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PPP loan study shows structural racism that Black Americans face

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“I don’t regret anything I said then because in the context of the time in which I said it, it was correct.” — Anthony Fauci, explaining why he doesn’t rue advising against mask-wearing early in the pandemic, when less was known about asymptomatic spread and PPE was in shorter supply.


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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

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This is how ‘structural racism’ works — PPP loan edition

Over at the New York Times, Emily Flitter highlights a study that sounds like something you’d see on television. Researchers at Rutgers University, Washington State University, and Brigham Young University sent pairs of Black and white borrowers to 17 banks in Washington to take out Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. They wanted to see how (or if) the experience differed between races. They also observed differences between gender.

This was a structural racism test, and we failed. Even though Black borrowers were given a slightly healthier financial profile, across the board bankers were less supportive of Black borrowers applying for loans for which they qualified. They offered less information on products, and were offered different products. 

A few highlights:

  • 43% of the time, Black applicants were treated significantly worse than white applicants and offered different products.
  • Women were treated worse than men, regardless of race.
  • Bankers never encouraged Black women to apply for a loan even when they qualified.

I can feel the visceral reactions from readers, so let me say a few things right now: Does this mean the bankers were bad people? Not necessarily. They could coach Little League and teach Bible Study and be great neighbors, even to Black people. But this is about the context they’re in — in a bank, a place where Black people are supposed to be able to build on their hard earned wealth. 

This study shows that the process of building wealth is harder for Black people. This shows that — even in times of intense economic stress for everyone — bankers have been socialized to treat white borrowers better than Black borrowers (which is racist) and male borrowers better than female borrowers (sexist). 

This is what people mean when they say “structural” racism. This is what they mean when they say “privilege.” The bias against Black people (and women) is baked into our system, so it will take active policy to remove it. If we’re passive about it, we just get outcomes like this. — LL

Americans have little faith in Trump telling the truth about the coronavirus

U.S. President Donald Trump wears a mask while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tasos Katopodis/File Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump wears a mask while visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on July 11, 2020.

REUTERS/Tasos Katopodis


A new Quinnipiac University poll shows a full two-thirds (67%) of Americans “do not trust the information President Trump is providing about the coronavirus.” Just 30% have faith in Trump’s truthfulness when it comes to pandemic. 

When it comes to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the numbers are basically flipped, with 65% saying they trust the country’s leading epidemiologist and just 26% saying they don’t.

Trump is a well-known serial liar, so much so that even trying to keep track of all the lies is a Quixotic mission. But his flagrant mistruths and propagation of misleading information about Covid might prove to be his presidency’s undoing. 

His job approval rating dropped six percentage points from last month, with 36% approving and 60% disapproving. That’s his lowest rating since August 2017 — the same month as his infamous “very fine people on both sides” comments following the neo-Nazi murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. 

The difference between now and then is the economy went from pretty robust to the worst since the Great Depression, because of the coronavirus pandemic. And if Americans don’t trust the president to tell the truth about the calamity of our age, his path to re-election narrows considerably. — AF


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For the people, for the economy, for justice: Just legalize marijuana, already.

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In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo workers harvest a fresh crop of marijuana at the Loving Kindness Farms in Los Angeles.

AP Photo/Richard Vogel


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said this week said legalizing marijuana would be “an incredibly smart thing to do.” Given the fact that his state is on the verge of borrowing $9.9 billion to help cover coronavirus-related tax shortfalls, it makes little sense to leave somewhere around $300 million in annual tax revenue from legal cannabis. 

In my column today, I argue that the current moment of unprecedented support for criminal justice reform, combined with an economic catastrophe, and the support of two-thirds of Americans to legalize marijuana — the time has simply come for full legalization. 

State governments, particularly fully-Democratic controlled ones like New York and New Jersey, need to get out of their own way and find a way to pass legalization bills. But the federal government has to do its part, starting with removing marijuana from its absurd classification as a Schedule I narcotic — which makes it all but impossible for legitimate cannabis businesses to work with banks.

Joe Biden, historically one of the worst drug warriors of all time, has promised he’d reschedule marijuana as president, even if he doesn’t support full legalization. For now, I’ll take it. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s absurd and out-dated definition of cannabis is bad for business. And we can’t afford “bad for business” for no good reason.

Legalization means no more “vape panics,” fewer pointless arrests of young people, and a safer alternative for adults than alcohol. 

For God’s sake, it’s 2020, and we’re in big trouble. Just legalize it, already. — AF


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LIFE

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THE BIG 3*

At the start of 2020 the SNS had barely 1% of the N95 masks that healthcare workers are expected to need during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the start of 2020 the SNS had barely 1% of the N95 masks that healthcare workers are expected to need during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Best and worst masks for coronavirus, from surgical masks to bandanas. N95s and surgical masks are the safest best, while a t-shirt around the face is the least effective — but better than no mask!

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