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Black Connect
by on December 9, 2019
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Socialism is en vogue and trending with Black millennials.  Many relate to millennial Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Corte, who proudly calls herself a “democratic socialist.”  

Capitalism is often considered the most effective economic system because it is linked with economic progress. For those in America who were allowed to freely participate in the economy,  capitalism has delivered many of those people out of poverty, improving their standard of living and multiplying their wealth with each successive generation.

But Black Americans have a different relationship with America. African-Americans have been historically and systemically deprived of many of the benefits of capitalism by concerted efforts that include:

  • Slavery, which legally prevented blacks from building wealth until the 13th Amendment in 1865;
  • Jim Crow laws that created indentured servitude by detailing what jobs Black people could take and how much they could be paid, and segregated schools;
  • The 1935, the Social Security Act that excluded farm workers and domestic workers from accruing social security benefits;
  • The National Housing Act of 1934, which established a separate and unequal home lending and financial system;
  • The  exclusion of Black Veterans from the G.I. Bill of Rights that assisted veterans with housing, education, and jobs;
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which established a national minimum wage and a maximum work week that excluded many of the lowest paid workers who were primarily African-American - domestic workers, farm workers, servers, porters, and shoe shiners;
  • Predatory lending and subprime loans;
  • Mass incarceration;
  • Voting restrictions based on racial discrimination; and
  • Employment discrimination and wage disparity.

It should therefore come as a surprise to no one that millennials, particularly Black millennials, are turning away from capitalism in droves and embracing socialist ideals.  


Top 3 Reasons Millennials Are Embracing Socialism

#1. Socialism Creates a Society That Values Basic Human Rights

Millennials are a socially conscious generation.  They strongly believe that hot button issues like universal health care, clean drinking water, affordable housing, and education are inalienable human rights that are not open for debate, and with good reason:

 

In 2018, 27.5 million Americans lacked health insurance coverage. That was an increase of 1.9 million uninsured.  Now, we spend 17.6% of the nation’s GDP on health care versus 10% or less for other advanced countries.  

 

The water crisis plaguing Flint, Michigan, did not start in 2014. It began decades before. Flint was the most segregated city in the North and the third most segregated city nationwide. It became a destination for African-American migrants from the South to work at General Motors plants, where its population was exploding.   It had two neighborhoods where black people could live, and very explicitly they were denied access to other homes. Once fair housing laws and school desegregation laws broke down the systemic discrimination, Flint's population started to decline, as a lot of white middle-class and upper-class citizens left.  The few and poorer people who remained were expected to pay to maintain a water system meant to serve twice as many people. The water crisis in Flint was a foreseeable disaster waiting to inevitably happen.


Across the country, people are living in pods due, in large part, to the high cost of housing. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco have created such a tight market that it is often financially impossible for a young person to move there.

Stacked rectangular spaces called “pods” are just wide enough for a mattress and high enough to sit but not stand on top of it. Some resemble sleeping berths you might find in a railway car.

A recent quality of life survey by the University of California in Los Angeles found that the residents are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with housing affordability. In Los Angeles, a simple two-bedroom can cost more than $2,000 a month - and incomes haven’t kept pace.

To say that student loan debt is a crisis is an understatement.  There are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category.  

The student debt crisis shows that the notion that college is available to everyone is a farce.  Due to the exorbitant costs, college is not a viable option for many who would otherwise qualify for and excel in a college environment.

Students from low-income backgrounds still face the greatest struggle when it comes to earning college degrees and students from middle class families often don’t qualify for financial aid. When graduates who are looking for their first post-college job are already $30,000 in debt, the negative effect on their lives is considerable.  

Despite their qualifications, graduates  often feel pressure to settle for lower-paying, lower-skill jobs just so they can start paying their student loan. Students with student debt are less likely to purchase a house. They have worse credit scores. Defaults and delinquencies are also more common with student loan debt than just about any other kind. The prospect of such overwhelming debt is making an increasing number of students, especially low-income students, think twice about attending college at all — a decision that will compound the already-impending shortage of educated employees facing the U.S. workforce.


#2. Redistribution of Wealth Reduces Poverty and Crime

A major draw to socialism is the redistribution of income from the rich to the poor. Socialists believe that if this system were given a chance to function effectively, the United States would see a drastic reduction in poverty and certain crimes.

For instance, if someone earns 10 million dollars annually with a marginal tax rate of 60% in a socialist economy, such a person still has 4 million dollars to spend. And the additional $6 million would be redistributed to lower economic classes so that all members of society are able to meet their basic needs and live with dignity.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has been called a “socialist thinker.” Yang proposes a Universal Basic Income (“UBI”) as part of his  "human-centered capitalism" platform.  This form of basic income that Yang is proposing is a set of guaranteed payments of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year, to all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 from the U.S. government, no questions asked.

Yang proposes using capitalist processes (private property and enterprise, taxes, factor markets) to achieve socialistic outcomes (liberating people from wage labor, increasing individual autonomy, and creating new metrics to evaluate economic performance).  Yang, like socialists, believes that the focus of our economy should be to maximize human welfare and that markets exist to serve our common goals and values.

 

#3. Socialism Stimulates Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses

Despite the lofty ideals of socialism, opponents of socialism say that entrepreneurs may not be motivated to identify new business opportunities or start a new business venture because the government would take a higher percentage of their profits.

However, while socialists support public or community ownership of essential services such as energy, water, health, education and transportation, so that they can be run in the interests of the people, not for profit, socialists believe that private enterprise is still important for a healthy economy.

Socialists tend to object to big corporations that are unaccountable to their customers, exploit cheap labor, avoid taxes, undermine unions, bully small businesses and have more wealth and power than entire countries.

Large companies like Amazon, Facebook and Walmart would still exist in a socialist society, but they would be closely regulated and pay a larger share of taxes that would be redistributed to support the people and businesses in local communities.  

Given this additional support, socialists argue that entrepreneurs would be more motivated, not less, to invest their time and energy in creating useful products and services that benefit society.

Conclusion

Millennials are drawn to socialism because of the promise of a better life.  And with the racial wealth gap in America persistently widening over the past three decades, who can blame them when our current economic system is failing and only appears to offer more of the same.

Do you support a socialist movement?  Is socialism the path to the promised land?  Tell us where you stand on this issue in the comments below and share on social media.