Reparation Revisited – the Native Americans

Readers raised the question whether the US owed the Native American reparation. Setting aside the fact that Europeans arrived on the Atlantic shores and proceeded with a policy of genocide, some may contend that the Native Americans received reparation via the establishment of indian reservations. This is as rewarding as saying the Japanese Americans that were forced into internment camps during WWII were pleased about the fact they were put in prison.

Andrew Jackson’s order to relocate the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma (Trail of Tears) is more demonstrative of the fact that reservations were no reparation. The land for reservations was the poorest that could be had. During the Trail of Tears, 4,000 men, women, and children died and included Creek, Choctaw, Seminole, and Chickasaw that were relocated under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. For centuries the original Cherokee land occupied the entire area from the Mississippi River in the West to the Blue Ridge Mountain in the East. There was pressure to claim those lands to find gold and expand farmland for those who weren’t Native Americans.

Mariner doubts anyone then or now claims that exile to useless internment camps (reservations) was reparation. In a recent post travelogue, mariner noted the poor state of reservation economics; the average Native American has assets averaging 10% of the rest of the US population.

Taking into consideration the displacement of Neanderthal by Homo sapiens, the propensity for invasive genocide throughout the ages, the desire to eradicate via multiple terrorist wars in Africa and the Middle East, humans are of the same propensity as the black plague, jackal, hyena, Komodo Dragon, and of course, our predecessor, the chimpanzee.

Food for thought: For those without money, plutocracy is a form of slavery by deprivation without constraints or interest in a person’s whereabouts or bodily wellbeing – for now.

Ancient Mariner

 

About Reparations

This is a knotty issue. The idea of reparation has existed since the Emancipation Proclamation. Every decade or so the issue is raised to a level of public awareness and becomes an issue in US governments, especially the Federal government. Reparation is an unusually complex idea that doesn’t fare well in politics. In part this is due to the mechanics of political discourse which seek compromise through procedural bargaining; reparations are not something that can be resolved with bargaining. The idea exists or it doesn’t. This post is, in part, a review of arguments during a Hearing before Congress on Juneteenth Day (June 19th).

Even more complex is the fact that three clearly distinct social functions are forced together: racism, economics and citizen parity. Can racism, today still a major social conflict, be reconciled with money, that is, will racism disappear among whites because the blacks received some money? Is slavery’s $75 billion contribution to the US GDP an investment that deserves reconciliation? Is it fair to poor whites that, because one is black, the blacks get a leg up on surviving in a plutocratic age?

In Congress Wednesday, most debates centered on whether today’s blacks can represent black slaves in the first place. Inevitably the three aforementioned social functions cloud the rationality of that debate. One witness’s testimony stated, “If I receive reparation, it means I am still a slave.” Ta-Nihisi Coates, a respected black journalist, made the case that American history is a continuous flow that encompasses all that has transpired in the nation. Senator Mitch made the common case that none of us alive are responsible for slavery and that introducing reparation would be disruptive. Coates jumped on that argument citing:

“But well into this century, the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of Civil War soldiers. We honor treaties that date back some 200 years, despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens, and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach.”

Coates also made the point that throughout history even to the present, blacks continue to suffer injustice often in brutal and savage ways – implying that, in a cultural way, slavery still exists.

. . . .

As mariner alluded to in the first paragraph, debating (a) was there an immoral act; (b) whether there is financial culpability; (c) whether accountability for slavery has a statute of limitations; (d) the impact of reparation on life in a contemporary plutocracy and many other lesser opinions, mariner senses that these arguments are disparate – pieces from a larger puzzle that don’t fit together in the space of reparation.

The puzzle that accommodates these pieces rearranges their relationships.

Today’s racial war began with a profiteering invasion of Africa for the sole purpose of establishing slavery in the US. There was never any intention by the pirates to reimburse their native countries. There was never any intention of equality for slaves. The Civil War ended ‘legal’ slavery and destroyed a southern economy that was based on slaves as chattel. Intense animosity remains to this day sustained by differences in color, culture, financial class and political identity. In other words, the conflict associated with African blacks is not over. The Civil War is over; actual ownership of another person as chattel is over; but a tribal war between races continues to this day. Is it possible to apply reparations when the war hasn’t ended?

While it may seem irrelevant to dialogue today, the original sin was against the nations of Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Should there be reparations to these African nations for profiteers spiriting away 75,000 citizens? Reparations can be negotiated for this because that chapter of history is complete. All that remains were it desired, is to settle on an amount.

Rather than try to create reparation that cannot be defined, perhaps the primary effort should be to end the war. Mariner is of the opinion that paying out some cash to end white responsibility is a cop out. End the war. End racism. There is no amount of reparation that would equal the end of the race war with blacks. The economic parity isn’t a payback, its equal pay for equal work; equal opportunity for education, medical care and other opportunities assumed by white people without notice.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Climate

Climate change isn’t just an issue in the western hemisphere or in big cities.

The Indian Sundarbans—a 4,000-square-mile archipelago that has been designated a World Heritage site[1], sits on the Bay of Bengal and is shared by India and Bangladesh. The region has a rich ecosystem that supports the world’s largest mangrove forest and several hundred animal species, including the endangered Bengal tiger. It is home to approximately 13 million people.

All of this could disappear in just a few decades. The Sundarban archipelago is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change in the world; 70 percent of the land is just a few feet above sea level. In some parts of the region, the sea already is advancing about 200 yards per year. Mousuni Island, in particular, is experiencing the worst effects of the changing climate. Coastal erosion, floods, salinity ingression, and increasingly violent storms have rendered most of the land barren.[2] [Atlantic video]

How does one relocate 13 million people?

Further . . .

According to a new report from the United Nations, the population of the planet could rise from its current 7.7 billion to 10.9 billion by the year 2100. [Fivethirtyeight.com]

It occurs to mariner that climate change is extremely pervasive not only to physical stuff like buildings, roads or financial stuff like economic stability but to the scale of managing humans – moving them around, feeding them, housing them, sustaining social functionality – is a massive problem governments haven’t thought about. It makes the current global immigration issue look miniscule.

It occurs to mariner as well that individual governments are charged first with the wellbeing of their own population and economy which automatically creates political conflict when addressing the hardships of other countries in the same bind. Let’s hope the United Nations is up to overseeing a truly global confrontation above and beyond national sovereignty.

And last . . .

Permafrost in the Arctic is not so perma anymore. A University of Alaska Fairbanks team on expedition in the Canadian Arctic was “astounded” to find that permafrost there was thawing 70 years earlier than predicted. The permafrost — “giant subterranean ice blocks” — had been frozen solid for thousands of years. [The Guardian]

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] a natural or man-made site, area, or structure recognized as being of outstanding international importance and therefore as deserving special protection. Sites are nominated to and designated by the World Heritage Convention (an organization of UNESCO).

[2] To view video, see https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/591832/climate-refugees/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=video-series-editors-picks&utm_content=20190618&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

New Things

֎ “Flesh-eating” bacteria that live in the ocean may be spreading to previously unaffected beach waters thanks to climate change, according to a new report.

In the report authors described five cases of severe flesh-eating bacterial infections in people who were exposed to water or seafood from the Delaware Bay, which sits between Delaware and New Jersey. Such infections have historically been rare in the Delaware Bay, as the bacterium responsible for the disease, called Vibrio vulnificus, prefers warmer waters, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico.

But with rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, V. vulnificus may be moving farther north, making these infections in areas previously off-limits, the authors said. [Livescience.com]

֎ Also from Livescience.com, Scientists Develop New Laser That Can Find and Destroy Cancer Cells in the Blood.

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood. And now, researchers have developed a new kind of laser that can find and zap those tumor cells from the outside of the skin.

Though it may some time before becoming a commercial diagnostic tool, the laser is up to 1,000 times more sensitive than current methods used to detect tumor cells in blood, the researchers reported June 12 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

News programs have been announcing that Facebook will have its own digital currency, largely circumventing traditional banks. In Africa Senegal has had such an arrangement since 2011. The reason Senegal moved to independent digital cash is because there are very few banks in Senegal. Virtually all cash transactions are made between special smartphones called E-Wallets. This device-to-device method has its good side in that it is difficult to track an individual’s transactions without a credit card that is tracked by banks who leverage financial information to other sources and, of course, it is more convenient than writing checks or carrying cash.

The downside is Facebook. If every cell in one’s body had a unique name, Facebook would know the names and sell them to anyone. The same is true of personal likes, dislikes, friends, family, possessions, religion, politics, daily habits, cuisine – and now where one spends their money, how much they have and the state of their finances.

Soon there will be as many types of cryptocurrency as there are paper currencies. Be prepared. Cryptocurrency is here to stay and will be an independent adjunct to every large corporation’s products. Just watch Walmart and Amazon as they incorporate their own version of cryptocurrency. Paypal has a great future as a blockchain.

By the way, does anyone have a real quarter? This pinball machine still requires cash.

Ancient Mariner

Speaking Generationally

If it weren’t so depraved, it would be funny. Donald has fired his pollsters when the polls show Donald is behind Joe and other Democratic contenders. He calls the polls ‘fake polls.’

Joe Biden presents an interesting choice for President. Like Hillary, he clearly represents the status quo establishment. He has a smoother personality and he isn’t a woman so that may help with those voters who switched or stayed home in 2016. Mariner’s wife is quick to point out that men don’t like women’s voices – it has nothing to do with politics.

Those with the most to lose in the coming election are the recent generations known as millennial and z (born after 1980). Wages have been suppressed for forty years; housing is limited and too expensive; jobs do not have long term residency (note the term ‘gig’ which means working as a contractor without benefits); taxes are more exorbitant for lower income workers; tech data gathering diminishes competitive retail pricing; climate change will be expensive and destroy job markets; the education industry is in shambles because of high cost, irrelevant methods, political constraints, lack of trade/business schools and disappearing union training; finally, the whole benefits package will disappear if health and insurance are not deeply restructured.

How can a young person win? Who can they vote for – even if their local representative or senator wins, what about the destructive nature of war between political parties and the influence of capitalistic lobbying?

It is common knowledge that the US, indeed the whole world, is changing rapidly and completely. New concepts for money, privacy, longevity and personal independence are emerging. An eighteen year old voter, new to a world that changes day-to-day, has a lot at stake.

As parents of the millennial and z generations, the silent generation, baby boomers and generation x can help out by seeing to it that three things are fixed as rapidly as possible: gerrymandering, Electoral College and election financing. Amos would throw in elimination of the Senate but that’s another war for another time. If the older generations can repair the voting process, that will be a big help to the youngsters.

Ancient Mariner

 

Put a Stamp on it

A good friend of mariner’s suggested a way to express dissatisfaction with Donald. She said that from this point forward, she would place her American Flag postage stamps upside down until Donald was gone. How insightful – a rebellion with postage stamps. Mariner endorses her energy and commitment. One without animosity, a public statement of dissatisfaction that mariner finds more influential than the base’s crudity. Mariner encourages all his readers to join in this subtle, expressive gesture.

The antithesis of mariner’s good friend is Mitch McConnell. He really doesn’t care about the ethics of governance; he doesn’t even care for Donald. As he comes to the end of his career, his ‘upside down stamp’ is very conservative Federal judges. He likely will not survive his next campaign; the last one was close and polls show he is not popular even in Kentucky.

One must understand that the Republican Senate stands between the past and the future. There are several bills passed by the House that will go nowhere in the Senate. The House Democrats have lived up to their promise to pass legislation that will redirect the Federal government to pay attention to the electorate and not to moneyed interests or antique conservative concepts. The GOP Senate, i.e., Mitch, has taken no action on even one bill.

What adds insult to injury is that the Senate, no matter which party dominates, does not represent the public citizen proportionately. The founding fathers incorporated a republic philosophy into a democracy by allowing each state two senators, population notwithstanding. This won over states to support the new federal government but that was when there were only 13 states and a population of 2.5 million. Today, with 50 states and 325 million citizens (2017), grotesquely unbalanced between states, the Senate has lost any ability to fairly represent the republic, let alone a democracy.

Oh well. Mariner has ranted about the weird Senate and Electoral College before. Everyone should think deeply about what America means to them when they vote in 2020.

Ancient Mariner

 

In the News

֎ [Newsy] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that would eliminate religious exemptions for children’s vaccinations amid an ongoing measles outbreak. Under the new law, children who attend school or daycare can only be exempted from vaccine requirements if they have a medical reason. In a statement, Cuomo said: “The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis.” Opponents of the bill say it violates religious freedoms and that they’ll continue to fight for their rights. The U.S. is currently facing one of the worst measles outbreaks in decades. In Rockland County, New York, there have been more than 260 confirmed cases since June 12.

Vaccination is a classic example of confrontation between freedom of religion and freedom of state. The largest religions address the common good in their doctrine but there are uncountable variations and assumptions in religious practice. The same is true of most governments; they are founded on principles of common good but the interpretation of common good runs to irrational extremes.

Common good must prevail else humanity may not survive. At its simplest, humans are a tribal species. Sans an available vaccine, the black plague wiped out sixty percent of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century. Regarding the issue of vaccination, whose freedoms take priority? Solutions require some doctrinal or legislative adjustment; whose common good is more important? Can one imagine a Venn diagram solution? Mariner leaves this issue with the reader to reconcile.

Ancient Mariner

Good and Bad

֎ A number of polls suggest that Democratic voters now consider climate change to be a top-tier issue, as important as health care. Perhaps even more remarkably, the party’s presidential candidates seem to be taking that interest seriously. Jay Inslee has staked his candidacy on the issue; Beto O’Rourke has used a climate proposal to revive his flagging campaign; and Elizabeth Warren has cited the warming planet across a wide set of her famous plans. Three cheers for the electorate.

– – – –

֎ Forget Donald’s public display of attention-getting rhetoric. His real damage is occurring in his cabinet – which isn’t eager to have attention brought to it. Every sector of the cabinet is on a destructive warpath against civility, science, housing, environment, business regulations, domestic fairness and Obama. NPR did a special report on Donald’s war against the poor. Mariner provides an exegesis below but he seriously encourages the reader to visit the NPR article. (https://www.npr.org/2019/06/11/730639328/trump-wants-to-limit-aid-for-low-income-americans-a-look-at-his-proposals?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190611&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews&utm_id=39748169 )

Food aid

Trump Signs Farm Bill, Backs Rule Sidestepping Congress on More Work for Food Stamps

◾ The Department of Agriculture has called for stricter enforcement of a requirement that able-bodied adults work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week to continue getting their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, after three months. 750,000 SNAP recipients will likely have their benefits cut off.

 

Payday loans and Debt Traps

◾ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed rescinding an Obama-era regulation that would require payday lenders to determine whether a borrower has the ability to repay the loan. That regulation was intended to prevent low-income borrowers from becoming saddled with ballooning debt because payday loans can carry annual interest rates of 300% or more.

 

Trump Administration Considering Changes That Would Redefine the Poverty Line

◾ The Office of Management and Budget is considering whether to recalculate the official poverty line using a different inflation measure.

 

Fear of Deportation or Green Card Denial Deters Some Parents from Getting Kids Care

◾ The Department of Homeland Security has proposed limiting the ability of immigrants to get green cards if they receive government benefits, such as SNAP or housing aid. Social service providers have already seen a big drop in immigrant families signing up for assistance, including Medicaid and SNAP, because of fears that it could hurt their efforts to get green cards or become citizens.

◾ President Trump signed a memorandum May 23 calling on federal agencies to enforce a law requiring those who sponsor green card holders to reimburse government agencies for the cost of any public benefits used by the immigrant.

 

Housing

Proposed housing Rule Could Evict 55,000 Children from Subsidized Housing

◾ The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a rule that would deny housing assistance to families with one or more members who are undocumented immigrants. The administration notes that those in the country illegally are not eligible for housing aid, although HUD now prorates rental assistance for such “mixed status” families to take that into account. By HUD’s own estimate, 55,000 children who are either citizens or legal residents could lose their housing as a result of the move. Critics call the proposal “cruel” and are waging a vigorous campaign to block it. HUD Secretary Ben Carson defended it, saying that “it seems only logical that taxpaying American citizens should be taken care of first” and that the change would provide more aid for needy Americans. However, HUD’s own analysis concludes that the rule would lead to fewer people getting housing aid and to an increase in homelessness. The public comment period for the proposed rule runs through July 9, but House Democrats are trying to prevent HUD from enforcing such a rule.

◾ The Agriculture Department is expected to propose a rule later this year similar to HUD’s proposal, to restrict the use of rural housing assistance for households that have one or more members who are undocumented immigrants.

◾ HUD has proposed that the operators of federally funded homeless shelters be allowed to determine which services transgender individuals can use. Operators could base their decisions on their religious beliefs, among other factors. Critics say that if the rule is adopted, transgender individuals could be kicked out of shelters or forced to use ones that serve a gender they do not identify with. HUD Secretary Carson had assured lawmakers at a congressional hearing May 21 that he did not anticipate eliminating Obama-era rules that protect transgender individuals from housing discrimination, and lawmakers were angry to see the proposed rule on a list published by the administration the following day. Details of the rule are expected to be made public later this year for comment. About 1 in 5 transgender individuals experience homelessness at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

 

Shots – Health News

Federal Judge Again Blocks States’ Work Requirements For Medicaid

◾ The administration has approved waivers allowing eight states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, although legal challenges have blocked such efforts in Kentucky and Arkansas. The administration argues that the requirement will encourage people to join the workforce, but opponents say that instead it will deny low-income families much-needed medical aid. About 18,000 Arkansas residents lost their Medicaid coverage when the work requirements went into effect in that state last year.

 

Census citizenship question

GOP Redistricting Strategist Played Role In Push For Census Citizenship Question

◾ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has proposed adding a question to the 2020 census asking whether an individual is a U.S. citizen. The administration says that it needs the information to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, but opponents believe that the real motive is to diminish minority representation. Civil rights groups argue that the question will discourage immigrant and noncitizen households from participating in the census. The result would be an undercount, especially in areas with large immigrant populations. Opponents of the change say low-income communities would be harmed because the census numbers are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, including many safety net benefits. They’ve challenged the citizenship question in court. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in June.

 

Overtime pay

Labor Department Rethinking Obama-Era Overtime Pay Rule

◾ The Department of Labor has proposed increasing the wage level below which workers would automatically be eligible for overtime pay on time worked over 40 hours a week. The Trump administration would raise the current $23,660 a year threshold to $35,308, which would make an estimated 1 million more workers eligible for overtime. However, the Trump proposal would replace an Obama-era rule that would have increased the level to $47,476 and covered four times as many workers. That plan has been blocked in court, in part because of strong opposition from small businesses, which say it would impose a big financial burden. The public comment period on the Trump proposal ends June 12.

 

This is just the wellbeing of the poor. Obviously sympathy has no place in governance of the public. A similar litany of Donald’s cabinet can be written for banks, the environment, public land and parks, taxes, corporate regulation, humane farming and an isolationism that diminishes the nation’s wellbeing among nations.

Ancient Mariner

The Meaning of Pride

Mariner and an old friend visited yesterday. The conversation rambled across many experiences, opinions and bad jokes. Part of the discussion centered on the failure of expectations in family life and on the motivations that promote goodness or destructiveness. At one point in the conversation, the role of pride was the focus. It reminded mariner of an old sermon he preached a time or two about pride.

The word ‘pride’ occurs in many different circumstances and under an assortment of conditions. Why is a family of lions called a pride? Is there a nuanced meaning? A frequently used aphorism is ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:18). Change the noun pride into the adjective proud and a specific definition is difficult to abide by; a common skeptical retort is “Well aren’t we proud?” Wikipedia settled on the following description for pride:

“Pride is an inwardly directed emotional term that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. In Judaism, pride is called the root of all evil. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”

With such polarized meaning, there must be another dimension to pride that makes it as important as it seems to be. That dimension also is an inwardly directed emotional term: Love. On the one hand, pride, or hubris, is a defense mechanism to compensate for perceived incompetence or inadequate self-esteem, often caused by unsuccessful relationships with family or significant others. Angst and insecurity are common sensations.

At the other end, one may feel arrival, achievement, creativity and silent reward. Real pride grows the spirit not only of the individual but of those who receive benefit from the individual’s efforts.

To connect this human phenomenon to religion (quite briefly), major religions believe the power of creation and salvation is love. Love creates salvation whether now or in the afterlife. When an individual improves the state of human affairs without personal reward, one has created with love.

If one wants to grow inside and feel good about it, try love. One can be proud.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Don’t be Vulgar

In recent days, mariner and his wife have had family guests from both sides of the family. It is refreshing to experience the familiarity of family and at the same time feel grateful that, in the United States at least, life goes on despite the vulgarity of the headlines. Reality, too, plays out as friends and family suffer ailments and discouraging circumstances. The overview, however, is that life goes on – despite shootings, racism, war, social abuse and economic distress.

This is not to suggest that one should ignore or be indifferent to the vulgarity of our times. As a member of a democratic society of 350 million people each living an ongoing life, one still is inevitably linked to a responsibility to all 350 million citizens (a different kind of family) to take care of our democracy even as we are distracted by personal life experiences. That vulgarity is part of the nation’s social experience is a side effect of social change. The thesaurus offers other words for vulgarity: tasteless, lewd, licentious, rude and offensive among many more. Vulgarity is a litmus test that identifies dissatisfaction and stress. Vulgarity easily promotes a response of increased rudeness and offensive behavior which makes it hard for an individual or a society to ease vulgarity through compromise and compassion.

The tools one needs to be successful in managing stressful change are found in one’s ongoing life. It is important that life goes on. There is strength in familiarity that helps dealing with vulgarity. There is strength in family unity that helps dealing with vulgarity. There are feelings of security and day-to-day accomplishment that help to weather vulgarity.

Maybe it’s a good time to visit one’s family just to reinforce confidence and even satisfaction that there is a rational side to society. Maybe it’s a good time to take a deeper look at vulgarity to figure out how to make life go on in the midst of significant social change.

Ancient Mariner