If only it were so simple
The covid-19 pandemic has been difficult to get a handle on; so much unknown, everyday so much new info. It will probably take years for the world to fully to understand all that the 2020 covid-19 pandemic entailed.
The George Floyd protests are all too familiar. The gut wrenching images from Minneapolis angered the nation. I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America; don’t feel that I have the right to say what I think for fear that I might be wrong; might do harm; but there is a part of Black Americans’ struggle and of the protests that I feel that I do know something about; enough to offer my thoughts.
America is not doing well; hasn’t been doing well for more than 45 yrs now. Today, by any measure, even before the pandemic, 40% of our workforce is not really making a living. The extensions of this are monumental! Yet our politicians prattle on about the ‘middle class’ while for all these years the middle class has been shrinking before our very eyes; the poorer workers have kept getting poorer. America is, and has now long been, in denial.
For 45 yrs now, the middle class, along with all other Americans, has been, more than anytime since the Great Depression?, subjected to a selection process; a selection process that applies to all American workers. As there are fewer and fewer good paying jobs, the standards for hiring keep getting tighter. What standards you ask? Age, education, health, credit, social status, religion, culture, race, ethnicity, … make up your own. Yes, all are forms of discrimination, all are arbitrary; but as there are fewer and fewer good paying jobs there has to be a way of deciding. Universities do it, always have; there’s always been a selection process. Even during the Great Depression , if you knew the right someone, you could get a good job; meritocracy be damned. It is not at all as simple as ‘whitey’ has to give ‘us’ some of what their getting; it’s more that the whole working class is suffering and that those at the bottom are suffering the most. And, this will continue unless major changes are made to the economic model.
For upwards of 20? yrs now, we have had a lot of well educated baristas, cab drivers, … with really good social skills sharing one-bedroom apartments because they can’t find a job that pays enough for them to afford the rent on their own salary. We have a generation of well educated people who got knocked down in 2008 and who just got knocked again in this pandemic of 2020, who haven’t a prayer of ever putting anything together in their lifetime. These same folks owe a good chunk of the outstanding $3 trillion in student loan debt. Today, one must be under 35, no police record, no DUIs, no health problems, and have at least an Associates Degree to get a job as an oilfield roughneck.
This all in an economy that encourages consumption far beyond basic needs, beyond the income of many. Marketers use the media to sell the American Dream, to sow the seeds of ‘want’. There might have been a time when that ‘want’ translated into more low skilled jobs in Detroit, MI; Waukegan, IL; Cleveland, OH; …; but for the past ~35 yrs it has translated into more jobs in China. It is so hard to understand that for those with a job that pays less than a living wage, or, worse, no job or hope of a job, this ‘want’ might translate into stealing? Looting? Hey America! If you must give someone the ‘wants’; at least give them enough of an income to afford the necessities. Quit treating the symptoms while not addressing the underlying disease.
Reasonable people can and do make a distinction between those protesting, those who use the protest as an excuse to loot, and those who seek to leverage the protests and protesters to further a radical agenda. Reasonable people also find the nightly TV images of the looting and destruction abhorrent (the Media, by it’s choice of shots, is complicit) . Too often, politicians, use the looters and radicals as an excuse to crack down on the protests; avoid dealing with the underlying issues. Remember: Nixon used Law and Order to gain office. Reagan rode “The Free Speech Movement’ and ‘People’s Park’ all the way to the White House. Trump out racist the both of them. The Media need to step up (Zuckerburg are you listening?) All 3 branches of the Federal Government need to step up; do the job of governing. The Donald Trumps, the Mitch McConnells and the Bill Barrs of America are doing more harm than the protesters, than the looters and rioters. We the people need to step up; to be better citizens; don’t let ourselves be distracted as before. Just as with recent Gay Rights advances, advancing Black Americans’ Rights depend on changing the minds of the majority of Americans.
In times like these, we, the public, need to listen to the likes of Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo — https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2020/06/01/amanpour-houston-art-acevedo-george-floyd.cnn — We, the public, need to be able to distinguish between the protests and the opportunists. I found another interviewee from the same Amanpour & CO edition, DeRay Mckesson, equally impressive. https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2020/06/01/amanpour-martin-luther-king-iii-deray-mckesson-george-floyd.cnn Up until now, the Black Lives Matter movement seems to have suffered from a lack of leadership, focus. Maybe Mckesson will be the one. There was also this very haunting 5/28 Washington Post video of a Police Action in Midland, TX.
In 3rd world countries, bad economies and authoritarian police forces go hand in hand. They too are meant to address the symptoms.