Black Reparations

In The Devil You Know. Charles Blow cites some statistics about Black arrests and fines that are disproportionate to their percentage of the population. In places like Ferguson Mo, and NY NY they are mind-boggling. That got me to thinking about reparations. I have heard discussion about the economic value added to white slave owners’ coffers and the economy of the US when Blacks were slaves. If measured in today’s dollars I am not at all sure there are enough dollars to make up for what modern Blacks’ ancestors contributed to those coffers and the economy. What did occur to me while reading Blow’s The Devil You Know is there may be enough dollars in circulation to make up for the fines, bail deposits, forfeitures contemporary Blacks have paid and the low wages (statistics he partially provides), and all the other economic disparities Blacks in America have endured because of systematic discrimination in their lifetimes.

Looking at what is happening in the news of late, I am rather convinced that if a reparations arrangement were adopted today, Blacks would be royally under-compensated. This I think because almost all whites in America do not think they are to blame for the status and treatment of Blacks today or in the recent past. However, those same whites have been silent in almost all, if not all, of the atrocities they have witnessed (or turned a blind eye toward) on a daily if not hourly basis. While liberal whites think they are not racists, that statistics of police shootings happen outside of the Southern states, and the executions of Blacks happen, again, outside of the Southern States, the race riots happened in places like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, and not in the cradle of the Confederacy. Yet if reparations were adopted today the, so-called, white liberals outside of the south would be the impetus behind them.

Then there is the problem of a white backlash. Every time Blacks make even the smallest step toward equality and justice, whites react, and often that reaction is violent (I did mention race riots). Whites think that they lose something when Blacks gain something. Imagine if the Black gain comes out of white tax dollars. However, I do have a possible solution.

Since my idea of democratizing money by monetizing citizens has yet to gain traction in the body politic, why not use the approach I take in that plan, ,  , to provide funds for reparations for blacks? Since Charles Blow wants to have Blacks vote to gain political power, put all the aspects of my plan into effect in paying $20,000/year in reparations for the life of all Blacks 18 and older. Require voting by recipients (and stiff penalties for anyone or entity obstructing in any way their exercise of the franchise), give the state governments and the federal government the payments in lieu of taxes (no tax on the reparations). I am not altruistic here, this may stimulate the overall adoption of the idea. In the long run, it may be better to bring everyone along at the same time. It would thus avoid being called a “socialist” plan.

Anti-republican bills submitted by Republican legislators– A solution?

As I understand the justification for the bills it is because there had to be massive frauds and other funny business in the 2020 Presidential Election. The evidence for this is first, former President Trump says he won and “they” stole the election from him. And second, the voluminous evidence (my sarcasm is showing here) is illustrated in the State of Texas where the Attorney General’s office found sixteen cases of voter fraud billing over 22,000 hours of staff time to find them. And third, because a significant portion of the Trump voters believe the former president’s big lie and a significant number of elected Republican officeholders refuse to refute the big lie.

Now these bills which will make it more difficult for citizens to vote are sponsored by Republican legislators. There is irony in Republican sponsorship, for the word republican when applied as a modifier before government means “representative.” Measures which make it harder for citizens to vote are anti-republican. Now if these measures are passed into law and signed by the state governors those state elections will produce less representative outcomes.

Non here is the kicker. Article IV Section IV of the United States Constitution provides that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. . .” If those bills pass, those states will have nonrepresentative governments. Any claim to representation that those states claim will be to a segment of their populations. Given the wordage of the rest of the US Constitution, particularly the 14th Amendment, it is clear that all citizens in a state are equal in the eyes of the law, Thus any measure designed to exclude some renders the state in noncompliance with having a republican government. Further its representation in Congress will over-represent a class of voters who do vote under their restiveness laws. Can representation be assured if only part of the population of citizens is able to vote? No, it can not.

The remedy is straightforward. The Brennan Center has determined that if HR1 is enacted into law the over 200 bills introduced into the more than 40 state legislatures would be obviated by the precedence of federal law. The courts would strike them down. If the US Senate is unable to find a way to pass HR1 because of its rules which get in the way of passing laws, then the US Attorney General should initiate legal action to declare these laws unconstitutional as they violate Article IV and the 14th Amendment.

T. Edward Westen, March 18, 201

The Health of the Economy v. The Health of the People

Yesterday was the anniversary of the WHO declaring the Covid19 pandemic. Today is the anniversary of Nancy and I being in lock-down. Yesterday a number of people on television were amazed at how bad the pandemic hit the United States of America. Clips of the former president minimizing the pandemic from the start of the pandemic to his leaving office. Yet, yesterday the Attorney General of the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against a Texas municipality for trying to maintain a mask mandate in the face of the Governor of Texas lifting the statewide mask mandate. The argument the Texas AG makes is that a locality mandating masks is contrary to the explicit intent of the Governor’s lifting the mandate to restore the economy.

Keeping the economy going has been a theme of former President Trump and most Republican governors for the past year. Texas has been particularly intent on opening its economy from any lock-down and mask-wearing requirements. The theme in Texas has been that a mandate that calls for wearing masks and limiting or shutting down business violates their “freedoms and liberties.” The thing about “freedom and liberty” is that without “equality” both “freedom and liberty” are at best illusions, and at worst words to placate people who are being prayed upon by the economic interests behind keeping the state open for business during a normal pandemic. Never mind that “your personal freedom or liberty” from not following public health guidelines (or even mandates) become a personal right to spread a deadly disease, the Covid19 virus. In fact “your personal freedom or liberty” from not following public health guidelines becomes an indiscriminate license to kill some of those you may infect. Exercising what you call freedoms and liberties when exercised by all, will cause the death of some, and thus your exercise of your freedoms and liberties results in the inability of others to exercise their liberties and rights because you have killed them by transmitting the disease to them.

A mask-less person might argue that a) they don’t have the virus, or b) if they had it they didn’t know. Either way, this particular virus can take days to manifest its presence, or never give signs it is there at all (asymptomatic carries). So they are not at fault for spreading it. Unfortunately, the nature of the virus is such that one does not know immediately if one has caught it and because it is so widespread (it is a pandemic after all), one has to take precautions not to spread it. Then too, if one had been wearing a mask one would likely not have caught it in the first place. Look at the population of medical personnel who have successfully avoided infection by wearing masks and other personal protective equipment for the year during the time the pandemic has been declared.

Strangely most people who insist on exercising their freedoms and liberties will tell you that a person’s freedom stops at the end of other peoples noses. And they would add they are not striking anyone in the nose. (“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Zechariah Chafee, Jr., and the Clear and Present Danger Test for Free Speech: The First Year, 1919” Fred D. Ragan  The Journal of American History Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jun., 1971), pp. 24-45 (22))

Ironically, breathing through one’s nose is the primary way people catch the Covid19 virus. The virus would not be in the air for a person to catch unless someone carrying the virus is breathing without a mask has very recently, or is currently, in the vicinity. So, they are extending their freedom and liberty directly, by air, into someone’s nose.

Setting aside Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, and successor cases that treat corporations under the law as if they are people, the major trade-off between masks, social distancing, washing hands and economic entities is with small, largely unincorporated businesses for these smaller entities must stay open to continue to be viable economic units. Major corporations have various stream of income that will largely continue through a pandemic and are unlikely to have to close their doors. Indeed, in one looks at the equities market valuation of major corporations during this past year, the New York Stock Exchange for example,, closed at a record the day before yesterday. So the major corporations are doing relatively well (actually making out like bandits).

Small local businesses are going under during the pandemic. Those that stay open have lost revenue and had to lay employees off. As long as mask mandates and limited occupancy is in place, small, local businesses will continue to fail. However, if the mask mandates and occupancy limits are lifted too soon, some of the owners and employees of these small businesses will become infected and some will die. One has to wonder if business failure is worse than the death of the owners, the owner fatalities, and the owner’s employees (not to mention customers who are infected and die from a contact in the small, local business.

I am not aware of any, in Texas, for example, efforts to shore up the finances of the small, local businesses. For in most states the firms were on their own. Yes, the first Covid19 Relief package back in 2020 did have some provision for assisting small businesses. But that did not go too well in the application.

So what is the problem? Succinctly put, it is that Members of the US House of Representatives and Members of the US Senate are elected because of campaign donations which largely come from moneyed interests (major corporations are moneyed interests). So our representatives seem to be acutely more aware of major corporate needs than they are of smaller, local business needs. And clearly, our elected national representatives are much more acutely aware of moneyed interests than they are of the needs of the rest of us. So, even at the national level, the health of the economy has been of greater import to lawmakers than the health of individual citizens (former President Trump’s mask-wearing and pronouncements [untruths] underscore this point).

So in the tension between the health of the economy and the health of the citizens it was foreordained that the economy, at least the economy represented in the New Your Stock Exchange and other markets would win. Putting it another way, we all may have freedoms and liberties, but we all are not equal we are just consumers for those who are “more equal.” (George Orwell, Animal Farm)

NOTE: This will also appear in Deartedandjody today.

Will Racism Rule the Nation?

Why do so many people living in our democracy want to take steps towards a non-democratic form of government? Inevitably there is an underlying reason such as belief in their superior status, aka white privilege and white supremacy. Pretexts used to restrict voter access seem to be the “thing” in States legislatures these days.

It is easier for them to use pretexts rather than the truth that they want to prevent black and brown people from voting as that truth is unacceptable to a whole lot of us and they know it, I remember the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas in September of 1957. That fall, a friend asked me if I would go bowling with him to find out if the bowling alley in Terre Haute, Indiana, was integrated. He want to take a girl there and he did not know if it would accept them as he was black. I remember a whole lot of other events over the years that have us in an uneasy state of “official” integration of our nation; yet, still today, the number of white people coming out of the woodwork to express their supremacy or privilege under the guise of lies told by Trump and his minions about the theft of an election, the election, as far as I can tell is the fairest election we have ever had, is frightening.

I say pretexts to restrict voting as the proponents of these bills argue that there was fraud in the recent presidential election, or that the laws were not followed or similar statements all based upon Trump’s Big Lie (you know the one he started selling in August, three full months before he lost). Apparently the truth that they don’t want minorities to vote is apparently too awkward for them to articulate. For example Senator Kennedy at a hearing on Tuesday asked “You mean to tell me that people war prejudiced and don’t know it?” The answer to Senator Kennedy is, “No, Senator, there may be some whose behavior is racist and they don’t realize it because it is second nature to them, but by in large, those who are knowingly racist have learned over the years being racist is unacceptable in the larger body politic that is the USA.”

The problem is that for the past five years, Donald Trump has given white supremacists and those who enjoy white privilege permission to come out of the woodwork—go public in greater numbers. I do suspect white supremacists and those enjoying white privilege see the demographic trends and reality they will firmly be in a minority if not next week (from their perspective) in the fairly near future. I rather suspect white supremacists fear being in the minority, for they fear being treated when they are in the minority the way they treated the blacks (and other minorities) in America since 1619. The whites dehumanized the blacks and do so to this day. The thing is it is still socially unacceptable to be outright racists, so they channel their racism through a set of filters most of the time: socialism, left wing rioters, and the like. I would use Antifa here, but it is not clear to me that it exists as an organization similar to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, or other white extremist groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center or the FBI. However, if Antifa did not exist, the white supremacists and their voices in the Congress would have to invent it to blame when white violence becomes identifiable as white supremacy violence, as Senator Johnson did in a hearing a day or so ago.

When I taught my first American National Government class at the University of South Carolina in 1969, I recall the class reaction to my assertion that if the government allowed discrimination against any group, no group was potentially exempt from being discriminated against if it was of benefit to someone with political influence. One redheaded young man with blue eyes said, “But we are not like them.” My response was, that makes you easily identifiable for special attention.” Unfortunately the sense of white privilege and superiority was so ingrained in those young minds, that the would not look at the possibility of such a thing ever happening. Unless I miss my guess, the possibility I reference above of their being treated the way they treat and treated blacks, some 50 plus years later is occurring to them and their progeny today.

As a nation we have never address white supremacy, white privilege, and racism. The Civil War did not do it. The Civil War Amendments did not do it. Brown v. Board of Education, did not do it, Swan v, Charlotte-Mecklenburg did not do it, President Johnson handing over the South to the Republican Party (Signing the Civil Right Act of 1964) did not do it. Assassinations, murders, and The KKK losing a case and their property to a black woman did not do it. Electing Obama did not do it. Unfortunately all those failures to solve white supremacy, white privilege, and racism leaves the nation in a state of vulnerability from the racists today.

The answer to my question, “Why do so many people living in our democracy want to take steps towards a non-democratic form of government?” seems to be, they do not believe in the fundamental tenets of democracy, one of which is equality. They can not ascribe equality to non-whites. They scream freedom and liberty, but they do not realize that freedom and liberty are largely the products of equality. They do not seem to realize the appearance of freedom and liberty are products of democracy. For without democracy they would be sujgect to the wims of autocrats, monarchs, or soviet councils and any other form of opression one can imagine. However, with democracy, which is predicated on the elquality of one person one vote and that means every person, they can not count on the freedom and liberty they seem to clammor for. They have it now, but risk loosing it because they would subjegat blacks and other minorities. And as I told that red-headed, blue eyed young man in 1968 if the government allowed discrimination against any group, no group was potentially exempt from being discriminated against.

However, that leaves us with the question of how to squash white supremacists and white privilege and other forms of racism and still keep our republican and democratic form of government?

Supreme Court declares Trump emoluments lawsuits moot

It would appear that the Supreme Court has little concern for Presidential Emoluments violations. Unfortunately this sets a bad precedent for what future presidents have to consider when they take the oath of office to uphold the constitution and faithfully executed the laws, for example, by accepting emoluments. Tossing suits for being moot because Trump is no longer in office, fails to recognize that the Maryland and DC suit filed in 2017 near the end of Trump’s first years in office suggests that Trump’s legal strategy of causing delay paid off. In effect the Supreme Court by dismissing a case for not being moot because conditions have changed (the person no longer occupies the office) suggests that the Court itself can utilize delay to avoid making decisions. (Note, delay was often the case in abortion cases). It may be a way the Court can avoid fashioning a penalty or remedy for an emoluments violation. While there are federal laws that prohibit government employees from accepting gifts from foreigners and foreign governments, I doubt that there are laws on the books dealing with the President or entities owned by him doing business with foreigners or foreign governments.

When the issue of emoluments first arose, one may recall the debates over the meaning of the term. In the 18th Century emoluments seemed to have a broad meaning including profit or gain from a transaction. Unlike the Trump lawyer’s claim that emoluments did not include business transactions. It would appear the Supreme Court did not want to get into the business of translating the 18th Century English into modern English.

Other than the fact that by throwing cases out for being moot so there is no name to the non-decision such as Dread Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, or Citizens united, the Court’s decision of “mootness” does not share the same level of bad decisions the aforementioned cases, but belongs rightfully in the same category as those badly thought out decisions that sought to avoid a decision consistent with the Constitution.

What is the connection between the institution of slavery in America and poverty, white and minority, in America today?

This is a draft intended for reviewers comments only. T. Edward Westen 01/24/2021

What is the connection between the institution of slavery in America and poverty, white and minority, in America today?

The American economy was built on slavery. In 1619 the White Lion arrived in Virginia with the first score of slaves sold to Americans. This was 12 years after the first English colony established at Jamestown and a year before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.

Eventually slavery benefited the “non-slave” states through the triangle trade that we learned about back in high school history classes. One of the variations of the triangle trade involved manufactured goods from Massachusetts and surrounding states shipped to Africa where the goods were traded for slaves who were carried to the southern, slave holding states. Agricultural goods from the southern states were sent north where the ships exchanged the agricultural products from the south and picked up manufactured goods only to begin the triangle route again. So, part of the raw materials going into northern manufacturing were produced by slave labor. Clearly ship owners made a profit at each corner of the triangle trade. Every participant in triangle trade, except for the slaves who made the arrangement possible, financially profited from the arrangement.

For 11 years after the Civil War, Reconstruction attempted to integrate former slaves into the socioeconomic and political system. But with the 1876 Presidential Election dispute and subsequent compromise in the US House of Representatives, Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow laws all but re-enslaved those freed by the Civil War and the 13th through 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Jim Crow insured a pool of unskilled labor for the next 90 years (and longer). This pool of low wage laborers left a legacy of cheaper labor in the states of the former Confederacy to this day. To verify this look at which states have no or low the minimum wage laws across the states and the prevalence of Right to Work laws in those same states. For further evidence also look at patterns of where corporations locate manufacturing in the United States prior to them locating off shore where wages are even lower.

If a political unit (American State) maintains a pattern of low wages based primarily upon race, one insures a climate in which racism can flourish and grow. Hence, the legacy of slavery in America is one of racism manifest as white supremacy along with poverty, a poorly paid labor pool.

“I am just exercising my rights.”

A contemporary member of either the House or Senate remarked recently (in last six moths or so): “We never use to question another member’s motives. But that seems to be the norm today.” I regret that I did not make a note of who said it, when I heard it. However, that statement came to mind when I heard that Senators Cruz and Hawley explained their challenge of the votes in a swing state by saying, “I am just exercising my rights.”

Both men are aspirants for their party’s presidential nomination in 2024. Depending upon what Trump is able or not able to pull off between now and then, there is a chance the Trump base is up for grabs. I suspect given the kinds of things both Senators have said in the past year, they are wooing the Trump base without putting themselves in danger of running afoul of Trump himself.

Both Senators have made what to them are reasonable explanations for challenging the swing states’ votes, Arizona and Pennsylvania. I shall paraphrase ‘Given the large number of concerns about the elections in the swing states, their fairness and legality need to be examined.’ The problem with this argument is that all the concerns about the elections in question came from Donald Trump and his lawyers and those concerns were passed on and amplified by a large number of House Republicans and the two senators, among other senators, themselves. These concerns were then further amplified on social media. However, other than a handful of individual instances of voter fraud, two of which were in Pennsylvania by a Republican voter, no evidence of widespread fraud or problems was, or is now, cited. I doubt that either Senator could have given evidence the back up the concerns that they claimed were widespread. And to repeat, all the concerns that the two Senators alleged were started by Donald Trump or his legal team which the senators in question did amplify those Donald Trump assertions.

So when either senator says, “I am just exercising my rights,” given the ambitions of those two senators and their participation in the promulgation of the Trump false claims (by false I mean there is no evidence in over 50 court filings to support the cases even being heard); I think we need to examine the use of the word “just.” If the senators in question, or any other Member of Congress, meaning “just” surely they would have no motive other than seeking the truth.

Clearly the exercise of free speech can result in people uttering lies. However, one should note that uttering lies to separate people from their money, false claims for a product, are jusdiciable (against the law). One should note that uttering lies in a court of law when under oath is punishable (perjury). One should note that by uttering false statements about a person’s honesty, one can adjudicate (slander and liable). And, one should note that falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater is not protected speech (reckless endangerment). So, while the exercise of free speech can result in people uttering lies, there are a variety of sanctions for lying. So, if the two senators in question are “just” exercising their First Amendment Rights, perhaps they would send me the evidence upon which they based their claims that the Arizona and Pennsylvania elections were defective. And I do mean evidence and not just accusations.

Indeed, I would encourage anyone with evidence of fraud, irregularities, or other illegalities in the election of 2020 in any state or the District of Columbia. The claims or assertions are out there, send me the evidence and I will publish the evidence.

To be clear, I am questioning the motives of Senators Cruz and Hawley along with Donald Trump and all of those who propagated his claims the election was stolen from him. (Given the mounting evidence ranging from DeJoy as Postmaster General making the mail move slower to the early January attempted Coup of the US Attorney General to get the Department of Justice to fool Georgia into thinking there was an investigation into that state’s election and the Trump sponsored insurgency on January 6th, it looks like the attempted steal was by Trump himself.)

But I digress, send me the evidence and I will publish the accumulated evidence that all of you send.

Explaining the Republican Senate Response to People in Need

The Republican Senate response to a second stimulus (Covid19 relief) package highlights a view of American workers as needing to be kept “hungry” or they will not go to work for wages. Indeed, in the face of staggering hunger statistics (and lines at food pantries), massive evictions held in abeyance, more people unemployed since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and thousands daily dying from Covid19 the Senate Republicans did not act for 7 months after the House passed the Hero’s Act, and then after very hard bargaining, it allotted $600 in individual relief.

While the Senate Republicans, several years earlier, did not hesitate to pass a massive tax cut for the wealthy and corporations which drove up the national debt, the Senate Republicans were afraid a payment to workers would be too much of a burden on taxpayers to pay off the debt it would generate. Never mind that their tax cut to the rich and corporations ballooned the national debt higher than in any non-war-time period in our history.

The Senate Republicans view of workers smacks of a class distinction normally seen in societies with a monarchy and aristocratic class or in an autocracy based upon wealth, not a society in a modern democracy. It also smacks of the kind of inequality we experienced after 1876 when Jim Crow laws became the law of the states formerly in the old Confederacy for 100 years (and beyond).

To no small extent, this inequality is dependent upon the trickle-down monetary creation system we have and the way we finance elections. Senate Republicans are kept in power by wealthy and corporate campaign donors.

The wealth of campaign donors is based on the productivity of employees who work for low wages relative to their productivity. While capital is evaluated by ROI, return on investment, there is no comparable measure of workforce productivity in terms of cost of the workforce. Rather, accountants measure labor-to-revenue ratio. This will typically average under 30 percent for a manufacturing firm and 50 percent for a service firm. Since these ratios of labor costs to revenue are not clearly tied to an investment as ROI is they are more than flexible for adding to the employer’s wealth over time. Then too, given employers might finance their payroll with loans, thus, the employer is using new money to pay the wages, salaries, and benefits used to generate revenue. This further increases the employer’s wealth without putting any of his or her capital (wealth) at risk. A doubling of an employer’s wealth accumulation abilities due to the labor of employees.

Based upon any given labor-to-revenue ratio, it is in the employer’s wealth accumulation interests to find the lowest possible ratio. Lower ratios exist when the labor pool larger than the available jobs. Lower ratios exist when the employees are not represented by a union. Lower ratios exist when individuals in the labor pool are desperate for an income. Thus, it would appear that employers would prefer conditions that favor the existence of a lower labor-to-revenue ratio. Should it then surprise anyone that campaign donors (AKA employers) donate to political candidates who will provide policies that foster any conditions that promote a lower labor-to-revenue ratio? And that explains the Senate Republican position on the $2000 payment in the Covid19 relief package at the end of December of 2020. Keep the unemployed and desperate workers in the worker pool desperate so they will be thankful for taking any job at any wage.

Why wouldn’t there be systemic racism in law and its application?

I watched the Kentucky Attorney General’s news conference yesterday in which he, more or less, explained, maybe more that he justified in his context, the charges being brought in Kentucky as a result of Breonna Taylor’s death. My reaction to what he said is that the pursuit of the truth in the context of criminal law is elusive for when the law is applied the truth is colored by the definitions of acts under the law. The law is made by human begins who write the law with their points of view and histories (experiences). The law is amended over time by more human beings who may or may not bring new points of view and histories to the revisions. One has to also remember our criminal law is built upon the edifice of English common law which came out of a class structure in Merry Old England. I rather suspect there is systematic racism in this whole lawmaking process. For the law, as we know it was built, after all, by white males from the English Common Law, to our Constitution, through reconstruction and Jim Crow right down into the modern Civil Rights Era.

Is it no wonder that blacks are disproportionately shot and killed by police? Blacks constitute 13.4 of the US population. White represents 60.7% of the US population. (Hispanics represent 16.7% of the US population.) Of deaths by police shootings where the victim’s race is known 52% are white, 26% were black, 17% were Hispanic, and 3% were other races. (All are based upon 2020 data to date.) We could show the same pattern with incarceration, poverty, single-parent families, homeownership and any socioeconomic or political measure one would care to use. They all show something is amiss. Quite frankly it would end up boiling down to attitudes and predispositions held by a significant number of white members of society—systematic racism that is rooted in the law and its application.

Imagine an amendment to all statutes and pertinent articles in The Constitution that asserts “All people are equal under the law.”