Last week President Trump held a listening session with some people who wanted to be heard about the needs of the black community.
This was a lot more constructive than what’s happening in Seattle, where a mob has laid siege to part of the city without really making it clear what they want. The group that met with the president had a real opportunity to make its concerns heard, and they took advantage of it.
During this listening session, the participants identified four major issues they believe are critical priorities for the black community. President Trump listened with interest. I am convinced he will act on these concerns to the extent he can, just as he acted on criminal justice reform after Kanye West and others explained the issues to him.
Let me tell you the four priorities that were identified, along with my thoughts on each one.
The good news is we already have a tool for this, called enterprise zones. These zones eliminate many of the financial and regulatory barriers to starting a business in the inner city.
Unfortunately, many inner-city business owners now have to rebuild after the rioters burned down or otherwise destroyed their facilities.
Do these rioters understand who they’re hurting when they do these things?
But yes, we do need more investment in the inner cities, and we need hard-working entrepreneurs setting up shop there. It would help if city councils would take a more pro-business view of their jobs, instead of beating up business owners for concessions to unions and then refusing to protect them when they’re attacked by violent mobs.
Confronting Health Care Disparities
There are certainly a lot of disparities, and there is a host of reasons this is true.
Remember when Obamacare was supposed to solve this problem? I guess it didn’t.
Some want to focus on the personal health habits of black people. Others want to demand that the government give everyone health care.
The current health care system, which relies heavily on employer-provided insurance, does present some barriers. It would be worthwhile to look at ways to make it easier for people to access their own care.
I’m sure there are a lot of other ideas you could toss in the hopper, as this issue has been debated for many decades and we clearly haven’t solved the problem yet.
Professional Standards in Policing
Everyone recognizes that the death of George Floyd was an abomination.
It should prompt every police department in America to review its policies and procedures in order to be sure nothing like this happens again.
I’m sure there are also techniques and procedures that need to be reviewed, and it would really help if police unions didn’t stand in the way of firing bad officers.
This is a topic on which President Trump wants to exercise leadership, even as he takes care not to undercut support for the vast majority of police officers who are good people doing good work.
This is a tough one because no one person has all the answers, but the president expressed an interest in pilot programs that would see social workers join with police officers to explore approaches to the problem.
There was a time when it was much easier to institutionalize a person who had mental health issues. Do we want to go back to that given the trade-offs it involves with liberty?
These are not easy issues, and there is more involved than merely increasing funding. You can throw all kinds of money at an approach, and if it’s the wrong approach it’s not going to get you anywhere.
Getting anywhere on any of this will require dialogue, not violence.
We should have learned this lesson from the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in 2011. Those people got a lot of attention and wreaked a lot of havoc, but nothing really changed. That was in part because so many of the people railing against Wall Street didn’t understand anything about how Wall Street works, and they misdiagnosed the impact of Wall Street on the rest of America.
But it was also because while violence can intimidate people, it almost never leads to real constructive change.
Only when people of goodwill talk to each other and hear each other do we make real progress. That’s what happened at the White House last week. We need more of it.
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