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

The War Against “Excessive Pensions” For Govt Workers Is War Against Black Families, Prosecuted by Our Black Elite

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The late Kwame Toure used to say that there was a war in progress, a war against black people, and that we seemed to be the only ones who didn't know it. The war at the heart of today's black polity has a similar character. It's war between the black elite, our own native class of African American cultural and political misleaders, and the rest of us. And since that class of misleaders possesses near-exclusive access to our black pulpits and newspapers, the radio and TV stations most of us listen to, it's no surprise that only one side is awake and aware.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed is a rising black star in Democratic political circles who enjoys the favor of big corporate donors like Home Depot, SunTrust and Bank of America, because he is a tireless warrior against, not for, the interests of most black people in Atlanta and around the nation. Reed is widely credited in corporate media like the Wall Street Journal for having solved the intractable problem of ballooning pensions for city workers, which they say threatened to bankrupt the city.

If there had been an actual black press to explain this for us, the explanation would have went something like this....

Generations of teachers, city, county and state government workers, in their negotiations with bosses --- in Atlanta those have been black mayors the last 40 years --- agreed in good faith to forgo immediate wage increases now in favor of pensions and in some cases medical benefits later in their retirement, which both they and their employers were to jointly pay for. But although cities, states and school districts took the money out of workers checks each month, they never felt obliged to keep their promise and pay their part of those pensions. To do so might have required higher taxes, especially on the wealthiest individuals and corporations who over the last decades have paid a lower and lower share of their wealth in taxes, while governments have been forced to borrow operating money from them at loan shark interest rates. This is the pattern followed by hundreds of US cities and school districts, and probably most of its states.

Pension managers mostly said not funding the pensions was OK because they could make smart enough investments to compensate for the money public employers weren't putting into those pension funds. The crash of 2007 and 2008 made lots of their smart investments worthless.

Now big city mayors, governors and school district execs are not about to go to the public and to the wealthy and say “since we didn't keep our promises all these years we've got to tax you heavily to pay these pensions we know we should have been funding all along...” Instead they have to recast their broken promises as “unfunded liabilities” and the retirement benefits previously agreed upon as excessive, greedy, and unsustainable.

Atlanta's Kasim Reed has been a champion at this. Last the black mayor of Atlanta broke just about every pension promise made to Atlanta city workers by 40 years of black mayors, and sharply limited retirement compensation of new city workers. In Atlanta most of those city workers are African American. Reed now has his sights on reducing the wages and pensions of Atlanta's 4,000 transit workers, perhaps as a prelude to privatization or a state takeover.

If the targets here had been black contractors instead of city and transit workers, there would be a storm of denunciations from black pulpits and pundits, black newspapers and commentators. But since the spear chuckers in this war against ordinary black folks are our own black leadership class, those leaders are mostly silent. It's time to dismiss that whole class, and raise up new leaders.

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. He lives and works near Marietta GA and is 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@blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121024_bd_pension_wars_and_black_families.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT

A Profitable Genocide: Rwanda and Uganda Annex Eastern Congo

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda.”

Rwanda is warning its western benefactors not to cut off aid, in the wake of yet another leaked United Nations report on its role in the genocide of millions in the neighboring Congo. Rwanda and Uganda, both staunch allies of the United States and Great Britain, continue to support so-called rebels in the mineral rich eastern Congo, according to a Group of Experts at the UN Security Council. Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters among millions of refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda. But the invasion became an occupation that has killed six million Congolese – the world’s greatest holocaust since World War Two.

The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda, who have plundered eastern Congo’s mineral resources for sale to multinational corporations, most of them based in the United States and Europe. According to the UN’s chief of peacekeeping, Rwanda has effectively annexed eastern Congo, raising taxes and controlling the population through so-called rebels who answer directly to Rwanda’s military. Foreigners have noted how Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, has prospered during the Congolese genocide, as a base for trading plundered minerals.

A 2010 UN report charged Rwanda’s army with “committing atrocities that could be classified as crimes of genocide.” Another UN study came to similar conclusions back in 1997. But, each time, the United States has used its muscle to suppress the findings and shield its African allies from punishment. The latest report – which only came to light because it was leaked – implicates officers at the highest level of Rwanda’s military as the real command structure behind the so-called M-23 rebels – confirming that the Tutsi force are not really rebels at all, but extensions of the Rwandan army.

Rwanda has effectively annexed eastern Congo.”

Uganda has also profited mightily from the death of millions of Congolese. It is part of the arrangement, in which Rwanda and Uganda act as mercenaries for American and European interests in Africa. In return, both regimes are armed to the teeth, generously supported by foreign aid, and allowed free rein to plunder their Congolese neighbors. The blood of millions flows into the ground, while billions of dollars in minerals are extracted from the earth and delivered to their corporate customers – with Rwandan and Ugandan middlemen pocketing their cut.

The United States, embarrassed by the leaked reports, has withheld token funds earmarked for a Rwandan military school, and the European Union has frozen support for the killer regimes. But the British shamelessly restored all aid to Rwanda and Uganda in September, praising the mass murderers for constructively pursuing peace.

The Congolese genocide is, first and foremost, an American and British crime, a superpower-engineered holocaust that has continued for 16 years, under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama – all of whom are guilty of the worst offenses known to international law. Uganda and Rwanda are merely henchmen in this monstrous crime against humanity that is comparable only to the crimes of Hitler and his Nazis. It is an American Democratic and Republican genocide – a pure evil. Don’t you dare claim to find some “lesser evil” under that mountain of dead African flesh.

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.co

Direct download: 20121024_gf_RwandaCongo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT