BEEU 2009 Semester One: Designed To Be 'Equal To The Task'
"And that's why my number one priority coming in is making sure that we've got an economic recovery plan that is equal to the task," said President-Elect Barack Obama on the December 7, 2008 edition of Meet The Press. Those words, ‘equal to the task,’ struck me on more than one level.
They made me think deeper into the 2009 Semester that we have planned for Black Electorate Economics University, the Lessons for which begin on December 17, 2008.
By many measures, this country (and world) is entering an economic period, phase, stage or term, perhaps only matched by The Panic of 1907 or The Great Depression, beginning in 1929. Therefore, comparisons between Barack Hussein Obama and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are not inappropriate in a certain sense. Consider this exchange between Mr. Obama and Tom Brokaw, moderator of the December 7th program:
MR. BROKAW: Very nice to have you with us. As we saw in the opening, the world has gotten considerably worse since your election. There is no evidence that it's cause and effect, you should be happy to know. But, nonetheless, we now are officially in a recession. It's around the world, and most analysts think it's going to get worse before it gets better. Sixty-seven years ago this day, one of your predecessors, Franklin Roosevelt, faced Pearl Harbor.
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Right.
MR. BROKAW: What are the differences between his challenges and the ones that you face?
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's important for us to remember that as tough as times are right now, they're nothing compared to what my grandparents went through, what the "greatest generation" went through. You know, at this point you already had 25, 30 percent unemployment across the country, and we didn't have many of the social safety nets that emerged out of the New Deal. So there's no doubt that Franklin Roosevelt had to re-create an entire economic structure that had entirely collapsed, and we've got some strengths that he didn't, he didn't have.
But, look, if you look at the unemployment numbers that came out yesterday, if you think about almost two million jobs lost so far, if you think about the fragility of the financial system and the fact that it is now a global financial system, so that what happens in Thailand or Russia can have an impact here, and obviously, what happens on Wall Street has an impact worldwide, when you think about the structural problems that we already had in the economy before the financial crisis, this is a big problem and it's going to get worse. And, and one of the things that I'm constantly mindful of are all the people I met during the campaign who were already struggling before things got worse. You know, mothers and fathers who were working hard every day but didn't have health care, couldn't figure out how to send their kids to college. Now they're looking at pink slips, jobs being shipped overseas that devastate entire towns. And that's why my number one priority coming in is making sure that we've got an economic recovery plan that is equal to the task.
Now, consider this from an excellent recent interview of intellectual Cornell West conducted by Kam Williams and published at The Urban Network:
Kam Williams: Why hasn’t he [President-Elect Obama] tapped some of the brilliant, progressive economists who aren’t Clintonistas or already part of the corporatocracy?
Cornell West: I was on the radio calling for folks like William Greider, Paul Krugman, James Galbraith, William Julius Wilson, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Joseph Stieglitz. All these are progressive economists. Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, my dear brother and colleague at Princeton, is very important. Of course, the Obama people won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole yet. They will eventually. I think Brother Obama is wise enough to be pushed by events, even if he’s not going to be pushed by his advisors. Those folks are a little too anemic.
Professor West makes very important, powerful, and interesting points - many I share and a few I don't. We'll take up this subject in a full Lesson at BEEU on January 21, 2009 - "The Economic Cabinet Of The President, In Recession and Depression." It includes a review of the economic advisers surrounding President Barack Obama, their background and ideology, and their likely impact on U.S. fiscal, monetary, and trade policy.
The study of history is so important to the kind of clear, creative and critical thinking that is essential to the task of decision-making and leadership. That some leaders study the history of other leaders of consequence, should not come as a surprise when we consider these words of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad – written 72 years ago:
"History, of all our studies, is most attractive and best qualified to reward our research, as it develops the springs and motives of human actions and displays the consequences of circumstances which operates most powerfully on the destinies of human beings. It stands true that we, the Lost Found Nation of Islam, in the wilderness of North America, have not applied ourselves to the study of history, but rather to folly. The wise man is he who has made a careful study of the past events, of ancient and modern history. The knowledge of the future is judged by the knowledge of the past. There are some men who are born with the gift of prophecy, while others are trained into it through an intense study of history."
In 1998 I had a conversation with Democratic Strategist Robert Shrum of Shrum, Devine and Donilon. He made an interesting statement to me. He said, “(Congressman Newt) Gingrich absorbed FDR, and (President Ronald) Reagan absorbed JFK.” It took me a while to understand his words, which point to the value of history. I will allow the reader to perhaps, interpret Mr. Shrum’s words for themselves.
Interestingly I have since learned that early on, the Reagan administration referred to the policies of President Calvin Coolidge as an instructive model.
Much has been made and reported of President-Elect Obama’s study of the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. And as previously mentioned, the economic conditions facing the man scheduled to become the 44th President of The United States have been compared to that which faced President Franklin Roosevelt.
But little if any analysis or comparison has been made regarding the knowledge of economics and finance possessed by the American and global electorate today in 2008 with that of the American people in 1930, or even 1865.
If America and the global economy are entering perhaps the most critical and dangerous stage since the birth of this country, where should our knowledge of the subject of economics be, in order to successfully navigate such an environment? And, in order to support, challenge, follow or provide good leadership?
Can a good teacher produce bad students? Yes and No.
Can a bad teacher produce good students? Never (or never without help).
Can an informed and wise leader guide ignorant followers? Only if a sufficient level of ignorance is eventually dispelled.
If President-Elect Obama and his economic policies are equal to the task, will that be enough to produce the change that time and circumstance demand if the people he is seeking to lead are ignorant, in terms of their understanding of political economy, and its fundamentals like taxes, money and what gives rise to an inflation or deflation, for instance?
It is clear that leadership must embark upon a mass educational movement on the subject of economics and finance.
Isaiah 3:11 reads, in part: '...O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err...'
Consider this passage from the excellent book Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and The Global Crisis of American Capitalism.
“Many people today think that today’s finance is too complicated for ordinary citizens to fathom or handle. Bubbles aside, other financial terms used by the media – credit derivatives, securitization, and even current account deficit – do not lend themselves to conversations in neighborhood bars or beauty parlors. Americans are excusing themselves accordingly. Still, if the farmers of more than a century ago could study and understand Sherman Silver Purchase Act provisions and details of the nationwide currency shrinkage – and many studied and somehow managed – can’t we expect as much today?”
Now add to that, this from Ludwig Von Mises’ classic Human Action:
“First of all, there is no longer any term available to signify what inflation used to signify. It is impossible to fight a policy which you cannot name. Statesmen and writers no longer have the opportunity of resorting to a terminology accepted and understood by the public when they want to question the expediency of issuing huge amounts of additional money. They must enter into a detailed analysis and description of this policy with full particulars and minute accounts whenever they want to refer to it, and they must repeat this bothersome procedure in every sentence in which they deal with the subject. As this policy has no name, it becomes self-understood and a matter of fact. It goes on luxuriantly.”
Black Electorate Economics University 2009 – Semester One – is designed to be equal to the task of naming policies so that you can fight (or embrace) them. BEEU is built on a study of history as its foundation, and attention to current events where ideas, theories, and proposals can be applied.
Are you and we equal to the task of what this critical time demands?
Below is A Course Outline Of Semester One.
More Details Are Available At:
Lesson 1: The Root Cause Of The Financial Panic of 2007-2008 And The Difference Between Finance and Economics
Lesson 2: The Economic Cabinet Of The President, In Recession and Depression
Lesson 3: Bretton Woods II: Toward A New Global Monetary System
Lesson 4: Establishing The United States Of Africa, Under A Single Currency, Backed By Gold
Lesson 5: Risk and Insurance: From Wall Street To Las Vegas To The World Of Religion
Lesson 6: The Five Sources of Capital, the African Independence Movement and The Birth of Organized Crime In Black America
Lesson 7: Building Wealth Through Ethnic Networks, Rotating Credit & Savings Associations and Investment Clubs
Lesson 8: Banking 101
Lesson 9: Investing In Financial Markets 101
Lesson 10: Personal Finance: Savings, Credit, Spending and Debt In A Falling Economy
Lesson 11: An Analysis Of The Economic Programs of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Honorable Marcus Garvey
Lesson 12: Improving Black America's Capital To Labor Ratio
Enroll Today: http://www.blackelectorate.com/out/sel_lesson_out.asp
Sunday, February 8, 2009
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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of BlackElectorate.com or Black Electorate Communications.