Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Racism...uh, oh

This post is ultimate stream of unconsciousness.  It reflects my thoughts RIGHT THIS SECOND, unedited, uncensored, and slightly influenced by alcohol.  Feel free to point out insensitivity, inaccuracy, and stupidity, but try not to hold a grudge.

If you don't think it's a hell of a lot easier being white in America than being black, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you don't think that blacks suffer indignities and obstructions on a daily basis, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you're white, and think you can accurately portray what a black person faces...
If you are white, and aren't thankful that you don't have to put up with that kind of bullshit...
If you think racism isn't alive and well...

If you think that because I'm white that I don't have a voice in this discussion, or that you can shut me up by saying, "Check your privilege", then you can join the idiots discussed above.

If you pass the above tests, read on...

If you think the government is going to solve the problems of racism in America, then let's talk.

As usual, I find many people (mostly liberals) have a keen and empathetic eye to the many ills that African Americans (and other minorities) face in this country.  It's their solutions that I have issues with.  But we'll get to that.  First, let's talk about some very current racial issues:

When a Black man (Note 1) is imprisoned for a drug crime, he is imprisoned by the government.
When a Black man is unfairly prosecuted, given inadequate representation, prosecuted for a crime a White man would not, given a harsher sentence than a White man would get, this is done by the government.
When a Black man is stopped and frisked, he is stopped by an agent of the government.
When a Black man is pulled over for DWB, he is pulled over by an agent of the government.
When a Black man lives in substandard section 8 housing, he is living their at the behest of the government.
When a Black person contributes to Social Security for 30 years, but dies before reaching 62 (as is all too common compared to Whites) it is the government that gives those contributions to a White person. (Note 2)
When a Black person can't get a job because he doesn't have the skills to earn minimum wage, it is the government preventing him from working. (Note 3)
When a Black family's property taxes are raised again and again so that he is forced to sell his property and move to allow gentrification of the neighborhood he grew up in, it is the government raising those taxes.
When a prosecutor refuses to charge (or tanks the grand jury) when a police officer murders a Black man, he is representing the government (I know not all police shootings are murder - but some are) (Note 4)
When Ferguson Missouri decided that policing for profit was a good idea and ultimately created debt slaves out of it's Black citizens, it was the government making that decision.
When a Black man is shot by a police officer, he is shot by an agent of the government.

I can go on...

This may seem anti police, but it's not.  It's anti government.  Most police are honest people put in an impossible situation by an out of control government.  When we go to war, we understand, and seem to accept, that innocent people will die.  When you go to war on drugs and crime, we should not be surprised that innocent people die.

I can't change the hearts of racist people.  Neither can the government.  I could make the argument that government actions are a major cause of racial tension, but I won't do that.  Instead, I can provide a list of pretty obvious things that may not solve racism, but will certainly make the lives of African Americans (and a lot of other Americans) a whole lot better.  I don't have all the answers, but I think it's high time we took some concrete steps to improve the lives and prospects of minorities in America, instead of making empty promises and spewing empty rhetoric.

What to do:

1.  End the War on Drugs.  Period.  This doesn't mean we have to legalize everything, but legalizing pot would be a good start.  Other drugs need to have, at a minimum, possession and use decriminalized.  (I would favor full legalization across the board.)  Take the billions saved and put it toward drug treatment and better mental health services.
2.  Work towards privatizing Social Security, at least partially, while preserving the benefits of older retirees.  Allowing African Americans who die young to pass along some of the taxes they've paid into Social Security to their families, rather than giving them to middle class whites, will help break the cycles of poverty.
3.  Freeze the minimum wage.  It was originally passed to prevent minorities from getting jobs, and it still works.
4.  Make a lot of stuff that's illegal, especially victim-less crimes, legal.  The less interaction police are forced to have with "criminals" the less fear they will have that they might be shot.
5.  Independent reviews of all police shootings.
6.  All fines, penalties and civil asset forfeitures go to independent (preferably non government charities) rather than the agency that seized the asset.
7.  LOTS more training of police officers regarding de-escalation and the sanctity of our constitutional rights.  (If we eliminate a ton of crimes we might find the time and money for this).
8.  Limit property tax increases for long standing homeowners, or some other creative method to ensure property taxes don't run poor people out of their homes.  (This is a lot more complex than a blog post can cover - so bear with me.)
9.  Reform qualified immunity for prosecutors, making them more accountable for their actions.
10.  This one's a fantasy, but bring back the 4th through 7th amendment.  Rights come first, and police, prosecutors, judges, and everything else come second.  Stop and Frisk is BULLSHIT - and it's just the start of the crap we put up with.
11.  Serious education reform, as opposed to doing the same shit over and over would be a big help.

The main theme is that racism in effect, as opposed to racism in the heart, requires power to truly affect peoples lives.  The government has WAY too much power, and thus, racism is exacerbated and perpetuated by the government.  Just doing 1 through 3 would have enormous positive repercussions for minorities.  Political bickering and pandering will do nothing.

NOTE 1: I use "man" a lot in this, but it isn't meant to ignore the plight of Black women.
NOTE 2: Eliminating Social Security (SS), particularly disability and survivor benefits, would be devastating to minorities, at least in their current status, but forcing minorities to contribute to Social Security, with very little potential for receiving any benefit, is about as racist in effect as it gets.  Here's a discussion from a left-leaning institution...feel free to do more research: URBAN INSTITUTE
NOTE 3: I am a vicious opponent of minimum wage increases.  I read a TON on the subject and post numerous links on my Facebook page.  It is REALLY hard to argue against because it sounds SOOOOOO Good.  But it's not.  All other things being equal, making something more expensive causes there to be less of it.  We can argue about it for days, but, fundamental laws of economics say, "minimum wage bad."  If you disagree, the burden of proof is on you.  (I don't advocate elimination because the current minimum wage is "priced in", which means elimination would cause undue disruption of the economy.  Freezing will do the trick pretty quickly.
NOTE 4: When a prosecutor takes something to a grand jury, they get an indictment...PERIOD.  A prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich (this is an accepted legal axiom.)  When a prosecutor doesn't get an indictment - he didn't want one.  Prosecutors use grand juries as cover when they don't want to take flak for not indicting a police officer.

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