The Cost of Living — October 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman October 17th, 2016

Since our political discussions are now X-Rated, so much so that we must ask the children to leave the room before we watch the news, the speeches, and the debates, we need to add another concern to the X-Rated list: Social Security. Silly me, that pales in comparison to what’s really important, doesn’t it?

Hillary’s emails, Bill and Donald’s dalliances and sexual conquests are obviously far more critical (and titillating) than a small issue like our disabled and elderly being able to live out their lives without having to worry about silly things like eating, breathing, and paying for life-saving medicines and treatments.
Yes, the cost of living is increasing every day, but cost of living allowances (COLA) for those on Social Security are non-existent or ridiculously and embarrassingly low. The latest COLA “increases” for those most in need were cited in an article on CNN Money.

“Checks for 66 million beneficiaries will rise between 0.2% to 0.5% in 2017. That works out to between $2.61 and $6.53 a month more for the typical retiree, according to the American Institute for Economic Research, a nonpartisan think tank.” Say what?!!

The article continues, “The average retirement benefit check is currently $1,305.30, according to government figures. This is by far the smallest percentage increase of any year in which benefits did rise. But it’s better than 2016, when Social Security checks didn’t increase at all. There have only been three years without any increase at all since Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment was put in place in 1975 — 2010, 2011 and 2016.”

Someone said a nation is judged by how it treats the least among its citizens. There is also something that was said by a very special person once: “…what you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)
If this nation does not come to its senses and get its priorities properly aligned, it’s not going to matter in the least who is the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The ethical and moral slide we are on right now is reprehensible and so detrimental to our young people. Moreover, we are standing by while our elders are dying for lack of essentials, having to make choices between food and rent, oxygen and heat or cooling and life-saving medicine.

The EpiPen controversy, where the cost was raised over 400% to an outrageous $608.00 for two Epinephrine pens that, according to industry experts cost no more than $30.00 (some say $20.00) to make and only $2.00 for the medicine inside the needles, is a prime example of the true cost of living for those with medical issues. I am told that a drug for debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis cost as much as $2,000.00 per month for two injections! This is shameful, and it speaks to our condition in this country, our greed, and our willingness to get as much profit as we can without regard for who it hurts. Money first and people second, maybe even third or fourth.
We should be outraged and appalled at this situation as we watch our parents and grandparents struggle to pay the ridiculous cost to maintain their lives. The cost of living for them is beyond their reach, and many are dying because of it. So what will we do about it? Will we continue to be entertained, mesmerized, and embarrassed by the politicians and their operatives who are too busy trying to find more dirt on one another, or will we turn our attention to the much more important problem of our disabled and elderly and the day-to-day problems they face. Our politics should go from X-Rated to Rx-Rated.
As much as thousands of dollars for prescription meds is not indicative of how a great nation should care for its elderly and those who suffer from horrendous diseases. I believe we can do much better by the least among us. Do you? If so, let your your representatives know and urge them to help make their less fortunate constituents’ cost of living decrease and their Cost of Living Allowances increase. cola6



Blaming the Victim — September 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 30th, 2016

Now that the dust has settled around President Obama’s comments at the Congressional Black Caucus Banquet, let me give you my take on the subject. In 2010, immediately following the midterm elections, in some instances, Black folks were blamed for the “Shellacking” as Barack Obama put it, of Democrat candidates. Again in 2014, the rancor directed at Blacks for failing to vote was raised to an even higher level. In response, U.S. Representative, Marcia Fudge, in an article by Sabrina Eaton of, noted that “preliminary exit polls showed the African American proportion of the electorate increased over the 2010 midterms, and urged critics to ‘find another scapegoat. Don’t blame us!’”fudge

Fudge continued, “Our community organizations and churches mobilized to encourage early voting opportunities with programs like ‘Souls to the Polls,’ and African American activists and state leaders stood ready to combat any instance of voter intimidation or fraud,” her statement said. “Black elected officials crisscrossed the country to discuss the urgency and importance of this election. We phone banked, knocked on doors and held ‘Get Out the Vote’ rallies. Our losses were not a referendum on African American political engagement. We did our part, so don’t blame us!”

In 2008 and 2012, Black voters turned out in unprecedented numbers to help Obama win the Presidency. Now in 2016 as the first Black President prepares to leave office, Black voters will again be held responsible for turning out in droves. We have been given our “marching orders” once again by the President during his “most passionate” speech ever, as some have described it, to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Obama declared, “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy, if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” Obama said with a stern look and booming passion. “You want to give me a good send-off, go vote.”

While it is well known that fewer Blacks vote in midterm elections than we do in Presidential elections, it just may be the result of Black people seeing ourselves being taken for granted after the President gets elected and very little that was promised during the campaign was delivered afterwards. In 2002, NAACP Chairman, Julian Bond, said Democrats “failed to engage African-American voters. They had all the issues on their side: high unemployment, failing pensions, people losing vast sums of money and the stock market crash. But the Democrats didn’t push these issues. Instead they offered pale shadows of what the Republicans were offering, and that just wasn’t good enough.”

The excuses for the midterm meltdowns among Democrats over the past decade or so are essentially what we call “blaming the victim.” Black people are really victims of the political system in this nation. We have been “clowned” by political pundits and sycophants, and now we are caught in their web of false promises and lack of reciprocity for our votes.

I don’t know what the CBC has said or will say in response to President Obama’s admonishment to them to protect his legacy by voting for Hillary, thereby giving him a “good send-off;” but here are my requests of Brother Barack in return for his good send off. These requests can be read in full on among our twenty-two platform planks.

1. Get Brother Edward Pinkney out of prison in Michigan. Since when do trumped up charges and false accusations on a misdemeanor crime get a person ten years in a maximum security prison? Plank #20
2. Exonerate Marcus Mosiah Garvey, in support of his son, Dr. Julius Garvey. Plank #22
3. Amend the 13th Amendment by removing the “Exception Clause.” Plank #11
4. Support misconduct and/or malpractice insurance for police officers. Plank #6
5. Change your mind about reparations for descendants of African enslaved people, and suggest ways it can be done. You can begin by advocating reparations for the victims of the Tulsa Riot in 1921. You supported reparations for Filipino war vets, and surely you support the Japanese reparations of 1988, Native Alaskans in 1971, and reparations for the Jewish people. Why not in our case, which is just as reasonable as all the others? Plank #14
6. Finally, we would love to for you to be a guest on the Carl Nelson Show,, where conscious Black people hang out.

Mr. President, these are just five of our planks, both internal (those that call for our own personal responsibility toward one another) and external. A good send-off for our Black President should include, at a minimum, your support for these few requests. Your legacy will be even greater among the folks who have supported you for the past eight years if you reciprocate to your own demand of us to “Go Vote!” If you refuse to help us, as Marcia Fudge said, “Don’t blame us.” fudge2



Turnabout is fair play. — September 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 23rd, 2016

Why can’t more of us see that economics is the key to our freedom and the answer to the problems we talk about all the time? This political year has and continues to bring this fact to light, but the Colin Kaepernick protest illuminates the issue of economics even more. Here is a guy who chose to exercise his right not to stand at the playing/singing of the National Anthem, and as a result folks have called him everything but a child of God. Folks who have burned the flag have not received the kind of treatment Kaepernick has gotten. Now, as other football players have joined in to do similar acts of protest, the real deal—economics—comes to the forefront.
Sponsors are exercising their rights to revoke their endorsements of these athletes. In other words, they are taking away their money in an effort to punish these players, the same thing they always do when a player says or does something they don’t like or agree with. It has happened to Black and White players alike.

Opinions abound on what the players should do now, and it’s amazing that some of us tell them to keep it up no matter how much money they lose, but we are unwilling to do the same thing at our jobs. Yes, they make a whole lot more money than most of us do, but it’s all relative.

Knowing that economics runs everything in this country and the world for that matter, Black folks in general and Black athletes in particular must exercise another basic right: Use money for leverage and punishment, the same way other entities do. What do I mean by that? Remember the incidents with Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, Plaxico Burress, and Ray Rice? Several NFL sponsors notified the league that they would withdraw their support if the NFL did not address those issues by punishing those athletes in some form or another. The league saw the dollar signs and acted accordingly.

Remember the State of Indiana law that gay people said was discriminatory toward them? Corporations threatened to move their firms out of the state if the law was not changed. Governor Mike Pence took care of that problem right away by changing the law. How about the latest issue in North Carolina with the transgender bathroom thing? The NCAA is sanctioning the State by pulling its games, in all sports, out of North Carolina. The NBA has also refused to hold the All-Star game there. That’s money talking; and Black folks better take notice and start using our economic clout to get what we want.

Do you remember Craig Hodges, who played for the Chicago Bulls? hodges2He filed a Federal lawsuit, against the NBA accusing the owners and operators of the NBA as co-conspirators in ”blackballing” him from the league because of his “outspoken political nature as an African-American man.”

When the Bulls championship team went to the White House after an invitation from President George H.W. Bush, Hodges wore a dashiki and handed the President a letter that asked him to do more to end injustice toward the African-American community. Sound familiar?

”It’s well known through the league that there may be repercussions if you speak out too strongly on some sensitive issues,” said Buck Williams, head of the players association at that time. “I don’t know if Hodges lost his job because of it, but it is a burden when you carry the militant label he has.”
Ironically and unfairly, during that same period, stars like Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley, both known for doing outrageous things, were tolerated and even celebrated. Craig Hodges stood on his beliefs as did Denver Nuggets star, Mahmoud Abdul-Rouf, formerly known as Chris Jackson, who was probably second only to Michael Jordan on the offensive end of the basketball court.
Long before Kaepernick, Abdul-Rouf refused to stand for the Anthem, and when he did, he prayed. This outstanding NBA player converted to Islam and soon after his conversion his NBA career came to a screeching halt. Both Hodges and Abdul-Rouf were vilified and sanctioned by the NBA for having the courage to stay true to their social, religious, and ethical convictions. Unfortunately, they stood alone for the most part. Their teammates and even the great Elgin Baylor turned their backs on him. I call that cowardly.jackson3

If just half of the Black players in the NBA and the NFL would do as the University of Missouri players did, refuse to play just two games back to back, they would change those leagues. Money rules. Of course, it takes sacrifice, but isn’t it worth it? Hodges and Abdul-Rouf did, and they lost a great deal for their willingness to take a stand. They stood alone; a critical mass of Black athletes, standing together can win.



Our Destiny is in Our Hands — September 2016

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman September 18th, 2016


Adam Clayton Powell’s famous 1967 speech, “What’s in your hand?” pointed out a very important and relevant truth that still applies today. He said, “You’ve got in your hand the power to use your vote and to use even those ‘few cents’ you get from welfare, to spend them only where you want to spend them.”

The question and its answer ring clear when it comes to the critical economic and political issues of our time. A major component related to Powell’s question is the reality of another idiom: “A little goes a long way.” That’s the philosophy of THE One Million Conscious and Conscientious Black Contributors and Voters. We know that relatively small amounts of money from individuals can create a collective tsunami of cash flow for our businesses and organizations.
Powell’s question must be reinvestigated today, at least among those of us who are both conscious and conscientious about Black economic empowerment. Why? The answer is quite simple. Too often many of us find excuses for not doing the things that are necessary to achieve our economic independence, instead of looking for reasons why we should. Many of us look at what we don’t have and get stuck there, instead of looking at and using what we do have to move forward. And, many of us say things like, “We all need to come together” and “until all Black people get on the same page,” instead of realizing that a relative small portion of Blacks can make significant change in our economic and political status in this country.

“All” Black people will never do anything together, and to wait for that to happen is futile and a monumental waste of valuable time. Our forebears did not wait for all Blacks to join them in their efforts. They sought and found those of like mind and went ahead with their work. They understood that with a critical mass of critical thinkers their movement would take on a life of its own and move forward under its own steam. Even though they had very little in their hands they knew they could achieve a collective goal by pooling what they had and using it to build their own economy.

So, what’s in our hands today, brothers and sisters? We like to brag about how much income or “spending power” we have, but we should be bragging about how we are using it to empower ourselves. We proudly stand before our people and brag about how important our votes are, instead of being able to brag about what our votes, over these many decades, have provided us in return. We brag about being here since this nation began and even before, but we can only brag about what we collectively built prior to integration, i.e. Black towns, but not what we have built since that time.

Admittedly, many Black folks have built strong competitive businesses that have reached the multi-million and even the billion dollar plateau, and they must be commended. By and large, however, those businesses pale in comparison to our percentage of population and our aggregate annual income. We must do better with the tremendous amount of financial and intellectual resources we have in our hands. We must also do much better with the votes we have at our disposal—we must be smarter and we must leverage them rather than just give them away without getting something in return.

Adam Clayton Powell and other stalwarts would be proud of us for following their sage advice. Let’s make this personal. What’s in YOUR hand? Aside from your vote, do you have a “few cents” to spend with a black business? Are you willing to put your “few cents” together with others of like mind and create more conscious Black millionaires? Are you committed to supporting those who support you?

Each of us should do an assessment from time to time to determine if we truly are in alignment with the principles we espouse. Talk is easy; following through is what counts. Look and see what’s in your hand and put some of it on the line for yourself and your people. Don’t wait for everybody else to do it; you do it, and become a positive example for others to follow. Don’t put it off, because one thing we don’t have in our hands is time.
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