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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Michael Kinsley writing in The Daily Beast is one of the few who recognize the irony of current Republicrat policies

of re-inflation,  He writes with irony,  "The crisis won't be resolved until house prices start rising again, thus making

the American Dream unaffordable to more people."  



Books by Wilson Jeremiah Moses

Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850-1925 (1988)  / The Wings of Ethiopia  (1990)

 Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent (1992)  / Destiny & Race: Selected Writings, 1840-1898  (1992) 

 Black Messiahs and Uncle Toms: Social and Literary Manipulations of a Religious Myth (1993)

Liberian Dreams: Back-to-Africa Narratives from the 1850s  / Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (2002)

Creative Conflict in African American Thought (2004)

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Regulators Obfuscators, and Inflators

By Wilson J.  Moses

December 15, 2008


The news dominating headlines yesterday and today concerning the investment fraud of Bernard L. Madoff is literally sickening.  This afternoon, I watched CNBC, to discover that Larry Kudlow's solution, not surprisingly is more deregulation.   He calls, not surprisingly, for abolition of the Security and Exchange Commission.   John McCain's solution last fall was to fire SEC head, Christopher Cox.  That is the best the fat cats can come up with: either abolish the regulatory commission, or treacherously scapegoat one of their own, a man who has constantly played by the rules of their game.  The fact is that the SEC should have been regulating the investment business, and the Fed should have been regulating the money supply.   The fact that neither has been doing its job is due to the fact that the respective officials were selected primarily because of their fundamental hostility to regulation.

As far as Wall Street is concerned, the fundamental cause of what they simplistically refer to as "the credit crisis," is the Community Reinvestment Act, which encouraged unsafe loans to poor people in inner cities (translate black folk).   The cause of the crisis of the auto industry is that labor unions forced the auto companies to pay their employees decent salaries and benefits.

Sarah Palin, to her credit, is the only prominent Republican who has audibly placed any blame on "predatory lenders," thereby demonstrating that she is indeed a maverick.   Palin also made the indiscrete statement that public school teachers are underpaid, which shows she is completely off the reservation.   It would truly blow my mind if she were next to admit that auto workers are entitled to health insurance and pension funds. 

In general, however, there is little if any recognition by Republicans or Democrats of the fact that the deficit spending of the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II administrations, combined with the easy-money policies of  the Federal Reserve Board under Alan Greenspan, inflated the price of real estate.  There have been one or two notable exceptions, including Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, but Wall Street and its spokespersons are in stubborn denial.  That the uncontrolled flood of exotic securities, and the invention of credit swaps based on the real estate bubble might have had anything to do with our problems is seldom discussed.   And even those who recognize the malpractice of Greenspan seem to think that the cure for our current difficulties is to resume the super-inflation of real estate.  

Michael Kinsley writing in The Daily Beast is one of the few who recognize the irony of current Republicrat policies of re-inflation,  He writes with irony,  "The crisis won't be resolved until house prices start rising again, thus making the American Dream unaffordable to more people."   Kinsley might have added that the process of re-inflation will also make housing unaffordable to retirees, whose life savings have been eroded by inflation, and many of whose pensions are destined to be destroyed when the American automakers go into bankruptcy, a prospect that Stiglitz hails as benign. 

The science section of the French journal Liberation, December 10, carried an editorial by Denis Guedj, mathematician, and historian of science, decrying the selling of mathematiques twenty-three year old prostitutes, who sell their services to war profiteers without any concern for the misery of humanity.  Their formulae are as clever as those of the medieval astronomers, and just about as relevant.   Elsewhere, I have compared these sorcerer's apprentices to the Fantasia Mickey Mouse, who have flooded the market with instruments they do not understand.  Mathematical devices are created to support ideological principles that are empirically insupportable.  The theoretical hocus pocus can serve only to raise the wonder of the ignorant and sustain the superstitions of  the rich and powerful.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, for, as did Adam Smith, I recognize that the rich and powerful have no need to conspire.  They understand immediately, without need for communication, the concatenation of their interests, which are usually opposed to the interests of  working people.  It is working people who must rely on organization and communication-conspiracy, if you will.  But like the factory workers in the Japanese auto plants that have sprung up on American soil in recent decades, workers are universally suspicious of labor unions, and choose neither to unite not to conspire.  As Adam Smith points out, labor does not organize easily, and in those cases where workers understand their interests, they must work within the framework of laws created by the master class.

It is interesting that anyone who wishes may hear the opinions of the master class and their Congressional minions daily on CNBC.   There is no equivalent outlet for the opinions and sentiments of working people.

Copyright©2008 by Wilson J. Moses


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The Madoff Economy—The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend. . . .

The financial services industry has claimed an ever-growing share of the nation’s income over the past generation, making the people who run the industry incredibly rich. Yet, at this point, it looks as if much of the industry has been destroying value, not creating it. And it’s not just a matter of money: the vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole.

Let’s start with those paychecks. Last year, the average salary of employees in “securities, commodity contracts, and investments” was more than four times the average salary in the rest of the economy. Earning a million dollars was nothing special, and even incomes of $20 million or more were fairly common. The incomes of the richest Americans have exploded over the past generation, even as wages of ordinary workers have stagnated; high pay on Wall Street was a major cause of that divergence.

But surely those financial superstars must have been earning their millions, right? No, not necessarily. The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion.

Consider the hypothetical example of a money manager who leverages up his clients’ money with lots of debt, then invests the bulked-up total in high-yielding but risky assets, such as dubious mortgage-backed securities. For a while — say, as long as a housing bubble continues to inflate — he (it’s almost always a he) will make big profits and receive big bonuses. Then, when the bubble bursts and his investments turn into toxic waste, his investors will lose big — but he’ll keep those bonuses. NYTimes

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On Wall Street, Bonuses, Not Profits, Were Real— .—A Bonus Bonanza—For Wall Street, much of this decade represented a new Gilded Age. Salaries were merely play money — a pittance compared to bonuses. Bonus season became an annual celebration of the riches to be had in the markets. That was especially so in the New York area, where nearly $1 out of every $4 that companies paid employees last year went to someone in the financial industry. Bankers celebrated with five-figure dinners, vied to outspend each other at charity auctions and spent their newfound fortunes on new homes, cars and art.

E. Stanley O’Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, was paid $46 million in 2006, $18.5 million of it in cash

The bonanza redefined success for an entire generation. Graduates of top universities sought their fortunes in banking, rather than in careers like medicine, engineering or teaching. Wall Street worked its rookies hard, but it held out the promise of rich rewards. In college dorms, tales of 30-year-olds pulling down $5 million a year were legion.

While top executives received the biggest bonuses, what is striking is how many employees throughout the ranks took home large paychecks. On Wall Street, the first goal was to make “a buck” — a million dollars. More than 100 people in Merrill’s bond unit alone broke the million-dollar mark in 2006. Goldman Sachs paid more than $20 million apiece to more than 50 people that year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Goldman declined to comment. Pay was tied to profit, and profit to the easy, borrowed money that could be invested in markets like mortgage securities. As the financial industry’s role in the economy grew, workers’ pay ballooned, leaping sixfold since 1975, nearly twice as much as the increase in pay for the average American worker. . . . Mr. O’Neal, however, got even richer by leaving Merrill Lynch. He was awarded an exit package worth $161 million.  NYTimes

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Ponzi Schemes—In a Ponzi scheme, potential investors are wooed with promises of unusually large returns, usually attributed to the investment manager’s savvy, skill or some other secret sauce. The returns are repaid, at least for a time, out of new investors’ principal, not from profits. This can continue as long as new investors line up with cash, and old investors don’t try to withdraw too much of their money at once.

Ponzi schemes are also known as pyramid schemes, from the shape of any chart that reflects their basic premise -- that ever-growing layers of new recruits are needed to provide gains to the smaller, earlier cohorts. A gigantic pyramid scheme virtually bankrupted Albania after the fall of Communism. Ponzi schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, the flamboyant con man whose scam followed a particularly spectacular course.

Mr. Ponzi began telling New York investors in December 1919 that investments in foreign postage coupons could yield 50 percent returns in 45 days. By redeeming coupons bought cheaply overseas for much higher amounts in the United States, he could double their money in three months, he claimed. NYTimes

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Even Winners May Lose Out With Madoff—Mr. Madoff regularly delivered returns of 10 to 17 percent to investors, a very good year-in, year-out return but on the low end of the 10 to 100 percent a year typically dangled by promoters of Ponzi schemes.But assets that can guarantee those returns year after year without risk simply do not exist. Instead of profitable investments, Ponzi schemes repay initial investors by raising more money from new investors. The schemes typically collapse when the promoter cannot bring in enough money to pay existing investors seeking redemptions.

Joel M. Cohen, the deputy head of litigation for the Clifford Chance law firm and a former federal prosecutor who specialized in business and securities fraud, said that payments to early investors were an integral part of any Ponzi scheme.

“You need to deliver returns in the range that you promised to attract investors,” Mr. Cohen said.

Yet even Mr. Madoff’s most fortunate clients may wind up having to give back some of their gains, as investors might have to do in another recent financial fraud, the collapse of the hedge fund Bayou Group in 2005. NYTimes

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What CEOs Got on the Way OutBailed-Out Banks' Execs Got $1.6 Billion

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.

"Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can," said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. "We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!" . . .

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Short-lived AIG CEO Robert Willumstad, left, inherited a sinking ship from Sullivan, who left in his wake $20 billion in subprime writedowns. Sullivan left AIG with $47 million, while Willumstad declined $22 million in severance pay. Click through the gallery to see what other departing CEOs have received.

CEO: Stanley O'Neal | Company: Merrill Lynch

Payout: $161.5 million

O'Neal stepped down last October, shortly after Merrill wrote down $8 billion in losses during the height of the subprime mortgage fallout.

CEO: Charles Prince | Company: Citigroup

Payout: $68 million

Prince left Citigroup last November following steep losses that shaved nearly a quarter off the bank's market value.

CEO: Jimmy Cayne | Company: Bear Stearns

Payout: $61.3 million

CEO: Angelo Mozilo | Company: Countrywide Financial

Payout: $121.5 million

Mozilo gave up $36 million in severance pay, but cashed in his stock options as the massive mortgage company entered the subprime fallout. Mozilo is currently under investigation by the SEC.

CEO: Michael Perry | Company: IndyMac

Payout: Unknown.

Perry was removed in July when the FDIC took over IndyMac in the second-largest action by the bank depositors' insurer.

CEO: Ken Thompson | Company: Wachovia

Payout: $8.7 million

After 32 years with Wachovia, Thompson resigned in June after a deep first-quarter loss and a 41 percent dividend cut spurred a shareholder uprising

CEOs: Richard Syron / Daniel Mudd | Company: Freddie Mac / Fannie Mae

Payout: Zero.

Regulators voided the chiefs' severance packages when the government took over the giant mortgage agencies. Mudd was due to receive $9.3 million, while Syron could have earned $14.1 million.

CEO: Kerry Killinger | Company: Washington Mutual

Payout: As much as $22 million

Killinger was ousted in September as the nation's largest thrift joined the list of other troubled banks likely to be sold. MoneyAOL

posted 15 December 2008 

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Speak My Name

Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream

Edited by Don Belton

Race Men

By Hazel V. Carby

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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