Tag Archives: Income inequality

STEP INTO THE GAP

On May 12, 1961 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. John Lewis, an African-American seminary student and Albert Bigelow a World War II veteran and white Freedom Rider were viciously attacked as they attempted to enter a whites-only waiting area. Two days later in Anniston Alabama a vicious mob of about 200 people bombed a Greyhound bus and brutally beat the Freedom Riders as they fled the burning bus. Later that day in Birmingham Alabama a Trailways bus carrying another group of Freedom Riders was meant with a similar fate These Freedom Riders were aware of the dangers they would encounter and over several months they were attacked repeatedly yet they persevered so that the racist practice of segregated bus terminals would come to end and in the fall of 1961 their perseverance bore fruit as the  Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations that prohibited the segregation of interstate transit.

THE FREEDOM RIDERS STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Liu Xiaobo was a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate from China who through nonviolent protests fought against communist one-party rule in China. For his efforts he was imprisoned in 1989 to 1991, 1995 to 1996, 1996 to 1999 and 2009 until his release in 2017 after he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He died less than 3 weeks after his release. Despite his multiple imprisonments he continued to fight until his death for the betterment of the Chinese people.

LIU XIAOBO STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Razan Zaitouneh was a Syrian Human rights activist who was involved in the Syrian uprising. She acted as a lawyer for political prisoners, was one of the founders Human Rights Association in Syria and the Syrian Human Rights Information Link through which she reported about Syria human’s rights violations. Razan Zaitouneh worked tirelessly for years to bring light to Syria’s oppress regime despite the obvious dangers involved with doing so. On December 9 of 2013 she was kidnapped and has not been seen since, presumed to have been killed.

RAZAN ZAITOUNEH STEPPED INTO THE GAP.

Michael Todd has been getting bullied at his new school since the year began. He would wear the same clothes every day and students at MLK College Preparatory School would make fun of him for it. High school football players Kristopher Graham and Antwann Garrett didn’t just go along with their class mates to be part of the crowd and on September 10, 2019 they surprised Michael with a bag full of bags full of shirts, shorts and shoes and apologized to him for previously laughing at him.

KRISTOPHER GRAHAM AND ANTWANN GARRETT STEPPED INTO THE GAP

Everyday countless number of individuals step into the gap. But sadly many in a position to do the most good lack the courage to step into the gap Last week at church my pastor preached to us from the book Ezekiel 22:30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

In Bible times, cities had walls around them to help defend them from attack. Broken parts of the wall created a physical gap in the city’s ability to protect itself from invading armies.  In this Bible verse, because there is a gap in the wall, God is looking for someone to step in and guard the broken, vulnerable territory.

Today God is still looking for us to step in and guard the broken and the vulnerable. Victims of violence, oppression, discrimination, bigotry.  Those who are denied fundamental human rights such as medical care, food and shelter and education. Yet when we turn our eyes to Washington D.C. we find there are far too many concerned with their own self, maintaining their power and reaping the benefits that come along with it than with stepping into the gap.  We see children, the Lord’s most innocent souls, gunned down in mass shootings yet no action has been taken to enact sensible gun control to protect them. We see mothers and fathers working two and three jobs, sixty and seventy hours a week yet still unable to earn enough money to put a roof over or adequately feed their families. Yet at every opportunity the very social programs designed to help them through these troubled times are slashed, and more and more money is appropriated to building weapons of war.  Racism is unbelievably on the rise again in this country but far too many in power either pretend it doesn’t exist and simply ignore it or worse tacitly give their approval, so they can appeal to a base of unenlightened individuals they believe will allow them to maintain their power. Education budgets are cut and college tuition soars while tax breaks for the wealthy are passed into law. Prescription drugs prices rocket, inflating the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies while the affordable care act remains under constant attack. The gap between the haves and have not continues to expand as CEOs take home millions and workers struggle to survive yet steadfast opposition to raising the minimum wage continues.

We are witnessing the abject failure of the very individuals we have tasked with stepping in the gap. However, it is never too late as a people to change things.  United each of our whispers becomes a mighty roar for change. We can demand that change takes place and we can start at the voting booth. We can educate ourselves on the issues and not let some 24-hour news network “opinion” show host skew our perception of reality. We can protest racism and social injustice and when those in power try to change the narrative and quiet us we can roar louder.  We can rise as one and let our voices be heard.  We can let them know that it is we not them who are the coalition of the many and if they won’t stand in the gap we surely will find someone who will!

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Social Programs for the needy equals bad. Corporate welfare for the rich equal good

Next time you hear the GOP complaining Democrats are giving the store away with all these social programs think about this:

In 2017 oil companies like Shell and Exxon companies not hurting for cash adding everything received $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare.

Farm subsidies are designed to help mom and pop farmers right.  Hmmm well that’s not totally true farm subsidies act like a regressive tax that helps high-income businesses, not poor rural farmers. Most of the money goes toward large agribusinesses. Between 1995 and 2017, the top 10%of recipients received 77% of the $205.4 billion doled out. The top 1% received 26% of the payments. That averages out to $1.7 million per company. Fifty people on the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans received farm subsidies. On the other hand, 62% of U.S. farms did not receive any subsidies.

Social programs to help the poor and needy = bad according to the GOP. Pull your pants up and work you lazy Americans

Corporate welfare to help the richest of the rich get richer on the guise that the money will trickle down, yet somehow it never does = good to the GOP.  Let’s meet for cocktails aboard your yacht and talk about your next campaign contribution. 

The politicians are all Hypocrites and snake oil salespeople who keep selling the poorest among those who continue to vote for them and keep them in office a pack of lies and for some reason, possibly if you were to look closely at the racial politics Trump plays they believe the myth that only black and brown people benefit from these programs while simultaneously taking advantage of them of theirselves. 

We hate ObamaCare they scream yet based on 2014 Census Bureau data, that echo other studies showed that a key demographic for the GOP blue-collar whites have been among the principal beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act. 

Stop all these Safety Net programs they yell but Donald Trump won about two-thirds of whites without a college degree—the most for any Republican since Ronald Reagan in his 1984 landslide—and they provided almost exactly half of his total votes, even though they represented only about one-third of the electorate, according to media exit polls.  Yet Safety-net programs are particularly beneficial for adults without a college degree. “The vast majority of working-age adults lifted above the poverty line by government benefits and tax credits are people lacking a college degree. 

It’s time America to stop voting based on a sound bite or what a quote unquote news network tells you and get informed. Otherwise your just a pawn the rich move around the board to stay the rich. 

It’s not injustice until it happens to me

Wow can’t believe some people still don’t get the kneeling during the National Anthem protest. That they still allow themselves to be bamboozled by those who have hi-jacked the real reason for the protest and turned it into a protest against America. Hi-jacked it because it is uncomfortable to address the social and racial inequalities this country still has. Their desire for us to remain quiet on the issue is misplaced as E.A. Bucchianeri states 

“It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.”

For us to do nothing may make their life simpler and more comfortable. Harkening back to a time when “America was Great” and minorities and females knew their place. But trust me we love America as well, maybe more so than they do because after everything America has thrust upon us we are still here fighting to make it a better place.  Doing nothing will most certainly net us nothing. Doing nothing will not force this country to take on the issues that prevent it from being the idea on which it was founded. The idea that all men are created equal and is what is more patriotic than that. As James Baldwin said: Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

For many that have twisted and contorted the real idea behind the flag protests I can only assume the only time they think about injustice is when it happens to them or to paraphrase N.K. Jemisin they never had to fight for the respect that everyone else is given without question.  It easy to wrap yourself in the red, white and blue and scream to the world you are a patriot. It is however difficult to fight for what is true idea of America. 

So while they will continue to scream USA USA at those individuals brave enough to stand up in public to inequality and call them unpatriotic. Remember they are likely doing this as they stand on line for their hot dog and a beer during the National Anthem. 

The Poor People’s Campaign – A 50 year old idea whose time has come

In December 1967, Rev. Dr. King announced the plan to bring together poor people from across the country for a new march on Washington. This march was to demand better jobs, better homes, better education—better lives than the ones they were living. Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy explained that the intention of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.”

In April 2019 we are still dealing with many of the same issues that Dr. King addressed with his Poor People’s Campaign. If anything the gap between the haves and the have nots has widened not shrunk. Income disparities have become so pronounced that America’s top 10 percent now average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent. Americans in the top 1 percent tower stunningly higher. They average over 39 times more income than the bottom 90 percent. But that gap pales in comparison to the divide between the nation’s top 0.1 percent and everyone else. Americans at this lofty level are taking in over 188 times the income of the bottom 90 percent.

Between 1979 and 2007, paycheck income for those in the richest 1 percent and 0.1 percent exploded. The wage and salary income for these elite groups dipped after the 2008 financial crisis but have nearly regained their pre-crisis value. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 22 percent increase from 1979 to 2017

Medical bills were the biggest cause of U.S. bankruptcies. A new study from academic researchers found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues —either because of high costs for care or time out of work. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues and bills, the research found.

Fifty years ago President Lyndon Johnson articulated that: 

“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Today our President uses devise speech to tap into fears and subconscious racism embedded in each of us to keep the “every-person” divided rather than united. 

A popular saying for many in the Trump base is that we’re losing our America.  But the truth is it was never, for the vast majority of them anyway, “their” America. The America they claim they are losing was and has always the America of the rich white man.  Access to the best schools and quality health care. The ability to “legally” manipulate the tax system to shelter money from the ever increasing taxes you and I pay. Consistently looking to increase their bottom lines at the expense of the average American. 

Now let’s be clear here and not misunderstand what I am saying.  I’m not saying that every wealthy white man acts this way or that they are inherently evil or solely responsible for many of the ills that the average working American, regardless of color or gender, faces on an everyday basis. What I am saying however is that there is a select few who have always had the money and the power to control the narrative. To keep the masses at each other throats, pointing accusatory fingers at each other and fighting for the scraps thrown their way. 

It is amazing how often the poorest of the poor will vote against their self interest because they have been led to believe it is in their best interest to ensure the well being of the wealthy. Ensure their well being because after all one day they will drink from that same prosperous cup. That is as long as (insert race, gender or religious identity) doesn’t take what is rightfully theirs.  The concept that they are more like that person they have been conditioned to believe is threatening them then they will ever be to the wealthy who promote the narrative is seemingly foreign to them. 

But the truth is Dr. King had it right in 1967 and  if he would have lived to see his campaign through he would have been seen as more of a threat to the “establishment’s” way of life than anything he accomplished during the civil rights movement.  Simply put there is power in numbers, there is power in unity and if the majority of Americans put aside their hatred of each other, embraced their similarities and united in the fight against inequality there is no telling what this country could accomplish. Imagine a country with affordable and quality health care and education for all. Wage equality and a tax system that treated the 99% the same as the 1% and maybe as a byproduct of coming together to fight the inequalities we all face we’ll gain better understanding of each other. Now that’s a dream worth fighting for.