If we want to improve Black (and all) lives in America

With the need to improve the lot of Black and all lives in America, there are some things we can do and stop doing legislatively. And, there are things we can do as citizens. We must play a huge role in being civil to each other and tasking our leaders to lead, rather than divide with demonizing comments. The latter serves no purpose other than appealing to an overzealous and bigoted faction in our country.

Legislatively, we can ask several state governments to reconsider Jim Crow like Voter ID laws. Many ask what is wrong with requiring Voter ID? Two reasons. First, it disproportionately affects older Blacks because of Jim Crow laws, may not have legitimate birth certificates or other forms of ID. Second, the more unconstitutional parts of those laws reside beneath the ID part. The intent of these laws is to suppress voting, which is scoffed at by the enactors, but where greater risk of Voter fraud occurs is in absentee ballots, but they are usually untouched.

Additionally, we can improve the minimum wage across the country, but in lieu of that, do so in states. There have been bipartisan efforts that have successfully increased the state minimum wage  above the federal minimum in 31 states. There is a movement to demonstratively increase the federal minimum wage by one of the parties to $15 per hour. While that may prove difficult, we need to at least move to a living wage for one person which is roughly $10.10. And, we should index it.

Further, we could leave the Affordable Care Act intact and make necessary improvements. What is not talked about enough are the many successes of this law which has increased the number of insured people by over 20 million. This law could be fully implemented in the remaining 19 states, who have not expanded Medicaid. This would help everyone making less than 138% of the poverty level, as well as their state’s economy and rural hospitals. As a benefits actuary by trade, I fear the elimination of the ACA would throw us into a recession, with money (used by these 20 million plus people) that has been freed up some by ACA for spending, instead going into uninsured healthcare costs.

Finally, we need to invest more in our communities. Job retraining, social and economic infrastructure, road and bridge maintenance and building, etc. are needed and will spawn more economic activity. This investment will also spawn hope. We finally passed the Highway Trust funding last fall, but it was not enough and about four years tardy. Our economy is doing pretty well, but this would have been accretive to the economy and helped areas of need and blight.

However, as citizens, we need to exercise our power with each other and our leaders. We must listen to hear more and not listen to respond. We must be more informed from reputable sources. We must not tolerate bigotry and shine spotlights on such behavior. We must ask the same of our leaders. And, we must not vote for leaders who espouse hateful bigotry and demonize people as a means to get elected. We cannot unite around bigotry. We cannot unite around fear.


12 thoughts on “If we want to improve Black (and all) lives in America

  1. Thanks Hugh. It would be nice if something good starts to happen out of these tragedies, but my strong belief is collaboration will be crushed in the echo chambers. We must get people out of those chambers and talking to one another.

    • That may be easier said then done. But I know you will keep trying! If Lasch is right, many of us have adopted the “survival mode” which closes us off to one another even more than was the case previously. But, as I said, you will keep trying: you are an inspiration to us all.

      • Thanks Hugh. I was watching David Brooks on PBS Newshour and he noted that retrenching away from a global economy and retrenching into our little silos, is the exact opposite prescription of what is needed. When I told my evangelical sister what a good thing trading with Cuba and Iran is, she was very surprised given her news sources and political rhetoric she hears. Our young adult niece fully understood about commerce breaking down barriers and actually completed my sentence about “keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.” When my sister asked should we be scared about Iran, I answered of course, but it is better to watch them from up close than to leave them to their own devices, plus the median age is 35 and the younger folks are crying out for a more global economy.

      • Well said. I hope you don’t think I espouse the “survival mentality.” I simply report what others have said — though I do suspect it is true. But your point is well taken: it is precisely the opposite of the stance we should be taking.

      • I took your meaning as you intended. I replayed a few times today in the car a song by Elvis Costello whose chorus is “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”

    • Erika, very true. I have witnessed many arguments in person and online, where the two parties agreed more than they did not, but were not listening to the other person. The key to all of this, as you know more than most people, is finding areas of agreement. Thanks, Keith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.