I just heard George Soros, the famous financier, talk about the financial crisis in the United States and his new book — The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means. A quick snapshot of his thinking is available in the Financial Times. He believes that the crisis we face today is “the most severe since the 1930s.”

Most of our grandparents were around then. I’ve heard the stories. It sounded rough. Tough to find a job so you had to have 3 or 4 jobs. Tough to find decent, comfortable, safe housing for your family — that wasn’t provided by the government. Food was dear and not to be wasted. Christmas was happy — but lean.

I’m looking forward to reading the book. In the meantime, he said a few things this am that have relevance specifically for African-Americans. Soros believes that the worst case scenario — a total financial collapse — has been averted. Yet he said that the housing super-bubble has not yet fully burst and that there may be a temptation to over-correct. He believes that more regulation and oversight is needed, particularly around foreclosure. The right to foreclosure should remain in effect but be much more restricted because foreclosure tends to have detrimental social effects on communities.

Then he referenced black and latino communities. Housing relief will be needed. The housing market contributes to jobs and those are threatened now. In addition, he spoke of “Affluent African-Americans” noting with a hint of irony in his voice that we are the ones who had bought most into George Bush’s “Ownership Society”. He mentioned that Prince George’s County, home to the wealthiest African-Americans in the country had been “the hardest hit”.

Dark times are ahead, y’all. In Black America, the distance between poor, working class, middle class and affluent is not great and is often job-dependent. We tend to have more economic diversity still within our families. At least that’s the way it is in my family where I have 1st cousins who are corporate titans and professionals living in million-dollar homes and other 1st cousins who live in double-wide trailers and drive trucks for a living. Still all of them are homeowners and dream of a better life for their children and grandchildren — including a home, a job and college.

More than ever we will need to raise our voices to ensure that our interests are protected and not exploited. We have more African-Americans in positions of power than ever in American history. Now is the time for them to act — not just for our sakes but for that of all Americans like us who hope for better and easier lives — not harder, not poorer, not worse lives — for ourselves and our children’s children.

Related Posts with Thumbnails