Mediocrity

March 26, 2006

It seems that lately the US is being led and inundated with mediocrity.  Since mediocrity left to its own incompetence will breed nothing better than mediocrity; it is no surprise that inundation is the natural child of leadership.  We could be basking in excellence with our children living up to our excellent expectations instead of reveling in C’s.  George Bush the leader of the greatest nation in the world is only a C student and appears to be failing in post graduate Political Science.  The number 2 man, Dick Cheney, who is rumored to be the real president, flunked out of Yale twice.  Ashcroft, a failed at politician, who was rescued from obscurity by his mediocre friends, now leads the key legal organization for our government.  Mediocre people lead us into mediocre wars, with no defined enemy, making a quantitative measure of victory virtually impossible.  We can only gauge progress through the ramblings and arm waving of the Ari and Rummy shown in, ostensibly, called press conferences.  The enemy, Osama Ben Laden, who allegedly masterminded the 9/11 attack on our symbols of financial greatness cannot be found even after a dwarfed emulation of D-day.  He has vanished into the hills of Afghanistan to become the Middle East version of Jesse James.  He is no Hitler or Mussolini just a local wealthy Saudi Arabian with some anti Semitic axes to grind but has been made larger than life thanks to mediocrity, the news media, and people who hawk any disaster for ratings.  The mediocre can’t find real life big heroes; they can only spin the small tin horns into something that simulates greatness and reality. The imitations become the realities of this media and commercial driven life.  The Ads become larger than the super bowl.  With a C you can rule the world!  Imitation of life becomes the destination of mediocrity.  The more the imitation makes us feel as if our very lives are at stake, then it deserves an award, an honor, to cement the pseudo-reality.  The imitation is staged with polls, canned experts, pundits, and personal testimony in dire need of attention.  Mediocrity is directed, produced and marketed with all of the wisdom that MBAs can muster.  Our world is being ruled by mediocre people managing mediocre events by escalating trivia into national and life threatening crisis.  Compare, if you can free your preconception, the Civil War, World 1, World war II, Korean War, Vietnam War, with the “War on Terror”.

Does it make reasonable sense to judge a nation by its leaders?  Does having mediocre leaders mean that the nation is mediocre or at least heading it into mediocrity.  Was the fall of Rome precipitated by choosing or tolerating mediocre leaders?  Should Nero have confined himself to a musical conservatory instead of being the emperor of Rome?  Should George Bush confine himself to managing his ranch in Crawford, Texas as opposed to launching vicious personal assaults on your adversaries by calling them evil or pygmies?  A true sign of mediocrity is to call your adversaries names instead of developing leadership strategies and policies to place your adversaries into weak or indefensible positions.  A leader’s finesse of foreign policy leads their adversaries to self-destruct.  Further, mediocrity breeds mediocrity since none of the subordinate leaders want to outshine their leader or the mediocre leader cannot distinguish excellence in people when they are presented.  If they have the potential to outshine their leader, they take on the mantel of mediocrity as a job preservation maneuver.  Hence you have all other people in subordinate leadership positions degrading to mediocrity.  The whole situation becomes degenerative and a me-too paralysis sets in where everyone ratifies mediocrity and all three branches of the government supports poor decisions

Mediocrity surrounds us everywhere, in the vaulted halls of the fortune 500, atonal sounds of rap replace the sensations of Louis Armstrong, our elite troops come out as heroes when faced with mobs in Somalia, perpetrators of vicious acts get lost in the mountains of Pakistan, our allies.  We move on to other evils in Korea, Iraq, and who knows Iran may be next; neither finishing what we started or selling a plausible conclusion to the billions wasted in our narrow minded pursuit of evil. The greatness of Roosevelt was tackling his own national problems, first and then moving onto the world stage when called upon to do so.  Greatness requires the ability to recognize pain and to use creative energies and talents to relieve this pain.  Mediocrity is never penetrating enough to recognize pain and provide the necessary where withal for relief.   Mediocrity does and mediocrity is……. We are doomed as a nation!

Perhaps the largest victims of mediocrity are the people who would accept and swallow mediocrity rather than admit their malaise and insist upon the excellence all of their lives deserve.   They may have revisit and correct past mistakes and spotlight the shills and frauds that led them down this path of weakness.  They may have to open old wounds for needed healing and health, take Florida, for example.  Other mediocre people will not raise to excellence unless it is required by the constituents they represent.  Witness the Supreme Court’s decision around Florida and our legislator’s abdication around the Iraq war.   Here mediocrity can become radioactively deadly by not having leaders who understand the foreign policy complexities of the Middle and the Far East with both North Korea and Israel possessing weapons of mass destruction.    

Maybe, our silence which fosters mediocrity is our curse.  If we demanded the best in our leaders, we would truly be the best!  If we insisted on excellence, we would not be faced with silly arguments rationalizing the loss of over 2.8 million jobs lost.  We would not have to explain to some young child the loss of his father or mother on some foreign shore due to the folly of someone who can’t feel or has never experienced true pain.  Those who serve us owe us the best, since we are expected to yield our lives in defense of our jobs, communities, and heirs.  We will not be shielded by Air Force 1 when the missiles are headed our way.  We who make the ultimate sacrifice have the exclusive right to demand the best, i.e. excellence.  No C student is worthy of our ultimate sacrifice!

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Slavery and the US Economy

 

Waldron H. Giles, Ph.D.

Wilmington, Delaware, USA

 

Slavery raises a host of negative images for Black people; so much so, they fail to realize the tremendous economic contributions they made, albeit forced, to the development of the United States into a world power.  This lack of realization stems from the national shame of slavery and the concomitant national denial which in reality has become a weak defense mechanism. To a large degree Blacks and whites have bought into this denial, albeit for different reasons.  In spite of this contribution Blacks continue to vie for respect and acceptance by the very country that they practically own via a down payment with their own blood, sweat, and tears.  Through the shame of slavery African Americans continue to increase the “Debt7” they are owed instead of steadfastly demanding payment. 

The resulting hypothesis of this economic analysis of slavery is that the current “Debt” is too large to foster healthy discussions with whites and continued avoidance of such discussions has been and will continue to be disguised under a variety of racist manipulations.  The purpose of this economic analysis is to enlighten African Americans and end the impotence produced by this shame and to undo those stereotypical images of laziness, ignorance, criminal behavior, and incompetence. The form of superiority imposed by self-pity continues to defeat the positive self-images and hinders the increased racial creativity and accomplishments that African Americans need in today’s jingoistic climate.  Whether African descendants will be justly compensated for their sacrifices is not the principle issue, here. The paramount issue is that African Americans appreciate their contributions and constantly remind their heirs of the trillions of unpaid dollars earned by their ancestors and they and they alone made the largest national loan in history and financed the world’s greatest power.  Most of that “loaned” money is still in circulation today and the “Debt” is still alive and real!

The first African slaves hit the shores of the United States in 1619 and were constantly imported into the US until 1860 even though importation had been outlawed in 1830’s.  Over those intervening 246 years they contributed more than 605 billion hours of free labor, which funded the industrial revolution, financed most of the fortune 500 companies, helped finance two world wars, and left a negative sociological impact on an entire race of people.  Slaves born in the US since slave importation started decreasing in 1810 supplied most of the labor.  Importation as a source of free labor was replaced by forced breeding because it was a lot more profitable.  However, the profits obtained from slave importation were phenomenal since slaves could be purchased in Africa for less than $40 and sold in the US for between $500 and $1,000.  Profits obtained from a single ship traversing the golden triangle passage averaged greater than $175,000 even though as many as one in three of the slaves died during the middle passage.  Commodities (cotton, tobacco, Bibles, and guns) were the cargoes on the other two legs of the triangle.

To determine the economic value of slavery, the population of slaves in the US was obtained from the US Census Bureau1, 2.  It was assumed that, on average, slaves worked some 60 hours per week for 51 weeks during the years with the average pay rate over the 164 years at $.10 per hour.   All of these assumptions are conservative since underreporting was a common practice since state and local taxes had to be paid on the number of slaves.  This practice was offset since congressional representation counted slaves as 3/5 of a person.  The results of the economic value of this free labor are, when inflated conservatively at 3% to 2010 dollars, a staggering value of  $22.8 trillion dollars or to put this number in a more visual perspective; it amounts to $615,000 per African American currently living in the US.  This amount is low since slave labor has been counted from the year 1700 instead of 1619 and, as mentioned previously, the census data is, in all likelihood, is low for various taxing demands and for those members of the Black race that were able to pass for white or elude the census.  The undercounting of Blacks still is a major problem for adequate representation, particularly in the South.

The $22.8 trillion dollar slave contribution is still within the US economy since the dollar has constantly inflated in value, and money like matter in never destroyed; it can be wasted but not destroyed, in an inflationary economy. This slave-induced contribution is still working and funding new ventures, within the US economy as we speak.  Those who made this contribution, albeit forced, have been largely denied access to the very capital and business accouterments they developed.  Following the thread of these dollars would be another interesting aspect of black economic research since even without detailed research it is known that Aetna Insurance Co., E.I. Dupont, and J.P. Morgan, Brown University, to name a very, very few, reaped substantial benefits from the grim business of slavery.  For example, Pierre Bauduy purchased 4 out of the original 16 shares issued for the E.I. DuPont Company for $8,000.  Pierre Bauduy, obtained his money from the profits of a Haitian plantation which he was forced to vacate during the Haitian revolution.  The manufacturers4 of slave ships and cotton merchants heavily financed Brown University in its early beginnings.  Aetna Insurance Co. sold insurance policies on slaves to protect slave owners from the losses of run away slaves.  The original capital for J.P. Morgan5 was derived from its cotton trading company in the south.  So much fortune was amassed off the backs of the cotton, tobacco, and rice-picking slaves that J.P. Morgan loaned money to the US government during the Civil war.

Another way to view the economic contribution of slavery to the US economy would be to assume that only 5% of the value of the slave labor was invested in the stock market in the year the labor was accrued.  Five percent was chosen since this is the most common bottom line that is found in Fortune 500 income statements.  Using market growth data provided by the Rittenhouse Trust6 data  and the moneys are accumulated from 1700 through 1830 (the beginning of the Rittenhouse data), yields a value of $7,700 trillion in 2008 dollars.  The subsequent moneys are invested at the time they accrued yields an additional $3,500 trillion.  Combining these values leads to a staggering $11.2 quadrillion in 2008 dollarsWith these staggering capital gains, we begin to gain insight into the US national avoidance on the subject of slave labor, reparations, and why African Americans are constantly being placed on the defensive around their monumental economic contribution.  When one reflects on the magnitude of this capital, denial becomes a pitiful and yet effective excuse for continued domination of the descendants and nations of Africa that have been exploited. 

Whereas, only four major institutions and corporations have been mentioned here, considering the vast sums of money most, if not all, major corporations have benefited in varying degrees from the $11, 200 trillion of profits accrued from slavery.  Major endowments to Universities that have reluctantly, at best, supported Affirmative Action are another major financial thread yet to be unwound.  Education and the business of education are another twist of irony for those who have struggled long and hard to escape the yoke and stigma of slavery.

The economic yields from slavery presented herein are for the United States only and covers only the period from 1700 through 1865.  One must keep in mind that the first slaves came to North America almost 100 years prior to the time period of this economic evaluation.  The majority of the slaves were imported to the Caribbean, Brazil, Columbia, the Guyanas, and other parts of South America, which more than doubles the economic figures, presented here when viewed on a global scale.  Brazil alone has close to 100 million descendants of African slaves! The capital gained from slavery in the Americas was invested in colonialism, which further compounded the current economic enslavement of the African descendants on both sides of the Atlantic.  The problem was further compounded considering some 20 to 25 million young souls (mostly male) were taken from the continent of Africa leaving that continent devoid of military protection and agricultural productivity.  This human capital deficit from slavery and its evil offspring, colonialism, is still being felt in all African countries and the Diaspora.

On a global scale the magnitude of the total “Debt” is so huge as to possibly destabilize capitalism as opposed to the continued economic exploitation of Africa.  Under the enormity of this “Debt”, reparations, which in the future may be the cheapest way out, will be vigorously resisted by the former colonial powers.  Continuing demands for a return on investment of $7.2 quadrillion will force African Nations (ironically, the original unwilling investors) further into debt leading to deeper poverty, depravation, political instability and exploitation of their natural resources.  The tragic irony of African national debts is that they were the original investors who should be seeking compensation for the egregious crimes of slavery instead of merely seeking debt relief.  The sheer increasing weight of this global “Debt” is the force that must be reckoned with and surely will change world history in this the 21st century.  The repayment will be extracted in one way or the other.  As the saying goes, “What goes around, comes around”!                                                                                                          

* The Talented Tenth Development Consortium conducts research on the economic relationships between various geo-political/economic events and their impact on Africans, their communities, and Nations.  From such models strategies, policies, and leveraging techniques are developed.

References

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Negro Population, 1790-1915 (Washington, D.C., 1918), 29, 53

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, (1975): Historical Statistics of the United States, (Washington, D.C.. 1975) 2:1168

Dodd, William H. A. (1964): The Duponts of Delaware, (Mead Co. 1964)

Hedges, J.B. (1999):, Browns of Providence Plantation, (Harvard University Press,1952}

Strouse,  Jean (1999), Morgan, American Financier, (Random House NY, April 1999)

The Rittenhouse Trust Co., The Market Keeps Going, (Ibottson Associates, 2001)

Robinson, Randall (2000): The Debt, (Penguin Putnam, Inc., NY, Jan 2000)

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The Black Beauty and the Beast

The Black Beauty and the Beast

Waldron H. Giles, Ph.D

 

 

Now in its third year, the tragic irony of Proctor & Gamble’s (P&G) “My Black is Beautiful Campaign” moves on to continue the exploitation of low self-esteem, the false idolatry of star power, and the enormous purchasing power of Black women.  The latest twist in this two century old con game is to search for “real” people to serve as models to represent P&G’s version of “My Black is Beautiful

 

It is interesting that there now is a personal possessive pronoun associated with Black and Beautiful.  Back in the day it was a collective thing for all of us to Be Black and Beautiful.  However, since Black women choose to spend more than 3 times more of their disposable income on beauty products than the rest of the entire female population; it becomes important to fathom the deep rooted reasons why Black women feel the necessity to spend their hard earned dollars for a “My Black is beautiful” campaign.  These reasons do not obscure the not so subtle message within the My which attempts to economically divide a group of common-bonded people that have collectively borne, over the ages, the wrath of P&G, GE, J P Morgan, Standard Oil, E I DuPont, etc as these major corporations utilized the profits from slavery to project and amplify their versions of white superiority. Implicitly the My states:  I, personally, am financially able to spend large portions of my unequal disposable income to purchase a commercially defined false sense of beauty and if you (my sisters) can’t afford to pay, then you are deemed ugly, have made no progress toward integration into the American dream , and you still bear the stains of plantation ignorance.

 

The tragic ironic history of My Black Beauty Campaign is that Proctor & Gamble has a history of denigrating Black beauty and through its strong participation in eugenic experiments which destroyed both Black lives and self-images in order to advance the imperialistic concept of white superiority.  Dr. Clarence J. Gamble, one of the early descendants of the Gamble soap empire actively participated in eugenic sterilization practices on Black women and men in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />North Carolina and Alabama.  Dr. Gamble became the southern regional director of the Birth Control Federation of America, a sadistic euphemistic methodology, for limiting Black population growth after the Civil War.  Some years later this concept was amplified by Henry Kissinger, former secretary of State who was quoted Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the third world, because the US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.”

The titles of these eugenic organizations were chosen so as to hide the real intent of the organization, i.e. the eradication of Black people.   Eugenic organizations were supported by most of the wealthy families in the US prior to and during the exportation of these eugenic procedures Nazi Germany where all sorts of ghoulish procedures were employed on Jews, Poles, Russians, and Gypsies,
 

 

Again, we are being tricked into worshipping the false gods which history has proven will continue to envelop us in poverty and misery.  P&G cares less about our future and the future of our children as it sees only dollars from a market that they played an evil hand in its construction.  Since we do not write our own history and our memories are limited P&G can brainwash us into thinking we are ugly and then turn around and sell us trinkets and trash that would make us beautiful.  We need the real history to make us whole and then beauty will radiates from within this wholeness.  Since the wholeness renders the purchase of beauty products meaningless; we also gain security since our hard earned dollars can now be used for other necessary items that are more important in our lives and the lives of our children.  For example, had we invested in something that would create jobs for our sisters, brothers, and children then retribution for P&G’s past and current sins would be even sweeter!

 

For a moment let us examine the Black experiences here in the US.  Blacks have become the model consumer since their per capita consumption of products far outpaces other ethnic groups with higher per capita incomes.  There are good reasons for why this is so.  Black for the first 200 years of their existence in the US were prohibited from all participation in the market.  After the civil Wars, segregation further limited Black participation in the market.  The Civil Rights campaign, the drive for integration, quickly led to a pent-up market demand by Blacks.  This pressure of this demand was fueled by some 250 years of denial caused by slavery and segregation.  When the flood gates opened Blacks flocked to the market to buy with any and everything by any means necessary.  Retailers had finally constructed and could service a group of people who just wanted to buy and cared little about quality and the quid pro quo between purchaser and the market.  Normally the products consumers buy creates jobs where the consumer is employed and via this employment becomes more financially capable to purchase more.  However, these markets of deprived Blacks appeared to care only to consume without considering to other parameters in the market/production cycle, i.e. equal pay, demographic representation in the labor market at all employment levels, and equal pricing.  With Blacks the market could provide lower quality, charge more, and siphon a larger percentage of their disposable income without being held accountable for equal representation on pay day.  The credit industry which made purchasing possible maintained higher credit rates for Blacks than whites.  Within this structure, the white superiority was re-enforced with the myth that Blacks were higher credit risks.  The exploited Black consumer had been created by setting various concepts and practices in place that would render and continue to render Black people as inferior consumers.  This in itself conditioned the Black consumer into the ideal consumer since it was considered an honor bor Blacks to purchase goods and the more he or she purchased the higher on the individual worth scale he or she became.  It was now possible to condition the consumer and the market to the everlasting benefit to the bottom line.  P&G and their corporate peers began to understand very well, that the Black market is the most lucrative market in the land of the free!  For this exploitation concept to work effectively some of the US citizens had to be freer than others.  A reasonable comparison would be to look at the pent-up demand after a war where rationing has been lifted.  Consumers rush to the market place and buy with unlimited energy.  However, racially pent-up demands are more easily controlled than the initiation and termination of wars and with continuous manipulation this demand can continue for generation instead of years.  We can now appreciate P&G and their market manipulation via My Black is Beautiful.

 

 A P&G survey found that 80 percent of Black women are disenchanted with the way they are portrayed in the media.  P&G participated in making 80% of Black women disenchanted with their eugenic participations of the past.  They manipulated the market which in turn led to an ethnic beauty market that is extremely large and has grown by double digits within the last 5 years, in spite of an extremely severe recession.  It is proof that slavery generated pent-up demands outlive the participating generation and is money in the bank when corporations can control your image over generations; in fact this is the ultimate control which continues some 150 years after the end of slavery.  We, after all of these years, should control our own image!

 

The heartening fact is that P&G can see the value of our money far beyond our ability to target and leverage it into something that is going to reap greater tangible benefits than a coating over our eyes.  It would make better sense to let P&G know that we want more for our children than an eye shadow.  We want our children to have security a college education, jobs, etc. and merely giving us a real person who personifies My Black Beauty just doesn’t get it! We need and deserve more and we will shop elsewhere or better yet, stop shopping, until we get what we deserve,

What Gamble and the other disciples of Eugenics believed is – if Western civilization were to survive, the physically unfit, the materially poor, the spiritually diseased, the racially inferior, and the mentally incompetent had to be suppressed and isolated, and eventually eliminated.  After all the earth has limited natural resources and survival of the fittest means the  survivors are the one who are able to control the earth’s resources.  Being Black and  being the victims of sterilization experiment is North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and even Harlem to name a few; makes it virtually impossible to develop a healthy self-esteem.  By virtue of these methods of destruction of healthyself-images it is now possible to turn these victims into massive targets of opportunity.  In this ultimate capitalistic model, befitting some serious case studies by any Harvard MBA student, is the methodologies employed first to create inferior self-beliefs and then to sell them personalized products that the victims believes will cure this socially induced sense of inferiority.   Since, the sense of inferiority is false; thus the purchased items to make one beautiful are also false.  Purchasing false ideals is not the worse sin.  The greater sin is the destruction of the self-development that wreaks havoc over many, many generations.  As Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted saying “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. 

 

The mistake of not knowing the full history of P&G allows us to forget about all of the beautiful women of our culture who developed their beauty without buying it.  Women like Lena Horne, Sojourner Truth, Ruby Dee, Harriet Tubman, Nora Thurston Zeale, Phyllis Wheatley, and many, many more.  These women were inherently beautiful and needed no self-esteem boosters-in-a-bottle to move them upward and onward.  The important side benefit is that they conserved their hard earned resources for the more important aspects of personal development which ultimately paved the way for racial upward movement in some rather perilous times. They did not allow the likes of P&G with their historic demagoguery of superiority to either define our own Black beauty or manipulate our Black minds into to purchasing their trinkets and trash.

Our own definitions of beauty determine our future and will continue to be our best defense against our eugenic demise.  To condition our own minds is to seize both – the time and our destiny.

 

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