Saturday, July 31, 2021

Musings on a Socialist Experiment in a Nation Burdened by Pandemic Debt

   By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

There are conflicting signs in America’s economy.  Thousands of pre-pandemic jobs are going unfilled while the Biden administration advocates creating new jobs and social programs that would add $4 Trillion more to a massive $28 Trillion national debt.  Even if most of the unfilled jobs are minimum wage, the focus should be on filling them before creating new jobs.

Many who held those unfilled jobs now claim that they can’t live on their old wages.  Their income expectations seemed to have increased during their pandemic layoffs.  The Biden proposals go beyond a stimulus to restore the pre-pandemic economy.  They are a preview of a socialist economy with ideal jobs and higher incomes for all Americans. 

That would be a legitimate but debatable political objective if not for insufficient tax revenues to prevent America’s existing $28 Trillion national debt from becoming an unbearable burden on future generations.  Even so, Keynesian economists console us that we need not be worried about adding $ Trillions more to an already unsustainable national debt.

Such a cavalier dismissal of increases to our massive national debt is unacceptable.  Biden’s social programs might be justified if financed by tax increases, but sufficient tax revenues are not part of the proposed legislation.  Democrats are using voodoo economics to justify their increased social spending just as Republicans used them to justify their tax cuts.

The monetary policies of the Federal Reserve are also contributing to an economic crisis.  By keeping interest rates near 0% the Fed is providing more profits for megacorporations and affluent investors, fueling dangerous inflation on Wall Street and in the housing market; and that has exacerbated increasing disparities in wealth that threaten America’s middle class.

Soaring stock prices are the most dramatic evidence of runaway inflation; but increasing food and energy prices remind the less affluent of the reduced value of their dollars.  Despite the evidence of inflation, the Fed has continued its inflationary monetary policies and assured Americans that increasing inflation is just temporary.

The government’s solution to orchestrated inflation is more stimulus to Americans in what is already an overheated economy for the affluent.  Monthly payments are now being made to families based on the number of their children.  It’s similar to the AFDC program of the 1970s that was terminated in 1996 by President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress.

The US economy has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels.  Given America’s $28 Trillion national debt, Americans should resist expensive socialist programs that could undermine the economy, and focus on filling vacant jobs while regulating America’s predatory capitalism.  That would strengthen the economy without increasing the national debt.  


Jeff Stein has described Biden’s child tax credit program as “the biggest anti-poverty program undertaken by the federal government in more than half a century, delivering monthly payments to the overwhelming majority of American parents for the first time.” The Treasury Department said it has sent checks to households representing about 60 million children this past week under a provision in a stimulus package Democrats passed in March. The benefit, expected to cost about $120 billion per year, provides $300 per child younger than 6, as well as $250 per child age 6 and older. The administration previously said that about 88 percent of all children nationwide would receive the aid.”  See

John Cassidy has asked, Can the Democrats create a new economic model?  Cassidy praised the Biden administration for “pushing for more than four trillion dollars in new spending over the coming decade. This is on top of the $1.9 trillion that was contained in the American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed in March. In another significant development, Powell’s Fed, unlike some of its predecessors has adopted a fairly relaxed attitude to the prospect of higher federal outlays and debt. The new approach to spending extends beyond budgetary arithmetic. A decade ago, many Democrats still paid lip service, at least, to the idea that giving more financial help to poor families would undermine incentives to work and save. This framework had a long history. In the nineties, President Bill Clinton promised to “end welfare as we have come to know it,” and then followed through on this pledge by imposing work requirements and time limits on welfare recipients, as well as shifting responsibility to the states, which led to a sharp fall in the number of people receiving assistance. Even now, though, the future of the revamped Child Tax Credit program isn’t assured. The cash payments authorized in the American Rescue Plan will run out at the end of the year. What happens beyond that depends on the outcome of two big spending proposals: a bipartisan physical-infrastructure package for six hundred billion dollars of new spending, and a $3.5 trillion social-infrastructure plan, which Democratic leaders are aiming to pass without G.O.P. support, through reconciliation, and pay for by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy. In all likelihood, the social-infrastructure bill will provide some longer-term funding for the new monthly payments. Whether it will cover their full cost—about $1.6 trillion over ten years, according to the Washington-based Tax Foundation—isn’t clear yet.  

The financial environment evokes the aftermath of the great financial crisis in 2009 and 2010. Americans were furious as bailed-out banks rebounded with remarkable alacrity, repaid their government loans, and started paying big bonuses to their star traders. Today, the good times are once again rolling—at least for Wall Street. Just last week, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley between them announced more than twenty billion dollars in profits during the three months from April to June. “The pandemic is kind of in the rearview, hopefully,” Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, said, after the release of his firm’s bumper results. What Dimon didn’t say was that, just as in 2009 and 2010, the Wall Street bonanza owes a great deal to the largesse of the Fed, which, in contemporary American capitalism, plays the role of a kind of fire brigade, putting out conflagrations with its fire hose of money. In the months after Lehman Brothers collapsed, in 2008, the Fed pumped about $1.25 trillion into the financial system through a series of emergency lending programs and asset purchases. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the central bank has outdone itself, expanding its balance sheet by more than four trillion dollars, largely through purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage securities—a policy known as quantitative easing. While the avowed (and worthy) aims of quantitative easing are to bring down interest rates and boost interest-sensitive spending, it also acts as rocket fuel for the stock market. Even after Monday’s drop in the market, the S&P 500 index has risen by more than thirty per cent since February, 2020. Because the richest ten per cent of households own more than eighty per cent of all stocks, they have benefited greatly. And the ultra-rich have benefitted most of all: Jeff Bezos’s Amazon stock, for example, has appreciated by more than eighty billion dollars. Still, the Fed’s response to the pandemic has undoubtedly accentuated wealth inequality, which was already extreme. In recent decades, it almost seems as if the best thing that can happen to the rich is for something to drive the economy into a ditch and prompt the Fed to turn on its money spigot. Such is the upside-down logic of a world in which the ownership of financial and industrial capital is so lopsided. See

Desmond Lachman has suggested that it’s time for the Fed to take away the punchbowl.   He cited “William McChesney Martin who famously remarked that the job of the Federal Reserve is to remove the punchbowl just as the party gets going. With the clearest of signs that the U.S. economic party is in full swing, the least that the Fed should now be doing is to begin the process of winding down its present aggressive bond-buying program. One sign that the party is already getting out of hand is seen in the bubbles forming in the equity and bond markets. Fueled by the Fed’s ultra-low interest rate policy, U.S. equity valuations are now more than double their long-run average and at a level experienced only once before in the last 100 years. Meanwhile, fueled both by low interest rates and the Fed’s continued buying of $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities, the U.S. housing market is on fire. At a national level, housing prices are rising by 15 percent a year and are now higher than they were in 2006 on the eve of the housing market bust. Another clear sign that the party is in full swing is the very strong economic recovery and the rise in inflation to levels well in excess of the Fed’s target. The economy is now growing at its fastest rate in 40 years, while inflation is running at levels that have not been experienced in 30 years. This unexpected inflationary burst has forced the Fed to almost double its inflation forecast for the year.

While inflation has taken the Fed by surprise and now seems to be rising month after month, the Fed clings to the belief that these inflationary pressures are the result of supply-side problems that will soon be resolved. In focusing on supply-side issues and convincing itself that our current inflation problems are but a transitory phenomenon, the Fed seems to be turning a blind eye to the demand side pressures that are building in the economy and that could soon lead to economic overheating. It is not simply that the Fed is keeping its pedal to the monetary policy metal at a time that the economy is rebounding strongly. Rather, it is that the loosest of monetary policies is being accompanied by the largest peacetime budget stimulus on record. Over the past two years, U.S. public spending has been increased by more than a staggering 25 percent of GDP or by a large multiple of the estimated size of the so-called output gap.

By being slow to wind down its aggressive bond-buying program and repeatedly saying that it is not even thinking about raising interest rates, the Fed is adding fuel to today’s housing and equity market bubbles.

One of the disappointing aspects of monetary policy this year has been that it has barely changed even as the economic circumstances have changed dramatically. Despite faster than expected economic growth, a larger than anticipated budget stimulus, developing housing and equity market bubbles, and an unanticipated inflationary burst, the Fed has continued to buy $120 billion a month in U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities while assuring markets that it will not raise interest rates before 2023. See

Victoria Guida has echoed Desmond Lachman’s concerns, noting that “house prices are soaring and house prices are surging, stocks have continued their stratospheric rise, and banks have more cash than they know what to do with. Yet the Fed is still pumping billions into the economy. Why?

That’s what a growing number of lawmakers, investors and even some Fed officials themselves are demanding to know. They are warning that the central bank’s vast purchases of government bonds and mortgage-backed securities are feeding financial bubbles in the housing, stock and even cryptocurrency markets, and stoking higher consumer prices, with little apparent benefit to ordinary Americans.”  

Guida cited Roberto Perli, who argues that the effect of the Fed’s purchases is misunderstood.  Perli said, “If there was no quantitative easing today, and the Fed was considering, ‘OK, do we need to do it?’ Probably the answer is no,” Perli said. “But QE was necessary a while ago, like a year ago, and nobody ever thought that QE was going to end after a month or two months or six months, so the market built expectations of how much QE there would be.  In fact, those expectations were all that mattered,” he added. “And at the time that was why QE was so effective, because people expected QE to be large.” See  See also, Fed now facing twin inflation, growth risks as virus jumps and supply chains falter, at

The US economy has now topped pre-Covid levels with GDP surging at a 6.5% pace.  See


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Musings on the Mixed Messages of God in Religion and Politics

     By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all share the same God, but God’s message is different in each religion, and in their infinite variations.  The Hebrew Bible requires Jews to obey Mosaic Law, and the Qur’an requires that Muslims submit to Islamic Law.  Jesus was a Jew who put love over law and called his disciples to follow his altruistic moral teachings as God’s truth.

The greatest commandment was taken from the Hebrew Bible, it was taught by Jesus, and has been accepted by Islamic scholars as a common word of faith.  It’s a universal moral imperative to love God and to love our neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as we love ourselves; and it reconciles the mixed messages of God in the Abrahamic religions.

The early Christian church developed exclusivist doctrines of belief based on Paul’s atonement doctrine.  It asserted that God sent Jesus as a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of all believers (Romans 3:25); but the atonement doctrine conflicted with the universal teachings of Jesus and opened the door to the many distorted doctrines of Christianity that would follow.

Jesus taught that God’s will is to reconcile and redeem people of all religions (and of no religion) as spiritual brothers and sisters in the family of God.  Satan’s will is to divide and conquer, and Satan has done a convincing imitation of God in religion and politics.  As a result, Satan is winning the popularity contest for political power in America’s democracy.

The libertarian democracies of the 18th century Enlightenment seem to have run their course.  Demagogues like Hitler and Trump have used distorted religious doctrines to exploit mindless masses in Christian democracies to gain political power.  They have used religion to polarize politics in democracies and made them as corrupt as authoritarian regimes.

 The religions that helped give birth to democracy are complicit in its demise.  They could save democracy with a moral reformation based on the altruistic teachings of Jesus summarized in the greatest commandment.  But that’s a long shot.  Jesus lived over 2,000 years ago, and the human depravity that killed him is as pervasive today as it was then.

Democracy has made us masters of our political destiny.  If Americans expect to achieve the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness expressed in the Declaration of Independence, they must overcome their human depravity and end their tribal partisan politics.  Americans must learn to love their neighbors, even those they dislike, as they love themselves.

The message of God in our religion and politics is mixed since it has come through humans, not God. God's message has always been one of universal love, and prophets who brought the the word of God in their time and place have come and gone. We need more modern prophets to bring God's universal word of love to our time and place.  Any volunteers?


On the greatest commandment and love over law, see:

The Greatest Commandment: A Common Word of Faith (1/11/2015)

Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy (1/18/2015)

 Who Is My Neighbor? (1/23/2016)

The website for A Common Word is at  See also, Muslim and Christian Understanding: Theory and Application of “A Common Word”, Edited by Waleed El-Ansary and David K. Linnan, Palgrave, Macmillan, 2010.    

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Christianity and Politics: Separated by Irreconcilable Differences

     By Rudy Barnes, Jr,

When I began my weekly commentary on Religion, Legitimacy and Politics in December 2014, I saw a positive correlation between religion, morality and politics.  Now I have my doubts.  The church will likely remain a viable community social institution for the foreseeable future, but it will not have the moral relevance to political legitimacy that it has had in the past.

I grew up in the Methodist Church, and for most of my life I believed the church was the primary source of the moral standards of political legitimacy.  The rise of the Moral Majority in the 1980s should have been a warning, but I was shocked when most White Christians elected Donald Trump in 2016.  His egregious immorality is the antithesis of the moral teachings of Jesus.

Since 1976 most pastors of the mainstream church have ignored the deteriorating moral climate in American politics and allowed vociferous evangelical charlatans to promote radical right Republican politics in the name of  Christianity.  The result was a lack of moral stewardship in American democracy that culminated in the election of Trump, and a decline in the church.

The church wasn’t always like that. During the late 1950s and 1960s a courageous minority of Methodist pastors took part in the civil rights movement, and I was inspired by them to become a United Methodist pastor later in life.  It was a good experience, but after 2016 I became a maverick Methodist who was critical of the church for failing to promote the moral stewardship of democracy.

The church and politics have much in common, but they are separated by irreconcilable differences.  Both consider popularity the measure of their success, but Jesus taught that the road to God’s kingdom was a narrow way, not a broad way, and that few would follow the altruistic and universal word of God. (see Matthew 7:13-14)

To gain popularity and power, church leaders subordinated the universal teachings of Jesus to exclusivist church doctrines that limited salvation to those who believed in Jesus Christ as the alter ego of God, and condemned all others to hell.  It was a successful marketing strategy based on cheap grace that enabled Christianity to become the most popular religion in the world.

Ironically, the irreconcilable differences between Christianity and politics are not real differences at all, but a shared commitment to popularity as a flawed measure of success.  Human depravity makes popularity a plague on both the church and democracy.  it encourages unprincipled religious and political leaders to distort altruistic Christian doctrines in their quest for popularity and power.  

Most Christians are good people, but they have been led astray by exclusivist church doctrines that limit salvation to Christians.  They ignore the universal and reconciling teachings of Jesus summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and their neighbors, including those of other races and religions, as they love themselves.  That may not be popular, but it’s God’s truth; and it’s needed to restore legitimacy to the church and American democracy.




A recent survey by the Public Religious Research Institute (PRRI) indicates that “the shifting landscape of religion in America--a shrinking white Christian majority alongside the rise of religiously unaffiliated Americans--has stabilized.  What was once a supermajority of white Christians--more than 80% of Americans identified as such in 1976, and two-thirds in 1996--has now plateaued at about 44%.”  Robert P. Jones, CEO and Founder of PRRI, has said,”If you look at [the white evangelical] presence in the national religious landscape, it’s actually quite diminished from what it was even 10 years ago.  It’s still surprising to many Americans because of how visible this population has been, particularly during the Trump administration.”  See

Michelle Boorstein has noted that the PRRI study “shows some regions of the country remain religiously homogeneous--especially the Southeast--and charts the growing political influence of the religiously unaffiliated, whose presence has more than doubled in both major parties in recent years.”  PRRI maps show increased overall diversity in the West, Midwest, Northeast and in various spots across the country, especially in and around cities. The Southeast quadrant is especially light on diversity.  “What’s remarkable is you can see the cultural history of the country in these maps,” said Robert Jones, “noting religious settlement patterns that endure. You can still see the history of the Civil War, with White evangelicals still concentrated in the Southeast, White non-evangelicals in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. You can still see that North-South divide.”  See  See also, The Christian Right is in decline, and it’s taking America with it, at

According to Stephanie McCrummen evangelicals should not be counted out of politics quite yet; at least not in Fort Worth, Texas, where Mercy Culture is a rapidly growing and culturally mixed congregation “that’s openly political and wants a nation under God’s authority.” See

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Musings on the Need for Racial Reconciliation in America's Divisive Democracy

       By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

According to Mirriam-Webster, reconciliation means either “causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement,” or “finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time.”  In our pluralistic democracy reconciliation is essential to resolve deeply divisive issues of race, religion and partisan politics.

Reconciliation doesn’t require agreement on contentious issues, only shared altruistic values that can lead to the resolution of those issues.  The greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, including those of other races and religions, is a common word of faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims--White and Black alike.      

Racism in America’s racially polarized partisan politics requires reconciliation, but one proponent of systemic racism, J. Russell Hawkins, questions the need for racial reconciliation: “The problem is that the tools used to bring about racial reconciliation are centered on ideas about interpersonal relationships and...leave in place all sorts of [racial] structural disparities.”

Racial discrimination, voting restrictions and gerrymandering have created structural disparities, and the civil rights and political remedies for them should be complemented by efforts to promote racial reconciliation.  Civil rights laws have made racially discriminatory acts illegal, but racism is beyond the reach of law.  It will require changing racist moral beliefs.

Slavery no longer creates racial disparities, and reparations for slavery would only exacerbate racism without addressing any existing structural forms of racism.  Better race relations require not only ending structural forms of racism like gerrymandering and prohibiting racial discrimination through civil rights laws, but also promoting racial reconciliation.

Standards of political legitimacy include obligatory laws and voluntary moral standards.  Civil rights and voting rights provide legal remedies to combat racism, but racist attitudes are moral matters that require changing hearts and minds based on the altruistic and universal greatest commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Racial reconciliation should begin in the church.  Jesus taught that reconciliation is a moral priority of faith that even takes precedence over worship (Matthew 5:23-24); and in the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus emphasized that those of other races and religions are our neighbors.  But there’s a problem: most churches are racially segregated. 

Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week in America.  Suitable venues must be found to promote interracial dialogue and develop lasting relationships.  It’s only when Whites and Blacks get to know one another that they can reconcile their past racist views and see each other in a new light as neighbors.


See Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project at; and on Musings on Slavery and Systemic Racism on Independence Day, see

In his study of evangelicals in South Carolina, Hawkins has asserted, “...the thing that drives the theology of a lot of evangelical Christians today is this colorblind, individualistic theology. If you understand where this language comes from, you can begin to understand that we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re incredibly racially divided in the American church, in large part because these colorblind, individualistic tools that white evangelical Christians cling deeply to came from a period of segregation. We shouldn’t be surprised that it’s continuing to reap this divisive harvest.  ...For the last 20 years, according to sociologists, there’s been this really significant move among white evangelical Christians to embrace racial reconciliation. This has become a big part of white evangelical Christianity, this move to become diverse and have diverse churches as a way to achieve this reconciliation. So, there’s an attentiveness over the last two decades to becoming more racially diverse within American churches, particularly among white evangelical Christians.”  

I’ve seen no evidence of such racial diversity in white churches.  Hawkins goes on to say,  “The problem here is that the tools that get used to bring about this racial reconciliation are very much centered on ideas about just interpersonal relationships and ideas about colorblindness. White evangelical Christians say, ‘We recognize that there has been a problem in the past. The way we’re going to move forward is becoming friends. Ultimately, we’re trying to get to the point where race doesn’t matter at all. So, we’re getting to the point where we’re colorblind.’  While that might have some particular outcomes at the individual level and the interpersonal level, what that leaves in place are all sorts of structural disparities that continue to persist within American society along racial lines. And so, you get black Christians who enter into these churches, into these relationships, and say, ‘Well, okay, so there’s an interpersonal thing going on here too, but there’s also a larger reality about the experiences of people of color in this country that we need to address at the structural level or at the level of systems that operate in this country.’ And when those conversations start to happen, suddenly these white evangelical Christians pull way back and say, ‘No! That’s not what we’re talking about here. That stuff doesn’t exist. Or if it exists, it doesn’t exist to the extent that you are claiming exists.’ And the problem here is that you can’t just get over these past things and just enter into these relationships.  In other words, these white evangelical Christians have been influenced by decades’ worth of this teaching that tells them don’t talk about race, try not to see race, be colorblind. And when someone tells you that structural racism or systemic racism exists, you can ignore them. In fact, it’s to the point now that any discussion of race at the level outside the individual is increasingly seen as heretical in these white evangelical circles. This is a sign of cultural Marxism. This is critical race theory, the boogeyman of the moment.

What I’m trying to show is that it’s in large part due to the history that has been going on since the civil rights movement. If you want to see that going back all the way to the nineteenth century, we’re all influenced by our histories. Until white evangelical Christians begin to grapple with the historical development of colorblindness and individualistic theology, you’re not going to make much progress in actually bringing about this reconciliation that so many of them profess to have when it comes to the issue of race.”  See the interview with Professor J. Russell Hawkins in Religion & Politics at

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Musings on Slavery and Systemic Racism on Independence Day

  Tomorrow we celebrate our nation’s independence.  The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776  proclaiming the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in America, then a slaveholding nation.  It would be 84 years and a terrible Civil War before slavery ended, and another 100 years before Black Americans gained their civil rights.

America has changed dramatically in those years.  The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination, but racism has continued to plague America, fostered by polarized partisan politics.  Donald Trump’s Republican Party continues to play the race card, and in the name of systemic racism Democrats promote racial preferences that will only exacerbate racism.

Systemic racism has been defined as “a form of racism embedded through laws and regulations within society or an organization.”  It’s based on racial disparities with no evidence of racial discrimination.  Civil rights laws require proof of racial discrimination for legal remedies.  Without such proof, racism is a moral issue of heart and mind that is beyond the reach of law.  

Civil rights fall under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  It provides equal protection of the law for all Americans.  That guarantees equal opportunity under the law, but not equality.  In a libertarian democracy that emphasizes individual freedom there will always be disparities, but racial discrimination should never be tolerated.

The primary racial disparities claimed in systemic racism are in income and criminal justice.  A strong middle class is essential to political and economic stability in a democracy, and America’s middle class is shrinking; but the depletion of the middle class is not caused by racial discrimination but by those in the stock market--both White and Black--getting richer.         

Income disparities are evident in a stock market that has thrived through two major recessions while the rest of America has struggled with a sluggish economy.  The Federal Reserve orchestrated these economic disparities by subsidizing megacorporations on Wall Street with low interest rates and purchasing their questionable debts.  With an improved economy Fed policies should end subsidies that favor investors in the stock market.

In criminal justice, racial disparities in arrests and incarceration most often reflect the incidence of crime rather than racial discrimination, but police have often used excessive force in arresting Blacks.  That’s not justified by statistics that indicate Blacks commit more crimes than Whites.  Reforms are overdue to restrict the lethal force used by police in making arrests.

America was born as a slaveholding nation; and even though racism continues to plague us, America has evolved into a nation with liberty and justice for all under the law.  To overcome pervasive racism--whether systemic or otherwise--America must promote racial reconciliation to improve race relations, and avoid racial preferences that would further divide us.


Wikipedia defines Institutional racism, also known as systemic racism, as a form of racism that is embedded through laws and regulations within society or an organization. It can lead to such issues as discrimination in criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power, and education, among other issues. Institutional racism has harmful effects on people, especially on students in school where it is prominent.[1]

The term institutional racism was first coined in 1967 by Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton in Black Power: The Politics of Liberation.[2] Carmichael and Hamilton wrote in 1967 that while individual racism is often identifiable because of its overt nature, institutional racism is less perceptible because of its "less overt, far more subtle" nature. Institutional racism "originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society, and thus receives far less public condemnation than [individual racism]".[3]  See

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. Often considered one of the most consequential amendments, it addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by the states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education regarding racial segregation, Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, and also those acting on behalf of such officials.  See

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment provides "nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". It mandates that individuals in similar situations be treated equally by the law.[1][2][3]  A primary motivation for this clause was to validate the equality provisions contained in the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which guaranteed that all citizens would have the guaranteed right to equal protection by law. As a whole, the Fourteenth Amendment marked a large shift in American constitutionalism, by applying substantially more constitutional restrictions against the states than had applied before the Civil War.  The meaning of the Equal Protection Clause has been the subject of much debate, and inspired the well-known phrase "Equal Justice Under Law". This clause was the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision that helped to dismantle racial segregation, and also the basis for many other decisions rejecting discrimination against, and bigotry towards, people belonging to various groups.  See Wikipedia at

Michal Gerson has asserted that “I don’t think it possible to be a conservative without believing that racism is, in part, structural.”  I reject any claim of racism (systemic or otherwise) without evidence of racial discrimination; and systemic racism is based on racial disparities rather than acts of racial discrimination.  Gerson is right when he says that “The phrase ‘systemic racism,’ like ‘climate change’ and ‘gun control,’ has been sucked into the vortex of the culture war.”   And he’s right to say that “The emotional reaction to these words seems to preclude reasoned debate on their meaning.”  But I believe that “In a free society, responsibility for success and failure is largely personal and I don’t feel guilty for self-destructive life choices made by others.” Gerson says “that reasoning sounds convincing until it’s tested against the experience of our own lives, “ and goes on to confess to growing up in a middle class neighborhood in St. Louis that was shaped by white flight and was largely indifferent to the residual effects of “separate but equal” Jim Crow racism.  Gerson says that “Only later did I begin to see that my normality was actually a social construction. By the time I was growing up in the 1970s, St. Louis no longer had legal segregation. But my suburb, my neighborhood and my private high school were all outcomes of White flight. The systems of policing, zoning and education I grew up with had been created to ensure one result: to keep certain communities safe, orderly and pale.  ..Systems had been carefully created to ensure I went to an all-White church, in an all-White neighborhood, while attending an all-White Christian school and shopping in all-White stores. I now realize I grew up in one of the most segregated cities in the United States.  Was this my fault? Not in the strictest sense. I didn’t create these systems. But I wish I had realized earlier that these systems had created me. This is what I mean by systemic racism.”

Gerson makes a dubious distinction between guilt and responsibility for the racism in St. Louis:  “There is an important moral distinction between “guilt” and “responsibility.” It is not useful, and perhaps not fair, to say that most White people are guilty of creating social systems shaped by white supremacy. But they do have a responsibility as citizens, and as moral creatures, to seek a society where equal opportunity is a reality for all.”  That’s certainly true. And “It is true that “wokeness” can be used as a political weapon. It is true that shame culture can be cruel and misdirected. And, as a conservative, I believe that equal opportunity, rather than mandated economic equality, is the proper goal of a free society. But what if equal opportunity is a cruel joke to a significant portion of the country?” I believe equal opportunity is just that, and that beginning with public education, when people spurn their opportunity to earn a high school degree, they forfeit an equal opportunity for good jobs.

Gerson acknowledges that in America “we have the advantage of what a friend calls ‘systemic anti-racism.’ We have documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the 14th Amendment — that call us to our better selves. We are a country that has exploited and oppressed Black Americans. But we are also the country that has risen up in mass movements, made up of Blacks and Whites, to confront those evils.  The response to structural racism is the determined, systematic application of our highest ideals.”  We can agree on that final note as it applies to any form of racism. See

George Will has framed systemic racism as an attack on the traditional standards of meritocracy in competing for the benefits of society, saying that attacking ‘merit’ in the name of ‘equity’ is a prescription for mediocrity. “Today’s accusations of ‘systemic racism,’ more frequently bandied than defined, disparage American society’s allocation of wealth and opportunity on the basis of metrics of merit. The disparagers presume the allocation is inherently unjust unless it ameliorates racial disparities. So, around the nation, selective public high schools and colleges are accused of perpetuating racial hierarchies by admission policies that seek excellence as measured by standardized tests. Yet aptitude tests for college admissions were adopted so that objective measures of merit could weaken the entrenchment of stale elites.  No society ever has too much talent. With America facing a future of intensifying commercial and military competitions of increasing sophistication, it is reckless to advocate retreat from meritocracy toward, inevitably, government-engineered mediocrity.” See

Critical race theory (CRT) is a field of study that proponents of systemic racism consider a justification for racial preferences.  See Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project at