Tag Archives: blacks

Impeachment is a distraction for black voters

Blacks in America are participating in the impeachment fervor with as much intensity as other political group in America.  As commentator Attorney Antonio Moore cogently and passionately shares with his listeners, blacks own less than three percent of America’s wealth and that ownership percentage is decreasing. Blacks are wedded to the Democratic Party with anywhere from 88% to 90% of the black electorate voting Democrat since 1976, according to Attorney Moore.

Blacks are under economic duress from a capital allocation perspective.  Writing for The Nation, Leah Douglas notes that blacks today comprise less than two percent of America’s farmers and own one percent of America’s rural land. Ms. Douglas, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture data, points out that since 1969, 80% of black farmland has disappeared, in part due to sales of land held by families via a mechanism known as partition sales, where one family member can sell their portion of land to a developer and the developer puts the entire parcel up for sale where the law allows for the extinguishing of other family member ownership rights.  And citing U.S. government data, The Guardian reports that 1.3% of America’s farmers are black, owning .52% of the country’s farmland.

Why is this important? Because at the base of any access to capital is control of natural resources in your country.  Bonds, stocks, and currency derive their value from a working political economy and a working political economy derives its value from how well it can extract, process, manage, and distribute natural, financial, and human resources.  For those concerned with the economic well-being of the political collective known as black people, access to capital and garnering more income from capital must be top priority.

Let us not for get the disparity in household wealth as well.  According to an article by The Economist, mean black household wealth is $138,200, while median household wealth for blacks is $17,100.  And 19.4% of black households have net worth of zero or less, due in part to lower incomes and higher debt loads.

Whites are experiencing mean household wealth of $933,700, with a median household wealth of $171,000.  Only 9.2% of white households have a net worth of zero or less.

But to listen to the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination, you’d think that 13% of the population didn’t have a capital problem.  Besides the obligatory commentary on gun violence, access to healthcare, and white supremacy/nationalism, the candidates have offered no plans, tactics, or strategies for addressing the problem.

The only candidate coming anywhere close is Andrew Yang whose universal basic income plan is purportedly designed to address the pending doom of mass job losses spurred by robotics and artificial intelligence by offering each eligible American a stipend of a $1,000 a month to be used in any way the citizen wishes.  Mr. Yang hopes that the stipend goes to supplementing grocery costs, paying medical bills, other household expenses, or to savings.  What has been perceived as a giveaway has not yet given Mr. Yang any major traction although he had been able to qualify for all of the Democratic Party’s debates.

And not only are the candidates ignoring the black economic agenda, their comrades in the Congress appear to be as well. While there have been a number of bills introduced in the 116th Congress designed to increase diversity in banking or encourage minority business ownership (see H.R. 1432, H.R. 4101, and H.R. 5322), none have been introduced to allocate capital in such a way that the wealth gap is closed.

What are elected officials signaling? That they have other priorities and probably won’t move on the drastic measures that would be needed to bring about any equality where it counts; in capital.  The impeachment distraction will be short-lived, but the wealth and capital gap is not going away.

Blacks need to re-direct political capital to local election markets

I caught the last thirty minutes of tonight’s Democratic Party debate. I was able to hear some of their discussion on foreign policy which I did not find impressive.  Overall, these candidates tried to play both sides of the fence when it came to Afghanistan, claiming on the one hand that it is time for the United States to leave the central Asian burial ground of empires while on the other hand satisfying the sentiments of war hawks by considering the deployment of a reduced force, just in case the U.S. needed to re-insert itself.  That sure doesn’t sound like commitment to the idea of departing.

Another sign of a lack of commitment on the part of Democrats was the dearth of ethnic minorities on the debate stage.  Andrew Yang, an American of Asian descent, was the only ethnic minority participating in the debate.  That Mr. Yang is still in contention is a testament to his entrepreneurial savvy and his policy focus, specifically the idea of a $1,000 a month universal basic income payment to every eligible American.

Strong messaging on specific policy measures appears to be the sustaining formula for the debate survivors as they prepare for next February’s Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.  Yang, along with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders are doing well because, in my opinion, they have developed a narrative that they can brand themselves with and sell to the public.

Someone failed to get the important point of narrative and branding across to U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who was not known for any specific policy  agenda, definitely not a black agenda or narrative of any kind.  The same can be said for U.S. Senator Cory Booker who was absent from tonight’s debate stage.  If their hope was to ride the Obama Coalition, that bus is being driven by former Vice-President Joe Biden, and right now appears not to be letting anyone else steer the wheel.

The lack of blacks on the debate stage is not surprising. As the Boomers get older, the sway of the Democratic Party on blacks is decreasing.  It is not unusual to hear younger blacks and even a few older blacks question the efficacy of the Democratic Party when it comes to a black agenda.  And while the Democratic Party harps inclusion and diversity, the reality is that younger blacks are seeing less of an economic and social space for them in American society.  This view will only become more precarious as the demographics continue to change and blacks find themselves an increasingly smaller proportion of the population.

Returns on black political capital will remain flat if the focus remains on national elections. The numbers are just not there no matter what Democratic talking heads keep saying.  More importantly, the issues that concern blacks most; unfair treatment by the criminal justice system, unemployment, gentrification, are not federal issues.  While national leaders maybe able to advocate for block grants and other large sources of capital to be directed toward the States, it is state and local politics that will determine how those funds get distributed to and throughout communities.  Ensuring that West End Atlanta gets its share of federal government funds compared to the affluent north side of turn will turn just as much on local politics as it does federal jawboning.

Blacks should start preparing to manage a future electoral clash between whites and Hispanics…

Blacks don’t have the numbers and it will get worse, unless….

Back in August I wrote the following regarding representative democracy’s failure of black people:

“Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.”

In addition to this major fail of black leadership and representative democracy will be the further weakening of black political capital as a result of demographics.  According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the portion of the American population identifying as “black” will increase to 13.3% in 2060, barely budging from the 2014 statistic of 13%.  Meanwhile, the population identifying as “Hispanic” will see their percentage of the population increase to 25.5% in 2060 up from 13% in 2014.

The population identifying as “white” will represent 49.4% of the U.S. population in 2060, down from the 2014 figure of 68.8%.

As a voting bloc, I expect that Hispanics will cement their position as the go-to ethnic group that sways at least the popular vote for president. The current “people of color” movement may have run its course by then depending on how much farther the interests of both groups diverge.  Assuming that blacks and Hispanics occupy in 2060 the regions of the country they mostly occupy today, there may not be a demographic clash.  Blacks still mostly occupy the south and southeastern United States while Hispanics mostly occupy Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, and New York.  Two of the states, California and Florida, because of the number of electoral votes they carry, will continue to influence the popular vote and the Electoral College vote.  Hispanics will be in a position to exercise substantial electoral clout.

This clout may come in handy on policy issues such as immigration and trade.  Blacks have expressed animosity to policy that favors immigration because they see immigrants from Latin American countries as competitive cheap labor.  Hispanics see immigration as access to better pay and living conditions while trade benefits Latino populations living on both sides of the southwestern border where there is an opportunity to access and transport more goods and services at affordable prices.

The issue for black political leaders will be how best to manage a political environment, based on a failed representative framework, within which the struggle for public capital will only intensify. One solution may be to go external and manipulate the system from the outside.

Manipulate the equation…Raise the ante….

Yvette Carnell last night described a voting strategy for getting the Democratic Party to take notice of black voters without black voters giving away all of their electoral capital.  The “down ballot” tactic allows black voters to exercise the option of skipping Democratic candidates for president, vice-president, Congress, etc., where those candidates do not offer adequate public policy in exchange for the vote.  Ms. Carnell stresses that blacks should just not show up, but should instead go to the polls and cast a vote on other issues reflected on the ballot with the goal of letting Democrats know that the voter showed up but did not see on the ballot a candidate that presented an adequate black agenda.

Another tactic I would suggest is that blacks skip the primaries and that this practice should start in 2020. Skipping the primaries raises not only uncertainty in both parties, especially the Democratic Party, but would force the parties to pay more attention to black public policy needs and start preparing substantive packages in advance of election so that packages can be put in place soon after an election.

I believe these are the sort of tactics that blacks should implement now in order to strategically position themselves as the price giver versus price takers.

Conclusion: A more active listening public administrator

There is no guarantee 40 years out that black political leaders external to the government will follow the above strategies in the face of changing demographics and political power.  Public administrators should get in the habit of being forward looking, however, as demands of the electorate in the political markets will call for changes in approach to governance.  To stay valid, public administrators have to listen to two constituencies: the elected official that oversees them, and the electorate that at least in theory oversees them both.

 

 

Black creatives should apply constant lobbying pressure on Congress…

The concern: Theft and appropriation ….

The internet has provided opportunities for black creatives to create music, art, film, and writings, and distribute these products all over the globe.  When I set up my first website over 20 year ago, it took an employee at a local print shop to drive home the point with me that I was no longer local, as my mailing address on my new letterhead would imply.  My web address and e-mail he pointed out now took me to another level.  I was now global.  To this day I am still amazed and humbled when I hear from someone in Eurasia or Africa who either needed legal advice, sought some business representation, or read a blog post.

For black creatives in particular the opportunity to share our art and culture and dispel myths about our people is equal to and probably outweighs (slightly) the potential to increase the income for doing what we are good at; for doing what we love.

Centuries of oppression, for being negatively targeted physically and economically because of who we are can manifest itself in anger when our art is appropriated by the majority culture without acknowledgment or compensation.  Ironically, it is that same majority culture that has no problem asserting that blacks have no culture while stealing and re-engineering the culture we have created for the purpose of communicating with and consoling ourselves.

I think this problem, of cultural appropriation, is not relegated to blacks in America alone.  To varying degrees this problem also occurs in other parts of the Diaspora, but because I have spent my entire adulthood in the U.S., I will speak to the impact raiding black culture has on black America.

My concern in the United States is that the sharing economy may seep itself into intellectual property developed and sold by black Americans via inappropriate legislation or the misapplication of current rules applied to copyright, patents, and trademarks.  Blacks in the U.S. need to be aware of the business model that has been emerging in technology and media over the last two decades: appropriating what is considered “public” information or data and re-engineering it for resale.

There is a faux libertarian attitude among many young liberals in media and tech that everything produced should be considered as part of some commons where anyone with the capital and technology can sweep in and extract.  This is the same attitude behind “net neutrality”, where large content aggregators want to transport exabytes of data over public broadband networks for free and if these content providers can’t get their way i.e. send millions of cat and twerker videos over these networks for free, they will then argue that the democratic rights of their subscribers are somehow being violated.  Networks as well as content provided by their subscribers are simply there for free extraction.

This same liberal view toward content, in my opinion, poses a threat to black creativity.  Black creatives in America who do not take action to push back against this attack will find themselves back in the chattel-like slavery of their ancestors.  Whereas their bodies were used for slave labor in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, their intellectual property, their creativity, will suffer the same fate in the 21st century digital economy.

Taking the property rights approach ….

Blacks own between two to three percent of private capital in the United States.  Giving away our creativity would be tantamount to suicide.  Lobbying pressure should be maintained on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, the U.S. Senate Sub-committee on Intellectual Property and the U.S. House Sub-committee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

Action cannot be reactive. It must be proactive.  Black creatives must take action to ensure that legislation is being monitored and where threats are trending, be prepared to draft and present legislation to members of these committees for their consideration.

As creatives we tend to live in our heads, but we must make the concerted effort to keep our third eye open and on the Administration and the Congress.

Bubba, Bonds, and Blacks …

As much as blacks loved Bill Clinton, blacks never applied the most important political lesson Bubba himself learned: He who controls the bond markets, wins. Collective or group politics hasn’t gotten blacks much of anything over the past 50 years, but a collective, focused targeting of the bond markets just might.

Yes, there are a few “here and there” types posting on LinkedIn about how well their panel discussions are going and how many awards they are receiving from some social justice warrior group, but the masses are not winning because most of the cream is staying in the cups on the top.

What Mr Clinton realized back in 1994 was that re-election hinged on a happy bond market. Maintaining an economy with low interest rates meant increases in asset prices leading to higher valued collateral upon which more credit could be issued.

Now imagine if 13% of the American population were able to take a 13% position in the bond market. The potential shock waves that synchronized buying and selling would cause would have policy makers asking that group, “Hey! What do you want?”
Blacks wouldn’t need another “get out and vote drive” ever again. The Montgomery bus boycott would pale in significance.

Unfortunately, the inside the box, plantation mentality of partisan politics, especially as orchestrated by liberals, keeps blacks in “Massa ain’t gave me permission yet” mindset. I am seeing cracks in that narrative, but there is still more work to be done….

“You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?” — William Jefferson Clinton

“I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or as a .400 baseball hitter. But now I would like to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.” — James Carville

Representative democracy has failed black people in America

The growth of political capitalists …

Representation means nothing if the spoils of society are not being delivered for each vote provided by citizens.  Black voters in particular are interested in optimal physical safety, a need stemming from violence perpetrated on them during the Jim Crow era; optimal access to capital, without which economic security is near impossible or very difficult; and the right to exist as a unique and thriving culture.

What I see being exchanged for each vote delivered by black citizens is the acquisition of a title by one or two elected representatives.  Representative democracy has created political capitalism, where owners of the political factors of political output are not creating political outcomes that address protecting uniqueness of black society, optimal black economic security, or optimal protection from violence.  Government, rather, is a feeding trough for black political representatives, with the number of voters they can persuade to vote for their party serving as the tickets for admission to the political feeding spots.

Government as a club you swing, not a club you join …

Blacks should not look at government as a club to send their smoothest talking salesman to.  Rather, blacks should look at government as a club that can be swung in order to generate capital access, physical security, and economic empowerment.  The outcomes should be a result of pressure politics.  This means that black political leadership should not be found embedded in the political machinery.  Black political leadership should be manipulating the political machinery from the outside.

Blacks in America need only go back to 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, vacated the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, holding that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional.  This major landmark civil rights action did not flow from the efforts of black members of Congress.  There were hardly any.  This ruling was the result of blacks taking alternative action in the courts, an approach that was focused and targeted on, in my opinion, the most important branch of government.  It is here where the social and public policy goals of law are interpreted and in some cases, where current social policy is brought to light and used to overturn precedent.

Creative chaos versus status quo ….

When black representatives allow themselves to be embedded in the current electoral structure, their priorities shift to satisfying congressional leadership and mining votes for their national parties.  These activities serve the interests of a majority white congressional leadership versus the black constituents black representatives are supposed to be advocating for.  Take for example U.S. Representative Al Green’s attempt to bring forward articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.  The articles were blocked by the House with Mr. Green, Democrat of Texas, not being able to bring the majority of his own party on board with the proposal.

Mr. Green’s actions were in keeping with the status quo of congressional politics.  But did his actions result in any benefits for black constituents?  Did they lead to an increase in physical or economic security?  Did they lead to increased influence of blacks in the national Democratic Party?

What is likely is that Mr. Green lost political capital and as a political capitalist he must realize that a decreased ability to bring voters with him to the trough means lessened prestige in the Congress.  The other issue he has to face is how his constituents will deal with the knowledge that their congressman has wasted scarce political capital on a go nowhere initiative all because being embedded in the machinery creates the obligation of delivering outcomes that don’t serve them.

Conclusion: Representative democracy is failing blacks …

Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.

The question is, what is the alternative approach?