The Notion of White Privilege

It is doubtful many could successfully argue that white privilege does not exist in the western world.  Historically, at its most basic level, in the western world, the vast majority of those with economic power have been white.   Certainly not limited to these, but the power could be demonstrated in various measures as in hiring, mortgage/rental or investment opportunities, government services, among other situations.  For example, if the choice is between a white candidate and a black, brown, or Asian  candidate, all other attributes being equal, the white person in the position of power, unless motivated to contribute to increased diversity, would likely select the white candidate. 

The reasons for this would be many.  From an objective point of view, education levels, prior work performance, personal achievements, credit rating and financial resources, among other hard measures, could collectively be stronger for a white candidate.  From a subjective perspective, deep in our DNA-driven ethos, tribal instincts have been powerful drivers of behavior for millions of years6.  Some may describe this aspect of decision-making by those with power as racial bias. Yet again, deep in the part of us formed during primitive periods in man’s history, that strongly influenced the shaping of early man’s instincts, difficult to achieve feelings of safety most often came while among one’s tribe.  Even those of the same race yet different regional tribe would not provide the same sense of safety for early man.  This, during a time when man basically lived among the elements with near constant exposure to predators, weather, competing tribes and other existential dangers.  For those in a position of power, regardless of race, these deep-seated instincts must be dealt with minimally at a subconscious level.

In recent decades, strong forces in society and the marketplace have led to massive change.  Since the 1960s and 70s everything from professional training to legislative action has mitigated a great deal of this instinctual decision making.   This instinctual bias continues to exist but is largely suppressed by the many measures put in place.  The most powerful force for bias suppression is evident in how the workplace has changed.  The major source of change has been the globalization of the workforce.  This has suppressed bias in large part because many of those with the power are no longer just white men. 

Education globally has improved, and many have come to this country with skills and credentials that have been meet with a welcoming American economy hungry for more skilled professionals.  American capitalism’s sustained and robust economic growth has driven an endless demand for a larger skilled workforce.  This system has consistently rewarded innovation making the United States the perennial leader in technology.  The massive growth in the use of technology has fueled a significant portion of this demand for highly educated and skilled foreign workers but these demands are present in many industries and service organizations like medical services, transportation, and energy production.   

During this same period, women have shed the previous views of their primary usefulness, mainly through education and training, to become a remarkable force both as individual contributors and in leadership.  Women have contributed with increasing might across a wide spectrum in the post war period to present day.

So, if you believe that white privilege remains a societal presence in the western world, how did it become this erroneously perceived omnipresent source of repression?  Clearly some believe that family wealth is the primary source of this supposed unfair advantage.  There is no doubt that family wealth is a source of this so-called privilege.   Does anyone believe that hundreds of years ago these families were able to wrangle a leprechaun and be led to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?  Or that this accumulated wealth was some sort of divine gift?  The truth, as usual, is complicated.   To seek the truth, we must go back in history. 

Still a significant factor in the modern world, land was the primary source of wealth for centuries.  Those who were able to possess and retain large tracts of land, especially land that was suitable for agricultural purposes, were able to at first, through hard work and good fortune, provide for their families.  As agricultural endeavors became efficient enough to produce bounties beyond the mere life sustaining levels, these surpluses became marketable commodities.  Village then regional markets formed.  Bartering eventually yielded to the flexibility of precious metals and currency.  More hard work and intelligent use of resources led to the accumulation of wealth in various forms; land, a workforce, precious metals, currency and then leverage in the form of available collateralized credit.  This wealth creation led to the emergence of markets and marketplaces to serve the demands of those with various needs and wants; including those markets designed to attract disposable wealth. 

Villages, towns, and eventually cities, saw the development of many services such as banking, merchants, transportation, among others.  All these ventures, in their own way, led to success and the accumulation of wealth for those who worked hard and acted intelligently.  Later, as transportation systems improved, industries were created to mass produce products for an ever increasing first regional then global marketplace.  None of this would have occurred if not for the available, investible wealth, created through hard work and intelligent risk taking, that financed all of these transformational forces.   

Another important factor was the increasing population aided by improved health conditions, medical science, education, and a growing market for workers of all varieties.  These available workers were a vital resource especially as the industrial revolution took hold.  Many of these human resources who worked hard to support their families also wisely identified entrepreneurial opportunities to create new business ventures that led to additional capital formation and wealth creation.

This notion of privilege manifested in wealth was not some divine gift bestowed serendipitously upon white people, it is the result of centuries of hard work and intelligent use of resources.  Could this have occurred first in Africa, Southern Asia, South America?  It could have, but it did not.  These advances in the human condition largely originated from Great Britain, western Europe and eventually America as Britons and Europeans migrated there.   These largely private endeavors were eventually supported by governments who created a legal framework to encourage and regulate free enterprise.  What eventually became the United States, with its vast resources, growing population and, most importantly, system supportive of capitalistic enterprise, would soon lead the world in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), education, military power and a truly free democratic republic.  

From the beginning, America was about freedom and bravery. Discovered as a wilderness, turning America into a global powerhouse took brave, rugged individuals willing to risk everything, including their lives, to turn the wilderness into the greatest economy and system of government in history.   This world-leading economic performance, combined with the individual freedoms promised by its constitution, created the greatest standard of living, for all Americans, the world has ever witnessed.  Over its 246-year history, many millions from all over the world have immigrated to the United States to earn a chance at the “American Dream”.  Millions from third world countries continue today to pore into the United States both legally and illegally seeking this dream.

Some would argue that the success of America was almost entirely dependent on the economic benefit of slavery.  Clearly the early success of southern plantations was heavily dependent on the use of slave labor.  Southern plantations were a significant portion of the economy in the early American south but in no way represented a dominant part of the American economy.

Of the 10.7 million black slaves who survived extraction and the journey from the African continent, records indicate only 388,000 came to North America1.  Their population increased substantially as the slave population in America prodigiously produced children and large families of nine, ten plus offspring in many cases.  In 1800 the American population was 5.3 million including 893,483 slaves or 16.8% of the population according to the 1800 U.S. census2.

Slavery in any form is an abomination.  Plain and simple slavery was and is the worst kind of egregious human behavior.  Slavery in the United states began many decades before the war for independence against Great Britain.  In fact, many of the slavers, both slave merchants and purchasers, were British citizens who brought millions of slaves to its many colonies around the world as well as Britain itself.  Many, many more than those who were brought to the U.S. against their will. 

Slavery of different races and religious sects had occurred for thousands of years.  Fortunately, slavery at any meaningful scale has been eradicated globally.  This is largely due to the evolution of thought about the right of all of humanity to equal treatment before the law and the inability of slavers to hide this most egregious behavior.   

Many of the descendants of African slaves in the United States, those that have not been able to lift themselves up through education and entrepreneurship, have been perennially living below the so-called “poverty line”.  Many more have been able to lift themselves and their families out of poverty into the middle class and beyond.   

In the past sixty years attempts have been made to lift-up those remaining in poverty.  These attempts have totaled an estimated 20-25 trillion dollars5 in federal, state, and local government wealth transfer programs since the mid-1960s.  These programs funded direct financial aid, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program better known as food stamps), educational funding programs, housing programs, medical care (AKA Medicaid), among others.  This does not include hundreds of billions in charitable contributions made to privately run anti-poverty assistance programs.

During this 2020 pandemic even just three trillion dollars of federal government aid managed to help lift a U.S economy in free fall.  The entire GDP for the United States in its most recent measure is approximately 20 trillion.  How is it that more than the entire GDP in wealth transfer program spending could not more permanently lift-up a significantly larger portion of those in poverty who in 2017, of all races, numbered 38 million3 or approximately 12% of the United States population?  The estimated black population in the U.S. is 44 million5 or approximately 13% of the U.S. population. The number of blacks living in poverty in 2019 is 16.3%4 of all blacks in the United States.  That rate is down from nearly 30% in 19904.  The simple math yields that just over 7 million blacks in the U.S. live in poverty.   Although the poverty rate has declined measurably over the past few years, why have all these wealth transfer and charity-based programs failed to make more measurable, sustainable progress for all Americans living in poverty?  If 7 million blacks live in poverty, then where is the white privilege for the other 31 million non-blacks who live in poverty in this country?

So, should something be done about white privilege?  This question supposes that there is a mandate for action.  That white privilege is inherently unfair and unjust.  It is not.  Regardless of your position on this question, much has been done to address it, both fiscally and legislatively, over many decades with measurable success.  With programmatic support and through personal will, acting on one’s own behalf, black families have been lifted up through hard work and education.  Wealth transfer programs have reduced poverty.  Some say not nearly enough has been done and slavery reparations must be provided.  Others would argue that many trillions in wealth transfer programs have succeeded to a measurable degree and that these programs represent a monumental amount of reparation.  Some, regardless of how much has been done, will argue for more. 

There are new notions of how to address what is described as a “permanent underclass”.  An example of what be done would be the government provision of a reasonable “living wage’.  A “wage” implies that a work product of some sort of marketable value is being produced in exchange for the “wage”.  In this case there may not be a work requirement to receive direct payments, or those in low paying jobs would have their compensation supplemented to reach the predetermined amount. A better description may be a living income for those essentially left behind by an economy reliant on technology that eliminates the demand, and therefore commercial value, of unskilled or low skilled labor.  That commercial enterprises employing technology that eliminates the requirement for unskilled or low skilled labor should fund these “living incomes” in an attempt at fairness.  Clearly more must be done to improve education in impoverished areas of this country. How can we expect those in poverty to lift themselves up if a quality education is not available to them?  These massively important questions must be addressed in the near term.

Finally, more questions have been raised here than answers. To reiterate a point, the so-called “white privilege” freely bandied about today is not the result of some unearned right gifted to white Americans.  Yes, some benefited from the transfer of family wealth.  Yet all of that family wealth was at one point derived from hard work, risk taking, and blood freely given to earn these benefits passed on by ancestors who sacrificed a great deal to have the privilege of passing these benefits on to their descendants.  They earned that right. Can anyone see blatant unfairness in this?  Many in generations living today (Greatest, Boomer and Millennial) have also toiled mightily to have their children have a life better than theirs.  They are also the ones whose blood was spilled and lives sacrificed in the millions to win wars against tyranny to preserve the American way of life so desired the world over.  To view these sacrifices and the resultant rewards as unfair is equally unjust.

1https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/how-many-slaves-landed-in-the-us/

1https://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

2https://www.bing.com/search?q=american+population+in+1800&cvid=9e1a460dfd334b63946a58b69dec7b69&pglt=43&FORM=ANNTA1&PC=ACTS

3https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2019/demo/p60-266.html

4https://www.statista.com/statistics/205059/percentage-of-poor-black-families–in-the-us/

5https://www.bing.com/search?q=black+us+population+2020&form=ANNTH1&refig=17c9eda9d3944ec9bacab1cb29d8bab2&sp=6&qs=AS&pq=black+us+population&sk=AS5&sc=8-19&cvid=17c9eda9d3944ec9bacab1cb29d8bab2

5https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/05/no_progress_since_the_war_on_poverty_began_half_a_century_ago.html

6https://www.history.com/news/prehistoric-ages-timeline#section_1

Congresswoman Spanberger Revealed – A Letter to the Editor that the Richmond Times Dispatch would not Publish

In 2018 Abigail Spanberger’s television ads were not too dissimilar from those being broadcast today.  No mention of her party affiliation.  Her ads attempt to portray her, as they did in 2018, as a moderate who wishes to be perceived as a candidate that represents all constituents in her district.  In fact in 2018, she stated she will represent all the constituents including the 49.6% who did not vote for her.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I welcome her constituents to examine her voting record as a freshman congresswoman.  In fact, her voting record reveals her voting performance as aligning with the Democrat Caucus the vast majority of the time.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a devoted Socialist, voted with President Trump more often than she did.  In the 79 votes tracked by a feature of The New York Times online and renamed FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus, Congresswoman Spanberger voted with the President 7 times; less than 10%.   Of the 26 votes tracked by the American Conservative Union in 2019 Congresswoman Spanberger voted in favor of the ACU position 3 times or 11.5%.  This is no way can be perceived as the position of a politically balanced moderate who claims to represent all constituents.

Clearly Congresswoman Spanberger’s intent is to deceive.  First in her 2018 campaign ads that did not reveal her party affiliation and pledged to represent all of her constituents.  Now her current set of ads claims she is working with Republicans and Democrats when her voting record demonstrates her performance thus far is anything but balanced with virtually no attempt to be bipartisan.

To all the voters of the 7th Virginia congressional district, I ask is this the sort of less than honest person you wish to represent you?

Curt Rasmussen

Glen Allen, VA

Center of the City No More

Decades ago, newcomers to the Richmond area from the northern states faced an unexpected challenge, abundant friendliness!  Walking anywhere but especially through the streets of downtown, strangers passing by seemed to go out of their way to make eye contact and say good morning or simply hello.   For those from the “cold shoulder” north this was a bit of a shock. But once one made the adjustment, realizing there was nothing to fear, this new reality was something to look forward to as you went about your business in town.  Friendliness seemed to abound from virtually everyone, even those with whom you had the most incidental contact. 

In recent years, the friendly encounters have significantly diminished.  As the community has grown, including many relocating from the “frigid” north, the impulse to resist this wonderful part of southern culture also grew.  A contributing factor is certainly the outward signs of growing political polarization emanating from society in the form of mere distrust to short-fused anger. Regardless, many locals persist in their effusive friendliness, only to be increasingly ignored thus impacting their motivation somewhat.  Friendly encounters do still happen, especially if you make a pronounced effort to appear interested in an exchange of pleasantries.

City from Shockoe Bottom

Also in recent times, the popularity of many new restaurants (driven by a widely held perception of quality cuisine and good service) has brought the city national attention as a “foodie town”.  This accompanied an equally widely held perception of the city as friendly place to visit with a rich history and reasonable cost.

The very beginning of this upward trend appeared to emanate from the area near city center called Shockoe Bottom.  Shockoe Bottom’s trendy restaurants, pubs, cigar bars and night clubs, with the accompanying surge in equally trendy microbreweries and distilleries, became a night life destination in town.  This led to younger generations seeing downtown as a place to work, play and live.  Until…every week there appeared to be a Shockoe Bottom late night shooting, causing many to scratch Shockoe Bottom off their list of nightlife destinations. 

But certainly, there are other parts of the city with surging urbanism, among them Scott’s Addition, Manchester, those adjacent to VCU and even the resurgence of the area known as “the Fan”.  These areas, among others, bristle with new restaurants and night life opportunity. The combination of the Shockoe Bottom crime issues and the surge of areas more in the periphery of the city, gives the appearance as though these new areas of interest with restaurants, new residential options, and innovative places to locate a business, are moving away from the city center.   As if the centrifugal forces of violence and decay were hurtling these new options outward. 

Not in the “burbs” of course but it appears efforts to specifically revitalized downtown have continued to fail.  Since the city’s attempted downtown Marketplace fiasco in the late eighties, efforts over the past thirty years to bring new interest in visiting downtown has been a roller coaster ride. Combine these previous failures with current issues of the decline of the area surrounding the coliseum, and the decline of coliseum itself, along with the failed attempt to locate a new minor league baseball park in Shockoe Bottom, leaves one with little hope. Add to the mix the Shockoe Bottom violence and the dilapidated condition of the city roads and infrastructure, all are contributing to the perception of incompetent city government who get some things right and too many things wrong.

The only glue holding downtown together is the presence of Virginia state government.  But state government’s effect is largely one of weekday, daylight hours.  Another indicator of downtown decay was the recent pull out of a major, premium, Shockoe-located restaurant in the form of Morton’s Steakhouse, illustrating a trend that is not positive for the city center as a nighttime destination.

Now, as BLM protesters, unfortunately associated with rioting, arson, and looting, take possession of the city center after dark, any desire by those who came into the city for dining and entertainment may be gone for good.   As a further consequence, the outward reputation of the community as a safe place to live, work and raise a family is now significantly tarnished. 

Regardless of how you view what has happened and why, this violence is proverbial “poison in the water” for this city.  Will Fortune 1000 businesses locate here?  Will the ones that are here find a reason to move?  Will the conversion of old downtown office buildings into apartment towers continue?  Will developers, who could have brought the means for conversion of derelict areas of downtown real estate into vibrant, attractive destinations, bring new proposals to city government?  This appears now much less likely.

And this is not just poison for the city proper but for the entire metro-area.  Fear is growing that these sorts of disturbances will find their way to the surrounding counties.  These counties make up more than two thirds of the metro-area population.  Prospective buyers, developers and businesses may look elsewhere to bring their buying power and jobs.  Fewer jobs, fewer residents lead to a smaller tax base and spiraling decline that has very painfully affected many other communities.

How sad that this could be the beginning of a period of decline for this community.  With the ocean and the mountains less than two hours away, not to mention the James River running right through town, Williamsburg less than an hour away, and the nation’s capital just two hours to the north, Richmond is well positioned as an attractive location for business and family.  If you also consider the relatively low cost of living, quality schools (with the exception of many schools in the city proper) and the temperate climate, it aggregates to an extremely attractive picture.  But that is not what the world is seeing and hearing about this community today.  They are seeing lawlessness, rioting, arson, looting, three police chiefs in less than 30 days, as well as inept, ineffective city and state leadership.

For all of those who love this community for many of the previously mentioned attributes, this is the first time many have spoken openly about leaving it.  Is this the beginning of the end of a great resurgent period for this community?

A Soul-less Nation

This is not about religion.  It is about the aspects of society that are a reflection of principals found in religious belief systems.  These values represent expectations one human being has of another in their behavior toward one another in society.  Although others would attempt to make it exceedingly more complicated than that, it is truly that simple.

Over the centuries one faith group or another would go in and out of favor with the populous of a particular country or region.  The fundamental reality is that the doctrines of major faith groups, be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Judaism, Buddhism, et al, have attempted to guide us in life to be the best versions of ourselves.  Worthy principals such as kindness, charity, and love for others.  Truly the essence of what it could mean to be human.  Humans who endeavor to bring these principles to every interaction do so with the expectation that their kindness, charity and love will be returned in equal measure.

It is unfortunate but, people being what they are, some have attempted to use faith as a means to control a set population.  Beyond that unfortunately common transgression, these same “faith leaders” have used faith as a shield to divert the attention of the faithful away from their actions that are clearly counter to faith teachings. Purposely less clear, their actions are intended to pervert the trust placed in them.  Most often the intent is for personal gain, be it of the flesh or a material gain.  As humans we are flawed.  Some are weak and easily led to their detriment, as well as to the detriment of those around them. 

Regardless, the good that has come from religion of nearly all varieties is the result of actions taken by the many, the faithful, in carrying out the principles of kindness, charity and love.  In Christianity, representing the largest numbers around the world of practicing faithful, the basic principals in the teachings of Jesus Christ and others have led many to realize the good in themselves and others. These principals have led to the creation of communities around the world where these same principals guide peoples and even governments to institutionalize these principals in the form of law (our Bill of Rights). 

Democracy, the fairest form of government, is in itself rooted in Judeo-Christian principals of treating others as you would wish to be treated.   The notion that all people are created equal has led to laws intended to enforce these principals.  Not enforced upon those who would naturally carry them out in daily life but, more importantly, upon those who chose to violate these principles.   The most egregious of violators face removal from society so as to protect those who wish to live in a society where these principles are the defacto standard for human conduct.

The United States, a democracy by design based on these same Judeo-Christian principals, has been a shining light of human conduct for centuries.  Not a perfect example.  Perfection is not possible where humans are central.  Yet the principles, and the laws that reflect them, are intended to “form a more perfect union”.   

With certain religions, God is the final judge of how we conducted our lives.  The words of a Christian God are enshrined in the Bible.  And, in Christianity, it is the word of God, through his son and prophet, that define this notion of perfect human conduct.  This notion is what has led us to “in God we trust”.  It is the embodiment of the bond between God and we imperfect humans.  That, should we strive for and succeed in living by these principals, then a more perfect union will be the result.  The American Constitution echoes a Christian God’s words and principals as the means to create this more perfect union.

For atheists, who maintain that what they do in life has no consequences after death, there is no hell or purgatory…or a heaven for that matter.  Thus, they exclaim “don’t judge me” with your puritanical views when exposed to my conduct you find reprehensible.  “As long as it isn’t illegal, I should be able to do what I wish.”

The same logic applies to countries with only an atheist guiding light.  The Peoples Republic of China and The Russian Federation are the two largest examples.  And let us not forget Nazi Germany whose only “religion” was Aryan superiority.  During the fascist Nazi era, “inferior beings” were shipped off to concentration camps never to be seen or heard from again.  China’s present-day concentration camps (housing Muslims instead of Jews, gypsies, et al) represent the same sort of bigotry and arrogance while daring the world to attempt to do something about it. 

Similar to the conduct of atheist nations, there are countries where leaders have perverted a religion, steeped in peaceful principals (Islam as an example), into a bludgeon to oppress the people.  Their perversion of religion provides a ready excuse to hate and murder those who choose a different belief system.  The Islamic Republic of Iran the most prominent of the examples.  Their behavior on the world stage is inexcusable.

So why do so many around the world see Christianity as the problem?  It is difficult to be a daily consumer of any sort of media outlet and not experience someone complaining about Christianity.  One example is a recent experience with a bit of dialogue in a British television show (Last Tango in Halifax) where a character exclaimed that Christians are the problem in the U.K.   So how then are Christians “the problem”?   The Church of England, or the Anglican Church, may have been a bit slow with gender and LGBT issues (yet light years ahead of the Catholics).  But women and gay Vickers are ordained frequently without inappropriate distinction.  Jesus spoke, through the Disciples and the Bible, of universal love unguided by station in life, gender, race, proclivities and especially love for those deemed sinners.  Where in any of that lies “the problem”.

Yes, the Crusades were Christians behaving badly in the name of Christ…a thousand years ago!  Since then attempts to spread Christianity have largely been benign, mainly in the form of missionary work attempting to blend Christianity with work to improve the lives of those who would willingly listen.  Regardless of these worthy efforts, the number of people calling themselves Christians around the world is in decline.

The clear, modern-day trend among younger generations, X-generation, Millennials, is a rapid movement away from religion.  And, depending on their influences, possibly their parents or parent, possibly a schoolteacher or professor, possibly a school mate or a co-worker, their education or exposure to acceptable human conduct can vary widely; or be non-existent.  Say what you wish about the failings of religion, the teachings about acceptable human conduct are crystal clear.

These trends are a cause for concern and point toward an eventual soul-less nation.  If you are willing to equate having a soul with a natural inclination to treat other human beings as you would wish to be treated, then there must be a worrisome void in a soul-less state.  The manifestations of a soul of an individual have been equated to compassion and love for others, the ability to discern right from wrong, exhibiting respect for the rights of others and a general understanding of what it means to a good person.  Connecting with one’s soul is likely not something that comes natively through mere existence.   A good person is highly likely shaped by external influences.

This anti-religion trend has been both subtle and more overt.  Not going to church, or temple, or mosque, or some other place of religious gathering and congregation is not something typically newsworthy.  Demanding that the word “God” be removed from our currency for example garners media attention.  Yet “God”, regardless of which religion you subscribe to, is woven into the very fabric of this nation.  “God” is mentioned at least four times in our Declaration of Independence.  Judeo-Christian principals are highly evident in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and common law.  It is that religious training, regarding the values and principals of acceptable human conduct, that shaped our nation.  These teachings, held on high by the nation’s founding fathers, are the basis for the laws of our land.  They are the essence of the pursuit of a more perfect union characterized by liberty and justice for all.

So, will these trends lead us away as a society from the education of the young about acceptable human conduct?  It is fair to assume that it is not likely to occur for a generation or two as the lingering effects of previous generations (the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers) live on.  But as the “light” of religion is slowly extinguished, how will these teachings take place?  Certainly not in the schools as any connection to religion in public education has been banished.   Where else then?

Despite the complaints about religion’s attempted “interference” in the lives of some; much good, tremendous good, is done by creating community and the charitable efforts of those communities.  Are we trending toward a soul-less nation, in fact a soul-less world?  It clearly appears we are.

Photo Voter ID is Not Discriminatory

If you do not already possess another form of photo identification (and most folks do), and you really want to vote, you can troop on down to DMV and ask for a photo ID.  In Virginia, below are the many acceptable forms of voter photo ID.

Acceptable forms of valid identification:

  • Virginia driver’s license
  • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
  • United States passport
  • Employer-issued photo ID
  • Student photo ID issued by a school, college, or university located in Virginia
  • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID
  • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID
  • Virginia Voter Photo ID card

If you don’t have any of the above forms of identification, you can simply go to your nearest voter registration office to get a free Voter Photo ID, even on Election Day!  You will be required to complete a Virginia Voter Photo Identification Card Application (English | Español), have your photo taken and to sign a digital signature pad. The Virginia Voter Photo ID card is valid for voting purposes only.

If you don’t have a minimum one of the above, where have you been and or why not?  A very reasonable guess is 99.9% of likely voters have at least one of the above listed forms of photo ID. If you do not, and you want to vote, simply take your favorite form of transportation down to the nearest DMV office, or a voter registration office and apply for a FREE photo ID.

Here is a list of a few things you cannot do in Virginia without a Photo ID

  • Enter a state government building including the capital
  • Cannot purchase tobacco or alcoholic beverages
  • Cannot board a commercial airliner
  • Cannot cash a check at most banks
  • Cannot visit a doctor or hospital

What is the process for obtaining a DMV-issued Photo ID in Virginia?

What do you need to get a state photo ID in Virginia? You must present certain documentation, and pay a very small fee, to obtain each type of VA ID issued by the DMV. The documents needed for state ID are used by the DMV to verify your age, identity, Virginia address and legal presence in the United States. The most commonly used documents are listed in each category below:

  1. Adult Applicants:
  • One proof of identity and legal presence (U.S. citizens):
    • A driver’s license or ID issued in VA or another state
    • A U.S. birth certificate
    • A U.S. passport or passport card
    • A Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization
  • One proof of identity and legal presence (non-U.S. citizens):
    • An unexpired foreign passport with an unexpired U.S. visa and an I-94 or entry stamp
    • An unexpired Employment Authorization document (I-766) and a USCIS form I-797 displaying applicant’s name
    • An unexpired Permanent Resident card
  • One proof of Social Security number (SSN):
    • A Social Security card
    • A W-2 IRS tax form
    • An employer-issued payroll check stub showing the full SSN
  • Two proofs of Virginia residency:
    • A mortgage statement or lease agreement
    • A U.S. Postal Service change of address confirmation form
    • A utility bill less than 60 days old
    • Official correspondence from a federal, state, or local government agency
    • A billing statement printed with the applicant’s name and current address

Obviously non-US citizens are not eligible to vote and, regardless, there is a nominal cost for a DMV-issued photo ID. If you truly do not have any of the forms previously mentioned, and cannot afford a very reasonable DMV ID fee, then go to the voter registration office nearest you and obtain one there for free.

This is not asking too much to preserve the integrity of our voting system and is by no means discriminatory. Anyone…..anyone, regardless of race, creed color, religion, anyone, anyone who otherwise qualifies to vote in federal, state or local elections can, with reasonable effort, obtain a qualifying voter photo ID, and should be required to do so.

Remembering the lessons of WWII

A group of people posing for the camera

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There is a tremendous amount of very good material on Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming services about World War II.  This point is raised as a visceral fear exists that Millennials and Next-Gen populations around the world will lose the opportunity to learn the many invaluable lessons available to them in this period in world history. And how effortless the lessons can be learned merely through taking the time to watch the material in the appointment-style television offered by these streaming services.  There are many, many very good choices.  After a few nights of some binge-watching you will either be very intrigued to watch and learn more or, minimally, will walk away with a basic understanding of these incredibly important lessons.

The material in these TV programs includes, most importantly, the testimonials of veterans, witnesses and other participants, many in their 80s and 90s at time of filming, who provide heart-felt and often gut-wrenching accounts of their war-time experiences.  As you watch these documentary films and television programs you will develop a sense of the great direct danger our country and the world faced.  Also, a sense of the immense patriotism that began to burst at the seams, as it did in the early 1770s, as American citizens recognized the enormity of the challenge ahead to defeat these forces of immense evil.

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All of these are vitally important bits of knowledge about what it truly means to be an American.  We are essentially a young country that produced the greatest economy and military power the world has ever known.  That greatness, in this context, was built by the Greatest Generation who came together as a civilian workforce and an unmatched military power that saved the world from dark, fascist, imperial forces and went on to win the cold war that followed. 

The American spirit and system together have produced and sustained the greatest quality of life the world has ever witnessed.  This sustained greatness was and is based on capitalism, democracy and the pervasive patriotism generated by the early architects of our system (the Founding Fathers) on through to the parents of the Baby Boomers.  We must not allow these lessons, of how sustained greatness can be achieved, be forgotten by those who have no memory of these seminal times.

Possibly more importantly is the sense of what our priorities should be as Americans.  That Greatest Generation value system is one of family, God, country, doing the right thing, hard work and self-reliance.  These values led us to victory as the final bulwark against tyranny (as clearly as, during those times, other democracies or nations of similar mindset about how to treat ones citizenry, even as an allied force, could not withstand the forces aligned with fascism and imperial aggression) while continuing to lead us to becoming the most peaceful yet powerful nation on the planet. 

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Today, it appears many of those invaluable lessons and pillars of our society are being lost amid strong voices for change.  Admittedly times and circumstances do change.  Change does happen. but certain key principals must remain to prevent forces for change from decoupling society from the engine that created the greatest results ever experienced.

The wealth that this nation accumulated, through these great principals of hard work, self-reliance, a market-driven economy/capitalism and democracy, are under attack by nascent leaders in waiting who propose this accumulation of wealth must be radically redistributed, regardless of earned effort or citizenship.  This while also somehow seeing this pool of wealth as unlimited, and, incredibly, at the very same time are hell-bent on dismantling the wealth’s systemic origin, or choking the proverbial golden goose.  

These nascent leaders in waiting propose we radically change the system that generated the wealth they wish to tap.  Their proposals call for reducing the very incentives that created the system that bestowed upon this nation the greatest living standard the world has ever witnessed.  Their proposals, as one example, call for trading military strength and national security for a system designed primarily to generate “fairness”.  Fairness must be a goal, but not at the expense of decimating the viability and security of the system that has already created world-leading prosperity for hundreds of millions of Americans.  These proposals represent a greater threat to the wellbeing of this nation, and the world, than those we faced from imperial Nazi and Japanese fascism.   In fact, their proposals are reflective of those that gave rise to the National Socialist German Workers Party better known as the Nazis.  It is an especially important lesson to understand the rise of Nazi power that began in Bavaria in the late 1920s.  The socio-economic and political circumstances were a perfect cauldron brewing up a dominate fascist movement that led to absolute political power held by a single party and a charismatic political operator that later became dictator.

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Yet, if we learn the lessons of those incredibly important times surrounding World War II, we can avoid making the monumental mistakes made by those who refuse to acknowledge or remain ignorant of these lessons.  If these youthful generations just spend sufficient time to absorb these critical lessons, by just watching these documentaries and TV programs (Could it be any easier?), then there remains a chance that they will turn away from these nascent forces who wish to abandon these critical principles that created the living standards they currently enjoy.

U.S. Covid-19 Program Whiners and the Facts

Whine: Not enough of the U.S. government programs provides direct benefit to the “people” and too much to businesses.

Should the government just send 2 Trillion dollars just to the people?  And when most of the businesses that receive no assistance close their doors, and the jobs that provide actual sustained livelihood are gone, then what?  

The U.S. program assistance to businesses is tied primarily to payroll.  It is loans intended to keep “the people” paid with benefits with the hope that, when this ends (and it will), “the people” will have sustained employment.  The loans become grants if the businesses use the funds primarily for payroll.  If not, then they must be paid back with interest.

And yes, hundreds of billions of dollars are going directly to “the People” TOO!  In the form of direct payments of $3400 for a family of four.  Enhanced unemployment benefits to the tune of $2400 MORE per month than traditional unemployment payments AND help for everyone’s employers to hire them back!  That is a comprehensive program with another massive phase two in planning now.

Whine: Canada has a better program for the people.

Canada is providing only $2000 Canadian Dollars per month per working adult ($1400 in US dollars or $2800 for a family of four) for four months and very little to ensure people actually have jobs to go back to.  Check the highlights of the Canadian program below.  The Canadian program is far less generous than the American plan when taking a long term view.

And the Canadian population is only 37 million. Basically, not even California’s 39 million.  175 million people in the U.S. will receive funds immediately plus millions of business will receive assistance to stay viable, hire back employees, pay rent and utilities.  This loan assistance will very likely become a grant.  The grant will be a bridge to the massive pent up demand that will be awaiting them when this crisis has past and a viable business remains standing with their employees ready.

Canadian COVID-19 Support Program Highlights and restrictions:

  • Are without income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period because of COVID-19, because they have temporarily stopped working, lost their jobs, are sick or in quarantine, or need to care for a child or a family member.2
  • Introduced the Canada Emergency Business Account, which provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits through their financial institutions. Up to 25% of the loan will be forgiven if repaid by December 31, 2022. More details to follow. 1
  • Offered employers the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) applied at a rate of 75% on the first $58,700 earned by employees, representing a benefit of $847 per week. The program will be in place for a 12-week period, retroactive to March 15 and ending June 6, 2020. Eligible businesses of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy, regardless of the number of workers they employ, that suffer a drop of at least 30% in gross revenues due to COVID-19 in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy. This will help businesses to keep paying their employees and to bring laid-off workers back on the payroll.1

The U.S. program is far more comprehensive and well thought out.

1https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html

2https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-income-supports-covid19-1.5509247

Do Socialist Counties Have Balanced Budgets?

First, there are many variations when attempting to describe a particular system of governing, especially Socialism.  Below are some reference points from Wikipedia1 but, for the purposes of this piece, a socialist country essentially reflects the western European variation characterized by a slow growth, high tax economic system with a national government primary mission of social justice.

And the statement often made that Socialist systems do not work is just patently false.  As with any system you must accept the good with the bad. Among the larger and long-standing Socialist countries, some individual freedoms are sacrificed in favor of very strong government control of virtually everything and comprehensive government programs of care.  Conversely, in Democratic Capitalism, individual freedoms, as well as self-reliance and hard work, are more highly valued and protected at the cost of the lack of an entirely comprehensive, cradle to grave, government “care” system.

In a democratic capitalism economic system, a high growth economy offers the opportunity for career advancement and an improved standard of living based on hard work and achievement.  It’s the “American Dream” as it has often been described.  Far less dependence on a union boss or government labor apparatus to negotiate pay increases based solely on “membership”.  Those with self-motivation, intelligence and a willingness to sacrifice are rewarded.  Collaborating with other similarly motivated individuals enables all to succeed and improve their standard of living.  This has been, and possibly was, the American way that produced the greatest standard of living for the greatest number of individuals the world has ever witnessed.

One potential assumption that could be made is Socialist countries, with much higher tax rates, must be able to balance their federal government budgets,  In fact, virtually none of them are able to balance budgets and must resort to borrowing from Peter to take care of Paul.

Seven out of ten countries with the highest tax rates also have higher national debt totals (as a percentage of GDP) than the US.2  In addition, they carry a higher amount of debt burden per citizen than the US.  So, they are taxing at higher rates than the US, and, also incurring more government debt than the US as a percent of GDP.  Some at rates of between 150% and nearly 300% of GDP.  It is comparable to having an individual with a $50,000 per year salary that also has credit card debt of $75,000 to $150,000.  No financial organization within its right mind would allow someone to knowingly reach that level of unsecured indebtedness.  And with tax rates at their possible maximum, how do you attack your debt problem when increasing taxes would likely plunge the economy into collapse? 

Once the point is reached when requests for additional unsecured debt are refused, and tax rates are at their maximum, then spending must be cut to avoid default.  And of course, military and infrastructure spending will be cut first; until those chickens come home to roost.  A prime example is France’s lamentation, after recent high-profile terrorism attacks, that they just do not have enough national security resources to track all the potentially dangerous terrorism persons-of-interest in France. 

NATO members in Europe for many years have not fulfilled their military spending commitment to the alliance.  In times of financial distress, with military and infrastructure programs already cut to the bone, the ability to borrow exhausted, and total government spending remaining above revenue receipts, at some point social programs must be cut.  French political leaders have for several years attempted to change pension benefits rules or increase hours in a work week.  Those proposals have been met with massive civil unrest.

Now, the point is reached where all governmental promises are being broken.  Military defense is woefully inadequate.  Roads, bridges, buildings, airports, as just a few examples, are no longer even adequate or safe.  And now pension payments aren’t enough to support a very modest existence.  For those working, work rule changes are infuriating and perceived as unfair.  Whether it’s increasing hours worked per week or increasing the retirement age or some other means of reducing social program cost, something must be done.  (Maybe they would fare better in a democratic, free-market capitalistic system?)

So, the result is transportation strikes paralyzing the country, or rioting in the streets with burning barricades and entire shopping districts shut down with significant damage to shops and infrastructure.    More deadly terrorism attacks and looming infrastructure disasters.  In other words, massive government failure to achieve any of their stated goals causing massive disruption, rioting and loss of innocent lives in attacks by terrorists or other calamitous events.

Americans with similar social justice goals as their socialism counterparts around the world,  who are supporting Bernie Sanders with feverish emotional enthusiasm and hope in their eyes, will be the same ones erecting barricades and lighting truck tires afire when, in ten years, the social justice/Socialism dream becomes a nightmare.

Or, perhaps, once a single party has complete control of all government functions, they opt for a similar approach to socialism as that adopted by the Chinese.  How much of your individual freedoms are you willing to sacrifice for comprehensive social justice?  And even if you are not getting it, are you brave enough to demand more?  Do you think the French “yellow vest” street riots would be tolerated for a New York minute in China?  No, the government knows what is best for everyone; you will like it, or you are remanded, without due process, to a “re-education camp”.  The one-party political system is in complete control of EVERYTHING.  Do not expect an election to provide an opportunity for change.  The government knows everything about you.  Should you be observed by an AI-based facial recognition system as someone with an attitude, and the other data about you suggests you are or could be a political dissident, say hello to your confinement in a “re-education camp” as a political prisoner with no due process.

Is this, all of THIS, what this country aspires to? 

1The socialist market economy (SME) is the economic system and model of economic development employed in the People’s Republic of China. The system is based on the predominance of public ownership and state-owned enterprises within a market economy.[1] The term “socialist market economy” was introduced by Jiang Zemin during the 14th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1992 to describe the goal of China’s economic reforms.[2] Originating in the Chinese economic reforms initiated in 1978 that integrated China into the global market economy, the socialist market economy represents a preliminary or “primary stage” of developing socialism.[3] Despite this, many Western commentators have described the system as a form of state capitalism.[4][5][6]

As a sovereign state is a different entity from the political party that rules that state at any given time, a country may be ruled by a socialist party without the country itself claiming to be socialist, occurring in both one-party and multi-party political systems. In particular, there are numerous cases of social democratic and democratic socialist parties winning elections in liberal democratic states and ruling for a number of terms until a different party wins the elections. While socialist parties won many elections around the world and most elections in the Nordic countries, they did not adopt socialism as the state ideology.3

2http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/highest-taxed-countries/

2http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/debt-to-gdp-ratio-by-country/

3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist_market_economy

3https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

The New Dominion – The Letter to the Richmond Times Dispatch Editor they Refused to Publish

Letters to the editor by RTD readers have urged Virginia Republicans to “don’t worry – be happy” regarding the Old Dominion becoming a “Blue State”.  The Democrat party, that will soon assume complete control of virtually all state government functions, bears no reflection to conservative southern democrats that dominated state government for decades in the 20th century.

The outcome of the recent election is largely the result of demographics trends sweeping the country.  An example of these demographic changes is a statistic reported recently by media outlets that most Millennials prefer socialism.  Regardless of the social revolution of the sixties, Baby Boomers eventually settled down and adopted much of the values of our parents in the Greatest Generation. Yet, Boomer’s political influence has already begun to significantly wane.

This prospect is very disconcerting to many who love this state.  Many Virginians regard the conservative fiscal management, pro-business posture, commitment to quality education and respect for all pillars of the Bill of Rights by government officials as sound reasons to make Virginia home.  This coming “blue wave” should be regarded as more of a blue tsunami that will wipe the country clean of what we have known, draw it all out to sea, and deliver a clean landscape for the pro-socialism Democrat party to remake as they choose.

As the American electorate becomes increasingly blue, the greater the likelihood pro-socialism leaders, federal, state and local, will be elected.   Even though free market democratic capitalism has created the greatest living standard the world has ever witnessed, the “blue” tsunami will cast it aside in exchange for iron-fisted government control and unprecedented wealth transfer.  Those among us who believe in self-reliance and hard work must prepare for historic change.

If it is the will of the majority, then it is inevitable.

The Unimaginable Revisited

All of this focus on Donald Trump is a tempest in a teapot while the truly important matters facing this nation, and the world, are either ignored or shelved in favor of the politics of the day.  Megalomaniacal personalities like Trump, Pelosi, Schumer, Biden and Clinton expend tremendous energies angling for who will rule the roost.   When in fact, the roost is already undergoing seismic changes below our feet.

First, the American political landscape is about to take an initial gentle left turn.  Demographic trends, toward a more liberal American electorate, already show a growing majority of voters supporting social justice causes and candidates.  This trend will accelerate over the next decade culminating in the Democrat party dominating every facet of government; executive, legislative, and judicial.

Conservative elected officials, and their electorate, will be completely and totally marginalized possessing no meaningful power to shape policy nor law.  The United States will become a single party nation no different than The People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.  In time, as “Democratic” Socialists solidify their total control, constitutional changes will follow ensuring enduring domination and removing the means of peaceful power change exemplified by term limits.  The Bill of Rights will be “adjusted” eliminating potentially troublesome means of dissent like peaceful assembly and gun ownership.

These changes will be accompanied by unprecedented use of technology to control the population.  Every street and building will be under video surveillance.  Video images will be analyzed by AI-based systems designed to detect crime (the public premise for its existence) as well gauging the populations mood while identifying individuals (with facial recognition technology) who may represent a threat as a seditionist.  These possible seditionists will be monitored on a 24/7 basis to determine whether more direct and forceful action by “authorities” will be required.  Those deemed a threat to single party domination will be whisked off to “reeducation camps” likely to never be seen again.

By the time many of the independents and liberally minded citizens (more democratic than socialist), who initially lent their support to the social justice cause, realize it has gone too far, the opportunity to pull back will have passed.  The People’s Republic of America (PRA) will be firmly and permanently in place.  Military strategy will be “adjusted” to ensure no possible domestic threats to authoritarian control will have the opportunity to materialize into a credible threat.  Especially once guns have been removed from the citizenry the ability to rise up against tyranny will be gone forever.

All sound familiar?  How about when the socialists took complete control in Germany in the 1930s?  Then it was Jews, gypsies and “enemies of the state” carted off to “labor” camps.  And who would stop them?  Who would be there to stop the PRA from sending those with “impure thoughts” (democracy, capitalism, individual rights to peaceful assembly, and so on) to euphemistically named “re-education” (prison) camps with no due process? 

Cannot happen here some will say.  I am certain many in Germany in the 30’s said the same or were not fully aware.  There are reportedly a million people in Chinese “re-education” camps placed there with no due process quite possibly because AI-based systems and facial recognition technology deemed them a political threat, or their theology was deemed threatening.  Precisely the same thing here, and worse, is possible with a single party totalitarian regime controlling the U.S.

And who would challenge the PRA?  In Europe in the 1940’s it was the U.S. who came to the world’s rescue.  If we had not intervened the Russian totalitarian forces would have defeated Germany and taken most of Europe for themselves.  But who would come to our rescue?  Not China, not Russia, who then with any hope of success?  The answer is no one would take the risk.

And with guns now only in the hands of the government (and criminals) the possibility of a democratic advocate uprising would not be impossible.  Some gun control zealots would argue that a few handguns and rifles would be no match for a modern American military.  Isn’t that what the British thought of the American colonists?  That they couldn’t possibly win against the British imperial army and navy, the greatest military force in the world at the time.

Do you believe democracy will be allowed to spring up in Hong Kong?  The demonstrators have certainly made a lot of noise.  But quietly, carefully, this uprising too will be crushed. And nothing will be done about it.

So, for those who say it cannot happen again, it would not take much thought to remember how history has repeated itself over and over.  And never say never.  When the two-party system fails in this country and absolute power is held by the socialists (in Germany, NAZI’s were the National Socialist German Workers Party), the unimaginable will certainly be possible.