Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
Obama Shows His True Katrina Colors

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared." President Obama has adopted, in whole, the Bush approach to rebuilding the city - minus the Black Diaspora that was scattered to the winds in 2005. Notices of eviction have been served on the mostly elderly and Black inhabitants of 3,000 FEMA trailers. The Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development is putting the finishing touches on public housing demolition in the city. Not a single "Katrina Cottage" has been made ready for occupancy. Obama no more favors the "right to return" to - or remain in - New Orleans, than Bush did.

Obama Shows His True Katrina Colors

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The President delegated to his minions the task of evicting Katrina survivors from 3,000 FEMA trailers.”

If response to the crimes of Katrina is the litmus test for 21st Century Black politics – and it should be – then the Obama administration has failed to distinguish itself from its predecessor under George W. Bush. The Bush imperative was to take gruesome advantage of the hurricane’s destruction to accomplish a national goal: to drive poor Blacks from the central cities. Every governmental crime of omission and commission in the wake of Katrina was coldly calculated to permanently exile several hundred thousand African Americans from New Orleans. The city was deliberately rendered unlivable for a huge portion of its previous residents, while corporate vultures from across the nation and even Australia schemed to create a new urban “model” – minus African Americans.

From the beginning, candidate Obama denied that racism played a role in Katrina’s aftermath. The prevailing “incompetence,” he said, was “colorblind” – proving either that he, Obama, was the blind one or that the man who would be president is as hostile to the inner city poor as George Bush.

Obama waited until his first 100 days in office had passed to delegate to his minions the task of evicting Katrina survivors from 3,000 FEMA trailers. Most of the trailer inhabitants are elderly. Two-thirds of them own homes that they have been trying to make habitable, with or without help from the government. Their evictions from the trailers will make it that much harder to renew their lives as permanent residents of New Orleans – which is the whole point of the evictions.

Obama has effectively adopted the Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole.”

FEMA claims that it has always offered to allow people to buy the trailers for as little as $300. But the trailer residents overwhelmingly dispute that story. According to the New York Times, “virtually all of the residents interviewed said they had offered” to buy their trailers, but were “told they could not.” Who are you going to believe, the people or FEMA?

And who is to blame? Not George Bush, not anymore. President Obama has effectively adopted the Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole. Not a single one of 500 planned “Katrina cottages” has been made ready for occupancy. Elderly people squat in abandoned buildings. There are no credible plans to repair or create an infrastructure that could accommodate the poor who still remain, much less the New Orleans diaspora, scattered to the four winds three and a half years ago.

President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, of which he is so proud, revealed his administration’s general attitude regarding Katrina. Rather than putting people to work rebuilding New Orleans for the benefit of its original population, the administration and Congress allocated the city less money than any other congressional district. And it was under Obama that the latest federal actions to demolish public housing in the city have occurred.

The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared. The ominous ramifications reverberate far beyond the Gulf Coast. If post-Katrina New Orleans is the “urban model” for the future, then Black America has a great deal to fear from the Obama White House.

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

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



Direct download: 20090513_gf_katrina_evictions.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48am EDT

U.S. Economy: The Cancer is Still There

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

"In the cold assessment of history, Barack Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States." Mostly under his administration, $12.8 trillion dollars has been committed to prop up the Wall Street oligarchy. Yet the five banks that are the biggest recipients of federal largess continue to hold $195 trillion in fatally toxic derivatives - a notional value more than three times the planetary domestic product! "There is nothing rational to do but to wipe the obligations, and their holders, off the face of the Earth, in order to save the real economy."

U.S. Economy: The Cancer is Still There

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States.”

How does one restore the Lords of Capital to their former positions as dictators of the U.S. and global economies, while keeping their seats warm as de facto political rulers of the American state? Saving the finance capital oligarchy has emerged as President Obama’s central mission – the guiding focus of his young administration. Obama has found new and myriad ways to go where no American president has ever gone before, in funneling somewhere around $13 trillion of national treasure to the parasitical class that goes by the shorthand, Wall Street.

By March of this year, the federal government and the Federal Reserve had “spent, lent or committed” $12.8 trillion to the banksters, according to the Bloomberg financial news service. That amounts to 90 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the entire United States economy for last year. Let us put it another way: Mostly under the auspices of Barack Obama’s administration, the value of nearly every good and service produced in the United States in 2008 has been, in one way or another, put at the disposal of a tiny financial oligarchy.

This is the kind of overarching reality that defines, not just presidencies, but eras. In the cold assessment of history, Barack Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States.

President Obama has chosen to use the limited resources of the current and future United States – $13 trillion so far – to prop up a criminal class.

The primary beneficiaries of this history-shaking generosity are the same banksters that brought about the economic meltdown through their monstrous invention, the derivative. This fictitious capital – derivatives – created to facilitate gambling on a scale that far exceeds the productive capacity of the entire planet Earth, is a cancer that Barack Obama has chosen to feed, rather than cut out. As F. William Engdahl points out in a recent article, five U.S. banks are the biggest repositories of toxic derivatives: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo-Wachovia Bank. Together, these five Banksters of the Apocalypse hold derivatives with the notional value of $193 trillion. That is more than three times the value of the real economy of the whole world – which is about $60 trillion.

These deadly derivatives continue to sit there, immovable, in these five fatally stricken institutions. There are not enough trillions existent in the national or world economies to absorb these fatal instruments. There is nothing rational to do but to wipe the obligations, and their holders, off the face of the Earth, in order to save the real economy. Instead of feeding the cancer, a rational government would use the people’s wealth to create public institutions to dispense credit and guide economic development. The bankster gamblers would be consigned to the dustbin of history – and good riddance. But President Obama has chosen to use the limited resources of the current and future United States – $13 trillion so far – to prop up a criminal class. All the manufactured hoopla about stock market rallies and phony stress tests is intended to mask the central truth of our time: the derivatives cancer will eat away at the real economy until the class that spawned it is cut away, and flushed out of existence.

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

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

Direct download: 20090513_gf_economy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:55am EDT

Obama Cuts Funds For Black Higher Education President Obama's economic stimulus was very kind to the general category of education. But Black higher education got the butt end of his budget, with a net of $73 million in cuts, while traditionally Hispanic schools got an increase in funding. "It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group." Even southern Republican lawmakers are wondering aloud about Obama's priorities.

Obama Cuts Funds for Black Higher Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama should be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary.”

Barack Obama encourages people to believe that he deserves to be remembered as the “Education President.” However, Obama will definitely not go down as a friend of historically Black higher education. Historically Black colleges and universities – HBCUs – take a $73 million hit in Obama’s educational budget. The cuts are even more disturbing, since education as a general category is a big winner in the president’s economic stimulus plan.

Obama’s people claim that an increase in maximum Pell Grant monies for low-income students will help all educational institutions, including historically Black ones. But that’s not quite true. Even if every one of the 132,000 Pell Grant students that attend HBCUs collected the maximum $200 extra dollars in Obama’s budget, that would only make up for one-third of the administration’s cuts to the Black schools. In other words, Obama’s slightly rising tide of Pell Grants will not sufficiently lift historically Black higher education boats.

The $73 million loss would have an outsized impact on the 105 Black institutions, many of which are on perennially shaky financial ground, and all of which have been hit hard by the current economic crisis. Although Black schools make up only three percent of total U.S. college enrollment, they account for one out of every five undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans. It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group.

The Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to heavily Hispanic schools, from $93 million to $98 million.”

A direct comparison might be made with colleges that traditionally serve large numbers of Hispanic students. However, the Obama budget actually increased direct federal aid to these schools, from $93 million to $98 million. Native American higher education, on the other hand, gets the “Black” treatment: a decrease in federal funding to Indian schools.

The Obama administration’s callous disregard for Black colleges is even more curious, considering the president’s constant quest for areas of bipartisan consensus. Support for Black higher education is one of the rare issues around which southern white Republicans and members of the Congressional Black Caucus often find common ground. North Carolina is home to 11 HBCUs. The state’s Republican Senator, Richard Burr, wonders how Obama managed to find $9 million to fund a museum on the history of the whaling industry, but makes devastating cuts in Black higher education.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Many Black colleges were the products of philanthropy, and depend on it, still. But philanthropy is way down, which has pushed many Black institutions even closer to the edge.

President Obama should also be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary. Blacks were deliberately shut out of most higher education for almost the entirety of United States history. For that reason, Black institutions operate under specific disadvantages, while shouldering oversized responsibilities. There is nothing “race-neutral” about it. Past and present racial realities require that Obama give up the money.

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

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

Direct download: 20090513_gf_hbcu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:46am EDT