The estimated six year shortfall in life expectancy between African-Americans versus white Americans, largely attributable to disproportionate adverse socio-economic conditions created by over two centuries of racist portrayals and discriminatory legislative/policy actions, results in 240 million lost years when applied to a population of nearly 40 million African-Americans (2010 census). The estimated premature loss of life in just the existing African-American population of today totals into the millions of individuals and is conservatively estimated to easily exceed at least ten percent of that population. In considering the potential cumulative loss of life since the beginning of the 20th century, it becomes apparent that the United States is in the midst of an ongoing and prolonged human rights atrocity of considerable magnitude, in direct contrast to our country’s position of being a standard bearer of human rights in the international community. Recent restrictive Voter ID Laws, such as North Carolina’s, that disproportionately disenfranchises the African-American poor, can only work to maintain the adverse conditions that contribute to premature death in a historically discriminated population. The concerns expressed here extend into other political actions such as gerrymandering along racial lines that effectively reduces African-American representation. Further, these concerns are held to represent serious human rights issues that violate at least three treaties both signed and ratified by the United States.
As laws like NC Carolina’s recently enacted Voter ID Law can be tied to a long history of discriminatory treatment of African-Americans that in turn create or sustain adverse socio-economic conditions directly tied to premature death, the issue becomes whether such laws should be viewed as something far more serious than an obstruction of civil rights.
The finding that the AR-15 rifle was being actively selected for premeditated indiscriminate mass killings in 2012 fundamentally changes the debate regarding Senator Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban. Not only does this finding take this weapon and mass shootings beyond anecdotal observations, it has predictive value. We now know with certainty that there will be another horrific premeditated and planned mass killing involving this weapon or another having similar rapid fire and high capacity capability. And it will be difficult to defend against as we cannot predict the timing, the venue, or the selected targets. It is clear that both the weaponry and background checks on all buyers should be addressed to reduce the opportunity for, and carnage of, future premeditated indiscriminate mass shootings. This should become a fundamental part of the upcoming debate on the Senate floor. Should meaningful gun control legislation fail in the Senate, for those senators who opposed there is little doubt that some would have swallowed a ‘poison pill’ regarding their political career.
The GOP’s decision to reinstate tax cut policy in 2001 exposed their hand. It was not about deficit reduction, growing the economy, or job creation. It was about ideology and, no doubt, special interests. It was a backdoor approach where government revenue was cut in an attempt to curtail spending on popular programs they otherwise could not take head-on. This while obstructing the work of Congress, spinning a web of deceit about the benefits of their policy, and weakening our country’s financial standing. It’s time to play hardball during ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and force them to be specific about what spending cuts they are talking about to offset the tax benefits they wish to preserve for the wealthiest. They wouldn’t have the nerve.