Basil Davis from Barataria was shot dead by Joshua Gordon, a police officer, on Monday 6 April 1970 outside the gates of Woodford Square. A cortege of over one hundred thousand pallbearers walked in trembling silence from Port of Spain to San Juan to the shuffling sound of feet and the shadowy thud of a distant drum. He was given a state funeral by the people.

His body lay in state in the bandstand at Woodford Square surrounded by Tudor roses set in the cast iron railings. The unlawful killing of Basil Davis in 1970 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and George Floyd in 2020 on Memorial Day in Powderhorn, Minnesota during the 50th Anniversary of the Black Power Revolution is a tale of two cities.

On February 26, 1970, a movement of minds determined that the government of Trinidad and Tobago was perpetuating the harvesting of material benefits for the elite minority as the overwhelming majority of Afro-Saxons continued to experience deprivation, joblessness, wickedly low wages and racial discrimination in employment.

On 13 April, A. N. R. Robinson, MP for Tobago East resigned. Five days later, sugar workers went on strike. In response, Dr. Eric Williams declared a State of Emergency on 21 April. Fifteen Black Power leaders were detained. In a bizarre twist, members of the Defence Force, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle mutinied and held hostages in Teteron barracks. After the mutineers surrendered on 25 April, Dr. Williams re-shuffled his Cabinet. Three Ministers and three Senators were removed. A new ‘Public Order Act,’ abridging civil liberties was drafted. The bill was withdrawn after public opposition, led by A. N. R. Robinson and his newly fashioned ‘Action Committee of Democratic Citizens’ which became the ‘Democratic Action Congress.’ Attorney General Karl Hudson-Phillips offered his resignation over the failure of the bill, but Williams refused it.

Wealth is power. Any extreme concentration of fortune, is an extreme concentration of power. We can choose alternatives but we don’t. We can dilute the concentration through distribution and by preventing industrialists from booking profits in tax havens like Jeffrey Epstein’s Little St. James in the West Indies that scaffolds inequality. But we allow it. Presidents and Royalty have no recollection of ever visiting the palm-fringed paradise that was Epstein’s private redoubt. But the porters vividly avow that they met them personally.

Decisions on tax are the most important resolutions that a democratic society can make, since taxes shape everything else. There is no free-ride.  A manifesto that can defend liberal democracy from the twin threats of inequality and corporate power must set out to de-globalize tax policy and re-democratize it. This will erode the fiction that companies can locate their most valuable assets in tax havens rather than where they are headquartered. If implemented, these companies would be forced to pay a fair price for their access to markets everywhere.

Such a manifesto will be a forceful argument against the ‘tax competition’ that directs corporate profits to Jersey or Bermuda and can offer a clear and compelling policy solution to reduce inequality and change the direction of society itself. It will also curtail the tendency to devise dazzling avoidance strategies with the assistance of law firms to enable companies to exploit the gaps between differing tax codes around the world.

A Federal Reserve survey found that 20% of people employed in February 2020 had been furloughed in March or early April. The job cuts were concentrated among lower-wage workers. Forty per cent of persons making less than $40,000 were out of work. However, unemployment alone cannot capture the full extent of the pandemic’s economic fallout. The Census Bureau reveals that 47% of Americans still at work have experienced cuts in hours or wages. Since March 18, over 40.7 million people have filed for unemployment benefits according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. This does not take into account millions more who have applied for help as self-employed workers. Millions have lost their health insurance that was linked to their jobs.

What endemic structural inequality amplified between March 18 and May 28 was an increase of 16.5 per cent in the pandemic profits of U.S. billionaires by almost half a trillion dollars. Sixteen new billionaires also emerged in the U.S. during the same period. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once described the Hong Kong upheaval as “a beautiful sight to behold.” However, Isaiah (59:1) reminds us that ‘the hand of God hath not been shortened.’

And so the “beautiful sight” has lengthened its reach from Hong Kong into twenty-five cites in sixteen states of America to enchant watchers peering from behind blinds.  But they found nothing beautiful in burning police stations, the looting of Louis Vuitton, the burning of automobiles inside the Mercedes-Benz showroom and the torching of Baptists churches. In the beatitudes of the Rose Garden, Trump addressed his followers: ‘If malice or violence reigns then none of us are free.’ ‘Where there is no law there is no opportunity.’ Where there is no safety there is no future.’ ‘Where there is no justice there is no liberty.’ Floyd lives now- forever.