Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

Several years after peaceful prison hunger strikes asking for decent medical care, educational programs, an end to the incarceration of juveniles with adults and other reasonable demands, Georgia prison authorities continue to viciously retaliate against past and future dissenting prisoners with what they call Tier Step Down, a program that apparenlty includes deliberate malnourishment of prisoners and other brutal and inhuman treatment.

Call GA Governor, Prison Officials, Demand End to Deliberate Malnourishment & the "Tier Step Down" Program

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Several years after inmate hunger strikes in multiple Georgia prisons in 2010 and 2012, officials at Georgia's Department of Corrections are still imposing vicious and illegal collective punishments. Both inmates who took part in past actions along with those the state thinks might be future threats are all being subjected to something Georgia calls “Tier Step Down.”

Under Tier Step Down, prisoners are doubled up in single cells designed for one person at half rations. They are unable to flush toilets have no access to medical care, educational programs or materials and other elementary human rights. Prisoners are prevented from bringing their grievances before responsible authorities in any meaningful way, and are frequently assaulted by staff when they try.

Kelvin Stevenson is a Georgia prisoner who was made an example after the 2010 hunger strike by Smith State Prison officials who beat him almost to death with a hammer. Stevenson is now confined at the Special Management Unit of Jackson State Prison, not far from where state officials murdered Troy Davis in 2011. He's one of those upon whom Tier Step Down is being inflicted.

In a series of letters published at Atlanta Indymedia, Mr. Stevenson describes the arbitrary and brutal treatment prisoners are being put through. He calls for intervention on the part of those outside the walls to rein in the savagery of prison authorities, for any combination of citizens, their organizations, their elected and appointed officials to take action compelling the Georgia Department of Corrections to treat prisoners with humanity and decency.

A good start would be calling prison officials and respectfully asking that Georgia prison officials unconditionally end the use of deliberate malnourishment, that they begin to treat prisoners in the Special Management Unit decently, allow them medical care, fair evaluations and access to educational materials, relieve their overcrowding and end the inhumane Tier Step Down Program. Prison officials in Georgia, like those across the rest of the vast US prison state are able to do what they do in part because so many of us turn the other way. It's time for all of us to turn toward the prisoners, our prisoners.

Black Agenda Report is asking that you call

  • Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776;
  • Georgia Dept of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson at 404-656-4661
  • and Rick Jacobs, the GA DOC Director of Facilities at 478-992-5101

During business hours on weekdays Eastern Standard Time. When you do, please leave an appropriately respectful message expressing your concern for the condition of Mr. Stevenson and the other prisoners in the Special Management Unit.  Politely express your revulsion at the notion of deliberately malnourishing and withholding medical care from inmates, and ask for the re-evaluation of the Tier Step Down program.

This is a time when your call and a hundred like it truly DOES make a difference.

Do it now.  Please call the governor, call the head of the Department of Corrections, and call the Facilities Director. The three numbers of the governor, of Commissioner Homer Bryson and Rick Jacobs the Facilities Director are 404-656-1776 for Governor Nathan Deal. That's 404-656-1776.

For Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson the number is 404-656-4661. That's 404-656-4661.

And for Rick Jacobs, the Facilities Director who oversees the Tier Step Down Program the number is 478-992-5101. That's 478-992-5101.

This is Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Radio. Find us at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached atbruce.dixon@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20150401_bd_GA_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10 PM

Black Is Back Coalition to Hold National Conference on Black Community Control of Police

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The Mass Black Incarceration regime gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class.”

If the Black Lives Matter mobilization is to sustain itself – if it is to go beyond protests against the latest police atrocity and become a full-fledged movement – it must embrace the principle of Black community control of the police. The entire history of the United States screams out that Black people must define and control the processes by which justice is meted out in their own communities. If there is one historical truth that is indisputable in America, it is that Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system – which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on planet Earth is a Black American.

In the nearly half century since the Black Panther Party described the police as an army of occupation in Black America, we have learned the very painful lesson that inclusion of large numbers of Blacks among the ranks of the police does not change the nature of the occupation. Nor does the naming of Black police chiefs, or the election of Black mayors and city councils – and certainly not the election of a Black corporate president. In fact, the Mass Black Incarceration regime – what Michelle Alexander calls the “New Jim Crow” – gains legitimacy through diversity in hiring and the collaboration of the servile Black political class. Black cops get jobs, but people get no justice, because the mission of the police remains the same: to contain, control and terrorize the Black community. That’s their job. And that will remain the mission of policing in the Black community until the community seizes control of the police.

Civilian review boards are not the equivalent of community control, by any measurement. Most are worthless. At best, such boards respond to police crimes after-the-fact and serve at the pleasure of politicians who are ultimately answerable to wealthy white people.

Black people have never gotten justice from the U.S. criminal justice system.”

So, what would Black community control of police look like? The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a national conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19, to examine this crucial issue. If Black people fail to define for themselves the functions and obligations of policing in Black communities, then others will continue to do it for us. The choice is simple: either Black people discipline, direct, and hire and fire the police in their community, or the police continue to beat, kill and terrorize Black people in their own neighborhoods.

The National Conference on Black Community Control of Police will be held at the Janan Academy, at 3625 North Garrison Avenue, in St. Louis. Community organizers and activists from greater St. Louis and across the country will get down to the serious business of changing relationships of power on the streets of Black America, and advancing the cause of Black self-determination.

For more information and to register for the conference, go to the Black Is Back Coalition website. That’s BlackIsBackCoalition.org, for the National Conference on Community Control of Police, April 18 and 19, in St. Louis, Missouri.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

What: Black Community Control of Police Conference
When: April 18-19, 2015
Where: Janan Academy, 3625 N. Garrison Ave., St. Louis, MO
Contact: Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, 224-572-9887 www.blackisbackcoalition.org

Direct download: 20150401_gf_ControlPolice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:43 PM

U.S. Voter Turnout is Low Because There’s Little to Vote For

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

White Americans also vote in numbers far below almost all of the rest of the developed world.”

President Obama wants you to believe that the political map of the United States would be transformed – “completely changed,” he says – if citizens were required by law to vote. Obama told a town hall meeting in Cleveland that mandatory voting would “counteract” the influence of money in the U.S. electoral process. That’s a hell of a statement from the guy who wrecked the public campaign finance system by opting out of it in 2008, and outspent his Republican opponents in both of his runs for the presidency. Obama ought to have his picture on a million dollar bill.

But, why does the United States have the lowest voter turnout in the industrialized world, including Russia? It’s not because Americans are happier with the way they’re living than the rest of humanity. The U.S. ranks 17th on the global Happiness index and 23rd on the Satisfaction with Life scale. And, although racial exclusion in voting is very important when comparing Black voter turnout with whites, white Americans also vote in numbers far below almost all of the rest of the developed world.

Americans don’t vote because both major political parties are answerable to the same people: the moneyed classes, the power structures that determine the issues that will be on the political agenda long before the party primaries begin. This is called the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, the rule of the rich.

The corporations and bankers choose the menu; the only option citizens have is whether to select from the pre-packaged list of candidates, or stay home. Almost two out of three chose not to vote in 2014. They were not behaving irrationally. Since both major parties are controlled by the rich, only the most minor tinkering with the way the country is actually run, is tolerated. No matter how many people vote, very little changes, because the U.S. offers the narrowest spectrum of electoral choices in the industrial world – which is why it has the lowest voter turnout.

Blacks Corralled by Democrats

The Democrats want to keep their lock on the Black vote, but they have no interest in Black people voting their own political agenda, for the simple reason that Blacks are the most left-wing constituency in the country and must, therefore, be kept in check by the Democratic Party machinery. It is the Democrats who have for decades sought to break up concentrations of Black voters, spreading them out across a number of districts. This gives the Democratic Party a better chance to win seats in more districts, but it means that only those Black candidates that can appeal to a substantial segment of white voters can win election. The Black political conversation is left in a state of arrested development. Ultimately, even the Black political landscape turns into a desert, and rational Black people choose not to vote.

There is much more to politics than voting. The Sixties was the most productive decade in Black American history, but the victories came mainly from the street. The vote can be put to good use, but not when it’s cast for a Republican or a Democrat. Which is why so few votes are cast on Election Day in the United States.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150325_gf_MandatoryVoting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:39 PM

Seattle Urban League Leader to Run Against Socialist Seattle City Council Member. Why?

“...In return for speaking out against teachers, communities, standing up for privatization, and a little aggressive flattery, the Urban League gets handsomely rewarded.”

In its 105 years, the National Urban League has done a lot of indisputable good, not just for the reputations of its founders and funders, but also for the actual communities it claims to serve.

But lately, like the NAACP, NAN, and the whole lot of corporate funded dinosaur civil rights organizations, the League seems to pay a lot more attention to what its corporate donors need, as opposed to its constituents.

There's the Urban League's lucrative embraces of Common Core, high stakes testing, charter schools and privatizing public schools. The League receives generous gifts from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, now chairman of the Gates Foundation, whose consultants helped write the president's privatizing Race To The Top program. The League is solidly behind the drive to turn public schools in poor neighborhoods into privatized, heavily policed and often remotely instructed holding tanks. In return for speaking out against teachers, communities, standing up for privatization, and a little aggressive flattery, the Urban League gets handsomely rewarded. The 2012 keynote at the National Urban League's annual affair was a “dialog” between Skip Gates and Bill Gates, whom the professor called his “brother”.

Bill Gates is a major investor in Monsanto, another generous giver to the Urban League. Monsanto wants to hijack the food supplies of Africa, Latin America and even the US, so when California voters put a 2012 referendum on the ballot that would have required GMO foods to be labeled, the Urban League took Monsanto money to campaign against that as well. The Urban League, NAN, NAACP, Operation PUSH earned their gifts from Verizon, Comcast, AT&T and others by testifying against network neutrality, in favor of corporate mergers and the digital redlining of their own communities, and with them, requested that they not be required to mention it when they testify on matters affecting their funders.

“...while you can never have too many Republicans or Democrats in office, even one socialist is way too many...”

The list of policy positions and actions undertaken by the League in the interest of its funders, often against those of its presumed constituents, is quite a long one, and about to get longer still. The latest League atrocity is in Seattle Washington, where voters in a city council district elected a socialist three years ago. That council member, Kshama Sawant helped lead a multi-year effort to raise the minimum wage in Seattle. The CEO of Seattle's Urban League, a longtime political insider with great fundraising connections wants to run for local office. Apparently there are no neoliberal pension-cutting Democrats for her to go after in Seattle, and no neolithic Republicans worth dethroning either.

The number one and only target of of Seattle Urban League CEO's Pam Banks' campaign for office will be the socialist, because she knows things. Pam Banks knows that while you can never have too many Republicans or Democrats in office, even one socialist is way too many. CEO Banks knows that while you can never have too many corporate funded politicians, even one elected official that doesn't take the corporate cash makes everybody else feel nervous and look bad. Banks knows that when gentrification is a problem, rent control is probably not a solution her funders would appreciate, even though it makes perfect sense to residents in danger of displacement. Banks knows that any run against a socialist incumbent will be well funded by forces who already call the League, and her, their good friend. They just might not be friends of the people of Seattle.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Direct download: 20150318_bd_seattle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33 PM

Thirty Years of Black Economic Regression


“Black households have been falling further and further behind whites since at least 1984, when Ronal Reagan was in office.”

President Obama almost always speaks well – but he hardly ever speaks the truth. Obama’s main theme at this month’s Selma commemoration was that you’d have to be crazy not to realize that conditions of life for Black folks are improving in America. In reality, however, Blacks have been losing ground compared to whites for at least three decades. In other words, Black economic progress is a myth.

A new study by Brandeis University and the Demos think tank shows that the typical Black household now possesses just six percent of the wealth of the median white household. The white household is worth a little over $110,000, compared to a median Black household wealth of just over $7,000. The racial wealth gap is virtually unchanged from a similar Brandeis study conducted back in 2010, which showed the typical white household was twenty times richer than its Black counterpart.

The two studies, conducted five years apart, both conclude that the historical public policies of the United States created the wealth gap – beginning with slavery – and that only racially-targeted public policies can hope to overcome these disparities. But of course, President Obama said categorically, in his first 100 days in office, that he opposes racially targeted government programs. He said “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But Black boats have been sinking for the past 30 years. The 2010 Brandeis study showed Black households have been falling further and further behind whites since at least 1984, when Ronal Reagan was in office. Reagan also liked to say that a rising tide lifts all boats.

“Blacks and Latinos get much lower returns on their investments in education than whites do.”

There is another myth, that there exists a large and growing, upwardly mobile cohort of Black people who are rapidly closing the gap with their white peers. Such people do exist, but they are not statistically significant. The Brandeis 2010 report showed that upper income Blacks fell even farther behind their white peers than lower income Blacks during the Great Recession.

The latest Brandeis study also thoroughly undermines the long-held notion that education is the key to Black economic progress. The numbers show that Blacks and Latinos get much lower returns on their investments in education than whites do. For every $1 of wealth that accrues to Black households because someone earned a college degree, the typical white household accrues $11.49. That means white people are rewarded far more for their educational achievements. Therefore, even if Blacks caught up with whites in college graduation rates, they would continue to fall further and further behind, economically.

The 2015 report projects that, if Black home ownership could be made to rise to the same level as whites, the racial wealth gap would narrow somewhat. But of course, that can’t possibly happen unless the U.S. reverses 200 years of history by instituting racially-targeted, pro-Black policies at every level of society, and keeps those policies in effect for generations.

One more little detail: you’d have to get rid of capitalism, which is the Mother of All Economic Disparities.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for our email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150318_gf_BlacksEconomy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:23 PM

Why Isn't Sen. Kirk's “Chicago Will Become Detroit” Threat National News?

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

On March 2, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk plainly threatened the people of Chicago. If Rahm Emanuel was not re-elected mayor, he declared, banksters and bond market investors concerned about the city's mountain of debt would see that Chicago went the way of Detroit.

Given that Chicago is the nation's 3rd largest city, and finances itself pretty much like every other big US city, a threat like this has potential implications for scores of other cities and ought to be national news. But it wasn't It made a local Chicago headline and dropped down the memory hole, out of sight. Why? The senator's threat wasn't national news because the plain facts beneath it, might have made Chicagoans and people in your city as well even more disturbed.

A great deal of Chicago's debt is pension debt. Pensions are deferred wages which employees agreed to allow the city or state to deposit into prudently invested pension funds so they would be available for payout years later upon their retirement. But public officials in Chicago, in Illinois and in cities, counties and whole states across the US broke these agreements, frequently violated the law and didn't make these payments, sometimes for decades. Now that the payouts are due, they need to blame it on “greedy teachers” or anything that will keep them from taxing the rich, which is the only place that kind of money can be had.

In Chicago, and very likely in your town too they doubled down on their dishonesty by investing hundreds of billions in pensions and other funds as well in exotic investment devices, credit default swaps, derivatives, real estate and stock market schemes which their investment advisors and ratings agencies assured them were sound and lucrative, but turned out to be black holes.

City workers and the public got screwed, but everybody else made out like, well... bandits. And the bandits are good friends of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, of the mayors of Atlanta, Philly, Sacramento, the governors of California and New York and everyplace in between. Kwame Kilpatrick didn't snort Detroit's pension funds up his nose, he gave them to the same folks Rahm gives Chicago's to. Wall Street gave Kwame Kilpatrick a medal for that, and Rahm's friends who do business with the city have put millions in his campaign coffers. Thanks to them, Chicago to some extent is already Detroit.

Getting out of the city's debt trap will require some real creativity, but there are answers. The state of North Dakota, with maybe 30% of Chicago's population, has its own bank, where state funds are exclusively deposited. There's no good reason why Chicago can't do the same, and have its own funds in its own bank, available for investment in the region's own economic future. A city-owned bank could invest those funds in job-creating green technologies that might put large numbers of young Chicagoans, now out of the labor force altogether, to work. It could do what private banks refuse to do and invest in refitting and construction of affordable housing, and transit, and job-creating municipal broadband, like the city of Chattanooga has already successfully deployed.

Senator Kirk's threat isn't national news because staring it down lays bare the predatory habits of our politicians and their funders, and might even lead us to real solutions. But the next step, at least in Chicago, is to fire Rahm Emanuel on April 7.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com

Bruce Dixon is a Chicagoan living in exile in suburban Atlanta. He's managing editor at Black Agenda Report, a mamber of the state committee of the GA Green Party and a partner in a technology firm. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com
Direct download: 20150310_banksters_threaten.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39 PM

Obama, at War on Three Continents, Threatens Venezuela

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Venezuela has every reason to fear that Obama’s executive order might be a prelude to military attack.”

President Obama, who is currently engaged in multiple wars on both the African and Asian continents and is hell-bent on provoking a war in Europe with Russia, is now stepping to the very brink of war in South America, against Venezuela. On Monday, Obama declared a state of national emergency to justify freezing the assets of 7 Venezuelan officials that the U.S. claims are involved in human rights violations. In order to comply with U.S. law, Obama asserted that Venezuela represents a threat the national security of the United States. The White House pretended that the scary language was just a legal technicality, and does not mean that the president actually believes Venezuela is about to do harm to the United States. However, Obama is invoking the same language and law against Venezuela that was used against Syria and Iran, leading to Syria’s near destruction by the U.S. and its allies and proxies, and to vicious sanctions and a state of near-war with Iran. Venezuela has every reason to fear that Obama’s executive order might be a prelude to military attack.

Washington has been trying to topple the socialist government in Venezuela since at least 2002,

when George Bush backed an unsuccessful coup against the late President Hugo Chavez. Since then, Venezuela has conducted more elections than any other nation in the hemisphere, all of them vouched for as free and fair by international observers. Unable to prevail at the polls, the rightwing, racist opposition hopes to come to power through another coup or direct military intervention by the United States. In that context, Obama’s assertion that Venezuela is a danger to U.S. national security ranks just short of a declaration of war.

Yankee, Stay Home

Venezuelan President Maduro has thrown a few of the most brazen coup plotters in jail, which Obama ridiculously describes as a massive violation of human rights. However, the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere are Washington’s allies. Almost six million people, most of them Black and indigenous, have been displaced from their homes by political violence in Colombia, a U.S. client state. Mexico’s is a narco-state, as violent as Colombia. And Honduras, where the U.S. backed a military coup against the democratically elected government in 2009, is a place of lawlessness and state terror.

Luckily, the United States only has a few remaining allies left in Latin America. What unifies the southern part of the hemisphere is the common experience of the U.S. boot on one’s neck. CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which includes all of the nations of the western hemisphere except Canada and the U.S., has warned Washington to stop interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

So, if Obama thinks that he can get away with waging a phony “humanitarian” interventionist war against Venezuelan President Maduro, as he did against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, he will find himself opposed by an entire continent.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for email notifications of our new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150311_gf_ObamaVenezuela.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:11 PM

Netanyahu Punks Obama as Congress Grovels

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“Israel does not hesitate to use its veto power over the Americans.”

President Obama got punked in his own Capitol by the leader of a country that gets more U.S. money, weapons, technology and diplomatic support than any other nation in the world. How could that happen?

Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of a country that has been an appendage of U.S. imperialism since the day it was founded, and could not exist were it not joined at the hip of the superpower. And that is Israel’s greatest strength, because when two bodies are joined at the hip, the smaller one can wreak havoc, and even poison the larger one’s vital organs. President Obama is always saying that the United States is the world’s indispensable nation, but Netanyahu has once again demonstrated that Israeli cooperation is indispensable to any U.S. president.

Both Israel and the United States tell essentially the same lies to the world: that they are morally superior nations, when in fact both states were born in the cauldrons of mass murder, racial expulsion and genocide. Israel and the U.S. have learned to sing a perfect harmony of lies; they are the closest of co-conspirators. Neither one can rat out the other – which gives the weaker party great power over the stronger one.

The United States and Israel have told the very same lies about Iran: that it supports terror and aggression in the region, when it is actually Israel and the U.S. that have terrorized Iran through covert and proxy wars since 1979, while Iran has attacked no one for centuries. And, of course, there is the world’s greatest lie of omission: Israel’s refusal to acknowledge that it is a nuclear power, and Washington’s half century of collaboration in that lie. Having for so long weaved a common web of lies with Israel, Washington cannot easily extricate itself from Its co-conspirator in Tel Aviv. Israel, for its part, does not hesitate to use its veto power over the Americans.

“Israel and the United States tell essentially the same lies to the world.”

So, when President Obama attempted to tone down America’s lies about Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions, so as to reach an advantageous deal for the United States, Netanyahu played his Republican card and screamed even bigger lies in front of a joint session of Congress – lies that Barack Obama cannot effectively rebut because Netanyahu’s lies about Iran are only slightly exaggerated versions of Washington’s lies about Iran. That’s why, after his emasculation on Capitol Hill, Obama had no choice but to pretend to agree with most of Netanyahu’s lying presentation. After all, Obama has told the same tall tales about non-existent Iranian nuclear weapons programs, and the real origins of the Islamic State. Obama’s in no position to contradict Netanyahu, who is determined to make it appear that the only path possible is everlasting war – which is Israel’s element.

The Americans are, of course, masters of fomenting war and chaos, but they do reserve the right, as a superpower, to call a truce when it suits them. Israel is telling Washington that it better get permission from Tel Aviv, or else Netanyahu will punk the U.S. president In his own house – especially if he’s Black.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for our weekly email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150304_gf_NetanyahuPunksObama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:14 PM

The Ultimate Corruption

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The real grand corruption is in the system, itself.”

The giant British bank HSBC is once again in the spotlight, accused of helping its wealthy customers avoid taxes. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists coordinated the investigation of HSBC. It’s estimated that rich people around the world have succeeded in hiding more than $17 trillion from tax collectors, and that such tax avoidance schemes cost governments $200 billion in revenue a year. Another organization, Transparency International, has started a “No Impunity” campaign targeting ostentatious displays of wealth by corrupt individuals. Transparency International chairman Jose Carlos Ugaz claims that corruption has reached such huge proportions that it is affecting global economic development. He calls the phenomenon “grand corruption.”

If Mr. Ugaz is really looking for the grandest, most destructive kind of corruption, then he will have to set his sights much higher than a few individuals who make themselves obnoxious by flashing their wealth around. The real grand corruption is in the system, itself.

Most so-called anti-corruption campaigns aren’t really about corruption, in the larger, grand sense, at all; they’re about cheating, and condemning people who break the rules that govern behavior between businessmen. The assumption is that, if it were not for the minority of businessmen that cheat, the system would work just fine, to everyone’s benefit.

Thus, we are told, the problem is banks like HSBC that help wealthy people cheat the system. But, the real problem is that the banks as institutions and wealthy people as a class are the ones that control the system, who write the rules for their own benefit, and to the detriment of everybody else. That is the grand corruption: not that individual rich people break the rules, but that rich people as a class get to make the rules.

Exploitation of Humankind

A number of international agencies compile annual report cards on the levels of so-called “corruption” existing in countries around the world. What these report cards actually measure is not the effects of corruption on various societies, but how the corrupt demands of government officials affect foreign corporations’ ability to do business in those countries. If corporations have few difficulties doing business in a given country, then that country gets high marks for having low levels of corruption. It doesn’t matter if the local government fails to protect the nation’s natural resources, or allows its people’s labor to be cheaply exploited by foreign companies. Selling out one’s own people to foreigners is not considered grand, or even petty, corruption.

Europeans see no element of corruption in the fact that they are relatively rich, compared to the rest of the world’s people, because Europe spent 500 years pillaging and plundering the planet and enslaving the peoples of other countries. The United States sees nothing corrupt in using its vast military superiority to dominate much of the planet – to exploit the weak countries for the benefit of rich Americans. Yet that is the Mother of All Corruptions in the world, today.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com, and sign up for our email notifications of new issues, each Wednesday.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Direct download: 20150225_gf_Corruption.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18 PM

Cowardly Black Caucus Reacts to Israeli Insults, Ignores Israeli Apartheid

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nobody celebrates victories against racism and apartheid a generation or two back more often and more lavishly than the Congressional Black Caucus. It's something they must do constantly not just because some of those victories made their careers possible, but because apart from their own careers, they haven't accomplished much in the last 40 years.

From the 1990s onward, most of them voted for legislation that doubled down on the war on drugs, and to intensify overpolicing and mass incarceration in their communities. When it became clear that Katrina was the excuse to dispossess and disperse into exile a couple hundred thousand black people on the Gulf Coast, the black caucus called no hearings, sounded no alarms. And despite their relentless celebrations of victories over racism the entire caucus has consistently turned a blind eye to brutal settler-state apartheid in Israel.

The CBC's promise to skip out when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses the US Congress on March 5 is not an act of vision or moral courage. When Israel demolishes Palestinian houses, lynches and deports Africans, when Israel passes more discriminatory laws and steals Palestinian land the Congressional Black Caucus says nothing. When successive US administrations of both parties endorse Israeli punishment of civilians with water and power cuts and blockades of medical and construction supplies, books and even toys, the CBC is silent then too. When Israel threatens all its neighbors with nukes, and makes the false claim that Iran has nuclear weapons, the CBC are quiet. When Israeli fighter jets, armored copter gunships and tanks rain white phosphorus and shellfire on Palestinian neighborhoods the CBC, with the rest of Congress, unanimously endorsed the aggressor's right defend themselves by murdering children, and voted to resupply the expended Israeli munitions.

So let's be clear. Netanyahu is a demagogic racist. He heads the planet's most vicious apartheid regime, a US supported and funded client state engaged in the conquest and occupation of neighboring territories and the genocidal dispossession and exile of their populations, all with US tax dollars and US diplomatic cover. But that ain't the CBC's problem with him or with Israel.

Like the rest of the US ruling elite the CBC has no problem with Israeli apartheid. The CBC's problem is that Republican House leader John Boehner invited Netanyahu, not President Obama, so the Netanyahu visit is a violation of protocol, a kind of insult to the First Black President.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The CBC's tunnel vision works the same way at home as it does abroad. Thanks to the large numbers of blacks pushed out of homes and the workforce in recent years, the rate of black child poverty stands now at 38.2%, an all time high. The CBC isn't calling daily press conferences over that either. Detroit is executing its own slow motion Katrina, and pursuing water cutoffs and evictions that will affect over 100,000 residents, just abhout all black, and the CBC hasn't noticed that either. But let somebody insult or disparage the first lady, and they'll be all over that.

It's because the CBC, like the rest of the black political class, are self-serving cowards. Their failure is symptomatic of the shrinkage of black politics from one of vision and struggle to a politics of protecting their own privilege.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and serves on the state committee of the GA Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20150218_BD_cbc_again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:15 PM