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Snubbing white, male business owners in COVID relief helps no one

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Snubbing white, male business owners in COVID relief helps no one

America’s small-business owners are struggling to survive the pandemic and the government-imposed lockdowns. And white, male business owners have an added problem: While politicians are offering loans and grants to minority- and female-owned businesses, they could care less about helping those guilty of the “sin” of being born white and male.

What’s next? Tax breaks for women and minorities, and higher rates for white men? Criminal laws that only apply to white men? Government programs shouldn’t discriminate. We’re all guaranteed equal treatment under the law.

President Biden hasn’t received that memo, apparently. He won the election vowing to unify a divided nation. Yet his 27-page plan to “build back better by advancing racial equity” proposes dozens of taxpayer-funded programs for businesses owned “by black and brown people”; there is no mention of white-owned businesses. 

That’s bound to provoke resentment. More racism can’t cure racism.

Biden pledges to close the wealth and earnings gaps between whites and minorities. Bravo. Who can argue with wanting all Americans to succeed? The question is how. Former President Donald Trump narrowed the gap and boosted the wages of working-class people of all races. And he did it by promoting growth and tight labor markets, not with racist preferences.

In 2019, before the pandemic struck, the earnings gap between whites and minorities shrank, and poverty among blacks and Hispanics tumbled to its lowest-ever-recorded rate. Home ownership and net worth for blacks and Hispanics rose. All without doling out government help based on skin color and ethnicity.

Biden’s plan, on the other hand, barely mentions growth. His approach is about rigging the system — delivering benefits to favored groups. 

Several states controlled by Democrats are also putting race and gender ahead of fairness. Last May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the New York Forward Loan Fund “focusing on minority- and women-owned small businesses.” The program requires that 60 percent of the taxpayer-funded loans go to minority- and women-owned enterprises, double their share of the state’s businesses. That puts white, male business owners at a disadvantage. It’s probably unconstitutional, violating the 14th Amendment’s guarantee that we all be treated equally.

When Oregon state politicians reserved a pot of COVID-19 relief money for black residents and black business owners only, a white logging-company owner who was hemorrhaging money because of lockdowns sued the state and succeeded in getting the discriminatory program halted until the case is decided. 

Similarly, after Colorado awarded COVID-19 relief funds to minority businesses only, a white barber-shop owner sued, insisting on his right to be treated equally under the law.

New Jersey is considering legislation to provide $50 million to aid minority businesses, while refusing aid for non-minority businesses. If that passes, the Garden State should be sued, too.

Minority-owned businesses have been hit especially hard during the pandemic, but there are ways to help without screaming “whites need not apply.”

When the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans was launched last spring, small businesses that lacked an existing relationship with a bank had trouble applying, including many minority-owned businesses. But by late summer, that problem was largely solved by outreach efforts. Federal data show that as of Dec. 1, more than half of all Paycheck Protection funding went to businesses in distressed or low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

Vice President Kamala Harris has proposed “navigators” to pilot business owners who are least savvy about banking through the loan-application process. That’s also a good idea.

Aid should go first to enterprises that support jobs, regardless of the owner’s race. COVID relief is supposed to protect paychecks. A staggering 2.1 million of the 2.6 million black-owned enterprises in the nation have no employees, just an owner, according to the US Black Chambers, a business group. 

Propping up businesses without workers because they’re minority-owned, in preference to businesses with employees, is foolish. Cuomo’s minority-focused loan program suffers from that problem.

Congress is drafting the next COVID-relief bill now. To foster unity and treat all Americans equally, legislators need to help businesses without regard to race or gender. Businesses hit hardest should get the relief. Yes, even businesses owned by that despised and politically disfavored group: white men.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.

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Opinion

NYC needs a fighter for mayor, not a technocrat

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NYC needs a fighter for mayor, not a technocrat

Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia touts her career in city government and technocratic skills as reasons she should be your pick for mayor. Problem is, what New York needs right now is not just impressive-sounding plans, but the ability to fight for what the city needs.

Frankly, being a good-government star of the de Blasio city administration is a pretty minor achievement: The competition wasn’t exactly fierce. Nor did Garcia’s much-touted talent for logistics always prove true.

Back in November 2018, a mere six inches of snow paralyzed the city and left thousands of schoolkids trapped on school buses for hours. The response was so poor that Council Speaker Corey Johnson called for hearings into Garcia’s handling of the storm. She also ran into trouble as interim city Housing Authority chief, letting the insiders lead her to deliver false testimony about lead-paint remediation.

During the lockdowns, the mayor put her in charge of delivering emergency food to needy seniors. But her system demanded seniors use unfamiliar technology to sign up, and as The Post reported, the “beneficiaries” also had issues with food quality and delivery.

But the bigger issue isn’t dealing with the bureaucracy, but with the politicians. It’s not enough to reject “Defund the Police” nonsense: The city’s next mayor will need to muscle the City Council and Legislature into amending the anti-anti-crime laws they’ve passed in recent years, from the city’s “chokehold” mistake to the disastrous “no bail” legislation.

Brooklyn’s Eric Adams has the contacts from his time in the state Senate to move Albany, and the cred from a lifetime of fighting for police reform to argue persuasively against bad police reforms.

Garcia just hasn’t been in the political trenches. Indeed, two veteran Democratic operatives told The Post’s Julia Marsh that her lack of such seasoning would harm her ability to handle pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the council and the feds.

Coming out of the pandemic, New York City faces multiple crises: public safety, fiscal, economic. The next mayor can hire wonks, planners and managers; the talent he or she must have is a proven ability to make the right calls, as Adams did in centering his campaign on public safety from the start, and to beat the other politicians into going along. That’s why Eric Adams remains our choice.

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The old Cold War models can’t help us meet today’s Russian threat

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The old Cold War models can’t help us meet today’s Russian threat

President Joe Biden and Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet Wednesday for the first time since Biden was elected president.

For many in the foreign-policy establishment, this is an exciting opportunity to conjure some Cold War drama. Historically, such summits were major happenings. They were premised on the idea that tensions between the two nuclear powers were so great and grave, merely talking was an accomplishment in its own right.

Conservatives contend that the summit is a mistake primarily because it gives Putin the prestige he craves while giving Biden nothing in return. I tend to agree. But this argument also draws on the same Cold War nostalgia.

Conservatives often opposed US-Soviet summits, because they were seen as part of a process of “normalization” and détente that not only lent the Soviets undeserved legitimacy but often ended with concessions that strengthened our enemy.

Worse, such summits were often used to buy cover or time for Soviet expansionism. Forty-two years ago this week, Jimmy Carter met with Leonid Brezhnev in Vienna to sign the SALT II treaty. Brezhnev personally promised his peaceful intentions to Carter, and six months later, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

You can see how those arguments could be applied today, but I think we’d all be better served to ditch the Cold War stuff, because circumstances have changed.

First, Russia is a basket case. Rife with corruption, entirely dependent on oil and gas revenues and starving for foreign investment, Russia’s entire GDP ($1.7 trillion) is smaller than Biden’s first COVID relief package.

Second, as morally bankrupt as Soviet Communism was, it nonetheless appealed to the hearts and minds of millions around the globe. No one, save would-be despots, looks at the Russian “model” as something they want to emulate. We’re not competing with Russia for moral leadership.

That’s because Putin is better understood as a cross between a conventional mob boss, a James Bond villain and a Latin-American strongman. Estimates of his personal wealth range from $40 billion to $200 billion. Whatever the right number, he didn’t get that rich from wisely investing his $300,000 salary.

Putin holds onto power in part through crushing domestic opposition, intimidating or killing dissidents, blackmail, censorship and other tactics of ruthless tyrants. But he also maintains control by keeping Russian society in a constant state of crisis by relentlessly fueling paranoia that the West is at war with Russia and he’s the only leader strong enough to hold her enemies at bay. A true Cold War nostalgic, he believes that relations with the West are zero-sum: Whatever is bad for the West is good for Russia.

That’s why Russia is constantly meddling in Western elections, including our own in 2016. It’s also why Russia’s propaganda machine loves to amplify America’s domestic shortcomings.

The idea that Biden (or anyone) can talk Putin out of his perceived self-interest is ludicrous. Someone who has clung to power through murder and oppression can’t be made to see the light with finger-wagging bromides.

Biden would be well-served to tell Putin simply and bluntly that there will be concrete consequences to his actions — assuming Biden is willing to follow through. Beyond that, Biden should take a page from Putin himself. The Russian dictator sees these summits as a propaganda opportunity, domestically and internationally. Biden should, too.

Propaganda has taken on a negative connotation, suggesting pernicious state misinformation. But propaganda was originally about propagating the faith, specifically Catholicism. To his credit, Biden seems to be sincerely interested in propagating the faith of democracy, the rule of law and Western resolve. He won’t be able to persuade Putin of any of that. But that’s not the audience that matters. There are people throughout Russia who need to hear it — and in America, too.

Twitter: @JonahDispatch

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Step up for the cops, says ex-NYPD brass Joanne Jaffe

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Step up for the cops, says ex-NYPD brass Joanne Jaffe

Three-star chief commander, highest-ranking female ever in the NYPD, Joanne Jaffe was let go. Despite her pending lawsuit relative to discriminating employment practices, she has workable ideas about handling our crime problem.

“My first day as a cop, 1979, a 4 to 12 tour along totally decimated, blown out Pitkin Avenue’s boarded up buildings, my first thought? ‘How to go to the bathroom?’

“As for now, this city’s thousands of religious leaders with influence over communities they serve must step up to preserve the sanctity of life. Our priority is their priority. They should be out in the streets saying, ‘Stop the violence.’ Also our grandmothers. They’re influential over grandchildren. Let them be involved in what their kids and great-grandchildren are doing.

“Plus, a block watch program that really works. There’s 77 precincts. Plus, 12 transit districts. But we need the community. Disagree with the police, OK, but be part of discussions. Understand the anger.

“There’s a supervision of homeless shelters, so why are police the repository of all society’s social ills? More things get shoved onto the police when other agencies haven’t training or ability to cope.

“There’s city agencies. Pick the top hundred families that can help with medical, economic, education problems. You only hear about keeping kids out of jail. How about before they go to jail? Instead of watching TV all day, we’ve got to build school relationships in a different way.

“Politicians knowing nothing sit at tables making decisions. They don’t invite police officials. Don’t know what it’s like struggling in the middle of a crowd, things thrown at you, fighting you. Not clean. Nothing’s pretty. These pols have rallies. They march. They don’t even know what they’re talking about.

“Our cops know who it is. They know their people. Others tell them. They know who, what. They know how to calm things down. We need people to come out, like when a child gets shot. When these tragedies happen they shout out for two days and then slink back. We need them to stay out. Our elected officials are busy with rallies. We need them, our religious leaders, our grandparents, our top families to come out!

“Cops aren’t engaging now because they feel unsupported. Disillusioned. Morale is low. They’re no longer willing to risk. It’s not defund the police or support the police. It’s come to the middle.”

Unlucky with Leo?

DiCaprioJulianne Hough’s niece, being a yenta, has claimed her aunt told her Leo is not “King of the World” between the sheets. Then on Howard Stern’s show recently a caller said he stood next to Leo at the urinal in Sunset Beach on Shelter Island and assessed DiCaprio’s various parts. Not king-sized burbled this one. Stern, skeptical, admitted, “I know that bathroom and never use it. Rather pee in my pants if I have to.”


THE good news. Finally, we’re dragging out last year’s stylish clothes. The bad news? Thanks to our pandemic’s stay-home/eat-home year — nothing fits.

Not only in New York, kids, not only in New York.

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