Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Roberts Companies - Reaching Back

Michael Roberts' personal web site

In a recent gathering with Junior Achievement I was made aware of Michael Roberts of "The Roberts Companies". He is a multi-millionaire with over 74 companies operating within his conglomerate.

Roberts Companies Hotels Web Site
The Roberts Companies web site

Business Week Reference To Michael Roberts' cellular telephone purchase

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Study Of The Agents Of Destruction Within The Black Community

AJC Article

J.T. was boss of the Black Kings, roughly 200 crack dealers working at the sprawling, hideous Robert Taylor Homes. Venkatesh saw this operation close up —- crack transactions, drive-by shootings by rival gangs, the violent discipline J.T. imposed on his troops.

Venkatesh, 41, now a sociology professor at Columbia University, also spent countless hours with the other people at Robert Taylor Homes, the nongang members, learning about life at the bottom. This was a place that ambulances wouldn't come to, a place where people didn't call the cops. But his many years there, recounted in the book "Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets," taught Venkatesh some indelible lessons.

For some Black people their own firm belief that it is the CIA who is responsible for flooding the Black community with drugs holds more true in their minds than an actual interview with those who provide the "last mile" in the Supply Chain for these drugs into the Black community.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Comprehensiveness Of Action As A Judgement

As I debate with various people I continue to come of with points of structure that are needed within the debate to make the outcome more meaningful and to channel all party's efforts toward one of solution based on broad agreement rather than absolute concurrence. At the end of the day - I will never likely agree with my most (bi) polar opposite adversaries. If we were to debate with more structure - at least our jousting matches would be more substantive.

Such is the case with the need for the concept of COMPREHENSIVENESS! This is one of my operating words for 2008.

The need for the filter upon the "comprehensiveness" of an act was identified in several debates last year in which various adversaries, in seeking to defend an organization or individual that I was criticizing and questioning through out several points of ACTION that this person did to support the cause and thus make the case that my critique is unwarranted. To which my normal reply typically was "Did it work to solve the problem?"

I have learned that in debate with some people there is nothing that their adversary target can ever do to reach the person's threshold for acceptability. At the same time the littlest finger twitch of their ideological friend gets registered as a good deed. The concept of "comprehensiveness" is an attempt to apply CONTEXT to these actions.

The best example can be drawn from the levee walls of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans just as a imaginary situation. In such an example there is a local organized group of residents who is being defended by my debate adversary. My opponent would defend their good works by noting all that they did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In particular they might point to the fact that upon seeing a crack in the levee walls this organization of brave souls drove several pickup trucks of sandbags and piled them up against the levee, right where the breach was poised to occur. For these actions my debate adversary is poised to heap great praise upon them for doing extra effort to save their community.

My retort to them, of course would be "Did it work to save their community"? Was the piling of the sandbags at the last minute a COMPREHENSIVE enough strategy for the people to save their own community from the impending destruction by the most powerful waterway in North America? Clearly the answer is NO!

My goal here (if this were real) is not to attack the good words of these people as indeed they did so. The goal would be to look at the BIG PICTURE of the circumstance. Make note that we had evidence compiled from 1969 with Hurricane Betsy that this area was flood prone. A COMPREHENSIVE solution would have been enacted years and even decades in advance of the day that Hurricane Katrina hit and they were in near 100% response mode. It would have involved the evacuation plans for people, possibly the mandate that those who's houses are below sea level purchase a rubber inflatable raft to be stored in their attic with a hatchet to break through their roof when the water rises.

With the filter of comprehensiveness - the true test of "Did it work" would be borne out by ample evidence of "regardless of YES or NO we damned sure gave it our best shot but the prevailing powers were much greater than any team of man could ever hope to reasonably turn away".

Just as in a murder trial - "comprehensiveness" is not absolute but instead a PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE in support of the case that YES here are all of the facts supporting our case. Any reasonable person upon reviewing the evidence would concluded that INDEED this was a worthy try.

As I criticize the strategy of Affirmative Action it is not because I am just willing to toss away the fact that there are several hundred (maybe even thousand) of minority students who graduate each year having been given admissions assistance to various elite colleges that have highly competitive admissions processes. I criticize it from the standpoint of its ability to COMPREHENSIVELY address the situation that we face.

Instead of looking at the AA freshman admissions each fall in college - I instead choose to look at the number of Black and minority students entering the 9th grade each year and use THIS population as a measure of our success by noting how many of them will enter into college and then graduate in 4 to 6 years. Clearly with this view - the focus on Affirmative Action fails miserably. AA focuses mostly on students who have the background to be able to get into SOME college, SOMEWHERE. In focusing on the 9th grade population we can focus on the WIDE MIDDLE - the people who are on the verge of living their professional lives with only a high school diploma or a career that is potentially enhanced with a college diploma in hand. It is my opinion that the concept of "these two points are not mutually exclusive, we can do BOTH" has proven to be impractical over time due to the fact that our present leadership, when given a choice between INTERNAL building & management versus external battles with White folks - will nearly always choose the later as it hits upon their acumen and makes more headlines in the process.

The concept of COMPREHENSIVENESS is a worthy filter to place upon one's assessment of a given plan.

(Next week we will present the counter argument to comprehensiveness - that being "Trying To Boil The Ocean" with a plan :lol:)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hispanic & Black Consumer Purchasing Choices

Audio Report #1: Mary Kay Targets Hispanic Women For Cosmetic Purchases

Audio Report #2: A researcher ponders the consumer purchases of Hispanics and Blacks

Do minorities spend more on indulgences like cosmetics than other groups? Kerwin Charles, Steans Family Professor at the University of Chicago, considers the numbers behind an urban myth.

Hispanics and Blacks who are disproportionally poor have been shown to spend a greater percentage of money on the three points that the researcher had focused on - clothing & jewelry, personal care items and vehicle expenditures and of these points items that are portable and those which are visible to others. Poor people of all races express this same sentiments as a means of compensating for their perceived relationship to others in the national economic hierarchy.

Clearly both education and a greater purpose for the use of one's money are the vital elements in redirecting this vital issue.

More references on the subject:

Commentary on Professor Charles' work

article: Blacks & Footware purchases

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Feminism And Left-wing Ideology

In a recent debate about the general state of today's feminist movement most agreed that today's feminist is typically biased toward left leaning interests. They have expanded beyond their normal calls of "equal pay for equal work", "the right to choose what to do with their body", their right to choose whom can "do" their bodies into areas such as environmentalism, economic justice (from their perspective that is) and even anti-war activities.

After having listened to an interview from a feminist last night I have some deep seeded questions for those who call themselves "feminists"

Audio Interview with member of NARAL Pro-Choice America

My central question has to do with the alignment of certain economic policy characteristics of the left with the perceived advancement of women as recognized by their adoption of many of the agenda items that are present in the woman's movement. More specifically - one is likely to hear in the expression of left wing economic policy dogma that the harsh realities of economic challenges has caused people to work harder for less reward. They would tell us that we are a society of GREED. Where as once we were a more slow society that valued bonds between human beings, today we are far more hedonistic per the conditioning that has been received from the large Madison Avenue marketing firms that have indoctrinated us into the lifestyle that have wanted us to assume for the benefit of their corporate sponsors.
They will tell you that our credit card debt is proof of what they say as being true. Couple this with globalization which has Americans become more fat, and pampered as they offshore the real work to the Chinese. They paint the case for the "hollowing out" of the American soul and consciousness.

I have learned over time that the best way to appraise a "theorist" is to hold him accountable to his own theories and then ask him tough questions regarding how he/she reconciles herself against the person that she has created via her ideology as she has expressed it. So it goes with the feminist.

I allow the woman from NARAL's logic that the "pro-choice" movement has its roots among the clergy. (I can only assume that they were tired of seeing women permanently injured or who have died from 'back alley' abortions and thus they were promoting the operation being done in safe and sterile environments instead of the classical clothes hanger. As with many left wing pronouncements they focus on the choices of poison the deal with the AFTEREFFECTS of the decision to walk down a slippery slope rather than addressing that initial first step because it would force an infringement upon what they see as one's libertarian right to do as they please. Their job indeed is to make sure that the system is present to protect people from their own actions after the fact.

With all of this said I challenge the feminists to reconcile their views of society that I have illuminated above with their viewpoints on how women living in this said environment are CHOOSING to abort their children due to their TIME PREFERENCES, their CAREER PRIORITIES and as a consequence of their CASUAL RELATIONS with their sex partner. Aren't they actually promoting in women what they condemn society for? Putting all of these material issues ahead of basic human issues? Isn't destroying the life of a baby due to all of these complexities as exposed by our system actually falling prey to this system?

(Please note - I realize that there is no single point of consciousness for all feminists. While indeed the most vocal are left of center they, like many other interest groups have supporters who's views span the range.)

Young Brown People In New Zealand Emulate American Hip Hop

International Dateline Show

Do you see this guy above? He is the "conservative O.G.". Don't be confused by his fully tattooed face. He is actually an old school gangsta reminiscing about the way things used to be before this current crop of street thugs come in. His era was influenced by the regional cultural elements.

As you can see from the video - these youngsters are able to rap like the American gansta rappers, chapter and verse. They have fully emulated that which they have seen on television and heard through their radios. They are indeed angry, they are displaced from productive society and they are dangerous if they have you cornered at night.

The way the story goes in America, however, it is not the content of emulation that we should concern ourselves with. Indeed the ubiquitous "White Record Executives" are to blame. They are the ones that arranged the satellite feed from the USA to "down under". They are the ones who secured the passage of the boatload of CDs onto the ship that was sent halfway around the world. When we see these kids sounding unmistakably like West Coast Rappers - we should really only consider the corporate supply chain that brought this all about.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What Is The Ultimate Purpose Of Black America's Political Activities?

A long series of events having been witnessed has led me to ask the fundamental question about Black folks and politics:

* What are we actually doing?
* What are we seeking to achieve?
* Is whatever we are doing actually working for our community's benefit?
* If so prove it?

Throughout world history there have been many decision points that are called "Reformation Movements". This is the point at which some individuals involved in the game identify several fundamental and troubling issues with the way things are orchestrated en masse at the time; where they look back to some fundamental reference for guidance; and then upon comparing the fixed coordinates of the reference to where the people or the entity has moved toward and thus where they stand currently - those with an honest commitment to the reference are forced to note - WE HAVE GONE OFF COURSE!!!

Now keep in mind these words can get you "kilt". The worse thing you can do at times is to seek to scramble the arrangement of game pieces that several fellow schemers have orchestrated over time. The willingness to voluntarily yield the stash of yellow, green and blue "Monopoly money" that you have under your leverage is a very, very, hard thing to do. Even with plastic playing pieces the statement "power yields only to equal and opposite power" is an ultimate truth.

The first line of defense against change that a reformer will face is when the other parties remind him of all of the dirt that he has done and then charge him with the crime of "Playa Hatred" - "You got yours via the game now you seek to pull up stakes for everyone else following you?"

The next wave of attacks will be the careful inspection of "who are you working on behalf of"? He must be working for the common adversary because in our current STRENGTH we pose a challenge to them. Since this fool is attempting to pry loose our power as represented by the plastic pieces and assorted colored bills that we now control - he clearly must be seeking the advantage of the enemy. In the time tested tradition of "Are You A Nigger Lover?" - the group unity force will come to bear upon our wayward thinking friend.

Yes there are plenty tactics that one can document and create a text book that are used against those who ask the central questions that are listed above. At the end of the day, however, it takes collective consciousness and a clear sense of immutable GOALS for all who claim to be a part of the group to commit to for any chance at forward progress to take place.

Where as it is popular among some Black folks to attribute a special sense of an ability to oppress, exploit and commit systematic destruction to the White man - the sad fact is that we are all people with no proven genetic difference between any race of humans on Earth and thus the capability to trample others regardless of your claims of higher spirituality is common among man.

In the United States we swear that we are a Black people with a special dispensation as compared to the other Black folks around the world. The recent events surrounding the elections in Kenya, the ongoing saga with Robert Mugabe, even the bloody battle over oil among fellow Black folks in the Niger Delta all seem to be contextual struggles that we Black Americans are immune from.

Our problems instead are one's of AMERICAN structural design - it is said. We only need to make another round of fundamental changes in AMERICA - the system that is OUTSIDE of the Black community and thus having done what we did in the Civil Rights Movement in producing fundamental change in America......this benefit will rain down within the streets of our oppressed inner cities and all will be made better in the long run for us all. This will come if we support the fight that our current leaders have us engaged in. This is the primary mandate made upon the individual Black! Vote for those that are obvious that any "real Black" would vote for, Unify behind the cause, get upset at the things we expect you to get upset with, attack those "New Negroes" who believe that RACISM is no longer our primary challenge as a people. Follow these rules and we will defend you - right or wrong. Even if you mess up bad and we look like fools in our defense of you - you will be ONE OF US! Worthy in our eyes.

But wait - how is it that you can have the dual circumstances of having gained more political power today than you have ever had before in the nation AND a seemingly INCREASED level of abstraction from accountability for your current condition? Something is not adding up. A few minutes ago you just ran through an inventory of people in power either of you race or of your party AND YET when some of the grievances about your schools, your streets, your business districts are registered you tell me that MORE POWER is needed in this NEXT ELECTION for us to move over the top and achieve success? Sir - what happened to the support I gave you the last time? I look at my local government web page and I don't see the ADVERSARY any longer - I see you and your party mates. Please tell me how back in the day the adversary was able to give us hell via the power that he had to do so at the LOCAL LEVEL but you need a federal take over before my life becomes a bed of roses?

I get the funny feeling that you are not really interested in making my life better. You are actually into AMASSING POWER for yourself and your party with me as the pawn in the game.

I realize that there is that ideological adversary out there that you duke things out with on our behalf during each legislative session and press run in the paper. At the same time - HE does not live in the same municipal boundary that YOU now control. What bearing does he have inside of our circle? Why are you having to fight with him over resources to be sent into our circle? Why aren't we creating wealth within our circle and fighting marauders from taking it out? If indeed we have a higher worth for man then this is what we should be expressing WITHIN OUR CIRCLE OF CONTROL, not as a means of drawing upon others to ship us a "USAID" package. In fact this concept should be flowing so much from WITHIN our circle that we have EXCESS that we can VOLUNTARILY spare to give to other people in other circles without the need for a legislative fight. I hesitate to take food from people that were FORCED to give it to me in the first place. You never know surprises they have left for you to consume when it was out of your sight and control. I'll keep things close to home, thank you very much.

All of this leads to the question - What is the ultimate purpose of all this politicking that you have me doing? What event do you see in the future that is going to be the break point at which all that you have promised me shakes loose and rains down upon me as you have promised?

You know what - I will split my difference. I am going to mildly support what you are doing since you say you are working in my best interests but I am going to do more work closer to home. That way I'll have more of my own destiny in my own hands. Anything that you can bring to me from the outside will no longer be for BASIC OPERATIONS AND SURVIVAL but instead will be supplemental in nature. As a matter of fact - I would prefer INVESTMENTS instead. Go off and find people willing to stake their capital in our CIRCLE because we will add it to our resources for GROWTH, pay them all of their expected interest and pay them back EARLY so they no longer have a claim upon us.

Sounds like a plan.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Marriage Yes; Federal Marriage Initiative - Not Sure

Articles: Fighting poverty with an 'I do'

From a cultural stand point marriage is a fundamental construct for a society and culture that seek balance and stability. As I have written several times before on this blog - a "spiritually lead" marriage is good for the children, it is good for the woman, it is good for the man - each contributing their specific talents, each receiving their unique benefits. I am for any CULTURALLY based initiative that promotes the bonds of two individuals in a healthy marriage.

President Bush issued a "Marriage Initiative" a few years ago. The usual suspects opposed and mocked the idea. Some feminists even had the nerve to claim that forcing women to stay in abusive marriages is a hazard to their health. Of course they, like usual, focused on the worst exceptions rather than the general rule and failed to consider any type of continuing counseling to keep the relationship on the right path. The fabric of relationships with friends and traditions assist in enriching the bond.

The issue of government programs that cross over into the cultural realm is a delicate one. On the one hand there is a long history of government social programs that have incubated destructive environments as cultures of DEPENDENCY were created into the minds of the individuals. Thus I believe that any government program should consider the cultural contamination that might result. If such a marriage initiative is in support of printed materials, the reservation of facilities that host community members for discussions about the value of marriage - I can accept this as an investment.

At the end of the day - the people and the community must decide that it is in their best interests to maintain these relationships. This cannot be a message that 'comes down from upon high'. The community must see the value and instill it in all members and children that come forth. If the government has a heavy hand beyond facilitation this is not a good thing.

Monday, January 07, 2008

My Grades Were Good So I Chose Not To Go To The Black College

Article: Black colleges struggle to reach goals in face of low graduation rates

Natalie Norton sits alone in a Towson University student cafeteria. The pre-med freshman from Silver Spring hasn't made any close friends yet, and many of her high school buddies now attend nearby Morgan State University, a historically black college.

"I would have preferred to go to Morgan," says Norton, who is African-American. "But I didn't even apply because my grades were really good." Attending a mostly black school would have been "more fun," she adds with a wistful smile. "But academics-wise, they're not as strict. It looks a lot better if you graduate from a majority-white school."

Norton's decision - and the disquieting rationale behind it - represents one of the biggest challenges facing Maryland's four black colleges, experts say, and sheds a light on their recent struggles.

What happened to the notion of "High Black Standards" that was shown in "The Great Debaters"? This type of thinking is sad and an outrage. It did not get this way on its own. This is the result of a long, slow degradation of standards that has taken place at these schools and our community.

Once again I ask the question - why is there such a fight over Affirmative Action, getting a handful of Black students into elite White schools rather than focusing in on the "wide middle" of Black America where these students are on the verge of facing a work career with a high school diploma or can be transformed into high achieving college graduates?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Who Will Fund Your "Rights"?

With this particular blog I attempt to keep out any partisan political discussions as I only focus on "cultural" issues. I leave the partisan and ideological stuff for the "Within The Black Community" blog when ever possible. There are some issues, however that are political that spill over into the realm of culture and vice versa and thus need to be address at the foundational, cultural level.

In the past few days I have heard two debates that have forced the issue with me. The first was a debate by radio talkshow host Bev Smith with a gentleman from the "Let Freedom Ring" foundation. This organization is a self professed "right of center" organization who's goal it is to insure that the government only gets involved into things that are constitutionally mandated. The debate was over the SCHIP program which provides health care funding for poor children. Originally the program was meant to fund children who's parents were making too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to afford private insurance. The current debate is around expansion of this program to include more families with higher income brackets than were originally mandated. The key portion of the argument that I wish to focus upon is Bev Smith's perspective that "I send MY tax money" to the government who "I employ" to do what "I tell them to do with MY MONEY". Thus, she said "if I and the majority of the rest of America want to spend MY MONEY on health care for children why should the president or any other person stop me from doing so for ideological reasons?"

The second presentation that I heard was upon listening to a BBC book review from an author who wrote a book detailing how the political system in America has shifted in the past 25 years to where the wealthy are getting tax breaks from government sources and thus government is left cash starved and not able to fund certain community activities for the poor. The man claimed to be able to trace government funding cuts to the start of street gangs in poor and minority communities. I thought that I was watching an episode of "Innovation" on PBS in which the English host attempts to make a scientific link between a modern invention that we take for granted and some far off obscure invention from the long past as he fills in the blank so that it is not such a logical leap.

These two perspectives bring up a very, very important note about culture and the expectations from government and/or outsiders to provide the resources and funding for us to live at the standard of living and quality of life that we expect.

In the face of growing problems within poor and Black communities over time the methodology as expressed by these two radio sources would be for the Black community to go to the external funding source of the "Federal Government" and DEMAND that more funds be allocated to the interests of Black people lest we remain infirmed, terrorized by a criminal element from within or undereducated and thus not able to field competitive candidates into the academic world or workforce which all sum up to bear upon the material and economic condition of this same Black community.

Certainly the concept of "My Money", if true, would be matched by an attempt to WITHDRAW funds from the system that has perpetually misappropriated them against my best interests. Why would anyone keep putting money into a bank that had registered a string of losses for their investments?

The answer is clear. The concept of "My Money" from the parlance of Ms. Smith is really the notion of "My Economic Output" at the local level is not sufficient to fund the programs that I see as being the best interests for my people THUS I am forced to enter the POLITICAL realm and use the effects of aggregation and transference to allow me to accomplish my social goals since they are not supportable with the economic activity that I am performing closer to home. There is no other logical reason why any group would agree to lump their money into a pot with COMPETING INTERESTS and then enter into the threat of having these other interests take away their resources for use in a spending initiative that runs counter to their interests.

Those who call themselves "progressives" work to have this shared government entity to use its powers of taxation to spread the glory among the people, abstracting for the economic inability to provide this standard of living. They seek to make a NATIONAL statement of care that everyone who lives within qualifies for. Thus the "my money" claim is only used to feign a stake or a purchase of a share and thus a voice in the say of where these resources should go. In truth the goal is to use the voting power of the majority to distribute these economic resources all the while making a national statement on who has the RIGHTS to these given resources as part of a national statement of care and of WORTH for the individuals contained within the borders.

As a comparison there is an ongoing battle in the Atlanta Georgia metro area between the residents of Fulton County. Fulton is an amalgamation of several counties that were fused together over time. It has an oblong shape that speaks to this past fusion, mostly due to financial hardship of formerly separate counties. Recently the people in the unincorporated northern part of the county - who are more wealthy than their brothers in the southern party of the county have been complaining about the high taxes that they pay and the relatively low level of services and responsiveness that they receive from the county in kind. Of course their argument is that by being in the common container with the southern portion their tax dollars are aggregated into a pool and effectively flow out of their community and are diluted as the county attempts to spread the benefit across all - abstracting the input from the output for the sake of equal distribution for all as they strive for their common county standard.

As we apply the 'My Money' theory to this particular conflict - the Northern part of the county proposes to cede from the county in its current form and instead return to their former entity known as "Milton County". In this case the new border between north and south would form the new taxation district AND money flow boundary. We all know that a liquid will flow toward its lowest point unless there is some container to confine its flow and then it will simply deepen at a faster rate within this smaller container. Clearly THIS is the natural response for individuals who PRODUCE more of the economic resources in balance and who seek to have a greater say in where their money is being spent. One doesn't send more lobbyists to the far off point of aggregation to insure more funds are directed their way for their purposes, those who are creating the wealth tend to instead close the wagons and protect their resources from looting by individuals who have a competing set of priorities.

From a CULTURAL standpoint - we are looking at yet another STRATEGIC mistake that continues to be made by our popular leadership. They extend the "Friend and Family Plan" to the national level rather than seeking to have the funding boundary to encapsulate those who TRULY DO have their interests in mind. If indeed we have a competitive marketplace in the United States and if indeed SUBGROUP PREFERENCES inside of this market place trump NATIONALISTIC tendencies to life all who are fellow country men then the Black community is left aspiring to use the POLITICAL process to both aggregate financial resources across internal boundaries and then to use the same political process to draw these same resources back down into our hands via a diluted set of power that being 13% of the population can express upon the valley of competing interests for that same pot of money.

Do we value the RECEIPT of these services and are contented upon their delivery OR is there greater value, independence and perpetuation in the ability to IDENTIFY the need for such a level of care, GENERATE the economic resources to pay for these services and be more ABSTRACTED from the contextual constraints that might have different priorities and agendas for "our money"?

Which of these two strategies lend themselves to PRUNING and GRAFTING downward? I mean that YES one can move from the USA to Canada and thus receive universal health care that Canada has but the USA does not. What if one moves from the USA to Guatemala? Can the system of dependencies that you have fought for in the USA as your RIGHTS be taken to the nation of Guatemala or Somalia and have the flow of resources initiated again because you lobby the government for that which is due to you as an expression of THEIR HUMAN VALUATION of you?

Indeed it must be the case that HUMAN VALUATION as pertained to SERVICES exposed to the person to help him live at a greater STANDARD OF LIVING must indeed have some ECONOMIC FINANCING and OUTPUT aspects to them that can't be ABSTRACTED in the name of "RIGHTS". (Otherwise you could be able to go to the nation of Chad, stand in the desert and say "I have a right to health care, a community center and free education" and thus it appears).

This "nation building" stuff is harder than it seems. Might the challenge be that too many people have their base assumptions wrong and are masked by their presence in a GREATER ECONOMIC SYSTEM that they can makes demands from and continue to APPEAR to be correct? Let them go off on their own - they will see.