Smart people saying smart things (8.7)

Smart people saying smart things (8.7) August 7, 2015

Max Ehrenfreund, “Kansas has found the ultimate way to punish the poor”

The legislature placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits.

Since there’s a fee for every withdrawal, the limit means that some families will get substantially less money. …

Since most banking machines are stocked only with $20 bills, the $25 limit is effectively a $20 limit. A family seeking to withdraw even $200 in cash would have to visit an ATM 10 times a month, a real burden for a parent who might not have a car and might not live in a neighborhood where ATMs are easy to find. 

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Color-Blind Policy, Color-Conscious Morality”

You will hear no policy targeted toward black people coming out of the Obama White House, or probably any White House in the near future. That is because the standard progressive approach of the moment is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy. It is not hard to see why that might be the case. Asserting the moral faults of black people tend to gain votes. Asserting the moral faults of their government, not so much. I am sure Obama sincerely believes in the moral invective he offers. But I suspect he believes a lot more about his country which he chooses not to share. …

This is not a “both/and.” It is a bait and switch. The moral failings of black people are directly addressed. The centuries-old failings of their local, state, and federal government, less so. One need not imagine what a “both/and” approach might sound like, to understand why a president of the United States can’t actually offer one. At best, one can hope for reference to “past injustice.” But in a country where Walter Scott was shot in the back, where Eric Garner was choked to death, where whole municipalities are — at this very hour — funding themselves through racist plunder, fleeting references to “past injustice” will not do.

Randall Kennedy, “The Civil Rights Movement and the Politics of Memory”

Many conservatives, with the convenience of retrospect, affirm the movement’s insistence that racial disenfranchisement and legally required segregation were abominations wholly inconsistent with constitutional requirements and that strong remedies were needed to eradicate those evils. It is not unusual nowadays to find celebration of the defeat of Jim Crow in, say, National Review.

Of course, things were different when the movement was in the midst of the very battles that we now commemorate.

Jill Lepore, “To Have and To Hold”

There is a lesson in the past fifty years of litigation. When the fight for equal rights for women narrowed to a fight for reproductive rights, defended on the ground of privacy, it weakened. But when the fight for gay rights became a fight for same-sex marriage, asserted on the ground of equality, it got stronger and stronger.

Sr. Joan Chittister, “Pro-Life vs. Pro-Birth”

I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

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