Social Progress & Racism

One of the most frequently mentioned topics in today’s American culture is racism. For most of us, not a day goes by without hearing of someone being called out as racist. In addition, some claim that America is a country where racism is systemic and institutionalized. Why is it that almost 50 years after the Civil Rights gains of the 1960s, America is still grappling with the idea of racism? And in addition, why is the racist tag applied so frequently? 

Obviously…the term racism can mean different things to different people. In line with this, the use of the term can mean different things in different eras of history. For instance, the use of the racist term meant something different in the era before the Civil Rights gains of the 1960s. When one looks back at the Jim Crow practices common before the 1960s, one can definitely see that many of the legal protections that African-Americans have now, didn’t exist. And yes, from a legal standpoint, some can say that life for blacks during the post Civil Rights era is easier. However, if things have improved for blacks on a legal level, then what accounts for the fact that claims of racism are so high in today’s world?

There are many reasons why claims of racism still exist. To some, these claims exist because there’s a justifiable perception that people of color still do not receive the respect they deserve. To these people there’s still much work to be done to address systemic racism in all of its forms ranging from subtle to the more obvious. In addition and from another angle, some claim the racist tag is applied loosely nowadays as a political tool to create division and call out white people. These people claim that some issues now being called racist fall more in line with preferences. They claim politicians and activists are creating racial hypersensitivity to exploit fear.

For many of us, the concept of social progress is real and tangible. In line with this, many of us hope to envision a future where racism of any kind, whether it’s aimed at blacks, other minorities, and even whites, is seen as a concept of a bygone era. To further the cause of social progress it’s important to help America live up to its pledge to create a society where equal opportunity for all races is respected. In addition, it’d also behoove us to be careful of applying the racist tag to both situations and individuals too freely. After all, the negative effects of racism are shown not only with actual racist practices, it’s also shown by unjustly accusing people of racism when that may not be their intent.

 

 

60 thoughts on “Social Progress & Racism

  1. Thanks for this interesting article. Whilst in your context white and black are used as an illustration, the globe similarly faces the same issue between various different colors and races. In some places reversed racism becomes the legislated norm. It has become increasingly difficult for a parent to explain rationally why being born of one race could mean the child must be doubly prepared and equipped to compete to survive from young under the all encompassing reversed discrimination. Some dream of finding a place on earth where their race is not an issue, but I have not yet found such an ideal haven to suggest to any young person. The fixed mindset of each people group seems very hard to change by human efforts. Is there any reason for the great divide between us and them? How to accept and respect each other as one human race? Are social/commercial private groups and /or private employers not free to have personal preferences or assess and select or promote applicants based on merits and standards possibly subjectively set by them? Who is to interpret and ensure objectivity in implementation? Does it really bring a better future for everyone? Tough questions for policy makers. Worse, the discrimination issue is not restricted to racism. There is a whole spectrum of differences that divide one group and another. Thanks again for your thoughts provoking article. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Thx for stopping by again + your thoughtful comment Crosslife Spaces!

      Yes, racism globally transcends the white-black divide currently in America. Unfortunately, racism + discrimination have been with humanity since the dawn of civilization. When one looks around the world + to history as a guide, we find often that places that balance assimilation with cultural tradition, do best with integration.

      And yes, from what I’ve studied + heard, a certain form of reverse racism has arisen in other countries. As you say, the us vs them divide seems inherent to human nature. And like you say, the divide may actually be increasing.

      As for how to raise one’s child in light of racism, that’s a difficult issue. As a guide, I think of how Martin Luther King inspired not only America, but the world to try + look beyond race + look at the quality of one’s character. If we can use wise people like Dr. King as a guide, we should cope better with the negativity of racism.

      Your points about regulating business + commercial + private groups in relation to racism are well taken. As you say, these are tough questions for policy-makers. Many have said what works best is to have a certain basic level of standards for non-discrimination. Some have said that some current problems in America can be traced to trying to micro-manage human relations so that discrimination or subjective preferential treatment doesn’t happen at all. Some say that micro-managing creates unreachable expectations. As with many things…coping with racism is a question of balance.

      Thx for the dialogue Crosslife Spaces + I look forward to talking with you again!

  2. Thanks for your response. I agree with a number of points you raised. For example, places that balance assimilation with cultural tradition, do best with integration. In comparatively more cosmopolitan places with multi-national global corporations, I have experienced that kind of balanced and non-intrusive integration, albeit superficially at best, with all contributing participants maintaining a respectful focus on the common goal for all stakeholders based on a pre-agreed covenant/contract and this requires an effective check and balance system. An individual can choose to continue to integrate socially or reserves own personal space with his or her chosen community while off duty.

    Yes, ideally, each individual and group should try + look beyond race + look at the quality of one’s character as Dr. Martin Luther King had inspired this world. That is why established organizations with long-term perspective increasingly invest significant amount of time and money on not just job training but character building. Having a balanced corporate culture and the ability to practice it consistently requires more than vision, passion, system and SOP. The calibre and character of the leaders matter.

    The possibly adversed/unwanted effects of a centralized power trying to micro-manage human relations has been prophetically written and warned in classics. It is foreboding for human individuals who are born free to see the increasing materialization of such prophecies in the world.

    On the subject of integration: A mixed-race young person has regretted having parents of two races which “combined-product” cannot be accepted kindly and civilly by either one of the races -due to the young person’s speaking the language of one race with perfect accent but having a skin color and features closer to those of another race. The unwanted outcome is treated rudely and harshly by travelers from both races. To ward off this racial discrimination from both sides, the young person resorts to claiming nationality of a remote third race whenever any one of the two races ask of race origin.

  3. Fascinating points Crosslife Spaces!

    In light of the fact corporations often get negative press, you bring up a welcome point about how some multi-national global corporations do a good job with integration. I’ve noted this on occasion also. And yes, although the corporate attempt at integration may seem somewhat superficial at first glance, it often seems effective at maintaining a balance so assimilation is accomplished non-intrusively. And yes…as you note, the corporate setup does seem to allow stakeholders to feel they have a common goal.

    In addition, your idea about character-building is well taken too. As you say, if this is done in a general way, the individual will then still be able to feel they have a life of their own outside the workplace. If an individual starts to feel their personal life is being micro-managed by work, problems arise.

    I agree with you about centralized power. If there’s anything that can potentially diminish human freedom, its a misuse of centralized power. And as you say, much classical art has maintained that an abuse of centralized power is problematic + potentially tyrannical. Although centralized power has its positive points, it definitely needs a strong counter-balance.

    I totally understand your point about the child who is the product of different races. In this case, the hybrid created between the two races can present a challenge for the child in terms of identity. Although this scenario has occurred for centuries, its easy to understand that the child of two different races may actually turn to a third race in terms of identity.

    Till next time… 🙂

  4. Perry, I agree we all hope for a world where informed decisions that are made based on realistic appraisals of demonstrable facts. I appreciate how you point out how racism is used as a political tool by the indiscriminate and power hungry. You importantly point out that racism is not a preference. Racism has its roots in our evolutionary biology and is normal neophobia. By nature, we are all egocentric and ethnocentric. Fear of, other than ourselves or tribe, are normal for survival. Racism is not simple apprehension regarding dissimilar peoples. Racism is hatred and mistrust used for malign political purposes.
    Consider the events surrounding the recent anti-hate bill to pass in Congress. They revolve around a single freshmen congressional representative, llan Omar.
    “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” – Rep. Ilhan Omar.
    Taken on it’s face, the statement could be about allegiance to any foreign country.
    In context of her previous tweets, in 2012 she tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And as recently as last month, “It’s all about the Benjamins (money) baby https://t.co/KatcXJnZLV”.
    Ilhan Omar is an unabashed supporter of Palestinian rights. llhan Omar is a Somali American. Ilhan Omar is a practicing Muslim.
    Who is calling who a racist?
    Whether you follow Middle-East politics or not, It should be fair to call out blind loyalty, to anything.
    We are evolving and reasoning animals. All of our morals and ethics are necessarily relative to the circumstances we are in; doubly so in politics. Strawman claims of racism have been made by “both sides” for political purposes. Regardless of circumstance or context, you can spot these politically motivated ad-hominem attacks by the superlatives used.
    Racism is prejudicial bigotry based on the ill-informed belief of racial superiority.
    Ilhan Omar’s comments do not appear to stoop to that level. She never claims moral or racial superiority. Nor does she appear to categorically demean or villainize another race but is quite clearly calling out certain behavior.
    We are hearing a cacophony cries from those who feel, they do have the moral authority to paint Omar’s comments as anti-Semitic. This troubles me, especially in light of an air travel ban, mischaracterizations of people from South America and the fact llhan Omar has endured blatant hate speech directed toward her and has faced repeated death threats. To be sure, those are circumstances to be considered and not a blank check granting her or anyone else so maligned, to engage in hate speech themselves. We should however, weigh all the evidence, including the hyperbole of rich powerful groups, before passing judgment.
    Thanks as always for picking the hot topics.

  5. Hey Tom…thx for stopping by again + the thought-provoking comment!

    As you allude to, dealing with racism is indeed a question of balance. And yes, the idea of racism is deep-seated in humankind’s evolutionary makeup. Although having preferences for certain things can be tagged by some as racist, most of us know that’s not the case.

    To give an example that shows that having preferences is accepted, one of the strongest traits of America is the idea that its a melting pot of many different cultures. This melting pot concept implies that although many cultures are melted together into a basic American unity, there still remains enough of a separatist element for each culture to maintain its own identity.

    Hence…as many of us know, there are many major cities that have certain areas that maintain a consistent cultural element. The many “Chinatowns” + “Little Italys” that are present in America are testament to this concept.

    Regarding the Omar situation + the controversy surrounding her, a component to it is the fact that Israel has fought in about 15 major conflicts with its Arab neighbors since its formation in the 40’s. Some of these conflicts have been regarded as major wars involving many casualties. Therefore, many of Israel’s supporters are understanding of the fact that some Israelis are cautious about supporting the idea of a Palestinian state. Yes… Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has a right to her opinions + many of us are very idealistic about a Palestinian state + see it as a hopeful sign that Jew + Arab can once again live in peace in the Middle East. However, by saying what she did about Israel Omar appears to be somewhat echoing the desire by some to defeat Israel. Hence…this is part of the reason for the controversy.

    As you say Tom, racism is something that needs to be acknowledged + dealt with on all sides for mankind to progress. On the bright side, there have been periods historically when strongly different cultures have been able to live side by side in relative peace. The key to this seems to be when there is a sense of unity revolving around the ability to respect differences. Put simply…unity seems to work best when a certain amount of separatism is respected to maintain cultural identity. This is the tricky part… 🙂

    Thx for dialoguing Tom! I try to pick topics that are both timely + long-standing. Likewise, I try to allow for civil debate + appreciate when others such as yourself take part in these discussions. Till next time…

    1. The first things we need to look at when we try to make determinations about topics as ignitable and emotional as racism is who is making what claim and what that person has to gain by getting everybody all worked up.

      Just as we need to take the topic of climate change and return it to the scientists, we need to look at racism through an impartial lens. Take the money out of the argument and take away arguments by people who have the most to gain from them – on both sides.

      If there were a way to look at political questions like this and take the politics out of it, that is what is needed.

      1. Nice to hear from you again luv4all1959!

        Yeah…the politicization of the racist term is so intense. So many of us often hear the word used as a political arrow. Unfortunately, the result of this is that it inflicts harm + creates confusion. And yes, if we could try to be more impartial we could see that through history all races have suffered through racism unjustly.

        And as a corollary + as you note, some have said that climate change theory has had strong political pressure applied to it. As you know, some scientists have proposed ways to depoliticize the topic.

        Impartiality needs to always be looked at in regards to intense topics. As you say, at all times we need to try to be aware of what can be gained by those making certain emotional claims.

        Take Care! 🙂

  6. Thank you for the wonderfully civil forum and thoughtful topics. A great example of the type of arguments being made are reflected in one of your comments.
    “By saying what she did about Israel, Omar appears to be somewhat echoing the desire by some to defeat Israel”.
    Ilan Omar has never advocated for the defeat of Israel. Such false generalizations de-legitimize the topic instead of addressing it.
    Another recent example by a high profile politician,
    “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of ‘let’s hop a train to California,’ you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!” Such comments are an appeal to ignorance, creating false dilemmas and straw-man arguments.
    I think that is what where Luv4all compares the politics of race to the false logic used to deny humanities responsibility to the environment. Both topics are fraught with bigotry.
    The circular logic “The earth has always had a period of hearing and cooling”,
    And the false dilemma, “We will have to go back to living in caves”,
    The Tu Quoque blurring the lines, “Both sides”.
    These politically obfuscating statements strike a nerve just as tense as race. Just as being able to discriminate friend from foe is imperative, individual responsibility (Existentialism) is essential to our survival. And our survival is literally in the balance should we this wrong.
    Thanks again to you and your contributors.

  7. Sorry couldn’t sleep. Another unconscious dog whistle quote,
    “Some have said that climate change theory has had strong political pressure applied to it. As you know, some scientists have proposed ways to depoliticize the topic”.
    Are you referring to the presidential advisory panel to asses the national security risk of climate change? Or something else?
    Even though you tried to soften your comments with “Appears to be somewhat echoing” and “Some have said that,…” followed by a loud whistling. I don’t know if you realize how “some” may hear your words. Just as you helped me many times by calling me out on a multitude of brash comments, I thought I might help by throwing you under the public forum bus. That was not my intent but I am sensitive to the fact this is your blog and though a bit of controversy may drive participation, I do not want it to drive a wedge. However, revealing each of our implicit biases is exactly on the topic of race and bigotry. I agree with you and your contributors, let’s have a frank conversation without name calling, blaming , dodging or projecting. Can we talk honestly and dispassionately, accepting of others biases?. It is good to have passion for a subject but we must keep those feelings balanced in the gravity of the topic. We all make offhanded comments to make light of weighty subjects, and we should be able to tell coping with dark humor from a persons true feelings and most importantly, we should all be able to respect others true feelings and not make light of them or use them for political purposes.I love you Perry and truly know you as an honestly caring, deliberative and thoughtful human-being who I would trust my life to. Keep up the amazing work.

    1. Hey Tom…thx so much for your supportive words about myself + the blog! I appreciate your interest + comments.

      In response to your specific points, I have to admit I find it a little tricky to know where to start. After all, you seem to question how I use the word “some.”

      Regarding this blog, the main thing I try to do is look at both sides of each political equation. Therefore, I read about each issue in-depth from both Liberal + Conservative viewpoints. In addition, my voting record shows I’ve voted across the spectrum.

      Historically, one of the best things about democracy + the political process is that it’s allowed for a synthesis of ideas to be reached through debate. In my own way, this is a goal I hope to further by presenting both sides to a political situation. In addition, I welcome comments from across the political spectrum.

      Now I’ll try to respond to a couple of your specific points. Regarding climate change, its been asserted by some scientists + followers of science that the scientific theory of The Milankovitch Cycles need to be considered more regarding climate change. These thinkers accept the notion of climate change. They just want this accepted theory to be considered more in the discussion about it. Some of these scientists have claimed that the climate change debate has become politicized.

      In relation to Omar + her comments about Israel, again I will assert that she has a right to her opinion. And in addition, there must be compelling reasons as to why she was elected. As for the current debate about Israel, I will also state that it may be good if there’s a better resolution to the Palestinian situation someday. However…on the other hand, I respect the fact that supporters of Israel, a country that was born out of the horror of The Holocaust, are offended at Ilhan Omar’s comments about Israel. To these supporters of Israel, Omar’s comments seem harsh about a country that they love.

      Hopefully Tom, my comment here helps to shed new light on things. Take Care!

      1. There is enough evidence to state that we have departed the Holocene and entered the Anthropocene. Simply put, based on the evidence, mankind has forced the Earth climate system to depart from it’s natural cycle forcing (Milankovitch cycles included).

        http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/milankovitch-cycles

        Yes “Some” would say humans activity has no effect environment and that responsibility is only an opinion held by elitists.
        “Some” would say that the events of history are open to debate. Slavery, genocide, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the list is endless. In 2012 Israel conducted Operation Pillar of Defense in response to indiscriminant shelling of Israeli civilian areas by Hamas militants. Even though the U.N. described the shelling by Hamas as a war crime, there was also criticism of Israeli Defense Force tactics. Enter Ilam Omar’s 2012 tweet. This was a real event, not her opinion. Her tweet was her reaction to a another tragic cycle of violence. Opinions and reactions are granted. Whether we are reacting to melting glaciers and oceans choking in plastic, or to state sponsored violence and social media disinformation (the IDF used both against Hamas), people will react and some may form opinions. I am hoping people would react with constructive civil dialogue and express their opinions with decency and decorum. I don’t think Ilam Omar’s comments met that standard, but I have seen more deliberate, inflammatory demagoguery come from the current President. Do we hold a different standard for one ethnic group than for another? Say, those to the South of our boarder? There is nothing wrong, and probably everything right, with calling out bad behavior. You have to be fair and not be blind to errors of your favorite characters.

  8. In debate language, The Milankovitch cycle and the outrage over Islam Omar’s comments are red herrings. Meant to distract from the real topic.
    In this case, responsibility for environmental degradation and institutionalized notions of white supremacy.

    1. Hey Tom, I think you inadvertently validated my reason for posting this latest blog. 🙂

      What I’ve been saying regarding racism is that there are + have been different sides to the racism equation. Human history shows over the last 4,000 years that there have been periods of subjugation + discrimination practiced by many different cultures + races. In a sense, it’s somewhat endemic to the human condition. However, even though racism of various types have played out through history, this doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

      Personally, I’ve been involved in my life in many ventures, such as willfully engaging in school desegregation + voting for various liberal causes, that recognize that the treatment of people of color has not been ideal + needs to change. Therefore, I take personal pride in helping to correct historical wrongs. On the other hand, I, like many others, want to be careful of using language that may seem to isolate + criticize white people. After all, many important historical contributions have come from European culture. For instance, the contributions of a Mozart, John Locke, Isaac Newton, or Einstein come to mind.

      As you point out, the situation between Israel + Hamas shows that there often are two sides to situations. Action + then reaction. And yes, this cycle plays out historically. Although these cycles have been with us, it has been noted that the repetition of the cycles of violence does lessen at times. And this is good news.

      By realizing that racism has historically been a part of human nature, this doesn’t mean that one is saying we can’t try to be aware of ways to lessen negative treatment of others. Also, it doesn’t mean that we’re saying that since both sides do it…that its ok.

      It’s hard to say with certainty that Omar’s comments cause controversy just because of institutionalized notions of white supremacy. After all, Israel was a nation that was born out of the horror of the Holocaust. Because of the fact that the Jewish culture was isolated, targeted, + demeaned during the Holocaust, there are many people who support Israel defending itself. This doesn’t mean that Israel is above criticism. However, as you point out, Israel was attacked + was defending itself in 2012.

      Regarding the side topic of climate change, some who talk of the Milankovitch cycles appreciate it when these scientifically proven cycles are mentioned + interpreted in regards to the subject.

      Thx Tom!

  9. To bring the discussion back to the original topic……

    Since we are past the era of complete ignorance of other people, that the world has shrunk so much and is generally explored and available, and because modern concepts have changed our perspective, we need a meaningful definition of today’s racism.

    Racism is no longer fear of skin color or other physical traits. It is fear of culture, fear of losing ones own culture, that it becomes meaningless as it is threatened by another’s culture alien to ones own. And that fear is exploited in today’s political world.

    Today racism is a tool used more by liberals than by conservatives for political power. Any action deemed not progressive enough in modern terms, any skepticism of a political agenda can be derailed by the declaration of racism.

    The worst offenders are no longer the conservative ignorants but rather the liberal progressives who have adopted the practice of Identity Politics. They don’t concern themselves with individuals or what actually happens between people, it is about an amorphous set of preconceived moral judgements about groups and multi-cultural grievance polemics. Human one-on-one relations are unimportant, there is little fostering of togetherness when racism can promote separateness and power.

    We are certainly not going to end racism, whichever form it takes, by wallowing in it. We must turn to the ideals of the dignity of the individual above all to combat it.

    1. This country was founded by immigrants who recognized the value of this land where as the indigenous people did not. This nations indigenous people still possess vast tracts of land and enjoy an economic prosperity that is greater than it’s ever been. The sovereignty granted indigenous people gives them greater autonomy than the average American. Similarly, the immigrants who did much of the physical work to build this country, were adequately compensated given the economic and historic standards of the time. All liberals are socialist and out of touch with the capitalist ideals that founded our country. There is no institutional racism outside of the continued exploitation of ethic groups by liberals to secure a voting base.

      1. Hey Tom…its hard to know exactly what to say to the above comment except that its obviously satirical.

        To repeat, many of us find it hard to deny there’s been many barriers to people of color. In line with this, many of us have supported a whole host of measures to deal with this situation. Whether it’s support for the Supreme Court decision of Brown vs Board of Education, to the advancements of the 60’s that formally ended Jim Crow protections + promoted integration, to support of Affirmative Action at times, there are many measures that many of us have supported to redress past wrongs. In addition, there are issues that could be addressed to help the situation with the Indigenous peoples of America. One interesting proposal I read recently was to allow for a loosening of certain regulations on reservations to allow for more economic activity + development. In line with this, the type of development allowed would only be of the type that’s in accordance with the desires of the inhabitants of the particular reservation.

        Yes, the past is full of things that could be perceived as needing redressing. And yes, many of us agree that some of these issues need addressing. However Tom, the approach you’ve taken here, whereby you criticize mostly one side of the political spectrum, validates why I wrote the blog piece on racism. I wrote this piece to help create the ability to work against racism of all types.

        As even many who have voted Liberal have noted, we need to be careful of creating a situation where average white people feel that they are being isolated because of their heritage. To be truly sensitive, we need to be sensitive to all people…no matter what race.

  10. Nice to hear from you again PJ! Excellent points…

    Yes, it does seem that identity politics has moved us far away from the realm of the individual. And although all of us are part of a subgroup, we are after all…individuals. And as you eloquently talk of, maybe if we were to move a bit more back into looking at each person as an individual first, + a subgroup second, we can lessen some of the tensions associated with modern life.

    Interestingly, two of mankind’s most famous famous deep thinkers – Martin Luther King Jr. + the philosopher John Locke, extolled the ability for each person to be judged on the merit of the quality of their character.

    And yes, since I have voted progressive + Liberal at times, I can see your point about identity politics becoming a dominant force with Liberals recently. Like you say, we have to be careful of calling others racist when someone merely disagrees with another. Sadly…identity politics can also potentially create cynicism about helping out those subgroups that have been at a disadvantage.

    Hopefully Peter, we can help set the balance back to looking at each of us as an individual in addition to being a member of a subgroup. At that point, the American idea of us being a melting pot of different cultures can be talked of more. After all, the melting pot implies that many different cultures can maintain their own distinct heritage while still being melted into a unity that makes us distinctly American.

    Thx for stopping by PJ! 🙂

  11. Thanks as always Perry. I hope you can see there are many things that are not simple binary choices. It is rare that anything is that simple. Another dog whistle, “both sides”
    Is a hasty generalization that is meant to distract and yet everyone does it. I agree with you and your contributors that each person should be considered on their own merit and labeling groups is an oversimplification at best.
    So, I am mindful of statements that describe theological leanings as conservative or liberal. Philosophy and theology deal with reason. It is disingenuous to say one has a liberal or conservative philosophy, because science has does not have political leanings. Politicians use science, and everything else they can to further their agenda.

    1. You’re welcome Tom. Regarding your last comment, I have to admit that its interesting you call the usage of basic words or phrases “dog whistles.” Yes, I’m aware of the political concept of “dog whistling.” As many know, this is when someone is accused of using coded language to send a signal to a certain political subgroup. Obviously, you’re implying that the usage of commonly accepted language like “both sides” or “some” may amount to “dog whistling.”

      Regarding Liberal + Conservative + the concept of “both sides,” this is a distinction that has survived for a long time. Although there are different aspects to both Liberal + Conservative ideologies, the usage of the terms obviously has some relevancy in political discourse. If these terms didn’t have cultural + political relevance…then why would so many people use these terms so frequently on a daily basis?

      Do you hear another “dog whistle?” 🙂

      1. These days there is a great celebration of color, but this is not in any way progressive.

        Race is used to divide us. Isn’t it wrong to judge people by the color of their skin? Today it seems to be ok to choose someone because they are of color, but racist to choose someone because they are white?

        Our issues are not about race – its about class, about money and not skin color.

        But the agenda of those at the top is to keep us fighting, left and right, black and white so we’ll not notice that the real chasm is up and down, either money or not.

  12. PJ, Just to be clear, are you saying the prevailing income gap unfairly associates white men with income and power? Making it appear they have an advantage when they don’t? If so, I believe you are right. There are many white men held back by the same oppressive forces that trap other groups. Lack of education, credit, housing and geophysical locality. These people feel trapped and powerless. The divisive rhetoric espoused by wealthy groups to enjoin the common man as their base voters, is as cynical a manipulation as liberals courting ethnic voters. And you are right again, it’s all a dodge to divert attention away from the money that really has the power.

    1. The facts are that the real divisions that separate us are economic. Everyone of every color is suffering below the elite level.

      Today there are the 1%, the 9.9%, and the rest, the 90%. The 1% separated themselves from the 9.9% by sucking wealth from the 90%, now their aim is on that middle group who has, to date, held their own. We are fast heading towards a 1% vs 99% society if we do not wake up. Race has nothing to do with it and is only a distraction that keeps the pitchforks at bay, or pointed at the wrong targets.

      1. Fascinating points here!

        Interestingly…some are saying that if we want to lessen America’s rise in wealth inequality we shouldn’t just focus on wealth redistribution. They say we need to focus on the issue of wealth creation. After all, ever since the banking deregulation of the 90’s, America has gone thru what many call a “financialization of our economy.”

        By deregulating the division between investment banks, commercial banks, + derivatives, there’s been an explosion of what some call “casino capitalism.” Basically, this complex derivative culture has helped create an explosion of wealth for the finance class. And yes, this has not only helped contribute to a growth in wealth inequality + the Great Recession of 2008, its created as you both mention above, a sense of economic urgency + unfortunately, a desire to find scapegoats.

      2. Thx so much for the Bloomberg link PJ! The info regarding income stagnation for even the upper-middle class really gives one pause to think…

        When discussing the growth in wealth inequality its easy to forget that on a Macro level, an elephant in the room contributing to this is Keynesian debt-based economics. Since it was adopted globally in the 30’s, Keynes theory has led to not only much economic growth, but also much government intervention in the economy. As a result, many economic experts feel that aspects of the economy are now over-extended. In addition, whether its done on a conscious or sub-conscious level, there’s a tendency with Keynesian economics, due to its complexity, to allow plenty of wiggle room for certain politicians to talk a good talk about reducing wealth inequality, while at the same time implementing policies that lead to a growth in wealth inequality favoring the top 1%.

        Although there’s a fervent call, even to commenters on this blog, to call for higher taxes, the fact remains that not only do many liberal politicians who call for higher taxes realize that these taxes are hard to implement long-term, they also realize that we’re so over-extended that even if taxes are raised to extremely high levels, that it’d be hard to get our debt radically lowered. This is due to the fact that the debt-based level of Keynes theory leads to an ability for politicians to simply keep adding more + more debt costs without looking at the big picture down the road. In a sense, the brilliance + complexity of Keynesian economics is that it unwittingly helps promote an ever complex accounting system for debt that seems to keep growing.

        In addition + maybe more importantly, the increased ability to spur wealth creation with the financialization of our economy, is related somewhat to Keynesian economics. This is because misallocations created by the large growth in wealth to the upper 1% are often dealt with through government involvement in other areas of the economy.

        To deal with the effects of the financialization of the economy there have been some calls to restore the Glass-Steagall Act banking regulation that was implemented in the Depression. However…although this issue comes up, little is done to promote it.

        Whether its the inability to cut government debt due to rising pension costs, ever-expanding government budgets + subsidies to businesses, or the rising cost of earned entitlements, the fact remains that without Keynesian debt-based theory, we maybe wouldn’t have this level of debt + this level of wealth inequality.

        As for how do we address issues like these, some suggest we adopt a Libertarian approach that’d radically reduce the Keynesian aspect of economics. Supporters of this approach say that after a certain period of time, by cutting government debt + intervention, we’d eventually create a natural equilibrium that’d result in a more stable economy. Also, some say this would lessen wealth inequality. However…a critique to this approach is that the shock treatment of getting away from Keynesian theory would be incredibly hard to achieve politically since so many sectors of our lives are reliant upon high levels of debt.

        On the other end of the spectrum are those that call for more socialism to deal with wealth inequality rising. These ideas include massive tax increases + an increase in business regulations such as the Glass-Steagall Act. A critique to these theories is that these theories in the short term would lead to a slowing of economic growth which would reduce tax revenue.

        Maybe the best near-term solution is to realize that Keynes theory is here to stay to a degree. At best we can modify things + set goals to wean off certain aspects of Keynesian theories. Politically, the difficult part of this equation is that it’d require politicians to talk honestly + in-depth about economics. As we all know, this can be an unpopular approach. One of the last major politicians to try this approach on a regular basis was President Carter. As many remember though, Carter’s candor about talking in-depth about economics may have helped lead to him being one of the rare Presidents who wasn’t re-elected the past 80 years.

        Thx for stopping by PJ! 🙂

  13. 👍 good observations Perry.I drove by a home today proudly flying the bars and stars , no Stars and Stripes with it, makes you wonder

      1. Reply

        The First Official Flag of the Confederacy. Although less well known than the “Confederate Battle Flags”,the Stars and Bars was used as the official flag of the Confederacy from March 1861 to May of 1863. The pattern and colors of this flag did not distinguish it sharply from the Stars and Stripes of the Union. Consequently, considerable confusion was caused on the battlefield.

        The dialogue on race ends on this?
        PJ remarked, “Our issues are not about race – its about class, about money and not skin color”.
        I agree, the over representation of money is the issue.
        In every aspect of our lives, money is over represented. A court will not hear your case unless you have standing; a vested interest in the outcome. Those with money can hire better lawyers and afford any number of appeals and legal maneuvers. Thanks to the Citizens United ruling, legislators are elected to represent those with the most money. The delusional bravado of Independents is that they think they have independence. We the people, lack representation and are unfairly treated by the laws written. Get money out of politics, put regular people in.

  14. Hey Tom, many of us are aware of the flag of the Confederacy. However, I didn’t see the specific flag Larry was talking about. Therefore, I’m not gonna be presumptive enough to know for sure exactly what it looked like + whether it was one of the specific Confederate flags or some other variant.

    Regarding the dialogue on race, feel free to comment more + there’s a chance someone will respond. The dialogue doesn’t have to end…

    To summarize – the negative effects of racism of all kinds during all of human history are well known. As a starting point to reverse the negativity of racism of all types, it’d behoove us to look at the situation more from the angle of Dr. Martin Luther King – look first to the quality of one’s character + less at other factors.

    In relation to PJ’s excellent comment about money + class, he does have an incisive observation into why people latch onto issues like racism as an answer to understand the color-blind aspect of class struggle. Corporatism, corporate power, + the influence of money in politics are pervasive. However, in reality, there’s been a strong influence of money in politics since Corporate personage came of age through Supreme Court decisions in the 1800s.

    Yes, reversing Citizens United would most likely lessen corporate power in politics somewhat. However, even though the power of the finance class has grown, the last Presidential election saw an interesting downplay of corporate power. Both the Sanders campaign + the Trump campaign ran atypical campaigns that downplayed corporate power + their large donations. By relying on mostly small donations Sanders lessened his need to be beholden to large finance interests. And the Trump campaign, by saving money + relying on inexpensive social media, lessened his need to rely on powerful donors too.

    Interestingly, both Trump + Sanders campaigned on stemming the tide of Globalist Corporatism. The rationale to their campaigns was that corporations needed to be more concerned about providing jobs, products, + services to their country of origin. As we know, Trump’s embrace of the tariffs that America used to have, in addition to many other factors, has had an impact on the ideology of corporatism.

    1. Perry, What do the college admissions scandal, Jessie Smollett and Trump both claiming to be “exonerated” all have in common? $$$
      I want to follow up on one of your comments, “Some are saying that if we want to lessen America’s rise in wealth inequality we shouldn’t just focus on wealth redistribution”.
      “We shouldn’t just focus on wealth redistribution”? Why not?
      As I have said before, anytime you share power, those who currently hold power, will claim it is being taken from them and redistributed. The fact that there is an unsustainable (laws of physics) imbalance of money and power right now and it is getting worse, should be a clue. This imbalance has destroyed our constitutional structure intended to strike a balance between personal freedom, the right to prosperity and a safe and stable democracy. Don’t you get it? You can’t call it a democracy if only 1% have all the money = speech = power. Go ahead, defend the status quo under a fraudulent billionaire Republican and I will ask you to check the upbringing of every Dem to run for office. Check the ratio of pull themselves up by their boot straps and run for public office. Check the number of overcome all odds to be an advocate for the common good and run for public office, verses the number of already wealthy, getting taxpayer funds protect their wealth. Check it.
      Issue politics, race baiting and financial envy. Americans are being played by a multi trillion dollar machine.

      1. Wow Tom…you put a lot out there with this comment + you seem to be going in many directions at once here. Interestingly, you ask me if “I get it?” 🙂

        Anyways, if we just focus on wealth redistribution we’re ignoring the fact that the “financialization” of America’s economy is a big part of the equation when it comes to the 1% situation. The “financialization” of the economy, whereby wealth seems to be created in an easier way through the use of derivatives, has helped lead to an explosion of wealth at high levels.

        Interestingly, in this comment you talk with chagrin about a billionaire Republican – I assume you’re referring to Trump? However, the facts show that a Democratic President – Clinton, was in large part responsible for the finance deregulation that helped lead to the explosion of wealth for the upper levels. Therefore, it’d be safe to say that certain members of both political parties at high levels have benefitted from the “financialization” of our economy.

        Although raising taxes, raising the minimum wage, + other variables are definitely on the table to be considered so there can be a reduction of wealth inequality, it’d be wrong to ignore the fact that America has moved away from tangible assets in terms of creating + measuring wealth. In its place its created a system of complex + mathematically computed derivatives that are used in a hedging format to both create + protect wealth.

        And yes, many economic experts point to the explosion of derivatives as a reason for not only the rise in wealth inequality, but a rise in economic instability. When the great Recession of 2008 hit there was much concern that the billions in derivative contracts out there were being called in. This was then leading to a liquidity crisis as the world economy teetered. Hence…the bank bailout. Some are concerned it can happen again. To remedy this situation there have been calls to reinstate the Glass-Steagal Act that separates commercial + investment banking.

        Undoubtedly, raising taxes + the minimum wage, as well as other equalization efforts would have an effect of reducing wealth inequality. Those ideas are definitely on the table + should be looked at. However, calls for raising taxes sometimes turn out to be the political equivalent of pushing a boulder up a hill…very difficult.

        If we don’t look at wealth creation + how its grown the past 20 yrs, we’re at risk for looking at the trees instead of the forest. I address these issues in my blog piece from August of 2014 – “Wealth Inequality + The Middle Class:”

        https://economicpolicythoughts.com/2014/08/

  15. Ok, first, nice pivot to Slick Willie and the perversion of market stimulus ideas passed during his administration. Think of the LLC designation, amongst may others, that got either watered down or ginned up to be monstrosities. We all know legislation has many hands in the process. A leader is not as much to blame as those who support him; at least according to market forces. I’ve read your 2014 article and I have a renewed appreciation for the term the financialization of the economy. making money off investments rather than making things or selling services. You are right that this has benefited the rich because they have money or can leverage it with cheap interest rates. One of your readers responded , “Absent that tax, the other mechanism is war and revolution, which merely resets the counter to start over again”.
    Many, including yourself, have said that rising taxes or putting regulations on wealth is nigh impossible. Why? Because the rich would,… what? riot?
    You and others I’ve read, seem to suggest that getting rid of the Federal Reserve and letting the market do its thing, would be a better way to close the income gap. Let a few of those hedge fund managers jump from skyscrapers and cull the herd. I agree with your 2014 reader, resetting the system, total collapse, is the only management tool of a free market.
    We are an evolved species, we should start acting like it. You can demagogue all you want about how socialist that sounds, but there it is.
    There are so many places to address this. James Maddison, Alexander Hamilton and others felt quite strongly that one important way was equal representation in the formation of the law and equal treatment under the law. Right now the rich hold a monopoly and the poor are not represented or treated fairly.
    Investment in infrastructure, research and development, public and environmental health are being derided as socialist ideas because it benefits the majority. The rich just want a quick buck. Maybe that’s why they frequent prostitutes. Oh bucket. I don’t want a war or revolution to reset the economy. I’d rather people were smart and legislated it. Call me socialist if you want.

  16. Democratic Socialism has many positive aspects to it. As I noted in my article on infrastructure, I felt that the initial $200 Billion outlay that Trump proposed was too small + that it’d behoove him to take advice of Democratic leaders to raise that amount so the amount raised by Public-Private partnerships for infrastructure would not need to be that high.

    Therefore, my article on infrastructure shows a respect for aspects of Democratic Socialism:

    https://economicpolicythoughts.com/2018/03/

    Likewise, in my article on the homeless dilemma I noted that creating a government-run infrastructure program could provide temporary + permanent jobs for some of the current homeless population.

    Therefore, my article on the homeless also shows a respect for aspects of Democratic Socialism:

    https://economicpolicythoughts.com/2018/06/

    I do believe that raising taxes + the minimum wage would help lessen wealth inequality. That’s why I noted in my comment above that these things should be considered in regards to reducing wealth inequality.

    Socialism, as well as other political theories, exists on a continuum of thought. Democratic Socialism has provided much to many societies over the years. What concerns some with Socialism is when it starts to become a dominant mindset. In Britain, as well as the Scandinavian countries there have been times where they’ve backed off on Socialism because the balance between the Free-Market + Socialism has veered strongly towards the Socialism end. Likewise, America has done the same from time to time.

    The concern in countries that have aspects of Democratic Socialism, such as Europe + America, is that they don’t want to devolve into where Socialism is the dominant economic mindset. A glance at how Venezuela changed from a Democracy with a vibrant economy to a Socialist dictatorship is what gives pause to some.

    Socialist ideas, as well as Capitalist ideas exist well in a balance. As with many things, the question of where exactly to strike that balance is sometimes hard to find.

    In relation to the Federal Reserve Bank, it’s here to stay. While some may question policies such as QE at times + when it should raise interest rates, the fact remains that centralized banking has been a common feature of advanced societies for over 100 years.

    1. I want to dig into the sustainably harvested totally vegan (That means healthy and wholesome) , economic policy statements you served up in that last response. But first,
      Back to the question of race ,
      Should the United States pay reparations for slavery?
      And then what about reparations for the indigenous people ?
      And our Puerto Rican farmers treated differently than mainland farmers? They’re both considered producers of US produce. Puerto Rico pays federal taxes but does not have representation in Congress.
      I think that brings us back to the adjustment for income equality is equal representation creating a law and equal treatment under the law .

      1. Hello Anonymous + thx for stopping by!

        As for reparations, there have been political situations through history that have resulted in reparations being paid out. These range from President Reagan signing the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 that resulted in payments to victims of Japanese internment, to reparation payments being paid out to compensate for the horror of the Holocaust.

        Personally, I feel that if reparations were to be administered to both African-Americans + Native Americans, that it needs to be done in a bipartisan way instead of having it brought up as mostly a political tool used as an election-geared talking-point. If it’s agreed upon by members of both parties, it may work fine.

        Obviously…not every perceived historical injustice has resulted in the payment of reparations. In actuality, reparations are very rare. Mankind through recorded history has been involved in numerous wars. Therefore, if we were to track all of the wars + demand reparations from all sides involved, the list would be extremely long. A glance at the problems created by the Versailles Treaty after WW1 is what has caused some to be skeptical regarding reparations. After all, the reparations requested of Germany are often looked at as leading to their economic collapse + the rise of Hitler. In addition, since the list of perceived social injustice situations is also long, some are careful of looking to reparations as a way to address perceived injustice.

        To some…addressing the wrongs created by a dominant culture is best addressed by encouraging equality of opportunity. This is the viewpoint of Barack Obama. Interestingly, former President Obama felt that reparations to African-Americans wasn’t really a practical idea:

        https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/164713

  17. Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the rising threat of white nationalism was turned into a complete farce, thanks to Republican congressmen eager to appease their base, calling recent racial hate crimes; the tools of the ultra liberal left. To prove their point they did not invite experts in law, social psychology or demographics but instead invited two ultra-conservative commentators.
    Authoritative speakers from the Anti-Defamation League, Equal Justice Society, and the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law—as well as officials from tech giants Facebook and Google, were drown out by non-expert commentators, Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein and Turning Point USA spokeswoman Candace Owens. To make matters worse, after noting the number of horrific, racially motivated mass shootings, Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado invited Candice Owens to come to Colorado and go shooting with him.

    https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2019/04/09/hate-crimes-white-nationalism-candace-owens/

    Insensitive, tone deaf or flat out racist? What does racism mean to you?

    1. Throughout the industrialized world, demographics are changing due to economic influences. As populations become more affluent,
      education increases and population decreases. Wealthier countries populations have been decreasing except for immigration. These countries still need a workforce and that is now predominantly immigrants as the host population has decreased as its wealth has increased. As global markets shift labor to underdeveloped countries,
      developing countries are now facing the same population shifts. Our politicians should be addressing this for what it is, not making a mockery of it for political gain.
      And that politicking, how would you describe that? How would you describe their target audience?

    2. Hey Tom…welcome back!

      In regards to what racism means to me, that is something that I wrote about + posted back when I originally posted this article on March 5th. For me personally, the words below are an excellent summary of how I feel about racism. Therefore, to refresh your memory, I’ll re-post my last paragraph from my original blog piece:

      “For many of us, the concept of social progress is real and tangible. In line with this, many of us hope to envision a future where racism of any kind, whether it’s aimed at blacks, other minorities, and even whites, is seen as a concept of a bygone era. To further the cause of social progress it’s important to help America live up to its pledge to create a society where equal opportunity for all races is respected. In addition, it’d also behoove us to be careful of applying the racist tag to both situations and individuals too freely. After all, the negative effects of racism are shown not only with actual racist practices, it’s also shown by unjustly accusing people of racism when that may not be their intent.”

      1. there is one good thing about the oversimplification of this complex issue, it is that unity might be wrung from the lowest common denominator. I hope that unity would also keep the promise of democracy and bringing the greatest good for the greatest number.
        Your endearing comments above, and premiss for this thread find leave remind me of the partnership of Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney (see below). Hopeful.
        Ebony and Ivory

  18. Thx Tom for the well-written article by David Frum!

    Also…I remember this song! Wow, Stevie + Paul are so much younger!

    And yes, there were many songs back in the day that hinted at the commonality of us all. 🙂

    Regarding ways to cut through the name-calling on all sides of the political aisle in an attempt to truly reduce racism, its sometimes a heroic + difficult struggle. This is because the search for commonality on issues like race can get clouded by the fact that political issues are often grouped together in a political package. This political packaging process, with its focus on personalities + dogma, clouds some from coming together on specific issues.

    As the liberal political pundit Van Jones discovered, reaching across the aisle to achieve criminal justice reform for people of color resulted in him being called a sell-out by some on the left. As a longtime liberal black activist with a deep knowledge of how the criminal justice system makes life for blacks harder, Jones has been supportive of prison reforms that the GOP + President Trump heralded + that many Democrats too supported. Although he’s had to wade through a torrent of name-calling from some on the left, Jones realizes that the dream of criminal justice reform, long a top issue amongst liberals, is now becoming a reality for many in the black community.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2019/03/01/cpac-2019-van-jones-praises-conservatives-criminal-justice-reform/3029530002/

    http://time.com/5486560/prison-reform-jared-kushner-kim-kardashian-west/

  19. I believe that capitalism and socialism can exist together with the right balance. Politicians in my opinion are the biggest problem in this factor. That is that most cronie capitalism is subsidized by the government that definitely do not need it and at the same time bankrupt the social programs that have been put into place like social security.

    These are the companies that get exemptions to use bad labor practices or destroy the environment for personal gain. When done right, Capitalism raises all boats in the harbor regardless of size, or simply put, raises the standard of living for everyone in society directly, or indirectly. Capitalism would do well to get back to its roots where the “mom and pop” businesses of the world when they were the backbone that made the country so great. Corporations would do well to treat employees well and with dignity but let’s not lose ourselves in a Marxist trait that says labor should own business. There is something called a “co-op” that already accounts for this environment if you choose to work in it. Otherwise, let’s not forget that it’s the entrepreneur that:
    1. Has the gift of an idea to be used that people have a desire for. Intellectual rights.
    2. Most entrepreneurs do not inherit a silver spoon and therefore, have to take out a substantial amount of monetary risk that needs to succeed moving forward. The business man filed bankruptcy more than anyone else.

    3. This person is responsible to make sure their investors are paid or lose everything.

    None of these weigh on the laborer as risk or liability and therefore, do not equate to equal pay that most socialist complain about.

    I also feel socialism in some forms are also needed for elderly, disabled and areas that improve our communities quality of living. It should never be meant to be enabling the population. Again, politicians give socialism a bad name by bankrupting social security and Medicare. Now they want to control 1/5th of the economy with Medicare for All? Does this not concern most people? The VA system for all or worse is what this will amount to. My other concern is health is a big part of ours and our families livelihood. Are we willing to depend on our government for this given their track record?

    Ultimately, they can co exist, but it’s up to us to monitor and manage the extremes in which our government implements these two different ideologies into our communities.

  20. Now that I’m on the right article, our track record on racism has been terrible historically but with that said it does not make America a bad place that we live in today comparatively.
    Of course this is based on our brutal history that is now taught, but remember, we have a glorious history that isn’t quite taught anymore of great things we have done for the world. With that said, I challenge anyone to find a country as diverse as ours that is more tolerant than we are of minorities. France, China, Russia and many other countries are arguably as much, if not more racist than our own.

    The term “racism” is clear in the dictionary but there are groups that have tried to change the definition through publishers to broaden the ability to more easily accuse others with a different ideology than their own. I condemn racism to the fullest extreme but this new loose interpretation of the word “racism” is really losing its impact on society as a whole.

    Call it out when you see true racism, ostricize those who have this entrenched characteristic and the biggest way to correct it is to use it in proper context; not because you disagree with ones ideas that are not in line with your own.

    Every race in every part of the world has oppressed another race at one point and time and it shouldn’t be just unique to our own. This will be a global issue until we realize that “individual character” will be the deciding factor of our humanity.

    1. Jeff…your points on racism are so very wise! Thx for posting this balanced analysis.

      I wrote this piece to encourage a balanced approach to racism that moves beyond the current political context in America. As you say, we currently have a situation whereby people have been taught about racism in a kind of “closed-loop” way. What I mean by that is that what’s being inferred in current teaching is that racism is not really a global phenomenon, but instead rather unique to the American experience.

      As you eloquently point out, the historical truth about racism through the centuries is different than what some say now exists in America. And yes, although American history has been tainted by racism, there are many other nations through the globe tainted by it too. And yes, as you point out, America has truly moved so far away from the type of systemic racism we used to have, that its use as a term is much different than it was.

      Ultimately, you’re so correct that the “individual character” of each is important to conquer racism. Although certain aspects of socialism have lasting validity, it’d help us to look to the philosophy of John Locke more these days. After all, Locke’s theory of personal responsibility of the individual helps us take responsibility to move away somewhat from identity politics + move the dialogue back to what we ultimately have the most control of…ourselves.

      Thx again Jeff!

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