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SharonRB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-12-06 10:41 AM
Original message
G4G Talking points for 09/12
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (56 Days until Victory 2006)

If you define for me what affirmative action means then we can have that conversation. Dick DeVos when asked about his position on affirmative action in April.

This weekend Governor Granholm will be attending the Michigan NAACP conference in Lansing. She will give a speech discussing her longstanding support of affirmative action and her history of fighting for social justice.

Dick DeVos has repeatedly avoided discussing affirmative action directly. Like so many elements of the DeVos agenda (how he would pay for his economic proposals, who will foot the bill for the business tax cuts he supports), DeVos has left his stance on affirmative action intentionally unclear.

However, he has a long history of supporting groups that are vehemently opposed to affirmative action, just as he has consistently supported people like George Bush and policies like outsourcing and unfair trade that hurt Michigan citizens.

Headlines from Around the State

Detroit Free Press: Program drops cost of insurance in cities / Participants may get more discounts
Gov. Jennifer Granholm said at a news conference in Detroit on Monday that additional discounts would be given for people over 50, customers who have both a homeowners and auto insurance policy with Auto-Owners and drivers who have antitheft devices in their cars. . . . Insurance companies have been using territorial rates, which base rates in part by location, since 1979. Insurance rates are higher in Detroit and Flint, insurers say, because more cars are stolen or vandalized, accident rates are higher and road conditions are poor. Homes, meanwhile, are more susceptible to break-ins and vandalism in urban areas. As a result, customers in places like Detroit and Flint, often pay more than double the rates charged to their suburban counterparts. Urban legislators and others, including Granholm, have tried for years to stop the practice. Insurance Commissioner Linda Watters tried to end the practice of using credit scores as one way to determine rates, but the insurance industry sued and prevailed in court. "Let's have insurance rates based not on where you live, but how you drive," Granholm said.
Click here to read the full article...

Dowagiac Daily News Column: If only they could drop $33 million a bag at a time
If DeVos continues at his current pace, the nine-year Alticor president (1993-2002) would be projected to shell out another $9 million of his own money on the contest. Why would anyone want to be governor of Michigan this bad? DeVos must regard Lansing as a launching pad to the White House. The rest of us are left to parse Democrats' claims DeVos laid off 1,400 workers at Alticor during his nine-year tenure while at the same time investing $200 million in Alticor manufacturing operations in China. The DeVos camp says that while 1,400 jobs were eliminated, only 600 workers were laid off. In his own 60-second rebuttal spot, DeVos says there was no connection between job losses and the China investment.
Click here to read the full article...

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Hidden Stillness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-14-06 12:04 AM
Response to Original message
1. I Support Affirmative Action
(Well, I don't know if anyone will actually go to the effort to read this message, it is very long, but it is a piece I wrote supporting Affirmative Action, why we need it, and a little background. It was the situation of the current threat in Michigan that prompted me to write something supporting it. I posted it on General forum, but it sank like a stone. I just hope people understand what these great laws are for, and that they cover many groups of people who have been discriminated against.)

Sometimes, during an era of mind-numbing propaganda, the systematic corporate/media erasure of memory and even reasoning, and the restatement and recharacterization of once-understood principles and premises, it becomes necessary to tell again the meaning and value of some of the foundations of our civilized society.

I support Affirmative Action laws, and consider them to be not only not divisive or "reverse discrimination," as the organized attack against it claims, but actually to be among the greatest legislation of the 20th century, and a great step forward for a society that at one time attempted to heal and cure itself. Affirmative Action makes the abstract promise of equality real, protects and takes on the case of the powerless wronged victim, confronts the evildoer, and helps, in the real world, to promote a civilizing, balancing influence on society. Laws like this are the difference between a democracy of the people, with a government that addresses and serves them, and a hopeless tyranny where there are only rich people and slaves.

Affirmative Action laws face the fact that general statements of equality among groups, pledges of liberty and even previous generalized legal protections against discrimination will not accomplish the goal, and will not secure a permanent state of equal treatment, unless there are consequences for breaking the law. No system of justice or of equitable treatment has ever sustained, if there aren't laws and punishments bolstering and reinforcing the conduct. With all the vituperative and divisive slander against it, the fact is that Affirmative Action laws added nothing new but consequences, to already existing anti-discrimination statutes. Think about the all-too-typical pattern for legislation: an oppressed group wins a test-case court decision, class-action lawsuit, or changes a law by way of voter petition-drive, a new law is then enacted, but instead of ending the discrimination, it is either not complied with by employers (for example) or is subverted by deceit. Now what do you do? Affirmative Action is an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and was Executive Order 11246, signed 1965 by Pres. Lyndon Johnson. (The phrase "affirmative action" was first used by Pres. Kennedy for a 1961 Executive Order of similar type.) The new law was a back-up for the Civil Rights Act by imposing standards for measuring progress and compliance with law, with timetables, guidelines, penalties, for all institutions that had contact with the Federal government, subject to its laws, and was enforced by the then-new Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

There had been laws on the books banning discrimination against black people since at least the Civil Rights Act of 1875, shortly after the Civil War, banning discrimination against blacks seeking access to housing, employment, and all public accomodations. Black males, on paper, had the right to vote since Reconstruction just after the Civil War, and black women, along with all other women, gained the right with the Amendment of 1920. Still, as late as the 1960s, in many areas of the South, blacks were kept from voting by intimidation, actual violence, and such semi-legal trickery as poll-taxes, questionnaires, etc. It did not end until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Some might say that, with the introduction of the electronic voting machine, it revived. When a century of law was insufficient, when the law was generally violated, then only consequences--the measurement of progress, and punishment at refusal to comply with the law--will bring this state of fair treatment and access from the abstract to the living, day-to-day world. It seems that to solve an intractible problem, it takes two levels of law--the statement banning discrimination, and then on top of it, the reinforcement of an instrument to measure whether or not the first thing even existed.

"You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him...and then say 'You're free to compete with all the others' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair," as Pres. Johnson put it. (Change the word "him" to "them," and this statement is really great. Now you can whine about "political correctness," blah blah. Just don't pretend to be oppressed.) When people are denied opportunity--for jobs, for equal pay at their jobs, for bank loans when they have ability to pay back, for access to higher education, or anything else they were being denied by the act of another--then the law must address the situation as it is, and take account of the true nature of the problem. Otherwise, nothing will ever actually be solved, only pretended. If people are unable to afford to go to college because they are underpaid, and they are underpaid, for example, because they are women, then a generalized law that does not address itself specifically to the situation of discrimination on the basis of sex, will not solve the problem of their situation. A law to get funds for poor people to go to college may be, similarly, tailored against them, as the rest of their original situation was. In the real world, there is unfairness, harrassment, coercion, crime, and the fact of the bigotry must be dealt with, if that was the cause.

The Logic and Justice of Affirmative Action
The laws prove their worth, their deeper truth, by the fact that the principles of non-discrimination/affirmative action are not only racially applied, but as a true, democratic principle, find their benefits everywhere. The single largest group benefiting from Affirmative Action laws are women, as we are the largest single group; class-action lawsuits from white women, and groups of black and white women petitioners, on the basis of sex discrimination, have been the largest plaintiff groups. There are Affirmative Action laws covering older people, so they cannot be fired because of age (1967), the disabled (one extension of which was the Americans With Disabilities Act, part of the 1991 Civil Rights Act), Viet Nam veterans, and I believe there was a recent attempt to add recent veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq to the list, and other groups. It is not a "racial preference" for black people, despite the totally dishonest attempt to cast it that way, but is a system of protections for many people of many circumstances. It is, as a matter of fact, an indication of exactly that continued racial prejudice against blacks, that attempts to turn the angered mob against a group that is now pretended to be the sole, (and "undeserving," as characterized), beneficiary of laws that actually cover many groups and circumstances. Casting the judgment on black people for using these laws, instead of keeping the attention where it belongs, on how these laws punish discrimination and help us all, is a deliberate tactic.

Many people considered to be "trailblazers" or "independant pioneers" were actually only able to pursue their careers because of Affirmative Action, and similar, laws. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice on the Supreme Court, for example, a legal genius who finished at the top of her class, 1961, for years could not get a single offer from a law firm, and worked as a law-office clerk for years, until employers were forced to hire "her type," women. No matter what her personal traits were, it availed nothing. As a matter of fact, it is often a pattern that people do not accept the "other" group, sincerely believing that they "don't have it" and "can't keep up," etc., until it is demonstrated to them by the groups themselves, but it never could have happened unless the privileged group was forced to open their doors to the excluded group and hire them, and thus get used to them by experience, until eventually, there is no issue at all anymore. The excluded group, however, only made progress by the force of law, and lawsuits. It was by gaining the opportunity that they proved they were equal to it. After all, when people were originally kept from getting whole classes of jobs, when their pay was artificially low, when they were not promoted, and all the rest, exactly because someone of the privileged group wrote and passed a law, then only, at least, a new law ending the effect and influence of the first, will succeed. Nothing else gives the immediate, palpable progress as does the removal of an obstacle.

The Appearance of Arguments Against It
There is a certain generality of attitudes and claims, against Affirmative Action and against anti-discrimination measures generally, even against the intervention of Government itself, that is poisonous to a fair appreciation of the necessity of these laws and what they were there for, that need to be pointed to and countered. These claims altogether pretend a "self-reliant" personality that "doesn't want handouts or unearned privilege--for anybody," etc., but that is a mask or a failure to understand.

Often the opponents of Affirmative Action have an impression of themselves--often divorced from reality--that they are "independant go-getters," who "worked hard to get what they have," and who succeeded because of their own "excellence," etc. They are suddenly concerned with "fair play" and "unearned advantage," where of course, they never were before. Sometimes, they spin a whole, elaborate presentation that recounts the stories of several accomplished black people, women, disabled people, and others, and warn the listeners, "sincerely," that none of these people would want to be thought of as profiting merely by a "quota" or "preference" rule, and that Affirmative Action "really, secretly hurts" all these groups, by "making" others think they got to their higher positions by unfair pressure of court decision. Of course, there are a few things wrong with this telling of the thing.

First, the people who would disparage the achievements of women and blacks, etc., on this basis, will likely do it on another basis, if this one is lacking. Note all the generations of women who have had to suffer with the "she slept with the boss" slander at any promotion, however earned it was. The "self-reliant" crowd also refuses to admit their own ordinary, constant reliance on government and law every day of their own lives. You don't really incinerate your own garbage and inspect your own meat and produce, do you? This attitude also ignores the fact that the discriminated-against group generally has all the same college degrees, high grades, work backgrounds, and qualifications, as the one group that tends to get all the top jobs; this is the only way they can prove bias, and win court cases of this type.

Sometimes they pretend that laws impede the "open road" that the capitalism of the "trailblazing pioneers" is, and puts up unfair and obstructing roadblocks that only complicate the process of business and work, and make everything needlessly hard and add layers of paperwork and "always bad" regulation. They pretend that the capitalists who "know what they are doing" are being replaced with the "bureaucrats" who "don't understand business and have never made a dime," now controlling things. This can be especially poisonous, as the muddled "reasoning" often convinces people who do not learn and think. This, of course, plays right into the hands of those who want to deregulate areas of the workplace that you never would have dreamed of--killing even minimum wage guarantees, number of hours worked, workplace safety, outsourcing, corporate tax levels, availability of pensions, reasons for firing workers, and an endless list of others. As a matter of fact, the presence of Affirmative Action leads directly, as the same kind of issue, to the further protection of all employees from unfair firing, punishment on the job, and a thousand other things.

Industries are helped by government regulations, which not only attack criminality, but force intelligent planning, doing things correctly the first time, curb investment schemes and stock manipulation, rather than real commercial profit gained by producing something. Manufacturing regulations are thought up by those who know the industry, for the benefit of the industry. Deregulated industries, on the other hand, are characterized by nothing so much as a throat-slitting frenzy, until all of them are dead but the one or two remaining now-merged monopolies.

Sometimes there is concern that "two wrongs don't make a right," and that "one kind of discrimination shouldn't be replaced with another." This is usually someone "troubled" by the thought that a woman of any race, or black person of either sex, will get a break that a white male wanted, when the same type believes that all white males have "earned" their jobs or admittances to universities, no matter how many cases of "rich Daddy handing the business down to stupid, worthless rich Junior," or "legacy" (children of rich donors) admittances to universities, there are. Regardless, I answer it this way: Sometimes, it is the only way to solve the problem. This group has too much, the others have too little; the only thing to do is take some away and give it to the others. Think of it this way--Imagine the police are pursuing a speeding car, a crime which they intend to stop, and punish. What is the only possible way that they can accomplish that aim? By speeding! They themselves have to speed, to get to the vehicle, then stop everyone's speeding--once it is accomplished--and everyone is now "equalized." The second one did the same thing that the first one did, but to end it, not to continue it.

Sometimes, only a court decision and new law can enforce the remedy to an injustice, and prevent further retribution against the original victim who lodged the complaint. Imagine how few people over several generations would have been "granted" raises by their employers if they had had to individually ask for them, with no legal guarantees that they would continue to keep their jobs, as opposed to a legally-protected union bargaining collectively, backed by law and the operations of government. As incredibly stupid as "President" Bush's recent suggestion that people with no income other than Social Security can somehow come up with money (from somewhere) for "personal savings accounts," so is the suggestion that the victim of bigotry, who has no personal resources, can somehow fight against huge corporations with teams of lawyers, public relations campaigns, etc., for redress of grievances, with anything other than the even greater might of government to help them.

There is a larger issue here too, that of the general right of a citizenry and its Government and courts, to impose laws on businesses, on capitalism itself and its conduct, that are for the general social good, that benefit the people and our society, and not the separated rich class of investors and corporate management, and their selfish hoard of profits. Affirmative Action-type laws tell these privieged groups that we the people have the ultimate power to control, and that all types of unfairness, malfeasance, and refusal to submit to the will of the people and the general good, will be all, similarly, regulated by us and our laws. If the people can impose no laws on the moneymaking of rich people, if their whims are treated as sacrosanct above our life-and-death needs, then what else will follow, as they impose chain after chain of their choosing on all of us, and we are powerless to react with law?

Affirmative Action is but one part of a wonderful complex of modern-day law and rule, that attempts to bring to living reality the abstract promise of "liberty and justice for all," in our actual, daily lives, and gives a real opportunity to those who seek "the pursuit of happiness" in an orderly society that recognizes the existence of evil, and takes a stand against it, giving the individual victim a force to protect them, and seeking to address, and then end, the violent cruelties of oppression, that we know exist, but have to fight to be rid of. Don't throw away these laws; they prop up more than you know. It is one of the marks of progress, and the gains made by all groups over the centuries will not last half a day, if the laws that force the conduct and punish its violation were removed. Further, it is a lesson and a teaching tool to all generations, that this is where we stand, and that this is the conduct we will expect of our citizens. We are not a great democracy because of internal lofty superiority; we exist as a democracy because of a system of laws, and a bolstering by consequences, that keeps a just balance between the members of a society.

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