October 27, 2016 

By Julianne Malveaux 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

I watched the Presidential debate on October 19 in both awe and horror.  Awe, because I truly do not understand Mr. Trump’s temerity to lie, interrupt, sniff, sigh, and interject offensive comments (“such a nasty woman”) in lieu of disagreement.  The horror came when Mr. Trump asserted that he would not necessarily accept the result of an election he has described as “rigged” (actually, in Trump’s world, anything that does not go his way is rigged – debates, primary elections, Emmy Awards).  Trailing in the polls, Mr. Trump is playing the same racial games he has played throughout the elections, suggesting that there is massive voter fraud in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit, cities with large African American populations, that dead people are voting, and that millions of voter registration records are wrong.


There have been dozens of reports that refute the Trump claims. According to analysis by a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, Calif., only 31 of more than 1 billion votes cast since 2000 have been fraudulent.  The Brennan Center for Justice, housed at the New York University School of Law has studied voter fraud and found that allegations are most often unfounded.  Trump also cited a Pew Center study that indicated that one in eight voter registrations might be inaccurate.  But Pew says inaccurate registration may not be fraudulent ones.  As an example, some people have not changed their addresses, and will do so before they attempt to vote again.  These folks aren’t committing fraud, they’ve simply moved.  The Pew Center says that our nation’s voter registration system needs an upgrade. They have not identified massive voter fraud as a problem.  Donald Trump, though, is the master of manipulative repetition.  Just like he hammered on “Little Marco,” “Low Energy Jeb” and “Crooked Hillary,” now he is hammering on voter fraud, whether it is accurate or not.  At least one fact-checker has detailed how wrong Trump is and has described his claims as “bogus.”


Claims of voter fraud divert attention from a more significant issue: that voter suppression makes it more difficult for many to vote.  Too many states have instituted new voter ID laws, reduced the number of early voting days, consolidated precincts (forcing people to travel further to vote), and purged people from voting registration polls.  Several organizations are providing backup for voters, including the website www.iwillvote.com that allows people to check their voter registration.  But with registration deadlines closing in this handful of days before the election, it is likely that some people who want to vote will not have the opportunity.


This voter suppression has been deliberately, and it has had a partisan skewing.  Why can a gun registration be used as appropriate voter identification, but not a student ID?  Rule shifting has gained the attentions of conservative appeals courts.  As an example, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas voided Texas Voter ID laws.  Wisconsin’s voter restrictions were also disallowed.  Most notably, a federal appeals court shot North Carolina down and, were uncharacteristically critical.  The court wrote that, “Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.”


Is there voter fraud?  If only 31 cases, out of a billion votes, were found fraudulent, we can say that there is a bit of fraud, something that is less than a fraction of one percent.  At the same time, voting restrictions imposed in 2014 and 2015 were set to block over 1.3 million voters in Ohio, Nor Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, all swing states. Should we be more concerned about voter fraud (31 claims out of one billion votes cast) or the 1.3 million Americans who have been deliberately and “surgically” excluded from the voting process through voter suppression?


African Americans know rigged elections.  Our voices have too often been rigged out of the electoral process.  Fannie Lou Hamer was beaten to within an inch of her life because she dared organize people to vote.  Medgar Evers was killed because he dared organize Black folks to vote.  Our people overcame grandfather clauses, voter tests, and all kinds of other nonsense in order to vote.  We know voter suppression.  When Donald Trump talks about elections being rigged, he exhibits, again, his historical ignorance.  Every time Black folks were excluded from the voting process, we accepted the outcome. We accepted the democratic process.


Now Trump has millions of rabid followers who inhale his every word.  His irresponsible allegations of rigged elections may well mobilize his base to reject the integrity of the electoral process.  Some of us know all we need to know about rigged elections.  We know voter suppression personally and immediately.  And we know that Mr. Trump has disqualified himself for leadership by saying he cannot commit to an electoral outcome that does not favor him.


Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via www.amazon.com for booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visitwww.juliannemalveaux.com.

Category: Opinion

October 20, 2016 

By James Clingman 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

Since our political discussions are now X-rated, so much so that we must ask children to leave the room before we watch the news, the speeches, and the debates, it’s time to add another unmentionable to the X-rated list: Social Security. Silly me, that pales in comparison to what’s really important, doesn’t it?


Hillary’s emails, Bill and Donald’s dalliances and sexual conquests are obviously far more critical (and titillating) than a small issue like our disabled and elderly being able to live out their lives without having to worry about silly things like eating, breathing, and paying for life-saving medicines and treatments.


Yes, the cost of living is increasing every day, but cost of living allowances (COLA) for those on Social Security are non-existent or ridiculously and embarrassingly low. The latest COLA “increases” for those most in need were cited in an article on CNN Money:


“Checks for 66 million beneficiaries will rise between 0.2% to 0.5% in 2017. That works out to between $2.61 and $6.53 a month more for the typical retiree, according to the American Institute for Economic Research, a nonpartisan think tank.”


Say what?!


The article continues, “The average retirement benefit check is currently $1,305.30, according to government figures. This is by far the smallest percentage increase of any year in which benefits did rise. But it’s better than 2016, when Social Security checks didn’t increase at all. There have only been three years without any increase at all since Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment was put in place in 1975 — 2010, 2011 and 2016.”


Someone said a nation is judged by how it treats the least among its citizens. There is also something that was said by a very special person once: “…what you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)


If this nation does not come to its senses and get its priorities properly aligned, it’s not going to matter in the least who is the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The ethical and moral slide we are on right now is reprehensible and so detrimental to our young people. Moreover, we are standing by while our elders are dying for lack of essentials, having to make choices between food and rent, oxygen and heat or cooling and life-saving medicine.


The EpiPen controversy, where the cost skyrocketed over 400 percent to an outrageous $608.00 for two Epinephrine pens that, according to industry experts cost no more than $30.00 (some say $20.00) to make and only $2.00 for the medicine inside the needles, is a prime example of the true cost of living for those with medical issues. I am told that a drug for debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis cost as much as $2,000 per month for two injections. This is shameful, and it speaks to our condition in this country, our greed, and our willingness to get as much profit as we can without regard for who it hurts. In the United States, it’s often money first and people second, maybe even third or fourth.


We should be outraged and appalled at this situation as we watch our parents and grandparents struggle to pay the ridiculous costs to maintain their lives. The cost of living for them is beyond their reach, and many are dying because of it. So what will we do about it? Will we continue to be entertained, mesmerized, and embarrassed by the politicians and their operatives who are too busy trying to find more dirt on one another, or will we turn our attention to the much more important problem of our disabled and elderly and the day-to-day problems they face. Our politics should go from X-rated to Rx-rated.


I believe we can do much better by the least among us. Do you? If so, get involved and make their cost of living decrease and their Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) increase.


Jim Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available on his website, Blackonomics.com.

Category: Opinion

October 13, 2016 

By James Clingman 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

Black folks in America have been so successfully programmed that many of us are still psychologically enslaved to the point that we truly believe we have “made it” when we have reached a certain financial plateau or when we have attained a certain position or title. Far too many of us, as a consequence of our psychological enslavement, have turned our backs on our own people, especially many affluent Blacks who have gained the status of being “accepted” by White society. Remember O.J. Simpson?


Our new “Talented Tenth” has turned out not unlike its predecessor of 1903, which W.E.B. DuBois lived to regret, as he stated in his speech to The Boule in 1948. Forty-five years of watching the selfishness of his brothers and sisters was enough for DuBois to admit that he had made a mistake. “I assumed that with knowledge, sacrifice would automatically follow. In my youth and idealism, I did not realize that selfishness is even more natural than sacrifice,” DuBois lamented. “There were especially sharp young persons [at Fisk University] with the distinct and single-minded idea of seeing what they could get out of it for themselves, and nobody else.”


DuBois left this country, a sad and disheartened man, never wanting to return again, and we have seen his words and his assessment of our people magnified. Black people spend an estimated $1 trillion every year, much of which is wasted everyday on anything and everything other people make and sell. We buy it all, but we are dead last in every other economic category. We also have the worst housing, the highest unemployment, the poorest healthcare, the highest infant mortality, the poorest education, and our life expectancy is not even long enough to collect our hard-earned social security payments.


We are not using our tremendous resources — or talents — to do good “and” to do well. We are not using our talents to help the least of our brethren. We are not multiplying our resources. Instead, we are virtually burying them in the ground by succumbing to every advertisement and marketing campaign laid before us by corporate America. We have taken on the title of “Conspicuous Consumption Champions of the World.”


Second, we have placed too much emphasis on creature comforts and have allowed ourselves to be defined by what we do on someone else’s job, rather than what we can do to create our own jobs. We have devalued business ownership and business education, and we have lost sight of self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and collective economic empowerment. We have been lulled into the trap of thinking “the man” will take care of us or the government will take care of us, or our local politicians will take care of us. That is so far from the truth it is not even funny. Besides, anyone or anything that has the power to give you all you need also has the power to take away everything you have.


With $1 trillion, coupled with trillions in intellectual capital, Black people in this country can do anything we set our minds to. I think we have gotten very lazy and complacent, because it makes absolutely no sense for us to be in the situation we find ourselves today. It simply means we have not been taking care of our business, while everyone else has.


We must get back to the way it was before integration and before Black people in this country were dis-integrated. For almost 50 years we have mimicked the Children of Israel, wandering in this desert called America, whining, murmuring, and complaining about our situation since we left Egypt in 1964 when Pharaoh (President Lyndon Johnson) signed the Civil Rights Act. Some of us even want to return to Egypt. We must use our $1 trillion to possess the land.


What we have been given was not given to us just for us, just for our families, and just for our friends. It was given to us to help others — even strangers.


Rich athletes and entertainers, who are already doing some fantastic things with their wealth, must look deep inside themselves and consider their own mortality. Then they should each make a relatively small effort to help someone, maybe by pooling some of their dollars to start a business, that will create employment or housing opportunities.


I often have a dream of a beautiful world, a world where our children are educated properly, where our elderly are taken care of properly, where our youth are taught respect and responsibility, where our adults are not afraid to administer discipline – with love, and a world where our people are taking care of our resources, providing for ourselves, and making the necessary sacrifices to build a sure and certain foundation for the next generation. It’s a dream that would make W.E.B. DuBois proud.


James Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How to Make More Sense,” is available on his website, Blackonomics.com.

Category: Opinion

October 06, 2016 

By Julianne Malveaux 

NNPA Newswire Columnist 

There is no question that Hillary Clinton “won” the first presidential debate of this election cycle. She was knowledgeable, composed, unflappable, and occasionally even funny. Her opponent, who had the temerity to criticize her “stamina,” seemed to lack stamina of his own. By the time the 90-minute debate was over, the rude, sniffling, frequent water-sipping Mr. Trump looked like a candidate for enforced bed rest.


Mr. Trump was the loser, but he was not the biggest loser. The biggest losers were the unmentionables, the people who received scant attention, in the debate. There were 43.1 million poor people in the United States in 2015, more than 13 percent of the population. Yet, they were barely mentioned. To be sure, moderator Lester Holt started the conversation between Clinton and Trump by asking a question about economic inequality. But neither Clinton nor Trump mentioned poverty or hunger, which remains a problem in the United States. Both talked about shoring up the middle class. 


Clinton and Trump aren’t the only ones who avoid highlighting hunger and poverty when issues of economic inequality are discussed. When Vice-President Joe Biden was charged with focusing on the middle class in his “Middle Class Task Force,” early in the Obama Administration, there was a conspicuous silence about the status of the poor.  While President Obama has lots of issues to deal with, the poor have not been a priority for him.


The Census Report that was released on September 13, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015,” documents improvements in our nation’s poverty status. Between 2014 and 2015, there were 3.5 million fewer people in poverty, and the poverty rate dropped quite significantly, from 14.8 percent to 13.5 percent.  The poverty rate for African Americans dropped from 26.4 to 24.1 percent, and child poverty dropped from 36 percent to 32.7 percent among African Americans.


Either presidential candidate could have talked about this economic good news with the caveat that while the drop in the poverty level is encouraging, there is still way too much poverty in our nation. One in five children under 18 live in poverty, along with one in three African American children. One in five African American households (and one in eight households overall) have incomes below $15,000 a year. Further, there is significant “extreme poverty” in our country, people who earn less than half the poverty line. Half of all poor households are among the extreme poor. One in ten African American households qualifies as extremely poor, which means an income of less than $12,000 for a family of four.


How can someone earn so little? All it takes is a low-wage job with unstable hours. A minimum wage worker who works full-time, full-year earns a scant $15,000 a year, but many low-wage jobs aren’t full-time, full-year. Many low-wage workers get “flexible” scheduling, which means that their hours of work are not guaranteed.  Sometimes they are called to report for work, but if business is slow they can be sent home. There are few protections for these workers, which is why the Fight for Fifteen ($15 an hour) has gained such momentum.


To his credit, President Obama signed an executive order that requires federal contractors to pay at least $10 an hour to their workers. He has also signed an executive order requiring that federal contractors provide paid sick leave for their employees. Clearly, this administration is not indifferent to poor people.  They just don’t talk much about them.


But the poor should not be our unmentionables. They are the living proof that our predatory capitalistic system is terribly flawed. Thus, even as the 2015 report on income and poverty celebrates economic progress (with incomes finally rising after years of stagnation), it also suggests that too many hard-working people are living in a state of economic deprivation. More than 35 percent of African American households have incomes below $25,000. Many of these families have incomes above the poverty line, but not by much.


There are two more debates, one of which will be conducted as a town hall. If moderators do not bring up the issue of poverty, perhaps someone in the audience of the town hall will. While I know that Hillary Clinton has more compassion for the poor, and has articulated solutions that will help end poverty (Mr. Trump, on the other hand, once said the minimum wage was “too high”), I think it important to hear matters of hunger and poverty addressed in the context of the presidential debates. Our flawed economy has pushed the poor to the margins, but candidates can shed light on their issues and garner mainstream attention for them.


Julianne Malveaux is an author, economist and founder of Economic Education. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available to order at www.juliannemalveaux.com. Follow her on Twitter @drjlastword.

Category: Opinion

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