A Family Legacy
Re “The Outrage Must Not End” by Elie Mystal [June 29/July 6]: I recall growing up in the 1960s and ’70s in central Texas and hearing conversations about equality, the NAACP, and civil rights. My father believed in speaking out for what was right. He taught his children the same. On June 9 my 16-year-old granddaughter and I went to downtown Atlanta to protest police brutality disproportionately against people of color—and not just brutality but death. Her protesting and standing up for equality with me has made civil rights a family legacy, one that I hope all my grandchildren pass on to their children.
We must have the sincere belief that all people are entitled to live without the fear of being targeted because of the color of their skin. For a country founded on democracy, we are morphing into a dictatorship.
The Beef With Red Meat
Eamon Whalen in his article “Meatheads” in the June 29/July 6 issue describes the beef industry’s opposition to a diet without beef. But he fails to note that red meat is a carcinogen. A diet high in red meat can shorten life expectancy, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. A study of more than 120,000 people suggested red meat increased the risk of death from cancer and heart problems.
Whalen should have noted that neither the low price of red meat nor its being part of the standard American diet should lead humans to risk exposing themselves to heart disease or cancer.
Jane McAlevey [“Taxes: From Wishful Thinking to Power,” June 15/22] is right that progressive taxes are essential to reversing austerity and funding a livable future. But she—no doubt unintentionally—disses three out of the four leaders of the coalition that made taxing the rich in California possible.
The campaign was jump-started by Reclaiming California’s Future, a coalition anchored by four organizations. McAlevey gets right that one of them was California Calls. However, she doesn’t get the role of the California Federation of Teachers, lumping it in with other unions that came in later and initially attempted to dissuade the CFT from participating in the millionaire tax and go with then-Governor Jerry Brown’s hodgepodge loser ballot measure instead.
Anthony Thigpenn was and remains a key leader in the progressive tax movement in California. But to call him “the brains behind the millionaire tax and its extension” wrongly obscures the roles played by Amy Schur of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, and especially CFT president Joshua Pechthalt and their respective organizations.
We are dealing with an emergency. California government leaders are currently asserting the state has a $54 billion deficit and are responding by imposing more austerity.
Instead of addressing how this deficit should be filled by passing an emergency tax on the rich, McAlevey focuses on only one proposal, a necessary reform to Prop 13. If this proposal is passed by voters in November, it will result in corporations paying $12 billion more a year in property taxes, but that money will not be raised right away.
She points out that any new taxes passed by the legislature require at least a two-thirds vote, but she fails to state that the Democrats, the supposed alternative party, now hold every executive office and have more than two-thirds of the seats in both legislative houses. That means they could immediately pass a wealth tax on California’s billionaires, some of whom have seen their assets swell during the Covid-19 pandemic and who obviously do not need their billions.
I can’t imagine such a tax would be anything other than overwhelmingly popular. Unfortunately, the Democrats in charge are sending the message that they prefer the billionaires keep their billions and that many others increasingly suffer.
Yes, there were other key leaders, including those Fred Glass mentions. It was a movement with a core of good labor and community leaders. As the communications director for the CFT during the ballot initiative, I hope readers can appreciate the difference in analysis an author can give in a 1,500-word article versus a book chapter or book. When I do the latter, all the very able and very smart people Glass lists will be sufficiently credited for their great work. I should have simply referred to Thigpenn as “one of the brains” versus “the brain,” as everyone Glass cites deserves heaps of credit, though I do mention the CFT and the other organizations he names.
My article never suggests that merely passing the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative was the only solution needed. It says that ending the corporate loophole in 1978’s Prop 13 is, however, key. I couldn’t agree more with Rick Baum about needing a billionaire tax, a millionaire tax, and more. Baum’s complaint is with the Democratic leaders of California. Please take it up with them. Hell, yes, they should do what Baum says. The unions I work with are all supporting and demanding further taxes on the rich.
new york city and the bay area
“How to Make ‘Defund the Police’ a Reality” by Bryce Covert [July 13/20] incorrectly stated that the New York Police Department’s budget was $7 million in 1981. Its budget was $714 million that year.