Thursday, December 30, 2010

The first day

My university is celebrating 50 years of desegregation and asked me to supply them a vignette to be published along with others on the first years of desegregation. Here is what I sent.

The First Day
Harold A. Black
Growing up in the segregated south, I had never had a conversation with a white person until I arrived on the Georgia campus with my father for an interview. The university had insisted in its desegregation suit that it had never denied admission on the basis of race, it had just not received an application from a qualified black. We all knew that was a lie as evidenced by the academic and professional achievements of previous blacks who had been rejected for admission. The application form had race on it, called for a picture (as if they didn’t know the race of an applicant from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta) and an interview of instate applicants. My interview was in Athens because the Atlanta interview date on my letter had already passed before the postmark. So my Dad and I went to Athens where we were subjected to the most amazing interview (I won’t identify the administrator). He did not shake our hands or ask us to be seated. He asked why I wanted to come to the university since I was not wanted. He then used the “N” word. We got up and left. Dad said, “well I guess you will have to go somewhere else.” Instead, one week later I received a letter with a red and black border that said “Inside is your admission to the University of Georgia”. We never figured out why I was accepted.
When we arrived at Reed Hall where all freshmen men were housed, we walked into a crowded lobby and it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. When we arrived at the desk, the house mother said “You must be the Blacks.” Indeed we were. We were shown a room with a single bed. Mom said “Is he the only colored boy?” Yes ma’am. When we got back to the car Mom said “get in. We’ll come back for your stuff but you are not going back in there.” I told her that since I was there I might as well stay. Dad opined that perhaps the university had accepted only one black male and if he were harmed or left because of harassment, they could show that they were rejecting blacks for their own safety. In any event, I certainly was not made to feel welcome. The bookstore initially refused to sell me textbooks, I had to show an ID to be served in the cafeteria and the first time I went swimming on campus, they kicked everyone out the pool and drained it.
That night we had a dorm meeting and when I walked into the auditorium I was determined not to sit in the back (it was back of the bus days) so I walked down the aisle with growing silence behind me. I finally picked out a row and sat down. Everyone on the row got up and moved (this became a common experience since no one sat on the same row in my classes for the first two years). The four guys sitting directly in front of me, turned around to see what the commotion was all about and said “You are a freshman?” “Yes”. “Well we are too, can we sit with you?” These became my closest friends from the very first day. They introduced me to their other friends and Westminster House where I could study in peace. They encountered more harassment than I – even though my windows were broken every night and my room set on fire twice. Yet they never wavered in their friendship. It was as if God said “Harold sit there.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Speaking of racism, have you noticed how the charge of racism has become the last desperate charge of those devoid of ideas? Conservatives are charged of being racist by liberals because conservatives have won the battle of ideas. Liberals charge the Tea Party as racist in order to try to discredit their positions. MSNBC and the like say that Tea Partiers are racist because they are against Obama. Oh contraire, they are against Obama's policies. Consider: are the Obama supporters racist because they support him because he is black? Huh? My niece who is a liberal professor is encountering some difficulties within her department and says that "they are tea partiers with hoods". Actually my dear niece, they are liberal professors doing what liberal professors always do - practicing racism. Just because you are good at what you do is not enough. Liberal professors do not appreciate arrogant, smart, take it or leave it, abrasive, uppity black women (or black men for that reason) although they themselves are prima donas. I think it is ironic that the most racist institutions I know of are the most liberal - university faculties and Hollywood. Remember when Halle Berry won her oscar and stammered that she never thought she would live to see the day when a black actress won? And this is the liberal crowd. Everyone knows they are racist in front of and behind the cameras - yet few acknowledge it. They are liberal in all their views and positions except when it comes to their own personal and professional lives. The same is true with universities. I have encountered more racism at universities than I have outside. Faculties are generally lily white and if they hire blacks, typically it is at the lowest ranks with tenure and promotion forthcoming less often than similarly situated whites. Yet university faculties are 95 percent liberal. I know faculty who vote liberal, support liberal causes, spout liberal platitudes yet would not go into the ghetto to live, to tutor or send their kids to public schools if it means sending their kids to a majority black or hispanic school. All liberals I know and know of are statist. They want to impose their views on the masses and think they know what is best for everyone. Conservatives generally believe that the individual - regardless of status - know what is best for themselves. Personally, I hold most liberals in contempt. Do you?


So who are you afraid of? Its always someone or something. Remember when we were afraid of the Japanese? They were supposed to out produce us, our innovate us, make better products, have a huge trade surplus to our huge trade deficit. Books were written comparing their industries to ours and what we should do to emulate them. They held our debt and owned us. They had a superior economic system. Soon our children would have to speak Japanese. So what happened? None of it turned out to be true. Now we have the Chinese boogyman. Just substitute "China" for "Japan" above. Boo! Should we emulate China? Hardly. It is a country with a population of 1.3 billion, yet its GDP is only $5 trillion. In contrast, US population is 307 million and US GDP is $13 trillion. China has serious problems with its economic growth being uneven, with the benefits mostly not reaching most of the population. It is statist which inhibits its growth. Want to really be afraid? Look around the world. In everywhere but China, the Chinese are capitalists and merchants. As I tell my Chinese students, if China got rid of that silly communist stuff, it would then really be a power to reckon with. Well what about China owns us? Yes I have seen that really stupid commercial about the Chinese lecturing an audience of students talking about the downfall of the US because the Chinese bought all the US debt. What utter nonsense. First off the Chinese are the third or fourth largest holder of US debt. They flip with the Japanese. Here is the top ten: 10. US insurance companies 9. US depositories 8. the UK 7. state and local governments 6. pension funds 5. mutual funds 4. Japan 3. China 2. US investors 1. The Fed. By the way the Fed holds over $5 trillion of the $14 trillion of debt and the Chinese (and Japanese) hold "only" $880 billion. These numbers do not frighten me. Own the US - hardly. Have you thought why the Chinese own US debt? Well what are they going to do with the money we pay them for their goods? Buy US goods? They are the world's second largest importer (behind the US). Those dollars that they hold must come back to the US either by buying goods and services or buying US stocks, bonds and debt. In any event, those dollars are used in the US and support US GDP. Only a fool (or xenophobe) or politician preying on racist fears would want this to stop. Fear the Chinese, how about fear the Fed? Boo!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just say no

January 15 is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (and my son's as well as the anniversary of the first Super Bowl). I have been asked to keynote the celebration at the University of Tennessee as well as UT's observance of 50 years of desegregation. I have also been asked to speak at my alma mater's celebration at the University of Georgia. Speaking at Georgia is appropriate since I am that university's first black male freshman. I came late to appreciating Martin Luther King. Having grown up in that era and participating in its events, I looked upon King as just another civil rights leader. It was only when I read Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters did I began to grasp the singular importance of King. I had always wondered why the civil rights movement did not turn into an armed conflict. In the south, we all had guns so why didn't we use them? It was the power of King's personality and his devotion to Ghandi's nonviolence that resulted in blacks turning the other cheek and letting the spectacle of white violence shift national public opinion. In that spirit, I would like to see the same type of nonviolent protest on government mandated healthcare. To date 35 state legislatures have either passed resolutions or laws banning federal mandated healthcare. Also a judge in Virginia has ruled it unconstitutional. Moreover, AGs from 21 states have filed suit against the federal government over this provision. Polls show that the majority of Americans oppose the mandate. But what if the Supreme Court rules it is constitutional? Then I propose that we Americans just say no. Although we are law biding citizens, it does not necessarily follow that we must obey the law blindly. What if we opted not to buy the insurance and do so on a nationwide basis? Could the federal government dare enforce it? I think not. It would be helpful if the republicans in congress would also encourage massive civil disobedience. If they cannot defund the legislation or repeal it, then they should help lead the public to refuse to follow the mandate. In the absence of national leadership on this issue, what is needed is the rise of another Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead the way in just saying no.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The tax deal

Wasn't the president's tax deal with the Republicans one of the most curious bits of theater you've seen recently. He said at his press conference that he was being held hostage (presumably calling the Republicans terrorists) and had to cave in and give tax "cuts" to the "wealthy" in order to get tax "cuts" for everyone else. Wow. What a novel idea to actually give tax relief to those who actually pay most of the taxes! Anyway, it is not a tax "cut". Bush cut the taxes and Obama is not letting them rise to their old levels (for now). Along with the tax "cut" is a two percent cut in payroll taxes paid by the employee for two years. Supposedly this is to help jump start the economy. It won't rather it will just slow down the slide. Consumers in recessions pay down debt and so do businesses. Until they do so and until the housing market recovers we will be in a slow growth mode. Also no one is going to seriously consider altering buying and investing with just two years worth of relief. If Obama were truly serious, he would make all the changes permanent. Lastly, the president continues to amaze me in how he is such a bad politician. His performance belies the avowed intellectual superiority of an ivy league education. Heretofore, the only dolt we were told with degrees from Harvard and Yale was George Bush. Does Obama really think we believe that he caved because he did not have the votes because of Republican solidarity? Did he forget that he still has the lame duck congress with his super democrat majorities in both the house and the senate? Who is he kidding. Instead of being long faced, he should have been enthusiastic and embraced the ideas as his own. That would have been the first step into morphing into Bill Clinton and getting re-elected in 2012. Instead he continues to be Jimmy Carter, destined for a one term presidency.

Harold Black's Laws

Russ asked me for my laws. Here they are. Comments are always welcomed. Just like my axioms of the hunt, I would appreciate hearing what yours are.

1. Any law worth circumventing will be.
2. Any law passed during crisis is a bad law.
3. Harold Black’s second law also applies to most laws passed when there is no crisis.
4. If something fails the market test and exists only because of the government, it is bad.
5. If it is mandated it is bad.
6. If it is subsidized, it is bad.
7. If it is protected, it is bad.
8. Any person desiring to hold public office can’t be trusted.
9. The only laws that politicians repeatedly seek to repeal are the laws of supply and demand.
10. The reason why politicians who are generally fairly intelligent people (with a few well known notable exceptions) make such stupid and harmful decisions is that they are not guided by the profit motive.
11. Politicians are smart enough to exempt themselves from many of their own laws.
12. Electing presidents who have never faced budget constraints seldom end well.
13. Regulators, faceless bureaucrats and congressional staffers are the most dangerous people in the country. They are seldom if ever held accountable. They write the legislation and the enabling regulations. They never get fired. They never answer to the consequences. Instead, they get pay raises, six figure salaries, lavish benefits and essentially tenure.
14. Bureaucracies create their on special interest groups and are self serving.
15. If government agencies were put to the market test, most would be out of business. Case in point: the Department of Education fails to increase educational achievement and is only a slush fund. The Department of Energy has failed to address energy independence and is only a slush fund for Al Gore and the greenie weenies.
16. If a law does not have unintended consequences, then it was not worth passing.
17. Ads that say hurry because the product is limited must think we are fools. If it were unlimited then we would all have been killed by it.
18. I never want to know whatever it is that ads that claim they are telling us that someone "does not want us to know" wants us to know.
19. Whoever favors term limits never has seen the California legislature.
20. The purpose of the tax code is to reward some and to punish others: the collection of revenue is of secondary imporantance.
21. Murphy was an optimist.

Why I hate basketball

Once I actually enjoyed basketball - professional and college. Now I don't watch either although I did suffer through my loved Georgia Bulldogs squeaking one out against the once hated Georgia Tech North Avenue Trade School. Did I say suffer a victory? Yes. It pains me to watch what now passes for basketball. It is mostly one on one clear out drive the lane try to dunk and get on Sports Center. I hate all the tattoos as well. Why these kids glorify prison culture is beyond me. Georgia and Georgia Tech both shot less than 30 percent from 3 point range - yet they kept shooting. Neither could shoot free throws - Georgia missing two at the end that could have put the game away. It was a parody of what was once a beautiful game - look at the old film of John Wooden's UCLA teams to see what I mean.I was wondering if you recruited a team that could actually shoot rather than just dunk would you have more success? The answer is obviously yes - as Butler and Duke in last year's championship game attests. Few few tattoos, great teamwork, no poster dunks and no beating one's own chest - another thing I hate about today's sports. Of course the pro game is worse. Virtually everyone is covered with tattoos, has pierced ears, goes one on one and can't shoot. By the way, would you please explain to me why a dark skinned black guy would get a tattoo? It looks like his arm is dirty and he just needs a bath. I bet Red Auerbach's Boston Celtics could beat any of today's teams. The only throwback team is the San Antonio Spurs. You have got to have loved David Robinson and now his somewhat fading successor Tim Duncan - although even Duncan has a tattoo peaking out of the back of his jersey. So if there is nothing better to do - and I mean nothing - I will turn on a game and pull for the team that looks the most human. However it is generally the case that I can't stand what is now a caricature of a once great game played by incredibly athletic people who somehow can only shoot 50 percent from the free throw line. One person I know and respect and his wife have left the men's game and have become huge Lady Vol fans buying season tickets, going to big road games and always going to the championship tournament. They say that the women's game is like basketball once was with passing, teamwork, team defense, few tattoos and less bravado. That may be true but even in the land of truly great women's basketball I cannot look at it. They may be better shooters but ironically they miss too many layups and are less athletic than the men. So I guess I will just suffer withdrawal until catchers and pitchers report for baseball's spring training.

OK so I was wrong

I am bitter about very few things. However, I am bitterly disappointed that one of my predictions made during the 1960s was wrong. I thought that as a product of voters rights that the educational achievement of black kids would increase dramatically. When I was growing up in Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement, blacks made up over 50 percent of the school age population but only had 6 of the 20 or so high schools in Atlanta. So our schools were big. We had horrible facilities, used textbooks with white school's names on them and no scientific equipment in the labs. However, we had terrific teachers. Back in those days, teaching was a well paying job for a black college graduate and we had tons of male teachers too. Now the colleges of education at our universities are the place where the poorest performing students matriculate and our public schools are loaded with incompetent, poorly educated teachers. I digress. I thought that once we got the vote, we would elect city officials and school boards who cared about educating our children. You see I thought that the reason why black kids got shafted was because white officials who got elected by running on a racist platform were actively discriminating against blacks. Well it was true. So we got the vote, the whites fled the city, we voted the bums out and put in place a black mayor, city council and school board. And what happened? Educational achievement went down! Why? First better jobs opened up for black college graduates. Teacher's standards eroded as well as accountability. My beloved mother who taught second grade for 40 years started complaining about the quality of the teachers - saying they just didn't care about the kids and were unprofessional in their dress and behavior. The teacher's unions became a political force and the politicians began to be manipulated and sometimes bribed.

What became ironic is that the only politicians who seemed to care were the Republicans at the time led by the late Jack Kemp who pushed for vouchers and now charter schools - both of which demonstrated higher achievements among black urban kids than the public schools. Of course both have been derided and panned by liberal democrats and their black lackeys. Well vouchers work. Charter schools work. What we need is a market solution to the problem of low achievements in education. The market would not tolerate a system that is so bankrupt, so corrupt and so poor that damages and destroys our children. Most urban parents are not equipped to home school their kids so that is not an option. However, charter schools like the Harlem Success Academy and like Chicago's Urban Prep show a startling juxtaposition of the same kids from the same environment having radically different academic results. It is a national shame that we have allowed our education system to become so woeful. In a market system, those schools would have be put out of business and their teachers and administrators fired or put in jail. Instead, they have been rewarded with ever increasing salaries, benefits, pensions and tenure. So in an earlier blog when I wrote "Why do democrats hate black kids?" I meant every word. I also include among that number the black leaders of the teacher's unions, Jesse Jackson - who sent his kids to ritzy prep schools - Al Sharpton and every so-called black leader and civil rights organization that remains silent rather than making this the number one issue in black America.

Only something this stupid could come from Washington

I have written before that burning our food as fuel was one of the world's dumbest ideas. The only reason we use ethanol is due to Iowa having one of the first presidential primaries. If that weren't the case, no national politician would care about Iowa. However, as it is now constructed the farm vote is vital early on. Ethanol confirms three of Harold Black's laws "If it is mandated, its bad". "If it is subsidized, it is bad" and "If it is protected, it is bad". That is, if it fails the market test, then it is simply wasteful. Ethanol is mandated to be mixed with gasoline by the government. Supposedly this is to reduce the dependency on foreign oil. But, ethanol is less efficient, burns hotter, damages engines, more expensive to use and to produce and is more harmful to the environment. On top of all that, we burn up our food raising food costs to boot. Studies have reported that US food prices have increased by over $15 billion annually due to ethanol consumption. That is because corn is feed to livestock as well as to people. There is even a report by the World Bank that said that US energy policy has led to food riots around the world by increasing the costs of our exported corn as more gets burned at the pump. We even impose tariffs on the importation of ethanol to make Brazilian ethanol too costly to use domestically - at least the Brazilians burn sugarcane. Let me digress for a second. One of my fondest memories is my parents bringing home sugarcane for us to chew. We loved it! I guess that was one of the casualties of the Cuban embargo. By the way, this was just another example of the bad policy actions taken by George Bush who signed the law mandating a five-fold increase in the amount of ethanol mixed with gasoline. Well now there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel (and hopefully it is not a train). Where else would the right and the left agree on anything? But 17 Senators including Diane Feinstein and John Kyl have called ethanol (according to the Wall Street Journal) "economically unwise" and "fiscally indefensible". Even more revealing the aforementioned senators even cite in a sense the three Harold Black's laws when they point out that ethanol may be the only product that is mandated, subsidized and protected. Glory be! If Washington actually admits that a disaster of its own making is really a disaster, perhaps the November election is paying dividends even in this lame duck congress.