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 https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map 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?
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. https://www.npr.org/2017/09/05/548002254/professor-37-historic-dictionaries-disagree-with-trumps-definition-of-emolument 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Yesterday (9/23/2020), Trump refused to say he would guarantee a peaceful transfer of power. He is claiming that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. He will take this to the Supreme Court. Parenthetically this is why he says there needs to be a replacement for the late Justice Ginsburg. Never mind that his challenge to the Affordable Care Act will be argued before the Supreme Court starting November 10 this year.
An Atlantic article yesterday
reported a plot by Trump and his minions. The plot is to have states with Republican majorities in both chambers of their legislatures, after the election, if Trump does not win, have the states’ legislatures send Trump electors to the Electoral College. Since all the “swing states” have Republican legislatures this would steal the election from the voters. State legislatures have the power to choose electors. (Article II Section 1 paragraph 3)
There is one small glitch. Since state laws have designated elections as a means of choosing electors, if after an election is held the state legislature changes their way of choosing electors that state would be enacting an ex post facto law. The Constitution in Art. I section 10 prohibits states from enacting ex post facto laws. It is, however, important to note that not all ex post facto laws passed by states were invalidated on the grounds of violating this article.
The Atlantic article was based upon interviews with at least one Trump reelection campaign official. Why would Trump and his campaign official both tell anyone what evil lurked in their hearts? I do believe they are serious.
In a strange way the Trump plot to steal the election is an extension of systemic racism and the attempt to keep America white and male-dominated. And to think Thomas thought he lived in times that tried people’s souls.
I add that last sentence, for Trump and his minions already have started the process of delaying the count of mail-in ballots, among other complaints he has, by initiating legal actions in several states. The courts act incredibly slowly and can tie up actual vote counting if they choose to do it. Trump is banking on that for his plot to steal the election for if the votes are not counted by December 8 and Electors named, Congress may refuse to accept the state’s electors. The plot is to put the Republican legislatures between a rock and a hard place to force them (as if they will need forcing) to become partners in the theft of a Presidential election.
If you are not registered to vote, register https://www.whenweallvote.org/ads-2020-vr-google-grants-us/?gclid=CjwKCAjwh7H7BRBBEiwAPXjaduHTQq_38UYpQE0rHkmUc4UJXxlZUZtXce_BntZd6khGO6XBKpX3iRoCFhAQAvD_BwE
then vote. Vote as if your life depends upon it, for surely the country’s existence as a democratic republic is. Then, too this may be the last time you are able to vote in a free election if you don’t vote this time.
It is time to think outside of the box. Whether or not you believe climate change is caused by human activity is not terribly important because climate change or rather global warming is already underway and the climate will continuously heat up. Hitherto we have lived with the fiction that we could halt or even reverse it.
In the early 1960s I worked two summers at Commercial Solvents Corporation’s Terre Haute, Indiana plant. The plant produced some pretty toxic waste which it piped across the Wabash River to a series of sewage lagoons. Once in the sewage lagoons the sewage was aerated and it’s stench was camouflaged with perfume sprayed on the surface of the lagoons.
As the sewage worked its way through the lagoons pipes near the bottom releases air to aerate it. Once the sewage reached the last lagoon it had sufficient oxygen that it could, regardless of its other contents, be legally discharged into the waters of the Wabash River.
Commercial Solvents Corporation found it more cost effective for its bottom line to mix its chemical byproducts (waste) with river water and aerated the sewage than to remove hazardous materials and dispose of them in a manner that did not transfer disposal costs to people both down river and who came decades later. The transfer of costs to non-consenting others economists call a negative externally.
Dumping waste in rivers, lakes, the air, landfills and in some cases the oceans of the world always generates a negative externally, or to put it another way a cost in money, health, death, or clean up that people (and other living things) must bear even though the people bearing the cost did not consent, and in most cases were not even aware when the waste (negative externality) was dumped in the river/lake/air or the like.
The box in the case of Commercial Solvents Corporation was that it was acceptable to transfer some costs of production to unsuspecting neighbors, future generations, and even employees.
Commercial Solvents Corporation was not unionized. At the time I worked there, federal minimum wage was $1.15/hour. Commercial Solvents Corporation paid me, a summer son of an employee while a student laborer, $1.65/hour. The corporation paid regular employees benefits. I know their retirement was an annuity based on retirement at the age of 65 that the actuarial estimate was a payout for an a garage of 13 months. The health insurance was family based. It was a plan that paid all but $17 for a three day hospital stay and the birth of my first child, Kirk. However, older employees I knew experienced respiratory, heart, and neurological problems having worked in a chemical soup enviromnent for decades.
This is all caused by accounting and lack of regulation. Accounting do not have to enter the externalities they generate on any set of financial or social books. The costs, externalities, never exist in an accounting sense. Mandating firms to manage their by-products (waste) would require regulations. However, firms through a variety of means coop bodies that could regulate them from legislatures through campaign donations, to regulatory bodies through what is called the revolving door (former industry managers become regulators and vice versa), and firms that pollute (that is what dumping waste is called in the real world we live in) run massive advertising campaigns to cultivate a positive public image.
I worked for Commercial Solvents Corporation in the summers from 1962 through 1965. By 1975 the firm ceased to exist when it merged with another corporation and the Terre Haute plant was shutdown in 2000. https://www.vigo.lib.in.us/archives/inventories/business/CommSolv.php
One has to wonder where all the millions of dollars the corporation earned ended up for it is apparent that subsequent to 1975 there was a change in wealth distribution in American. https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/the-2-5-trillion-annual-theft-blog-for-iowa/
Regardless of where the money landed, it is effectively laundered so Commercial Solvents Corporation profits, built partly on the externality costs it imposed on workers, neighbors, down stream residents and the world today can not be used to pay restitution for the damage done by those externatilities it imposed on all of us.
The saddest part of the Commercial Solvents Corporation story is that Commercial Solvents Corporation is a very small player in the damage done to the world by not accounting for the costs imposed by industry on the world and by not regulating industry properly and making it a good neighbor. These failings were not mistakes or simply not understanding what industry was doing, the imposition of externalities on the world was driven by the greed for more profits regardless of how those profits were obtained.
The irony of all of this from my prescriptive is I thought I had it good in those days. Relative to today, I did. While I worked on the Commercial Solvents Corporation sewage lagoon, literally on a tank on pontoons driven by an outboard motor, spraying perfume, I only had the barest inkling of how bad my $1.65/hour was making things for other people then and me and the rest of the world today.
That is an estimate of how much the annual theft is from America’s workers.
A study came out this week that astounded nearly everyone. While everyone knows that workers have been left behind in the economic race since the early 70s, there had never been a study to put a real number on it. The RAND corporation undertook that challenge. The numbers they came up with caught most everyone by surprise:
“Just how far has the working class been left behind by the winner-take-all economy? A new analysis by the RAND Corporation examines what rising inequality has cost Americans in lost income—and the results are stunning.
A full-time worker whose taxable income is at the median—with half the population making more and half making less—now pulls in about $50,000 a year. Yet had the fruits of the…
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