There is hope.
The barriers facing black people in America today are numerous and daunting: poor schools, dangerous neighborhoods, lack of income, wealth, and connections, persistent formal and informal discrimination in so many settings. The list goes on, and it certainly includes many problems with our criminal justice system, from over-criminalization to degrading conditions of imprisonment to oppressive and violent policing.
Of all the problems facing black Americans, problems in the criminal justice system should be among the easiest to address. This does not mean we can wave a magic wand and make these problems disappear. But there are many promising ideas for reform; a careful effort to reform policing that would make a real difference. We can quibble over the details and test different approaches, but we have a good idea of what needs to be done.
The combination of clear injustice, persistent and brave protesters, and promising policy ideas should make this a moment of hope for Americans, an opportunity to make measurable progress on a journey that has taken far too long.
Instead of grasping this opportunity with open arms, Trump is doing everything in his power to divide us for political gain. Fortunately, Trump may not succeed. We have made real progress since 1968. Even many Republicans are concerned with police violence. Plus, we have cell phones. Ironically, Trump’s resistance may keep the protests alive and underscore the need for change. Let’s hope.
Some say Hope is not a plan.
[cut-and-paste from my email to several nytimes.com addresses]
Re: Tonya Russell ‘Every Black Person I’ve Spoken to Is Numb’
IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY. Get everyone on the same economic level and all the racial seeming distinctions (I’m from the color blind Bronx) will fade away — including for the police (something like that — can’t put my finger on it — makes African immigrants with associated ascents safe from the police).
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How to get there from here w/o higher taxes or controversial legislation: regularly scheduled labor union cert/recert/decert elections at EVERY private (non gov) workplace.
EITC shifts only 2% of income while 40% of American workers earn less that what we think the minimum wage should be — $15/hr.
The minimum wage itself should only mark the highest wage that we presume firms with highest labor costs can pay* — like fast food with 25% labor costs. Lower labor cost businesses — e.g., retail like Walgreens and Target with 10-15% labor costs can potentially pay north of $20/hr; Walmart with 7% labor costs, $25/hr!
That kind of income can only be squeezed out of the consumer market (meaning out of the consumer) by labor union bargaining.
Raise fast food wages from $10/hr to $15/hr and prices go up only a doable 12.5%. Raise Walgreens, Target from $10/hr to $20/hr and prices there only go up a piddling 6.25%. Keeping the math easy here — I know that Walgreens and Target pay more to start but that only reinforces my argument about how much labor income is being left on the (missing) bargaining table.
Hook up Walmart with 7% labor costs with the Teamsters Union and the wage and benefit sky might be the limit! Don’t forget (everybody seems to) that as more income shifts to lower wage workers, more demand starts to come from lower wage workers — reinforcing their job security as they spend more proportionately at lower wage firms (does not work for low wage employees of high end restaurants — the exception that actually proves the rule).
Add in sector wide labor agreements and watch Germany appear on this side of the Atlantic overnight.
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If Republicans held the House in the last (115th) Congress they would have passed HR2723-Employee Rights Act — mandating new union recertification/decertification paper ballots in any bargaining unit that has had experienced “turnover, expansion, or alteration by merger of unit represented employees exceeding 50 percent of the bargaining unit” by the date of the enactment — and for all time from thereafter. Trump would have signed it and virtually every union in the country would have experienced mandated recert/decert votes in every bargaining unit.
Democrats can make the most obvious point about what was lacking in the Republican bill by pretending to be for a cert/recert bill that mandates union ballots only at places where there is no union now. Republicans jumping up and down can scream the point for us that there is no reason to have ballots in non union places and not in unionized workplaces — and vice versa.
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Biggest problem advocating the vastly attractive and all healing proposal of federally mandated cert/recert/decert elections seems to be that nobody will discuss it as long as nobody else discusses it — some kind of innate social behavior I think, from deep in our (pea sized) midbrains. How else can you explain the perfect pitch’s neglect. I suspect that if I waved a $100 bill in front of a bunch of progressives and offered it to the first one would say the words out loud: “Regularly scheduled union elections are the only way to restore shared prosperity and political fairness to America”, that I might not get one taker. FWIW.
Another big problem when I try to talk to workers about this on the street — just to get a reaction — is that more than half have no idea in the world what unions are all about. Those who do understand, think the idea so sensible they often think action must be pending.
Here is Andrew Strom’s take:
[continuation from my comment just above — hate to cut-and-paste the same thing twice but it’s what I think and this morning I don’t have the energy to reformulate it all just to make it sound like something I just thought about it for the first time]
*1968 federal minimum was $12/hr – indicating that consumer support was there at half today’s per capita income.
Back around 1968 in New York state, the law was: police were to fire a warning shot and then shoot to kill every fleeing suspect. We used to kill a lot of shop lifters.
Back when I was going to court in the Bronx with some kids around the year 1978, crime had exploded so much they had to build a new court house for $120 million (adjusted). 20 years later — after the crime tsunami had diminished 4X — Bloomberg came in and instituted 4X as many police stops. That equals 28X as many stops per reported crime — crazy enough — and then he dumped it all on minorities — crazier and crazier.
(Bloomberg also spent $500 million building a brand new, totally unnecessary courthouse right next to the tow old, still splendid ones. See link for Bronx courthouse pics — he did the same thing for $750 million in Brooklyn’s downtown; right across the Brooklyn Bridge.)
After explaining the American labor market (no talk about race, just economics) to my late brother John, he came back with: “Martin Luther King got his people on the up escalator just in time for it to start going down for everybody.”
We have lived with much crazier police action without taking to the streets for days. Repeat: IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY.
First three things to think about true American reform:
Correction for above:
Bloomberg instituted 7X (not 4X) as many police stops.
Can someone please clean up the “Bert Schlitz” troll droppings?
Joel, can somebody explain to you the debt ponzi ??? I mean, your obsessions are gross.
You can be a burden. I wish for one week you could be a black person and pop off with your mouth like you have done here. Don’t push the limits. Every time you do, someone is going to point to your comments in front of me like the bird sh*t that they are.
What I left out of my IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY explanation: if everybody’s on the same economic level the police will identify with non-white minorities as much as with anyone else — making minorities as safe from the police as everyone else.
Was an all important thing to leave out. Takes time to weave it all together.
Denis, same economic level is a myth. Blacks are in a higher economic level than 30 years ago. Whites have not budged much outside the white white minority, for some reason you can’t see the difference. Your fighting a past battle that no longer exists.
40% of US workforce takes 10% of income — full stop.