Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Are We Catering Too Much To Poverty in Detroit? by Akindele Akinyemi



I do not know what in the hell possessed me to go to the circus last night with the Detroit City Council at Liberty Temple on Greenfield and McNichols in Detroit. I had never been to one of those community council meetings and one time was enough for me.

As I listened to the complaints of Black residents I begin to wonder if we really are taking personal responsibility for our own actions.

As usual, Councilwoman Jo Ann Watson is stirring up the pot of racial politics. I could have almost vomit listening to her talk about keeping the city "jewels" to ourselves. In this reference she was talking about keeping the Detroit Water and Sewerage under Detroit control and not switch to an regional authority. What she fails to realize is that there are more people in the suburbs that uses the water than Detroit. So it should go to some type of regional authority. If not privatize the whole water system.

The other point is that after 30 years of Black Power in the city of Detroit we have failed to maintain upkeep of city services as well as retaining the population over 1 million. Our schools have failed under Black Power and we have failed our children and citizens in the process. Perhaps if we can get some people on the city council that is willing to bring back Detroit and not pretend that Coleman Young Sr. is in power we could get moving again.

I also heard of citizens complaining about the high rate of foreclosures. I was reading this article on how it is cheaper to buy houses in Detroit than buy cars. This is true. In terms of foreclosures and being in debt people should consider the following steps for action:

1. Eliminate all consumer debt and automobile leases, including any financed via home equity loans. (Note: 30 percent of all credit card holders no longer carry a monthly balance, leaving the remaining 70 percent responsible for all credit card interest. Which group do you want to be in?)

2. Develop savings plan of 25% of your annual gross income, excluding home equity, and develop a plan for investment of these savings for your retirement. If both husband and wife are working, consider living on one salary and saving 100% of the second.

3. Make a plan to achieve a debt-free home as soon as possible - - say by age 45. Note: 38% of homeowners have no mortgage debt, leaving the rest to pay all mortgages - - guess whose homes are more at risk. Would you prefer to be in the free and clear group, or in the debtor group? One way is to steadily increase your monthly mortgage payments faster than required by the lender - and, never borrow on your home equity for anything other than perhaps adding a wing to your house that is guaranteed to increase its value - - but consider never borrowing your equity to support consumption items like a new roof, a pool, a car, a vacation, paying down credit card debt, to buy stocks, etc.).

4. Educate children only in schools that can independently demonstrate at least 5-years of good measurable achievement levels that equal or exceed national and international math and science results. Recognize the challenge of expecting world-class quality education from a monopoly system.

5. Develop an attitude of depending on yourself, and therefore avoid working for government entities, and maximize self-employment where possible or at least plan your career to gain the necessary practical knowledge to become your own boss one day.

6. Adults should continue their education, each year, according to a plan that includes economics (with accounting and investment).

7. Make all possible efforts to have a husband/wife family and to organize cost of living and size of ones house based on the income of but one family member , NOT TWO. If both are working then try to save all net income of one and live on the income of the other.

8. Do not take on any debt other than for education of children and/or for hard assets (such as residence or investment properties), with plan to amortize debt quickly.

9. This is important here so pay attention. Vote in all elections for candidates that have clearly demonstrated they will not design programs that take more of your hard-earned money (or take from any other person or group), but will in fact reduce your contribution - - except in time of a declared national emergency. In making your vote choice base it on what the candidate has in fact demonstrated by actions, and ignore all verbal promises or claims. Never vote for a candidate who employs severe 'scare' tactics against his or her opponent. The more one's rhetoric is 'scare' vs. the opponent, the more you should look deeply at the programs proposed by the opponent.

We failed with this by re-electing Monica Conyers, Jo Ann Watson, Martha Reeves, Brenda Jones for Detroit City Council and re-electing Jennifer Granholm for Governor again. Do you like a 2% tax increase on services? It is OUR fault for re-electing her.

10. Seek the wisdom from as many accomplished advisers as possible - - especially from those who support their views with hard data evidence.

11. It is not how much money you make each year that counts. It's how much more savings, and less debt, you have at the end of the year compared to the prior year.

12.Become fully knowledgeable of your local government and take actions to help minimize your own local tax payment by assuring that the number of local government employees grows slower than the general population increase (not faster, as is the case most places) and that each such government employee pays from his own pay-roll deduction at least as much of his medical insurance and pension benefits as average citizens do in the private sector that pay the property taxes.

Foreclosures are happening due to our lifestyles. We were dependent on the auto factories. We never saw globalization coming and chose not to participate in it. When the factories left we tried to hold on to our homes by going to the casinos in hopes of trying to win money to pay off debt that was accumulated. We never had a plan. Now we are losing our homes.

The same thing with water. 45,000 residents are without water in Detroit. While Jo Ann Watson complained about the water being shut off what about looking into how these people are living their lifestyle.

Example: if you own a home and are not paying the utility bills but drive a Lincoln Navigator and have DirecTV then something is wrong with this picture. The same for buying $8,000 furniture but cannot pay $1,000 water bill. And whatever happened to people working? If you lose your job are you going to live in poverty like those Black Grassroots people or are you going to pull yourself together and work even harder towards your goal? You do not need affirmative action to survive in the 21st century. All you need is hard work and dedication.

The reality is this. We do not need to continue to keep catering to poverty when a majority of these same people who need help can help themselves by educating themselves and their children on how to survive. Most people in this city are functionally illiterate and politicians keep on bringing up race to keep people angry but not educated. We should be in the business of educating first and investing second on our livelihood. Detroit does not have to be in the conditions it is in. Black people who live here has made a conscious decision to NOT pay the utilities (water, gas, electric) when they are programs available to help customers pay their bills. Our people have made a conscious decision to pick what is not important over what is important.

Therefore, Detroit City Council should not be catering to the poor based on the fear factor. They should be catering to the poor by empowering them to become more responsible citizens for handling their finances and handling their family business.

We should ignore racists politicians (Black or White) who continue to keep our people oppressed to a Democratic socialist system that has caused Detroit to fall into the hands of Black Insurgents and parasites that continue to hate on those who are trying to leave the hood.

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