The Republican Choice – “How a party spent decades making itself white.”
The political wisdom is ingrained at this point: Black and brown people don’t vote for Republicans. From that principle flows all manner of Republican strategy… The GOP’s whitewashed political reality is no accident — the party has repeatedly chosen to pursue white voters at the cost of others decade after decade. Since the mid-20th century, the Republican Party has flirted with both the morality of greater racial inclusion and its strategic benefits. But time and again, the party’s appeals to white voters have overridden voices calling for a more racially diverse coalition, and Republicans’ relative indifference to the interests of voters of color evolved into outright antagonism.
Racism Is the Biggest Reason the U.S. Safety Net Is So Weak – “Harvard economist Alberto Alesina, who died last [month], found that ethnic divisions made the country less effective at providing public goods.”
“Opponents of redistribution in the United States have regularly used race-based rhetoric to resist left-wing policies… Within the United States, race is the single most important predictor of support for welfare. America’s troubled race relations are clearly a major reason for the absence of an American welfare state.”
To some, this might seem like a confirmation of right-wing ideas that diversity is bad for a country. But although it might help explain the success of homogenous countries such as Sweden and South Korea, Alesina’s theory is much more subtle than it might appear. As he explained in a 2003 paper, the key isn’t how similar the inhabitants of a country might appear on paper, but how much they see themselves as one people; fractionalization is in the mind, rather than in the genes. That implies that the way forward for the U.S. and other diverse countries, to become more equal and prosperous, is to de-emphasize racial and ethnic divisions and promote a shared identity.
Which brings us back to the present. The activists behind the Black Lives Matter movement have always connected its aims to working-class, egalitarian politics. The platform of the Movement for Black Lives, as it is formally known, includes demands for universal health care, affordable housing, living wage employment and access to education and public transportation. Given the extent to which class shapes black exposure to police violence — it is poor and working class black Americans who are most likely to live in neighborhoods marked by constant police surveillance — calls to defund and dismantle existing police departments are a class demand like any other.
But while the movement can’t help but be about practical concerns, the predominating discourse of belief and intention overshadows those stakes: too much concern with “white fragility” and not enough with wealth inequality. The challenge is to bridge the gap; to show new supporters that there’s far more work to do than changing the way we police; to channel their sympathy into a deeper understanding of the problem at hand.
To put a final point of emphasis on the potential of the moment, I’ll leave you with this. In a 1963 pamphlet called “The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook,” the activist and laborer James Boggs argued for the revolutionary potential of the black struggle for civil rights. “The strength of the Negro cause and its power to shake up the social structure of the nation,” Boggs wrote, “comes from the fact that in the Negro struggle all the questions of human rights and human relationships are posed.” That is because it is a struggle for equality “in production, in consumption, in the community, in the courts, in the schools, in the universities, in transportation, in social activity, in government, and indeed in every sphere of American life.”
“an underappreciated benefit of social democracy is it might diminish people’s incentive to exaggerate and lie for a living. ‘grift’ is a macroeconomic, not just a moral, failing. most people would do better things if they were under less stress and/or knew better things to do.” –@interfluidity
“This is a really great example of the culture around social welfare distribution in the US. A 0.5% error rate of overpayment merits front page headlines. That *20%* of people eligible for food stamps or the EITC don’t receive them is given little heed.” –@pamela_herd
“Still waiting to see a big in-depth news story about how much enhanced unemployment benefits are helping lower wage workers. There are literally millions of people receiving benefits over 100% of their normal income.” –@wsbgnl
“Just a handful of anecdotes via twitter replies of the impact of what @MattBruenig
calls the ‘superdole’ — much bigger unemployment benefits + $1,200 checks — approved by Congress in March” –@JStein_WaPo
“Policy ideas that redefine the rules of the game in order to win are really underrated. Want to increase GDP? Increase the population. Want to end illegal immigration? Make it legal. Want to end poverty? Give everyone money.” –@albrgr
“The 3 rules of pandemic economics: 1. Get families cash, or people will die. 2. Get companies cash, or firms will die. 3. Stop the pandemic, or there will be a lot of death no matter how much cash you spend.” –@DKThomp
COVID-19 Broke the Economy. What If We Don’t Fix It? – “Instead of reopening society for the sake of the economy, what if we continued to work less, buy less, make less—for the sake of the planet?” (via)
“Whenever there’s a crisis, everybody says we have to work more. Actually no, at the moment you want to save the world, work less,” said David Graeber, an American anthropologist and the author of Bullshit Jobs, a book that argues that many jobs that we currently work are meaningless.
As a society, we place moral value on working. “We really do believe that if you’re not out working hard you don’t deserve anything. You’re a bad person,” Graeber said. “But that morality is perversely destroying the planet.”
“in the old class analysis the people workers resent, who boss them and underpay them, are capitalists. @davidgraeber points out that for most workers, it’s managers and professionals who directly boss and underpay, rather problematizing contemporary ‘left’ political parties.” –@interfluidity
U.S. institutions were vulnerable to Trump’s attack because public trust had been quietly ebbing away from them for some time. For more than three decades after World War II, growth was not just rapid but broadly shared, at least among whites, enabling most Americans, even those without college degrees, to find good jobs. But instead of spreading those gains even more widely, and cutting African Americans into the American dream, U.S. economic institutions became less inclusive over the last three decades, and politics became more beholden to moneyed interests. Endemic racism persisted, and economic inequality deepened, producing radically disparate outcomes for different groups of Americans. The financial crisis of 2008, and the subsequent bailout for banks, only accelerated the trend toward inequality and deepened distrust in Congress, the judiciary, the Federal Reserve, and regulatory agencies.
So why don’t authorities always ratchet up the repression until people give up? Why do they sometimes give in to protest movements? The key to understanding that is also the key to understanding the true long-term power of social movements. Movements, and their protests, are powerful because they change the minds of people, including those who may not even be participating in them, and they change the lives of their participants.
“I cannot believe that we literally witnessed more progress being made from a week of riots than a decade of electoral politics, we are witnessing massive voter suppression & election rigging in real time and so many of you are STILL on some ‘wait til november…’ shit. GROW UP” –@themermacorn
“Noam Chomsky on the legacy of Bernie Sanders’ campaign: “It’s the constant activism that is reshaping the array of choices, issues, policies. You don’t win by snapping your fingers. Some things work, some things fail, and you pick up and go on from there.” –@jacobinmag
“For the political time junkies – I wrote a long blog post about the possibilities of a Biden ‘reconstructive’ presidency. Hint: it’s about social movements, not just the president.” –@julia_azari
Never The Same – “Things are different now. They started to change in 2008, when Congress and the Federal Reserve threw unprecedented money at the economy to keep it from collapsing. They’ve done it again this year with even more money. Trillions and trillions of dollars. It was a huge debate in 2008. It’s much less controversial today.”
My theory is that once a new kind of stimulus is tasted it becomes a permanent feature of how downturns are handled. This isn’t about the technical details of stimulus. It’s not even about whether you think it works. It’s about the perceptions of struggling people who demand something be done, and their knowledge of what can be done…
I don’t care whether you think those things are right, wrong, moral, or will have ugly consequences. That’s a different topic. All that matters here is that people’s perception of what policymakers are capable of doing when the economy declines has been shifted higher in a huge way. And it’s crazy to think those new expectations won’t impact policymakers’ future decisions.
It’s one thing if people think policymakers don’t have the tools to fight a recession. But now that everyone knows how powerful the tools can be, no politician can say, “There’s nothing we could do.” They can only say, “We chose not to do it.” Which few politicians – on either side – wants to say when people are losing jobs.
American workers need a raise. But it is not enough to transfer wealth from the rich to the desperate. In confronting the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood that a sustainable improvement in the quality of most American lives required an overhaul of the institutions of government.
“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America,” Roosevelt said in 1936. “What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”
Now as then, the profound inequities of American life are the result of laws written at the behest of the wealthy and public institutions managed in their interest. Now as then, the nation’s economic problems are rooted in political problems. And now as then, the revival of broad prosperity — and the stability of American democracy — require the imposition of limits on the political influence of the wealthy. It requires the government to serve the interests of the governed.
Americans especially need to confront the fact that minorities are disproportionately the victims of economic inequality — the people most often denied the dignity of a decent wage. That inequity is the result of historic and continuing racism, and it should be addressed with the same sense of fierce urgency that has motivated the wave of protests against overt displays of racism.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a civil-rights leader who emphasizes the foundational importance of economic justice, has pointed to the constitution that North Carolina adopted after the Civil War. The document affirms the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But African-Americans were among the state’s legislators for the first time, and the former slaves got another principle enshrined as well: that workers are entitled to “the fruits of their own labor.” They understood that economic security makes other freedoms meaningful.
It is time to ensure that all Americans can share in the nation’s prosperity.
You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument – “The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?” (via)