Kamala Harris’messaging on busing out of touch 40 years later

The eye catcher ….

Kamala Harris attacked fellow Democratic candidate Joe Biden during last night’s second round of debates between Democrats vying for their party’s blessing to go up against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in November 2020.  Ms. Harris scored points on Mr. Biden when the U.S. senator from California challenged his position in the early 1970s on school busing.  Ms. Harris asserted that Mr. Biden was against busing, the policy that transferred black students from schools in poor neighborhoods with under-performing, under-funded schools to schools in majority white, more affluent communities.  Ms. Harris argued that were it not for that policy, she would not have enjoyed the personal and professional success she is enjoying now.

From the perspective of a candidate seeking votes in the political markets, does the issue of busing resonate enough with the electorate’s fear that the narrative will garner votes?  The answer is no.

Ms. Harris’ busing argument doesn’t address Americans’ fears …

For millions of Americans, the issue of busing does not pull at the heart strings.  With a median age of 38 years, the policy of busing was waning when half of America was alive.  For the past two decades, cities across the United States have implemented remedial plans to address the problem of school segregation.  Ms. Harris’ mother faced the fear of her daughter receiving a less than stellar education in their neighborhood and likely believed this was the best or only available option.  And while there is still the concern about poor funding in low-income neighborhoods, options, including vouchers, charter schools, private schools, and relocation are available to alleviate these fears.

But while the issue of busing will quickly fade from the memories of the electorate who watched last night’s debate, what may linger a little longer is Ms. Harris’ performance.  The push back on Mr. Biden included a picture of Ms. Harris as a school girl and when combined with the tone and delivery of Ms. Harris’ remarks provided enough of an emotional message to connect with people in the audience and with traders in the political futures markets as the price of an event contract on Ms. Harris’ nomination climbed as much as seven cents last night on PredictIt.

But her performance may not address the fear of some in the black community that her record as a prosecutor does not reflect serious attempts at law enforcement reform.  There is the argument that her record is mixed, having not done enough to address the efficacy of investigating police shootings, declining to weigh in on recreational use of marijuana, and her defense of the death penalty.

Kamala Harris, while probably liked by her sorority sisters and the professional class, may not be endeared by those who have had a less than pleasant run-in with law enforcement.

Conclusion: Kamala Harris has work to do …

Ms. Harris has managed to present energized optics over the past 24 hours, but in the 21st century digital world, those optics can be blurred quickly by opposing messaging provided on tens or hundreds of other mediums.  Right now as I type this post, Joe Biden is mounting an energetic rebuttal to Ms. Harris on C-SPAN and while the political futures markets have Ms. Harris’ selling at a higher price than Mr. Biden, the ability for Mr. Biden to go on a policy offensive across multiple platforms with a deeper bench of media and civic leader support could put him back in the driver’s seat.

Advertisements

The corporation serves the State, not the other way around …

The eye catcher ….

During last night’s debate among candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, a number of candidates including U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, criticized corporations operating in various industries for the greed they perpetrate on Americans.  From internet to health care to energy companies, the candidates took issue for predatory prices for health care, the anti-trust implications of large internet companies, and the tax breaks companies receive while rank and file Americans struggle.

In short, corporations should be feared …. or should they?

History of the fear ….

As usual when selling a fear narrative it is important to leave out the education component from any assertion that there is a bogey man to be afraid of.  What consumers of the political narrative should be asking is, “What is a corporation?”  “Why should I be afraid of it?”

corporation is an extension of the State.  A corporation’s purpose is to extract resources, process them, convert them into goods and services, and distribute those goods and services using price as the allocating mechanism in order to generate tax income for the state and private income or profit for itself.

To varying degrees this has been the corporation’s role for the last 400 years.  Americans have been so programmed to believe that America was discovered by adventurous Europeans that they overlook or are simply ignorant about its corporate beginnings.

Prior to the 17th century, corporations, originally not-for-profits that received charters from the British monarch, were established to meet some public works need with their duties overseen by government. During the 17th and into the early 18th century, colonial corporations had the primary responsibility of expanding the British monarch’s empire, creating monopolies and controlling trade.  These companies bought or extracted raw resources, sent then to England for manufacture, and then imported the manufactured goods into the colonies for purchase by the colonists.

Americans have forgotten (if they ever knew) that although their ancestors were miffed by the trade monopolies held by these companies and the economic oppression they contributed to, post the American Revolution, corporations were the structure that drove the private investment into the American industrial revolution.

The problem for American government by the 1820s and 1830s that like the monster from Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein: or, The Prometheus Man, the corporation sought their own version of self-awareness and increased freedom from the strictures of the State.  It has been a back of forth battle between the State and the corporation, with the State taking a more interventionist approach by stepping up regulation in the areas of banking, energy, securities, and telecommunications.  Corporations had been created to carry out the State’s bidding in maximizing America’s resources.  Intervention via regulation is indication that the State fears that it may lose control over the corporate power it relies on to administer the Nation’s resources.

Spreading the fear to the consumer …

It wouldn’t be good social policy for the State to drop the hammer on corporation monopoly over resources if the sentiment of the public were not incorporated in its policy actions.  The optics of an arbitrary application of administrative power does not fare well in a democracy.  There has to be an excuse and in a democracy the excuse should include a discussion on the harms an unregulated corporation could have on the consumer.

Americans may be uncomfortable with the ability of corporations to engage in predatory pricing, but they have a bigger fear of a government that exercises power on a whim.  One can always substitute the product of a corporation with another product, but one cannot easily get away from a State with a monopoly on force.

To stem the fear of arbitrary and capricious application of force, the State gives the impression of fairness and due process in its rulemaking by asking the public to comment on or, when applicable to the decision, to vote.  The State gets the public to buy into regulation of the corporation by painting the corporation as harmful to the public’s interest.  It makes the corporation the bogey man; the entity that transfers wealth from the consumer to its treasury unjustly via high prices or non-disclosure of prices, terms, and conditions.

Conclusion: To serve the State …

By substituting the fear of consumer abuse for the fear of reduced power over the Frankenstein monster, the State accomplishes to goals. First, it keeps the public in check by holding itself out as a consumer protector. Second, it reminds the corporation of its role in the American political economy: that the corporation serves the State and not the other way around.

 

 

 

 

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/041515/what-history-corporations-america.asp

 

The World’s First Corporations

How Andrew Yang is doing so far on the nomination trail

What paths are available to Yang to win the nomination?

Mr. Yang is in the nomination campaign stage where he is trying to win delegates to the Democratic national convention.  As a little-known candidate, Mr. Yang will need a spring board into the national spotlight, similar to the tact that Jimmy Carter applied in 1976, by winning one of the early primaries or caucuses: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina.   Waiting until Super Tuesday in March will be too late because along with the spring board of the early caucus or primary wins comes the financial support that is in search of a winner.

It is all about the delegates.

What is Mr. Yang’s game plan in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, or South Carolina?

Mr. Yang’s primary and caucus focus appears to be Iowa and New Hampshire.  Since March 2018, Mr. Yang has visited Iowa at least 29 times and New Hampshire 34 times.  He is following the standard playbook as inspired by Jimmy Carter during the 1976 election where an early win in Iowa and New Hampshire propelled the unknown former Georgia governor into the national consciousness and later the Oval Office.

What should be of concern to traders and investors in the political markets is Mr. Yang’s relative non-appearance in South Carolina.  To date, Mr. Yang has been to South Carolina three times since March 2018.  South Carolina is an important state because of its large bloc of African American voters.  In addition, South Carolina gets to set the tone for the subsequent Super Tuesday primaries. It appears that, for whatever resource constraint, at least at this point on the nomination campaign, Mr. Yang is delaying efforts to secure a large bloc of voters in South Carolina for a distribution of delegates in two smaller states.

Is Mr. Yang discussing policies that resonate with voters?

Mr. Yang has made universal basic income a centerpiece of his economic policy.  For example, he has established an Iowa Freedom Dividend which provides an Iowan in need with $1,000 a month.  The rationale behind the Dividend is to demonstrate how cash transfers can make an economic difference to voters under financial stress; where their value may be reduced to zero as a result of a hardship.

Mr. Yang argues further in support for his freedom dividend that just as Alaskans receive dividends from oil drilling proceeds, Americans can receive dividends from tech firms that drill for information

While Mr. Yang has only been in South Carolina so few times, he believes, as he relayed in an interview to the staff of The Root, that his universal basic income plan or freedom dividend, would go toward resolving certain issues impacting blacks specifically.

 

While Mr. Yang gets more into the weeds with his policy proposals, he still has to battle the name recognition of front runners such as Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.  I am not ready to say that he cannot make further head way against elected officials with name recognition. The political prediction markets have him ahead of Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and a share on a “yes” vote for Mr. Yang is only two pennies shy of that of South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.  This tells me that either Mr. Yang’s sales pitch is as potent as the next candidate or that the tech entrepreneur is exercising internet savvy in getting his narrative out to voters.

As of 8:01 pm EST this evening, PredictIt has a “yes” vote for Mr. Yang selling at $.12.

 

Blacks need a new political law game

The political battle between the Executive and the Congress has been intense to say the least over the last twenty-seven months since Donald Trump took office.  With post-Mueller report hearings ramping up next week, the saga only promises to continue way into campaign season.

My friends and family have expressed varying degrees of interest, with a significant number of opinions fueled more by emotion and less by critical thinking.  For example, the constant reference to “collusion”, a term that has no legal meaning, is disconcerting because it provides an example of how people are ignoring the particulars (even when readily available for examination) and rolling with the globs of misinformation thrown onto the plate most times by the mainstream media.

Black congressional leadership wasting political power …

What should also be disturbing is how two of the highest ranking blacks in the Congress, Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings, are spearheading the charge in the impeachment debate.  Their distaste for the sitting president is evident, but what is less evident is how the use of a potent political law instrument as impeachment is supposed to translate into any increase in political power, wealth, or capital for black people.

If anything, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed caution about pursuing impeachment, appreciating the argument from some inside her party that pursuing impeachment could have a negative impact on the Democrats’ ability to oust Donald Trump from the Oval Office in November 2020.  Mrs. Pelosi’s hesitancy on impeachment should have provided Ms. Waters and Mr. Cummings an opening to show leadership and go against the impeachment grain, not because it would be in line with Speaker Pelosi’s sentiment, but as a signal that the energy expenditure behind impeachment does nothing for their prime constituency: black people.

When you are marginalized, you agitate …

With at least 51 voting members in the U.S. House, blacks in the Congress are in a position to be the pivotal swing vote on a number of issues including impeachment. Numerically, black members of the House, where articles of impeachment would originate, could clog the wheel by holding back approximately 20% of the Democratic vote.  With this leverage, black congressmen could attempt concessions from either the House leadership or from President Trump, though it is less likely that the black caucus would try to negotiate with the President for fear of becoming a pariah in the Democratic Party.

Therein lies a telling dilemma. If the premier block of black congressmen cannot leverage numerical strength without fear of reprisal, what good is their strength?  Another irony is that for a group of congressman that represent a marginalized group, their fear of marginalization within Congress does not put them in a position to do more for their black constituents.

Maybe the answer is to stay outside the box …

On the other hand, maybe blacks, particularly those who embrace their status as marginalized, need an approach to political law that allows them to carve out their own independent niche; one that unapologetically finds the seams or openings in the political economy in order to access capital or create substantive platforms for constructing true communities. Current black leadership is too afraid to do that.

The likelihood of net neutrality being codified in statute looks dim…

Republicans in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have been pushing for legislation that codifies net neutrality principles, making them a part of federal law.  Even with control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress, Republicans have not been able to convince enough Democratic members of Congress to get on board with passing a law that would avoid the back and forth pendulum between promulgating and repealing net neutrality rules on the agency level at the Federal Communications Commission.

Last spring, 52 U.S. Senators, including three Republicans, voted to reinstate net neutrality rules that were repealed in December 2017 by FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.  Mr. Pai’s treatment of net neutrality keeps the emphasis on one of the open internet’s four principles, transparency but leaves the other three principles; throttling, paid prioritization, and blocking, up to the “network effect”, where broadband access providers argue that discouraging use of the internet by blocking, throttling, or discriminating between carriers would lead to a devaluation of their networks, thus an illogical approach to take.

GOP control of the House is under threat this November.  If election sentiment carries over into the midterms, it is likely that the Democratic Party will capture the House.  Rasmussen Reports found that 47% of likely voters in the United States’ midterm elections are likely to vote for the Democratic Party while 42% of likely voters may cast their ballots for the Republican Party.

In the U.S. Senate, Republicans hold 51 seats while the Democrats hold 47 seats. Two independents, Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, caucus with the Democrats.  The Democrats need at least four seats to regain control of the Senate.

In the U.S. House, Republicans hold 236 seats to the Democrats 193.  Democrats need to pick up at least 25 seats to garner a House majority.

Will Democrats run on net neutrality as an issue? Based in polling from Pew Research, net neutrality is likely not an issue to grab the eardrums of voters.  For all voters, economic issues overall took first place, according Pew’s poll.  When broken down, the top six issues were:

  1. Immigration
  2. Health care
  3. Education
  4. Politicians/Government systems
  5. Guns/gun control/gun laws
  6. Economy/economic issues

For Democrats, while the top three overall issues for all voters were also a part of the Democrats of top three issues, gun control, politicians and government systems, and jobs rounded out the bottom three of their top six concerns.

House Democrats are aligning with their base’s apparent lack of priority for net neutrality.  Looking at a sample of 102 House Democrat websites, only four (3.9%) of those sites mentioned net neutrality, the open internet, or internet freedom as a key issue.

The low priority given to net neutrality this campaign season by voters and House Democrats tells me that Democrats will be in no hurry to join Republicans in drafting a bipartisan net neutrality bill.