Monday, March 30, 2009

Eight Reasons Blacks Are Failing In The Post Obama Era and Eight Ways To Change

The National Urban League (Urban League) just released its’ “The State of Black America 2009” report. According to the report:

"Despite the election of the nation’s first Black president and the growing clout of Black Capitol Hill lawmakers, the lot of African Americans remains largely unchanged and even slightly worse.

…African Americans [are] twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed and three times more likely to live in poverty; and with the gap in home ownership rates widening from 64 to 63 percent, economics remained the area with the greatest degree of inequality and worsened from 57.6 percent in 2008 to 57.4 percent in 2009.

Blacks [are] six times more likely than Whites to be incarcerated; equality in social
justice also remained elusive, declining from 62.1 to 60.4 percent. Education (78.6 percent to 78.5 percent) and civic engagement (100.3 percent to 96.3) also demonstrated growing rather than diminishing gaps. Health care was the only area that showed progress, with parity increasing from 73.3 percent to 74.4 percent."

The question is; why are some African Americans continuing to sub-achieve, even as a growing number gain unprecedented success? I believe the reason we as a race continue to fall short of our true manifest abilities is us or more exactly, our p-poor choices.

Have you ever read Mathew Lynch’s 15 Reasons Why Black Students Continue To Underachieve? I believe that the reasons Lynch sites for the failure of African American students may also explain why African Americans, in general, continue to fall short of their potential. But what struck me most was that out of the 15 issues Lynch talked about, 8 were under the individual’s and family’s control and none of them would cost a dime to change! How many of you have ever thought that while racism is a part of the problem, many African Americans blame to many of their failures on a failed system? If so, yours is a legitimate point of view. For instance, take poverty. African Americans cannot blame a lack of achievement solely on poverty because it’s often hard to tell which came first: poor behavior that led to poverty, or poverty that forced one into poor behavior. My central point is it’s not all someone else’s fault or the failure of institution’s that has completely caused some African Americans to sub-achieve: it was their poor choices. The external solutions proposed by the Urban League are only band aids. Brothers, sisters; we must fix ourselves and our families to thrive!

The following eight maladies, adapted from Lynch’s discourse, continue to prevent some African Americans from achieving high levels of success.

I. Self Sabotage

Many African Americans simply believe that they cannot achieve the American Dream. My experience is that while many African Americans in the lower socioeconomic class give lip service to achieving the American Dream traditionally (i.e. through hard work, education, business ownership, saving, etc.), in actuality many behave, and teach their children (either through life choices, deeds and actions) that they cannot achieve the American Dream, at least in the traditional sense. In fact, African Americans in the lower socioeconomic class see entertainment, sports, or crime as their only way to prosperity.

Black America, if more of us are truly going to rise, we are going to have to change our priorities and our choices. We are going to have to choose to stay in school, be fathers to our children, avoid premarital sex, save our money, and open businesses. Simply put, we must put school before tennis shoes.

II. Family Influences

“In the United States today, more than 63 percent of African American children come from single parent homes, most of which have the mother as the primary caregiver. Having no positive male role model, the boys in the home are particularly at risk to fail in school and get into trouble. As the mother’s time is stretched so thinly, the girls in the family are at risk for teenage pregnancy…"

“Just my baby’s daddies” need to be more than that. You need to be fathers to your children: read my post entitled "No Father = Broken Child: On The Absence of Black Fathers".

III. Cultural Gaps

African Americans have a culture unlike any other. Unfortunately, our culture is often looked upon as negative. As Lynch observed, “…our hairstyles, dress, music, body language, and verbal communication styles can be disconcerting to a society that is based on conformity. When defining or identifying behavioral problems [as a group], it is important to consider the influence of culture on the definition and perception of the behaviors [how others outside the hood see us].”

As African Americans, it’s important for us to understand several things in order to be successful: First, while we are proud of who we are, not all of us grew up in “the hood.” Second, we don’t have to emulate the negative aspects of urban community life. Third, we most certainly don’t have to carry “the hood” everywhere we go. Finally, it’s okay to speak and act properly...or at least know how and when to do so.

Let's put an end to "single-parenting." Let's save our money to build businesses by buying only what we need, living below our means, and pooling our resources. Let's tutor our kids, and teach them it's okay to do good in school!

V. Lack of Parental Involvement

“Parental involvement is actually the best predictor of a [child’s] …achievement. Parent involvement demonstrates…the importance of… [a wide variety of issues], resulting in [either success of failure]…higher aspirations in life. In contrast…parents who are not involved…are more likely to ‘raise adults’ who struggle academically, experience behavior problems, and generally make poor choices.”

Again, African American parents must accept that they are parents, know how to take care of themselves and their kids, and make it a priority to take time out with them.

IV. Crime and Drug Abuse

According to Lynch, African American males make up the majority of those incarcerated in the nation’s prisons. Why? As Lynch explains , it's not bias on the part of law enforcement but...the all-too-frequent...inability of young people to overcome the risk factors of single-parent homes, poverty, failing schools, and cultural gaps... resistance to Middle-Class…Norms “Instead of surrendering to the typical standards of behavior and success…which many African American[s]…view as cruel and oppressive, some…end up rejecting European American speech patterns and devaluing high academic achievement, therefore unintentionally limiting themselves.”

I applaud the fact that many African Americans want to hold on to what they feel is their unique identity but as Lynch says, “sometimes it may be better to play the game. This does not mean becoming a sellout or the “Decent Negro” that Nas talks about on his latest album, Streets Disciple; it means that you are a very sagacious individual.”

VI. Lack of Priorities

Unfortunately, many African Americans do not realize that school, business ownership, and saving should be their first priority. In other words; we should put more emphasis on what’s in our brains, in our names, and in our savings account than what is on our backs.

VII. Low Effort Syndrome

“This phrase was coined by Jonathon Ogbu in his monumental book, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb. It simply means that some African American pupils are not adequately engaged in their academic endeavors. The time that most African American children spend actively engaged in learning, studying, and enrichment is not conducive to the acquisition of intellective competence and perpetuates the myth of African American intellectual inferiority.” In layman’s terms, most African American students, and African Americans in general, do not work hard in school.

VIII. Anti-Intellectualism

“Traditionally, African Americans have been labeled as intellectually inferior to other races. As a result, our culture began to collectively doubt their intellectual ability and began to associate scholarly achievement with “acting white.” This leads many African Americans to behave as though “school” and “black” are incongruous. This belief has effectively permeated the culture and cognitively debilitated its members. These truths are at the root of anti-intellectualism. What is most troubling is the fact that black student achievement is a problem among all classes of African Americans. In my opinion, anti-intellectualism is one of the most pernicious factors that contribute to the achievement gap.”

Black folk, please teach your kids that it's okay to be smart—and show it!

I believe my train of thought holds some merit, how about you? Do you feel the failure of some African Americans to achieve is tied directly to the choices they make? How much control do they have in their own success?

If you care as much as I do, help me answer these critical questions: please comment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gay Pastors and Parishioners: The Allegations - The Issues

Well, a new book by Reuben Armstrong entitled "Crooks and Homos in the Pulpit" has once again brought the issue of homosexuals in the church to the forefront. The book focuses on mega pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Eddie Long, Joel Osteen and Bishop Eddie Long, and reported homosexual pastor, Ted Haggard, and the mega churches. In his book, Armstrong alleges that "the rampant spread of homosexual and thievery...has taken over the lives of many pastors and ministers."

How much of this is true? I’m not sure, but this we do know, there are homosexual parishioners—even at your church, maybe even your pastor. According to Reverend Irene Monroe’s article in the LA Progressive…”black ministers living on the “down low” (DL) is not a new phenomenon in the African American community. Naming it publicly, however, is. Author J.L. King, exposed the behavior in his best-seller, On The Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of “Straight” Black Men Who Sleep with Men. In his book, king emphatically stated that many of his partners were churchmen…”

So homosexuals attend church—duh; what’s the big deal?

Child Abuse

According to Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment or GRACE, “Child sexual abuse is one of the fastest growing forms of child abuse. In 2003, there were over 90,000 known reported cases of child sexual abuse in the United States. Sadly, the Christian community is far from immune. In the last 10 years, there have been an average of 70 child abuse allegations against American churches every week. And those who survive child abuse face a lifetime of spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges.’ By now, I’m sure many of you have heard the horror stories of the abuse done by Catholic Priests. While GRACE did not directly associate the problem with homosexual church members, many people believe it is indeed a large cause of the problem of child abuse—anywhere. But in all fairness, isn’t this also a problem in the heterosexual community as well? And to be sure, not all child abusers are homosexual.

Another closely related issue is the age old question of whether homosexuals can, by introducing otherwise heterosexual children to the “gay” lifestyle, make a child homosexual.


African Americans account for 48% of new HIV infections. AIDS is the leading cause of death for African American women aged 25 to 34 and HIV rates among Hispanic women are increasing. According to All About Black Health, “One of the most plausible explanations is segregation. African-Americans make up 12% of the US population, 42% of all people living with Aids and more than half of all new infections. They are also least likely to have partners of different races. "A high prevalence of infection in the pool of potential partners can spread sexually transmitted infections rapidly within the ethnic group and keep it there," said Adaora Adimora, an infectious disease physician at the University of North Carolina. The principal theory as to why this affects women so acutely is because of the high rates of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men, which is six times that of whites and four times that of Hispanics, according to a 2001 CDC report. However, homophobia in the black community causes many men to live on "the down-low" - meaning they have public relationships with women and secret sex with men.”

Church Doctrine - Exacerbating The Problem

Another area that has received considerable attention in recent years is the phenomenon of being ‘on the down low’. Homosexuality is highly stigmatized in many black communities, and in a community that is already discriminated against by the general population, few black men want to acquire the extra stigma of being gay. It is also decried by the majority of black churches (and the Christian religion in general), who see homosexuality as a sin. A combination of these factors causes many black men to keep their sexuality a secret.

Most religions view homosexuality as a sin and don’t want to attend church with “open” homosexuals. In Atlanta, when the Rev. Dennis Meredith of Tabernacle Baptist Church here began preaching acceptance of gay men and lesbians a few years ago, he attracted some gay people who were on the brink of suicide and some who had left the Baptist faith of their childhoods but wanted badly to return. At the same time, Tabernacle Baptist, an African-American congregation, lost many of its most loyal, generous parishioners, who could not accept a message that contradicted what they saw as the Bible’s condemnation of same-sex relations. Over the last three years, Tabernacle’s Sunday attendance shrank to 800, from 1,100.

Many African-Americans also oppose gay marriage. Did you know that 70 percent of African-American voters backed Proposition 8 (Prop. 8)? Prop. 8 was a California ballot proposition passed in the November 4, 2008, general election. It changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and eliminated same-sex couples right to marry.

Despite all this, many in the black church simply overlook their gay members, something Keith Boykin has described as the “don’t ask don’t tell policy” of the black church.

A Lesson In Wasted Talent?

Recently, several prominent pastors have come under fire for actually or supposedly being homosexual. One is the Reverend Benjamin Richards who resigned after revealing his sexual orientation to members of the Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church. Reynolds, 45, grew up in Emmanuel Baptist Church and started preaching there when he was 14. He has been the senior pastor at the church for nearly 16 years, he was also the president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until he stepped down.

Is this type of scrutiny fair? Was Benjamin Richards less talented after admitting his homosexuality? Here’s an old question I like to pose to friends at “I Think I Love My Wife” type dinner parties. If you were dying on the sidewalk, would you care if your doctor was gay? Hey, I'm not advocating, I'm just asking.

A Host Of Issues

  • How is this behavior (i.e. down low brothers in church) contributing to the current HIV/AIDS epidemic?
  • Are these persons “turning” young impressionable or troubled youth to the “gay” lifestyle?
  • Given the anti-homosexual stance taken by many churches, what are the moral implications of homosexual parishioners and pastors?
  • Should homosexuals be allowed to marry?
  • Can, or even should, the church come to terms with homosexual parishioners so that they are accepted without ridicule, persecution, or condemnation?
  • Should homosexuals be allowed to hold leadership positions in the church?
  • Is it truly a sin to be homosexual?

As you can see, there are a host of issues surrounding this. However, we must get a handle on homosexuality in the church or these much broader issues will never be resolved—to our detriment.

Perhaps you can help me find some of the answers. What’s your point of view?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Broke? You Can Still Help Someone In Need - Form A Giving Circle

Sometimes, we get so caught up in what's wrong in our world and what needs to be done until we overlook all the good work that "we the people" are doing. One great example, the Giving Circle.

According to Wikipedia, "Giving Circles are a form of philanthropy consisting of groups of individuals who pool their funds and other resources to donate to their communities and seek to increase their awareness and engagement in the process of giving. Through this process, they seek to impact their owncommunities or larger areas - including to have global impacts. The circles can serve as a form of shared, or collective, giving in the context of community economic development or other social ventures.

Members of giving circles donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, decide together where to give these away, and often have some sort of social or educational interaction associated with the giving. Many circles, in addition to donating their money, also contribute their time and skills to supporting local causes."

Voice of America documents the trend saying, "There is strength in numbers. More and more Americans are discovering the truth of that adage ["It Is Better To Give Than Receive"]as they look to 'give back' to their communities. They are forming what are known as "giving circles," and these circles are changing the face of philanthropy in America."

This American Association of Retired Persons video does a great job of explaining the concept.

Here's how to start a Giving Circle.

I think this is one of the best examples of practical, solutions-based thinking I've seen. How about you? Could Giving Circles work in your community?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mr. President, Congress, Wall Street: I know You Don't Get It - But The Bailouts Should Be Tied To Something Tangible

Okay, its happened again. American International Group (AIG) has just paid $165 million in bonuses--to FORMER Chief Executives. Now I ask you, how is that going to help banks start lending or otherwise stimulate the economy? Answer; it won't! And that's the issue! And I ask you, on this the third time, why aren't the bailout moneys being tied to real outcomes, companies having to sign contracts containing terms and conditions on how the money is to be used, and the entire program being managed by Government Program Managers?

As more evidence that these folks are on a different page, note this from the Associated Press:

"Senate Republicans...applying the brakes to Democratic attempts to quickly tax away most of the bonuses at troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies.

Sen. Jon Kyl, the Republicans' vote counter, blocked Democratic efforts Thursday evening to bring up the Senate version of the tax bill to recoup most of the $165 million paid out by AIG last weekend and other bonuses in 2009. The House had swiftly approved its version of the bill earlier in the day.

By rushing, Kyl said, Democrats were letting populist outrage trump informed decision-making in the Senate, which is supposed to be insulated from the pressures of public passion."
Why on earth wouldn't Republicans, who claim to be fiscal conservatives, want to get the taxpayer's money back? And just what do they mean by populist rampage? Those of us who are "rampaging" are the citizens of the United States--the folks who elected you to serve. Remember us?

And what's Obama's stance on this? He's "stunned."

Looking at this whole saga, again, just stresses the point that non of these folks get it--the American people are tired of Government as usual. But we are also tired of being tired. The folks in Washington have heard it all before and they know what we want. But why are we not getting it? I think Tavis Smiley is on the right track, the American people need to hold the folks in Washington more accountable by asking why our specific concerns have not been addressed. We also need to ask them how they are going to.

In this pursuit, The African-American Pragmatist is in the process of drafting a letter to the President and Congress asking that specific concerns be addressed. A short list follows:

  1. Why were the bailouts not tied to concrete results?
  2. Why isn't this being run as a Government program with auditors monitoring how taxpayer money is being spent?
  3. Who is monitoring where all of this money is going?
  4. Republicans, please provide specific reasons why AIG should not return taxpayer money used to pay bonuses?
  5. What specific measures are you going to take to prevent this from happening again?
  6. In measurable terms, explain how giving money to Wall Street and banks is supposed to stimulate the economy? Also, please explain why it has not worked so far.
Do you have a question you would like to ask the President and Congress about this issue? Tell me, and it will be included in the letter. I have set a suspense of April 4. Is this to soon? Please let me know.

Friends, the bottom line is the President and Congress must realize that the American people don't care what side of the isle they sit on. They must either give us tangible solutions to the problems facing this county or get out of D.C.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It’s Not Wrong To Hold Obama (Or Any African-American) Accountable

On April 11 of last year, Tavis Smiley, quit his long association with The Tom Joyner show after facing a backlash from the program's listeners. Smiley has been with the show 11 years.

Recently, Smiley has been in the news again, this time over his new book “Accountable” which makes a public call to hold all public officials, especially President Obama, accountable. According to a National Public Radio article entitled, “Smiley Holds Obama – And You – Accountable,” Smiley even has a list of questions people should ask their leaders and themselves.

I guess my question is; what’s so wrong with this? Shouldn’t our leaders be held accountable? Shouldn’t we [African-Americans] be held accountable as individuals, family members, co-workers, leaders, and politicians for our actions?

If you’ve been reading my posts you’ll see that the Republican Party has come under fire for accepting a narrow view of “conservatism” and being critical or anybody from outside of the Religious Right. But isn’t this the same thing? Are we saying that just because someone is black…and popular, he or she can’t or should not bear scrutiny?

Regardless of what one might think of Tavis Smiley, his persona, or his agenda, doesn’t he have a point? Is it wrong to seek truth?

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” –Mathew 5:14-16

What do you or don't you like about Tavis? Do you feel President Obama is being held accountable?

Tell me what you think! Have an opinion (and I know you do) I’ll listen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One Black's Woman Opinion re: The Octuplet Mom

I am really growing tired of the attention surrounding the Octuplet mom. I know this short post may strike a chord, which I hope it does, because I believe the elevation of the Octuplet mom to 'media-darling' has some not-so-subtle racial undertones.

If a single African-American mom, who already had 6 children, would have had 8 more babies with no real means of supporting such a large family, I doubt she would have received such outpouring of sentiment. First of all, her mental state would have been questioned. DHR/Child Services would have likely taken immediate custody of those 8 babies, as well as the 6 at home, and ordered evaluations of the mother. Everyone would have likely been speculating about the mom's motivations: Was she doing just to get a check (or a 'fatter' check, assuming the mother was already receiving public assistance)? Additionally, what medical practitioner would have assisted a single African American mom of 6 by impregnating her to give birth to 8 more? I believe a single African American mom in similar circumstances as the Octuplet mom would have been denigrated, rather than exalted, in the court of public opinion. And why would a Mother allow throngs of cameras, lights, and people in her home at a time when these young babies need less media attention and more of their mother's attention?

I would like to hear from you - after all this is only one Black woman's opinion.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Republican Party: Out To Destroy America - Just To Make A Point

My girl Dovescorner (Twitter) turned me on to this video - thanks baby girl.

It's an interview D.L. Hughley did with Frank Schaeffer (author of "Crazy For God") about fundamentalist Christianity, the Republican Party, and the religious right. It's really intriguing.

During the interview, Schaeffer makes a plethora of points:
  • Americans are tired of voting for someone JUST because they fundamentalist Christians.
  • The religious right is now the base of the Republican Party.
  • George Bush II was unqualified to be President but was elected solely because of his fundamentalist views.
  • John McCain asked Sarah Palin to be his running mate simply because she was a fundamentalist Christian and to appease the Republican base.
  • The Republican Party has moved from [favoring small government and physical constraint] to one which represents fundamentalist Christians on one side and a view of the world that sees everyone that is other [minorities, homosexuals, different countries, etc.] as the enemy. Do you agree with Schaeffer?
  • The Republican Base now consists of "...religious and neoconservative ideologues and the uneducated white underclass with a token person of color or two. The best thing that has happened to this country is the election of Barack Obama.

The issue is simple. Does the Republican Party's current agenda pose a threat to you, your freedom of choice, your prosperity, or your way of life?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Black men in prison: To fix this problem we must fix the black family

I was reading an article by Earl Ofari Hutchinson entitled, "America's Prison Juggernaut Continues to Crush Black Males." In it, Ofari takes the central stance that "...High joblessness, failing public schools, budget cutbacks in skills training and placement programs, the refusal of employers to hire those with criminal records, and the gaping racial disparity in the drug sentencing laws are the major reasons why far more blacks than whites are behind bars."

Do you agree with this?

I'm not sure I do. Now, while I agree that these factors do play a role in crime for all races, I think other reasons are far more prominent. What about the role of the family? What about the absence of black fathers in the home or a positive role model in the male's life?

Black pastors, how do you feel about the role of family and black male crime?

Now, I don't know about your city, but here in Atlanta, news about black males committing crime doesn't seem to change, in good times and bad. To check out my notional feeling on this, I took the liberty of looking at some Bureau of Justice crime statistics for the years 1993 through 2009. What I found was interesting.

1993 - The incarceration rate of blacks was 7 times that of whites. At year end there were 1,471 black inmates per 100,000 black U.S. residents, compared to 207 white inmates per 100,000 white residents.

2000 - Among the more than 1.3 million sentenced inmates at year end, an estimated 428,300 were black males between the ages of 20 and 39. At year end 2000, 9.7% of black males age 25 to 29 were in prison, compared to 2.9% of Hispanic males and 1.1% of white males in the same age group.

2001 - Among the more than 1.3 million sentenced inmates at year end 2001, an estimated 441,700 were black males between the ages of 20 and 39. At year end 2001, 10.0% of black males age 25 to 29 were in prison, compared to 2.9% of Hispanic males and 1.2% of white males in the same
age group.

2002 - At year end, 10.4 % for black males age 25 to 29 were in prison.

2003 - At year end, 9.3% of black males age 25 to 29 were in prison.

2004 - About 8.4% of black males between ages 25 and 29 were in State or Federal prison

2005 - About 8.1% of black males age 25 to 29 were in State or Federal prison.

2007 - While the imprisonment rates for most groups increased during the past 7 years, the imprisonment rates for black males and black females decreased. At year end 2000, the black male imprisonment rate was 3,188 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents. White men were imprisoned at a rate of 410 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents. By year end 2007, the black male imprisonment rate had decreased to 3,138 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents, while the white male imprisonment rate increased to 481 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents. These changes resulted in a decrease in the ratio of imprisoned black men to imprisoned white men. In 2000 the ratio was 8 to 1 and in 2007 the ratio was 7 to 1.

Again, joblessness and failing public schools may explain some crime. However, it falls far from an answer. Many feel that the black economic resurgence occurred when Bill Clinton was in office (January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001). If this is true, how would Hutchinson and others explain the rise in black crime rates during this period?

I think it's high time for the black community to seriously examine the core issues affecting crime in our community: absence of black fathers, absence of positive role models in the lives of many young black males, single mothers (may of whom are babies themselves) trying to raise a child, the negative images the media keeps pumping out to our youth, and the lack of personal responsibility and accountability in general.

Black moms, do you really think your kids can listen to much of today's music and watch many of today's videos and not be negatively affected? You tell me.

I tell you, I don't think we're going to fix this problem until we fix the black family.

Now tell me; what do you think? --IamRobert and I'm listening.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Immigrant Entrepreneurs - The Key to U.S. Economic Recovery

According to homeland house, “…small business is the bedrock of American commerce and industry…small firms generate 60 to 80 percent of the new jobs. Small firms employ about half of all private sector employees, shell out more than 45 percent of total U.S. private payroll, create more than half of non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP), and provide jobs for 40 percent of our high tech employees.

Did you know that immigrants represent a significant proportion of business owners and therefore will play a key role in the U.S. economic recovery? It’s true.

And don’t think that immigrants only serve as cheap labor. US News & World Report featured a report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (report) by researchers from Babson and Baruch colleges which “debunks the myth that poor immigrants do not contribute much to economic growth…In fact, a not-insubstantial number become entrepreneurs. For example, according to the report, about a quarter of early-stage businesses started by Mexican-Americans are started by people of lower household income (under $40,000).”

Partly because of language barriers, partly due to culture, and partly out of desperation; immigrants tend to be entrepreneurs, and set up shops and small businesses on their own. For instance, a survey of 28,000 companies found that immigrants were key founders in more than a quarter of all the engineering and technology companies set up in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005. The researchers say the "startling statistics" they have put together show that the U.S. economy depends upon the high rates of entrepreneurship and education among immigrants to "maintain its global edge."

Statistics from the Small Business Administration Supports This Claim:

* According to Census 2000, immigrants constitute 12.2 percent of the total U.S. work force, and 12.5 percent of the total population of U.S. business owners. The total business income generated by immigrant business owners is $67 billion, representing11.6 percent of all business income in the United States.

* Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business than are non immigrants, and they represent 16.7 percent of all new business owners in the United States.

* Immigrant business owners make significant contributions to business income, generating $67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business income, as estimated from 2000 U.S. Census data.

* Business owners from Mexico constitute the largest share of immigrant business owners.”

National Statistics

* A 2006 Study by Duke University and the University of California at Berkeley indicates that 25% of engineering and science companies were founded with at least one immigrant. Nationwide, these immigrant-founded companies produced $52 billion in sales and employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

* A 2006 study by Stuart Anderson, National Foundation for American Policy and Michaela Platzer, Content First, found that immigrant-founded venture-backed companies are concentrated in cutting edge sectors: high-technology manufacturing, information technology and life sciences.

Massachusetts — a case study

* A 2006-2007 study commissioned by The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. (5) found that immigrant entrepreneurs contributed to the Massachusetts Biotechnology industry in the following ways: 25.7 % of bio tech companies in New England have at least one foreign-born founder.

* Bio tech companies in New England with at least one immigrant founder produced over $7.6 billion in sales and employed over 4,000 workers in 2006. 12 % of founders of MA bio tech firms are women.

* The preliminary evidence suggests that immigrants have been key contributors to the creation of new businesses and intellectual capital in the very successful biotechnology industry in Massachusetts.

From the nail salon, to the beauty supply store, to the convenience store, to high-tech. industries, immigrants have led the entrepreneurial trend in much of the country. The businesses they start will undoubtedly generate much needed jobs which will in turn help stimulate the U.S. economy. So, while the Republicans are talking about “sealing the boarders,” it might be wise to think about immigration reform in a different light.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yeah, We All Know Rush Hates “Liberalism” – Problem Is What’s His Definition of It?

By now, I’m sure you all have heard the sound bite of Rush’s latest comment regarding Barack Obama: at his closing speech at the CPAC conference, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh doubled down on his widely-controversial claim that he wanted President Barack Obama to fail, insisting that he meant what he said, and chastising those who were critical of him. But, what exactly did we hear? More importantly, didn’t get to hear? My point is that just like you can’t always judge a book by its cover; you can’t always judge a person by a sound bite. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Rush fan, but I am one of the truth—now matter who it favors at the time.

Now, I think it's a forgone conclusion that Rush wants “Liberalism”, to fail. At issue here, is just what does he mean by “Liberalism”? To address that question I think we need to look at Rush’s comments historically. For brevity’s sake; I’ll only start with this year.

According to Think Progress, on January 16, “Limbaugh told his listeners that he was asked by 'a major American print publication' to offer a 400-word statement explaining his 'hope for the Obama presidency.' He responded: So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, 'Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.' (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, 'Oh, you can’t do that.' Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here.” Problem is; there was no definition of the term so what was meant was left to one’s perception of Rush.

On January 19, Rush did an interview with Sean Hannity. I took the liberty of reading the full transcript of Rush’s interview with Sean Hannity and provide you his full comment: …"Sean, he is our president now, and he's not black. He's not from Mars. He's our president. He's a human being. We're a country comprised of human beings that the Democrat Party and the left have attempted to arrange into groups of victims, and that's who he appeals to, and the victims are the people waiting around for some grievance to be resolved. They're waiting around for something to happen for them, and he is parlaying that. So I think the fact that he's African-American -- his father was black -- to me, it's irrelevant. This is the greatest country on earth. We want to keep it that way. It is that way for specific reasons. Now I look at the things that he has said, and I'm very much concerned that our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won't be great, that we're just going to become average. "

So, are these comments racist, or a legitimate opinion against a policy or political direction that he disagrees with?

On February 28, Rush addressed CPAC (full transcript) and attempted to clarify his position. Read it and decide for yourself. It’s long, but a factual account of what Rush said—in its entirety.

What am I getting at here?

Racism does exist, yet even a racist has the right and civil obligation to question political policy and direction…just not a person’s right to exist and thrive.

What people take from Rush’s speeches (aside from the outlandish sidebars) has more to do with what's in their hearts and minds in the first place rather than what he says—we hear what we want to hear.

The time for demagoguery has past. No one should twist facts to support their position—people want solutions, not emotions.

No one has demanded that Rush defend, from a public policy perspective, what he means by Liberalism as it relates to creating America’s problems—but he has attempted to do that on his own.

The real issue here is that many of us assume we know Rush Limbaugh, what he stands for, and what he means when he makes one of his outlandish statements. Part of the problem is Rush. Consider this comment (according to Media Matters) made on the January 24 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, where he referred to then Sen. Barack Obama and actress Halle Berry as "Halfrican American[s]." What can one take from the comment except that he was insulting their ethnicity…or worse? But I believe the real Rush Limbaugh has been overlooked—that of master showman. You see the outlandish sales whether you’re on the right or left. So next time you hear Rush, ask yourself; do you want a good show or a good solution?