Sunday, June 27, 2021

Doers and dreamers at the border

            Visiting the southern border last week, Vice President Kamala Harris said this:

            "We're talking about children. We're talking about families. We're talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective."

            You could just hear the Republican Party snort.

            No reference to drug dealers and rapists? No "hordes"? No "swarms"? Surely she could throw in a "caravan," and of course "COVID."

            Rest assured Donald Trump will throw in all of them when he visits the border in his civilian role as troll.

            Then Gov. Greg Abbott will do the monkey-do thing.

            The rhetoric allowed the GOP to look the other way when families were separated at the border and when Trump left office without doing anything to reunite them.

            By contrast, President Biden immediately established the Task Force for the Reunification of Families. It has been doing its job, having reunited 36 families so far, with so many left to go. The GOP policy left over 2,000 children and their families in limbo.

            Trump and his acolytes will not, cannot, acknowledge the humanity represented by the people seeking asylum or just a better life by crossing the border.

            They don't acknowledge, for instance, how vital immigrants are to our economy and have been for decades, how many have lived sparkling lives among us, their children growing up smart and strong.

            They talk about human beings only as a drag on our system, when in fact providing a path to citizenship would change the tax equation in positive ways.

            The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy estimates undocumented individuals pay more than $11.74 billion annually in state and local taxes through a combination of sales taxes and their share of property taxes (through rentals) and payroll taxes.

            In 2013, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that legislation to increase immigration and a path to citizenship to millions would provide $459 billion over 10 years based on new collection of income and payroll taxes.

            But that wouldn't be the biggest benefit. That would come in the economic activity of letting a shadow population comport itself proudly in the light of day.

            The most dramatic benefit of the 1986 measure signed by President Reagan granting amnesty of 3 million undocumented individuals is that their pay increased 5 to 10 percent over a decade according to several studies.

            Attached to that was the peace of mind and sense of permanence by which they could invest in homes and businesses, no longer walking the razor's edge of deportation. Similarly, their children could strive in school without fear.

            As was phrased by one of the authors of a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy that touted economic benefits of immigration – words that should seem second-nature to all Americans – immigration itself is "an entrepreneurial act. Picking up your things, leaving your relatives behind and coming to a new country is about wanting something better for yourself."

            While Trumpians make siren sounds about all those people wanting in on the American miracle, the U.S. Census points to what analysts call "demographic stagnation." A layman's definition of that would be an older, less-driven economy.

            To change that equation, New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo urges regulating immigration much like we regulate inflation.

            Maintaining robust immigration levels, he writes, would "keep America's ratio of working young people to retired old people stable."

            So, rapists and drug dealers? Or entrepreneurs and doers? Actually, it's all of the above – the good with the bad – but that applies to the native-born of this nation as well.

            We could have North Korea. We could have Iran or Saudi Arabia. We have the United States of America.

            The doers and dreamers begat us, even the scoundrels and charlatans among us.

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Young column: Can’t hack diversity training? Snowflakes

         "Welcome to 'White Grievance Weekly,' the news magazine of the patriotic and pasty.

          "On this show, loyal viewers of OEN – One Ethnicity Network – learn about the never-ending efforts to chap the hides of God-fearing Anglo Americans.

          "Last week's episode we devoted to the dark day 54 years ago when the Supreme Court legalized race-mixing at the altar. It's been all downhill from there.

          "This week's subject: diversity training in the U.S. military . . ."


          Sorry, I can't watch any more.

          Some TV networks need to get a life. And some political movements need to figure out other reasons to exist.

          On race matters, right-wing networks are positively aflame with artificial umbrage.

          A recent analysis found that since March, Fox News commentators had uttered the words "critical race theory" 1,300 times – wordplay meant to alarm when triggered by Donald Trump's tweets.

          Critical race theory – so scary -- is the longtime analytical perspective that sees racism, dating back to slavery, as the fulcrum of America's political shifts and most of its inner strife.           

          Said analysis doesn't sound scary to me. It sounds logical.

          Look at the war that almost tore this nation apart and that some continue to fight to this day. Look at the death struggle waged by segregationists.

          One hundred and fifty years later, look at the right's heroes and sounding boards. Look at how one major party wraps itself in whiteness.

          And look at what the right finds to construct into sky-is-falling issues, like diversity training in the military.

          Sen. Tom Cotton, R.-Ark., reportedly a hankerer for the GOP presidential nomination, has sounded storm sirens about this.

          Cotton cited reports of "plummeting morale" and racial strife because the military has implemented training aimed at better race relations. (Point of fact: Said training preceded the Biden administration.)

          Cotton cited "unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone."

          Really? People enlisted to face ISIS and the Taliban can't endure a Powerpoint?

          Maybe they simply can't face the hatred embedded in their bones.

          Cotton intones that the republic cannot endure without someone like this. I say: Hit the road, Jack. Join the Proud Boys. Since early January, they have attrition issues.

          Not to make this all about race: The training in question also is aimed at making the military more hospitable to difference in general, including the service of women and LGBTQ individuals.

          Not surprisingly, complaints of "woke-ness" ring out.

          "Woke"? Whatever.

          Whatever it takes to end sexual assault and harassment should be part of the military's mission.

          Back to racism: Not that bigotry knows any particular area code, but the New York Times reported this:

          The diversity training efforts are driven "by a desire to recruit and retain more Americans outside an increasingly narrow list of ZIP codes largely in the South and West."

          I've lived in the South and was born in the West. I can vouch for lots of goodness and good people. However, I acknowledge the overriding concern, and it has nothing to do with regions.

          The military represents us. It is hired by us. As with government itself, it is us.

          If our policy is to do our best as a nation to provide equal treatment under law and equal opportunity for all, then the military should do it, too.

          This should not be controversial, except for political schemers and on-air programmers who cater to indignant people lacking color.

          A spokesman of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Times that anyone who steps forward to serve this nation in the military should be able to do it "free of hate and fear and discrimination. We owe you that."

          Free of hate? Or free to hate?

          Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Biden is the face of better times

          Observing our president in Europe, I could only think: Things are getting better.

           I saw him talk of conciliation and cooperation. I saw him exhibit world leadership, not egotistical showmanship. I saw him smile sunbeams of reassurance to allies. I saw that his wife's hand did not elude his grasp.

          In so many ways, things are getting better. Whatever might trouble us, like a Supreme Court sculpted by Mitch McConnell and the filibuster's intractability, many signs point to a brighter day.

          -- To stop the practice of sheltering profits overseas, President Biden and fellow G7 leaders last week endorsed a 15 percent minimum corporate tax which – surprise – was endorsed a few days later by Amazon, Facebook and more.

          -- A push by rebel stockholders has forced ExxonMobil to adopt a new green business model that shifts away from a cyclops-like focus on fossil fuels. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls the events "one of the most consequential weeks in the history of the oil and gas industry and shareholder capitalism."

          -- A worker shortage giving new leverage to workers, employers are being forced to raise once-exploitive pay scales. The New York Times reports that the "reservation wage," economists' term for the pay minimum workers require, has risen 19 percent since 2019, an increase of $10,000 a year. Hence, a novel way to raise pay short of raising the minimum wage: supply and demand, and a pandemic.

          -- Though they disagree on how much, Biden has signaled to Democratic leaders he is still intent on some degree of student debt forgiveness. For many young Americans, student debt is the biggest reason why they would delay or not even consider big steps like buying a home and starting a family.

          -- For millions who have started that family, the expansion of the Child Tax Credit built into the stimulus plan means a hand up out of poverty. Starting next month and through December it means monthly payments of up to $300 per month for each qualifying child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each qualifying child age 6 to 17 based on income.

          -- Meanwhile, for those living on the streets, the stimulus plan signed in March included $50 billion to provide essential housing and assistance to the homeless. Nothing is more crucial to ending this cycle than the simple option of four walls, a bed and a door that locks. Efforts under President Obama to end homelessness among veterans show that this problem need not be intractable.

          -- On top of a massive vaccination effort, Biden has ordered the sharing of vaccines to third-world countries that acknowledges not only our humanitarian obligations but the public-health imperative of confronting the pandemic wherever it rages.

          -- While Republicans play to the bigotry of those who criticize what they can't understand, this president told a joint session of Congress that he would fight for people marginalized because of their sexual orientation. "To all the transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people who are so brave, I want you to know that your president has your back."

          That sounds so good: A decent man vowing to represent all Americans and to defy gestures and policies that would marginalize any.

          Speaking of such things, a Gallup poll shows that an all-time high of 70 percent of Americans, including 55 percent of Republicans, support same-sex marriage. In keeping therewith, Saturday Vice President Harris and her husband marched in the Capital Pride Walk in Washington D.C. She wore a pink blazer and a "Love is love" T-shirt.

          Rest assured, these sentiments are not reflected in anything the Republican Party does or says.

          That's called being on the wrong side of history.

          Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Jim Crow rides again, just in a better car

           The Klan marched on the front page of my Denver Post this morning. By the thousands. A river of white.

            Not to worry, exactly. It was 1926, not 2021, the black-and-white photo illustrating the story of a new initiative to lift the hood off the Klan's immense influence once upon a time.

            Our state is getting a fresh look at the terrorist group and its power thanks to the organization History Colorado.

            Among other artifacts, History Colorado is sharing the ledgers of the state Klan from the 1920s -- 30,000 proud signatures of membership, including Gov. Clarence Morley and sainted Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton.

            How big was the Klan in our fair state? So big, according to the Post, that it accounted for nearly a third of the white, U.S.-born men in the city when that photo was taken.

            This is not history to be downplayed. This is history, period.

            Ah, but see what's happening in a host of Republican-controlled states that seek to play down the role of racism, race-based violence and general oppression.

            Texas' Republican-controlled Legislature just sent to the governor a measure under which, one presumes, a book featuring the Klan on the march would have the caption: "Patriotic Christians exhibit spring fashions."

             A raft of legislation in red states has seized on Donald Trump's urgings to prohibit what he calls "racial propaganda," ie. actually pointing out the sins of racist predecessors which led to the racist systems of today, as well as a racist president.

            The New York Times attributes to Texas "some of the most aggressive efforts to control the teaching of American history."

            A measure sent to the governor would limit teacher-led discussions of current events, prohibit course credit for "political activism or lobbying" – that's citizenship, children – and ban the teaching of the 1619 Project, which shines a necessary light on America's racist past.

            In other words, Republicans who have swarmed to embrace Trump's Big Lie want their American history to be a big lie as well.

            Sadly, Jim Crow hardly is history in red-state America. Republican vote-suppression measures are aimed squarely at marginalized individuals and the poor -- a clear effort to restore the good old days of white supremacy.

            In Texas, a Democratic walk-out has stopped, until Gov. Greg Abbott convenes a special session, a Republican vote-suppression measure that had Crow all over it. Ol' Jim's just in different clothes and driving a shiny SUV.

            Particularly telling is the language that would prohibit voting during morning hours on the last Sunday pre-election, when black churches traditionally hold "souls to the polls" activities.

            So, too, with bans on the drive-through voting and 24-hour voting used by racially diverse Harris County. Could the GOP be more obvious?

            (Republican leaders would like for voters not to notice how obvious, however, and are backtracking just a bit on some of the worst things about their election "reform" bill -- like calling the new Sunday voting time a "typo" that presumably will not be in a newly drafted proposal.)

            This comes on the heels of voter identification requirements that a federal judge deemed clearly intended to curb minority turnout.

            All this without any evidence of the widespread fraud on which the Republicans' scheming is predicated.

            Little wonder why, using the Big Lie as pretext, Republicans are in panic mode to alter voting laws to help them hold onto power.

            Gallup reports that the GOP is losing people, with 49 percent of Americans identifying as Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents, and 40 percent as Republican (25 percent) or Republican-leaning independents.

            Could this be because the GOP has so firmly identified itself as the White Person's Party?

            But the GOP's self-limiting condition is not confined to race. For one, its measures to target LGBTQ individuals, particularly transgendered individuals, are turning off young Americans.

            Lest it not be told elsewhere, say in Texas schools: Among the Ku Klux Klan's objects of terror were homosexuals. Before police atrocities triggered the Stonewall riot in New York City, something just as horrible happened when Klan members stormed and wrecked the La Loma night spot in Miami, a pronouncement of what "Christian" meant to these "patriots."

            This is the story of America. Tell it. In the telling, acknowledge that we have yet to make real the founders' statement, all of us being "created equal."

            Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: