Monday, September 29, 2008

Dr Boyce on Black Money 101: The Financial Crisis in America

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

1) FDR had it partially right when he said that "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." While we have other worries as well, the greatest obstacle to economic progress is the HUGE psychological impact of Americans watching the stock market plummet right in front of their faces. This is going to cause consumer spending, lending, borrowing and investing to freeze like a deer in stadium lights. When people stop spending, economies start dying.

2) This crisis was a long time coming. De-regulation pushes down on the economic gas, but increases the chances of an economic crash. The dramatic growth of the past 8 years was a result of the same policies that are leading to the huge challenges we are faced with today.

3) Much of the impact of this crisis is a financial illusion. A large percentage of the devaluation in stock and home prices is driven by the fact that the original value was incorrect in the first place. When prices are out of whack, they must correct themselves. While a crisis may also be a correction, a correction is not necessarily a crisis.

4) Prepare for a period of "Financial McCarthyism" in America. Many baby boomers are closing in on retirement, and scared to death. To boot, many of these individuals have not properly prepared for retirement. When Americans get scared, politicians get nasty. We will likely see some of the most Draconian legislation in history.

5) What makes this crisis such a concern is that even before the meltdown, the economy was already quite fragile. With soaring gas and food prices, the economy was the #1 issue on the minds of most Americans. The decline of many financial services firms was, for the most part, a logical continuation of the fact that many homeowners were defaulting at the start of the year. This crisis is most certainly going to shift the political landscape and might give us our first Black president.

6) Yes, this market drop was the largest in history, 770 points in one day is nothing to sneeze at. But keep in mind that this drop doesn’t even make the top 10 in terms of percentage declines.

7) The American consumer is not off the hook. The “Wall Street Greed” angle of this story completely denies the fact that many American consumers tend to overspend and over borrow. Many Americans were buying homes they could not afford and borrowing against their home equity in order to go on vacation. It takes two to tango and banks rarely forced anyone to take the loans being offered to them. If Obama can tell Black Men to take more responsibility for our economic challenges, then he should be willing to say that to the rest of America.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Your Black College: The Importance of August 28th

I heard Barack Obama give his speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 28th of this year, and towards the end I heard him allude to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the famous speech given in Washington, D.C 45 years ago.

I heard him say that the young preacher brought people from all over this country together, to listen to his words of hope, faith, and a wish for a better tomorrow.

What I didn’t hear him say was the name of the young preacher, nor that the 45th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech is also the 53rd anniversary of the death of Emmett Till.

Isn’t that just as important?

Then I heard Dr. Cornel West speak to a less than impressive crowd at my prestigious university last night.

The school knew he was coming...this world-renowned professor from Princeton University, yet only a third of the room was filled… even though hearing him speak was a free event.

When one of our esteemed white alums comes to speak, seats are filled and tickets are pricey.

Isn’t he just as important?

It is with these issues that I urge black students to really take notice of the things that aren’t being said. I do not devalue the importance of Dr. King’s speech. Nor do I devalue the historic event that was the speech given by Barack Obama. I only suggest young people to not take lightly the history that is often times ignored, and the names that are too often not mentioned in regards to history’s popular stories.

Dr. West made a tremendous point in his address to the crowd last night, which was to take notice of the fact that Barack Obama has no lineage (before his two lovely daughters and wife Michelle) of Blacks in America. He is of native African and White lineage. This means it is not his obligation to be fully aware of everything that happened in Black history. That does not make him any less qualified to lead this country, but it does demand for young black students every where to take value in Black history. Learn the facts, so that we will be able to educate our children about just how both August 28th, 1955 and August 28th, 1963 have an enormous effect on August 28th, 2008 and Obama’s ability to run for president today.

Bill Cosby once said, “The past is a ghost, the future a dream. All we ever have is now.”

But in the nature of ghosts, the past will forever haunt. In the same way we think of dreams, the future is within reach. If all we ever have is now, then our now should be a manifestation of both the past and the future, in a way that says the best of our Black history is yet to come.