February 2007 Archives

Black like Me

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I recently read an article about Barack Obama that got me incensed. All I could think was "Player Hater!" After calming down and looking over a post + comments on the Barbershop Notebooks, I came across a great comment by "Afrikabelle."

Comment on "Barack Obama - Professional Bulls***er?" Article:

"Here, Obama stands, with the potential to single-handedly brush the 450-year old chip off the African-American shoulder, destroying whatever venom lives in little Black boy psyches, whispering to them that their kind could never be president. And yet, all the talented tenth men and women want to do is to hop on big media and use Obama as an excuse to hear their own selves sound intelligent."

(Via The Barbershop Notebooks.)

Politics in a well functioning democracy is about the art of the possible, the art of compromise. Al Sharpton has as much chance of becoming president as Ralph Nader. Yet that’s what all too many black folk expect in the first black president. My father-in-law (a man who had to drive around with a gun in the South) said something to me about Bush I won’t soon forget, “He [Bush II] forgets that he’s president of all the people.” Not everyone in this country is a card carrying pro-Lifer or communist. In fact, no one is “red” or “blue.” I’m pro life, pro gay rights/marriage, pro business/entreprenurship, pro worker rights, pro affirmative action/civil rights, and pro environment. What does that make me? Your typical voter.

Mutual Funds Get Greedy

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Mutual Funds Get Greedy:

"That's what prompted me to tell the radio interviewer, 'That's why mutual funds suck. Not only do they suck 80 percent of the dividends, in come[sic] cases they suck another 73 percent of other gains from investors.'"

(Via Yahoo! Finance.)

Robert Kiyosaki

Mr. Kiyosaki is so right that the mutual fund industry is taking the average investor for a ride. The fees are far higher than justified because the average investor doesn't get what she pays for: superior returns. If memory serves, fully 80% of active fund managers, i.e. stock pickers, can't beat the market. Monkey's throwing darts at the Wall Street Journal do better! Of course, there will be managers who beat the market for short periods of time and an elite few do so over the long haul. But who knows who they will be apriori? If you have that kind of crystal ball, skip the manager and get right to picking the right stocks!

One of the truths of politics in a democracy is that a small, motivated, organized minority can (and does) exert its will over a large, less motivated, and far less organized majority. Witness the overwhelming support for sensible, common sense gun control, e.g. the ban on assault weapons, and the power exerted by the NRA.

My good friend, Marc Hill, recently wrote, "Non-profits have the responsibility of outrage when government policy creates and exacerbates misery: Charities need to speak up and demand that Congress get Washington’s foreign policy and its financial priorities in order." Non-profits do have the responsibility of representing the interests of their clients. If that means political action, then so be it. But outrage? I think not. That's the job of the polity, political parties, PACs, etc. Non-profits lobby, but don't vote. You and I do.

Non-profit, charitable organizations could exert more political power, but would they? Like their for profit brethren, non-profit organizations compete for a limited amount of charitable money, low interest loans, and grants. These competing interests limit organizing in a fashion most efficient to exerting power in a democracy: building coalitions based on common interest. Competition in many dimensions drives them apart.

Sunlight as Holy Water

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A recent report by two Villanova professors came out that claimed 85% of Catholic dioceses had problems with embezzlement in the last 5 years, 11% of them had cases involving sums exceeding $500,000. Wow!

It goes to show the problems with unearned trust and blind submission that the Catholic Church faces today. Despite the claims of the hierarchy, the institution hasn't proven to be the sanctified Bride of Christ it is supposed to be. Rather, it has proven to be a very human institutions with all the typical foibles humanity encompasses. From sex abuse to embezzlement, the Church will have to come to terms with a laity no longer naive enough nor passive enough to blindly submit to any cleric, perhaps even the Pope, no matter how close to Christ that cleric is supposed to be.

The Roman Catholic Church will have to learn that secrecy is the mother of lies and deceit.

"For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth [emphasis mine] comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God." (John 3:20-21)

Biden's Reservoir

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I'm sad to say that Joe Biden not only stepped on his tongue, but he spilled some of his racial beans as well. I won't comment on the offensive nature of his remarks since others have already done such a good job. I will say that Biden's remarks are much like those of Michael Richards or Isaiah Washington in that they come from a deep reservoir of cultural sentiment (or should I say resentment?) towards black and/or gay folk. It doesn't matter what his intentions were. In fact, I have no doubt that Biden's intentions were generally benign, but that matters little when he opened his mouth merely to find a place for his political foot.

UPDATE: My man got on to speak on the O'Reilly Factor.

I'm Back

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Took a short (or long depending on how you look at it) hiatus from the blog to focus on the job among other things. But now I'm looking to wax prosaic on my PowerBook now and again. Hopefully I'll have the discipline and skill to keep it short and sweet. Just like now!