Look at these headlines:
The ugly SCOTUS voting rights flim-flam
Obama “Deeply Disappointed” With Voting-Rights Ruling
Skewering the Voting Rights Act Decision
Voting Rights Act gutted
THE COURT REJECTS THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT—AND HISTORY
I’ll confess I had only the vaguest understanding of the Voting Rights Act until it blew up all over media and my Twitter feed, and god bless me, I am no lawyer, but how in the hell is it possible that virtually every media story gets the facts completely wrong?
Let’s start with some history. The Act, which came into effect in 1965, was a response to certain jurisdictions in the United States (especially in the Southern states) enacting conditions that determined who could and could not vote, and most of those conditions had the curious effect of disenfranchising mostly Black voters.
For example, requiring voters to pass a literacy test before they could cast a ballot. Or requiring that all back taxes be paid before a citizen could vote. Lots of jurisdictions fucked around with registration requirements, making them at inconvenient times (planting season) or requiring long periods of residence or creating complicated re-registration rules, all of which had the effect of disenfranchising mostly Black voters. No doubt, a few White citizens were caught in these webs, too, but the overwhelming effect was to make sure Black citizens could not vote.
So the Supreme Court stepped in and said “enough of this fuckery” and the Voting Rights Act was born. Section 5 of the Act gives the justification for the Federal Government to override the powers of the states to determine how their electoral processes will work. States with a history of vote suppression are not allowed to make any changes to their voting procedures, no matter how small, without the federal government’s approval. Section 4 lays out the formula to determine which specific jurisdictions were subject to the Act.
In considering Shelby County v. Holder, SCOTUS determined that Section 4 is constitutional – yes, the Federal government can require preclearance. Section 5, however, was ruled unconstitutional. The formula that worked 40 years ago does not work today.
And that’s it. That’s the ruling. SCOTUS passed the ball to Congress, as they are supposed to do.
An objective headline that actually reflected the facts would read something like this:
SCOTUS ASKS CONGRESS TO WRITE A NEW FORMULA TO APPLY THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
CONGRESS MUST UPDATE THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT FORMULA IS OUT OF DATE
Instead, we are bombarded with End of the World as we Know It headlines that seem designed to stir up controversy and anger and appear to me to be little more than race-baiting.
But I think there is more going on here than meets the eye. The SCOTUS ruling and the press coverage are joining hands to convey a message to Americans: what worked 40 years ago doesn’t work today and what doesn’t work is going to change.
That is the cause of all the hysteria, if you ask me. A very necessary piece of legislation has evolved over the course of forty years so that the original purpose of the legislation has been lost. And the Voting Rights Act isn’t the only piece of law that is in sore need of updating.
The exact same day that SCOTUS ruled on the VRA, it also tackled a case involving Affirmative Action. Abigail Fisher filed a case against The University of Texas, claiming she was denied admission by a policy that favors any race but Caucasian. In a 7-1 decision, the Court decided that there was something fishy going on at U of T, and they will be giving the case more consideration.
Again, Affirmative Action was a piece of legislation designed to address universities and colleges that actively discriminated against Black and other minority students, particularly by having admissions standards that favored White middle class students.
The first Affirmative Action laws were in place as early as 1961, but conditions have changed dramatically since then, and Affirmative Action is no longer doing the job it was designed to do. Rather than address actual discrimination and inequalities, it is now being used to unfair advantage. Sasha and Malia Obama require special treatment to access university? Bullshit.
Do middle class kids of any race need affirmative action? They don’t, but upper and middle class kids who are part of a racial minority are the ones who primarily benefit from the law as it stands.
You know who does need affirmative action? Poor kids of any race. Affirmative Action based on class would address unfair and discriminatory admissions policies far better than race based legislation.
And the group that experiences the lowest rates of college enrolment? Oh that would be White men from impoverished backgrounds.
And yet they are the students who benefit the most from a college education.
Military veterans are particularly hard hit by Affirmative Action programs based on race. Well, as long as they’re White.
SCOTUS is tackling these issues, and addressing the fact that laws designed to ameliorate problems that really did exist 40 years ago are now being exploited for unfair advantages, because the culture has changed so much.
Here’s another ideology that has moved from necessary protections to pure exploitation: trade unions. Trade unions were designed to give workers power to force through laws that protected their interests, which were being exploited ferociously by industrialists. And that’s the way capitalism works. If there is no law saying ALL companies must provide paid sick days, then NO company will, because it will put them at a serious competitive disadvantage. Laws requiring that ALL companies abide by the same rules level the playing field.
Unions were absolutely key to giving workers needed protections.
And now? Unions are basically taxpayer rapists. Look at this report from Canada. Public sector workers earn as much as 42% premium on their private sector counterparts. And who pays for that premium? The private sector workforce. In certain provinces, HALF the teachers don’t show up for work on sunny Fridays, sticking the taxpayers with a multi-million dollar bill to pay for supply teachers.
On one sunny Friday last month, almost one in five teachers called in sick in suburban Toronto’s sprawling Peel district, leaving officials scrambling to fill the void. In the Toronto District School Board itself, figures show 6,500 more teachers were absent with an illness this May than in either 2011 or 2012. In one Toronto school, every day this spring, 25 per cent of the teachers were off sick, says Toronto trustee Jerry Chadwick, a former principal.
How do they get away with that? The teacher’s union.
My brother, who is a gasfitter, works for a large industrial heating and air-conditioning company and he and his employees are constantly harassed by trade unions to join. All the men (and yes, his workforce is 100% men, except for….. you guessed it. The secretaries!) are wildly opposed to joining any unions, because the rules would handcuff them and prevent them from tackling jobs the way they want to.
And it would slow down the work dramatically.
And it would cost them more money in wages, overtime, benefits, perks, etc. Part of the reason my brother’s company is so profitable is because they are not unionized. And the workers who want to work make money.
Unions, once key to creating a functional economy and launching the American Middle Class, are now organized crime units that rob mostly taxpayers of their own money.
Here’s another ideology that has worn out its welcome: feminism. Once, feminism was absolutely vital to ensuring that women had the same basic protection as men under the law, although the early feminists were careful to make certain women had the same rights, but not the same obligations.
Now, the goal of feminists seems to be to capture as many benefits as they can, while still avoiding most of the responsibility. It’s now reached the point of utter absurdity. Here is Vicky Pryce arguing that women should never be sent to jail!
Oh, do you mean this woman, Vicky? The one who beat her two year old son to death in a prolonged and vicious attack that brings tears to my eyes to even consider?
Or how about this one, who picked a TOTAL STRANGER off the Internet, accused him of raping her and ruined his fucking life?
SCOTUS has turned its discerning eye towards laws that were written 40 some years ago to address situations that no longer exist. The media hysteria surrounding the decisions on the VRA and Affirmative Action are cries of fear. The wolves are circling.
Underserved benefits are about to come under scrutiny, and the Court seems unwilling to keep their heads in the sand and they are point blank refusing to ignore wide-spread abuse of laws designed for a very different purpose. The world has changed, and for the better.
Three out of four Black people are now out of poverty. That’s the change Affirmative Action was designed to effect.
In 2000, the [poverty] rate for Blacks dropped to 22.1 percent and for Hispanics to 21.2 percent—the lowest rate for both groups since the United States began measuring poverty. By 2010, however, the poverty rate for both groups had risen to around 27 percent.
Does that mean Black people no longer face discrimination? Of course not! Hello, Paula Deen. But it does mean that Affirmative Action needs to change to help the 1 in 4 who are still mired in poverty, without giving unfair advantages to well off Black students.
Class, not race.
We need laws to reflect those changes, and to keep the formerly down-trodden from becoming the masters. Competition for resources is human nature. The whole point of a civil society is to make sure than no one group has an unfair advantage over another. That’s how a meritocracy works. You rise and fall according to your own talents.
And that is why legacy admissions to elite colleges are also a giant steaming pile of bullshit. If you can’t get in just because you’re Black, then you can’t get in just because your White daddy went there ahead of you.
George. You fucker. If you had to apply on the basis of merit, you’d be going here:
Democracy: a thousand idiots getting together and agreeing to make a really stupid decision. That’s the downside. But there is no better way. The idiots will always be with us. And the only way democracy works is to have a social meritocracy.
Here are your bootstraps. Yank them up.
Or sit down and shut the fuck up.
You get out what you put in.
Lots of love,