Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I just needed to get this off my chest: A pox on black leadership

I am a retired finance professor who loves history. One question is does history matter? Of course you will answer yes. So the next question is why? Perhaps the vital reason is that it gives us a sense of purpose and a sense of pride in ourselves. Abraham Lincoln was a great president. Not because he freed the slaves - which he didn't do actually - but because he was precisely the right leader of the country at its most trying time. Yet Lincoln stated that blacks would never be the equal of whites. Well we showed him, didn't we? Lincoln was wrong but given the tenor of the times, who can blame him for that assessment? Let me re-phrase that: Lincoln was wrong but our black leaders would have us believe that he was right. This must be the case, for how else do you explain their moaning about the plight of blacks in America?
Studing ethnic groups is revealing. One realizes that different groups develop a sense of well being as a result of the establishment of business enterprise. Note that I did not say that these groups develop a sense of well being as a result of the establishment of political power. There are numerous cases in which minorities succeed economically but not politically. There are cases in which they succeed politically but not economically. However, in this latter case, few develop a sense of well being. I often ask blacks in major cities with black mayors if they are better off now with black rule. Usually the answer is no but they feel better knowing that black politicians are just as incompetent as white ones.
You see part of our problem is in the interpretation of events. Remember the story about the glass of water. Some people say that it is half full while others say that it is half empty. The problem with blacks in America is that for whatever reason, we are told to perceive the glass as being half empty. The policies of the government are based on emptiness in us rather than our fullness. The poor are an industry and it is profitable and logical to keep the poor poor in order to assure the well being of those who profit from that industry. And I'm not talking about "big business" either. I'm talking about social workers, poverty administrators and those persons who see that the poor receive only 37 percent of the total money allocated in poverty programs. This encourages an image of negativism rather than positivism. We subsidize failue in this country. If a person is failing, then give him money. We do not reward success. The single mother in the ghetto who sends her kids to school, who imposes values on them, who keeps them off of drugs and protects them from gang violence and who works hard should get the subsidy not the failures.
I]I accept all the statistics others give about the poor. However,Ii have some numbers for you. In 2009 we spent $533 billion on “income security”. Of these monies about $200 billion went to the poor in housing assistance, food assistance and other income security programs. If there are 30 million poor then thats about $7,500 per person or $30,000 a year for a family of four. We are spending enough each year to make the poor middle class. Do you know that the standard of living of america's poor is higher than that of the average european or japanese? You see its how we count income. Transfer payments (welfare) are not counted as income. So consider this, 62 percent of our poor households own cars and 75,000 poor households own homes worth over $300, 000.
Generally black facts are presented in a half-empty mentality. However, why is it that Asians are praised for their industriousness when they are also a people of small shopkeepers yet blacks are chastised? Koreans own mom and pop stores. Vietnamese push carts. They are considered smart. Blacks do the same and are ridiculed. When I lived in Washington D.C. its mayor, who was black NS knoqn drug user sought to enjoin another black from operating a business of push cart shoe shiners in DC because the mayor felt it was demeaning. If the owner were a Vietnamese, the mayor probably would have praised him and bemoaned the fact that a black didn't have the same initiative.
This is nothing new. When the history of black enterprise is examined it is done so in a negative fashion. However, there is a strong tradition of black enterprise and entrepreneurship in this country since the 1700s. It should be applauded not ignored.
Lets talk for a moment about other groups. Catholics, a traditionally oppressed group in Europe, did not develop a tradition of enterprise. Yet it was a tendency for groups which had been treated unequally to develop business enterprise in order to gain economic stability. Why didn't the catholics. It was because of their religion which thought that usury - the charging of interest - was a sin. Business could not therefore be fostered. On the other hand, judaism had no such limitation which is why the major bankers in europe are jewish and not catholic. The jews being traditionally oppressed and often not allowed to own property instead invested in their children. Thus, the high proportion of professionals among the jews. When they could own property, they experienced the growth in business enterprise.
modern black mythology, often invented by our so-called leaders, constantly refers to the lack of a strong business tradition among blacks. This is false. W.e.b. dubois published the negro in business in 1898. Henry milton's early history of negroes in business in philadelphia which told of black entrepreneurship in the 1700s was published in 1913 as was abram harris' the negro as capitalist.
blacks in philadelphia and in durham north carolina had a sense of economic stability and provided capital for business enterprises. Few other racial groups have as strong a tradition of self-help than blacks. These institutions developed into banking and insurance enterprises from the strong base provided by benevolent societies and churches.
durham has been a economic enclave for blacks. At the turn of the century scholars analyzed the business spirit of blacks in durham as they analyze the cuban-american spirit in miami today. Black businesses in durham are still vital. Durham does not bemoan the fact that its black bank is one-fiftieth the size of bank of america or that its insurance company doesn't compete globally with prudential. They are positive in their assessment not negative. Do you know that the 40,000 blacks in durham have more wealth than do the million blacks who live in chicago. Why? The answer lies in the business tradition of durham and the lack of one in chicago.
why not a more positive outlook. It is easy, too easy to blame it all on whites. But in large part its our own fault. The study condemning black banks was conducted by a black. Black students do not boast of their academic achievements at school. Why not encourage academic accomplishments? Lets give "a" students starter jackets for academic excellence. We give them to our athletes. Lets emulate the building societies of old by having our churches encourage their members to give an extra amount per week for scholarships for the needy. Currently affirmative action helps those who least need it. What do you expect of a government program? Affirmative action is a subsidy for the black middle class. If we want to help the poor then we must do it ourselves.
i have conducted research on lending discrimination for the past 20 years. Its now a topic of vogue. The latest data are purported in the press and by social activists to show that blacks are being discriminated by banks against because their rejection rates are higher than those of whites. Using the same logic one would conclude that whites are discriminated against as well because their rejection rates are higher than those of asians. So i guess the asians must be the ones in power and are the ones doing the discriminating. Right?
of course not. Asians are different from the rest of us. But then too are blacks from the west indies who are economically akin to asians. What is the common denominator here? Its that these groups value education, strong families, and capitalism.
We are ill served by black intellectuals and our spokesmen. I am looking forward to the day when we have no spokesmen. Who speaks for the jews? Who speaks for the Asians? Who speaks for the hispanics? Who is the white spokesman? In the main, black scholars are not comfortable analyzing the black business tradition. Black scholars almost uniformly condemn the black middle class. It is almost a sin to be middle class and black in america. Black scholars tend to be socialists rather than capitalists. That is to our detriment. We are left therefore with apologists who blame every ill on racism and demand more handouts rather seeking positive solutions.
I believe that it is difficult to substantiate a claim that institutional racism exists in America. I do not believe that corperate america is racist, or our universities, our banks, or our society. Yes racism exists on an individual level but to elevate that to the society is the fallacy of composition. If you want to see a racist society look at Sri Lanka, look at Dafur, look at much of Africa. Look at Libya. Do we look like those places? Don't be ridiculous.
There is a black middle class and they are properly heroes. There is a continuing middle class tradition. They support higher education, have a strong respect for black institutions and educate their children. They support and belong to benevolent societies, and in integrated settings they continue to belong to institutions which were created in the old atmosphere of racial segregation. They may be looked upon as conservative. So be it. But they carry the old values which for all our sake must be carried forward to their children and their children's children.
It is vitally important that today we build on the business acumen of our foreparents. It is time to practice self help rather than be dependent on the government dole. It is time to strive to eliminate those policies that prevent us from helping ourselves. And they are many. It is time to preach self-help to ourselves and to our youth. Do not look to the government for it helps us at our peril..
Also, America owes us less than we owe it. Those who say differently and "demand" reparations are simply trying to take advantage of white guilt. As they say here in East Tennessee, that dog won't hunt. Anyway, we have reparations aplenty. Consider CRA, certification by the SBA of minority firms to get federal contracts worth $4.4 billion without competitive bids, defense department setasides of $3 billion, FCC race preferences on buying radio and tv stations, labor department monitoring of federal contracts which carry with them hiring and promotion quotas, RTC contracts to steer work to minorities, agriculture department grants, energy department loans, justice department grants, state department contracts, transportation contracts. Reparations aplenty.
As to afrocentricity, one student told me that the whites stole mathematics from the Africans (as if Africans are a monolith). I said thats interesting. If I steal your car, its gone and you no longer have possession of it. If whites steal my mathematics, then I would have still have the knowledge. So what happened to the knowledge? Are we then apologizing to ourselves for our documented lack of academic achievements by saying our knowledge was "stolen"? By the way, the dramatic decline in black male college students is going to radically change our culture. Another student was wearing a t shirt that depicted blacks in chains with the caption "we didn't ask to come here." I said, "but aren't you glad" and she said "damn right." When my daughter, inspired by Alex Haley's Roots was wondering about ours, I told her that some things were left best uncovered. I reminded her that our ancestors both black and white were losers. The black losers were captured by other black Africans and sold to whites. The strong and winners actually marveled that anyone (read dumb whites) would want to buy their flotsam. Our white ancestors were losers as well being indentured servants brought over in chains from England. Tom Sowell describes this marvellously in his “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”. I told her to wonder at the transformation of that dross into her kin, highly educated, professionals all. Such is the wonder of America where the descendants of the slaves teach the descendants of the owners. Such is the power of democracy. Such is the opportunity of capitalism. Spread the word.

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