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Whose America?

This is not the America that I grew up in.

I grew up in the 1970s. Forty years ago, for a person of color, the world was still your oyster. You could do anything that you wanted—as long as you put your mind to it.

Work hard and be rewarded

Workers leaving Pennsylvania shipyards, Beaumont, Texas (LOC)

You had to work hard. The mantra that was beaten into all of us was to get your education. Education was the ticket to a better life. Education was the way out of the ghetto. That was the way out of low-end jobs. Education.

People of color understood that the playing field wasn’t level, but this obstacle could be overcome with hard work. Then something happened during the 1980s. America stopped investing in education. We stopped investing in ourselves. Sure, President Clinton and President Obama did their best to reverse this trend, but when you look back over the last 30 to 40 years, we simply have not invested in ourselves.

Instead, we believed, as a nation, that tax cuts for the wealthy would help everyone. It was like magic pixie dust. Tax cuts would turn everything into gold and silver.

The fact is that tax cuts helped only the rich. No one else. There was no money for infrastructure. There was no money for education. There was only money to help the rich get richer—just as they were designed to do.

President Joe Biden

As comedian Steve Martin used to say, “I’m just a wild and crazy guy.” Joe Biden wants to do something crazy. Joe Biden wants to invest in us.

In his State of the Union address, Joe Biden laid out a plan in which we would invest in the United States of America. We would repair and build bridges. We would improve our infrastructure. We would improve our electrical grid. We would invest billions into high-speed broadband. We would invest in ourselves so that we can compete with China, Russia, and any other nation in the world. We would invest in education again. Two years of free community college, this is one of the best ideas I have heard in decades. Let’s not saddle our young adults with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

How can you be an American and oppose this? Well, if you are a Republican and you really don’t want to see a Democratic president succeed, you can oppose this. The first thing out of your mouth would be surprise at the “ridiculously” high price tag.

I would ask how much should we spend on a country of over 330 million people in order to improve the lives of everyone? A couple hundred million? A couple hundred billion? Or should we spend what is necessary in order to improve the lives of Americans?

Here’s my question: Would you invest $10,000 in your own education and training? $40,000 for the wellbeing of your family of four? Well, that’s more than what Joe Biden is asking: $3 trillion dollars for 330 million people comes to $9,090 per person. Don’t you think everyday Americans are worth an investment of ten thousand dollars, when we just let the top CEOs of America’s biggest companies—Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and others—increase their personal wealth by well over a billion dollars each last year?

Republicans commonly pass spending bills for aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and tax cuts without a second thought about how to pay for them. (Of course, many of them lied to us and told him that the tax cuts would pay for themselves. That has never happened. That never will happen.) Now, that we are trying to help the American people, now they want a price tag. I’m sorry, I’m not playing this game.

Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina gave what can only be described as a sad rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. It is clear that Senator Scott lives in a bubble in which no reality can really penetrate. Then again, when you think about it, he has to live in a bubble. If he were to see that the Republican Party has turned in the party of white supremacy, he would have to question his own self-worth. Why does he belong to a party that hates who he is?

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By |2021-05-16T15:55:10-04:00May 16th, 2021|Coronavirus, Economy, Newsletter, Poverty, Race|0 Comments

Immigration, Slave Patrols, and Voting Rights

P20210312KR-0751

Well, Joe Biden did the unthinkable. With the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—and with the determined support of his Senate allies—President Joe Biden passed the most progressive piece of legislation that we have seen in the United States since the 1960s.

The whole thing was completely wrong for our time. Democrats are supposed to compromise and do whatever it takes to pass “bipartisan” legislation. And Joe Biden did call in the Republican leadership.

But after determining that they weren’t serious about negotiation or compromise, President Biden cut them loose. He passed a $1.9 trillion bill which helps the average American family. Americans are getting money in their pockets. Not Wall Street. Average Americans. If Joe Biden accomplishes nothing else, this was a major accomplishment.

"Immigration"

Immigration

It seems that a “new” paradigm as taken hold in Washington, DC: Every day, in one way or another, the media has to be in a frenzy over something. So for a week the media was obsessing about this large tanker stuck in the Suez Canal. Reporters looked at this crisis from multiple different angles. Ships would now have to go around the Horn of Africa. They might possibly encounter pirates. Supply lines would be interrupted. Business would grind to a halt without the commerce going through the Canal. The underlying message seems to be, “Let’s All Panic!”

The other story that mainstream media was trying to get us all worked up about was immigration. Thousands of children are showing up at our southern border without parents. What are we going to do? What can we do? Whose fault is it? Everybody run for the hills, there are a gazillion Brown people at the border!

The media coverage of this ongoing tragedy has been abysmal. Why? Because keeping up the sense of frenzy means that nobody wants to take the time and the effort to put this in context.

Over the last 10 or 15 years, the United States has decided, quietly, that the best way to combat illegal immigration from Latin America is to actually make Latin American countries better places to live—safer and more desirable to stay in. We have poured millions of dollars into the economies of these countries. We tried to help stabilize their governments. We’ve tried to help decrease the random and organized violence in these countries. (more…)

By |2021-05-16T01:09:16-04:00April 13th, 2021|Civil Rights, Economy, Immigration, Mass Shooting, Newsletter|Comments Off on Immigration, Slave Patrols, and Voting Rights

Progress Can Be Painfully Slow

(I wrote this for the Urban News for February 2021)

Well, it seems to me that we witnessed kind of a miracle. The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris went off without a hitch. There was no violence. There was no sign of the Proud Boys or the paramilitary group Oath Keepers. Lady Gaga’s performance of the national anthem was so good. It just made you smile.

I might be mistaken, but I think the stage was stolen by 22-year-old who I’d never heard of before, Amanda Gorman. She was the poet. She was marvelous. Here are just a few lines from her thoughtful, timely, moving poem.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

First Actions

After all the pomp and circumstance was over, Joe Biden went to work. Within hours of his inauguration, he was signing several executive orders. He signed a proclamation ending the Muslim ban that was imposed by Donald Trump. He signed an executive order to promote racial equality—and he wants the government to reallocate resources to advance this directive.

Biden directed the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. He signed an executive order requiring mask wearing on all federal properties. He then signed an order coordinating a government-wide Covid-19 response. This is just a partial list of his executive orders he did on Day 1.

On the one hand, if you are a proponent of democracy, and I am, I kind of cringe at seeing all of these executive orders. I would rather all of these actions come through the legislative process, but our legislative process is broken. It is going to take us a while to fix the Senate. So, if you wanted to get something done, we need to do it through executive action. I’m ecstatic that President Joe Biden took these measures.

January 6th

The insurrection at the United States Capital was quelled when thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to Washington, DC. On that fateful Wednesday, there did not seem to be any arrests. These domestic terrorists forcibly entered the Capital. They were allowed to rummage around Nancy Pelosi’s office and desecrate the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

I was looking for a robust response. Whatever the opposite of a robust response is, that’s what we saw. It seemed to be weak and timid. It actually appeared as if law enforcement didn’t know what to do. Then, as the days wore on, the shock of what we saw seemed to wear off and law enforcement seem to wake up. Finally, as of this writing, over 150 domestic terrorists have been arrested.

Let’s be clear, the slow response was deliberate. It seems the Acting Secretary of Defense—appointed by Trump only weeks before—ordered the Army to hold back on letting the National Guard assist the Capitol Police. The National Guard were initially hamstrung. No protective gear. No guns. No nothing that would help quell an insurrection. The National Guard as originally authorized by the Trump administration was ready for a pillow fight and not much else.

It also appears that the FBI has been investigating who funded the rally before the riot. The name of the extremely dangerous conspiracy minded maniac, Alex Jones, has popped up. And we know that a number of people whose names were on the planning permits had been employed by the Trump reelection campaign as late as mid-December.

A recent indictment charged two members of the Proud Boys with conspiracy. The Washington Post is reporting that many of the members of the insurrection carried a map of the interior tunnels of the Capital. It is clear that this insurrection was not spontaneous. Some people planned for weeks if not months for this awful day.

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By |2021-02-04T13:19:52-04:00February 1st, 2021|Newsletter, Race|Comments Off on Progress Can Be Painfully Slow
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