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The Looting that Keeps Me Up at Night

Mary Alice Duff

Posted on June 01 2020

As the federal government responded to the Coronavirus crisis, they unveiled a $2 trillion dollar package which included the payroll protection program—a program designed to help America’s small businesses, likes ours, keep their payroll intact. As soon as the program opened, the first round of funding dried up in less than 2 weeks. 

Of those who immediately had their applications approved? The biggest of the “small” businesses with existing lending relationships with the biggest banks in America such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase. Those who banked small were not able to access funds. And those with the biggest payrolls, got their applications approved first. Including Ruth Chris Hospitality group, a publicly traded company, who netted over $400 million in revenue last year. 

How could this be? How could huge corporations and huge banks be LOOTING a fund specifically set aside for small businesses while truly SMALL businesses, woman owned, black owned, minority owned businesses continue to go unfunded. Because systematic looting is as American as apple pie. 

When Walmart pays their workers so little they’re forced to rely on food stamps—and then those same employees go and spend their food stamp dollars AT Walmart—the American people are subsidizing the payroll of a $500 billion dollar corporation—that’s looting. 

When in 2018 Amazon paid $0 in federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits while also receiving a $129 million tax rebate—that is looting. 

When the Federal Department of Education diverts funding from historically underfunded public schools in black and brown neighborhoods and siphons it off charter schools under the guise of school choice—that is looting. 

When the state of Georgia purges 600,000 names from the states voter rolls disenfranchising entire communities of color from casting their votes—that is looting. 

When drug manufactures can charge $300 for a life-saving and medically necessary Epi-Pen that costs $30 to make—that is looting.

When the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis caused millions to lose their jobs and livelihoods and disproportionately affected black households- causing black Americans to lose HALF their wealth —that is looting. 

Massive corporations and our federal, state and city governments have made entire careers figuring out how to LOOT poor and middle class communities to further enrich and keep in power the wealthiest in this nation. 

So when I hear person, after person, wringing their hands and sharing their dismay at what is happening in American cities right now: peaceful protests that have turned violent and include the looting of businesses in response to the collective, repeated pain caused by horrific executions carried out by a militarized, white supremacist police state my response is: FINALLY YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION.  Now can we discuss the REAL looting in this country? 

 

I want to make it emphatically clear: Alice Alexander is a business that recognizes and affirms BLACK LIVES and will work to strategically dismantle structures and systems of power that are intentionally designed to harm and disenfranchise communities of color. Any comments left on this blog post or on any of our social media accounts denigrating black lives will not be tolerated. Our work as leaders in sustainable, ethical and size inclusive fashion can not exist without SOCIAL JUSTICE. We will continue to listen to the lived experience of black lives and uphold anti-racist values within our business practices.

 

Sources:

1. “A single Walmart Supercenter costs taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year in public assistance money.” https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/walmart-wages-are-the-main-reason-people-depend-on-food-stamps/

 

2. “In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in U.S. federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits before taxes. It also received a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/03/why-amazon-paid-no-federal-income-tax.html

 

3. https://networkforpubliceducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Do-charter-schools-and-school-vouchers-hurt-public-schoolsƒ.pdf

 

4. https://www.ajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/voter-purge-begs-question-what-the-matter-with-georgia/YAFvuk3Bu95kJIMaDiDFqJ/

 

Georgia’s purge

In 2017, Georgia election officials, overseen by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, now the Republican candidate for governor, removed 665,791 people from voter rolls. Here are the major reasons for the purges:

  • No voting or other contact with election system in two campaign cycles: 534,517.
  • Deceased: 64,446
  • Duplicate names: 36,736
  • Felons: 14,021
  • Moved out of state: 11,631

Sources: Georgia Secretary of State’s office, AJC research.

5. https://money.com/how-much-epipen-costs-to-make/

6. https://prospect.org/justice/staggering-loss-black-wealth-due-subprime-scandal-continues-unabated/

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