Fighting back: Weaponising black economics
Black people at the lowest level of the economic ladder are caught smack dab in the centre of an existential crisis that is threatening to drive poor people the world over well below the poverty line and possibly into abject destitution. This comes at a time when the super-rich globally are racking up astronomical profits, adding to the already lopsided distribution of global wealth.
As the pandemic recedes and evolves into an endemic, the dislocations and disruptions caused by the pandemic have only served to widen the gap between the haves and the have nots. Wealthy countries that could afford to write stimulus cheques for their citizens and business communities gave billions to the rich. In his book, Adrift, Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, stated that the US gave $50 billion of taxpayers’ money to the airline industry in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. This, of course, came after the trillions of dollars were poured into the ailing financial institutions after the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
The wealthy around the world have a well-greased lobbying system that virtually guarantees the passage of laws that are favourable to the interest of the super wealthy. In the Caribbean and Africa, campaign contributions to political parties and politicians (covertly or otherwise) pretty much achieves the same outcome. This, by the way, is one of the principal reasons the same group of people profit handsomely irrespective of who wins the Government.
Rising inflation rates globally are also contributing to pauperisation of those at the lowest level of the socio-economic ladder. Greedy merchants with consciences seared with hot irons engage in price gouging to accrue for themselves the highest possible profit margins while the real income of the poor plummets. Shrinkflation is also noticeable on supermarket shelves as consumers are forced to pay more for less items. Simply put, while the weight and size of items are decreasing, the cost just keeps rising.
Governments in the Caribbean and Africa with a finger on the pulse of the global financial trends understand that they have to work overtime to stabilise inflation. Increasing interest rates by central banks is the standard economic tool used by economists to control inflation. Unfortunately, hikes in the interest rates only help to exacerbate the plight of the poor. The price of borrowing increases accompanied by a decrease in the money supply. Unemployment increases as businesses are forced to lay off staff due to fall-offs in economic activity.
The exigencies of the time demand that consumers start being more proactive and reactive to new price increases and changes in business policies and practices that hurt consumers. Consumer organisations modelled after workers unions are badly needed in the Caribbean and Africa to combat the wallet-and-purse assaults being launched by the merchant class in both regions. Companies and businesses engaging in price gouging need to be confronted and made to feel the power of the masses.
Well-orchestrated protests against businesses that are acting unethically and against the interest of consumers simply to net high profits can act as catalysts to bring the management of these businesses to the negotiating table. As in the case of unions, well-funded and well-supported consumer organisations can bring businesses to their knees if management continues to be oblivious to the just demands of consumers.
On the individual level, people of African ancestry have had a torrid time dealing with financial institutions that answer to management structures dominated by melanin-deficient ethnic groups and others not overly sympathetic to the cause of people of African ancestry. If your bank is not working for you, move your money to another bank. If you think the banking system sucks, move your money to the credit unions. If your credit unions are giving you a raw deal, agitate for a change in the management of the credit union of which you are a member.
While I am on the subject of weaponising black economics, it would be remiss of me not to remind us that people of African ancestry need to up our game at all levels in the economic cycle. We already have the expertise that is needed in banking, insurance, international trade, and international finance. We should be well in advance of where we are in all these fields. Mastering all the vital components of building a viable economic system is a prerequisite for black people bouncing black wealth around within the confines of black communities.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
Founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center