That's the parts in black.
My response follows in red.
Hi BakariMy reply is too long to post into your "comment" box, so I am emailing it instead:
First, I want to thank you for taking the time to try to articulate your thoughts and beliefs more clearly so we can understand what you are thinking.
I think that I understand your beliefs a little better now.That being said, I have many mixed feelings about your analysis and conclusions. ... who cares enough to want to influence things to be more just and fair and better for all; and ... that you are so intelligent and do so much research to try to discern what is real and true and what is not; and that you have the courage to express your beliefs regardless how unpopular.However, I believe that you oversimplify many things to make them fit neatly into your analysis
(just as do many other people whom you accuse of making false allegations about the current state of affairs.) Yes, the left ("liberals"), generally plays the same game of "us & them" as the right. (The oppressed vs the oppressors or the disadvantaged vs the privileged, etc.) But so do you. The difference is just that yours is a team of one, rather than a self-identified group. It is bright Bakari vs all those idiots out there on left & right who cannot see that the emperor has no clothes.
Besides, most of what I know and understand comes from other sources. I just happen to have a particular nexus of not identifying with a particular side, being exposed to very different populations, finding certain things interesting, and - this is important - having a blog. Anyway, I don't feel particularly "opposed" to everyone who sees things differently. People with strong affiliations to one side or the other tend to write things to their own side, since the opposition is incorrigible. If I felt that far removed from everyone, I would have no incentive to write.
Re: "race" issuesI think you underestimate how much racism still exists in this country and oversimplify the causes.I agree that people often falsely assume they are being targeted for reasons of racism rather than due to their own behavior or in situations where they are not being targeted at all (as in the examples you gave). However, I disagree with your apparent belief that, with all other things being equal (dress, behavior, etc.), that dark-skinned &/or African-featured people do not get harassed and/or discriminated against disproportionately more than lighter-skinned people. There have been too many examples of well-behaved middle-class men in suits being targeted by police, as well as of white people acting just as poorly and dangerously being handled more gently, to be able to agree with your apparent assumption that race is not a large factor in how people in the U.S. are treated by police (and everyone else.)
I know you live by statistics; please refer me to your source that proves your case in this regard.
So looked at differently: Blacks and Latinos made up 90% of murder suspects, and yet despite that only 41% of stops were those demographics.
In your analysis, you speak of patterns of stereotyping of different immigrant groups as they first arrived and how the stereotypes faded as each group became more wealthy and successful in society. What is your analysis of why each of the groups you named were able to overcome the discrimination and go on to become successful and mainstreamed in a few generations, while African-Americans and Native-Americans (who were here before all of those groups of immigrants) still suffer with a much higher proportion of poverty and attendant crime?
Consider that African immigrants do dramatically better than multi-generational US blacks in (for example) education and income
Same skin color, different culture. The averages are closer to white immigrants than they are to native African Americans.
Re: Your basic analysis & conclusions about economic disparity and changeI find your analysis of economic disparity to have a stronger foundation in research than your beliefs about the degree of racism in this country. But I do think you are oversimplifying here as well....
While your theories all sound very factual, I do not know them to be true. Many successful and productive people throughout history began with lives of wealth and privilege and were completely supported through college by their parents and inherited from their parents and still worked hard and were productive. Many people born in poverty remained in poverty whether productive or not. Many times productive and unproductive people were born to the same family and raised in the same poverty, wealth or somewhere in between, and had the same gifts and support bestowed upon them by their family.
I think there is a difference between support and assistance and "spoiling."
I agree that if children are usually given everything they want and nothing at all is expected of them, they will be likely to take things for granted, and feel entitled to be taken care of all of their lives. On the other hand, giving unconditional love and meeting all their basic necessities as infants and children is the best way to raise healthy happy people.
I don't in anyway think that children should have to "earn" their food, shelter, clothing, or education. I do think that adults who are capable of it, should, and that to have an equal society, any help one person gets everyone should get.
Even as young adults, to give support and assistance when they are doing their best is not the same as "spoiling." If I had the money to put children through college, I would not want to waste it on a child who cuts class all the time and refuses to study. But I see no reason not to help the child who is getting straight As or who is struggling to work while in school and it is interfering with their studies.I would like to see what scientific study, done scientifically, ruling out other factors, with bonafide statistics, etc., has convinced you that children who have parental support through school
and/or receive a substantial inheritance are generally less productive than those whose parents either cannot provide or intentionally deny them assistance.
No right or wrong answers that I can see.
What I do know is
1) that the majority of middle class Americans get significant levels of help as adults, cash amounts large enough that the class you are born into becomes a major factor,
2) that the majority of the Middle class has an entirely self-imposed scarcity due to not understanding the value or power of money and making consistently bad decisions. I
believe these things are related, though I have no independent data to support that belief.
As to "doing the right thing," it sounds like you are saying that no matter how much you may donate to worthy causes (including economic justice agencies and scholarship funds), it is meaningless if you also give anything materially substantial to your own children. Is that your intent?
To insist that one can't do both, or that it is meaningless if you do?
You cited 2 examples of ridiculously rich men pledging to leave 99% of their wealth to charity, and then admitted that still left hundreds of millions for their children. Most of us can't leave hundreds of millions to our children even if we gave nothing to charity. So I do not see how these two examples support your points (about what the rich understand about not coddling children or about the injustice of inheritance).
It also seems that you expect the change to occur by just convincing people one by one to deny their children the inheritance that they would otherwise have given them, and refuse to help their children through college. I believe that it takes systemic changes (like laws and govt. programs) to change the habits of masses of people. For example, most people did not start to recycle until curbside recycling was made available.
I think that, if your analysis of economic disparity is correct, than it needs laws limiting inheritance (&/or greatly taxing it) to make change on a scale large enough to make a difference. Expecting conscientious individuals to do it alone, is like expecting a few to lose their houses to the IRS for refusing to pay taxes due to war, while the wars go on unaffected by the actions of so few. Though I suppose it may be helpful to get people thinking about this stuff. But I still question the efficacy of sacrificing your personal inheritance for an imagined change in our unjust economic environment.
One more point I want to make in reference to motivation. You clearly think assistance (if you say "too much assistance," than I can agree) is de-motivating. Has it ever occurred to you that many people are motivated to work and produce in order to provide for their children, and that if you denied them the ability to do that, they will be much less productive?
If someone has gotten so much wealth that it now has zero marginal utility in their own lives (there is nothing left they want to buy), then I am VERY ok with them not continuing to "be productive" (build wealth).
GOOD! That means less inequality. That means the job they continue to hold even though they don't need it becomes available to someone else. We have no need to maximize productivity in this country. We have more than we need already, as clearly evidenced by how much stuff we throw away, how much we put in storage, how much we replace things that are still useable.
The idea of just working for the public good without any personal incentive to work harder did not work very well in many of the communist countries where that was attempted, leading to a return to private enterprise in Russia, China and even in Cuba.
My own analysis of what would make a fairer economic system & environment without denying people the ability to provide their children with any of the financial fruits of the parent's labor, is to try to even things out better through taxation. I have no problem with laws to tax inheritance, and to heavily tax extremely large gifts. Personally, I think that is the best way to deal with the issue. But even that gets huge push-back from the population, especially the rich. I don't think your idea to do away with inheritance altogether is ever going to fly. I especially don't think the 99% are going to be willing deny their own children while the rich families continue to hoard the mass of the wealth. Case in point: [I am] willing to skip a generation to ensure that my descendants (whether biological or adopted) reap some of the benefits of my labor. If even I am this corrupt (or "selfish"), one can hardly expect the rest of society to do away with inheritance altogether, don’t you think?
For example: http://www.uhy.com/
True, every culture has some non-zero degree of inheritance just like every culture has some degree of violence, drug abuse, and xenophobia. But, as with those things, they degree is highly variable, and cultures with inheritance taxes that apply to more people also have significantly less income inequality, and significantly less poverty. The US has the largest exemptions of any country (that has any inheritance of gift taxes at all), and it also has the most inequality.
I think if we don't, we are guaranteed not to - and the tragedies we have seen on the news every few months will just continue to accelerate as well meaning activists and attention seeking media continue to foment a race war.