Thoughts on USA this year?

dmgtz96

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I'm right across the border and went to college there but have kept up with the US news, especially on reddit.

  • Failure to contain Covid-19, both by the president (extremely bad leadership) and relevant health authorities (ex. Center for Disease Control going back and forth about people wearing masks).
  • Widespread protests against police-on-black brutality. Most are peaceful, but some escalate to riots. And yeah, police-on-black brutality is real and rooted in serious systemic racism.
  • National Basketball Association (NBA) players strike within the past 24 hours. Normally I don't care for sports, but I think it's good to see the players taking a stance against the deep-rooted issues in the US from law enforcement/state authorities.
  • Hurricane Laura about to hit Lousiana. It's still category 4 (lower than Katrina, which was 5), but it will still cause plenty of damage...
  • Presidential elections happening soon (early November), and in the past couple of months the governing party has done everything it could to dismantle the US Postal Service (so people don't vote by mail)
Craaaaaazy stuff happening right now, and I can only assume things will get crazier in the next two months with the approaching elections.
What do people outside the US think about all this? Ex. those in Europe?
 

Gagi

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And yeah, police-on-black brutality is real and rooted in serious systemic racism.

Can you expand on that? What does 'systemic' means in this context? I always hear that but I'm not sure what they mean. I'm sure the policemen don't get orders in their weekly stat meetings to hunt down black guys. Don't think it reflects on their salary, don't think it's a requirement in a job interview. Don't think it's also the KKK-type of racism, where it's out in the open. The only way I see it possible, is that they are affected by what could be stereotypes, stats or I don't know what else - that an African-American, through to his 40s, is felt to be dangerous because they make up a majority of violent crimes (maybe, I don't know), are more likely to be armed or something along those lines. Maybe those are just stereotypes, or something that was a case in the past? I'm not even saying those are facts - because I don't know them. And then there's fear and mistakes made by both parties - one by not complying and the other by feeling something bad could happen. And who knows what kind of calls they receive prior to sending their officers out, or what they see in their line of work. The use of deadly force is still not justified, but those are complex events and I'm not sure they are being analyzed from every perspective. How would any of us react in such situation?

I say that to say this: I don't know if that's the case. I want someone to clarify it for me, I don't want to hear it from protestors, the news or, for that matter, from anyone else but people who will participate in an argument, rather than shout what they already heard without any room for other people's thoughts.

For the late George Floyd, weeks later, a new video resurfaced, of what happened before the unfortunate incident. Floyd was freaking out (possibly high) and resisting arrest (and yelling he can't breathe before he was even on the ground). And then the horrible thing happened. Because this evidence wasn't broadcast by the media immediately, what resulted was the overcharge of the police officers, which, because of the new evidence, will be dismissed and they will get to walk (from what I've heard) - and they shouldn't because what they did was horrible anyway.

So that's where I arrive at the conclusion that the media always perpetuates things, blows them out of proportions for the views/money, the agenda or whatever else. Maybe they don't lie, but they may hide just a little bit of facts, enough to make you angry, to watch/read more of their news, to protest... They chew facts up for you, and serve them, because most will eat it. They will write and say "systemic racism", without any explanation of what that really is, and the degree of which it is present. I'm not denying racism exists, or even trying to justify what anyone has done, just trying to discuss and get to the root of it.
 
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dmgtz96

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Can you expand on that? What does 'systemic' means in this context? I always hear that but I'm not sure what they mean. I'm sure the policemen don't get orders in their weekly stat meetings to hunt down black guys.

That was a well-thought answer.

I would say the biggest evidence is in how the police treats black vs white suspects. In each of these incidents, the police shoots at the black suspect rather than arresting him (generally we're talking about a he). This is not normal and would not happen in any other developed country. Meanwhile, with white suspects the police is pretty understanding and treats them like human beings.

Here are some hard numbers from Pew research, based on years of data gathering through surveys. Roughly ~10,000 people and ~8000 police officers were surveyed across the 2017 police report and the 2019 race report.
  • 84% of black adults & 63% of whites surveyed say the police treats blacks unfairly compared to whites
  • 87% of black adults & 61% of whites surveyed say the US criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly
  • 44% of black adults mentioned they were stopped unfairly by the police due to their race/ethnicity, as opposed to 9% of whites. The number increases to 59% for black male adults.
  • 65% of black adults have been in situations where people acted suspicious of them.
#6 through #8 are also worry-some, as they show the differences between the general public viewpoint and the police officers' viewpoint.
  • In 2016, ~66% police officers thought the fatal encounters between the police and black Americans were isolated incidents and not signs of broader issues. 60% of people surveyed thought those fatal encounters were in fact sign of broader issues.
  • 68% police officers said the protests were motivated by anti-police bias, and only 10% said the protests were motivated to hold the police accountable. Only 27% of white officers surveyed said the protests were motivated by a desire to hold the police accountable, versus 57% by black officers.
  • 92% of white officers say the US has made changes to assure equal rights for blacks, vs. 29% of black officers
"Systemic" has been more of a buzzword recently, so here's a more precise definition from the Washington Post (leans left):
... we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them
Those systems and institutions are present from birth. Black students (in fact, students of color in general) tend to attend schools where most of their peers are poor or low income (source: The Atlantic, left bias). The hard number given was 75%. This is problematic because public schools are tax-payer funded, so the prevalence of low-income households means the school has insufficient funding to educate its students (as opposed to schools in primarily white districts). This means black students generally have a difficult time competing in college admissions against students who have had those opportunities. In fact, at top universities many black students are from families that immigrated recently and are fairly well-off, such as Nigerians and Ethiopians. Two of my friends in college were just like that. To tick off the "diversity" box, schools like Harvard tend to select black students from wealthier/immigrant families. When this happens, genuine African Americans that have been in the US for generations are passed over. Even if you make it through college, simply having a black-sounding name can make it more difficult to get a job. In that article from Harvard Business School, only 10% of applications with black-sounding names (and presumably evidence that the applicant is black, such as being part of an organization for black Americans or having attended a Historically-Black College and University) received call-backs, versus 25% for white-sounding names and a "whitened" resume.

A lot of people on the right will tell you these issues aren't real. Trump will tell you those brutal officers are only a few "bad apples." The statistics say otherwise. This is why all of these protests are happening and why there is so much unrest.

...

George Floyd's case is interesting. You mentioned he appeared high, and in fact he had deadly levels of fentanyl in his system (11 ng/dL; death could occur at merely 3 ng/dL). Still, it is not normal to (basically) torture a suspect, and chances are that a white suspect in the exact same circumstances would not have faced the same fate.
 
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Gagi

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Now that is a well thought-out answer!

Anyways, there's no doubt in my mind that there's some racism, whether overt or covert. There must be some racial profiling, especially within the police, but look at this: Race and crime in the United States - Wikipedia

I recommend you read all of it, if you have time. It's pretty comprehensive.

As for the education, there's lots of factors there as well. And that, as well, is something that's just a remnant of the past. I believe it's getting better. But it just doesn't happen overnight.

More to the point, how do you fight racism?
 
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dmgtz96

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Now that is a well thought-out answer!

Anyways, there's no doubt in my mind that there's some racism, whether overt or covert. There must be some racial profiling, especially within the police, but look at this: Race and crime in the United States - Wikipedia

I recommend you read all of it, if you have time. It's pretty comprehensive.

As for the education, there's lots of factors there as well. And that, as well, is something that's just a remnant of the past. I believe it's getting better. But it just doesn't happen overnight.

More to the point, how do you fight racism?

That's a lot of numbers, haha.
Yeah, black-on-black crime is pretty prevalent, and from the stats blacks are in general more likely to be arrested or perform assault/homicide. If I were a #woke person on Twitter I would likely say that those numbers are symptoms of the general systemic racism in the US and lack of opportunities for black Americans, but I am not comfortable leaping to that assumption. It's just food for thought.
The racially-motivated hate crime stats are interesting. 58.6% of offenders were white or hispanic-white, and 48% of all offenders were motivated by the victim's race. Of those motivated by race, 70% were due to anti-black bias. That is very telling and worry-some.
Equally worry-some is the following quote from Wiki:

Racial composition of geographic areas

According to a study in the American Journal of Sociology, a positive correlation exists between the percentage of black males in a neighborhood and perceptions of neighborhood crime rates, even after controlling other correlating factors and neighborhood characteristics.
The study was conducted amongst the perceptions of residents in neighborhoods in Chicago, Seattle, and Baltimore in comparison with census data and police department crime statistics. Survey respondents consistently rated African Americans as more prone to violence than the data and statistics stated leading to the conclusion that the stereotype of blacks as more likely criminals is deeply embedded in the collective consciousness and societal norms of Americans

Wiki does note that these claims come from a primary source, rather than an independent third-party source. The full paper from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and stored in Harvard scholarship is here. On page 32 (conclusions section) you can see the authors' original claims:

These results suggest that the strong mental association between race and crime has a powerful influence on perceptions of neighborhood crime levels, beyond any actual association between race and crime

And yeah, I agree in that fighting racism won't happen overnight. That will take generational changes. That's why the NBA strikes and protests are important. Lots of people judge the protesters for not being peaceful, but in reality I bet most of these "judges" would prefer that the protesters shut up and stop standing up against injustice. The key is in continuing to fight for better school funding and unbiased admissions to colleges, universities, and unbiased hiring processes for jobs. Further, everyone needs to be educated about unconscious biases against people that don't look like themselves.

Education is tricky. Schools attempted implementing affirmative action (AA), but that has led largely to two outcomes:
  • Although intended to benefit black students whose lives have been affected by the remnants of slavery and injustice, AA mostly benefits affluent black students and recent black immigrants by lowering admissions standards to universities. For example, at Harvard, 71% of black and Latino students are from wealthy backgrounds.
  • Asian-Americans are expected to have higher test scores and grade-point averages to gain admissions to universities (hence all the lawsuits from Asian-Americans against top universities, including Harvard and Yale).
The effects of AA on law and med school admissions are also interesting. Using this janky law school admissions simulator, if I input my college grade-point average and a 170 on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) (on a scale of 180, a 170 is considered ~top 2.6%), I would have 22% chances of being admitted to Harvard Law. If I click on the "underrepresented minority" box, that would change to 48%.

When universities replace race with socioeconomic status for admissions criteria, the outcome is that racial diversity decreases, as explored in this white paper from the Educational Testing Service (pg. 19 in the article, pg. 25 in the pdf itself). Anecdotally, with this change low-income white students are admitted in larger proportions.
 
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Gagi

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More and more, and even against my first instincts, I'm starting to think that maybe all this (the reaction) is important. No, the police might not be defunded, the violence/anarchy will stop etc., but some change will happen. Although at what cost regarding more racism and animosity in genpop, it remains to be seen.



As for the secondary schools and unis, I can comment on what I see here. We have 1 reserved spot for minorities (mostly Roma/Gypsies), paid by the state. So no matter their average grades or any requirements for enrolling in unis or secondary school, one will get accepted.

So far, our experiences don't look promising. First of all, anyone can get 3 witnesses who will say, in court, that he's a Roma/Gypsy, and he'll, on paper, be able to get that spot.

The far bigger problem is, these people come from backgrounds and lifestyle that aren't nearly similar to ours. So they are very likely to drop out anyways, because of all the disadvantages they had compared to me. State will pay for their education from day 1, but the parents in general have very little interest in educating their children. But they get that spot anyways. So some will apply for the toughest ones, essentially 1) decreasing the likelihood of them finishing it, and 2) taking that place from somebody who probably would. Why that happens I don't really know. Personally, I know one who enrolled in medical secondary school. He dropped out instantly, was homeless for a while and then worked as what's practically a slave, for a place to live and food on the table. I've also never seen a Roma on campus.

There are exceptions for sure, but I've yet to meet one unfortunately. So, as well-intentioned as it may be, in practice, most of the times it doesn't really work. It makes for a less-qualified population and it doesn't help the minority. Easy "fix" for a complex problem.

Point being, how can you fix socioeconomic and educational inequality (of minorities)? If you really want to help them, one law, one privilege won't do it. You need years and decades of careful and deliberate action. But a simple fix looks better in the news, calms the minorities a little and gets voters for the next term...

This is a bit of an extreme example, but just wanted to write how it works and appears here. Maybe there can be some comparison.
 
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dmgtz96

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More and more, and even against my first instincts, I'm starting to think that maybe all this (the reaction) is important. No, the police might not be defunded, the violence/anarchy will stop etc., but some change will happen. Although at what cost regarding more racism and animosity in genpop, it remains to be seen.



As for the secondary schools and unis, I can comment on what I see here. We have 1 reserved spot for minorities (mostly Roma/Gypsies), paid by the state. So no matter their average grades or any requirements for enrolling in unis or secondary school, one will get accepted.

So far, our experiences don't look promising. First of all, anyone can get 3 witnesses who will say, in court, that he's a Roma/Gypsy, and he'll, on paper, be able to get that spot.

The far bigger problem is, these people come from backgrounds and lifestyle that aren't nearly similar to ours. So they are very likely to drop out anyways, because of all the disadvantages they had compared to me. State will pay for their education from day 1, but the parents in general have very little interest in educating their children. But they get that spot anyways. So some will apply for the toughest ones, essentially 1) decreasing the likelihood of them finishing it, and 2) taking that place from somebody who probably would. Why that happens I don't really know. Personally, I know one who enrolled in medical secondary school. He dropped out instantly, was homeless for a while and then worked as what's practically a slave, for a place to live and food on the table. I've also never seen a Roma on campus.

There are exceptions for sure, but I've yet to meet one unfortunately. So, as well-intentioned as it may be, in practice, most of the times it doesn't really work. It makes for a less-qualified population and it doesn't help the minority. Easy "fix" for a complex problem.

Point being, how can you fix socioeconomic and educational inequality (of minorities)? If you really want to help them, one law, one privilege won't do it. You need years and decades of careful and deliberate action. But a simple fix looks better in the news, calms the minorities a little and gets voters for the next term...

This is a bit of an extreme example, but just wanted to write how it works and appears here. Maybe there can be some comparison.

In the US, schools aren't legally allowed to have quotas. However, it reflects badly on the school if its demographics are far removed from the general population's. That is how the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) obtained the moniker "University of California - Lots of Asians." In California public universities, AA is strictly banned by a state law, so admissions there are strict meritocracies where only the best students can get in. Those best students happen to be... Asian-Americans. If that were extended to the rest of the nation, the lawsuits (ex. from the American Civil Liberties Union) would be a huge mess.

One guy I met in college was an AA beneficiary. He was studying civil engineering, and he mentioned how his high school didn't even offer calculus. That put him at a disadvantage compared to his peers, who already had a year of calculus credit before even starting college and went directly to multivariable calculus/differential equations. He switched out to pursue environmental science, and now he's a medical student in Texas. Another thing I noticed is that underrepresented minorities tended to drop out of the introductory computer science course - several of us had no programming experience going into college, and it was hard to compete with students who had already programmed in high school.

...

After 4 years of Trump, the US has reached the point where anyone but him would be a good path moving forward. I don't think people expect miracles from Biden, but he will keep democracy alive. Trump, meanwhile, is on the fast-track to dictatorship.
 
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Joe Biden will not keep Democracy alive in America because America has not been a real democracy in a very long time. America is a plutocracy. The government has too power over the country and the people, the wealthy elite, corporations, industries and special interests have too much power over the government.

Joe Biden is obviously the better alternative but him winning is still a disappointment and will still maintain the status quo. Real change would come if the Green Party and Libertarian Party of America controlled congress along with a sitting president from one of those two parties. But Americans are dumb and only vote for the 2 most corrupt political parties.

For me i want the Green party to win the most, followed by the Libertarian party and then Joe Biden.

I can't wait for Trump to lose the election, once he does he will no longer have presidential immunity and the FBI will come a knocking and Trump will go to jail for his crimes and he will die in jail.
 
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dmgtz96

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Joe Biden will not keep Democracy alive in America because America has not been a real democracy in a very long time. America is a plutocracy. The government has too power over the country and the people, the wealthy elite, corporations, industries and special interests have too much power over the government.

Joe Biden is obviously the better alternative but him winning is still a disappointment and will still maintain the status quo. Real change would come if the Green Party and Libertarian Party of America controlled congress along with a sitting president from one of those two parties. But Americans are dumb and only vote for the 2 most corrupt political parties.

For me i want the Green party to win the most, followed by the Libertarian party and then Joe Biden.

I can't wait for Trump to lose the election, once he does he will no longer have presidential immunity and the FBI will come a knocking and Trump will go to jail for his crimes and he will die in jail.

Valid points. I don't think the Green Party or Libertarian party have enough power to win at the moment - that will take years and may never happen.
The first thing is to get Trump out of the office. The Obama-era status quo wasn't ideal for many Americans, but it was miles better than what we have seen in the past four years. The current status-quo is embarrassing.

Focus on defeating the common enemy. The more progressive, libertarian ideals can come later.
 

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Valid points. I don't think the Green Party or Libertarian party have enough power to win at the moment - that will take years and may never happen.
The first thing is to get Trump out of the office. The Obama-era status quo wasn't ideal for many Americans, but it was miles better than what we have seen in the past four years. The current status-quo is embarrassing.

Focus on defeating the common enemy. The more progressive, libertarian ideals can come later.


I agree the number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump. The guy is a fucking nightmare. Why anyone supports him is so beyond my comprehension. I understand nuclear physics and i understand quantum mechanics, but why anyone likes the guy is something i'll never understand.
 

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Americans are strange :p

We have some distant family from Michigan that we never met before. Last year they came over to visit us. 4 of them stayed in my dads house. My dad has one of those double door refrigerators. He filled it up with food so he almost couldnt close it. It had everything and i mean everything.

At breakfast time the first morning none of them could find anything they liked in my dads fridge so they decided to go buy pizza, for breakfast.

When they arrived at the pizza shop they couldnt even find a pizza they liked so they had to buy plain pizza with just cheese.

And these 4 where all adults, no children.
 
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Hensmon

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The US - the laughing stock of the world.

What people forget is that the country is 350 million people and everything is televised, reported and sent back to Western Europe via the news or content. They are experts at reporting mindless shit or craziness, and we seem open on our side of Atlantic to follow it all intently. Populations the size of the U.S will contain every type of person and interaction we can imagine, both the incredible and the horrifying, on a huge scale and much more than any European country can match. Of course then we can find daily anecdotes of short-comings, violence, stupidity etc. The Americans package that up nicely for us to consume. Yet thankfully news, twitter, facebook is not a reflection of the reality, from any country, It just amplified perspective and we have the telescopes pointed quite relentlessly in their direction.

Alternatively (in the UK at least) we get almost 0 news from France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium etc, yet we are neighbours by a few hours. Strange isnt it? Do you also get any news from China, India, Brazil, Japan, I can assure you that they have many of these issues America deals with, and sometimes worse. I know Trump is an absolute joke and disgrace to that nation, but I wouldn't be so sure that this kind of person wont arrive in your Government too one day. Characters like this are already existing in many other countries politics already I would bet. We could probably name a few now, past and present.

Ultimately for all the bad and laughable stuff America has, it has just as much (if not more) of the good. I was convinced after 6 months of living there how amazing that place is and all the incredible stuff they have given us in Europe and I will try and live there again for sure. Every nation has its pitfalls, we are just too small or too insignificant to for anyone to know about it, ha!
 
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