The psychology of wealth can make you less compassionate – a reprise about an interesting study

After being reminded of this study in a comment on my last post, I decided to republish a post from 2013. I found it fascinating reading about the comparative psychology of the haves and have-nots.

This title may seem strange, but it is based on a study completed by the University of California at Berkeley and University of Toronto. The folks who scoff at this title and study authors would also be the ones who would say “what would you expect from a study done in UC-Berkeley.” Yet, the principal author Paul Piff, noted in the LA Times “I regularly hear the Berkeley idiot scientist who’s finding what they expect to find. Let me tell you, we didn’t expect to find this. Our findings apply to both liberals and conservatives. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re wealthy, you’re more likely to show these patterns of results.” Piff was interviewed along with Dr. Dacher Keltner on a PBS Newshour story by Paul Solman last month called “Exploring the Psychology of Wealth, ‘Pernicious’ Effects of Economic Inequality” which can be found with this link http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june13/makingsense_06-21.html.

The study concluded that people with wealth, whether it was real wealth or created in a game format, showed rather conclusively a higher propensity to have a sense of entitlement to get more than their fair share. It is not saying that every wealthy person would act this way and there are many exceptions, yet there was clear evidence to show a propensity to use their position to cut corners and gain further advantage. It also noted there tended to be a higher degree of compassion and fairness by those with less for others in similar or worse circumstances. In other words, it was harder for those who “have” to walk in the shoes of the “have-nots.”

I observe this often in trying to explain the needs of homeless or impoverished people. No matter how hard I try, there are audiences who can not be dissuaded from their pre-conceived notion that homeless or impoverished people are not deserving of help and that they should just get a job. This is one reason I always emphasize that 84% of the homeless families, an agency I work with helps, have jobs. We are also seeing it manifest in the United States with the increasing divide in wealth between those with and without and the decline in economic class mobility.

But, don’t take my word for it. I would encourage you to click on the link above and judge for yourself. The aforementioned study observed the following in multiple tests:

– At a four-way intersection, drivers of the priciest cars were 4 times more likely to fail to correctly yield the right of way than other drivers;

– In a waiting room with a jar of candy where the participants were all told the candy was being saved for a children’s meeting soon following, the wealthier participants took candy from the jar 2 times more frequently than non-wealthy participants;

– In a dice game to add up the results of dice rolls, with the person with largest dice tally winning $50, the wealthier participants were 4 times more likely to cheat; and

– Similar results were also found on other exercises around reporting of incorrect change to a small financial transaction or getting an incorrect grade on an exam when the participant knew they earned less. The wealthier participants reported the infraction in their favor fewer times.

The study went further to show the results of a weighted Monopoly game. One person would get to roll two dice to the other’s one, the same person would also get $2,000 to the other person’s $1,000 and get to use the car game piece to the other person’s lesser token. What the study observed, the person in the game who had the most money and best opportunity to win, used directive comments that showed a sense of entitlement to their success. When the study flipped the weighting, the person who in real life was less affluent, but who now had the upper hand in the game, would also exhibit some of the same traits of entitlement.

The troubling part of the study, is people with wealth, whether real or contrived, exhibited a sense of entitlement to their wealth. It is the same reason when I wrote a few months ago that Warren Buffett said he was also “lucky” to be as wealthy, it bothered people. He said he worked hard, but he was born a white male in America, which gave him a leg up. By the way, Buffett is definitely one of the exceptions to the rule about compassion.

Yet, there is hope. Dr. Keltner, who heads the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkeley noted: “One of the things that wealth and money does is it comes with a set of values, and if you want a deeper ideology, and one of them is, generosity is for suckers and greed is good. But it turns out, there are a lot of new data that show, if you’re generous, and charitable, and altruistic, you will live longer, you will feel more fulfilled, you will feel more expressive of who you are as a person. You probably will feel more control and freedom in your life.”

The above translates to business success, as well. In the highly acclaimed business book by Jim Collins called “Built to Last,” his team indicated that one of the reasons companies are much more successful than even their best competitors is called “Be more than profits.” These companies were terrific community citizens and invested their money and people’s time in needs of the community. As a result, people valued working there and the community was more supportive of the companies, in both good time and bad.

So, the key takeaways from this study to me are (1) do not let what you own define you, (2) do your best to understand what people in need go through – if you have not been there, you really don’t know what it’s like, (3) there is a huge psychic income to helping others and (4) doing the right thing can only be viewed in a good light. You will be on the “side of the angels.” Note, this post relied on several news articles in addition to the PBS Newshour piece mentioned above – LATimes,org, Dailycal.org and Highandernews.org.

If you still think the election was rigged…

The following email was sent to the distribution list of North Carolina State Senator Jeff Jackson, a Democrat. I have found Jackson to be a very reasonable voice in today’s times. This email is an exemplar of his approach.

“Last week I sent an email that bluntly stated:

‘The election was not rigged. The elected officials saying otherwise are being intentionally dishonest.’

And I got a lot of replies from people saying, “Are you SURE it wasn’t rigged? How do you know? Where’s the proof? I heard that it was, so maybe we should look into that.”

Ok, so let me double back for a minute.

If you honestly aren’t sure whether or not the election was rigged, the best way I know to address that is to provide a wide variety of sources on the subject.

So here are 44 sources – a number of them supporters of the president – for you to consider.

In my view, if you genuinely believe that the election may have been stolen, you owe it to yourself to at least check your beliefs against what you see below.

(And if, upon review, you determine that the evidence does not support a conclusion that the election was rigged, the next step would be to cast a skeptical eye toward the sources that repeatedly tried to convince you otherwise.)

‘But Jeff, why should I believe anything you say?’

Don’t. Check the sources.

‘But Jeff, these sources are all corrupt and lying and should be ignored!’

Ok – but just know that when people accuse you of believing a conspiracy theory, this is why.

It’s because – in the face of an immense number of fact checks, Republican judges, and Republican elected officials – you’re not willing to consider the possibility that you may have been misled.

That’s conspiracy theory territory, and you should just know that going in.

For everyone else, feel free to share this and let’s see if we can reach a few people. (If you’d prefer to share in article form, you can do that here.)

It might not work, but we should at least try.

– Sen. Jeff Jackson

*************************************

44 Sources


1. “Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud” – AP
https://apnews.com/…/barr-no-widespread-election-fraud-b1f1…

2. “Trump’s claims of vote rigging are all wrong” – AP
https://apnews.com/…/election-2020-ap-fact-check-joe-biden-…

3. “First Statewide Audit of paper ballots in Georgia upholds results of Presidential race” – Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger (R)
https://sos.ga.gov/…/historic_first_statewide_audit_of_pape…

4. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” – Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & The Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees
https://www.cisa.gov/…/joint-statement-elections-infrastruc…

5.“The minimal number of criminal investigations that have so far come out of the November vote further reinforce the absence of sweeping vote fraud schemes.” – Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/bdbe541c-42de-11eb-b0e4-0f…

6. “In a remarkable show of near-unanimity across the nation’s judiciary, at least 86 judges — ranging from jurists serving at the lowest levels of state court systems to members of the United States Supreme Court — rejected at least one post-election lawsuit filed by Trump or his supporters.” – Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/e3a57224-3a72-11eb-98c4-25…

7. “It’s Official: The Election Was Secure” – Brennan Center for Justice
https://www.brennancenter.org/…/its-official-election-was-s…

8. “As former Republican Members of Congress who swore an oath to the Constitution, we believe the statements by President Trump alleging fraud in the election are efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election and are unacceptable” – Letter from ***31 Former Republican Members of Congress***
https://thehill.com/…/525161-former-gop-lawmakers-call-on-t…

9. “To win, Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands. There is no evidence of that so far.” – Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/…/this-election-result-wont-be-overturn…

10. “U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann — a Republican and Federalist Society member in central Pennsylvania — compared the campaign’s legal arguments to ‘Frankenstein’s Monster,’ concluding that Trump’s team offered only ‘speculative accusations,’ not proof of rampant corruption.” – AP News
https://apnews.com/…/election-2020-donald-trump-pennsylvani…

And you can read the case for yourself here: https://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/si…/pamd/files/20-2078_202.pdf

11. “A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, it undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon. Every American should have his or her vote counted.” – Will Hurd (R), Representative of Texas’s 23rd District
https://thehill.com/…/524738-republicans-rebuke-trump-over-…

12. “STOP spreading debunked misinformation…This is getting insane” – Adam Kinzinger (R), Republican Representative of Illinois’s 16th District
https://twitter.com/RepKinzinger/status/1324503564891414528…

13. “The scheme by members of Congress to reject the certification of the presidential election makes a mockery of our system and who we are as Americans.” – Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R)
https://www.chicagotribune.com/…/ct-republican-senators-ele…

14. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) Shoots Down Trump Legal Team’s ‘Rigged Election’ Claims: “Absolutely Outrageous” – Fox News
https://radio.foxnews.com/…/sen-joni-ernst-r-ia-shoots-dow…/

15. “[The president] is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt or stolen — doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destruction and dangerous passions.” – Sen. Mitt Romney (R), Utah
https://twitter.com/MittRomney/status/1324763757105602561…

16. “President Trump’s legal team has not presented evidence of the massive fraud which would have had to be present to overturn the election. I voted for President Trump but Joe Biden won.” – Sen. Bill Cassidy (R), Louisiana
https://twitter.com/SenBillCass…/status/1331013512605405184…

17. “Republican Sen. Pat Toomey calls Trump’s campaign to overturn Pennsylvania election ‘completely unacceptable’” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
https://fusion.inquirer.com/…/pat-toomey-pennsylvania-elect…

18. “Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer (R) says widespread voter fraud not proven in 2020 election” – KETV
https://www.ketv.com/…/i-will-uphold-my-oath-nebra…/35132772#

19. “Former GOP election law attorney says widespread voter fraud doesn’t exist” – Fox Denver
https://kdvr.com/…/former-gop-election-law-attorney-says-w…/

20. “There is not and has not been any credible evidence of significant fraud in the 2020 election” – Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/there-is-not-has-not-been…/

21. “Georgia election: Trump voter fraud claims and others fact-checked” – BBC
https://www.bbc.com/news/55561877

22. “Trump’s made-up claims of fake Georgia votes” – AP News
https://apnews.com/…/ap-fact-check-donald-trump-georgia-ele…

23. “Fact-checking Trump’s false claims about Pennsylvania’s election before his supporters attacked the Capitol” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
https://fusion.inquirer.com/…/trump-washington-rally-pennsy…

24. “Trump tweet wrongly suggests there were defects with Michigan voting machines” – Detroit Free Press
https://www.freep.com/…/trump-fact-check-defect…/3902951001/

25. “The Times Called Officials In Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud” – New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/…/…/10/us/politics/voting-fraud.html

26. “A Georgia Election official debunked Trump’s claims of voter fraud point by point” – New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/…/politics/trump-georgia-election-f…

27. “Pennsylvania pours cold water on Trump’s voter fraud claims” – The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/…/first-thing-pennsylvania-pour…

28. “Here’s the reality behind Trump’s claims about mail voting” – AP
https://apnews.com/…/virus-outbreak-joe-biden-election-2020…

29. “2020 election ‘most secure in American history,’ federal election security officials say” – Fox News
https://www.foxnews.com/…/2020-election-secure-history-fede…

30. “Presidential Election ‘Most Secure’ In History, Top Security Experts At DHS Say” – HuffPost
https://www.huffpost.com/…/2020-election-most-secure-dhs_n_…

31. “Fired director of U.S. cyber agency Chris Krebs explains why President Trump’s claims of election interference are false” – 60 Minutes, CBS
https://www.cbsnews.com/…/election-results-security-chris-…/

32. “Trump’s own officials say 2020 was America’s most secure election in history” – Vox
https://www.vox.com/…/2020-elections-most-secure-dhs-cisa-k…

33. “Governor Wolf, officials say Pennsylvania had a fair and secure election” – MSN
https://www.msn.com/…/governor-wolf-officials-s…/ar-BB1cwXYG

34. “No, Dominion voting machines did not delete Trump votes.” – New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/…/no-dominion-voting-machines-did-n…

35. “Georgia officials rebutted Trump’s claim that Dominion voting machines failed in ‘Republican strongholds.’” – NYT
https://www.nytimes.com/…/05/us/polit…/dominion-georgia.html

36. “Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) went on CNN and said the presidential election wasn’t ‘rigged’” – Springfield News Leader
https://www.news-leader.com/…/missouri-senator-…/3910497001/

37. “Sen. Cornyn (R) says he’s seen no evidence of voter fraud” – The Daily Sentinel
https://www.dailysentinel.com/…/article_c1250852-0687-5d3b-…

38. “No evidence shows Biden benefitted from voter fraud, South Dakota Senator John Thune (R) says” – Argus Leader
https://www.argusleader.com/…/thune-no-evidence…/6190130002/

39. Georgia official Raffensperger: “We had safe, secure, honest elections” – 60 Minutes, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/…/georgia-official-raffensperger-w…/

40. “Fact-Checking the Congressional Debate on Ratifying the Election Results” – NYT
https://www.nytimes.com/…/fact-check-electoral-certification

41. Arizona Supreme Court upholds election challenge dismissal: “In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed.”
https://apnews.com/…/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-a…

42. Fact check: After hand count audits of the vast majority of the ballots in the state, no evidence for claims Arizona’s results were marred by fraud – NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/…/electoral-college-ce…/ncrd1253058…

And you can see the hand count results for yourself here: https://azsos.gov/…/2020-general-election-hand-count-results

43. “Arizona’s GOP AG rejects voter fraud claims” – Axios
https://www.axios.com/arizona-republican-ag-rejects-voter-f…

44. From a presidential commission to Trump-nominated judges, here’s who has rebuked Trump’s voter fraud claims – Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/…/01/03/voter-fraud/

Racial inequality has deteriorated further with COVID-19

In an article in The Charlotte Observer a few days ago by Gene Nichol called “What the pandemic has done to racial inequality in North Carolina,” racial inequality has become even worse. Nichol is a contributing columnist and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, with a focus on poverty. The article can be linked to below, but here are a few key paragraphs:

“It doesn’t happen as often as one might wish. But, on occasion, you can still be surprised by what someone says. For example, earlier this month, the Donald Trump-appointed Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, explained to the Senate Banking Committee:

‘Disparate economic outcomes on the basis of race, have been with us for a very long time, they are a long-standing aspect of our economy, and there is a great risk that the pandemic is making them worse. Because the people who are most affected by the job losses are people in relatively low-paying parts of the service industries that happen to skew more to minorities and women, there is a real concern that if we don’t act as quickly as possible to support these people then we’ll leave behind an even more unequal situation. We need to do as much as we can to avoid exacerbating inequality.’

The traditional patterns of racial economic subordination Powell referenced have long dominated every component of life in North Carolina. Today, for example, twice as many African-American Tar Heels live in poverty as whites. The numbers are even worse for Black kids – nearly three times as many are poor as whites.

Racial income disparity is huge. But racial wealth disparity astonishes. Black households, on average, claim less than a tenth of the economic assets of white Tar Heel families. Racial minorities are dramatically more likely, in North Carolina, to be unemployed, uninsured, food insecure, housing insecure, and trapped in low wage work. Such defining disparities have existed throughout the entirety of our state’s history. Radical, systemic, disproportional racial economic impact, as Chairman Powell put it, has ‘been with us for a very long time.’

And then came the tragic, terrifying COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of Tar Heels were cast, anew, into poverty. No Kid Hungry estimates that, this year, one in four Tar Heel children won’t be able to get enough to eat. State food pantries report a 38% increase in demand over recent months. Since March, over half of Black families, and 43% of Latinx households, lost significant employment income sources. Over a third of Latinx renters have been forced to miss monthly payments, jeopardizing their housing. Eighteen percent of all North Carolina adults aged 18-65 are now without any health care coverage whatsoever. Nearly 40 percent of N.C. Latinos now have no medical insurance. As Fed Chair Powell put it, Covid ‘will leave behind an even greater’ landscape of inequality.”

Rather than add my own two cents, I encourage you to re-read the testimony above from Chairman Powell, along with Nichol’s commentary. What is happening in North Carolina is an example of what is going on in other places. People with low income jobs do not have the luxury of working from home, so they must go in or get fired. So, the COVID risks are much greater to a group already at financial risk.

What COVID-19 has done to racial inequality in NC | Charlotte Observer

A Christmas wish – do our part to break down barriers

The following is an edited version of an earlier post that remains relevant today. In the spirit of the Christmas season, it is worth a revisit.

Last night, my wife and I attended one of a series of “talks” around improving racial relations. It is a weekly chat sponsored by a multi-faith group based in our city. In essence, it is facilitated small group and large group discussions on breaking down barriers and listening to others who do not look like you do. It was well done and very meaningful.

To hear stories about small and large examples of racism is very important. To hear about how assumptions can be made and, if not corrected, can be become more concrete in the eyes of the beholder. Children learn lessons whether you want them to or not, even when you try to do the right thing. So, it is imperative to have open conversations about treating people like you want to be treated and listening to comments, so that they can be reinforced or amended.

Yet, it is we adults that need to do better. A few themes we discussed include:

– do not indict a group for the actions of a few;

– recognize that small sleights can be hurtful, as well;

– try to walk in another person’s shoes; understand that a white person has more liberty to go anywhere, while a black man, even when dressed-up, faces more restrictions and risk;

– shine a light on hateful speech or behavior; tolerance must be viewed toward a greater good, so it is OK to be less tolerant of those who use words to demean and diminish;

– speak up and speak out to people who share your skin color, ethnicity, religion or politics who are indicting others who are different just because they don’t look, think or worship as you do;

– be the change you want to see and see people for whom they are; and

– recognize that racial injustice is also the result of a larger poverty issue, which affects people of all colors.

There are many more lessons that were conveyed during the session, but one of my takeaways is this is religion at its finest. Welcoming, including and helping. Let me end with one more tidbit on how religion can help provide solutions and create a welcoming dialogue. Walk the talk. Words are easy. The person who gets up out of his or her chair to help people is admirable.

Jesus said it so well in his Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. If we do this, we are way ahead in the game. So, welcome, include and help.

Please vote – if you do not you still have made a choice

As I pondered what to write about today, the answer presented itself to me as an old post was getting more than a few looks, not only this day but throughout 2020. Based on the lyrics from a famous Rush song “Free will,” “when you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

American voters, please vote if you have not done so already. To frame it simply, one party has gone out of its way to limit voting opportunities and counting, while the other party is encouraging the vote. The president has gone out of his way to call attention to unsubstantiated mail-in voter fraud (which some in his own party have frowned on) as well as hamstringing the postal service. Why?

Why is the president of the United States not encouraging people to vote? Why has he not gone out of his way to make sure the process safe and secure? Why has he consistently denied that Russians interfered in the election in open disagreement with his intelligence people? Why do people who disagree get reassigned, removed, forced out or fired?

Coming full circle, the president does not want you to vote if you plan not to vote for him. It cannot be said any plainer than that. Rather than be presidential, this president has consistently chosen a path of misinformation to manage perception.

So, please vote. It is obvious I am asking you to vote for Biden, but know this. Getting people to not vote in 2016 was a key effective strategy for the president. So, not voting is what the president wants you to do unless you have a fervor for him.

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/when-you-choose-not-to-decide-you-still-have-made-a-choice/

Conservative pundit David Brooks – How Democrats Won the War of Ideas

As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat), David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative pundits and authors. He is a regular participant on PBS Newhour’s Friday recap show with the more liberal Mark Shields. Like other key conservative pundits, MIchael Gerson, George Will, Ross Douthat, Eric Erickson and Max Boot, he is hoping that America votes out the incumbent president.

In his usual articulate and even-handed fashion, Brooks penned the following editorial last week called “How Democrats Won the War of Ideas.” The link is below, but I will highlight a few paragraphs for your review and comment.

“Over the last 100 years, Americans have engaged in a long debate about the role of markets and the welfare state. Republicans favored a limited government, fearing that a large nanny state would sap American dynamism and erode personal freedom. Democrats favored a larger state, arguing that giving people a basic economic security would enable them to take more risks and lead dignified lives.

That debate ebbed and flowed over the years, but 2020 has turned out to be a pivotal year in the struggle, and it looks now as if we can declare a winner. The Democrats won the big argument of the 20th century. It’s not that everybody has become a Democrat, but even Republicans are now embracing basic Democratic assumptions. Americans across the board fear economic and physical insecurity more than an overweening state. The era of big government is here.”

Brooks cites a few survey facts from last week’s New York Times/ Siena poll.

2/3 of Americans support allowing people to buy health insurance through the federal government

2/3 support Joe Biden’s $2 trillion plan to increase renewable energy and build efficient infrastructure

72% of likely voters and 56% of Republican voters favor another COVID-19 relief package

59% of Americans think government should do more to solve problems

2/3 think government should do more to fight climate change

60% support increasing the minimum wage and providing tax credits to low income workers

82% of voters and 70% of Republicans would like to expand requirements for paid family medical leave

Brooks also cites a study by the Mercatus Center which notes that Republicans are also moving left, just not at the pace of Democrats. This is contrary to what is believed by the media.

I have long said that more than 1/2 of the Republican voters are voting against their economic interests and do not know it. This survey indicates many do favor policies that would help them, but are sold a bill of goods packaged to woo their votes, but mask the purposeful deterioration of rights and opportunities.

A great example is the Affordable Care Act. When people are surveyed about the features of the act, the features receive high marks from all, including Republicans. The only feature that did not was eliminated – the mandate to buy coverage. Ironically, this elimination is the basis for 25 Republican Attorney Generals who have case to declare the ACA unconstitutional in front of the Supreme Court after the election, which should not occur as the case is not solid, but one never knows with these things. Sadly, the White House chose not to defend the law, which affects expanded Medicaid, exchange and employer-provided benefits.

Please read Brooks article below. It is very well done, as per usual.

Letter to editor – health care actions speak loudly

I have written longer posts on the actions of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Republicans to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. What many do not know, after the election, a court case will decide its fate, brazenly brought forward by several Republican state AGs after Congress stripped away the coverage mandate during a budget vote. The following is a brief letter I sent to my newspaper.

The truth matters. Actions matter. Four years ago, Trump said we had to wait and see his healthcare plan. None existed and still does not. Three years ago Trump cut payments to insurers to fund their payment of co-pays and deductibles for ACA members making less than 2 1/2 x the poverty rate and then lied about its impact – it actually increased premiums and the deficit per the CBO.

After the election, SCOTUS will be hearing a case to rule on the constitutionality of the ACA premium subsidy after Republicans stripped away the coverage mandate, which would severely hamper the law and may lead to its end. The White House chose not to defend the law. The ACA impacts both exchange and employer benefits, three key provisions of which are allowing pre-existing conditions, requiring guaranteed renewability and requiring wellness doctor visits not be subject to deductibles.

Sadly, beyond the nay-saying, there has been more sabotage of the ACA which increased premiums (Google Marco Rubio and risk corridors), repeal and replace efforts which were fortunately defeated, and fourteen states (including NC and SC) who still have not expanded Medicaid, a key part to help people in poverty. Health care coverage access is a major issue this coming election so says this retired benefits consultant, benefits manager and former actuary.

Eliminating the ACA which which may impact over 200 million Americans  (including the ACA requirements on employer plans) is unwise in my view, in general. But, doing so in the middle of a poorly handled pandemic by the White House with over 200,000 and growing American deaths, is plain asinine and mean-spirited.

Please feel free to adapt and use. Actions speak louder than words and my former party, the GOP, has purposefully sabotaged the right for Americans to have access to health care coverage. This is why your vote matters.

Kentucky police force benefits from hiring social workers

From an article in The Guardian called “The US police department that decided to hire social workers,” a path forward can be gleaned. Here are a few paragraphs to provide a sense. The full article can be linked to below.

“In 2016, the Alexandria, Kentucky, police chief talked the city into hiring a social worker – and four years on, the current chief sees the program as indispensable. In 2016 he decided to try a new approach: he talked the city into hiring a social worker for the police department. ‘To an officer, they all thought I was batshit crazy,’ he said of the police.

The current police chief, Lucas Cooper, said he was ‘the most vocal opponent’ of the plan at the time, thinking that the department should be using its budget to hire more officers for a force he viewed as stretched thin. But now four years later, Cooper sees the program as indispensable: it frees officers from repeat calls for non-criminal issues and gets residents the help they needed, but couldn’t get.”

Just recently, a Utah boy with Asperger’s was shot by the police after his mother called alerting them to the boy’s inability to calm down when she returned to work. Last year, a North Carolina man who called the police for help when he was having a schizoid disorder was killed in his own home because he would not put down a knife when the police arrived.

These are not rare occurrences. People with mental illness may not be sufficiently cognizant to respond to commands, or they may fearful of what is happening. Unless an attending officer is used to seeing and working with people who have mental health issues, it is quite difficult to avoid the use of force when commands are not followed.

In human services agency I was involved with, the licensed social workers used a model called “trauma informed care.” This approach let them focus on the traumas that people face. For example, a woman and family who are domestic violence victims have PTSD issues. So, if they lose their house, as well, there are two sets of trauma to deal with.

To be frank, the “defunding the police” movement has chosen a poor choice of words. Too many view it as taking all funding away – the key difference is using more wisely to serve and protect. Hiring more social workers who are licensed to offer counseling will let the police focus on other alleged criminals.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/sep/19/alexandria-kentucky-police-social-workers&lt

Freedom Summer Project – a needed revisit with a voter suppression and racism afoot

With a president who attacks the voting process (without dearly protecting it) and does not speak out against racism in our country, this past post on a terrible time in history is relevant of what we must not become again. The only change is adding six years to the time elapsed.

Fifty-six years ago this summer, over 700 students from across the country, joined in the Civil Rights battle in Mississippi, where African-Americans had been demonstratively and, at times, violently denied their basic civil rights, especially the right to vote. These students joined together with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNNC) under the guidance of Bob Moses, who had been slowly organizing SNNC since 1960. These students, were predominantly white, but included all races and ethnic groups.

The fact that many were white helped bring further attention to the ongoing tragedy going on Mississippi, perpetuated by those in power as the young students lived within the African-American community, taught through Freedom Schools young students about African-American history, literature and rights, items that had been absent from their curriculum. The Freedom Summer project can be viewed up close with an excellent documentary shown on the PBS American Experience. A link is provided below.* I would encourage you to watch the two-hour film as it can tell a story that requires footages of violence, overt racism, and brave people who spoke up, like Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rita Schwerner and countless others.

Hamer is the face of the effort as evidenced by her speaking passionately in front of the 1964 Democratic Convention committee about how she was arrested, beaten, and tormented when she and others tried to register vote. Schwerner is the widow of one the three Civil Rights workers, Michael Schwerner, who along with James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were abducted and killed by the KKK who came to abet the efforts of those in power in Mississippi. The widow rightfully pointed out the fact that two of the abducted (at the time) were white, was the only reason people in America started paying attention. She noted it is a shame that many African-Americans had died or were injured merely trying to exercise their right as citizens. Before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, less than 7% of African-Americans in Mississippi were allowed to register due to ostracization, intimidation, and complex constitutional literacy tests.

Since I cannot begin to do justice to this subject, I encourage you to watch the documentary. It will make you ashamed that this could happen in America, while at the same time making you applaud the magnificent courage of all involved, especially those African-Americans who had lived and would continue to live in this Apartheid like state once the freedom summer students went home. Yet, it took the deaths of these three young folks to galvanize and empower people.

It also took the organization of a more representative Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party of whites and blacks that went to the national convention to unseat the representatives sent by the state party, who were all white. Since morality was on their side, they almost succeeded, but they ran into the politics of Lyndon B. Johnson, who used his power to squelch the effort for a greater good – he could not help in matters if he did not get elected and he saw this as a means to interfere with that mission, no matter how noble the cause. LBJ accomplished great things for African-Americans, but politics is an ugly thing to watch up close and he looks manipulative in the process.

While their efforts fell short at the convention, their efforts were huge contributors to the passage of the Voting Rights Act the next year. But, one of the young folks who went to the Freedom Schools and is now a PhD., noted that learning about their African-American culture and civil rights that had been denied them, may have been the greatest achievement. I applaud their efforts and bravery. We still have a way to go and are seeing some battles having to be refought with several states passing restrictive Voter ID Laws. Three states have had their new laws ruled unconstitutional, while others are in court now. Yet, just because our President is multi-racial does not mean we are there yet. So, let’s keep in mind the battles these brave folks fought and not let their civil rights be stepped on again, no matter how cleverly masked those efforts.

* http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/

Lucy Worsley and spotlighting myths

On PBS, a delightful British show is aired called “Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets.” It is fascinating for two primary reasons – Worsley focuses on exposing the real truths beneath the myths and she exudes a passion as she invests in each episode.

Each show includes actors portraying smalls skits in the show, in which Worsley will play a sidebar role, as well as scholars who share context and researched observations. The skits add the human side to the scholar’s research and context.

Yesterday, Worsley focused on the French revolution and Marie Antoinette’s role, which is overstated, but still present. A few vignettes that offer context are truly enlightening.

– Antoinette is used as a scapegoat for the financial problems of the country, but the real cause is the French spent 1.5 billion francs to support the American independence effort, which is 2 1/2 times their annual budget of 600 million francs.

– Antoinette liked very extravagat things, but there is no record of her saying “let them eat cake,” which was referenced 50 years later. The saying may have come from an earlier queen.

– Antoinette was Austrian, so the French people did not like her to begin with; she also was more politically shrewd than her husband, Louis XVI and saw the danger of the revolution. This runs counter to the noted saying above which implies ignorance.

– Robespierre is scapegoated for the violence of the revolution, but while he was an idealist, he initially did not favor capital punishment. He argued it did not stop crime. He later said for France to change, the King must be executed, but this was after a power sharing agreement seemed to not be working. Robespierre was executed about two years after Louis XVI.

– While Bastille Day is celebrated for freeing political prisoners, it freed only seven prisoners, all common criminals. Four of these criminals were even rearrested. Yet, the storming of the bastille is an iconic event.

– What should not be forgotten, the first revolution did not free France from autocratic rule. War hero Napolean was made emperor about ten years later. And, after Napolean, a Bourbon king was reinstalled for fifteen more years. So, later change was needed.

This show was particular fascinating. It also showed fake news was alive and well back then. Antoinette cartoons were particulary viscious. And, the revolutionaries downplayed the executions, while loyalists played that up.

A fascinating sidebar is the French revolution inspired others. It was noted Lenin had a statue raised in Russia for Robespierre and, of course, violently ended the lives of the tsar and his family. This was over 120 years later.

We have seen a few shows and, if you love history, you will find these interesting. Even if you don’t, Worsley will make you wish she was your teacher with her enthusiasm.