Why Modern Conservatism Is Incompatible With Christianity

A Comprehensive Analysis of Current Political Issues

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President Donald Trump holding the Holy Bible backwards and upside-down in front of a church he does not go to.

By Wyatt McElroy, Assistant Reporter

Part 1: Introduction

In today’s political landscape, ‘Christian values’ can be used synonymously with ‘conservative values.’ I am here to tell you why these two terms are antonyms, complete contradictions of one another.

Part 2: Abortion

We should start first with the primary issue a Christian may point towards to justify their right-wing political positioning, abortion. I do agree, any line other than conception drawn to separate what can be considered a human life and what is not one is arbitrary. However, the best way of limiting the reality of abortions is not necessarily more restrictions and abortion bans.

According to The Scientific American, “In the 1950s and 1960s between 200,000 and 1.2 million women underwent illegal abortions each year in the U.S., many in unsafe conditions. According to one estimate, extrapolating data from North Carolina to the nation as a whole, 699,000 illegal abortions occurred in the U.S. during 1955, and 829,000 illegal procedures were performed in 1967.” This shows that even when abortion is not legal, it will be performed illegally. Although increased liberalization of abortion laws leads to the number of legal abortions increasing, these illegal abortions must also be taken into account to see if abortion laws actually prevent abortions. An Oxford study that sought to look into this and analyzed the effects of more liberal abortion legislation being put into place in Spain, found, “Decriminalisation has had no observed effect on the trends in abortion, but rather it has benefited Spanish women by making abortion available locally and, therefore, reducing the inequalities Implied by lack of access to proper health care services. These data demonstrate the impact of the liberalization of abortion on the trends of procedures performed in other countries.” This obviously suggests that the actual amount of abortions is unchanged by legal regulations. On the contrary, one Social Indicators Research looking at the effects of state abortion regulations study found that “these abortion policy restrictions affect the unprotected sexual activity of teens resulting in fewer unwanted teen pregnancies.” which could result in fewer abortions. Overall, the perceived effects of abortion laws seem to be mixed.

7 years after Roe V. Wade (1973), the legal abortion rate peaked (1980) due to the increased availability of legal abortions.  However, since then it has continued to decline. In 2016 there were 623,471 legal abortions, an amount less than the rough estimates of illegal abortions taking place in the 50s and 60s, and a lower abortion rate than the year before Roe v. Wade (13 to 11.6). Since 2016, the decrease in abortions and abortion rate has continued. This trend does not seem to be caused by legal restrictions, but rather better access to contraceptives. Furthermore, new studies have found that abortion rates are highest in countries that legally restrict access to them, but the lowest in countries where abortion and contraception are widely accessible. Where abortion is restricted, the annual average unintended pregnancy rate was 73 per 1000 women, the abortion rate being 36 per 1000. In countries where abortion is broadly legal, the unintended pregnancy rate was 58 per 1000, the abortion rate being 40 per 1000 women.

The truth is that the legality of abortion does not always change the demand. Making abortion illegal, especially after it has been long considered legal and is continuously becoming more socially acceptable, with abortions being accessible via pill, would be extremely hard to effectively regulate, and seemingly less effective than better sex education and greater access to contraception, as these methods have been proven to be especially effective. For instance, in 1992, California’s teen pregnancy rate was 157/1000 teens aged 15 – 19, the highest rate in the nation. To combat this, the state initially launched a three-year-long abstinence-only sex education program, which had little effect. However, in 2003, the Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act were passed, requiring schools to provide unbiased, medically accurate sex education to their students. As a result, in 2005, the teen pregnancy rate was 75/1000 teens aged 15 – 19, a more than 50% decrease.

Another study on the effect of increased access to contraceptives on abortions found, “a clinically and statistically significant reduction in abortion rates, repeat abortions, and teenage birth rates. Unintended pregnancies may be reduced by providing no-cost contraception and promoting the most effective contraceptive methods.”A third study of over 9,000 women found that when women received no-cost birth control, the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions dropped by between 62 and 78 percent.

From this, we can conclude that when looking at the issue pragmatically, more regulations and abortion bans are not the best solutions, at least on their own. A Christian may look at progressive sex-ed and even contraceptives unfavorably, but if one genuinely cares for the unborn, recognizing the sacredness of human life, they would want to protect it at all costs. In a perfect world contraceptives and sex-ed wouldn’t be necessary, but we live in a fallen one in which we must act pragmatically to limit evil. Acting idealistically, banging a loud drum calling only for strict bans and regulations regardless of their effectiveness is meaningless virtue-signaling that serves to help no one. And the reality is progressive sex-ed and better access to contraceptives does. Maybe on top of progressive sex-ed and contraception, one could consider more restrictions, but this method seems to have mixed results compared to the other overwhelmingly positive effects created by other policies. Unfortunately, despite supporting abortion restrictions, conservatives generally oppose the methods proven to have a larger effect in limiting abortions.

Part 3: CoronaVirus, Climate Change, and the Death Penalty 

Despite claiming to be pro-life, many conservatives have started to protest any efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. At first, the nationwide lockdown was protested as a violation of human freedom. Many of these protestors argued that people needed to pay their bills and that a nationwide lockdown would leave people homeless and starving. Although a larger amount of and greater access to stimulus checks are necessary (and are being opposed by GOP congress members such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), breaking CDC protocol and ignoring the virus, sometimes even denying its existence, helps no one. New Zealand’s “hard and early” policies and the complete lockdown has proven to be the most effective method in the world. Quoting a Bloomberg report, “New Zealanders are basically living in a world without Covid. The nation has seen just a handful of infections in the community in recent months, and live music and large scale social events are back on.” With the virus essentially eradicated, the New Zealand economy has bounced back and will only continue to grow. The United States economy also did have a large bounce back in GDP growth after the lockdown was lifted but has sacrificed many lives in the process. The daily deaths and cases due to corona in the United States have also continued to grow, suggesting the worst is yet to come. Not only will this cost at least tens-of-thousands of lives, but the continued threat of coronavirus will only hinder the U.S economy from a full bounce back.

The harmful agenda pushed by conservatives such as President Trump has obviously exacerbated this issue. An Associated Press study revealed that in the 376 counties with the most cases per capita, 93% of those counties voted for Trump.

Many conservatives have also argued that needing to wear a mask while outdoors violates their freedoms. Some have even gone as far as to say that mask-wearing policies in stores are a violation of human freedoms, despite these stores being privately owned businesses. If these people were truly pro-life, wouldn’t they be happy to wear something as simple as a mask to limit the spread of a potentially life-threatening and highly contagious disease?

This lack of concern for life has not just started due to coronavirus, however. This same lack of concern has also been shown towards the effects of climate change. Plenty of Republicans will either deny the existence of climate change entirely or will mock any attempts to create solutions. An example of this is the infamous conservative talking-head, Ben Shapiro. He has often said that the issue of climate change will be solved by some innovation, making government interference unnecessary. He has also stated that families living on the coastline that are concerned about rising tides should simply sell their homes and move. Perhaps one of the innovations Mr. Shapiro predicts will be artificial gills for the humans who will be purchasing the homes submerged underwater. In all seriousness, there is no reason to play Russian roulette with such a serious issue, risking the future of human civilization while relying on companies who are currently benefiting from exploiting our environment to spontaneously begin to desire to protect it. The effects of climate change are outlined in this summary of the findings of the Fourth National Climate Assessment:

“The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The statements below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe.

Global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years (1901–2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, and the last three years have been the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales.

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.

In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities. Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.

For example, global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900, with almost half (about 3 inches) of that rise occurring since 1993. Human-caused climate change has made a substantial contribution to this rise since 1900, contributing to a rate of rise that is greater than during any preceding century in at least 2,800 years. Global sea level rise has already affected the United States; the incidence of daily tidal flooding is accelerating in more than 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities.

Global average sea levels are expected to continue to rise—by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1–4 feet by 2100. A rise of as much as 8 feet by 2100 cannot be ruled out. Sea level rise will be higher than the global average on the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States.

Changes in the characteristics of extreme events are particularly important for human safety, infrastructure, agriculture, water quality and quantity, and natural ecosystems. Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the United States and globally and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the United States have occurred in the Northeast.

Heatwaves have become more frequent in the United States since the 1960s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent. Recent record-setting hot years are projected to become common in the near future for the United States, as annual average temperatures continue to rise. Annual average temperature over the contiguous United States has increased by 1.8°F (1.0°C) for the period 1901–2016; over the next few decades (2021–2050), annual average temperatures are expected to rise by about 2.5°F for the United States, relative to the recent past (average from 1976–2005), under all plausible future climate scenarios.

The incidence of large forest fires in the western United States and Alaska has increased since the early 1980s and is projected to further increase in those regions as the climate changes, with profound changes to regional ecosystems.

Annual trends toward earlier spring melt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western United States and these trends are expected to continue. Under higher scenarios, and assuming no change to current water resources management, chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible before the end of this century.

The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally. Without major reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature relative to preindustrial times could reach 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century. With significant reductions in emissions, the increase in annual average global temperature could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less.

The global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has now passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level that last occurred about 3 million years ago, when both global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today. Continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years. There is broad consensus that the further and the faster the Earth system is pushed towards warming, the greater the risk of unanticipated changes and impacts, some of which are potentially large and irreversible.

The observed increase in carbon emissions over the past 15–20 years has been consistent with higher emissions pathways. In 2014 and 2015, emission growth rates slowed as economic growth became less carbon-intensive. Even if this slowing trend continues, however, it is not yet at a rate that would limit global average temperature change to well below 3.6°F (2°C) above preindustrial levels.”

Regarding the accuracy of climate projections, a NASA article had this to say, “In a study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a research team led by Zeke Hausfather of the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a systematic evaluation of the performance of past climate models. The team compared 17 increasingly sophisticated model projections of global average temperature developed between 1970 and 2007, including some originally developed by NASA, with actual changes in global temperature observed through the end of 2017. The observational temperature data came from multiple sources, including NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) time series, an estimate of global surface temperature change.

The results: 10 of the model projections closely matched observations. Moreover, after accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other factors that drive climate, the number increased to 14. The authors found no evidence that the climate models evaluated either systematically overestimated or underestimated warming over the period of their projections.” Even Pope Francis has acknowledged the massive threat of climate change and acknowledged the need to protect our environment when stating, “the popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind … Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.”

Donald Trump often denies the existence of climate change, stating on Twitter that the concept of climate change was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and seeks to bolster the country’s oil and gas industries while rolling back climate regulations. The Brookings Institution has tracked many of these deregulations (see in sources) stating, “The president and his administration exercise substantial influence on the environment through regulation and executive authority. President Donald Trump took office promising a business-friendly, deregulatory agenda. Shortly after taking office, he issued an executive order that for every new regulation put in place, two had to be eliminated. His deregulatory agenda extends into the rules that protect our nation’s air and water and address climate change.”

President-Elect Joe Biden at least acknowledges the threat of climate change. His climate plan would put the U.S. at net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while ridding the power sector of carbon pollution by 2035. This will be achieved by Investing $2 trillion over four years in green infrastructure, transportation, auto industries, housing, construction, environmental conservation, and justice. In doing so, this plan would create 1 million new jobs in the auto industry, boosting electric vehicles. Another goal of the plan would be to build 1.5 million “sustainable homes.”

Another policy that is heavily supported by many conservatives is the death penalty. Most will rely on emotional arguments, such as providing a greater sense of justice for the family members of the victims. However, it has been proven that, regardless of if you believe the death penalty is just, there have been no provable benefits from having the death penalty implemented and our justice system is nowhere near reliable enough to have it.

A common argument for the death penalty is that it saves money. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for a murderer to be clothed, housed, and fed when that murderer could simply be put to death? However, there is no proof that the death penalty is less expensive than being sent to prison for life. The death penalty has actually been proven to be more expensive than life in jail. These costs will often be related to attempts by criminals to appeal their sentence. While some will argue that the death penalty would be cheaper if we removed these costs, any attempts to do so would lower due process and increase the number of innocent people that get executed.

Most death penalty supporters will state that the death penalty should only be used when we know for a fact that the person being executed is guilty. However, this is never truly possible. Video evidence is becoming less and less reliable with the existence of deep fakes and AI technology that can easily be used to frame an innocent individual. Witnesses can easily be biased or paid off to lie about what they saw happen. Our memories are also nowhere near reliable enough to accurately convict an individual of a crime. Even DNA evidence, which to some may be irrefutable, isn’t perfect. The simple fact is that there is no form of evidence that is reliable enough to have a 100% success rate.

The issues with our justice system have been statistically proven, with the amount of innocent death row inmates. According to a 2014 study, 4% of death row inmates were later found innocent. If everyone on death row was executed that year, that would mean 1 out of every 25 people executed would have been innocent. Given this as well as the lack of benefits related to the death penalty, any individual that claims to be pro-life should then have to condemn it. However, that hasn’t stopped many conservatives from supporting it.

When you start to analyze the common conservative arguments against policies that would save lives, they are almost always based on the economy. Lockdowns may save lives… but the economy would take a hit! Climate change could destroy the earth…but serious climate-conscious regulations will hurt business! The death penalty isn’t ideal…but it saves money! Not only do these arguments disregard the value of human life, but they are also very myopic and misinformed. Lockdowns may hurt our economy for the moment, but if we can eradicate the virus as did New Zealand while subsidizing wages, our economy would bounce back fully quicker than just throwing caution to the wind with lazy restriction half the population doesn’t follow as we are right now. Climate regulations may cause some damage, but it is much better to be proactive rather than realize after it is too late some radical change needs to be made to prevent irreversible damage that has been done to our planet, which will almost certainly hurt our ability to live comfortably. The death penalty argument, as explained before, is basically non-existent, as the punishment itself does not even save money. When deciding which side to support in the political discourse regarding these topics, it is important to remember the 6th commandment, “thou shall not kill.” Or alternatively, as a conservative would put it, “thou shall not kill….unless short-term economic growth is at risk.”

Part 4: Social Issues

Many Christians may feel alienated by progressive social stances embodied in the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride movements. I will analyze each and argue why you should support both, or at least acknowledge the importance of both.

Starting with BLM, one may first deny the existence of institutional or systemic racism. Firstly, it is the academic consensus that significant biases plague our policing and court systems that result in higher sentences, more convictions, racially-biased police stops, etc (see sources in part 7).

It is important to note that only 60 years ago African Americans were still subject to Jim-Crow legislation, the discriminatory nature of which created the disadvantages for black Americans that persists to this day. Intergenerational poverty, the idea that someone born poor will have limited opportunities to many factors (including underfunded public schooling, expensive secondary education, lack of job opportunity, etc.) and therefore will remain poor, disproportionately plagues minority families. According to a study conducted by the NCCP (National Center for Children in Poverty), “African-American children are more likely to experience poverty than are white children. These results have implications for adults: Individuals who were poor during childhood are more likely to be poor as adults than are those who were never poor, and this is especially true for African-Americans. Consequently, intergenerational poverty and persistent disadvantage impede individuals’ ability to achieve the American Dream. Though there is considerable upward mobility in the United States, escaping poverty is difficult, and racial disadvantages mean that mobility out of poverty for African- Americans is far more difficult than it is for whites.” Additionally, 39 percent of African-American children and adolescents and 33 percent of Latino children and adolescents are living in poverty, which is more than double the 14 percent poverty rate for non-Latino, White, and Asian children and adolescents. This results in continued disproportionate amounts of intergenerational poverty within those minority families. In the prison system, prisoners, who of course are disproportionately African-American (or are of another minority group), are often forced into penal slave Labor. This industry has an estimated annual value of 2 billion. Within this system, workers of color are further discriminated against, hurting their future job prospects. To quote a Harvard paper “Prison Labor as a Legal form of Race Discrimination.”

“Given the racial makeup of prisons, such separate pools create a functionally segregated workforce and keep many workers of color out of an entire class of jobs. In fact, “ban the box” data163 suggests that employer perceptions about applicants based on their racial backgrounds may make them disinclined to hire workers of color for positions outside of the prison labor market, even without information about their criminal records. This job segregation can also be a self-perpetuating cycle, locking prisoner-workers out of the civilian workforce, and contributing to high recidivism rates, or in states that have “banned the box,” pushing workers of color specifically into positions of financial instability. All of this takes place in a country that to a large extent criminalizes poverty.164 This kind of job segregation flies in the face of everything that Title VII is designed to protect. Title VII was designed to end workplace segregation, by barring both disparate treatment and disparate impact discrimination.165 But Title VII alone cannot solve the systemic oppression of people of color in the United States labor force. In creating a statutory loophole that allows employers to treat prisoner-workers and civilian-workers differently—when people of color make up a significantly larger portion of the prison population than white people—our laws perpetuate the kind of oppression that could only be resolved with the comprehensive reform of federal labor laws mandating equitable treatment of incarcerated workers. These reforms could still only be minimally effective without additional statutory protections against race-based discrimination and implicit bias in hiring for workers outside of prisons. In the meantime, the structural oppression perpetuated by the prison labor system remains a harmful force in the labor market, negatively impacting workers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

While analyzing the obvious and substantial differences in socio-economic conditions between white and black Americans as well as the crime-rate disparities, two explanations can be used: either African Americans are subject to substantial and continued discrimination which leads to these unfavorable outcomes, or they are somehow genetically predisposed to commit a crime and fall into poverty. The second explanation is inherently anti-Christian as all Christians believe all humans were created in the likeness and image of God, regardless of race. Some may lazily point towards the minority IQ gap as the reason for the current economic standings, this stance is also unsubstantiated with no academic backbone. Observations such as the Flynn effect, shows continual improvements in the average American IQ as access to education and living standards increase, suggesting socio-economic conditions are responsible for the IQ gap, not the other way around.

The denial of these systemic factors is harmful as the first step in solving a problem is at least acknowledging it. Many republicans will deny the existence of these issues while simultaneously racial gerrymandering and suppressing minority votes by making it harder for them to cast ballots to prevent systemic change. This leaves minority Americans with no choice but to rise through protests such as the BLM movement.

For many what I just explained may be common sense. Still, those people may not support BLM because of the riots, looting, etc. However, we must note a couple of things. According to a Princeton study, 93% of the BLM protests were peaceful, this 7% isn’t composed of only riots. A protest may be ruled unpeaceful if protesters stay out past curfew, block a road, tear down statues (many of which were put up in direct response to the 13th amendment (banning slavery) and the civil rights movement. The erection of these statues, of course, were intentionally meant to be a middle-finger to black Americans wanting equal rights.), etc. Some may still be enraged by this, stating that protests should only operate within the scope of the law. This is a dangerous precedent. If one could only protest within the current boundaries of the law, the right to protest guaranteed in the first amendment would be utterly pointless. Protests have to cause some sort of disruption to enact change. The Civil Rights protests intentionally broke many laws and resulted in many “riots.” For example, the notoriously destructive MLK assassination riots lead to the passing of a federal fair housing law previously pushed by Luther but to no avail, and other acts within the 1968 Civil Rights Act. Furthermore, leading up to the American Revolution, many protests intentionally broke British law. Yet these transgressions seem insignificant due to the positive outcomes of the protests and what they stood for. It is hard to say the riots are justified, but it is important to note: 1, entire cities were not burned to the ground, riots were contained within a few blocks, and 2, the cost of damages is nothing compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars taken from the taxpayers to settle lawsuits against unjust policing. In 2017 the NYPD paid out $237.4 million in lawsuits and in 2018 $220.1 million. Hypothetically, if police began arresting U.S. citizens at heightened rates, courts began to dish out harsher sentences for no apparent reason, prisoners were then segregated and forced into penal labor, making as low as 10 cents an hour and not even help future job prospects, while on the outside poverty rates skyrocketed and state legislatures subverted democracy by intentionally suppressing votes and strategic gerrymandering. Now let’s say this process continued for decades despite years and years of peaceful protest. Would you possibly consider more violent forms of protest at this point? This is the current condition of Black (and other minority) Americans. And to remind everyone; about 250 years ago, there was a group of men who felt they were being unjustly oppressed by a government that did not represent them despite numerous attempts at a peaceful protest. They ultimately fought an entire war over this, resulting in tens-of-thousands of total deaths and even more injuries, yet today this is seen as justified due to its outcome. This war is better described as the American Revolution.

You may not love the slogans “defund the police” or “abolish the police.” And I agree they’re quite alienating. But there is a clear issue with the racial biases and engagement ethics within our police force which needs large reform. Continuing to dump money into and militarize the police (which fails to increase police safety or cut crime rates) in an attempt to stop crime while ignoring the root of the crime itself; poverty, and the lack of resources that leads to it, will just continue a vicious cycle of mass incarceration with too many prisoners being repeat offenders. As well as reforming the police institutions, other policies such as heightened investment into public schools as well as effective and robust welfare policy can help limit poverty and therefore crime.

For whatever reason, it is also believed that the political left has killed many people in various protests, this is not true. Based on almost 900 politically-charged killings in the United States since 1994, just one person’s death in the last 25 years was linked back to “Antifa” or anti-fascists. The person who died was the attacker. Conversely, in that same time, 329 killings were linked back to the far-right. When the groupings were broadened from anti-fascists to general left-wing violence and far-right to general right-wing violence, it was found that 21 victims had been killed since 2010 by the left, and 117 by the right at the same time. Even after debunking many of the popular anti-BLM narratives, some may still hold concerns over the more radical side of the movement, regardless of how substantive those concerns are. Regardless, I hope you can at least now recognize the legitimacy and importance of the movements seeking systemic change to ensure racial equality, if not support them outright.

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,”-Pope Francis, June 3rd, 2020, addressing the murder of George Floyd.

http://www.kleefeldoncomics.com/2016/01/on-history-mlk-cartoons-of-yesteryear.html

This is a link to some political cartoons circa 1960. One 1964 cartoon from the Birmingham News drawn by  “moderate” Charles Brooks, depicts MLK saying he plans to lead “another non-violent march tomorrow” with abosolute destruction in the backround. The Civil Rights Protests, led by King and others, even though mostly peaceful, still led to occasional violence (a lot due to police antagonization). Despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature, the violence that did occur was often amplified by the movement’s opposition to distract from the peaceful protests and message of the protests. Sound familiar? Which side of history would you like to be on?

Although I may not be able to convince a Christian that they should openly support the LGBTQ movement, I can quote the word of Pope Francis who said,  “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society. The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.” No one is saying you must partake in homosexual activity or show up at the next Pride march in a rainbow skirt, but people should have the freedom to pursue whatever consensual sexual activity they want so long as it only affects the consenting individuals. Especially considering they did not choose their sexual orientation. What is being asked is that you simply respect their human rights, acknowledge their human dignity, and even if you believe them to be sinful, treat them no differently than any other human being, as, after all, we are all sinful beings. If you feel the need to try to convert homosexuals and deter them from acting upon their desires then so be it, but casting stones helps no one. One study found that “LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.” On the contrary, a new paper by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who experienced conversion therapy were almost twice as likely to think about and attempt suicide when compared to their peers who hadn’t been through conversion therapy. So, if you cannot change them, at least have the wisdom to accept what you cannot change.

Overall, when looking into the realities of our current society, it becomes clear that we are not all given equal opportunity or experience equal plight. Conservative stances on social issues either deny the existence of these systemic disadvantages and oppose the solutions which only exacerbates the issues. Democrats or liberals may also not do the best in fixing these problems but usually at the very least acknowledge them. I am not asking you to shill for any major political party, but rather to stand up against any sort of discrimination or oppression present in today’s world and advocate for any policy that will promote equal opportunity or change the current power structures set up to deny them equal opportunity. Barring some unprecedented shift in voter demographics and republican campaign strategy, these necessary changes will never be put into motion by any conservative. As all Christians are called to love everyone, a Christian must address these issues and strive to create a change for a better, more egalitarian society. 

Part 5: Economic Equality and Immigration

Maybe the most important economic and humanitarian issue today is healthcare. A 2009 Harvard study found that 45,000 Americans die per year due to lack of healthcare. When comparing the U.S. healthcare system with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, it is found that the United States spends the most on healthcare as a share of its economy (and the highest per capita in the world) despite being the only one of these countries without universal healthcare. Among the 11 nations analyzed, America also has the lowest life expectancy, highest suicide rates, highest chronic disease burden and obesity rate, fewer physician visits than most of the countries, the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes, and the highest rate of avoidable deaths. It is clear that our current methods of healthcare subsidization are not working adequately and are costing us a fortune. A single-payer system would guarantee all Americans healthcare and save taxpayers $450 billion each year while preventing 68,000 unnecessary deaths annually. Some may argue that single-payer healthcare would cause utilization rates to spike to unsustainable levels but this is unsubstantiated and recent studies have pushed back against this idea. Another common argument is that wait times would be too long. But considering the current level of healthcare spending, any form of single-payer healthcare could be more than adequately funded to prevent long wait times. If you do not support single-payer healthcare, a mixed system similar to that of Germany or France can be created containing a public option with private companies running as non-profits. Either system would still be a large improvement over the current system in the United States. The conservative argument for little to no government interference within the Healthcare market costs the United States tens-of-thousands of lives annually and ignores the fact that the healthcare market is known for having some of the greatest natural market failures that prevent competition and encourage the price gouging that leads to so many of our problems in our healthcare system today. The republican party has also still yet to offer a substantive healthcare plan. If you truly value human life, you should stand up and push for some form of universal healthcare as hard as you would to prevent abortions.

Next comes the issue of immigration. First, we must debunk many common myths regarding the effects of immigration. A ‘National Bureau of Economic Research’ study found that the vast majority of American workers’ wages increase from immigration as immigration spurs new entrepreneurship, innovation, and management opportunities for natives. The only group that saw a decrease in wages was high school dropouts who suffered a decrease in wages of approximately ~2% short-term, alleviating to ~1.1% over time. But, another National Bureau of Economic Research study suggests immigration also increases high school graduation rates. Overall, it is widely agreed by academics and economists immigration leads to a more productive economy. Another myth is that immigrants commit more crimes. But as more and more research is done on immigrant crime rates, it has become the consensus that immigrants, regardless of legal status, are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Lastly, openness to immigration is a humanitarian concern as well. Hundreds of humans die every year trying to cross the southern border because methods of safe and legal immigration are not allowed or restricted. More than 50,000 people and 11,000 children are currently being held in cages along the border. On top of this, there have been thousands of accusations of forced labor and sexual assault. Indeed, the border cages were originally Obama Administration policy, but Trump policy has only worsened the conditions of the cages as thousands of families have been separated. Despite orders from a federal judge to reunite families, 545 parents of children detained in the cages cannot be found and may never see each other again. Although the democratic party is responsible for some of these humanitarian issues, the conservative party of today holds an even harsher stance. If you want any chance at a looser immigration policy and an end to border cages, pushing for progressive policy supported by some of the more left-leaning democrats is necessary. To quote Pope Francis, “Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all. Don’t we all want a better, more decent and prosperous life to share with our loved ones?”

The overall economic stance of modern conservatives enables austerity and poverty for the poor while providing the wealthy with government subsidies and more tax cuts. This theory of ‘trickle-down’ or ‘supply-side’ economics is meant to create increased investment and job opportunities, benefiting all citizens. Yet, ever since this economic practice began, income inequality has skyrocketed. It must be noted that Democrats have also contributed to rising economic injustice (but overall have been at least incrementally better economically). Quoting an Economic Policy Institute paper:

“Analyses of top tax rate changes since World War II show that higher rates have no statistically significant impact on factors driving economic growth—private saving, investment levels, labor participation rates, and labor productivity—nor on overall economic growth rates.

Both short-run demand-side and long-run supply-side growth effects stemming from top tax rate changes are extremely modest. Thus, related “dynamic” revenue “leakages” stemming from reduced economic activity following top rate increases are small as well. Indeed, the net revenue feedback of the 2001–2004 tax cuts was recently estimated at recouping just 1 percent of their scored cost.

Historically, decreases in top marginal tax rates have widened inequality of both pre-and post-tax income. This has been interpreted by some economists as marginal rate reductions providing a higher payoff to rent-seeking (i.e., using influence to “bargain” a higher share of income at the expense of other workers).

Today’s economic context of a depressed U.S. economy, political pressure to prematurely reduce near-term budget deficits, and ever-widening income inequality actually strengthen the case for raising top marginal tax rates. There remains substantial scope for further raising top rates toward the revenue-maximizing levels estimated by the best economic research.”

Besides tax policy, the conservative propaganda against unions has also exacerbated income inequality. Unions have been proven to have a very positive impact at the workplace, with benefits ranging from higher wages and better job safety, to higher productivity and output. A 2018 Princeton study found“when unions expand, whether, at the national level or the state level, they tend to draw in unskilled workers and raise their relative wages, with significant impacts on inequality.” The study also finds that “since at least the early twentieth century, U.S. income inequality has varied inversely with union density.” And just to be clear, income inequality is not only a humanitarian issue, but it also slows economic growth. To quote a 2014 OECD study, “income inequality has a negative and statistically significant impact on subsequent growth.” Conversely, the paper also found, “Redistribution policies via taxes and transfers are a key tool to ensure the benefits of growth are more broadly distributed and the results suggest they need not be expected to undermine growth.”

To focus on the recent election, we can compare the policy of both candidates. Trump inherited a strong and growing Obama economy. Many of Trump’s accomplishments were due to Obama policies running their course as GDP grew and unemployment dropped. Trump supporters claim Trump’s tax cuts increased this growth, but many economists say the cuts mostly helped the upper class, had mixed results for the middle class, and changed nothing for the lower class. Many also claim the cuts provided a short-lived economic sugar rush, but would hurt long term growth. Additionally, Trump’s trade wars have been complete failures, actually decreasing manufacturing jobs that were previously increasing before his new tariffs on Chinese imports. Quoting a report from the Wallstreet Journal, “An industry-by-industry analysis by the Federal Reserve showed that tariffs did help boost employment by 0.3%, in industries exposed to trade with China, by giving protection to some domestic industries to cheaper Chinese imports…But these gains were more than offset by higher costs of importing Chinese parts, which cut manufacturing employment by 1.1%,” the analysis continues. “Retaliatory tariffs imposed by China against US exports, the analysis found, reduced US factory jobs by 0.7%.”

A Wharton Business School (Trump’s alma mater) Analysis of both candidates economic policy seemed to favor that of Biden, with his plan also having a larger explanation due to more detailed proposals:

PWBM conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Biden platform—including his plans for immigration, tax, education, infrastructure and R&D, housing, Social Security, and healthcare—estimating that:

  • Over the ten-year budget window, 2021-2030, the Biden platform would raise $3.375 trillion in new tax revenue while increasing spending by $5.37 trillion.
  • The largest areas of new net spending over ten years are education at $1.9 trillion and infrastructure and R&D at $1.6 trillion.

Tax Policy

  • Households making $400,000 per year or less would not see their taxes increase directly but would see lower investment returns and wages as a result of corporate tax increases, reducing their after-tax income by 0.9 percent. When Biden’s major new tax credits are included, these households instead see their after-tax income increase by 3.3 percent.
  • Households making above $400,000 per year (the top 1.5 percent) would see their after-tax income decrease by 17.7 percent; this decrease is unchanged when including Biden’s major new tax credit.

PWBM Analysis:

Healthcare

  • The Biden healthcare plan focuses on expanding access and affordability of insurance and decreasing prescription drug prices.
  • By 2030, relative to current law, the Biden plan would decrease the uninsurance rate from 10 percent to 6 percent, decrease private insurance premiums by 23 percent and out-of-pocket spending by 16 percent, and decrease the percent of the population that forgoes medical care from 7 percent to 4 percent.
  • The Biden healthcare plan would increase net healthcare spending by $352 billion over ten years but would reduce debt by 4.5 percent over that period due to dynamic revenue effects.

PWBM Analysis:

Macroeconomic Effects

  • In total, including macroeconomic and health effects, by 2030 the Biden platform would increase federal debt by 0.1 percent and decrease GDP by 0.4 percent.
  • In the longer run, by 2050, the Biden platform would decrease the federal debt by 6.1 percent and increase GDP by 0.8 percent.

PWBM Analysis:

Welfare Analysis

  • In a dynamic welfare analysis—including macroeconomic and health effects as well as the insurance value of policies—currently higher income young workers and wealthy older retirees generally lose under the Biden platform, while lower-income and working-age individuals gain the most.”

And for Trump:

“While the Trump campaign has released a list of “core priorities” for a second term, most of these proposals lack enough detail to score at a similar level as PWBM’s standard analysis.

Tax Cuts

On the tax side, the Trump campaign’s specific proposals are: lowering the current 22 percent income tax bracket rate to 15 percent, reducing the top preferential tax rate on capital gains from 22 percent to 15 percent, lowering the corporate income tax rate from 21 to 20 percent, and forgiveness of payroll taxes deferred under the President’s August executive order. PWBM analyzed these proposals, finding that:

  • Permanently lowering the current 22 percent income tax rate to 15 percent would cost $1.3 trillion over ten years, with 79 percent of the tax cut going to the top quintile of households by income. By 2050, this tax cut would increase GDP by 0.4 percent.
  • President Trump’s proposed capital gains tax cut would cost $98.6 billion over ten years, with 98 percent of the tax cut going to the top 1 percent of households by income.
  • Lowering the corporate tax one percentage point would cost $133.7 billion over ten years. By 2050, this tax cut would reduce GDP by 0.1 percent.
  • Forgiving deferred payroll taxes would cost $122 billion over ten years—the top 10 percent of households by income would receive about 23 percent of the tax cut, compared to 3 percent for the bottom quintile of households.

PWBM Analysis:

Infrastructure

On the spending side, the Trump campaign calls for nonspecific investments in infrastructure. In 2019, the Trump administration and Congressional Democrats agreed to a nonspecific $2 trillion infrastructure investment that failed to become law. PWBM analyzed this investment under three potential financing options, finding that:

  • Fully funding the $2 trillion investment with a gas tax would require increasing the federal gas tax from its current level of 18.4 cents per gallon to about $1.854 per gallon.
  • Fully funding the investment with user fees or higher gas taxes would change GDP in 2043 by between -0.1 percent and +0.4 percent, depending on how state governments modify their own infrastructure spending.
  • By 2043, financing the investment with deficits would add between 6.2 percent and 5.3 percent to the federal debt and decrease GDP by between 0.1 and 0.5 percent.

Links to PWBM Analyses

Although both parties have contributed to the issue of growing economic inequality, Democratic presidents have been better with the economy when examining GDP growth, job gains, and federal deficit management (the sources used dated back to President Truman). Regardless, the United States should model itself after Scandinavian or Nordic countries, such as Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. These countries routinely enjoy some of the best standards of living on earth, single-payer free healthcare and education, and strong unions, and massive social safety nets that make them the happiest people on earth. The Nordic tax system allows businesses to thrive (low corporate tax rates) and social mobility to be commonplace. The top 4 ranked countries in the Global Social Mobility Index 2020 were Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Their economies still operate in a capitalistic framework but because of the robust public sectors, social services, and wealth redistribution, the countries are considered “social democracies.” This is funded with high income and consumption taxes, yet Nordic citizens still overwhelmingly support these taxes as they see the direct impact they have on their society. The success of these countries should be used as a blueprint for the United States. 

Comparative data between the United States and the Social Democratic Nordic Countries:

  • UN Human Development Index (Rank out of 187 countries; 2019)
    • a) Denmark: 11; b) Finland: 12; c) Iceland: 6; d) Norway: 1; e) Sweden: 8; f) USA: 15
  • Life Expectancy at Birth, Years (2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: 80.8; b) Finland: 81.7; c) Iceland: 82.9; d) Norway: 82.3; e) Sweden: 82.7; f) USA: 78.9
  • Government Expenditure on Education, % of GDP (2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: 7.6; b) Finland: 7.1; c) Iceland: 7.7; d) Norway: 7.6; e) Sweden: 7.6; f) USA: 5.0
  • Mean Years of Schooling, Years (2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: 12.6; b) Finland: 12.4; c) Iceland: 12.5; d) Norway: 12.6; e) Sweden: 12.4; f) USA: 13.4
  • GDP per capita (2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: $47,673; b) Finland: $41,899; c) Iceland: $48,606; d) Norway: $65,441; e) Sweden: $47,194; f) USA: $55,681
  • Income Inequality, Gini Coefficient (100 = Complete Inequality; 2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: 28.2; b) Finland: 27.1; c) Iceland: 27.8; d) Norway: 27.5; e) Sweden: 29.2; f) USA: 41.5
  • Carbon Dioxide Emissions per capita, Tonnes (2019 HDI)
    • a) Denmark: 5.9; b) Finland: 8.3; c) Iceland: 6.2; d) Norway: 6.8; e) Sweden: 3.9; f) USA: 15.0
  • Individual Income Tax Rates, (2019)
    • a) Denmark: 55.89%; b) Finland: 53.75%; c) Iceland: 46.24%; d) Norway: 38.2%; e) Sweden: 57.19%; f) USA: 37.0%
  • Public Spending on Family Benefits, % of GDP (2015 or latest available)
    • a) Denmark: 3.44%; b) Finland: 3.11%; c) Iceland: 3.40%; d) Norway: 3.38%; e) Sweden: 3.54%; f) USA: 1.12%
  • Total Paid Leave Available to Mothers, Weeks (2018)
    • a) Denmark: 50; b) Finland: 161; c) Iceland: 26; d) Norway: 91; e) Sweden: 55.7; f) USA: 0
  • Total Paid Leave Reserved for Fathers, Weeks (2018)
    • a) Denmark: 2; b) Finland: 9; c) Iceland: 13; d) Norway: 10; e) Sweden: 14.3; f) USA: 0
  • Public Spending on Childcare and Early Education, % of GDP (2015 or latest available)
    • a) Denmark: 1.2%; b) Finland: 1.1%; c) Iceland: 1.8%; d) Norway: 1.3%; e) Sweden: 1.6%; f) USA: .3%
  • Child Relative Income Poverty Rate (2016 or latest available)
    • a) Denmark: 3.7%; b) Finland: 3.3%; c) Iceland: 5.8%; d) Norway: 7.7%; e) Sweden: 8.9%; f) USA: 20.9%
  • Out-of-pocket Childcare Costs for a Two-Earner Couple Family, % of family net income (2015)
    • a) Denmark: 9.1%; b) Finland: 17.9%; c) Iceland: 4.5%; d) Norway: 5.3%; e) Sweden: 3.9%; f) USA: 22.5%
  • Best Countries to Raise Kids (rank out of 73 countries, 2020)
    • a) Denmark: 1; b) Finland: 6; c) Iceland: No data; d) Norway: 3; e) Sweden: 2; f) USA: 18
  • Environmental Performance Index (rank out of 180 countries; 2018)
    • a) Denmark: 3; b) Finland: 10; c) Iceland: 11; d) Norway: 14; e) Sweden: 5; f) USA: 27
  • Gender Inequality Index (rank out of 189 countries; 2018)
    • a) Denmark: 2; b) Finland: 7; c) Iceland: 9; d) Norway: 5; e) Sweden: 2; f) USA: 42
  • Gender Gap Index (rank out of 149 countries, 2018)
    • a) Denmark: 13; b) Finland: 4; c) Iceland: 1; d) Norway: 2; e) Sweden: 3; f) USA: 50
  • Women in Lower or Single House, (% / rank out of 192 countries, as of last elections)
    • a) Denmark: 39.11% / 23; b) Finland: 47% / 8; c) Iceland: 38.1% / 27; d) Norway: 40.83% / 17; e) Sweden: 47.28% / 7; f) USA: 23.61% / 75
  • Corruption Perceptions Index (rank out of 180 countries, 2018)
    • a) Denmark: 1; b) Finland: 3; c) Iceland: 14; d) Norway: 7; e) Sweden: 3; f) USA: 22
  • Freedom in the World, (100 = highest score, 2019)
    • a) Denmark: 97; b) Finland: 100; c) Iceland: 94; d) Norway: 100; e) Sweden: 100; f) USA: 86
  • Official Development Assistance, % of GNI (2018)
    • a) Denmark: .72%; b) Finland: .36%; c) Iceland: .31%; d) Norway: .94%; e) Sweden: 1.04%; f) USA: .17%
  • Military Expenditure, % of GDP (2018)
    • a) Denmark: 1.2%; b) Finland: 1.4%; c) Iceland: No Data; d) Norway: 1.6%; e) Sweden: 1.0%; f) USA: 3.2%
  • Good Country Index (rank out of 153 countries, latest available)
    • a) Denmark: 6; b) Finland: 1; c) Iceland: 36; d) Norway: 8; e) Sweden: 4; f) USA: 40
  • Overall Happiness (rank out of 156 countries, 2019)
    • a) Denmark: 2; b) Finland: 1; c) Iceland: 4; d) Norway: 3; e) Sweden: 7; f) USA: 19
  • Life Satisfaction (10 = highest score, latest available)
    • a) Denmark: 9.7; b) Finland: 10; c) Iceland: 9.5; d) Norway: 9.9; e) Sweden: 8.9; f) USA: 7.4

Some may say the Nordic model would not translate to the United States since these countries are much smaller. However, their economies are also much smaller. Given that the United States is still the wealthiest country on earth, we could accomplish a similar system. After all, the problem in the U.S. is not a lack of production, but the redistribution of wealth in a system that helps the rich get richer as those in poverty get poorer. Some may say increased welfare leads to laziness, but there is no evidence for such a claim. In fact, to quote a Harvard study that analyzed data from 7 randomized controlled trials of government-run cash transfer programs in six developing countries throughout the world, “As safety nets have increased, so has the debate about whether they simply discourage work, enabling a “lazy poor.” Aggregating evidence from randomized evaluations of seven cash transfer programs, we find no effects of transfers on work behavior, either for men or women. Moreover, a 2014 review of transfer programs worldwide by Evans and Popova also shows no evidence—despite claims in the policy debate—that the transfers induce increases in spending on temptation goods, such alcohol and tobacco. Thus, on net, the available evidence implies cash transfer programs do not induce the “bad” behaviors that are often attributed to them in the policy space.”

If you are a Christian, paying higher income or consumption tax to guarantee healthcare and sufficient education, help prevent poverty, and raise the overall standard of living in the United States should be a no-brainer. The conservative party wants the opposite; fewer taxes and more commoditization, even when this method has proven to be harmful as the wealthy continue to take advantage of the working class due to insufficient government regulation and the mythical trickle-down economic theory. The blueprint is right in front of our faces; we need some form of affordable universal healthcare, better public school funding (and possibly free and quality public secondary education), a sustainable and robust welfare state, stronger unions, looser immigration legislation, more free and fair trade (not protectionism), and tax policy that effectively taxes the rich and funds government spending (potentially a land value tax). Although not all democratic party members may be in support of every social democratic policy, the party is trending towards any of these policies with many prominent members pushing for legislation such as Medicare-for-all, along with many other progressive policies at least trying to address the income inequality and socio-economic problems we face today. To end this section here is yet another quote from the Holy Father himself, “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle that excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Part 6: Conclusion 

When examining both the social and economic stances of the modern conservatives and the Republican party, they seem to completely contradict the values of equality and compassion intrinsic in Christianity. The negligence in the handling of both our pandemic, climate crises, and warmongering has further highlighted the incompetencies and anti-intellectualism of the party and its ideology and contradict the claims of being a “pro-life” party. 

Socially, once one is presented with the overwhelming academic backing to the claims of systemic inequality, it would be simply incompassionate and selfish not to stand up and fight to create equal opportunity for all people.

Economically, both democrats and republicans have failed the American people time and time again. Today’s conservative support of economic austerity for the poor and subsidies for the rich has led to the impoverishment and sufferings of millions. The solution is clear, social-democratic policies must be put into place to ensure all people live a decent standard of living. 

It is the calling of a Christian to stand up against all forms of inequality and preserve human life rather than commodify it, and the reality is modern conservatism advocates for the opposite. Social progressivism and economic social democracy (or at least something similar) is both the most compassionate and pragmatic stance a Christian can have at the moment.

As after all, we will be judged by how we treat the poor, hungry, sick, and imprisoned:

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’

Then He will also say to those on His left, Depart from Me, you accursed people, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or as a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:31-46

Part 7: Policing and Court Biases Sources

(Sources were compiled by the popular political streamer “Vaush” in his “Ultimate Research Document”)

  • https://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Black-Lives-Matter.pdf
    • Extensive document on racial biases in our criminal justice system.
    • Studies seem to indicate about 61-80% of black overrepresentation in prisons can be explained by higher black crime rates, with the unexplained portion largely attributable to racial bias.
    • Remember – the factors which lead to disproportionate criminality amongst black Americans are also in large part a product of racial bias. Underfunded public programs, redlining, generational poverty, bad schooling, and myriad other factors that influence criminality can also be traced to racial bias.
  • Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department
    • Between 2012 and 2014, black people in Ferguson accounted for 85 percent of vehicle stops, 90 percent of citations, and 93 percent of arrests, despite comprising 67 percent of the population.
    • Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched after traffic stops even after controlling for related variables, though they proved to be 26 percent less likely to have illegal drugs or weapons.
    • Between 2011 and 2013, blacks also received 95 percent of jaywalking tickets and 94 percent of tickets for “failure to comply.” The Justice Department also found that the racial discrepancy for speeding tickets increased dramatically when researchers looked at tickets based on only an officer’s word vs. tickets based on objective evidence, such as radar.
    • Black people facing similar low-level charges as white people were 68 percent less likely to see those charges dismissed in court. More than 90 percent of the arrest warrants stemming from failure to pay/failure to appear were issued for black people.
  • The Concentrated Racial Impact of Drug Imprisonment and the Characteristics of Punitive Counties
    • While White & Black Americans admit to using and selling illicit drugs at similar rates, Black Americans are VASTLY more likely to go to prison for a drug offense.
    • In 2002, Black Americans were incarcerated for drug offenses at TEN TIMES the rate of White Americans.
    • Today, Blacks are 3.7x as likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense as Whites, despite similar usage.
    • 97% of “large-population counties” have racial biases in their drug offense incarceration.
  • Militarization fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may harm police reputation
    • Police militarization does not lead to a decrease in crimes committed or officer injuries may increase both.
    • Police militarization (including the adoption of SWAT teams) decreases public trust in police, which may contribute to increases in crime.
    • Militarized police are disproportionately deployed in African American communities, even when accounting for crime rates.
  • https://www.acludc.org/sites/default/files/2020_06_15_aclu_stops_report_final.pdf
    • This ACLU report reviews 5 months’ of data from DC police stops & searches by race and outcome.
    • The black population of DC is 25% greater than the white population, but black people were 410% more likely to be stopped by the police than white people
    • This disparity increases to 1465% for stops which led to n*o warning, ticket, or arrest, and 3695% for searches which led to no warning, ticket, or arrest.
    • This data indicates the disproportionate stopping and searching of blacks in the DC area extended massively beyond any disproportionate rate of criminality.
  • The Problem of Infra-marginality in Outcome Tests for Discrimination
    • Analysis of 4.5 million traffic stops in North Carolina shows blacks and Latinos were more likely to be searched than whites (5.4 percent, 4.1 percent, and 3.1 percent, respectively).
    • Despite this, searches of white motorists were the most likely to reveal contraband (32% of whites, 29% of blacks, 19% of Latinos).
  • A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States
    • Enormous study of nearly 100,000,000 traffic stops conducted across America.
    • The analysis finds the bar for searching black and Hispanic drivers’ cars is significantly lower than the bar for white drivers.
    • Additionally, black drivers are less likely to be pulled over after sunset, when “a ‘veil of darkness’ masks ones’ race”.
  • Demographic Differences in Sentencing: An Update to the 2012 Booker Report
    • Extensive multivariate regression analysis indicates black male offenders receive 19.1% longer federal sentences than similarly-situated white male offenders (white male offenders with similar past offenses, socioeconomic background, etc.)
    • This disparity seems to stem mostly from black males being 21.2% less likely to receive non-government sponsored downward departures or variances.
      • Non-government sponsored departures and variances refer to deviations from standard sentencing guidelines due to judicial discretion.
    • Black males who do receive non-government-sponsored departures and variations still serve 16.8% longer sentences than white males on average.
    • In contrast, when sentencing length follows standard guidelines, that disparity is only 7.9%, and a substantial assistance departure for both groups nullifies that disparity.
    • IN SUMMARY – much of the sentencing disparity between similarly situated black males and white males come down to judicial discretion to deviate from standard sentencing guidelines.
    • BONUS – regression analysis suggests violence in a criminal’s history does NOT explain sentencing disparities between black males and similarly situated white males – the effect of that factor seems to be statistically insignificant.
    • ADDENDUM – Some have asked me to clarify a sentence at the end of this report, where its authors write it cannot be used to prove discrimination on the part of judges. First, that disclaimer warns against inferring active discrimination as opposed to implicit bias – the disclaimer does not say the report cannot be used to prove implicit bias. Second, researchers are often quick to point out their research cannot prove a point, especially regarding intent. It can only strongly suggest a point – natural limitation of multivariate regression analysis.
  • Racial Disparity in Federal Criminal Sentences 
    • Examination of federal data indicates Black Americans spend about 10% more time in prison when compared to comparable Whites who commit the same crimes.
    • Additionally, Black arrestees are 75% more likely to be charged with a crime carrying a mandatory minimum sentence.
    • Prosecutors contribute massively to this undeniable racial bias.???
  • Report on Jury Selection Study
    • Between 1990 and 2010, state prosecutors struck about 53% of black people eligible for juries in criminal cases, as opposed to 26% of white people. The study’s authors testified the odds of this taking place in a race-neutral context were around 1 in 10 trillion.
    • After accounting for factors prosecutors select for which tend to correlate with race, black people were still struck twice as often.
    • North Carolina’s state legislator had previously passed a law stating death penalty defendants who could demonstrate racial bias in their jury selection could have their sentences changed to life without parole. The legislature later repealed that law.
  • Different Shades of Bias: Skin Tone, Implicit Racial Bias, and Judgments of Ambiguous Evidence
    • In this study, two groups of mock jurors were given a collection of race-neutral evidence from an armed robbery, with one group’s alleged perpetrator being shown to be light-skinned and the other dark-skinned.
    • Jurors were significantly more likely to evaluate ambiguous, race-neutral evidence against the dark-skinned suspect as incriminating and more likely to find the dark-skinned suspect guilty.
  • https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/PleaBargainingResearchSummary.pdf
    • Government aggregate of data on plea and charge bargaining.
    • “Studies that assess the effects of race find that blacks are less likely to receive a reduced charge compared with whites.”
    • “Studies have generally found a relationship between race and whether or not a defendant receives a reduced charge.”
    • “The majority of research on race and sentencing outcomes shows that blacks are less likely than whites to receive reduced pleas.“
    • In short, collected data strongly indicates a racial bias against blacks with regards to sentencing and plea bargains.
  • https://sci-hub.tw/https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jels.12077
    • A study of first-time felons in Georgia found black men received sentences of on average 270 days longer than similarly-situated white males.
    • However, when black males were differentiated by skin tone, it was found light-skinned black men saw virtually no disparity in their sentencing while dark-skinned black men saw a disparity of around 400 days in prison.
  • https://www.uky.edu/AS/PoliSci/Peffley/pdf/Eberhardt.2006.Psych%20Sci.Looking%20Deathworthy.pdf
    • Analysis of the relationship between racial stereotyping and death sentence convictions.
    • Black defendants who possessed darker skin and more “stereotypically black” features were twice as likely to be given the death penalty when accused of murdering a white person, as compared to lighter-skinned blacks with less “stereotypically black” features.
    • This disparity disappears completely when the murder victim is black.
  • DOES APPEARANCE MATTER?: THE EFFECT OF SKIN TONES ON TRUSTWORTHY AND INNOCENT APPEARANCES
    • Photos of capital inmates are shown to entry-level criminal justice students for them to evaluate the trustworthiness of the faces.
    • Students rated pictures of light-skinned inmates as more trustworthy when they preceded pictures of dark-skinned inmates.
    • Most study participants (79.9%) were white, but the study predicted that this wasn’t a major factor – “When controlling for race, no statistically significant result was found. This suggests that each race, White and non-White, were consistent in their rating outcomes. Prior research has found similar results, where Whites and light-skinned Blacks are likely to share similar attitudes towards darker-skinned Blacks”
  • Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds
    • Students and police officers participated in tests to determine levels of racial bias and perception of innocence.
    • Black boys as young as 10 are more likely to be considered criminal or untrustworthy, and more likely to face police violence.
    • Police officers were tested on the dehumanization of blacks by comparing people of different races to animal groups. Police who engaged in higher levels of dehumanization were more likely to use violence against black children.
  • Racial Bias in Judgments of Physical Size and Formidability
    • Results from three separate studies on perception and racial bias show people tend to perceive black men as larger and more threatening than similarly sized white men.
    • Participants also believed the black men were more capable of causing harm in a hypothetical altercation and police would be more justified in using force to subdue them, even if the men were unarmed.

Part 8: Other Sources

Abortion

Corona

Trump Counties and Corona

Nasa Climate

Climate Effects

Climate plans

Brookings Institution Trump Regulations

Death Penalty

Political violence

Socioeconomic conditions

Childhood poverty

Police stops

Court sentencing

Penal Labor

Prison Demographics

  • https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/30/shrinking-gap-between-number-of-blacks-and-whites-in-prison/#:~:text=The%20racial%20and%20ethnic%20makeup,adults%20but%2030%25%20of%20prisoners.

Poverty and crime

  • https://journalofeconomicstructures.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40008-020-00220-6

Protest data

Police lawsuits

Democrat vs. Republican President Economy

Flynn Effect

LGBTQ

Income Inequality and Unions

Reagan and Unions

Welfare and Laziness

  1. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/remahanna/files/151016_labor_supply_paper_draft_final.pdf\

Healthcare cost

Healthcare Utilization 

Immigration and Wages

Immigration Economic Impact

Detainment Camps

Immigrant deaths

Immigration and crime

Militarized Police

Trickle-down economics

Trump v. Biden Tax Policy

Obama v. Trump

Trump Tax Cuts

Trump Trade Policy

Biden Tax Plan

Education and Immigration

Immigrant deaths

Border Sexual Assault

Forced Labor in Camps

Families lost

Healthcare deaths

Healthcare spending

Market Failures

Wait times

Unions and wages

  • https://academic.oup.com/ej/article/doi/10.1093/ej/ueaa048/5824627
  • https://academic.oup.com/sf/article-abstract/95/4/1451/2952921/Labor-Unions-as-Activist-Organizations-A-Union?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  • https://academic.oup.com/ej/article/doi/10.1093/ej/ueaa048/5824627

Income inequality and growth 

Scandinavia Social Mobility

Scandinavian Comparisons

Scandinavian Tax

  • https://taxfoundation.org/how-scandinavian-countries-pay-their-government-spending/#:~:text=Marginal%20corporate%20tax%20rates%20in,tax%20rate%20of%2022%20percent.

Other Contributors: Jake Oliva contributed sources and some writing in the ‘Abortion’ and ‘CoronaVirus, Climate Change, and the Death Penalty’ sections.