After years of protests, vigils, riots, meetings, seminars, many people would ask the Black Lives Matter group “What do you want?! What are your demands?”
I often found myself asking this also. I sympathized with Black Lives Matter in its initial stages. They were calling attention to something I felt strongly about, which is the abuse of power by law enforcement, particularly in minority communities. Growing up in an urban city I’ve seen all too often how police conduct themselves. Violence is a go-to tool, and they are viewed by the citizens more as an occupying force, rather than a public service. Police are most people’s first and most frequent interaction with the State, and for most, especially minorities, it’s mostly a negative one as noted in a recent study:
“They (African-Americans) are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.”
Yet, that same study also comes to the conclusion that blacks are NOT more likely to be shot by police than whites, even adjusting for population. While this dilutes BLM’s narrative a bit, there is still an issue of law enforcement and how they interact with communities, particularly ones consisting of minorities and the poor.
Tired of hearing “What are your demands?”, over 100 Black Live Matter chapters and activist groups from around the country came together to submit their proposal. This week they’ve released a comprehensive policy proposal called “A Vision for Black Lives,” described as “an articulation of our collective aspirations” (that word collective should give you a hint about the proposal writers’ leanings).
It’s well known that BLM, from an organizational mission standpoint, is a left wing activist group at its core, as has been many black activist groups over the last 75 years. I wanted to take the time to view their proposals and apply my libertarian principles to point out the problems with these proposals.
While they have broken their proposals down in segments of “Demands”, such as “End the War of Black People” or “Reparations”, I will take a look at their demand for “Economic Justice” and the specific proposals within.
“A progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure a radical and sustainable redistribution of wealth.”
Looking through this proposal, it’s your typical “Tax the greedy rich more and redistribute it to the poor”, but this begs the question, what makes them think this will help blacks? The wealthy (people earning over $250,000) already pay 55% of income taxes in the U.S. , how has that improved blacks lives?
“Increase taxes on capital to the point where they are higher than taxes on labor, as wealth inequality is greater than income inequality.”
How does taxing capital help black lives? Urban areas are already suffering from economic despair, black unemployment is already over double the national average, yet BLM believes raising taxes on gains from investment would somehow make blacks better off? Those gains are the reward for taking the risk of investing in something that very well might not pay off. Investment eventually leads to growth of business capital, allowing research and development, production, growth of employment opportunities, higher wages and a prospering economy. Raising taxes discourage that or forces money to flee to safer assets. As far as wealth inequality, typically those in the top 10% gain their wealth through decades of savings and attaining assets. Your typical retiree who has saved or maintained a IRA and owns their home will be in the top 10%. Tax them too? What BLM should want is to attract investment into minority communities, and take part in investment themselves, not punish it.
“Increase taxes on private wealth and corporate income and wealth.”
See above response.
“Tax policy is so regressive that these solutions will particularly benefit the lowest income families, which are disproportionately single Black women with children. “
Well, what also doesn’t help is that 71% of black children are being born to single parents. Yet, maybe BLM doesn’t care about that since, according to one of their “guiding principles” on their official website “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…”
“The right for workers to organize in public and private sectors especially in “On Demand Economy” jobs.”
“On Demand Economy” jobs also refers to “Access economy” or “Peer to Peer economy” services such as Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, etc. These companies are at the forefront of the free market adapting to an ever changing market place, using digital tools, the world-wide network, and mobile connectivity to connect consumers with providers. I guess BLM would want employees to unionize and squeeze these young, growing companies. While organizing is a right of every worker, forcing those who do not want to join a union via coercion and violence should not be allowed. What would unionizing do to the blacks already working for these companies when they go out of business, or their growth in inevitably stunted due to outrageous worker demands or work stoppages? Unions were once used to prevent blacks from under bidding white workers in the early 20th century. Later, unions were dominant in majority black Detroit, where has that gotten them?
“The U.S. should initiate executive action and congressional legislation to financially support the development of cooperatives, land trusts and other alternative institutions by expanding access to private financing, individual donations, and technical assistance.”
Basically, BLM wants wealthy private individuals, businesses, and non-profits to support development of co-ops, land purchase, and “alternative institutions.” Yet, they just said they want to raise taxes on the rich, capital gains income, and wealthy corporations. How does that help? Their solution to this is a “tax measure that gives individuals a deduction of 125 percent on federal income tax for investment in cooperatives.” So, they want to raise taxes on the rich, then create a loop hole that could possibly funnel money to “cooperatives and alternative institutions (whatever that is).” Their theory is “Worker cooperatives and community land trusts would provide people with a range of job and housing opportunities while also ensuring their involvement in decision making.”
OK. All of this sounds fine, but why tinkier with the tax code to add more loop holes? It’s funny that another one of their proposals is to “Eliminate all corporate loopholes.” How about we lower or abolish as many taxes and regulations as possible?
“Federal and state job programs that specifically target the most economically marginalized Black people, and compensation for those involved in the care economy. Job programs must provide a living wage and encourage support for local workers centers, unions, and Black-owned businesses which are accountable to the community.”
Ah, jobs programs. Surely this hasn’t been tried before (is there a sarcasm font?). Lets look at Job Corps, a program created under the Great Society legislation back in the 60’s and still heavily funded to this day. This was a jobs program meant to help disadvantaged youth and the poor. How has it done? According to the Heritage Foundation:
For a federal taxpayer investment of $25,000 per Job Corps participant, the 2008 outcome study found:
Compared to non-participants, Job Corp participants were less likely to earn a high school diploma (7.5 percent versus 5.3 percent);
Compared to non-participants, Job Corp participants were no more likely to attend or complete college;
Four years after participating in the evaluation, the average weekly earnings of Job Corps participants was $22 more than the average weekly earnings of the control group;
Employed Job Corps participants earned $0.22 more in hourly wages compared to employed control group members.
22 Cents more than a non-member?! And this is costing U.S. Tax payers 1.5 Billion dollars a year. I guess BLM’s response would be we aren’t spending enough. Maybe, just maybe, government jobs programs don’t work. Sure, there might be a few people who benefit, but at what cost? Every year, every mayor, councilmen, congressmen, senator, or presidential candidate tells poor blacks “I will bring more jobs programs to the community!”
NO MORE JOBS PROGRAMS!
In today’s age, you can literally learn almost anything for barely nothing. An unimaginable amount of information is at your fingertips. All it takes is self motivation and drive. You can have the most well-funded jobs program in history, but if the participants don’t have the drive to succeed, they will not. What we need to look at is what is causing that despair? BLM is trying to address the symptoms of the problems (and not doing a good job of it judging from these proposals), but not attack the root of the problem. What is the root of the problem? Don’t tell me slavery, systemic racism, or anything like that. At the end of the day, the 44 million blacks in this country are all individuals, capable of making decisions.
BLM should be working on restoring the black family unit (something that once existed despite the ravages of slavery). They should be addressing why so many blacks aren’t seeking higher education even though it is more accessible than anytime time in history. Or how about bring peace to our communities that are torn apart by violence? How about setting goals for excellence instead of mediocrity? How about promoting entrepreneurship, free market economics, innovation in delivering goods and services to and for our communities?
“What are your demands?”
I liked Black Lives Matter more before they answered that question.
Source: The Afro Libertarian