With President Donald Trump calling for shooting the looters in Minneapolis, perhaps it’s time to examine the concept of “looting.” With the city in flames and anarchy reigning, poor people have been breaking into various stores and stealing merchandise. On its face, this is wrong. Meanwhile, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, the wealthy have been able to break into the U.S. treasury and steal hundreds of billions of dollars. Is this not also “looting”?
The airline industry demanded the federal government provide $60 billion in bailout money. They got $50 billion — half loan, half grant. United Airlines threatened to fire workers if its demand wasn’t met. Meanwhile, the five biggest airlines spent 96 percent of their free cash flow over the last decade buying back their own stock, thus inflating share price, satisfying investors and justifying lavish executive bonuses. The airline industry deserves zero government support and yet was able to loot $50 billion.
Countless Americans wonder how they’ll make their rent or mortgage payments, epidemic levels of homelessness will no doubt increase as Minneapolis burns. Martin Luther King said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I worry that this is only the beginning.