That Google memo

Here is the original memo. I’m just going to try to comment on the whole thing. Bear with me here.

Background: I actually agree with this — we do all have invisible biases, and we all would do well to examine ourselves to see what those biases are. Discussion with those who disagree with us (hello CCC!) can definitely help us figure out what those biases.

Google’s Biases: I don’t know enough about Google to comment on this.

Left Biases: Can confirm. Am a socialist 😉

Right Biases: I presume these are decently correct.

Rest of that paragraph: Again, I don’t know enough about Google’s culture specifically, so I can’t really speak to that. I do know, though, that in many “left”-majority spaces, there isn’t as much tolerance for dissenting views as I’d like. Notably, though, this applies to people on both sides of the nominal “left”, which is interesting (see: basically any news show where the supposed “liberal” comes on the TV to berate Sanders supporters for not falling in line behind corporate Democrats). So while I agree it is a problem, I don’t think it is only applied to people to the right of the nominal “left”.

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Ethical Consumption

I wanted to take some time to discuss something I’ve noticed recently.

The first incident was a week or so ago when I was in a restaurant with my family and there happened to be M&Ms on the table. My sister asked if I wanted some and I declined, saying that I didn’t feel good eating chocolate that had most likely been harvested with child labor (and possibly child slavery). My dad then told me to stop talking about it.

The second incident happened yesterday when a couple of us went to the movies. Something very similar to the M&M incident happened, but regarding Godiva (which apparently might be a bit better than Mars at sourcing their chocolate?). And in this case, it was kind of seen as a joke or something that could be ignored.

Now it’s not that these people aren’t liberals — my parents and sister are pretty liberal, as are my friends here at Brown. But a curious phenomenon happens when it comes to what we buy.

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Philando Castille

I think the lesson of the #PhilandoCastille murder and the subsequent verdict is that if you are a POC, you should literally never reach for anything, even if you’re asked to do so. Simply existing and complying with the officer’s order (to produce an ID) was enough to get him shot. Instead, indicate where the ID is and ask the officer to reach in and get it themselves.

Seriously. I’m not even sure what else the options are at this point if you’re a POC, especially a (young?) black male (but this also applies to (young?) brown males like myself). Don’t run away from the officer. Don’t run towards the officer. Don’t “look suspicious”. Don’t own a gun (since declaring it while being a POC will heighten tensions). Don’t be disrespectful. Don’t get angry (no matter what). Don’t talk back to the officer. Comply with everything the officer says. None of this helped Mr. Castille. He was still shot. Except wait…he owned a gun. Oh, but it was registered and he declared it to the officer as is required by law. This whole thing is sickening because he did everything the officer asked him to, got shot anyway, and then the jury acquitted the officer of all charges. They watched the video filmed right after the officer murdered Mr. Castille and said “eh”. They watched the dashcam video (that was newly released after the trial) and said “There’s still probable cause for the officer to have been afraid for his life”. My only question is: what could he have done? If what Philando did — following the rules, declaring the firearm he was licensed to carry as per the law, remaining calm, and reaching for his ID — was enough to get him murdered, what could he have done to prevent the officer from shooting him? I think changing his skin color would have helped. And that is the sickening reality of racism in America today.

Discussion of the AHCA

People will lose coverage under the AHCA. And note that all of these numbers are relative to current coverage levels (not absolute numbers).

Donald Trump has come out in favor of this bill. Let us look at the promises he made. Interestingly, healthcare doesn’t appear anywhere on the Issues section of the official Whitehouse page and the issues pages have been taked off of the Donald Trump website, so I will have to rely on this archive that’s buried somwhere within the assets folder of his website. Let’s take a look.

According to him (in that document): “By following free market principles and working together to create sound public policy that will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans.” That is his ideal system. But as the CBO estimates show, this legislation (which he supports) will reduce healthcare access and average premiums will most likely go up.

That being said, does this legislation hit on all the points that he advocates in that PDF? I’m using this fact sheet as a source.

  • Repeal Obamacare — check.
  • Allow sale of insurance across state lines — nope.
  • Block-grant Medicaid (that’s what “giving states greater flexibility” means) — check.
  • Enhance HSAs — check.
  • Deduct premiums from taxes — nope.
  • Price transparency — nope.
  • Remove barriers to entry for drug providers — nope.

So not only does it explicitly do the opposite of what Trump promised (according to his own words), it also doesn’t do many of the things he advocated for. Even if you’re Donald Trump, this is a terrible bill.

Also note that I only used an external source once in this post (to show that he’s come out in favor of the bill). This is all based entirely on what he has advocated for as well as the actual text of the bill (and the promises of its most vocal supporter).

Immigration Restrictions Are American

After the immigration and refugee ban was announced, a narrative emerged — immigration restrictions are “un-American”. However, looking at this country’s history, it is quite clear that that is not the case. Let us go on a tour of American immigration policy from when the country was founded until the present day.

For a long time, no one really wanted to come here — immigration was pretty low and we were effectively left alone to our own devices. The first immigration law that was passed was the Page Act of 1875, which forbid any immigrants considered “undesirable”: forced laborers from Asia, Asian prostitutes, and convicts. Note how the exclusions are already targeted towards specific areas of the world — two of the three restrictions target Asia specifically. The next major immigration law was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, quite literally banning all immigration from China. The reason? People blamed Chinese immigrants for depressed wages. The state which pushed this law most heavily? California.

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What a Trump presidency might mean

I’ve seen a lot of posts going around about what a Trump presidency might mean for them and I wanted to jump in a bit. This is going to be a fairly long post, but I feel I need to just kind of get this out there. I’ve mostly been posting sarcastic stuff or exaggerated stuff about Trump’s victory. But I wanted to honestly discuss what the results of this election tell me.

The one silver lining is that Clinton won the popular vote. So yes, she won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote.

I would like to think that I and people like me (people with brown skin) are welcome in this country. But with the election of Trump, I’m not so sure. Pretty much half the country seems to endorse the rhetoric that “Muslims” (read: people with brown and black skin) should be placed under increased surveillance in this country. Pretty much half the country seems to endorse the rhetoric that “Muslims” should not be trusted. Of course my friends all know me as an atheist Hindu, but would a cop on the street be able to tell that? Would a random person on the street be able to tell that? If I were not already in my PhD program, I would very likely consider moving to a different country — Canada, most likely. I know many people say this as an election joke, but given what this country has stated about me and people who look like me? I would very much like to act on that right now.

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Free trade and colonialism

There are many arguments against free trade deals that we’ve seen.

One of the most popular is that they bleed jobs from here and ship them overseas. While that is somewhat true, as has been pointed out many times, automation is a much bigger factor in the loss of many manufacturing jobs, both here and abroad. Another one applies specifically to the TPP and concerns privacy rights, IP rights, and letting corporations usurp government regulations by challenging them in a “court”.

But I want to address today another objection, one that I haven’t seen much. One of the standard arguments for free trade deals is that they will “create jobs”, if not here, then at least in other countries. They will help them “develop”, they say. They will “lift people out of poverty”. They will help them make use of their resources and labor.

It may not look like it, but it’s a rehashing of the same old tired argument that white people (or countries and companies run by white people) will come in to “save” the poor savages and help them “develop”. When you say that these multinational corporations will bring jobs and bring technology, it implies that the native people are not able to do it on their own. It implies that they’re not able to actually make anything, that they need guidance from the generous white people.

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