Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yes We Can by Akindele Akinyemi


Detroiters should strive for independence from the plantation by taking a stance on personal responsibility. While my Democratic colleagues are beginning to turn up the heat with e-mails and phone calls trying to persuade me to support Sen. Barack Obama I am still not convinced that the Illinois Senator is the right person to lead America.

I am not following the Black crowd like I used to. The very last time I fell for a trap was with Proposal 2. After actually doing the research on Proposal 2 I realized that I was lied to in the name of "non-partisan" legislation. I should have known something was up when Michigan State University Men's coach Tom Izzo was weighing in on the action. Eventaully I became good friends with both Ward Connerly and Jennifer Gratz.

So I cannot follow a person who is simply not talking about anything. Obama speeches never move me because they are baseless. However, there is one thing he says that has caught my eye.

"Yes We Can."

He's right. We can declare independence from the Detroit plantation today. Independence comes in the form of economics by transforming Detroit into a financial market similar to Singapore or Hong Kong. Social justice and social programs with block grant money is not the answer all the time. It is time that we view Detroit from an international viewpoint. I am not interested in just transforming Detroit so Blacks can tear it up the same way we tear up our neighborhoods but I am reaching out to the African Diaspora economically and spiritually.

The greater challenge however is getting Detroiters to understand the importance of stock markets amidst grim conditions of poverty, corruption and illiteracy. Currently, only a handful of Detroiters appreciate the opportunities available through the capital markets. While we continue to register an increase in participation it’s not necessarily an indicator of apt comprehension of the game. In fact most elites buy shares because experience relays that most stock will register an increase on the first day of trading on the secondary market hence one can sell and bag twice their initial investment. The ‘get-rich-quick with the least hustle’ culture also drives them.

The contribution of mass education therefore remains critical and presents a challenge that key stakeholders must address. Education has been the landmark of any civilization. Improved literacy increases one’s competitiveness in the job market, improves communication skills and sharpens minds. This has a direct impact on business development through innovation.

With the biggest percentage of the population being in rural areas, creating awareness of the financial markets remains imperative. We must discard the notion that rural areas are synonymous with utmost poverty. While that might be true to some extent, it’s true that rural areas as well are consumers and offer productive labor. Most of our food for example comes from rural areas meaning that farmers are being paid for supply of produce. On the other hand Telecom services are being extended to the rural areas. Rural areas therefore wield some economic and monetary power that can be tapped. Financial markets have the capacity to accommodate rural populations the same way financial institutions do. Banks are rushing to offer services unlike 5 years ago when rural populations were ignored and not viewed as bankable.

In order for us to connect rural areas with Detroit we must began to regionalize by embracing urban regional networks to create a regional fiancial syatem similar to the European Union or African Union (on a smaller scale of course).

Detroit must began to strengthen the educational system. There should be a properly laid out education program/curriculum that applies interactive tools which will draw interest in the subject of financial markets among others. The development of an investment academy is a great resource in this regard but it may not suffice. It is important that our formal education systems take a dynamic approach to include current issues that are driving the global market in the world. Education must give students the opportunity to learn and appreciate useful skills and knowledge that rhyme with the times.

Financial markets are clearly Detroit’s future in terms of meeting capital requirements, creating credible and better governed business entities and financially empowering the investor. As we all grow, work and inevitably retire at some point, financial markets will in time be able to offer a better retirement deal that will not make retirement a dreadful thought.

Until Barack Obama begin speaking economics and not an expansion of government he will never get my vote. If Blacks want to be free from the plantation then we need to stop following the crowd and start thinking freely to help rebuild our communities. Can we have our independence?

Yes We Can.

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