Insight News

Friday
Mar 27th

Commentary

Stimulating African American Economic Development: Lessons from GM 


President Barack Obama reached another significant milestone on the long difficult road toward economic recovery when General Motors (GM) recently launched one of the largest initial public offerings (IPO) in American history.  I believe that the proper stimulus investment in the African American business community will also bring a much-needed economic recovery.


To the astounded pseudo-economists and near-sighted politicians who vociferously criticized President Obama for using federal stimulus funds to reorganize and stabilize GM, the fact is the stimulus worked.  The investment of taxpayers’ dollars worked to save GM jobs and to catalyze a financial rebirth of GM.  Now as a result, in Detroit and in other cities where GM and the automotive industry is based, there is an increase in the opportunity to regain some of the jobs and businesses that went under when GM went down.  The nation’s biggest automaker in very heavy trading closed its first day on its return to Wall Street at $34.19-a share price.  Billions of dollars were raised.  President Obama stated, “We are finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions that we make in the midst of crisis pay off.”

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And yet love exists

Dr. Maya Angelou is a gracious, wise, and witty woman who has been an absolute treasure to our nation and our world.  I just learned that she will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving.  Of all the things that Dr. Angelou has accomplished, I am most impressed by her ability to radiate optimism even in pessimistic times and to teach about “the courage to love.”  

I am fortunate to have her as an advisor, sister, friend and board member at Bennett College for Women.  So often, I have had the blessing of sitting at her feet and receiving phenomenal words of advice and guidance.   My dear friend, Robby Gregg, shared a thanksgiving message from Dr. Angelou that motivates this column:


"I'm grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, 
For being able to taste, for appreciating love - for knowing that it exists in a 
world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists. 
I'm grateful to know that it exists."
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Blacks who are turning things around

Ford Motor Company has had a successful business turnaround.  The century-old corporation’s rebound is a great American story in which Blacks played pivotal roles.  The way Ford went from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006 to a $2 billion profit in three years is an African-American success story.

Black Americans’ economic history is intertwined with that of automobile production. As consumers and/or workers Blacks played a role in Ford’s turnaround.  Starting a century ago Ford has helped build the country’s economy and middle-class and made history advancing agendas of African Americans.  So, it’s important to note roles African Americans are playing at Ford and its success.  Black American leaders of note are impressed with ways Ford Motor Company’s Group Vice President of Global Purchasing Tony K. Brown “turned Ford around”.
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E3: Education, employment, & economic development

E3: Education, employment, & economic developmentNow that the political dust from the 2010 mid-term election has settled and the veils have been lifted, it is back to the stark realities of the challenges that face this nation, but moreover our community. Exit polls nationwide voiced people’s cry for an end to high unemployment rates, replaced post-haste with the creation of meaningful-wage jobs that lead people to self-sufficiency. No matter the political party banner one chooses to wave, nor whether or not you chose to be a responsible citizen by voting, in the final analysis, all roads lead right back to the power of E3: education, employment and economic development.

An article entitled “America in Crisis,” notes that the October 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed positive employment trends. However, considering the current levels of job creation, it will take 20 years simply to return back to December 2007 employment levels. It is suggested that at a minimum, 127,000 jobs need to be created per month to keep abreast of population growth and to keep unemployment hovering at just 9.6%. Unfortunately, these figures do not include the ranks of the under-employed, those who have given up searching for a job, or those who have extinguished all of their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
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Protect elderly patients

Protect elderly patientsAn elderly person should be able to spend time with their families and enjoy life in a way they couldn’t when they were younger and working full time. They certainly should not be worried whether or not the medical care they receive will, at best, cause an adverse reaction that was completely avoidable or, in a worst case scenario, kill them. Unfortunately, that is the reality for Medicare recipients around this country: in a recently released study, it was reported that, in just one month, a projected 15,000 hospitalized Medicare patients died because they received less than quality care.

Around 40 million Americans receive Medicare, a federally-funded program that provides health insurance coverage to people aged 65 or over. The Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s new report has revealed that there is an alarmingly high risk for medical malpractice within the program. According to the study, 1 in 7 Medicare patients who are hospitalized are harmed by - and ultimately die because of - medical treatment they receive.
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More Black Republicans?

In the aftermath of the November 2010 election I found myself wondering about a statement that I kept hearing:  in 2010 there were more Black Republicans running for office in the South than at any time since Reconstruction.

I think that we have arrived at a moment when we need a ‘time out.’  Let’s be very clear on a few things.  The Black Republicans who ran for (and won) office during the period of Reconstruction (1865-1877) were, by and large, individuals who were fighting to expand democracy, including the rights of the poor.  They were fighting against any and all forms of racist oppression.  These were individuals, for instance, who fought for the introduction of free public education, but also in many cases, for the rights of workers.  These were not individuals who sided with the rich and the powerful, but they were those who saw in Reconstruction a moment in the history of the USA when democracy could come to represent more than a platitude.
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Politics and the economy

African Americans play major roles in running America’s governments.  But, many among the nation’s Black American population, holding “good government jobs”, likely will be negatively impacted by the Republicans coming to Congress.   In November American voters said that they want the public sector spending spree to end.  To save America, the new Congress will have to: cut the budget, reduce spending, and shrink the size of government – of which, federal government employees are a big target.  At least a ten percent reduction in government spending is necessary as a means of reigning in the out-of-control national debt.  The truth Black voters must admit is that Barack Obama has brought back burdening Big Government.  Brother Barack heads a 2.2 million federal work force, the largest in modern history.
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