Tag Archives: capital

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.

We own our thoughts. They are the last frontier…

A few days ago, a colleague and I had a brief conversation on colonization. How was it that the European was able to take over a large land mass and extract its natural and human resources so brutally and without effective resistance?  My colleague’s answer: “Once your mind is taken over, everything else falls.”

Thought, in my opinion, is the ultimate form of capital.  Every man-made construct around you emanates from it.  In a society so fixated on the physical act, it is easy to overlook the role of thought.  We don’t admit it, but we have relegated thought to the back burner, often times disparagingly.  “Instead of talking, why don’t you do something about it!” “Actions speak louder than words!”  Daphne, after all, caught more eyes than Velma.

The artificial physicality that western man has managed to lay all over significant portions of Earth have served, like Daphne, to distract us from more use of our cognitive or reflective skills.  Technology, innovation, the distraction economy, and ensuing and increased consumerism have eviscerated our capacity to think critically and severely reduced the time to sit down and reflect.

For example, I mentioned the distraction economy.  Social media companies have leveraged technology to extract more of the precious resource of time, contributing to changes in our ability to express ourselves in long form or our inability to pay attention for the extended period of time necessary for critical thinking.  We need more Velma time.

Distractions lay at the heart of colonizing the mind.  While social media has been taking a lot of heat lately for its use as a medium for spreading “fake news”, traditional media shares as much blame for creating narratives designed to sensationalize events and capture attention versus simply educating and creating a forum for outside-the-box thinking.

Protecting our “thought capital” from these growing incursions is especially necessary for blacks in America.  Blacks in America have little in terms of productive capital.  Blacks in America have more “creative capital.”  I won’t go through a laundry list here as to black contribution to the arts and entertainment.  I would like to see more recognition of black contribution to the development of applied sciences and how blacks are using applied sciences to directly impact their communities.

My more important point is that this creative capital cannot be further nurtured and leveraged for black consumption if our main engine, the mind and the thoughts that flow in and through it, are bombarded by distractions. In addition, we should support public policy that protects our intellectual property and artistic works as this “thought capital” becomes more important in a world that grows more dependent on knowledge.

We own our thoughts and should own the residuals that flow from them.  Our thoughts are the last and first frontier.