Crispus

Monday, July 26, 2004

Debunking Black Socialism

Good piece over at Cobb, a blog done by a black Republican and my fellow Conservative Brotherhood member. It's in response to a representative of the Black Telephone Workers for Justice, who argues that Bill Cosby's controversial comments and his supporters - who he calls "the arrogant black bourgeoisie" - are off base and that only socialism can save black youth.

It's crap to read that racism and capitalism go hand in hand, when many of the world's most racist societies are socialist. The Arab world's silence on genocide in Sudan comes to mind. Nor are the Eurosocialist countries - with their tight immigration controls - nearly as racially diverse as America (which rankles them even more - we "inferior" mutt Americans outdo their "superior" stock on economics and power). Let's not forget that Nazism, genocidal racism, was the German National Socialist Party.

Or how, in America, Jim Crow was a statist structure designed to undercut black enterprise and those of whites who wanted to treat their black and white customers equally. It was only after the South shed its segregationist socialist ways that it stopped badly trailing the North in economic development, became prosperous, and now leads America in job and demographic growth.

It's also laughable that Ron Slim Washington argues that we should "uphold the leading role of the working class" - bemoaning that black youth aren't more rebellious against the capitalist system - when a plural majority (44%) of black Americans are now middle class! 5% are rich, only 27% are working class, and 24% of us are poor. Dude, you're about three decades behind the times! On most social and economic indicators - which Booker Rising touts on a regular basis - we're doing better than ever! By next year - for the first time ever - a majority of a black population on the planet will be majority middle-class and own our homes. This should be shouted from rooftops so loudly that even people in Uganda can hear it, but instead we've got people like Washington bemoaning that it's undermining working-classhood. They refuse to see the progress forest for the trees, because it severely undermines their argument.

And that's by U.S. standards. By world's standards, it's out of the ballpark. We even have two black billionaires, with almost 10 people - including Bill Cosby - on their way. Show me another country on the planet where blacks can toe up with our stats. And no, even Canadian blacks' stats aren't on par. Black America's GDP ($645.9 billion, with 38 million folks) is almost as large as all of Canada (with 30 million folks).

Sure, we have remaining challenges - some, big ones - but they pale in comparison with any socialist country with a sizeable number of black folks. Unlike, say, Liberia, black Americans already have capital. Our 21st challenge is to effectively channel it back into our communities.

Also, Washington fails to examine why a few of our stats have backslid, even though black communities (and America) are more socialist than in 1965? And how about how socialist societies exploit black (and other people) - by taxing them to the rafters and undermining creativity and innovation so people can get ahead in life? As others have often said, socialism instead wants everyone to share the misery.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Condi's Black Ops: Mission Accomplished

Two months ago, I wrote about "Condi's Secret Agenda." The Senate confirmed her girl Jendayi Frazer as the new U.S. ambassador to South Africa (the previous one resigned last year). Ms. Frazer was previously the national security adviser on Africa and is a former Harvard professor.

Jendayi is talking my language too, saying that helping South Africa's free trade is priority #1 for her. "The critical pillars and tools to build the business relationship are to advance talks and finalize the U.S.-SACU [South African Customs Union] Free Trade Agreement in the next six months, and to continue to support AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act]." She will also work to help its civil society and regional security issues.

Constance Newman was confirmed as assistant secretary of state for Africa, recently meeting with Liberian officials about the trade sanctions still imposed for its previous regime's brutality. She previously worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Africa program and is a former board member of the International Republican Institute.

Condi is sneaking in more high-powered, well-qualified black folks for foreign service positions. President Bush is nominating them to the U.S. Senate, which the civil rights industry overlooks. Good to see our international relations team getting more diverse.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Haiti: Ain't Learned a Thang

The global community has pledged $1 billion to help the country promote democracy and economic recovery. Donors and Haitian officials alike have vowed to learn from past mistakes. Donors blame past failures on themselves, while Haitian officials attribute it mostly to poor government under ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Two things jump out at me. Didn't Haiti already have a democracy before USA, France, and Canada got into the mix this year? Hardly a fantastic one (those 2000 parliamentary elections were suspect), but Haitians should've decided Jean-Bertrand Aristide's future, via elections. 

Two, the real blame goes to several areas: no free-market reforms, virtually no civil society, and rampant corruption. Haiti is a basket case. Its troubles precede Aristide by about 200 years. Rule of law is minimal, incentives to innovate virtually nil. This $1 billion will be totally wasted or siphoned off into somebody's Swiss bank account.

Had donors really learned from the past, they would forgo government foreign aid. Instead, they would be pushing for lower trade barriers - both in Haiti and in their countries so there is a more equitable relationship. No more giver and givee, which reinforces dependency. Focus on Haiti's competitive advantages - which are agriculture, tourism potential, and cheap unskilled labor - and go from there. Haiti's workers get more work, Western consumers get lower prices. Win-win. This is how China and India have rip-roaring economic and income growth.

I do agree with one quote in the article, "The time has come for this one-way contribution to stop," says Leonce Thelusma, former minister of economy of Haiti now living in Florida."The time has come for Haiti to offer advantages to the diaspora." Yes, instead of waiting for USA's Congressional Black Caucus to lead the way to bail it out of its mess.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The Case Against Debt Relief

Two days ago, I got an email from Africa Action asking people to contact the U.S. Treasury. Why? To call on the Bush administration to support 100% multilateral debt cancellation for poor nations. They claim that "this year alone, 3 million people in Africa will die due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Yet countries on the African continent will send an estimated $15 billion in debt service to the IMF, World Bank, and wealthy creditor nations this year."
 
What part of "loan" do people not understand? It seems like the more debt relief there is, the further the country gets into the red. Why should horrible economic management be rewarded? Why should U.S. taxpayers cover other people's bad debts? I'd also argue that it's not the debt that is harming regular folks, but kleptocratic Marxist dictators and their cronies. Let's talk about the massive millions (occasionally, even billions) that flow into Swiss bank accounts. Or used to pay off the military to keep kleptocratic elites in power.
 
What rich countries can and should do is lower their remaining trade barriers on agricultural goods. African farmers would thus have a fair shot at world markets, and there would be lower prices for Western consumers. Instead of subsidizing inefficient industries, Western countries can plug their money into what they do best and where they have a fair competitive advantage.

Increasing Intra-Africa Trade

The BBC's website has an article about how trade among African nations is too low. Such trade accounts for only 10% of their total exports and imports. The Economic Commission for Africa, which did the study, blames poor transport links among African countries. Thus, colonial-era patterns remain, with most trade still to and from former colonial powers.
 
Poor transport links are certainly a huge problem. When it costs only $1,500 to ship a car from Japan to the Ivory Coast, but $5,000 to do it from Ethiopia then that's highly problematic. However, I primarily blame other sources: high tariffs, kleptocratic governments, and political instability. Regional markets can't work when one fears that the ruler will change next week. Or when trade barriers are so high that there's no incentive to trade with one's neighbor. Or one's hard-earned dollars goes into some dictator's Swiss bank account or Paris shopping spree for his wife. As resource-rich as it is, we shouldn't read that Africa is the only world region that's no better off than 25 years ago. Shameful.
 
However, I'm optimistic. God is saving the best for last! This is a huge market for the future, since Africa's cell phone market is growing rapidly. Now, if Africa can kick those Marxist rulers to the curb and get some free-marketeers in the mix. However, this is work that only Africans, not black Americans or anyone else, must do. 

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Outsourcing Comes to Africa

Great piece in the Canadian press about how outsourcing is bringing jobs to West Africa.

Affiliated Computer Services of Texas has become one of Ghana's largest private employers. Almost 2,000 employees process U.S. health insurance claims around the clock. Senegal's political stability, low wages, infrastructure, and stock of young and educated employees is drawing French companies (which currently only outsource 2% of their work) to the country. At call centers, people have French pseudonyms and fake Parisian accents when speaking with French customers.

While still a small trend, it is a growing and good one. African college graduates have access to jobs that pay $200-$500 per week, in countries where most people don't make this money in a year. It expands the consumer markets in these countries, which can help countries like USA. Companies get qualified workers for lower costs, which will increase jobs for Africa. Countries like USA can then focus our energies on sectors where we have a competitive advantage - which is innovation. Of course, French unions are getting nervous - which is why France's economy will continue to stagnate while others grow, because it doesn't focus on what the French do best at the lowest cost.

There could be political implications for West Africa. A growing middle class increasingly demands accountability from leaders, which helps democracy and civil society. They are likelier to fight against incursions on their freedom. I hope this trend spreads to other parts of Africa.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Cosby's Libertarian Side

Bill Cosby's second round of criticisms about the attitudes and behaviors of some young blacks - six weeks after he upset the apple cart at the NAACP dinner commemorating the 50th anniversary of the landmark 'Brown v. Board of Education' decision - continues to generate controversy. However, many people have his back. There are people of various races and ideologies now clamoring for the liberal Cosby (who has a doctorate in education) to expand his comments to talk about individual and parental responsibility in America, across race and class. Booker Rising reports that his comments are now part of an education debate about 'Caribonics' in Britain.

Because he supports medium (perhaps high) government intervention in society, Cosby isn't a libertarian. However, he does have libertarian elements. One, he discusses personal responsibility. Libertarians believe the individual is the smallest unit of society, and should reap the repercussions - good or bad - of their life choices. Dr. Cosby does downplay the good stats showing reduction in teen pregnancy and crime and overplays poverty (76% of blacks aren't poor and the vast vast majority are law-abiding citizens), but his overall point remains that some folks can do even better. Cosby believes that there are certain things that government can't or shouldn't do for people, but we must do for ourselves.

Two, he focuses on how young blacks must prepare for globalization. No longer are Americans competing against each other, but now the world. Hence, Dr. Cosby is putting his doctorate to use in talking about language skills and educational achievement as a critical tool to further black advancement. Libertarians valorize the free market in generating prosperity, and that people with better skills are better able to capitalize on free markets. The world is wide open, and there are opportunities for blacks to build upon our strengths like never before.

Most importantly, Cosby puts his money where his mouth is. Not other people's money, but his own. Nor is he sitting on the sidelines talking theory, but doing nothing. Cosby has donated more than $20 million in scholarships for promising but low-income black students to attend college. He regularly forgoes his usual $150,000+-per-speech fee to raise funds so low-income high schools can acquire better equipment and teachers. He has a TV show in Philly targeting youth. This links very well with libertarians' promotion of private charity as the most effective means for social change in America, as it increases responsibility of both the giver and givee and wastes less money on bureaucracy.

What is great is that strange bedfellows are occurring. Not only are the usual black conservatives praising Dr. Cosby, but many black liberals are coming to his defense. Libertarians of all races should praise Dr. Cosby.

Muslim Free-Market Institute?

Check out this website. Founded in 1993, Minaret of Freedom Institute's goal is to show that Islam, rule of law, and free markets aren't incompatible. The U.S.-based group targets both U.S. Muslims and especially those in the Middle East. Given that a 30% of U.S. Muslims are black - although only 2% of all black Americans are Muslim - this could have some implications in black communities. Then again, the Nation of Islam has a racialist ideology but Louis Farrakan is also about black capitalism.

(Muslim website courtesy of Dissecting Leftism)

Monday, July 05, 2004

Dr. No is Talkin' Crazy

Last week, Congress hailed the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian Republican, was the only dissenter. Rep. Paul argues that the CRA didn't improve race relations or enhance individual freedom, but instead dictated "forced integration." This is where I part ways with most white libertarians. Reading this piece reminded me of comments by Michael Bowen, a black Republican, hoping that "black libertarians could neutralize some of [Libertarians'] post-modernist yuppie crap in the process." This is one of those times.

Rep. Paul acts as if there was no conflict before CRA. Did the "racial strife" & "racial balkanization" (Rep. Paul's words) caused by denial of freedom under Jim Crow mean nothing? If I met Rep. Paul, I would ask: what about blacks' individual freedom? Those of whites who wanted to associate with blacks? Here we have Jim Crow's massive human rights violations -- the state as evil oppressor, tyranny running rampant in the South -- and yet libertarian capitulation and appeasement. Why?

I would ask Rep. Paul why black taxpayers should've paid for public facilities or government activities which we couldn't access. Why blatant violation of voting rights - taxation without representation - was OK, under "states' rights." Or why it was OK for states to outlaw boycotts and civil rights groups like the NAACP, thus violating freedom of peaceful assembly. Or outlawing blacks' freedom to launch a privately-funded bus boycott, when Montgomery tried to ban cab drivers who wanted to lower their fares for the boycotters. Or passing measures to prevent insurance companies from underwriting an alternative transport system.

Jim Crow violated the 1st Amendment (freedom of association, freedom of speech), 14th Amendment (equal protection) and 15th Amendment (voting rights). Jim Crow also empowered states to interfere with the rights of Southern whites who wanted to open their businesses, etc. to blacks, as they saw fit (many tried to do so and met state and private repercussions). Isn't this initiation of force by the state, abuse of power? The Civil Rights Act, through the pre-existing interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution, enforced laws already on the books.

Rep. Paul's statement rings quite hollow to those of us whose relatives actually experienced Jim Crow. For example, my family fled Mississippi in 1923 because the Ku Klux Klan assaulted a family member, said "niggers be out of town by sundown tomorrow," and burned down our small family farm (my great-grandparents were apparently "too uppity"). Physical assault and violated private property rights (and local government wouldn't enforce the law), and yet what does Rep. Paul have to say here but "too bad." Or did "states' rights" override my family's individual freedom and private property rights because of our race and because federal government didn't do it?

Rep. Paul is also disingenuous when he tries to attach affirmative action to the Civil Rights Act. I oppose affirmative action. However, it began under a Republican administration (Richard Nixon), which he willfully overlooks. He also overlooks that the Act paved the way for Southern prosperity, since the region shed its statist ways and has since led USA in job and demographic growth. Given Gallup Poll and General Social Survey opinion polls illustrating declining racial conflict over the decades, I'm curious at how Rep. Paul concludes that racial conflict has increased.

Lack of a moral dimension for liberty is a libertarian Achilles heel and many wind up becoming apologists for imperiling the very freedom that they promote.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Independence Day, America!

228 years! Booker Rising has put up a great photo essay from 1770-now on why black Americans should celebrate Independence Day, to counteract the negativists and whiners who claim that we shouldn't do so.

Of course, I'd fail miserably if I didn't highlight the inspiration behind this website! Crispus Attucks was a slave born circa 1723 in Framingham, Massachusetts. At age 27, he ran away to Boston and became a seaman. On March 5, 1770, Attucks heard that a boy had been beaten by a British soldier with his gun. Attucks gathered 100 angry colonists and defied a group of British soldiers. He and later four other colonists were killed in the Boston Massacre. Attucks was the first death in the American Revolution, which later led to U.S. independence. Inspired by Booker Rising, I'm doing my own photo essay:

"The first to defy, the first to die" - John Boyle O'Reilly, about Crispus Attucks


Henry Pelham's 1770 portrait of Crispus Attucks in the Boston Massacre


Trial papers for the colonists' deaths. All eight British soldiers were defended by John Adams, who later became USA's second president. The U.S. patriots used the trial to demonstrate that law rather than mob rule had been maintained in Boston, and that even the "redcoats" could receive a fair trial.


U.S. flag

>
Crispus Attucks' grave


Crispus Attucks monument in Boston

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Innovation and Profit: What Education Needs Most

Heartland Institute has an enlightening interview with industrialist David Brennan, a key promoter of charter schools. Brennan argues that statist structures like the public school system have a "total inability" to effect innovation, which can only come with market forces that provide choice:

"Profit-making enterprises are recognized as the essence of our economy in every segment of our society. An education enterprise should be run like a business. The structure that supports the classroom--but not the classroom itself--should be run like a business. That means making sure expenses do not exceed revenues. The reality is that every not-for-profit activity has to be run like a business unless it has an unlimited source of contributions.

Businesses don't have that luxury. To sustain themselves, they have to operate with less expenses than revenues. If a particular enterprise can't do that, it has to shut down. No government agency has to meet, no regulation has to be approved, no law has to be passed, and no court has to rule for that to occur. It just shuts down. That efficiency is an incredibly inexpensive way to eliminate poor performers. But it's harsh. Market forces are terribly unforgiving.

Profits are misunderstood by those who object to them. Profits are nothing more than a return on investment capital. If you invest money, you should get a return on your investment. It's profit when you get interest on a savings account. A profit from a successful business is simply a reward for having put up money for it, and that would be the case with education businesses, too.

Tax dollars should follow a child to the schools of their parents' choice, not the school itself. Like Brennan says, school choice would drive reform in public education through competition. And we'd see more innovative programs in black communities -- programs tailored to our specific communities' needs -- instead of the government one-size-fits-all schools. The good news is that many blacks are challenging liberal elitists, who block black progress and desires at every turn on this issue.

Differential Learning?!

I was talking with a friend of mine, whose 7-year-old daughter is in a program for gifted children. However, it's not called a gifted program but a "differential learning" program. Apparently this is the new term, for we wouldn't want to highlight intelligent or very motivated students from everyone else. Liberalism run amok again...