Thursday, January 03, 2008
New Year Resolution: Economics by Akindele Akinyemi
Welcome to 2008. This is what I call the Season of Completion. This is where we find prosperity on all levels and aspects of our lives.
The biggest challenges lie ahead for many of us. We often write down our resolutions and try to maintain focus to accomplish our goals. While I have my own resolutions I will share with you four things that I am focus and zoned on right now.
Anything outside of those things are not important to me. Not even dating. That is done for me.
This year my focus will be slightly different than previous years. The older I get the more I realize it is important to work on those four items I named. Part of that is understanding the power of globalization.
Too often times we live in our own personal box here in the United States. If you live in an urban area like Detroit or Benton Harbor you really do not see what is going on in the rest of the world. People are so content with their lifestyles that they often miss their blessings. We buy Hummer trucks and live in the projects because we pay rent for $77 or less. Instead of educating and building some level of momentum for your family you fall for material items. You remain a slave on a plantation that has no value for you.
I strongly feel it is important to understand the power of economics and how we can translate that power throughout the Diaspora. This is why I have been writing all along about being less dependent on government and start looking at embracing the free market.
African-Americans in the U.S., and Africans on the continent share a common problem of the 21st century – we both created a political power base, out of necessity, before we created an economic one. Today, we have an opportunity to connect like never before to build economic opportunities as well as educational opportunities on the continent. I cannot count on my fingers of how many Africans come over to the States and go to school only to go back home to help build their community. Africans come over to the universities here in America, do well, go home, build a series of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and keep their families intact.
Black folks here in this country do not do that. We drop out of college (not all of us), scared to leave our comfort zone in our community and embrace policies that are extremely detrimental to our survival here in America. Blacks do not believe in marriage like our forefathers before and in fact, we think marriage is a alternative lifestyle. We do not believe in commitment and while mothers go to and work 8-16 hours a day we have men playing X-Box Live in the basement of their 60 inch plasma television sets.
So my focus is different. I have grown to have a more entrepreneurial spirit in me. Education is my ministry and therefore my education is my entrepreneurial drive for success. Just like the Nigerians, Ghanaians, Senegalese, and many others who take education seriously (as a whole, some of them are so Westernized you would think you are back in Detroit) we have to begin to teach our children the value of hard work to become economically sound. Education and economics go hand in hand.
I am not interested in quick rich schemes like I always hear in the hood. How these people make money and dropped out of school. Only in America where we would have this twisted type of thinking. I can clearly see why China is the emerging market in the world and not the United States.
Africans in 2008 must create a dominant class of very successful African entrepreneurs, at all levels of African society, from the “self-employment project” businessman of sorts, selling his or her wares in the local neighborhood, to the owner of a major telecommunications enterprise providing cell service to millions of African people.
We must be focused on “converting cash economy customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners and entrepreneurs, minimum wage workers into living wage workers with new, marketable job skills, and the economically uneducated into the economically empowered. That education is the ultimate poverty eradication tool, because when you know better, you tend to do better. And when you do this, you move individuals from the poverty rolls into the payrolls. And in so doing, you are creating the new working class and middle class taxpayers that African governments ultimately will need if progressive African countries are ever going to become truly self-sustaining.
I often tell people that Socialism has failed in our community because it failed to create a middle class. And capitalism succeeded because it succeeded in creating a middle class, but capitalism has not yet to prove that it can work for poor people. This is precisely what Benton Harbor, Flint and other cities here in Michigan will need to prove if in fact it is going to be successful; that capitalism and the free enterprise system can work for poor people. And when and if it does this, it succeeds as well in proving that when one person wins, someone else does not have to lose. This same application can go towards people in Africa as well as the rest of the Diaspora.
Remember the Benton Harbor conflict of 2003 where people burned the city to the ground?The Administration of Gov. Granholm failed the citizens of Benton Harbor in their response to these events. However, no one tried to get the private sector to help rebuild the city. and the community was and still is filled with fear and when you have a growing uneducated populace that fear can lead to anger. You need leaders in that city who are innovative, creative, focused on practical solutions and producing measurable results. Benton Harbor must acknowledge in 2008 that they cannot afford the cost of negative energy, and realize that failure was and should never be an option.
As a result, Benton Harbor can be rebuilt. In the years following the Benton Harbor Conflicts of 2003 there should have been billions of dollars from the private-sector flowed into this small area of Southwest Michigan. However, education plays a HUGE role in economics. If you not able to convince the world that the city was not in fact an economic sink-hole, but a profitable emerging market opportunity waiting to be tapped, and that we were all willing to work hard to make it happen you will be passed up. Instead of creating more corrupt political power Benton Harbor should work to reducing the levels of crime, and increasing levels of personal prosperity and ownership, resulting in increased tax revenue to the state government. And I am also convinced that if the government had done more, they would have in the end gotten more, too.
Why Benton Harbor? Here is a city that can be transformed into a jewel. Last year, I visited Benton Harbor several times and saw the potential of the city. But it all being with traditional values and educational values to create stable families. From that point is where citizens will be able to build a sound economic system. It's all about marriages and relationship building.
Africans across the Diaspora must be the change they want to see Africa. No one else is going to do it for us. Africans must produce something that brings value to consumers and customers alike here in Africa, and around the world, where you dream of someday exporting, too.
I am utterly convinced that Africa’s newly emerging entrepreneurial class will prove key to opening a new and promising gateway to Africa’s future as well as urban markets here in America. Part of that building entrepreneurial spirit is building each other's motivation to further our education to be a beacon of light for our children to build legacies in our families.
This is how I am thinking in 2008. Connecting with people globally to accomplish our goals in the neighborhood.