Many of us have heard the saying, “If you’re White you’re all right; if you’re Yellow you’re fine and mellow; if you’re Brown, stick around; but if you’re Black get the h— on back.” Well, as Claud Anderson has said for years, “If Black folks didn’t get anything when we were in second place, what makes anyone think we will get anything when we move into third place?” All of his predictions and warnings have come to fruition as they pertain to immigration and its impact on Black people in this country.
Once again, we have been moved to the back of the line, even behind those illegal immigrants who are told they must go to the end of the line in order to become legal. When the Obama administration touted its No. 1 agenda item shortly after the inauguration, it became immediately clear that Black people, along with whatever “agenda” we might have, would be pushed further down on the presidential “to do” list. Hispanics are the minority group du jour pushed ahead of Black folks that have been waiting in line for 400 years.
The No. 1 political priority is now immigration reform, not Black unemployment, Black incarceration, Black economic inclusion, or Black anything. The gay people have had their turn at the front; the Jewish people have had their turn; the “mainstream” Hispanic folks are now getting their second turn; and now illegal immigrants have their turn at the head of the line. In street vernacular, “Where da Black folks at?” Oh, I see them; they’re waaaay back there at the end of the line — again. Here, use my binoculars; you’ll be able to see them back there.
Individuals and organizations are lining up and complaining about the lack of attention being given to Black people by the Obama administration, especially since Black voters overwhelmingly supported the President’s reelection. Hispanics gave 71 percent of their support, while Blacks gave around 95 percent of theirs. So why is illegal immigration, which is an issue of great concern to Hispanic people, the No. 1 priority?
Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, said on Meet the Press, said, Black Americans “…are doing far worse” than when President Obama first took office. “The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started. White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing far worse.”
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), reflecting on the president’s nearly all-White inner circle and his second term appointees thus far, says President Obama has disrespected Black folks by failing to choose not even 1 of the 61 names recommended for administration positions by the Congressional Black Caucus. Maybe the president just doesn’t know a lot of Black folks. Thus, “If you’re White, you’re all right.” Hastings also cited the meager and insulting amount of Obama campaign funds spent with Black newspapers. So what else is new? Why market to a constituency that automatically gives nearly 100 percent of its vote and asks for nothing in return?
We pointed out a similar situation during the last two Supreme Court appointments in a 2010 article titled, “How about getting a Black person on the Supreme Court?” Maybe the next time folks like Deval Patrick and Charles Ogletree will be considered — no, nominated.
Anyway, here’s the deal. We are at the back of the line when it comes to issues that directly impact Black people in this country. Somehow we cannot get it through our heads that we are still relegated to a subordinate position, politically and economically, and will remain that way until we change our behavior, as Amos Wilson advised in his book, Blueprint for Black Power. There is no reason or need for anyone to change the way they treat us if we continue to accept mistreatment from them. And this goes well beyond mere skin color, folks. After all, who is more “colored” than Clarence Thomas?
This is about consciousness, commitment, and a willingness to stand up and accept no less than what is right, equitable, and just. It is also about refusing to fall for the political games that are being played on us every day. Our votes are only good for one thing: counting – if they are even counted at all. But after the counting is done, it’s back to the end of the line for Black people, despite the so-called agenda that Ben Jealous, Marc Morial, and Al Sharpton carry to the POTUS.
Question: If they are so important (or should it be impotent?), have so much influence, and are so close to the president, why are Black people still at the end of the line?
Malcolm said it best: “Any time you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party, you’re not only a chump, you’re a traitor to your race.” — (NNPA)
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.
The old British Empire was the founder and leader of the drug trade. This government saw the drug trade, particularly Opium, as a good means to increase its treasury and promote the overall economy to benefit its citizens with jobs and industry. The English would grow and cultivate the opium crops in India and then sell the finished product to the Chinese. The wealth accrued by this system was enormous and it made this nation with such a small population rule other nations with populations exponentially greater. It was about power and wealth.
Today, the United States gives the appearance that drugs are evil and it must do everything in its power to suppress the drug trade. That is the appearance, but the reality is far from that. Drugs are prevalent in the United States more now than ever. It is an extremely large industry with no restraints and a future that seems very bright. At the low end of the trade business are law enforcement agencies locking up users and small traders. At the high end are drug cartels dragging in billions of dollars. The final phase of this industrial transaction is the cleaning or laundering of the dirty money. The largest banks in the world are far too willing to accommodate the drug cartels. They clean the money and give advice on tax avoidance. It is purely criminal but no one is going to jail.
Just last week the U.S. Department of Justice settled such a case with banking giant HSBC. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. (Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny) Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.” Yes, they had it down to a finely run routine without fear of arrest or punishment.
For the above criminal activity HSBC received no indictment and no arrests were made at all. The government simply settled with them on a fine of $1.9 billion. They even had the nerve to do a press release on this. The fact is that this was no punishment at all. HSBC makes $1.9 billion in profit every five business days. I can assure you that they won’t stop the activity because the money is just too good.
Meanwhile, out in the streets and neighborhoods, the law authorities are locking up our population with a vengeance. Stiff penalties are handed out to users and low level dealers in rapid fashion. Long sentences are served in our prisons. In fact, our prisons are filling up to the point that they are now cramming our local jails with drug offenders. The rich get richer and the poor go to jail and have their futures terribly damaged. This happens because there is so much profit in the drug business. How do we get the profit out of drugs? There is a model. In Amsterdam, drugs are legal in designated areas. People can go and buy the drugs at low prices and get as high as they want. You won’t see the cartels doing much activity there because they cannot make the kind of big cash they are accustomed to.
Why don’t we do the same as Amsterdam? Let’s identify designated places and provide medical assistance to those trying to break the addiction and control the price of drugs to where the gangsters no longer have an incentive. Also, let us stop prosecuting and jailing our people for this activity. In fact, let’s start emptying our prisons and jails of drug users and low-level traffickers. Bring these people home and work them back into society as productive and full citizens. There would be a dramatically reduced public expense — fewer prisons, fewer guards, fewer lawyers and many other good things like happier families and bright futures for our children.
Oh, it would be so nice to see the cartels dry up and hard crime such as kidnapping, murder, overall violence would be reduced to almost nothing. Every African American family has been damaged or affected by the drug industry. Children, cousins, nephews, husbands, mothers and fathers are missing from our households because of the lure of illegal drug activity. The rich and powerful take part in this and get away with it as the common people suffer immensely. It is just like old China and the British opportunists. The playing field is hardly level. Let us start to go down this road to the legalization of drugs and end this social and economic madness. — (NNPA)
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, but of choice. Not something to wish for, but to attain.” --William Jennings Bryan
Last week, on a single day, America lost three outstanding visionaries who in their own ways changed the course of history. On Wednesday, October 5th, Steven P. Jobs, 56; Derrick Bell, 80; and Fred Shuttlesworth, 89, all passed away.
Many Americans may not be aware that there were other courageous civil rights foot soldiers who stood with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the sometimes life-threatening struggle for freedom. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the most fearless and effective champions of the movement.
A Birmingham, Alabama minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Shuttlesworth survived numerous beatings, arrests and attacks and boldly stood up to Birmingham’s infamously brutal public safety commissioner, Eugene “Bull” Connor.
Rev. Shuttlesworth was one of hundreds of peaceful protesters who were viciously attacked by state troopers on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, as they attempted to cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way to Montgomery to petition for African-American voting rights. This incident awakened the conscience of the nation and led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Derrick Bell, the first tenured African-American professor at Harvard Law School, also died last Wednesday. Professor Bell’s provocative “critical race theory,” the study of institutional racism in America, became an intellectual touchstone of the modern civil rights movement. In his many books and law review articles, he courageously challenged the status quo. In 1985, he resigned his Harvard professorship because of his determined fight to bring the diverse perspectives of people of color and women into the School of Law. He once said, “In all my courses, I really have to teach the basic messages of my life ... that the rewards, the satisfactions, are not in being partner or making a million dollars, but in recognizing evils, recognizing injustices and standing up and speaking out about them even in absolutely losing situations where you know it’s not going to bring about any change — that there are intangible rewards to the spirit that make that worthwhile.”
Finally, last Wednesday the nation was saddened by the news of the passing of Steven P. Jobs, the still young co-founder of Apple who embodied the potential of digital technology to change the social and cultural landscape of the world. Jobs’ Apple products — Mac computers, the iPhone, iPod and iPad — have become “must have” tools of modern communication. I suppose it is no surprise that Mac computers are prevalent at National Urban League headquarters in New York as they are in millions of homes and businesses around the world.
Jobs’ genius was not only his technical and marketing expertise, but also his commitment to using the power of digital technology to build a stronger global community.
On behalf of the board and staff and affiliates of the National Urban League, I want to express my gratitude for the visionary leadership of Fred Shuttlesworth, Derrick Bell and Steve Jobs. They will be sorely missed. — (NNPA)
Marc H. Morial is the president and CEO of the National Urban League.
President Obama “slow jams the news”? Is this a nakedly bold pitch for the youth vote or what?
I’m talking about the president’s appearance Tuesday night on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” In front of a live audience at the University of North Carolina, the nation’s commander-in-chief took charge in “slow jamming the news,” an occasional feature on the late-night show.
It consists of reciting some news of the day with anchorman seriousness while backup singers and The Roots, Fallon’s house band, lay down some smooth jazz in the background, punctuated with appropriate repetitions of “baby.”
The stunt posed a risk, even to Obama’s famously cool stagecraft. Many a middle-ager has bombed with lame attempts to sound cool in front of their children and other young’uns. As a parent, I speak from hard-learned experience. But I can get away with it. It is part of my unwritten job description as a parent to embarrass my kid from time to time. Politicians in public aren’t that lucky.
Obama wisely stuck to a familiar script. Speaking to his collegiate audience, he filled his slow jam with applause lines from the stump speech that he was barnstorming to campuses in Iowa, Colorado and North Carolina — three states that he won in 2008 but that appear to be up for grabs now.
His main issue has strong appeal to the hearts and wallets of college students, post-grads and their families: student loans. It also has a new urgency at the moment. Unless Congress acts, the current subsidized rates on new Stafford student loans will expire in July, doubling the rate borrowers pay from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That difference amounts to an average increase of $1,000 per year per student.
Mellowed by his mood-music background, the president injected the hopelessly stodgy student loan issue with a comical dose of hip and cool:
“Now is not the time,” he said, directly addressing the camera, “to make school more expensive for our young people.”
“Ohhhh, yeah,” Fallon chimed in like Isaac Hayes murmuring sweet nothings into his microphone. “You should listen to the president.”
That’s what the president hopes, especially if it leads to more re-election votes. He needs to rekindle the Yes-We-Can enthusiasm among young voters that propelled him to the Oval Office in 2008. He has a 17 percentage point advantage over his presumptive Republican rival Romney among voters between 18 and 29, according to a nationwide poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. But almost a third in that age group is undecided. Obama has an advantage with under-30 voters that he needs to energize to offset his deficits with older voters, particularly white, blue-collar males.
One wonders how Romney might attempt to reach more millennials, as many are calling the first youngsters to come of age in this century. He could try a David Letterman “Top Ten List,” although that’s already been done. Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried it as Romney’s Republican rival. He did a good job, but his campaign fizzled out anyway.
Romney is better off playing it straight, as when he offered a straightforward response to Obama’s position on student loans that amounted to two words: Me, too.
“I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” he told reporters on Monday in what may be his first major move toward the middle as Republican frontrunner.
That’s a switch from his earlier support of the Republican budget plan proposed last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a plan that calls for removing the subsidies that keep Stafford loan rates low.
And Speaker John Boehner appeared to be moving toward the middle, too, as he rushed a mostly party-line vote on a $5.9 billion bill to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans. But familiar partisan disputes erupted over the measure’s funding. The money would come from a provision of Obama’s health care law for breast cancer screening and other preventive measures. Democrats wanted to fund the bill by cutting oil subsidies.
Take careful notes, students. As the clock ticks away, your student loan rates may well be the prize in Congress’ next big partisan faceoff. Choose your own background music.
First of all, I never understood why they called it “Black” Friday. I never saw any red, black and green adorning the shopping mall sales. Yes, I know that theoretically this is the day that puts stores in the black, out of the red they’ve been managing all year. Nearly 40 percent of jewelry sales happen between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and other sales are up in the weeks that end the year. But I’m enough of a nationalist to resent the day after Thanksgiving being called “black” for commercial purposes.
Call it what you will, though, it was a rousing success for retailers. Record breaking, according to the National Retail Federation. More than 226 million shoppers spent $52.4 billion during Thanksgiving weekend. (There are 312 million Americans, which means that at least a few of us sat this drama out). At least 50 million of these folks hit the stores before midnight. They spent an average of nearly $400 per person, undaunted by crowds, pepper spray and long lines. When did they find time to give thanks? And whatever happened to the recession?
I am frankly puzzled by the hype of post-Thanksgiving shopping and the way so many people have shrugged off their concerns of economic survival to crowd the stores. At the same time, it underlies the way that consumerism so drives our society, our need for more, more, more of things, things, things. To be sure, it would make no economic sense to put retailers out of business, and we know that consumer spending drives 70 percent of gross domestic product. But there is something sad about the crowds, the energy, and the profligate spending that drives people to spend part of Thanksgiving Day standing in line waiting for a chance to buy stuff, something tragic about some fool pepper-spraying folks for a chance at an Xbox (I suppose I show my own ignorance by wondering what an Xbox is).
Retailers are touting their successful weekend — with spending up by more than 6 percent from last year — as a good sign that economic recovery is on the way. I’m not so sure — unemployment rates remain high and there are more than 14 million officially unemployed people, and probably an equal number marginally connected to the labor market. Wages have been stagnant for quite some time, and the Occupy Wall Street movement has only gained momentum because of the enormity of economic misery.
But the Occupy Wall Street movement has attracted curiosity but hardly the interest of 226 million people. I can’t think of ANYTHING that gets 226 million people together. Imagine that as many people cared about the environment, economic justice, or anything else. We don’t even get that many people voting in so-called close elections, pointing to the 99 percent at the bottom.
So how is it that we spend Thursday counting our blessings, surrounded by friends, family, and other loved ones and thanking the Lord, and then collectively spend Friday swarming the stores. How is it that some of us actually get up from the dinner table and make it to the stores. And how is it that retailers force employees to come to work to sell “stuff” to the rest of us in the name of post-Thanksgiving sales?
According to those who study spending the post-Thanksgiving sales aren’t actually the best ones. Prices next week, according to some experts, are actually going to be better. And the quality of the merchandise that was put out there on sale wasn’t “all that” either. Still, we swarmed the stores.
I realize that I have Grinch-like tendencies when it comes to holidays, but the economist in me is more puzzled than anything else at this holiday behavior (especially the pepper spray wielding fool). I’m also wondering if the energies of 226 million people could ever be harnessed for good.
I surely hope that Black Friday did not trump Thanksgiving, but it surely got a lot more ink than Thanksgiving. Shopping may well be both the great American pastime and our substitute for religion, for industry and maybe even for morality. No wonder the Chinese are planning to eat our lunch in 20 years or so. We’ll probably buy new place settings for them at a holiday sale! — (NNPA)
Dr. Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennett College for Women.
WASHINGTON — In the 21st century, the Black Republican is a rare creature, even when you count those of moderate views such as Colin Powell. Rarer still is the tea-partying, tax-cutting, Obama-dissing Black conservative like Herman Cain, who is currently occupying the anybody-but-Mitt chair in the GOP presidential parlor game.
There are sound reasons for the scarcity of Black tea partyers. A fight-the-federal-government philosophy doesn’t appeal to the vast majority of Black Americans, who have depended on federal intervention to save them from the tyranny of state law and the violence of local custom — especially in the Deep South. Furthermore, even a handful of tea party protesters holding up overtly racist signs — President Obama dressed as a witch doctor, for example — would be enough to persuade most Black voters that the group isn’t serving any tea they’d like to drink.
Still, Cain’s politics have obscured a fundamental truth: His upbringing, his resourcefulness and his self-reliance are common among the Black middle class. His corporate success may be unusual, but the values that propelled him are not.
In his new campaign autobiography, “This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House,” the businessman-turned-talk-radio-host noted that his mother, Lenora, worked as a maid, while his father, Luther, chauffeured one of Atlanta’s richest businessmen, Robert Woodruff, CEO of Coca-Cola. His dad worked additional jobs, Cain said, in order to buy a house.
Cain’s parents valued education and church attendance. They emphasized self-respect. They expected him to hew the line of respectful and orderly behavior.
Cain has drawn some criticism for the revelation that he avoided the civil rights protests that marked his adolescent and college years; in his autobiography, he suggests that was due to his father’s admonition to “stay out of trouble.”
But that’s hardly surprising in the context of the times, given a movement whose success was hardly pre-ordained.
We rightly honor the heroes, such as Julian Bond and John Lewis, who put their lives on the line to dramatize the ugliness of Jim Crow and force political change. But countless Black men and women of Cain’s day chose the safer route, including many Black professionals and businessmen who didn’t want to risk their relative comfort by confronting white authority.
In short, there is nothing about Cain’s early years that is rare. I know countless Black Americans who were reared in much the same way.
My parents, like Cain’s, taught me to excel at academics, to work hard and to respect authority. They taught me to love my country. And they went out of their way to ensure that the overt racism I encountered didn’t leave me angry or bitter.
That’s important as a counter to Cain’s tiresome echoing and reinforcement of hoary old stereotypes. Apparently, it’s not enough that he absolve right-wing conservatives of racism. He has gone further — trading in ugly prejudices that disparage Black Americans.
He has, for example, called Black Americans “brainwashed” for their failure to support Republican candidates. He has cozied up to birthers who insist that Obama was not born in this country. And, worse still, he has engaged in some offensive stereotypes about those who are less successful than he.
“People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve,” Cain recently told CNN’s Candy Crowley.
That’s one of the dumbest things I ever heard. Many notable Black critics — Bill Cosby comes to mind — have decried the poor choices and bad habits that have exacerbated Black poverty. But it takes either spectacular cynicism or sheer idiocy to say the average Black high school dropout stopped going to school so he could “use racism as an excuse” for his unemployment.
Quiet as it’s kept, Black Americans are more optimistic about the future than white Americans, according to polls. They see racism receding, testimony to the powerful symbolic effect of Obama’s election.
By suggesting otherwise, Cain has not only disrespected the views and beliefs of mainstream Black Americans, but he has also offended voters whose support he might have hoped to win. Let’s hope he doesn’t represent the future of Black Republicanism.
For the love of Africa, we must commit to becoming a unified diaspora. That unity cannot happen without economic engagement. Booker T. Washington told us more than 100 years ago that if we start our own businesses and begin to do business with each other; not only will we survive but indeed prosper. We should adhere to his wisdom and make it so that it becomes a campaign to incubate businesses wherever we are and start doing business with each other globally. I am talking about trade and investment throughout the African Diaspora that will create jobs, healthcare, infrastructure and wealth.
The land of our origin is blessed with more natural resources than any other continent on this earth. It is only fitting for us to use that as a basis for our new found entrepreneurship. Every child of African descent should have a focus on doing business in some form with Africa and creating business relationships with business persons from Africa. That will be the key to our commonality.
There are 1 billion souls on the continent of Africa. South America possesses more than 150 million members of the African Diaspora. North America approaches 50 million and the Caribbean is predominantly Black. Then there is the issue of adequate representation within the populations of other continents. One thing, unfortunately, is common in most places: members of the African Diaspora are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. This must change but it will not change until we communicate with one another; share best practices and spend our money with one another.
This year will be known as the Year of Organization. We will be participating in a series of summits and conventions that will organize our entrepreneurs and put them on the same page. We will constantly call out to the African Diaspora and begin this process.
The following are the events we are scheduling:
National Black Chamber of Commerce 20th Annual Convention, Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, Ga. July 19 – 21, 2012. The theme is “Good Policies Lead to a Great Economy.” This event will be packed full of content including a matchmaker for our members and over 100 entrepreneurs from Africa (mainly Botswana). Don’t miss this. www.nbccconvention.org.
Trans-Atlantic International Trade and Investment Symposium, Aug. 1, 2012, Hilton Trinidad, Trinidad-Tobago: This event will gather entrepreneurs from North America, South America (inclusive of the Caribbean) and Africa. The theme is “Reinventing the Triangle” (revolving interaction among the three continents). NBCC President/CEO Harry C. Alford will give the keynote address at this historical event. More details to follow shortly.
Leon H. Sullivan Summit IX, August 20 – 24, 2012, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: The NBCC aims to populate this summit with our members with the intent of learning the business environment of each sub-Saharan African nation with representatives at this very popular event. Standard charter delegate packages start at $2,012, which includes coach airfare, hotel double occupancy, official Summit meals and Summit events. Why Equatorial Guinea? There you will experience the natural wonders of the Gulf of Guinea courtesy of the Equatorial Guinean government and the Equatorial Guinean Tourist Board. Renowned for its many exotic beaches and forests, Equatorial Guinea offers something new and exciting to discover for both the new and the most seasoned explorers. www.sullivansummit.org.
NBCC Trade Mission to Ethiopia, mid–September, 2012: This nation with the second-largest population in Africa is opening up its economy and is becoming a true free market. It is rich in resources and is cultivating a new entrepreneurial class. Let’s go and meet them. Fly with us on the classy Ethiopian Air Lines and visit the historical city of Addis Ababa. The history of the nation is recorded in the Bible and dates back to the pharaohs of Egypt. Exact details will follow soon.
The First PanAfrican Entrepreneurs Conference, November 15 – 17, 2012, Four Seasons Hotel, Houston, TX: Our sister organization will make its debut with a bang. The intent is to organize PanAfrican entrepreneurs and set policy, issue positions and initiatives that relate to trade, business development and wealth building where African Diaspora populations exist. Delegates will meet via online and at regular occasions. At the November conference, we will assess our progress and reset our agenda for next year. We are developing a website, www.panafricanec.org, which will be available in various languages, including Swahili.
Post Conference Trade Mission to Zambia, Nov. 21 – 26, 2012, Lusaka, Zambia: This event will take the momentum from the Houston conference and begin applying it to one of the most stable nations on the continent of Africa. The English speaking nation has a dynamic American Chamber of Commerce and we are working with this office to ensure a viable, serious business experience with results. More details to follow. — (NNPA)
The word for today is “hypocrisy.” Let’s be sure to spell it with a capital “H.”
That’s a good word to keep in mind whenever you hear national elected officials talking about their commitment to “job creation.”
I saw a transcript of the president’s speech on Thursday night, but I’m not sure if it was more notable for what he said or for what he didn’t say.
Fact is, most politicians’ verbal commitments to creating employment for U.S. citizens aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Their “urgency” to create jobs seems to pale in comparison to their overwhelming and ongoing efforts to continue the flow of inappropriate profit levels to their corporate campaign contributors.
Can I prove it? I think so.
Let’s start by looking back about a year ago to a very lightly-publicized Senate bill that was voted down by Republican senators, four Democrats and one Independent (good old Joe Lieberman). It was called the “Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act” and it would have done three important things. First, it would have eliminated the ability that companies now have to defer tax payments on income generated on their overseas plants until that income is transferred into the U.S.
Secondly, it would eliminate subsidies currently being paid by the U.S. government to firms that move their facilities overseas.
Finally, it would have provided payroll tax credits to companies that had previously “offshored” but had subsequently decided to bring those jobs back home to the United States.
In the whole scheme of job creation and historically high unemployment levels, one might ask, how important is this whole “offshoring of jobs thing,” anyway?
Well, let me tell you… it’s huge.
Even the clearly business-friendly Wall Street Journal has pointed out that some of the nation’s largest companies — including names such as Microsoft, Walmart, Cisco, General Electric, Merck, Intel and Oracle — recently slashed their U.S. workforces by 2.9 million people while at the same time hiring 2.4 million people overseas.
So, when you hear the reports of record-high corporate profits on the daily news reports, please understand that a significant reason for those profits is that the companies are cutting expenses by “dis-employing” U.S. workers and sending their jobs overseas.
At high-tech Cisco Systems, the percent of its overseas workforce has increased from 26 percent to 46 percent over the past decade. In the accounting profession, PwC, the CPA formerly known as Price Waterhouse Cooper, recently laid off 125 mid-level support staff workers and sent the jobs to Uruguay.
Closer to home, Hershey Foods Corporation, after years of gradual downsizing of its domestic workforce in Pennsylvania, finally closed its headquarters plant, eliminated 600 jobs in Hershey and moved its manufacturing operation for its “all-American” sweets — such as Hershey Kisses, York Peppermint Patties and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — to Mexico.
According to a 2009 report by Duke University entitled “Working America,” 60 percent of the firms that participated in offshoring in 2008 said they intended to do more of it over the period ending in December 2011.
Want one more high-profile example of a well-known American brand that has all but deserted American workers? Ever heard of International Business Machines (IBM)? At the end of 2009, only 105, 000 of IBM’s 400,000 employees resided in the United States. The company now has more employees in India (125,000) than in the U.S., and is currently ranked as India’s second-largest employer.
Here’s where contract shifts lead to job elimination: When the contracts let by larger corporations continue to be sent overseas and stop being made available to U.S.-based firms, then smaller businesses and micro-businesses eventually, also, face bankruptcy.
Not surprisingly, late last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that the number of self-employed people in this country had declined from 16.6 million people to 14.5 million people since December 2006.
It’s important to know that the category of “self-employed people” is especially significant for Black folks, given that 95 percent of our 1.9 million businesses have no employees. That’s right, “self-employment are us.”
But, with jobs and contracts being shipped overseas at a breakneck pace by corporate America, who in their right mind will now leap at the opportunity to start a new business?
Not too long ago, it was logical to assume that when layoffs were occurring in large businesses, it was a smart thing to do to employ oneself — and even to hire others into a vibrant, small business.
It’s clear now, however, that once the 2012 Economic Census is finally completed, we’ll learn that the “smart people” began to shy away from the extraordinarily greater risk of entrepreneurship with the onset of offshoring and the current recession. Indeed, the 2011 midyear report from the National Small Business Association disclosed that “more than half” of self-employed individuals and 36 percent of small business owners have an overall lack of confidence in the future of their businesses.
But, if the alarmingly negative impact of offshoring is so obvious to you and me, how is it that so many U.S. senators decided to vote against the “anti-offshoring bill” last year?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business lobbying group of immense influence, accepted full responsibility to protect the ability of companies such as IBM, Cisco and Apple to continue to eliminate domestic jobs and move them overseas.
The U.S. Chamber went so far as to send a letter to all U.S. senators, advising them that if any one of them decided to vote to eliminate offshoring, the Chamber would consider such a vote an indication that the senator was not “business-friendly.” Furthermore, the Chamber would note that vote on its annual scorecard, which is used to determine which elected officials are deserving of campaign contributions.
In a CNN interview, Tom Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber, wrote off the potential impact of offshoring by saying it would only impact “maybe three million jobs, maybe four.”
Of course, for those of us who just learned that the U.S. economy produced absolutely no net new jobs — none at all — in the entire month of August, “three, maybe four” million unemployed people still sounds like a big deal.
In any event, the Chamber’s bullying and the cover provided by a largely disengaged national media were enough to ensure that the bill never made it out of the Senate.
Despite all of that political “sleight of hand,” it’s a rare day, now, that we don’t see one of the senators who voted down the bill crying “crocodile tears” on FOX News or CNN about the nation’s dire need to create new jobs.
That’s usually the part of the newscast when those hypocrites start blaming the White House, the unions, the Black Caucus and everybody but their own family members for the country’s runaway unemployment levels.
With all that being the case, I wonder why the president didn’t make mention of the impact of offshoring on U.S. joblessness while he was standing up there at the microphone?
Did he get one of those infamous, threatening U.S. Chamber letters right before he took the podium at the joint session of Congress on Thursday?
Other than that glaring omission — and his plan to allocate only $5 billion of the total $447 billion (1.1 percent) for “work opportunities for low-income individuals,” and his total failure to mention the historically high level of Black unemployment — I thought the speech was as much as we might expect from a politician with the president’s recent track record.
No matter, all we can do now is pray that some of his plan — no matter how spotty — actually gets done, and that millions of Americans — Black, white, red or yellow — are finally returned to the workforce.
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.
Oh, what wicked webs they weave. Members of the Poverty Industrial Complex have various methods of profiteering off government money spawned from the War on Poverty in the mid-1960s. One, gentrification, has proven to be an effective way to keep poor people poor and greedy people rich. The poor remain that way so that federal money designed to help the impoverished keeps coming in and is transferred to the manipulators.
Webster’s dictionary defines gentrification as: “The process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.” This term was first used in 1964 — exactly the same time the War on Poverty started kicking in. Trillions of dollars have come down the pike and we have little to show for it. In fact, we are worse off demographically today than in 1964.
Let me give you an example of how this works and what we did in Indianapolis in the early 1990s to fight back. A group of small contractors complained to the Legislative Black Caucus about how they were being banned from any housing construction in inner city Indianapolis. The great state Rep. Bill Crawford called a meeting among elected officials, church leaders and the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce (me and Kay, my wife). It was amazing what we unraveled.
There were 14 neighborhood associations with distinct boundaries in the city of Indianapolis. Wikipedia: “A neighborhood association is a group of residents or property owners who advocate for or organize activities within a neighborhood. An association may have elected leaders and voluntary dues.”
Theoretically, a neighborhood association policed the neighborhood to correct blight and turn vacant land into homes or businesses. Each neighborhood association worked hand in hand with a Community Development Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that spearheads neighborhood development.
The CDCs got the federal money such as Community Development Block Grants (HUD funds) through the City Council and mayor and also various War on Poverty funding agencies. They would fund the construction projects in the neighborhoods through the neighborhood associations. In the process, they would also pick the contractors.
We told the predominantly Black neighborhood associations that going forward, the majority of construction would be carried out by Black contractors based in those same neighborhoods. Any license plate of a contractor that was not Indianapolis-coded would trigger an alarm and any out-of-state plates would be cause for a tow truck to arrive. We told the CDCs that their officers, especially the chairpersons, would have to be residents of the very neighborhood they were overseeing. At the time, most of the leaders were from the suburbs and we demanded their resignations.
The biggest thing we came across was overpricing the cost of refurbishing older homes and building newer homes. Why? They were setting the “comparable pricing” of a neighborhood upwards and out of reach of the current residents of the neighborhoods. Consequently, the residents could not afford new housing and the accompanying rising property taxes and apartment rent would force them out. White contractors would make quick cas,h and white realtors would have higher commissions; bankers would have higher returns on financing and mortgages. In other words, whites made the big bucks, and Blacks became destabilized.
Public housing authorities would also get in on the action. They would offer Section 8 vouchers (rental assistance) to targeted residents, with the stipulation that they would move. In Chicago, they were sending Section 8 residents as far away as Danville, Ill. (150 miles south). In Washington, D.C., they were sending them to Hagerstown, Md., which was 90 miles away. I heard this from the lips of a former Secretary of HUD. I remember our chapter in Danville saying, “all of a sudden we have car jackings and crack houses from these new hoodlums from Chicago.”
Bankers would offer very attractive mortgage rates to Yuppies who would move into these targeted neighborhoods and take Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for it. They were pretending to address affordable housing and helping eliminate poverty when, in fact, they were fanning the flames. They could have been more efficient if they had held a special convention and outline how to simultaneously displace Blacks and grab that federal money.
We slowed the gentrification in Indy, but we didn’t end it. It was growing all across the country. Greed has no end and as long as there is evil we must be vigilant and fight it wherever we see it. Gentrification is the work of the devil. — (NNPA)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) convened a series of forums last year that explored abusive auto lending practices. The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a participant in those roundtables, has issued a new research report on deceitful practices that take advantage of unsuspecting customers.
The report, Deal or No Deal: How Yo-Yo Scams Rig the Game against Car Buyers, shows that consumers with low-incomes and poor credit scores are the most likely target for these abuses. By preying upon consumers who are the least able to walk away from deals, the opportunity emerges to make more expensive loans and take consumers’ trade-in and/or down payment.
This is the first national insight into the prevalence of yo-yo scams. This deceitful dealer practice begins when car dealers encourage would-be buyers to leave with a car before finance terms are finalized. With only a conditional sales agreement in place, consumers are encouraged to accept spot delivery, taking the vehicle home. The unsuspecting consumer leaves with the car, trusting the dealer will finalize the terms discussed.
For car dealers, spot delivery reduces the likelihood of the consumer shopping elsewhere for a better deal. Yet for consumers, this practice often leads to problems never anticipated.
“Yo-yo scams occur when a dealer leads a car buyer to believe financing is final,” says Center for Responsible Lending senior researcher Delvin Davis, author of the report. “The dealer lures the consumer back to the dealership, claims the financing fell through, and then pressures the consumer to agree to a new loan at a higher interest rate.”
CRL’s study found that consumers who returned to these dealerships, were often pressured to sign finance contracts with worse terms than those originally mentioned. The report also showed that consumers trying to walk away from the now-worse deal often faced threats of legal action, criminal charges of auto theft, loss of down payment or fees for mileage and wear and tear.
Unfortunately for low-wage consumers with few available choices for financing, many still take the bad deal. When CRL examined the demographics of consumers experiencing yo-yo scams, once again communities of color were disproportionately harmed. After accounting for poor credit and low-incomes, Latino and African-American consumers were prey to yo-yo scams more than white Americans and consumers ages 25 years old or younger.
According to CRL, the majority of consumers wind up with a second finance contract with a higher interest rate. Deal or No Deal is CRL’s follow-up to an earlier report that found yo-yo scam victims on average received an interest rate that was five percentage points higher than what someone with the same risk level would normally pay.
Until laws or regulation change the ways auto financing operates, it might be better for consumers to adjust how they actually shop for a new or used car. Just as consumers now shop for the best mortgage rate available, making a comparable comparison of available auto financing terms would remove third-party transactions that now benefit dealers instead of consumers.
Beginning with a sober and objective figure for what is affordable will empower consumers.
Secondly, if financing is settled before the search for a vehicle begins, consumers can give themselves negotiating power by offering dealers a cash transaction.
In other words, consumers can choose to seize their purchasing power, rather than forfeit it to car dealers. — (NNPA)