflict of interest double checking it. Lastly, this video needs to be shown to every class of police cadets as a prime example of how NOT the handle that type of situation.

        Still rankles, though.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Disagree
        If I make a mistake and somebody gets killed I can be put in Jail

        If I screw up a process and somebody gets munched by an industrial robot I can be put in jail
        Same as if a building collapses or I kill somebody with my car

        – so should a cop

      • 1mime says:

        Duncan, we all agree with the travesty of the Tamir Rice execution – because, that is what it was. But, short of doing the things Fly has suggested, under U.S. law, that is all that is possible? It doesn’t mean we like it, but we cannot control it.

    • flypusher says:

      Are DA’s more likely to pursue charges on police misconduct?

      http://www.vox.com/2015/12/28/10677300/police-shooting-charge-prosecutor

      I agree it’s too early to tell. But I think the ultimate solution is to take this out of the hands of the local DAs office, because there is too much conflict of interest. I think the main decision is whether the independent investigations happen at the state or federal level.

      • 1mime says:

        In reading Thursday’s Houston Chronicle, there was an article about the early release of the last of ten teens from The Woodlands, TX (an affluent community north of Houston)who killed a gay man in the Montrose area. The teen, 17 at the time of the murder, was convicted and sentenced to 27 years for the murder of a gay man downtown. He wielded the knife that ultimately killed the man who the group cornered in a dead end alley. He was released 4 years early. Upon his release, his father made these public comments: “I’m happy to have him home,”…..said of his son. “He’s our prodigal son. He’s got a place he’s staying – I built a house for him. He’s got a job in computers waiting for him….(…) was never a bad teen. He made a bad mistake when he was 17 but he’s 41 years old today. He’s going to be a good man.”

        Is it just me or are those remarks as insensitive as it gets? I mean, tell it to your wife – not the world. Not the family of the man they killed. I hope this man lives the rest of his life as a good man, but the dead man he and 9 other teenagers terrorized and killed will never know. If this article and these comments don’t speak volumes about class distinctions in society, what could? Frankly, it’s amazing he was convicted at all.

  19. vikinghou says:

    This particular discussion has been revelatory for me. I am certainly an anachronism in today’s world. I grew up in Colorado during the 60s in a family where Dad worked and Mom stayed home. I never had to worry about being clothed or fed. I went to an excellent public school and was expected to excel. My best subjects were science and math so I went to university and received undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. Military service wasn’t a concern because I was lucky in the draft lottery. I then went to work in the oil industry and lived and traveled all over the world. I stayed with the same company for 30 years, then retired with a full pension and health insurance. Now I do consulting work because I love it, not because I have to. Based on that profile I should be a Republican; instead, I’m a Bernie Sanders Democrat. I attribute my politics to my experiences living abroad where so-called socialist policies functioned very well.

    I’ve only had peripheral experiences concerning race. Of course I was aware of racial turmoil during the 60s, but that wasn’t an issue in Colorado at the time. We had a lot of Hispanics but everyone got along. The company I worked for is one of the most ethnically diverse in the world, and I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of working with people with such different backgrounds. I moved to Houston in the late 90s, and bought a house in a diverse neighborhood in the Meyerland area. On my street we have Anglos, HIspanics, Blacks, Asians, Jews and gays. No problems. Perhaps this is the archtypical urban environment that Chris has been talking about that leaves uneducated whites out in the cold.

    Anyway, I must say that I’m grateful to have had the life I’ve lived (so far). It seems that I’ve blissfully skipped along while opportunities came my way. I sort of feel guilty.

  20. BigWilly says:

    You’ve lost it bro. Now it’s just the blind leading the blind around until you ultimately fall into the ditch.

    I’ve got an A.A. a B.A. an M.B.A. I’m Enrolled to practice before the IRS and I’m MENSA eligible. I’ve 20 plus years of experience in my field. I generally dislike blowing my own horn, but I get tired of the lefty pretentiousness regarding education. If the State U produces graduates like McDonald’s produces hamburgers, how good can it be?

    Will you ever take the individual into account? Or are you merely the thesis to Atlas shrugged?

    Besides, I like rural white people. I’d prefer to live in the country. Maybe rural Omaha, or rural Minneapolis, I’m not sure yet. Houston’s rural too. My councilor is a Republican. How did District A manage to become a GOP stronghold? People believe.

    Good luck pitching your tax hikes.

    • vikinghou says:

      I’ve known several MENSA members. Some of them didn’t have enough sense to come out of the rain.

    • MassDem says:

      BW, could you please explain what you mean by “lefty pretentiousness regarding education”? I really have no clue what you’re getting at there.

      • BigWilly says:

        I found education to be less than advertised. It gets pitched as a cure all, but it’s really not. It’s only in the last few years that it became clear to me that I was dealing with a racket. It’s where that diploma comes from that counts, which is why I had to strike out on my own. The system doesn’t work for me.

      • MassDem says:

        You have my sympathies. It is true that there are no guarantees that come with the college diploma. If you were unfortunate to graduate during bad economic times, then it was of little help, plus you would have been stuck with a lot of debt. Having a college degree does increase your options beyond those of someone without it, but that is hard to see sometimes.

      • 1mime says:

        Uh, maybe I am all wrong, but, even accepting the fact that some higher education (and elementary ed for that matter) are better quality than others, there are colleges and universities which have excellent programs within them that offer quality educational experience. Beyond that, even the best of higher education is wasted if the student is not attentive and doesn’t participate fully in the learning process. There are a lot of people who can’t afford to go to the “top” academic institutions because of money or their scores on the required tests weren’t “quite” high enough, or, or….They ended up in smaller institutions and had a great experience. I have a neighbor who is super smart, graduated in physics/engineering, wanted to go to MIT, ended up at a smaller program and spent most of his time at Los Alamos, then McDonald-Douglass, then Boeing, then NASA. All on the back of a small educational facility that did an awesome job with a very bright, interested and motivated student.

        So, let’s not deride our higher education facilities, please. It has to “fit” the student’s needs, abilities and academic interest. Then, it’s mostly up to the student.

      • MassDem says:

        BW, you were definitely onto something here. Check this out:

        http://hechingerreport.org/the-socioeconomic-divide-on-americas-college-campuses-is-getting-wider-fast/

        Does anything in this report speak to your experiences?

      • BigWilly says:

        I actually went to the brick and mortar version of the UOP. It’s night school for two years. Kind of a grind. I keep in touch with my peers, they’re a pretty solid bunch. Some of the things I’ve read about the UOP, especially since I’ve first hand experience with the outfit, are as bad or worse than what’s been written about your humble narrator here. Should I put my MBA on my resume?

        I did the undergrad at a small catholic liberal arts college. NAIA Division II men’s basketball champs. Too bad they’re not the nads.

        If only I’d realized I was little more than a morsel for great consumer of mankind I’d have done things differently.

        What can I tell you? College, for me, wasn’t sufficient. I would have been better served in a business vocational program starting in high school…Or if someone had cued me in on Indo European languages. Of course everybody knows you’ll never make any money playing that shit.

        What did you study? Or what do you study?

      • MassDem says:

        I have a degree in biology which I earned many decades ago & worked for a while in an academic research lab. I didn’t work for many years while my kids were in school. Recently I finished my Masters in Education at Lesley. It was a great program-each course met once a weekend at a local high school for two months (those were very long Saturdays and Sundays!), so it allowed me to do my mom duties plus work part time during the week.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      BW, with your lack of critical thought, feverent belief in Biblical literalism (and related scientific illiteracy), and child like world view, if you have all those educational credentials, it says more about the education system in America then anything else.

      Regardless of ones religious beliefs (there are plenty of very smart ppl who believe in God) I simply cannot fathom how anybody can even graduate high school (let alone university) if they think the Earth is 6000 years old and that humans used to live to be 900+ just a few dozen generations ago, or that everything we see in the universe was created in 7 days.

      Not because having those particular beliefs means one can’t be educated per se, but just because to hold those beliefs, it requires one to literally simply refuse to believe most of the basic tenets of biology, physics, chemistry, and every other modern scientific discipline. Nobody who does that can claim to be an intelligent, well read intellect with any sort of credibility.

      But then again, Ben Carson is a gd brain surgeon, and he has the intellectual capacity of a raisin. So I guess it’s possible.

    • Crogged says:

      It’s funny how much you miss the point BW. You are right-education isn’t an inoculation against extinction. Lots of really smart people worked at designing and building typewriters, wristwatches and cameras-most went to school a long time to climb to the top of those worlds. The same thing will happen with accountants-a machine will print the invoice, a machine will pay it, a machine will read the paperwork and correct the errors the scanning devices make. Cheaper, faster, every year from here to eternity. A few people will feed the machine the effect of the new laws the next year. The rise of the algorithm is inexorable.

  21. Creigh says:

    I know this has been said before, but I feel compelled to give a word of thanks to everyone who contributed to this conversation.

    • 1mime says:

      Hopefully, we can all take what we are learning and share it more widely. This conversation is needed on a much broader scale but it begins at the personal level. I share your thoughts Creigh about the value of sharing and the quality of the thoughts and commentary expressed here. Lifer deserves our respect and appreciation for broaching the subject and all who post add so much to the discussion. We are acquiring the tools of knowledge and empathy that will make it possible for each of us to reach out to our family and friends.

  22. Rob Ambrose says:

    I had skimmed through this yesterday, just finished it more in depth.

    A truly excellent piece. Really is eye opening when we consider how much of Americans present social and cultural tensions can be basically directly traced to Americas Original Sin (slavery).

    Thought provoking. I’m afraid the only way out of this problem is time and education.

    Time so that those old enough to be currently set in their ways die off (probably several decades at least) and quality education so that those in the South young enough to change can get the favorable view of education they’ll need to motivate them to pursue it later in life.

    The blue collar white ppl you refer to in this article need to realize: the America they long for is never coming back. Full stop. There will never again be large numbers of good jobs available to poorly educated men (even the white ones). Their options are:

    1) adapt
    2) go extinct, like all dinosaurs do.

    Trumps not bringing it back (even if he wins, which he won’t). Cruz isn’t. They have as much chance to stop the Sun from rising tomorrow.

    There’s a big, big change coming in this country. Populist anger on both sides suggests something is broken. The best, safest and most stable solution I can see if if the 1% realize the structural flaws in the capitalist model w/r to the uneven distribution of wealth and agree to change it. Sure it may mean they end up with a little less wealth, but they will still be obscenely wealthy, and they will also ensure their wealth remains theirs. Better to be a prince in a thriving, dynamic, powerful kingdom then the king of a pile of rubble.

    And that solution begins with massive redistribution programs, a sort of New Deal 2.0. A basic income and single payer health care system would go a long way towards achieving those goals.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Rob, I have only a small quibble with your comment.

      We (on this blog, in the media, and in the rabble-rousing masses) focus on the 1%. As conservatives happily point out, you could take all of the income from the 1% it is wouldn’t make the country run for long.

      I think we are looking at a much more sizable chunk of the population, in which many, many will find themselves (to Lifer’s previous posting) at one time or another.

      Two very early career engineers getting married in Houston will put them in the top 10% of household incomes. Two good professional sales people will hit that percentile in any given year, and one great sales person will hit that percentile that by him or herself several times in their career. Heck, a refinery operator and his refinery electrician wife who both like overtime can hit the top 10% with 10 years of experience.

      I think this is a much broader issue than the top 1%, and I suspect Lifer may drift into this topic. I also suspect it will be a less comfortable topic because it will hit more of us who have greatly benefited from a lifetime of unrecognized advantages who now do little more than sit back and lament that the “poorly educated, blue collar white folks” are hung up by racism and need to die out.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, to all you say, Homer. Deep down, I think it’s about respect for one another as human beings. One of the weaknesses of capitalism is that success is coupled to position and income. This has colored our personal and world views of each person, and, it shouldn’t.

        I have mentioned this before but it’s worth sharing again. My brother and wife are both physicians – very hard working and very successful. The Black housekeeper who has served in their home for the duration of their careers has been a steady, quiet, equally hard-working presence. Her contributions have not saved lives, nor resulted in prestige or wealth, but have helped them achieve all they have. She would arrive at 5:30 in the morning so that they could meet surgery times at 6:00am, and she cared for their children and their home until their return. Then, she had to go home and take care of her home and family. She was one of the smartest people I know but was not able to attend high school due to her family circumstances.

        This kind, Black woman has been a living lesson for me every day that I have been privileged to know her. This woman (who also worked for our family for 20 years prior to her service for my brother), commands more respect from me than people I have met who head large businesses. I don’t see her color, I see her inner goodness. Her contributions were personal and important in the lives of those she served. I’m certain each of you have known someone like this in your life and it has helped you to see past race and other barriers to appreciate and respect the individual. That is how prejudice is overcome.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Houston
        The idea that
        “you could take all of the income from the 1% it is wouldn’t make the country run for long.”

        Is a major propaganda lie

        Bit like the idea that people like Bernie Sanders want total equality – when we just want less inequality

        Currently the top 1% “earn” 20% of the total “earnings” in the USA
        http://fortune.com/2014/10/31/inequality-wealth-income-us/

        From Wikipedia
        The top 1% of income earners received approximately 20% of the pre-tax income in 2013,[22] versus approximately 10% from 1950 to 1980.[2][23][24] The top 1% is not homogeneous, with the very top income households pulling away from others in the top 1%. For example, the top 0.1% of households received approximately 10% of the pre-tax income in 2013, versus approximately 3-4% between 1951-1981.[22][25] Most of the growth in income inequality has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity widening the further one goes up in the income distribution.[26] According to IRS data, adjusted gross income (AGI) of $388,900 was required to be in the top 1% in 2011.[27]

        To put this change into perspective, if the US had the same income distribution it had in 1979, each family in the bottom 80% of the income distribution would have $11,000 more per year in income on average, or $916 per month.[28] Half of the U.S. population lives in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data.[29]

        Now I don’t know about you but I think that an extra $11,000 for 80% of the population is quite significant
        And that is only half of income of the top 1%!!!

        But Income is not the real problem
        The problem is wealth
        http://fortune.com/2015/10/14/1-percent-global-wealth-credit-suisse/

        And there the problem is 10 times as bad

        The richest 1% of the world’s population now owns 50% of its total wealth, according to a report by Credit Suisse.

        So it’s not as if there were only a few rich people and dividing it all up equally would mean we were all poor
        It’s the other way around
        Dividing it up equally would make us all rich!
        That wouldn’t actually work in practice but nobody is proposing doing that
        just reducing the level of inequality

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Thanks Duncan…although I’m a stats geek, I’ve not weighed into these data for any meaningful amount of time, so I’m coming at this relatively uninformed.

        I’m not discounting the analysis, but why pick 1979 as the benchmark or why pick the average from 1950 to 1990 as the benchmark?

        Two questions, what is the appropriate standard for what is a “good” income distribution? We don’t really have a decent benchmark of several “world leading economy and technology innovation centers of the world” to which to compare.

        I’ll happily agree that we have things skewed kind of bad right now, but how much skew is good skew versus bad skew?

        There is a story out this week about Warren Buffet having holdings in a pretty shady manufactured home mortgage company that has what appears to be some pretty horrendous discriminatory lending practices to minorities versus Whites. I think it was mentioned that Buffet has about $67 billion dollars. While $67,000,000,000 seems a bit excessive (I could get by nicely without some of those zeros), how much is too much and who gets to decide what that amount is?

        Please, keep in mind, I’m happily what passes for a “liberal” in the US, and I firmly believe my taxes are way too low, but I also firmly beileve there is no magic to get $11,000 extra dollars to 99% of the US population by taking away 50% of the income from that other 1%.

      • 1mime says:

        Homer, surely there is some reputable entity that has crunched the numbers as to what constitutes adequate income to sustain a family of 4, 5, etc on a given set of factors – housing, transportation, healthcare, food, education, etc. Wouldn’t that be provide a basis for trying to figure out where the lines are drawn between income levels? Or, at least a range? Who here is into this kind of data?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Houston

        That is the type of discussion we should be having
        What is the “Optimum” level of inequality?
        We are obviously well above that level but what is the best level?

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

        The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined.

        We don’t want to live like this. In our ideal distribution, the top quintile owns 32% and the bottom two quintiles own 25%

        http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/08/americans-want-to-live-in-a-much-more-equal-country-they-just-dont-realize-it/260639/

        As to why I tend to choose about 1970 as a dividing point

        This graph
        http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/what-happened-to-the-wage-and-productivity-link/

        Something happened in the early 70’s that severed the link between productivity and wages

        As far as
        “no magic to get $11,000 extra dollars to 99% of the US population by taking away 50% of the income from that other 1%”
        If things don’t get better then there is the guillotine

        I am quite serious about that one of the important factors that made me decide NOT to stay in the USA was my worry that the US workers will awaken, realise that they have been screwed rigid and set out with the flaming brands and pitchforks

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        But Duncan, what Americans “feel” is the “ideal” range of income inequality is a pretty meaningless thing (other than to note that it may piss people off to learn they are no where close to their ideal).

        I’m going to plow through your links at some point, but I think I’d want a whole slew of economists weighing in on this issue, but alas, any group of five economists will give you six different opinions, and if we are lucky, only five of them are mostly wrong.

        With regard to the changes from the 70s, we obviously are seeing some incredible technological advances that are putting distance between a workers productivity and wages. Entire industries are built on very limited “productivity” (I’m looking at your twitter).

        I’m not smart enough and too lazy to dig into this, but did we see a big change in income distributions as we moved from agriculture-based to industry-based economies? Is what we are seeing now the growing pains of the move to technology and service from heavy industry?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Houston
        “Is what we are seeing now the growing pains of the move to technology and service from heavy industry?”

        No I don’t think it is
        IMHO it is to do with power – the old elites were discombobulated by WW2 – it took them a few decades to learn how to apply the power of their wealth in a new framework,
        By the 1970’s they were on a roll – they used their power in society (the media. Politicians) to change the power balance in industry
        Then they were able to extract all of the increased productivity generated by the 99% and stick it in their own pockets
        This is a positive feedback situation – more power = more wealth = more power

        There is one difference between the old industries and service industries – size of the operations
        It is much easier to organise and unionise a large company than 10000 small operations

        “Entire industries are built on very limited “productivity” “– this comes later – much later – Facebook, Twitter,
        these are all in the last decade and despite the eye popping valuations I don’t think that they make up a very large percentage of the total wealth or income of society

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        mime – I would hate to set a standard based on some multiplier of “adequate to support a family”.

        Undoubtedly, one could pretty easily argue that making $1,000,000 a year is 4 or 5 times what is absolutely needed to support a family with two spouses and three kids. One could make the argument that it is 10 times what is needed.

        But who am I to set a cap on how much you can earn? If you want to work hard and do cool stuff that earns $10,000,000 a year rather than 1,000,000 a year, more power to you.

        No one “needs” $10 million a year, but if someone wants it, who am I to say they can’t have it?

        I’m more on the side of raising marginal tax rates, taxing capital gains, bringing back a healthy estate tax, and maybe most importantly, not trying to structure everything to the financial benefit of the top 10%. I’d rather try a minimum income plan rather than a maximum income plan.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Houston
        I’m on with “Raising marginal tax rates” – the old top bracket of 90% would be a good start
        The same with inheritance taxes – the top rate should be high

        IMHO
        If you just concentrate on a minimum income you are helping but the problem will still get worse
        Positive feedback – money makes money

        The best idea is a Basic minimum income
        AND
        a tax system that is progressive enough to prevent wealth from concentrating

        You have to prevent wealth from concentrating

        Louis D. Brandeis
        We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

        One of the most important things that Piketty did in his book – Capital in the 21st century
        Was to show decisively that the old idea that there was some sort of mechanism that limited the concentration of wealth was wrong

  23. MassDem says:

    I would like to add a small but (I believe) important point to the discussion:

    Who serves our country?

    In my son’s graduating class, there was 1 kid that joined the military after high school. I knew this boy well-he is my son’s best friend-and while he is a extremely bright and likable young man, he drove school administrators nuts with his disciplinary issues, and he had no desire to continue his education past HS. Plus his family wasn’t that well off anyway. So he joined the Marines, where he was moved around a lot until they found a job for him that matched his um, unique talents. Because of his friend, my son got many, many calls from the Marine recruiter his senior year, but there was never any question of him signing up. We had the money to send him to college, so a stint in the military would have derailed his life plans. And therein lies the problem.

    The children of the more affluent whites in this country do not serve in its military. They do not have to. It is mostly the children of these blue collar workers who serve, for a variety of reasons: patriotism, wanting a ticket out of their situation, etc. I can understand a feeling of resentment that arises when you are a member of the the class who makes up the largest group in the armed services, yet you feel that your country has turned its back on your interests. We give a lot of lip service to veterans in this country, but have we really given them the treatment they deserve when they get out?

    There are a lot of issues of fairness in this country regarding who serves and how they fare when they leave the military.

    • vikinghou says:

      MassDem, you are exactly right. Sad to say, living in my affluent cocoon, I don’t personally know anyone who has served in the Afghanistan or Iraq wars. This isn’t how it should be. All Americans should have skin in the game either by serving directly or by paying a war tax. Such a policy would no doubt make our politicians more careful when deciding whether to fight a war or not.

      • MassDem says:

        I would hate sending either of my children off to war, but I have come to see the all-volunteer armed services as just another way of off-loading our most difficult civic responsibilities onto the less fortunate.
        By saying this I mean no disrespect to anyone who is serving or has served-I am very appreciative of their sacrifice.

      • 1mime says:

        Right on Rush pointed out earlier that in Israel, all are expected to serve a term in the military. Male and female. It would be interesting to know which members of Congress have military experience…..especially those who fancy themselves “war hawks”.

      • 1mime says:

        Of course, it would also be smart to not engage in unnecessary wars.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      MassDem, you raise an important point.

      I’m in the camp that thinks everyone should do two years of national service after high school and before college.

      Armed services would be okay, as would social service jobs.

      During that time, we’d likely — and luckily — meet other Americans from all over the country and from all socio-economic spheres. Hearing other people’s stories would be a mind expanding experience.

      And as a nation, we might become less inclined to see war as the solution to all international problems as it would be our daughters and sons we’d be sending off.

  24. Rob Ambrose says:

    Maybe my ears are more tuned to it from discussions here and so I’m just noticing it more, but it seems like I’m hearing about the basic income a lot more lately.

    From RawStory

    http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/german-experiment-will-test-whether-the-welfare-state-can-be-replaced-by-a-basic-guaranteed-income/comments/#disqus

  25. 1mime says:

    Excellent writing on a tough subject, Lifer. From my long afternoon conversation with a Trump supporter today, I could relate to every paragraph. The most significant thing I noticed was the low information used to buttress the hyperbole and outright misinformation…..illegal aliens getting health benefits and they are being seen first in an ER even before those who were waiting who were insured; President Obama not being on the ACA yet imposing on everyone else; small business owners who are being hurt by having to offer employees health coverage; Muslim people who are here to kill us…..I can assure you that I refuted, quietly and as thoroughly as the situation permitted, each and every statement. It would take days to try to reach this fifty year old woman, who hasn’t had to work in years but now is finding it necessary….though just “any” job won’t do. Practically every point that she brought up was factually flawed if not outright incorrect, but that didn’t slow her down. It was pretty amazing that we were able to converse as civilly as we were. Health insurance is huge to these people. Many don’t qualify for medicaid, or, if they do, are loathe to have to accept it while having little good to say about subsidized Affordable Health plan coverage. I am still digesting the afternoon and what I learned, and, this is a college graduate married to a professional with an advanced degree. Unfortunately serious health problems have impacted his steady employment. The stress that health care costs and care bring to the fears of people who are fearing unemployment or poorly paid employment is palpable.

    Which brings me to this question. The basic income is floated as a means to help people stay out of abject poverty. Wouldn’t universal health care offer an even greater benefit?

    • flypusher says:

      I think you’d need both. If you’re young, healthy, but unemployed, the health coverage isn’t buying groceries.

      • 1mime says:

        I completely agree, but, imagine the political fight to do either….doing both?

      • Samuel Smith says:

        There’s a piece of all this that I wrestle with – and have for decades. I grew up working class in the South, in a place where there wasn’t much money and the ed system was crap. I was surrounded by every bit of ignorance and self-defeating ideology you can think of, and to make matters even more complicated I grew up in a house where education was considered to be THE ticket to a better life, but also, you know, what good was a head full of book learnin’? These contradictory positions coexisted more peacefully than you’d think possible.

        In a way this environment was archetypally American in its sense that education should be utilitarian. As long as I was learning things that might get me a job school was great, but as soon as I started studying things that challenged received religious and social values it sent south in a hurry. If you know Postman’s TECHNOPOLY you’ll recognize the structure of this dynamic, and if you’ve studied about the history of US ed (say, for example, the Morrill Land Grant Act) you’ll quickly grasp the whole utilitarian argument, as well.

        Anyway, I eventually wound up with a PhD and do, in fact, have a better job than my family could have dreamed of. I believe in education. I believe in knowledge. I believe in critical thinking. It has helped me up the ladder, and I recognize this even on days when I wish I were a little higher up that ladder.

        And I have zero patience for willful ignorance. If you have a particular belief and it causes you to vote a certain way, and then things get worse, and you can’t fathom how cause-and-effect works, my sympathy for you is going to be minimal.

        Maybe this makes me a bad person – if you think that you certainly wouldn’t be the first. But I’m not talking about a condition I’m viewing from afar. I’m talking first-hand about my life, my family, the culture I grew up in. I believe in a level playing field, but I escaped and I know others who did, as well. I also know people who are still there, drowning in hopelessness, because they chose to be stupid. They had every opportunity to examine the fact of their lives and maybe change how they were voting.

        Apologies if I’m ranting here. It’s probably evident that this discussion takes me into territory that I find frustrating. Ultimately I’m willing to go to the mat for those who are trying and who have enough sense to step back and think for a second about what they’re actually doing in life. Those who won’t do that? Them I don’t lose a lot of sleep over.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Samuel

        I can sympathise with that zero sympathy
        BUT the problem is those people make decisions that affect other people

        Some of those decisions affect us all

        Even here in NZ we tend to follow the US example – Leader of the Free World!

        And I get grumpy when you keep finding cliffs to lead us over

      • 1mime says:

        That’s ok, Duncan, there’s a lot of company at the bottom of those cliffs (-:

      • Samuel Smith says:

        >>BUT the problem is those people make decisions that affect other people<<

        Yep. I can be just fine with the moron getting what he deserves. But he probably has kids who haven’t done a damned thing wrong yet.

        I’m a fan of punishing the guilty, but it kills me to see the innocent suffer.

      • flypusher says:

        ““Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”― Isaac Asimov

        I absolutely hear you about willful ignorance, Mr. Smith. As a nerd, the internet makes me absolutely giddy with excitement- with a good search engine and some basic searching skills, you can indulge your curiosity at will. There really is no excuse for ignorance in these times, other than you choose it. The nasty catch-22 here is that knowledge is one of the things that could help set the lower classes free (or at least make them more resistant to the crooks), but it’s also often avoided like the plague, because there are uncomfortable truths that come with it. There certainly is the temptation to say “elections have consequences” to Kentucky and Kansas and Wisconsin, and let the chips fall accordingly.

      • 1mime says:

        What of the households where there are no books or no computer? We take these things for granted…..everyone has them, right? What if these same children in a home with no books, no computer, go to a school that has a paltry budget for materials of instruction and little capacity for raising funds in the “hood”?

        Hopefully, these situations are becoming less numerous, but they still do exist. I agree with Rob’s earlier statement that teaching a child “how” to think creatively is more important than “what” to think, vis a vis standardized curricula. That is a skill that will transport into life.

        Otherwise, I’m with you all the way, Fly. Sadly, in my previous involvement in public education, I saw way too many situations where children lacked basic materials much less parents who were home to assist or were themselves educated. If these schools could raise $200 at a fundraiser, the principal was thrilled.

      • flypusher says:

        Well 1mime, we’ve both seen lots of evidence of people with computer access who cling to ignorance. Wouldn’t you love to have a $, for example, for everyone person repeating that nonsense about where are all the Muslims denouncing 9-11 (or any other act of terrorism) when the answer is right there with Google and a few keystrokes?

      • 1mime says:

        Good point, Fly. The lady at our home today is a prime example. Agree that we are talking about more than equipment access here, but for children who are having to compete up the line, the lack of these fantastic pieces of equipment or just good old fashioned books, does set one back. We both know people who rose above these limitations, but what a leg up it offers….even if one is too dumb to use the opportunity to advance one’s understanding.

      • goplifer says:

        Sam,

        ***And I have zero patience for willful ignorance. If you have a particular belief and it causes you to vote a certain way, and then things get worse, and you can’t fathom how cause-and-effect works, my sympathy for you is going to be minimal.***

        I’m wrestling with exactly the same thing and I’m finding this topic very uncomfortable. My grandfather despised anyone who would read a novel, or almost anything besides the Bible. After all, he’d explain, why bother reading something that “isn’t true.” Dad worked in a junk yard and mom had a high school education. I hated the place where I was raised and I was desperate to get out. I only made it out by the skin of my teeth, over the resistance, disdain, and confusion of almost everyone around me.

        A couple of years ago I was back there. One of the guys I grew up with was mowing my parents’ lawn. It seemed odd that he would be kind enough to do that for them. Made me feel a little uncomfortable, since I was just sitting on the porch. Then dad went out to pay him. Because that’s what that guy does for a living.

        Something about that incident seemed to flip a switch in my head. The way I feel about the people I was raised with needs to change. I just don’t know how. Here in Chicago I’m surrounded by white people who live their lives exactly in the model they were raised in, without having to challenge any of the assumptions that formed their world. And they are healthy, prosperous, successful. Somehow they are supposed to deserve respect. Many of them have no more curiosity about the wider world, have questioned the assumptions of their lives no more than the people I was raised with. They were lucky enough to be born in a better environment. They didn’t have to fight their way out.

        The people I was raised with never decided to live in a shithole. No one said to themselves, “I’d love to spend my life from cradle to grave in a place shaped by a slave culture, dominated by a narrow collection of white planters and their descendants, where no one has access to a decent public education or credible information about the outside world, where practically everyone is a slave to their ignorant fears.” How I got out I’m not sure I know, but here’s a painful thing I think I’ve learned – what I accomplished doesn’t make me better than them. At some point, for me to look back on that place with bitterness starts to say more about me than it does about them.

        It seems self-evident that I can’t change anything about that place or its people. But I have to make peace with it. If I can go to the west side of Chicago and have compassion for the people who live there I ought to be able to do the same for the people raised with me. But it’s not the same thing. It is more difficult.

        ***I’m talking first-hand about my life, my family, the culture I grew up in.*** Yes, at such close range it is harder for some reason to feel empathy when people make stupid choices. I want to. Usually I can’t. I want to. I really want to. And I think I should. I have to try.

      • 1mime says:

        What you have accomplished doesn’t make you better than (those) you grew up with. What does “better than” mean? Certainly every person has innate dignity – regardless what they do for a living or where they live. Some of the best, kindest and wisest people I have met in my life had very modest jobs, little money, but their lives were important to me and others with whom they interacted…..in big ways and small. The color of their skin and the times made it incredibly daunting for them to “break out” of their milieu. Instead, they chose to make a quiet difference where they were.

        I believe there are needs within each of us that are very difficult to ignore. Whether it is driven by anger, awareness of opportunity, intelligence, *luck*, or encouragement, doesn’t matter. It separates us from those we grow up with. It doesn’t make us better than them for having left and made a successful life, but it does make us more accomplished….not always happier, however. Those who are able to achieve it all are very fortunate and even more so if they retain their sense of humility along the journey. Count yourself in that crowd, Lifer.

      • Samuel Smith says:

        Chris wrote:
        >> How I got out I’m not sure I know, but here’s a painful thing I think I’ve learned – what I accomplished doesn’t make me better than them. At some point, for me to look back on that place with bitterness starts to say more about me than it does about them.<>Yes, at such close range it is harder for some reason to feel empathy when people make stupid choices. I want to. Usually I can’t. I want to. I really want to. And I think I should. I have to try.<<
        Oh gods, I try so hard. The arguments I have had with other people are nothing compared to the ones I have with myself.
        The more I learn the less I know, it seems.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Funny, Sam: I’ve known you for upwards of a decade now, and we’ve never had this conversation. My folks had the same idea about the strictly utilitarian value of education. They were proud I got into UCLA, but made it very clear that following the passions I found there almost immediately (anthro, linguistics, comparative religions, poli sci) were unacceptable — as was history, or anything else that didn’t lead directly to a profession they understood. And even those were limited: teaching wasn’t OK (they were teachers), engineering wasn’t something I was suited for, the professorate not a “real job,” writing unlikely to pay. I spent two years in architecture school, and got pushback the whole time. No matter what I wanted to do, the folks back home found a reason to disapprove.

        Small wonder it took six years of meandering to get a j-degree. I finally realized that this grumbling wasn’t about any specific major; it was simply about their anxiety about me moving off to the big city — which was weird, because, as you note, they’d groomed me for that big launch all my life. We all knew I’d never be back; but I was surprised to discover that I was the only one who actually thought that was a Good Thing.

        These things do co-exist more peaceably than one might imagine — until the kid actually leaves home and tries to make good on the planned escape. That’s when it gets nuts. Like me, it sounds like there came a moment when you, too, were forced to choose.

      • Samuel Smith says:

        >>Funny, Sam: I’ve known you for upwards of a decade now, and we’ve never had this conversation. … Like me, it sounds like there came a moment when you, too, were forced to choose.<<

        Honestly, not really. My grandparents (I was raised by my father’s parents) did such a good job socializing me to the life I was GOING to pursue that the choice was made by the time I was five. I was going to school, then high school, then college, etc.

        Not sure Granddaddy thought it all the way through, though. But how could he? Nobody in the family ever went to a real college before (let alone a place like Wake Forest) and he had no way of knowing what I’d be exposed to. He was stunned, I think, when I came home with a bunch of foolish ideas and had no idea how to react. But it never occurred to them that I could be derailed, especially considering that I had earned my way into a nearly-free academic ride. So they never tried to talk me into abandoning it. They just wanted me to stick to the Southern Baptist values.

      • flypusher says:

        “My folks had the same idea about the strictly utilitarian value of education. They were proud I got into UCLA, but made it very clear that following the passions I found there almost immediately (anthro, linguistics, comparative religions, poli sci) were unacceptable — as was history, or anything else that didn’t lead directly to a profession they understood. ”

        Both of you have defined a major fault line that I think is very important here- the chasm between those of us who love knowledge for its own sake, and those with a strictly utilitarian approach. I do not scorn the utilitarian approach, as I am in the business of research, I often act and think along those lines. But I am quite curious about many things outside my immediate field, and I indulge it. The Internet is my intellectual buffet! I do not have a very good opinion of the strict utilitarians who try to hold the knowledge lovers back, however.

    • goplifer says:

      You’d need to do both. A universal income without expanding access to health care wouldn’t accomplish much. Again, wouldn’t be that hard if we tried.

      http://blog.chron.com/goplifer/2013/04/universal-health-care-for-the-ownership-society/

      • 1mime says:

        I know that you know this, Lifer, but few tax paying citizens do. In TX (I do not know how other states manage this), there is a line item in one’s county property taxes for special purpose districts entitled: “hospital district”. Most people “think” the function of this property tax is to build new hospitals and other health facilities. Can’t have too many of those, right? Few understand that hospital district funds are also used to pay for specialty and hospital care of eligible residents, aka, “the poor” or uninsured.

        Do people really not understand that we pay for the uninsured one way or another? Of course, there is also the issue of loss of productivity due to illness; however, the poor are generally hourly employees so if they don’t work, they don’t earn wages. Salaried people when out due to illness, strain a businesses ability to function as productively as if fully staffed.
        Your 2013 post on health coverage is still as appropriate today as it was then. Some things never seem to change.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        The answer to having both is both so easy andbyet so hard.

        America needs higher taxes. Im originally from Canada and income taxes there average around 35%, and there’s a general sales tax on all goods and services bought and paid for (with an exemption for groceries). This tax regime would likely pay for a BI and universal income. It would be considered oppressive government overreach and a tyranny justifying armed rebellion.

        Funny, in Canada we grumbled about taxes. But we never felt “oppressed” or like our government was “tyrannical”. Maybe it was because we all felt that it was the cost of living in a modern, civilized nation where our fellow citizens didn’t die of preventable medical causes simply because they couldn’t afford it

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        About the GST, it sits at 5%. And most provinces also add their own PST. Nice Scotia, where I grew up, we paid 13% (5% plus 8% PST) of every transaction made, from a chocolate bar to a car.

        What would a 10% of every good and service sold in America add to government coffers? Trillions overnight?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        *Nova Scotia

      • 1mime says:

        Damn auto correct (-:

  26. flypusher says:

    About those misguided KY voters:

    ‘Among those on Medicaid in Jackson County is Angel Strong, an unemployed nurse in McKee, Ky. — one of roughly half a million Kentuckians who received health insurance after outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, embraced the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Kentucky saw one of the sharpest declines in the rate of uninsured adults.

    “I had never had Medicaid, because I had insurance at my job,” said Strong. “Now I am out of a job and I am looking for another job, but in the meantime I had no income.”

    Religious beliefs “outweigh” having health insurance

    Bevin’s lack of support for expanded Medicaid didn’t faze Strong, who voted for Bevin because she supported his socially conservative stands against gay marriage and abortion.

    “My religious beliefs outweigh whether or not I have insurance,” Strong said.’

    http://www.npr.org/2015/12/08/458887771/plans-to-roll-back-medicaid-expansion-doesn-t-seem-to-worry-rural-kentuckians

    A fair point has been made by you and others that upper income, more educated Whites don’t grok the issues low income less educated Whites face, and misjudge what voting against one’s interests for them really means. But I really have to wonder if a good portion of this voting bloc also misunderstands their best interests. The voter mentioned above said that issues like gay marriage and abortion overrode healthcare. Regardless of the fact that the Governor can’t do anything about them (or at least anything that wouldn’t be subject to SCOTUS overturn). I don’t think those particular issues serve as dog whistles for race the way that “crime” or “welfare” would. I also doubt Kentucky Dems are going to be leaning very far to the left. These people may well perceive that dismantling White supremacy leaves them in the lurch (even if they dare not say it), and vote accordingly, but that woman (and many like her) were voting on the basis of something that was not true (that Bevin could do anything other than jack and squat about legalization of same sex marriage, and other culture war stuff). But probably they blame Obama and liberals if people lose coverage and start dying because they can’t get treatment.

    • goplifer says:

      You make a really important point that I haven’t had time to write about. Important thing to understand about all these political theory arguments about interests – no one understands any of this on the ground. It doesn’t explain people’s consciousness, only the larger forces that are moving them.

      No one ever says, “the decline of white supremacy might negatively impact my capacity to earn secure government employment.” They do, however, have a feeling in their gut about what is and is not appropriate. About how the world is supposed to be. That feeling comes from a shared culture.

      The supremacy of that shared culture, with its nativity scenes and pliant women and respectfully submissive minority races and familiar religious iconography and familiar patriotic iconography – all of that is meaningful and relevant. They do notice that the same people who screw around with those sacred, unquestionable things are the ones encouraging women and blacks and Mexicans and gays and all kinds of outsider or “deviants” to behave in upsetting ways. And they know that many of those wrong people are now doing jobs that their daddy and their uncle used to do, jobs they can’t get anymore. And they know what fancy jerks off in big cities are making crazy money while showing no respect for their culture and religion. And so on and so forth. They know that things are wrong.

      It can be a bit misleading to talk about a zeitgeist as if people were sitting around, making conscious choices about which way the wind would blow. To reach people you have to put matters in terms they can understand, using the icons, mythology and language that are meaningful to them. That’s going to pose a challenge. In the absence of anyone who can communicate sensibly in that language, they have convinced themselves as you say the Obama has personally and individually engineered every problem they face. And they are terribly vulnerable to crooks. Difficult situation.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        “And they know that many of those wrong people are now doing jobs that their daddy and their uncle used to do, jobs they can’t get anymore.”

        Which further delegitimizes government in their minds. They don’t have the civic power any more; and when they go into the courthouse or the Social Security office, the people they see there are all Those People. This only furthers the perception that their tax money is supporting lazy unionized public employees who don’t have their interests at heart (but do have the only decent jobs left in town, the ones their daddies and granddaddies used to have).

        The face of government is now black or brown, which only makes it easier to believe Rush when he tells you that government doesn’t give a damn about people like you.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        “In the absence of anyone who can communicate sensibly in that language, they have convinced themselves as you say the Obama has personally and individually engineered every problem they face.”

        Convinced themselves? Hardly necessary. There’s a multi-billion dollar media industry providing all the convincing they need. And as long as one of our major political parties is complicit, anyone who can communicate sensibly in any language will continue to be drowned out.

      • Stephen says:

        I remember a Black coworker and friend explaining to me why Blacks mainly vote Democratic. Ya I was that ignorant. He talked about my experience and his being different. Which give me respect and force me to consider his angle. He significantly changed my view points on a number of issues. Maybe that is the kind of approach needed to reach your lower working class whites. I come from the same culture as you did. We were reached. Others have the capability.

      • flypusher says:

        “To reach people you have to put matters in terms they can understand, using the icons, mythology and language that are meaningful to them. That’s going to pose a challenge. In the absence of anyone who can communicate sensibly in that language, they have convinced themselves as you say the Obama has personally and individually engineered every problem they face. ”

        Additional level of difficulty- clinging to that mythology is one of the major things keeping that down, but the cure for that, knowledge, is a pill that’s really difficult to get them to take. An academic approach is a no go. There needs to be some real life, practical lesson on the topic of “we’re all in the same boat here”. While I not advocating for starting another world war, consider some of the changes WWII brought about. I suspect quite a few White guys started rethinking their opinions on Black people when, for example, the Tuskegee Airmen saved their bacon. We need that sort of lesson, without all the destruction and death.

      • 1mime says:

        Many people in the teaching profession who worked alongside Black colleagues had a similar experience…seeing their dedication, compassion and humanness. The question for them and the soldiers is whether this respect and acceptance (some of which was hard-won by the Blacks in both arenas), carried over to their personal views and actions outside their “forced” shared employment. You’d hope it would.

        I think MassDem has a good point in her post following yours. Our military is made up of a lot of blue collar men and women. One additional point, how many minorities make it into command? Do White people dominate these positions, or, is the military truly color-blind where promotions are concerned? As for Mass’ point about how we treat those who return home from service, that is a whole other discussion. At least in the service, there was greater equality of opportunity to demonstrate ability. One wonders if after discharge, going back into the environment that many fled for enlistment, if they are accorded the respect they deserve or are thrust right back into the roles of the class they left.

        This is a complicated. Good contributions from so many angles.

  27. duncancairncross says:

    “Under the old deal, white men got preferential access to all of the best jobs available. Generations of white families earned their living in the fire or police departments, or worked in road construction, sanitation, or public works. Sons worked alongside fathers in union jobs at a local factory. They had every reason to expect that their children would have a chance to follow in the family tradition.

    Global capitalism and the rise of the knowledge economy destroyed that simple, yet dignified way of life. ”

    NO NO NO
    Global capitalism and the knowledge economy are Innocent!
    Innocent I tell you!

    What killed the “Old Deal” – AKA the “New Deal” was “Neolberalism”!!

    You are also sadly mistaken about the “Generations” – most of the jobs that you talked about only really existed for about three decades before the Neoliberal monsters attacked

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Tell us more, Duncan.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Bobo
        We (people) have strangely selective memories,
        When I was in charge of a group that was improving processes I used to have “celebration” meetings
        We would all be very aware of the problems but once a problem was fixed it would be forgotten
        It would move backwards in our minds – after a few months it would seem that it was always like that
        So we had to deliberately celebrate our successes to keep cheerful

        In the UK we had effectively 100% employment during the 50’s and 60’s
        There were people between jobs and a small number of unemployables
        In NZ (my current home) the Minister in charge of employment knew the names of all of the families that had been unemployed for a year

        Then it all went to custard in the 70’s
        But people forgot – it became “it’s always like that” in the 90’s serious journals talked about multi generational unemployment
        People talked about generation after generation of unemployment
        IN LESS THAN 20 YEARS !

        The South was a hellhole in the 30’s – war and the New Deal in the 40’s gave some degree of prosperity
        Thirty years later the NeoLiberals took it away
        It wasn’t any “Old Deal” – prosperity was only a few decades old
        BUT I bet people thought of it as “The way things are – The way things have always been”

        The US leaders and managers did not respond well to Globalism – if you look at Germany you can see a different response and a different outcome

        Globalism did NOT kill the “good times”

        Those were deliberately killed in order to “make industry more efficient”
        Kill the unions
        Keep the economy so that there is a perpetual pool of the unemployed to keep wages down

        The worse thing is that the overall growth under Neoliberalism has been LESS than the growth under the “New Deal” or the UK’s socialist governments

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Duncan,

        Were those goals — killing unions, keeping a pool of unemployed — stated publicly?

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Bobo
        I’m talking about the UK – from experience
        And YES those goals were stated
        It’s a long time ago now but those were the overt goals

        Unions were blamed for all manner of ills
        The expectation was that having a pool of the unemployed would make industry more efficient and benefit everybody

        This was a time of high inflation – mainly caused by the removal of all controls on lending

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Duncan – You are right to rail about the neo-liberals and the Conservative Movement. They have done their share of damage. But the people in China want their own middle income earners and and their exports would hurt western manufacturing, no matter what. This would happen without Reagan/Thatcher. It would happen no matter the racial and class based problems in the US.

      We could blame Deming or the Americans that ignored him for destroying Western manufacturing.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming

      How about OPEC?

      Technology would start taking the most menial jobs and then start chewing on the jobs that require knowledge whether Sam Walton invented town killing superstores.

      We here in US would have fallen off our post-war pinnacle of primacy, without other factors.

      Again, I have no love for Reagan or his criminal administration, our economic position is because of many issues. I do agree we need leaders that are generally smarter than those in the Conservative Movement to get us out of this mess.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Unarmed

        I agree the USA would not have remained head and shoulders above the rest of the countries in terms of the working man’s life
        But falling all of the way back behind almost everybody?

        It’s like a race – you guys started with an advantage and got a good head start
        Then your competitors dropped the rocks they were carrying and started chasing you

        In a race you would expect/hope to maintain your head start – the headwind of China and globalisation would effect all of the runners

        Instead you went backwards – the only developed countries that did not pass you were those that had wars or revolutions

        As a Quality professional I believe Deming was hugely important – but even that was not enough to cause you to drop back that much!

        If you had not had the NeoLiberal disaster you would still be in the lead or at worst among the leaders

        The NeoLiberal disaster was not just an American thing – it badly damaged all of the Anglophone countries and quite a few of the others

  28. Samuel Smith says:

    I get where the argument is coming from, and indeed have made a similar argument before myself.

    The problem I see – at this moment in time, anyway – is that the thin benefit of being white (poor white vs black) is only salient so long as it is in fact still a benefit. Once the system erases that line – and it has more than done so over the past couple decades – then the only thing left is a misguided failure to understand reality, right? In other words, nuance notwithstanding, they ARE voting against their best interests, they ARE doing so out of ignorance, and they ARE doing so in service to racism.

    Right?

    If so, the post isn’t telling us why we’re wrong, it’s merely adding some subtle detail to why we’re right.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Once the system erases that line – and it has more than done so over the past couple decades – then the only thing left is a misguided failure to understand reality, right?***

      Or alternatively, a desperate, doomed, likely violent campaign to make that racial identity mean something again – and to force their more affluent white cousins back into the old bargain.

      Another couple of posts on this are in the works, particularly something explaining in more detail how the shape of desegregation unfairly impacted/impacts lower income whites. But basically, if the only thing a post-racial society has to offer blue collar white workers is a chance to be treated just as badly as African-Americans, they don’t have much reason to cooperate. Racial justice on those terms is not very just, and deeply counter to their interests.

      • flypusher says:

        I have, twice, found “literature” left on my front door handle by the KKK. My initial thought was “Please don’t let this be from a neighbor, please don’t let this be from a neighbor, because talk about there goes the neighborhood”. Fortunately I think whoever did that was based in another county, going by the web link included (and which I did not visit). There could be more of that happening, which would be annoying, but preferable to any more mass murders.

  29. Stephen says:

    Today I went by a yard who had a Confederate Battle flag flying in it with an American Flag just a few houses from my country church. We are a multi-ethnic congregation in that church. I went to a grocery store after church just a few miles away and while waiting in the checkout line notice a very beautiful young Black Woman with her White husband putting their groceries on the conveyor belt to be checked out. The last two scenes are much more common in my county.

    Racism is dying out in minority majority counties and cities. And the whole country is moving in that direction. But only about one in five people have the intelligence to do technical work. So what in the future are the rest of the population going to do? Your idea of a minimal income will help. But contrary to what the radical right believe most people want to and need to be productive.

    People are afraid of being left behind in penury. Automation is not going to stop. And many working class whites look at non-whites as competition for the few crumbs left .Demagogues are using this fear for personal gain. But in truth today if you have the talent, experience and education you generally do well no matter what your skin hue is. The old order is dying and is not coming back. I think in the long run Dr. King will prove to be right. Low income people will band together in common cause. And just like after the agricultural revolution of the late 19th to early 20th century we will have to invent new jobs for displaced workers.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      “Your idea of a minimal income will help. But contrary to what the radical right believe most people want to and need to be productive.”

      The theory is, though, that with a basic income, and thus, removing the need to work solely to get the basic necessities of life, that frees up enormous amounts of time/creative energy for people to be productive in the way the choose. Maybe making wooden tables is what truly makes a person happy and satisfied. That person is unlikely to be able to do that for a living. Even as a hobby, that person may be unlikely to do much of it if most of their time is spent earning enough for food. The basic income frees us to pursue what truly makes us happy.

      Most people will still work, as there is no clawback effect with a basic income, and so any dollar earned is added to your income instead of classes back as is currently the case with the welfare system, which is a huge disincentive to work .

      Just that people will pursue employment based on their needs, desires, and wants. There will still be no shortage of ppl willing to kill themselves trying to make partner at their firm with 80 hr work weeks. But if that’s not the life for you, and you want to spend your time making pallet furniture and you don’t care much if you don’t own lots of “things” above and beyond the basic necessities of life, that option is there too.

      I think society can only benefit from such a mass “happiness” dividend. Not to mention the enormous release of collective creative energy such a move would create.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        It’s also interesting that conservatives will sing the praises of the morally salutary effects of hard work when they’re talking about the lower classes — but shut up instantly if it’s argued that leisure might corrupt the independently wealthy. Apparently, inheriting enough to ensure you will never have to work is somehow not corrosive, but welfare is.

        This deflects us from any temptation to use the habits of the rich to suss out what might become possible for the rest of us if we had the option to own our own time. I know a lot of independently wealthy people (by dint of their years in tech, or simply being old enough to retire), and find that they’re not any more morally corrupt (or bored, or indolent) than the rest of us.

        What they do have is more freedom to choose how they spend their days. Krishnamurti said that wealth is the ability to make choices, and most of the wealthy I know revel in that ability.

  30. antimule says:

    “Kentucky voters who supported Republican Matt Bevin in his race for Governor began to recognize a sickening reality in the weeks after the election. Many of them had effectively voted away their access to health care.”

    Do you have a source for them changing their minds on health care? Not that I doubt you, but would like it.

  31. Griffin says:

    You said these voters are rejecting the idea of a basic income, but nobody is offering it to them in the first place. We do need populists in the South, just not racial-right-wing ones. In terms of policy somebody needs to be offering:

    1) Publicly funded colleges they can send their kids to higher education relatively debt free.
    2) Minimum income.
    3) Government job guarentees.
    4) Universal Healthcare (either Medicaid for all or massive subsidies for private healthcare while having the gov’t negotiate prices I don’t care which).
    5a) Offer early retirement/pension for workers 58 and older if they lose their jobs due to their factory closing down or their work being phased out, Offer them job retraining if they want it.
    5b) Offer job retraining for workers younger than 58 who lose their job. Guarentee them some unemployment insurance for a little extra cash on top of their minimum income.
    6) A bit off topic but give a blank check to research to cure diseases that plague these neigborhoods, such as cancer and heart conditions.

    “Pay” for it by taxing wealthier voters, raise the national sales tax slightly, tax financial transactions, etc.

    • BigWilly says:

      There is no national sales tax in the US, therefore any increase would be impossible.

      • Ryan Ashfyre says:

        There’s a simple solution for that. Pass a national sales tax along with a federal minimum income bill and have it tied to inflation so it doesn’t fall into the same trap that the gasoline tax has.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Ryan, I think there is a general consensus that a sales tax tends to be one of the more regressive taxes. Poor people tend to spend all of their money on a monthly basis, so most of their income is taxed via the sales tax. Wealthier folks tend to not spend all of their income, so the absolute percentage paid by poor people tends to be higher with a sales tax.

        Obviously, many countries have such a tax, and it would be interesting to see the impact on poorer versus less poor people, but I’m too lazy/busy to fire up the google machine for that.

      • 1mime says:

        Sales taxes are regressive, Homer, but consider this. If a modest, national sales tax were tied to direct benefit(s) the poor received (basic income, health care), and they understood this, this would make the tax more meaningful and acceptable to them. It would also address the criticism by those who are the “makers” that the poor don’t contribute to the benefits they receive. A reasonable, dedicated sales tax (read that “inviolate dedicated”) would provide direct benefits and a progressive way to contribute to them – satisfying their need for the help, their responsible contribution towards same, and those who feel some contribution should be given.

        Your thoughts?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m with you Mime, but it feels like, “hey, we are going to tax you poor people more, but don’t worry, we are going to give it back to you (and we’ll do it well because we are the government and never screw things up)”.

        It doesn’t make for an efficient process to take money away from poor folks only to set up a mechanism to give it back. I’m a wacky liberal, and even I don’t trust the government to do it in an efficient manner.

        The benefit of your proposal is that it is more palatable to rich people, even if the final net effect is the same. Maybe that practical reason alone is the reason to do it, but no way you are going to get folks on board with a national sales tax unless you give up something on the income tax side. So, my more practical solution is the raise taxes on the income side rather than on the outgoing side.

        Plus, remove the $118,000 cap on Social Security taxes.

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, I am soooo onboard with eliminating the SS cap….but, speaking of “heavy” lifts, that would be almost as huge as increase income taxes. If these changes are going to happen to address wealth inequality, I do not see Republicans being anything but a blockage. Democrats will have to make it happen and the only way that will be possible is if they take are able to take enough seats in the House to disrupt the GOP majority, re-take a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, AND keep the Presidency.

        That’s why a national sales tax seemed easier to me, even if it is fraught with challenges. When you are dealing with an opposing party that believes we can continue to operate on less and less revenue despite population growth via aging, and other ancillary costs, it is going to be tough….which, I guess it should be. This is serious business and those in the top echelon of income who are conservatives are not going to help.

    • Sara Robinson says:

      6) A bit off topic but give a blank check to research to cure diseases that plague these neigborhoods, such as cancer and heart conditions.

      The problem is that the health plagues among lower-class whites are largely a direct consequence of the massive economic and social stress they live under. It’s decades of cheap processed food, living in remote areas where you have to drive everywhere, worrying constantly about money, deferred medical maintenance as small issues become big ones, working through pain because you can’t afford a doctor and can’t afford to take a day off, and the drugs (licit and otherwise) they resort to in order to manage both the stress and the pain. The steady diet of right-wing hate media they consume probably isn’t doing good things for them physically, either.

      The cure for these issues isn’t something that will respond to medical intervention. It demands an overhaul of every aspect of their lives — a restoration of a sense of progress, health, control, and hope.

      • 1mime says:

        So true, Sara. My sister is an R.N. and at one point in her career, she managed a public health initiative for the poor who had one of three chronic illnesses: diabetes; high blood pressure; high cholesterol. Since this facility (state run) was principally utilized by poor Black people (others participated but were in the “minority”), there was a strong educational component. Teaching them “why” what they were doing was resulting in poor health outcomes. She had regular appointments with them, following them for months and was slowly able to demonstrate positive outcomes. What she learned in the process about the lives of these poor people were the pressures and conditions you stated. Adding to this list was their frustration and disappointment that things were never going to change substantively in their lives and they hurt because their childrens’ lives would recyle the same problems.

        Education is so critical to upward mobility for the children of these adults to break the cycle of poverty endured by generations. Pills and diet can affect change but it cannot change the basic problems the poor experience every day of their lives.

      • Sara Robinson says:

        Education is the key, but it’s not without its issues, either. I grew up in a small town in the far western outback — one that happened to have the best public schools any small town could have hoped for, and prepared a striking number of graduates for life beyond the valley’s 14,000-foot mountain rim.

        But even at that, those of us who were preparing for bigger things felt the constant contempt of those who were fated to stay put. Some of us, like me, were even held back by the fears of our own families. My dad feared for me every day I was in the Big City and tried every way he could to manipulate me into returning home — until the stress became so overwhelming that he finally simply cut off all college support and didn’t speak to me for several years.

        Thanks to the current political polarization, I’m sure that contrast is even higher now for the handful of kids who do get the chance to leave conservative rural homes and head out for the bright lights of State U. There comes a point where you have to make a hard choice about where your allegiances and your future lie — back at home with all that pain and loss, or ahead in an urban world you’re completely ill-equipped to compete in — and it’s often a very sad day.

    • 1mime says:

      This is in response to Griffin’s post. The NYT has a feature today on the middle class….what it is and isn’t and why the data defining it is no longer accurate. Makes a pretty good case to lower the top end of the middle income strata to accurately fit the time we live in.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/opinion/campaign-stops/250000-a-year-is-not-middle-class.html?emc=edit_ty_20151228&nl=opinion&nlid=41048410&_r=0

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