Notes from the desk of peace activist Polly Mann (b. Nov. 19, 1919)

Good gun news

It’s seldom, if ever, one reads good news about guns. So, this bit of news should be well received. There exists a group with a mission antithetical to that of the National Rifle Association (NRA). It’s called GUNS DOWN AMERICA, organized in 2016 in Orlando, Fla., as a result of the mass shooting incident there. Its mission, as given by its founder and executive officer, Igor Volsky, is to compel the financiers of the gun industry banks to support gun control. The group set up a grading system for these financiers, i.e., banks and legislators. The basis for the grades was publicly available information gathered from media reports, regulatory documents, campaign finance filings and other sources. After the Orlando shooting, Delta Airlines, Hertz and several other companies broke with the NRA. Some banks have changed their positions on loans for guns. Bank of America has announced a new policy.
A grading system was devised to indicate banks’ policy on gun loans. Six banks had failing grades. Citigroup announced it would work only with clients that restricted gun sales. Bank of America said it would stop funding companies that make military-inspired firearms for civilian use. Marianne Lake, JPMorgan Chase’s chief financial officer, said last year the bank’s link to military-style firearms has “come down significantly.” Tricia Schultz, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said the bank planned to invest more than $10 million over three years in studying gun-violence prevention and in improving school safety. Her total statement, however, was somewhat ambiguous: “We do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.” Overall it was good news.

Taxes and prison health care

If you haven’t read the article about health care in U.S. prisons in the March 4th edition of The New Yorker magazine, you should. Even if you’re not particularly concerned about prisons, you really should. If for no other reason than that your taxes could be reduced with an efficient system, read it. It’s not short—a full eight pages, but as I said, it’ll be well worth your time. The following are a few statistics to get you started:
1. Between 1980 and 2015, the U.S. prison population increased from about 500,000 to over 2.2 million.
2. Today the U.S. makes up about 5% of the world’s population yet has 21% of the world’s prisoners.
3. Though African Americans and Hispanics make up about 32% of the world’s population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
There are more than 3,000 jails in the U.S., which house some 700,000 people. After the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the jail and prison population jumped from about 300,000 in 1980 to more than 10,000,000-that’s 10 million-today. The standard of care that incarcerated people have a right to receive was set by the American Medical Association.
Companies that provide health care are now spending about $10,000,000,000 (that’s 10 billion).

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