Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

It's Party Time for the Black Misleadership Class

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence.”

Michelle Obama was the main attraction at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual Legislative Weekend gala affair. She told the party-goers that voting, “going to the polls every single election…is the movement of our era.” That is part of the great tragedy that has befallen Black America. The same class that abandoned mass movement politics 40 years ago, in favor of pursuing their own corporate and electoral ambitions, now claims that going to the polls every couple of years is the same thing as having a movement. And that’s got a lot to do with why, by many key measurements, Black people are as bad off, or worse, than in 1965.

Some of us remember the days, after Martin Luther King’s death, when the aspiring Black political class lectured movement activists to get out of the streets and into the suites. They said Black folks needed to position themselves on the inside of power where they could, supposedly, do the most good for the Black masses. But these selfish actors were only looking out for their own upward mobility.

It would be unfair the say that these misleaders shut down the Black Freedom Movement in the late Sixties – the U.S. government’s hit squads made their own murderous contribution to the death of the movement, and a national policy of mass Black incarceration put lower class African Americans on permanent lockdown.

Our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face.”

But some segments of Black America have done pretty well for themselves, as is on display every September at the Black Caucus weekend. With Barack Obama in the White House, the Black common folk experience a vicarious sensation of power – which, as it turns out, is not a very healthy thing, since African Americans as a group have never gotten anywhere without fighting the Powers-That-Be. However, our history did not prepare us to fight Power when it wears a Black face, a problem few of us ever expected to confront. It appears likely that we will experience another four years in which the Black political class makes no demands of Power, so as not to discomfort or embarrass the First Black President in his second term, a man who serves the financial oligarchs on Wall Street, not the folks on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Black Caucus also honored Eric Holder, the first Black U.S. attorney general. Holder has failed to prosecute any of the Wall Street plutocrats whose criminal financial enterprises threw millions out of work and set Black America back two generations. It was Holder's job to explain why his boss’s preventive detention bill was not a death blow to due process of law in the United States – an impossible task. Even in the Age of Obama, most of the Black Caucus opposes indefinite detention without charge or trial – but not enough to let a little thing like the Bill of Rights get in the way of honoring a “first Black”…anything.

This is the logical end-result of what people like professor and preacher Michael Eric Dyson cynically call “getting in the game”: the empowerment of a slim sliver of a Black Misleaderhip Class that is concerned mainly with celebrating its own existence. That's what happens when the money-soaked rituals of American electoral politics are mistaken for a people's movement.

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: 20120926_gf_CBC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EST

Brought To You By “Clean Coal:” All You Need To Know About the 2012 Obama- Romney Debates

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the top 15 things that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree on. It was a list that easily could have been longer.

Both agree on more money for the military, more wars in more countries, more drone killings, more privatizations of schools, roads and everything else in sight, and more bailouts for banksters, and continuing the 40 year war on drugs. Both say no, though in different language to minimum wage increases and the right to organize unions and strike. Both say no to climate change treaties, or even negotiations that might lead to such treaties, and both say no to foreclosure moratoriums, WPA style job creation programs and Medicare For All. Neither one will prosecute banksters or torturers, or talk much at all about poverty, although the last time there were this many poor a Democrat called for a War on Poverty.

Given their areas of agreement alone, the presidential debates won't be real debates. The so-called Presidential Debate Commission is a private corporation founded by leaders of the two corporate parties, who choose the format, the location, the moderators and the questions, and explicitly draw up the rules to exclude candidates and parties other than Democrats and Republicans.

Although the broadcast airwaves have existed longer than the sun, and cable networks everywhere run beneath public roads and streets, US law lets private corporations determine on their own what political messages reach the population by controlling news and demanding large sums of money for a few seconds of commercials. These large amounts of money can only be gotten from the same plutocratic shot calling individuals and corporations who make the careers of Republicans like Mitt Romney and Democrats like Barack Obama possible.

How irresponsible, how locked down, how deceitfully scripted and divorced from the real world in which most of us live are these presidential debates? Besides everything the candidates agree on, and who runs the so-called debate “commission”, all you need to know is that one of the marquee sponsors of the 2012 presidential debates, and the 2008 ones as well, is an industry front group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are deep in the pocket of “clean coal,” as they are in the pockets of Big Ag, Big Insurance, military contractors, Wall Street and other centers of real power.

One answer to the lack of real discussions presented us by the rigged “commission” on presidential debates will be Occupy The Debates, a project undertaken by Occupy activists in multiple cities, in which a live meeting will entertain live questions from a live audience. Occupy the Debates' first scheduled public meeting will be in Denver CO, the same evening as the first so-called “debate” between the two corporate candidates. Occupy the Debates will be streamed live on the internet that evening, and will include the participation of Black Agenda Report co-counder Glen Ford. Several occupy movements around the country are expected to follow suit and organize their own local events over the next few weeks. For more information on real debates on real issues, visit Occupy the Debates, either on FaceBook or at www.occupythedebates.org. That'swww.occupythedebates.org.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120925_bd_debates.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EST

Georgia Brutalizes Inmates, Silences Families, Stonewalls Advocates, Justice Department Does Nothing So Far

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Nobody ever expected Barack Obama to be a savior or even a fighter for human and civil rights. Those, after all, are high standards. When it comes to protecting the rights of prisoners, the administration of the First Black President and First Black Attorney General barely if at all meet the much lower standard of showing up for work and answering their mail.

Twenty-one months ago Georgia prisoners reached across racial, religious and other dividing lines and staged a heroic strike. They remained peacefully in their cells, demanding education and recreational opportunities, timely parole and transparent disciplinary procedures, decent food and medical attention and wages for work. To this day, the state of Georgia continues to wage a campaign of brutal retaliation against inmates and their families.

Over these many months, prison authorities have routinely blocked mail and phone access, and denied medical care and showers and other essentials for weeks at a time to inmates it accuses of leading the December 2012 strike. Most of them still remain confined to solitary cells in the SMU unit of the same massive prison complex where Georgia murdered Troy Davis just over a year ago.

In recent weeks no fewer than ten federal lawsuits have been filed by brutalized prisoners, and two more by their advocates and family members outside. Though all the inmate suits are nearly the same, federal judges have allowed only one of them to proceed. They all allege that the state has violated its own procedures both by failing to state its reasons for putting prisoners in solitary confinement, and then refusing to review their status every thirty days.

One of the outside lawsuits is filed by Delma Jackson, the wife of Miguel Jackson alleging that her visits, letters and phone calls have been blocked by state authorities purely and simply because she spoke out publicly on behalf of her husband and others behind the walls. The other outside lawsuit against Georgia's Department of Corrections was filed by Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society, accuses lawless state authorities of refusing, over a period of several months worth of inquiries, to provide documentation of exactly what their disciplinary and review procedures are.

Local activists, and attorneys representing the prisoners have asked the Obama administration's Justice Department to look into the many violations of civil and human rights bubbling on the surface of Georgia's campaign to brutalize prisoners in its care, silence their families and stonewall their advocates.

The Justice Department has responded to us,” Pastor Glasgow told Black Agenda Report, “but without saying they intend to do anything specific about our allegations. We're still waiting,” the pastor said, 1 “and although hope is not a plan, we do remain hopeful.”

In early September representatives of more than a dozen local organizations, ranging from Georgia WAND to Project South to the Green Party, activists from Occupy and formations of ex-offenders met at the Georgia state capitol to renew their resolve in fighting for the locked down and locked away. They'll be back at the state capitol this October 6 at 10 AM. If you're in Atlanta that day, that's the place to be. If you're not and want to help, contact the hopeful folks fighting for the human rights of Georgia prisoners at 334-671-2882. That's 334-671-2882.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com, or via this site's contact page.

Direct download: 20120919_bd_ga_prisoners.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41am EST

Obama Wins A Round in His Quest to Imprison Americans Without Trial

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lawyer for the American plaintiffs thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.”

It is not true that Barack Obama single-handedly destroyed the rule of law in the United States. The savaging of the Bill of Rights was, in effect, a tag team effort between Obama and his predecessor, George Bush, two presidents united in a single-minded quest to remove all barriers to the imprisonment, without trail or charge, of persons anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens. George Bush did the initial groundwork, interpreting the 2001 congressional mandate to strike militarily against al-Qaida as giving the president the power to hold foreign prisoners without charge in Guantanamo, and, in theory, to treat American citizens the same way. But that was a stretch, and only a presidential opinion.

George Bush knew that it would be very difficult to get a preventive detention bill through Congress; Democrats would raise holy hell, and protesters would call for his head. But Barack Obama accomplished what Bush could not: On New Year’s Eve, Obama signed a preventive detention law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders. Obama had already declared the rest of the planet a killing ground.

Then, back in August, a federal district judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, slapped a temporary restraining order on preventive detention, ruling on behalf of a group of activists and journalists who said the they could be thrown in prison permanently simply for speaking or writing about groups targeted by the United States. What, precisely and under the law, constituted providing “support” for al-Qaida or related groups? Obama’s Justice Department lawyers refused to say, claiming they had not thought the question through. Clearly, President Obama, like President Bush, wanted leeway to interpret the law any way he sees fit, so he can lock up whoever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reason, or for no stated reason at all. But Judge Forrest wasn’t having it. On September 12, she made her injunction permanent, ruling that Obama’s preventive detention law was unconstitutional.

Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders.”

For less than a week, the Bill of Rights returned to U.S. soil. But, this past Monday, a federal appeals court judge put the Constitution back on hold, removing Judge Forrest’s injunction on preventive detention. The entire three-judge appeals court will begin hearing the case on September 28. Obama’s lawyers say the government needs to be allowed to detain certain prisoners without charge or trial in Afghanistan. But Bruce Afran, the lawyer for the American plaintiffs in the case, thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.

That’s the evil beauty of these Bush-Obama laws: they cut across international borders and render all the people’s of the world equal in one important respect: President Obama claims the right to kill each and every one of them, or lock them up forever, on his own say so. In that sense, Obama recognizes no legal difference between U.S. anti-war protestors and anonymous targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. All of our lives and freedom are subject to the whims of an American president.

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: 20120919_gf_NDAA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EST

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.”

The United States and its allies have set the stage for the Mother of All Blowbacks: a long period of convulsions in the Muslim and Arab world that will ultimately lead to America’s expulsion from much of the region. The reason it is so easy to read the handwriting on the wall, is that we have been watching the scenario unfold for three decades, ever since the last years of the Jimmy Carter administration, when the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan spent billions to create a worldwide Muslim jihadi army and unleashed it on the Soviets and their allies in Afghanistan, plunging that country into endless war.

When these Muslim warriors turned on the United States – or, depending on your vantage point, when the United States turned on them – we experienced the first blowback. The American public, shocked and traumatized, gave first, a Republican, and then a Democratic president all the guns and money and extra-Constitutional powers they demanded to push back against the Muslims who had not long ago been U.S. allies. The war planners in Washington figured they could live with the way events had turned out. After all, al-Qaida and its Salafist brethren were in no position to challenge U.S. dominance in the world – not anyplace that really counted – and their mere existence provided the U.S. war machine with a purpose in life, an excuse to subvert and wage low-level war against those nations that refused to tow the U.S. line.

And then came the so-called Arab Spring, and with it the terrifying prospect that Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East might take control of their own destinies – and the oil and natural gas that goes with it. Democracy means death to U.S. imperialism. Pew Research pollsters report that, on average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States. That’s down from 25 percent in 2009, when Barack Obama came into office. If the Arab and Muslim “street” came to power, the United States would be run out of that whole section of the planet – and Washington knows it.

On average, only 15 percent of Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis and Turks have a favorable view of the United States.”

When Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the U.S. and Europe played the only cards they had: they brought in massive air power and called out the jihadi dogs of war in an unprovoked attack on Libya. Almost simultaneously, the Euro-Americans and the royal criminals of the Persian Gulf armed and financed a jihadi assault against Syria, as Washington and Israel stepped up their low-level war against Iran.

As Temple University’s professor Tony Monteiro has pointed out, the whole rationale for the U.S. war on terror is a lie – the facts turned backwards. Washington claims it is engaged in a long, twilight war against non-state actors, terrorists, who seek to subvert and overthrow existing governments. In reality, it is the Americans who deploy non-state, jihadi actors to overthrow governments that Washington doesn’t like. However, in doing so, the West has once again empowered fundamentalist forces that will inevitably turn against Washington, the Greatest Infidel of all. Last week’s protests are only a small foretaste of what is to come: a blowback of such intensity that the foundations of Empire will crack, and crumble. 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: 20120919_gf_Jihadis.mp3
Category:US Empire -- posted at: 8:47am EST

It's a tradition. A weekend in September when dozens of major corporations sponsor public and private receptions, entertainment events, self-interested marketing, self-promoting seminars, and one “legendary” party --- I'm not exaggerating there, “legendary” is the title of this year's party --- all under the flag of the Congressional Black Caucus, through its Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, CBCF.

There was a time when the CBC used to call itself the conscience of the Congress. That however, was back in the days when black America still formed the reliable left anchor of US politics. Black constituencies were then and still are the most antiwar, the most interested in raising wages, in upholding the right to unionize and strike, the right full funding of decent housing, transit and quality education. But back then, corporations mostly kept their money out of elections and advocacy organizations in black and brown constituencies. So Latinos and blacks communities were able to elect officials on every level who actually stood on these principles. But since 2002, a tsunami of corporate dollars have bankrolled the careers of a new generation of black politicians, turned the heads and outlooks of some of the old ones, and now make up the main funding source for nongovernmental organizations from the NAACP to the National Action Network, the Urban League, and many, many more. Hence currently fashionable notions of corporate-friendly black leadership have little in common with that old “the conscience of the Congress” stuff.

We might be relatively poorer than any time in a generation, more unemployed than any time in two generations, and more incarcerated than anybody ever in history. But fighting austerity, cutbacks and privatizations are, for the black political class, off the table, especially with a black Democrat in the White House.

So most of the CBC Legislative Policy Conference's policy workshops, its networking sessions and its so-called “braintrusts” are the showcases, the mouthpieces and other orifices of the corporations on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's advisory board. Individual caucus members are “honorary” co-chairs of each workshop, but sessions are generally delivered by entertainers, corporate execs, their lobbyists, their public relations stooges, and their astroturf organizations.

With vampire capitalists Goldman Sachs on the CBCF board, there are “braintrusts” in how to demand a moratoriums on foreclosures, or how to organize and promote resistance to evictions or gentrification or privatization. With military contractors like Lockheed on the board, giving voice to overwhelming black opinion that the wars should be ended is also out of bounds. If past conferences are any guide, you can however find multiple workshops and networking sessions to help you become a minority contractor with the Pentagon or Homeland Security. The Obama administration's privatizing Race To The Top is leading the assault on public education, so the single workshop given by the teachers union doesn't directly oppose those policies AND is balanced by multiple sessions of corporate charter-school propaganda.

With Fighting the Power off the table, what's left to do at CBC weekend but to Party Hearty? What else but to commemorate past victories, to celebrate past achievements and present prominence, to see and be seen. No doubt this year's black party at the Howard will indeed be “legendary.” That is what our self-interested, self-promoting, self-congratulating black political class is all about, and that's what they'll be known for, their permanent victory party, boasting, roasting, toasting and coasting.

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 a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20120912_bd_boasting_roasting_toasting_coasting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33pm EST

Why Is Barack Obama Holding Back Hundreds of Billions In Housing Aid?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Obama administration refused to spend hundreds of billions allocated by Congress for housing relief, until the program expired in 2010.”

Protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement charge the housing agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with refusing to lower the mortgage principles on 15 million homeowners who are underwater, their houses worth less than what they owe. The problem, say these activists, is Edward Demarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The protesters, including Occupy Our Homes and Right to the City, have been careful to frame Demarco as the problem; they’ve been calling for his head for many months. But Demarco is just a cog in a very big wheel, a career civil servant who is faithfully carrying out his president’s housing policies. Demarco deserves to be demonized, but President Obama is the real villain, here.

Although he oversaw the biggest bank bailout in U.S. history, Barack Obama has long rejected any bailout of homeowners. Before the financial meltdown, back in early 2008, candidate Obama opposed any form of moratorium on home foreclosures, putting him to the right of candidate John Edwards, who wanted a mandatory halt to foreclosures, and Hillary Clinton, who favored a voluntary moratorium. In the first two years of his presidency, it was Obama, not the minority Republicans, who stood in the way of a bailout of homeowners, even as his administration and the Federal Reserve funneled trillions of dollars to Wall Street. As reported in the New York Times, last month, the Obama administration refused to spend hundreds of billions allocated by Congress for housing relief, until the program expired in 2010. The money was just sitting there, unspent – no Republicans were blocking it – while five million families lost their homes.

Demarco deserves to be demonized, but President Obama is the real villain, here.”

According to the Times story, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Obama that he would not spend money on housing even if another $100 billion was available. Geithner and Obama flaunted the specific will of Congress, refusing to come to the aid of those populations and regions most affected by the housing collapse. Almost $6.7 billion dollars set aside for the Hardest Hit Program sat idle in Treasury Department accounts for two years, because Geithner managed to spend only three percent of the money.

This was no accident or oversight, but deliberate and consistent Obama administration policy to leave the housing crisis for the banks to deal with in ways they saw fit. Federal intervention might upset the banks’ careful calibrations of how many families to dispossess, how many houses to put back on the market – and when – in order to keep the banks’ books looking healthy. It was never in the cards that the Obama team would support widespread reductions in mortgage principles. Their job, as they saw it, was to protect the bankers’ bottom lines, and to hell with the millions of Americans – disproportionately Black and brown – who got thrown into the street.

Yet, many activists, waving the Occupy Wall Street banner, insist that a bureaucrat named Edward Demarco is the devil behind all of this suffering. Even in protest, they can’t bring themselves to tell the whole truth – the truth that the people most need to know: that President Obama has callously allowed millions to be made homeless in his steadfast service to Wall Street.

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: 20120912_gf_Housing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:27am EST

Two-Thirds of Planet Backs Iran Against “West”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Who, then, is isolated in the world – Iran, or the U.S. and Europe?”

The United States and its European allies – the old imperialists and the new – tell their countries’ populations that Iran is isolated in the world, and will have to get rid of its nuclear energy infrastructure in order to be allowed back into what they call “the community of nations.” Among the power groupies that call themselves journalists in the West, Iran is routinely referred to as a “pariah” nation, lurking at the very edge of civilization and sanity. The United States, by this reasoning, is showing great wisdom and forbearance, for not having already unleashed its carrier task forces, Marine divisions, Special Forces commandos, and swarms of drones on the crazed Iranians. Instead, the U.S., in it infinite goodness, enforces a strangling economic and oil embargo, to make the Iranian nation scream.

The Iranians are lucky, Americans and Europeans are told, that the U.S. holds back its friends in Israel, who are eager to give the ayatollah’s in Tehran a lesson in how to behave. But, whatever happens at the end of this game to force Iran to give up its lawful right to own and operate the full industrial cycle of nuclear power, western audiences are assured that the “international community” will approve. After all, Iran is a global outcast. CNN and the New York Times tell us so every day.

Someone is committing a crime, and its not Iran.”

Last week, the 120 nations of the Nonaligned Movement voted unanimously and without qualification in support of Iran’s right to produce nuclear energy, and to enrich their own uranium in the process. The Nonaligned Movement makes up about two-thirds of all the nations of the world. As a solid block of humanity, they rejected the dictates of Washington and London and Paris – the imperial powers that for centuries enslaved most of the planet – endorsing the fundamental principle that Iran has the same sovereign rights as any other nation.

Who, then, is isolated in the world – Iran, whose position is backed by two-thirds of the world’s countries, or the U.S. and Europe?

Clearly, the Americans and Europeans still believe that the only world opinion that counts, is the white world. The arrogance of the colonizer and imperialist is infinite, but their power is not – not any longer. The Nonaligned Movement vote is a global referendum, not on Iran’s lawful pursuit of its internal development policies, but on U.S. imperial bullying and criminality. Because, if Iran is within its rights, then the U.S. and the European Union are in the wrong in waging economic war, and threatening military assault, against Iran. Someone is committing a crime, and its not Iran. Two-thirds of the world says so.

The vote is all the more remarkable because the Americans and Europeans, and even the Israelis, exercise great influence over the affairs of much of what used to be called the Third World. Yet still, the former colonies and subjugated nations of the Nonaligned Movement voted unanimously, and on principle, rather than kowtow to power.

There is a lesson here. The Empire remains militarily strong and capable of great crimes. But it has lost much of its powers of coercion – without which, Empire must ultimately cease to exist. 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: 20120905_gf_IranVote.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EST

Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth.”

The impoverishment of politics in the Age of Obama has been nothing short of amazing. This president has so suppressed every vestigial remnant of progressivism in the political discourse, that the most fundamental bread and butter issues have become taboo. I’m talking about raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2007, the year before the bottom fell out of the economy.

A new study shows that the Great Recession was most destructive of decent-paying jobs, the middle tier where working people earned between about $14 and $21 an hour. That’s where sixty percent of job losses occurred between 2008 and 2010, and most of those jobs have not come back. Instead, the greatest increase in jobs has come in the low-wage sector, with a median pay from $7.69 – just above the federal minimum – to $13.83 an hour. The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth, with traditionally bad-paying jobs in food preparation and retail sales leading the way.

High unemployment, on top of the disappearance of living wage jobs. You would think that in an election year, the party that is most identified with working people and folks that need to find work would be screaming at the top of their lungs: Raise the minimum wage! But, you will hear little or nothing of that from the Democratic convention festivities in Charlotte.

Poll numbers show huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans.”

It’s not that the delegates are unaware of the crying need for a higher minimum wage. The Democratic platform – for what its worth – declares that “we will raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.” However, it doesn’t say how much, or when. And that’s in deference to the party’s standard bearer, who has not said anything meaningful about the minimum wage since he was campaigning for president in 2008. Back then, Obama promised to work to raise the minimum to $9.50 by 2011. Then he got elected, and we heard nothing more about it.

When the president is mum on an issue, then the party faithful put themselves on mute. There are bills in the House and the Senate to raise the minimum wage – the best one is sponsored by Chicago CongressmanJesse Jackson, Jr., calling for an immediate $10 an hour minimum, tied to inflation. But, there’s no chance of these bills going anywhere without the cooperation of Democratic leadership. Ralph Nader and others have beseeched party leaders to break the silence, but they don’t dare raise the issue for fear of embarrassing their President.

Apologists for Obama will claim that pushing for a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation – or any significant raise – would hurt his chances for re-election. But the poll numbers show differently, with huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans. Even Mitt Romney says he supports linking the minimum wage to inflation – just not right now. Obama has effectively been saying “no, not now” to underpaid workers for almost four years. So, why in the hell is labor getting ready to spend tens of million of dollars to re-elected him, instead of building a movement that will force politicians to do the right thing? 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: 20120905_gf_MinWage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:04am EST