A Black Perspective12 012  A14, 201

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    March 3, 2012

A blog of current events and commentary featuring
writings by Lee Thrower

 

Random thoughts:

To those of us who choose to title ourselves by hyphenated names, this is my understanding of the hyphenated name. The left side of the hyphen merely denotes a geographic location. The right side of the hyphen describes the cultural essence, the being, the soul, so to say. With this understanding, I am proud to title myself an American-African. I am an African of the Diaspora who happened to be born in America.

 

FINANCE AS A WEAPON : 
BOTH A BLUDGEON AND A SCAPEL

 

The Golden Rule :
He who has the gold,  makes the rules

 
 

            Modern history is replete with examples of, " those who control the wealth control the world".  From 1791 to 1804 the Haitian people fought to end slavery and to wrest control of their nation from the colonizing power, France.  Under General Toussaint L'Ouverture, Haiti  became the first Black led Republic in the world that gained independence by overthrowing its former slave master.  France and the other colonizing powers were horrified.  This fissure into their world domination could not be tolerated.

            In a stunning reversal of responsibilities, the victor, Haiti, was forced to pay the vanquished, France, reparations.  This massive financial burden assured the colonizers that the fledging republic would not prosper.  As Haiti had to rely on trade with the colonial powers to sustain its populace, it remained at the mercy of the dominant powers.  Not only did Haiti not prosper, it has, even to this day, been relegated as the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.  Finance was used as a bludgeon to beat a freedom loving people into abject poverty.

            This tactic was instrumental as the 1960's saw the African continent move from colonialism to neo-colonialism.  Europe, under the guise of the "White man's burden", had divided Africa amongst the various European nations.  Colonialism, like slavery, was proving not to be the optimal economic model.  The continent, and its people, could be exploited without assuming responsibility for the social welfare of the people.  The various colonies were given their  "independence".  The European governors, viceroys and other leaders were replaced by native born puppets.  The military power, religion, cultural pecking order and perhaps most importantly, the bureaucracy, remained the dominion of the Europeans.  These new nations also found themselves to be hopelessly in debt to the global banking system to pay for the improvements bestowed upon them by the colonizers.

 

            Perhaps the African leader who best saw through this charade and who refused to abide by it was Patrice Lumumba.  He was promptly assassinated, if not directly by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, then certainly under its direction and authority.  Although the United States did not formally have a colony on the African continent, this action alone makes the nation as responsible and as culpable as the colonizers.

            Neo-colonialism has thrived in the subjugation of the African continent.  The newly freed nations have not come close to being able to manage the staggering debt that they were saddled with at their conception.  It must be recognized that this debt, these improvements, were devices that the colonizers used to maximize the exploitation of the resources of the continent.  It takes but a cursory glance to see that finance was used as a bludgeon to make the poorest people out of the inhabitants of the world's richest continent.

   Finance can also be used to discriminate against, therefore control, a specific segment of a particular population. In modern American society this practice has most often been used to control based on race. In the language of the vernacular, these controls were often known as the "poverty tax". The more formal definition would be "redlining".

Redlining began as the actual drawing of a red line around a particular area on a map. This area was thus designated for certain financial policies. Banking practices, insurance rates, credit interests could all be tailored to this area at the whim and agenda of those in control of the financial system. Indeed, even the manipulation of supermarket availability and operational policies were integral parts of the control of a particular area. The lack of supermarkets in an area often forced the residents to shop at neighborhood groceries, or convenience stores, paying much higher prices with far fewer choices. Supermarkets often brought produce, which had reached an expiration date in an affluent area, to a redlined area and extended the expiration date. The prices for this produce actually remained the same or was increased. Such practices add to the futility of living in a redlined area.

At the risk of oversimplification, here's a hypothetical dealing with selective financing. Two applicants need $20,000 to start a business. One applicant recognizes that he needs a cushion and presents a business plan and asks the financier for $25,000. The plan is solid and to be on the safe side the financier grants this applicant a loan for $30,000. As this business is adequately financed, it flourishes and everyone is happy. The second applicant is leery of being approved for the loan. He figures that if he cuts costs to the bone that he can get by with a loan for $15,000. He presents a solid plan, except that it is under financed. The financier is aware that this business plan is under financed, and will grant the applicant only a loan for $10,000. Reluctantly, the applicant accepts this loan. As it is under financed, this business has virtually no chance of success. It goes under in a short time and only the financier is happy.

To understand why the financier is happy, one must look at the big picture. Selective financing is only effective when cloaked by the premise that it is not in the best interest of the financier to make bad loans. This system is set up so that whether they make bad loans or good loans the financiers will flourish. Tax breaks and tax credits will cover most of these losses. That, however is only the tip of the iceberg. Bad loans equal bad credit which creates an underclass that is exploited by credit interest rates that are, in fact, usury. These are the poverty taxes, the check cashing establishments, the exorbitant credit card rates, the rent to owns, etc, etc. In the big picture, bad loans are good business.

 

When the exploitation of the lower class was not lucrative enough to satisfy the financial hierarchy, an assault was launched on the middle class. The target was that most basic foundation of the American dream, the home. The assault weapons were refinancing and loans based on stated income. Loans were granted to buy homes or, more likely to refinance a home loan based on the stated income of the applicant. Loans were shoveled out based on nothing more than the veracity of the applicant. A huge market was created as people, from insurance agents to telemarketers, jumped on the refinance band wagon. Dealings were often based on quasi pyramid schemes which, by their very structure, were doomed to failure. Values of homes were artificially inflated and everyone agreed that refinance, refinance, refinance was creating a bubble that had to burst.

The bubble burst and everyone asked, " what happened"? The financiers had bundled the loans, both good and bad, and sold them to global corporations and other speculators. Properties were foreclosed upon by the millions. The bundling had left the true ownership of these properties in a legal morass. The phrase, " too big to fail" became part of the American lexicon. The federal government bailed these financial institutions out with over a trillion dollars. The United States became a nation with empty houses and homeless people.

He who has the gold makes the rules. From the beat down of an entire continent to the foreclosure of a lone homeowner, finance is an almost invincible weapon. The only defense against finance as a weapon is knowledge and understanding of its uses. Whenever financial power is in the hands of the few, the many will suffer.

       

 

Just asking ..... 

A question to my educated African brothers and sisters who immigrated from the Motherland to the United States,   "who's minding the store"?


 

 
A BLACK PERSPECTIVE
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