The Donald and Black America

4 months ago Ricardo Hylton 0

Once upon a time we inhabited a self-proclaimed post racial world. Let’s call that era 21 Trump B.C.. The white lilies of the field cohabited with the princes of darkness. No longer just the Jay-Zs, the Janet Jacksons and the Idris Elbas, black people were bursting through corporate and professional glass ceilings, leaving shattered crystal all over the marble floor. Martin Luther King’s dream it seemed had finally come through. The little boys and girls of black America were no longer being judged by the color of their skin but rather by the content of their character. See: Barack Obama and probably Denzel.

Black people were even allowed to be stark raving mad lunatics without the rest of us being judged for it (See any of Herman Caine, Condoleezza Rice or Ben Carson, the brain surgeon seemingly without a brain). A Muslim man was elected mayor of London. A new concept known as political correctness swept across the land and everyone was careful to not offend his or her fellow man. A few years crept by. Then I woke up.

 

A Post-Racial World

That once upon a time was a tale, a yarn and a fiction not unlike Snow White or Rapunzel. The construct of a colorful mind. The only difference here is that many, many, many people believed this tale to be true. ‘How can Americans be racist if they voted for Obama? How can Londoners be racist if they voted of Mr. Khan?

Since Ronald Reagan’s reign, the Americans had 16 years of Democratic presidential rule in the United States and since Margaret Thatcher, 13 years of Labour Party governance in the UK, both parties predisposed to minorities, according to the brochure. Despite all that goodwill, in July 2017, black American households are worth eleven (11!) times less than that of their white counterparts. They are much more likely to be arrested; when arrested they get longer sentences than white people for the same offences; police stop them much more often and when they walk into a shop they are 30 times more likely to be trailed by the security guard (well maybe not exactly 30 times but its close). They live in drug-infested, bullet-riddled projects, where unemployment is double that for whites (8.1 % to 4.4% in September 2016) and where the black poverty rate at 24.1% far outpaces that for whites at 9.1%. In black communities, the police shoot first and ask questions later.

In the UK, the wholly random stoppings of cars are almost always of young black men, and it is really a shock to the police that they could legitimately acquire such worldly things. To advance at work is a real slog and underemployment, whilst present across the economy, is particularly rife in the black community.

The Art Of The Deal

This leads me deftly to the POTUS. The Donald. The Trump (Chump?) The man who wrote The Art of The Deal. During the campaign, he declared black Americans ‘absolutely in the worse shape ever, ever, ever.’ He asked them, you can’t do any worse?’ Was he right?

Technically slavery could be reinstituted, tree branches could again become pulleys for ropes around our broken necks and the ‘oscarssowhite’ Hashtag could start trending again. But assuming nothing so extreme would reoccur (and that’s a big leap, believe me), I wonder if The Donald has a point.. Let’s take a few of his policies in turn:

 

On Drugs

Firstly, Donald Trump wants to give states the right to legalize marijuana to take the profits from drug cartels. Whilst almost certainly not his intention, I do believe that this is a good policy for urban black America. As noted above, approximately 12–13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up over 35% of the prison population. Overall, blacks are over five times likely to be incarcerated than whites, and blacks represent more than half of the prison population in 11 states. In 2003, black men were reportedly 12 times more likely to receive prison sentences for drug offenses even though numerous surveys have shown that white and black people in the U.S. use and sell drugs at almost the same rate. Blacks only represent a small fraction of the U.S. population and they only account for 14% of drug users in the country, but they make up 34% of people arrested for drug offenses and 45% of those behind bars on drug charges.

Racial profiling by police certainly plays a role in the number of black men serving time. Black drivers are 31% more likely to be stopped by the police than a white driver, according to a 2011 Police-Public Contact Survey report by the Justice Department. Blacks were twice as likely to be searched during routine traffic stops, and five percent of blacks pulled over by police aren’t told why they were stopped. Before stop-and-frisk tactics were deemed unconstitutional in New York City by a Supreme Court judge in 2013, 54% of the 191,588 New Yorkers stopped-and-frisked by police that year were black while only 11 percent of searches involved white people.

Racism, it can also be confidently argued, play a role in many a jury’s verdict and a judge’s sentencing. Duane Buck, a black man on death row in Texas, believes racism may have played a factor in his initial trial after a psychologist testified and peddled the theory that he would be more likely to kill again because he was black. During his trial, former prison psychologist Walter Quijano suggested that being black or a minority ‘increases the future dangerousness’ of a person ‘for various reasons,’ which Buck believes inevitably led the jury to convict him to death. The mandatory drug sentences and three strike laws are all detrimental to black and brown people in the US.

In addition, if drugs like marijuana are decriminalized not only does it allow 3rd world countries to have a viable export to make money, the drugs, because of federal regulation, have to be manufactured in safe environments, and have to be pure or at least not cut with who knows what. For an addict, legalization may allow them to try to get help because they won’t go to jail. 90% of inmates are misdemeanor drug offenses (personal use) and not dealers or traffickers. Allows for safer use, less abuse, and since we already do drugs anyway use the tax revenue to improve wider society.

Strike one to The Donald if this ever sees the light of day, which is probably wishful thinking. (An aside: reading Trump and listening to Trump are two completely different experiences. When you read some of his policies they can have a modicum of sense. But when he opens that mouth, its can be like honey dipped in mud paste.)

 

On The Economy

The Donald, you may have heard, has plans to ‘make America great again.His economic policies to do so include a 45% tariff on Chinese exports to the US; a 35% import tariff increase at the Mexican border; impose a 20% tax on all imports; mandate a 15% tax for outsourcing jobs. For black Americans (and everyone else also, but remember the focus of the article) a lot of this is quite asinine.

Firstly, most imports into America are not purely imports, as they are made of components that originate in the United States and are merely brought together and assembled in China. IPhones, for example, would get much more expensive and would hurt American consumers. Tariffs and taxes on imports make them more expensive and this hits the poorest hardest. For a self-made (only a 7 million loan, eh) businessman like The Donald, he seems to have a poor grasp of how the economy works. Jobs are outsourced because of what David Ricardo calls comparative advantage. A country is said to have a comparative advantage in the production of a good (say cloth) if it can produce cloth at a lower opportunity cost than another country. Lower operational and labor costs are among the primary reasons why companies choose to outsource. When properly executed it has a defining impact on a company’s revenue and can deliver significant savings.

Economists are almost unanimous: outsourcing is a good business strategy. It improves efficiency, cuts costs, speeds up product development, and allows companies to focus on their ‘core competencies.’ And for the most part, they are right. Outsourcing helped American companies deal with the destructive forces of globalization; that is, the intensification of competition and the price and profit erosion associated with it. For some companies, outsourcing has made the difference between staying in business and going out of business.

But jobs will be lost and of course, poor (black) Americans will see this as jobs being lost and could care less about efficiency or cost savings. But the problem here is that the majority of the jobs being lost in the rust belt and urban America aren’t being lost to Chinese or Vietnamese workers. They are being lost to robots and not even the Donald can stop this train moving forward. His policy of tariffs and protectionism is flawed and will make (black) America poorer.

 

On Taxes

Mr. Trump believes that taxes should be reduced for everyone. He wants to condense the current seven tax brackets to just three, with no income tax for ‘low-income Americans.’ He would lower the business tax to 15%, from 35%. He would also allow multinational companies keeping profits overseas to repatriate their cash at a 10% tax rate. He claims that he wants to reduce the cost of childcare by allowing families to fully deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents; eliminate special interest loopholes, and make business tax rates more competitive to keep jobs in America, create new opportunities and revitalize the economy; ensure the rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs or undermines our ability to compete.

On its face, lower taxes is a good thing for poor people as keep more of their income to pay for the things they want to buy. This will create demand in the economy, increase spending and help businesses to thrive. In addition, lower income tax rates may encourage people to work longer. Overtime is more worthwhile if you get to keep more of your income. This is the substitution effect – work is more attractive with lower tax rates.

However, there is also the income effect. With lower tax rates (and effectively higher wages), it is easier to get your target income by working fewer hours. Therefore, tax cuts may not increase labour supply because people don’t need to work more, if work is more highly paid.

But that is the basic theory because its impact really depends on how that tax cut is financed. Will it come from welfare spending? Will it come from increased government borrowing? If so, this will have an adverse effect on black America and the economy as a whole. The Donald is banking on increased productivity. If the tax cut is financed by higher productivity, rising tax revenues, and a growing economy, then this is more likely to allow higher consumer spending.

 

Do Black Lives Matter?

The above is a message tweeted by candidate Trump. Its intended purpose was to show that blacks are more likely to murder backs and whites than vice versa. It was widely debunked. He cast himself as the law and order candidate and claims the Black Lives Matter people are ‘looking for trouble.’

He has steadfastly refused to criticize the police after multiple incidences of shooting unarmed African-Americans. ‘I looked at a couple of the people that were interviewed from the group,’ he said. ‘I saw them with hate coming down the street last week talking about cops and police, and what should be done to them. And that was not good. And I think it’s a disgrace that they’re getting away with it.’

I think his words speak for themselves. Black Americans assaulted and brutalized by the police or disproportionately targeted by the police can forget about the POTUS’ sympathies. Barack Obama gave us mainly words, but they were at least words of hope. And whilst you can take words to the bank, you can take them to your soul. Trump, it seems, has taken us to a dark alley with a shovel and a sledgehammer. Good luck asking for the 40 acres and a mule again. The Black Lives Matter movement is in trouble.

Trump Care Anyone

This one is quite simple. The Donald wants to repeal Obamacare (failing this week yet again). Not unlike several Republican plans, he proposes to allow insurance companies to go back to refusing coverage for preexisting conditions, a key barrier to coverage before Obamacare’s coverage expansion. No one ‘will be dying in the street,’ he promised. But there is nothing in the plan so far that suggests there is any guaranteed access to insurance at all.

Putting all that aside, Trumpcare erects a massive barrier to coverage: It allows insurers to deny coverage to sick people. This is pretty typical of Republican Obamacare replacement plans. Trumpcare would also allow the return of underwriting, where insurers can charge some subscribers more because they’re especially sick. There are at least 60 million Americans with preexisting conditions. Some of them have coverage under Obamacare. If Trumpcare became law, there’s no guarantee they’d get to keep it. In the words of philosopher extraordinaire, The Clipse, that’s a “pretty big deal” for black Americans who on average, are poorer and have much less access to healthcare.

The Results

It doesn’t look good for black and brown America under The Donald. The 2019 midterm elections cannot come soon enough so that the balance of the congress can be redressed. It’s a long dusty road.