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Watch Dr. Boyce Watkins and Christopher Metzler on CNBC – should the rich be taxed more than the poor? Click here to watch
Visit our Other Blogs and Join Our Family!
Follow us on Twitter!
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor – Syracuse University
As a Finance Professor, I find it incredibly ironic that many people get married without talking about money. They talk about every kind of compatibility from emotional, to spiritual, sexual, and professional, but they seldom take the time necessary to ensure that they can tolerate the idea of sharing their financial life with a person who may not be on the same page. This problem is compounded in black relationships, where many women describe economic hurdles as one of the reasons that black women have trouble finding the right mate.
Chain’s new CEO expects international sales to surpass those in U.S. in 3-5 years.
In 2006, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill Thomas, sent a letter to NCAA President, Myles Brand. In this letter, Thomas had this to say:
"The annual return also states that one of the NCAA’s purposes is to ‘retain a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports.’ Corporate sponsorships, multimillion dollar television deals, highly paid coaches with no academic duties, and the dedication of inordinate amounts of time by athletes to training lead many to believe that major college football and men’s basketball more closely resemble professional sports than amateur sports."
In this letter, Thomas makes a very clear point that is also being mentioned by academics, coaches, former athletes, students, attorneys and fair-minded Americans throughout the country: the NCAA is a professional sports league. To call collegiate athletes in revenue-generating sports "amateur" is like calling Barack Obama a part-time politician in training.
Companies pay CBS Sports $100,000 dollars for a 30-second ad during the early rounds of March Madness. This cost jumps to $1 million dollars for a 30-second spot during the Final Four. The NCAA’s contract with CBS is an 11-year, $6.1 billion dollar TV rights deal, with the NCAA hauling in over half a billion per year in revenue. The amount of money made during March Madness exceeds that which is earned in the playoffs for the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball. The average coach in March Madness earns roughly $1 million dollars per year and schools typically hire their basketball coaches without giving a "you-know-what" about the academic standards of the coach they’ve chosen to hire (you hear that Kentucky)?
Now, who said that any of this could be defined as "amateur"?
According to a recent survey by Experian, African-American consumption grew by over 50 percent from the year 2000 to 2008 ($590 billion to $913 billion), and it is expected to grow to over $1.2 trillion dollars by the year 2013. The study also shows that blacks are more economically optimistic than whites, with 36 percent of us stating that we expect our financial future to improve, as opposed to 31 percent for all adults.
The Experian study says a couple of things: First, it says that black people love to consume and that we are getting better at it. In fact, black people have historically been very good at buying things and working hard to get them, but we are not very good at production, investment and saving our money. We grab our tax refunds and run to the mall. We become highly paid corporate lawyers in order to purchase the house and car we really can’t afford. We are chubby kids in the economic candy store, accelerating our collective addiction to the monetary engines controlled by corporate greed.
I’d like to ask you a quick question that I ask my students here at Syracuse University. It is also a question I had to honestly ask myself when I thought I was on top of the world after spending 12 years going through college and graduate school to earn a PhD in Finance (which was unbelievably difficult). The question is this: Do you have financial security? If you don’t have financial security, do you at least have job security? If you believe your job is secure, then how many jobs do you have?
If you are like most Americans, you probably have just one job. I am not here to tell you that this is wrong. But, I am here to tell you that you might want to rethink what it means to be economically secure.
At worst, economic security is not provided by just having a high income. In fact, in some ways, having a high income can make you less secure, since you are more likely to have higher monthly expenses. To some extent, having a high income from just one job can fool you into believing that you are financially secure, when the truth is that you might be one paycheck away from economic disaster.
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Why, the email asks, do we still have Black History Month? The writer might be white, or she might not. She identifies her self as a "conscious woman" and sends the email to one of my public addresses. She seems chagrined that "race still matters" and wants to initiate an exchange of views with hers at the foundation – studying black history is obsolete. We have a black president, the woman writes. Black people have made so many strides. Aren’t you holding on to the past, she argues, when you insist on having this month to study black history?
I am not in the habit of engaging in email debates with folks who are ill informed, so I ignore the note. Still, I am intrigued enough by it to print it out and paste it to my desktop for a few days. When I pick up high school history books, I see African American history sprinkled through, like seasoning, as opposed to being placed at a base. And I think of the tremendous vision of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard (after WEB DuBois) and the founder, in `1915, of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). Woodson wrote the masterpiece "The Miseducation of the Negro" and founded Negro History Week in 1926. By 1976 the week had expanded into African American History Month. The Association, based in Washington, DC, sets a theme for Black History Month each year (notice that I use Black and African American interchangeably – for me they are the same thing). This year the theme is "The History of Black Economic Empowerment".
Economics is the study of who gets what, when, where and why. It is the study of the way the factors of production – land, labor, capital and creativity are paid in rent, wages, interest and profit. It is the history of the knife, of how the pie is sliced. And it is the story of why African Americans get so much less than our fair share of the pie.
American Indians and the Great Recession—Economic Disparities Growing Larger
Getting Good Jobs to People of Color
Unequal unemployment—Racial disparities in unemployment vary widely by state
Stuck in Neutral: Economic Gains Stall Out for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2000s
Reversal of fortune: Economic gains of 1990s overturned for African Americans from 2000-07
What a recession means for black America
A bleak future for black children
Analysis & Opinion
High unemployment: A fact of life for American Indians
Reversing the Decline in Good Jobs [event]
Jobs creation effort needs to focus on good jobs
Three lessons about black poverty
Analysis & Opinion
African Americans see weekly wage decline
Among college-educated, African Americans hardest hit by unemployment
Jobs Picture, September 5, 2008 – Special Issue
Understanding the black jobs crisis
updated 12:25 a.m. ET, Wed., Feb. 3, 2010
In 2006, Benjamin Koellmann bought a condominium in Miami Beach. By his calculation, it will be about the year 2025 before he can sell his modest home for what he paid. Or maybe 2040.
“People like me are beginning to feel like suckers,” Mr. Koellmann said. “Why not let it go in default and rent a better place for less?”
After three years of plunging real estate values, after the bailouts of the bankers and the revival of their million-dollar bonuses, after the Obama administration’s loan modification plan raised the expectations of many but satisfied only a few, a large group of distressed homeowners is wondering the same thing.
Fake fundraising efforts for the Haiti disaster are spreading like wildfire on Facebook. Dozens of fan pages have been set up, urging users to join and promising a $1 donation for each member. One group this weekend attracted 1.5 million members before it was disabled.
Meanwhile, during the weekend, Facebook officials had to beat back a rumor that the firm had promised a $1 donation for every member that changed their status to include a message about Haiti.
"This status is being tracked, the owners of facebook have confirmed they will send $1 to the rescue fund for the Haiti earthquake disaster for everytime this is cut and paste as a status," read one form of the bogus claim. "You only have to leave it for a minimum of 1 hour. Lets all do our bit to help."
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the firm took aggressive steps to quell the rumor. It posted a note on its blog on Saturday warning about the bogus message.
"Beware of scams and hoaxes and ensure that your donations for Haiti get to the right places," the social networking company wrote on its blog. Contrary to a current meme, Facebook is not donating $1 for statuses, however we are sharing reputable resources via the "Other Pages" tab on the Global Disaster Relief on Facebook Page."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Employers once again slashed a substantial number jobs off their payrolls in December, according to adisappointing report from the government Friday. But there was a small glimmer of hope as well.
The payroll number for November was revised to a net gain of 4,000 jobs. That’s the first increase in jobs in nearly two years. The government had previously indicated that 11,000 jobs were lost in November.
The following is an excerpt from the book, “The Millionaire Mentor” by Towanna Freeman (click her name to buy the book)
Happiness is a Choice You Make
If you are not a happy person that is a choice you are making. You have full control over your life and the decisions that you make. There are many factors which people measure happiness. Some people think money is happiness however they may absolutely miserable with what they do on a daily basis to make their money.
You might look at people who have absolutely everything and you strive to be like them. These things may be wealth, possessions, status, or even the position you hold at work. These things don’t create happiness. Happiness is a choice.
There are many people who have wealth and a high status who are completely miserable. They may be lonely, divorced and more. Happiness comes from within. These people may be working jobs they absolutely hate but just have a knack for making money.
Happiness is Subjective
There are things in life that can make you happy that are subjective. They are subjective because happiness comes differently for everyone.
You might find joy and happiness seeking thrills through rides like roller coasters and bungee jumping. This thrill may be more than torture for someone with a fear of heights who would never step foot on a roller coaster or ever be brave enough to jump from a bridge suspended by a bungee cord.
Everyone seeks happiness in their own way. What makes you happy is a natural high that you deserve to seek. There is nothing wrong with the things that you find joy in. You may be told you are crazy but that is because of the subjectivity.
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Funerals are never fun. They are emotionally draining and you are forced to endure the shock of knowing that your loved one will never be back in your life. In addition to the emotional devastation, you have to deal with the financial burdens of paying for someone to be buried. We all know that funerals are not free or cheap, and the last place you want to be cheap is when it comes to burying the person you love.
But there are ways you can keep the cost down. They say you can’t take the money with you, but someone who doesn’t plan for their death may be taking their relatives’ money with them to the grave. Here are some ways that you can bury on a budget: giving relatives dignity without creating financial hardship.
There is a funeral cost calculator on FuneralswithLove.com that helps you to figure out how much your funeral might cost and whether or not you’re going to be able to pay for it. Effectively, the cost estimator first determines your total resources from prepaid expenses, personal savings/investments, and death benefits. Once you know what is available to you, you have to determine how much you want to spend. Some of us want to go out in style and some of us figure that since we’re dead, our relatives should be the ones having all the fun.
Last spring when Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke visited Morehouse College, an undergraduate student asked him what accounts for the enormous racial disparity in wealth. Bernanke responded that the source of the problem was the lack of "financial literacy" and "financial education" on the part of blacks, particularly with respect to savings decisions.
He said nothing about the lack of access to inherited wealth, such as inheritances and other intergenerational transfers. Most wealth acquisition today takes place by such asset shifts. Even more astonishing, Bernanke never mentioned the notorious history of white violence that included the seizure, destruction and appropriation of black property.
Acknowledging this unfairness is not an excuse but a powerful truth; remedying it requires straightforward government action, rather than lectures on the value of saving. In fact, the racial wealth gap can be decreased – and without using a race-specific strategy of wealth redistribution.
We propose Children’s Development Accounts, an expanded and non-incremental version of what Manning Marable of Columbia University has called the "Baby Bond" plan. It would provide an endowed trust fund for all children born into families with a net worth below the national median, progressively rising to $50,000 to $60,000 for children whose families are in the lowest wealth quartile. The program could be structured like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which uses a benefits phase-out schedule.
What’s the cost of not showing up to court? For PepsiCo Inc., it’s a $1.26 billion default judgment. A Wisconsin state court socked the company with the monster award in a case alleging that PepsiCo stole the idea to bottle and sell purified water from two Wisconsin men.
Now the company is scrambling to salvage the situation. The damages award was handed down on Sept. 30. PepsiCo filed motions to vacate the order and dismiss the claims on Oct. 13, saying it wasn’t even aware of the lawsuit until Oct. 6.
The litigation began in April when Charles Joyce and James Voigt sued the soft drink maker and two of its distributors, alleging they had misappropriated trade secrets from confidential discussions the plaintiffs had with the distributors in 1981 about selling purified water. The information was illicitly passed to PepsiCo, which used it to develop and sell Aquafina bottled water, the plaintiffs allege in the case filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County before Judge Jacqueline Erwin.
I have daughters and I love them all. They are all at "that age," between 16 and 20, where they tend to love the boys that you want to beat down the most. Every time I hear them express their undying love for Lil Wayne, I can only think about him having 3 women pregnant at the same time. When I see a Chris Brown poster in their room, I remind them that Chris was accused of having boxing practice on Rihanna’s face.
But as a father, you can’t protect your daughters from themselves. Some things they have to learn on their own. And if sleeping with a pants-saggin, "purple stuff dranking," gold grill wearing, 10,000 tattoo having buffoon is the way they need to learn their lessons, you just kinda have to deal with it.I empathize with Wade Edwards, the man accused of shooting a boy for sleeping with his step daughter. Wade shot the boy four times, aiming for the "relevant zone" with each bullet. But while I can understand Wade’s anger, I do not, for one second, condone his actions.
If the link above doesn’t work, click here.
No matter how many people work at your company, it only takes one or two people to change the game you’re playing. Choosing your alignments on the job can make all the difference in your career. In fact, forging alliances in the workplace is a lot like getting elected: it’s not the most popular candidate who wins, but the one who has proven himself/herself to be the most influential.
In terms of voting power, finding the right alignments is about courting individuals with the most votes that count. In other words, you can have all the friends in the world, head the Cheer Club, lead the league in strike-outs on your company softball team and generally have the popular vote, all without winning the election. Just ask Al Gore, who won the popular vote in the 2000 election, but lost the Electoral vote.
These viewpoints are most certainly capitalist. When you’re in a corporation, democracy doesn’t help you win the favor of your co-workers; your outcomes are determined by your relationships with key decision makers – those one or two consummate executives who have the most influence on your future with the company.
The corporate alliance is a very intimate one; for better or worse, you could be aligning yourself with someone who is very visible, influential and known throughout the company. A consummate executive also remembers that it’s not just the ally you’re courting, but everyone in his or her network.
If you measure some of today’s top performers by yesterday’s gold standards, they simply wouldn’t measure up. Industry icons, business mavericks and game changers like Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Rachel Ray and Michael Dell didn’t finish school or have a great education; and based on those two metrics alone, no one could have measured their full potential. By focusing only on such metrics, you might be missing the most valuable components of a person’s engine of success.
As a guest on Steve Harvey’s show, I was recently talking about success, potential and the wide gap between good grades and pure genius. Steve said something that I’ll never forget. When coming up “the hard way” he would interview for jobs or audition for various roles and, based on purely measurable qualifications – school records, his one-page resume, or whether he has movie star looks – he never quite measured up. “But what they couldn’t measure,” said Steve Harvey, “was how big my dream was…”
What a difference the power of dreams can make. As the star of The Steve Harvey Show, Steve won four NAACP Image Awards as “Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.” He also won an NAACP Image Award for his performance as host of the variety series It’s Showtime at The Apollo. In March 2001, Harvey received the ultimate honor: NAACP Image Award’s “Entertainer of the Year,” and now has a NY Times best-selling book on the market.
Education is critical for success, but when everyone has the same education from the same Ivy League schools with the same GPA… how do you stand out? Other factors beyond education – business etiquette, dress, playing well with others, teamwork and dedication are easy to measure and log. But what of those immeasurable traits that count for just as much in the corner office: passion, drive, commitment and stamina?
How can we measure the immeasurable?
When it comes to playing at the top, it’s often the intense, burning desire of the candidate that makes the difference between success and failure. At the end of the day, performance and results are two of the most important traits a top performer can possess. Work harder than your competition, and you’ll win the battle every time.
Another thing that people can’t measure with grades, paychecks, promotions or time cards is what’s inside your heart.
Atlanta, GA October 5, 2009 – Professor Devin Robinson, an economics professor at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA and best-selling author of Taking it Back: How to Become a Successful Black Beauty Supply Store Owner, will lead a one week long boycott against Non- Black Owned Beauty Supply stores.
Robinson stated, "Blacks make up 96% of the consumers of these stores, yet represent less than 5% of the retail ownership." As a previous owner of 3 locations, Robinson understands the industry inside out and offers comprehensive solutions for Blacks to recapture this industry. "The problem is with the distributors. Distributors are mainly Non-Blacks and they handpick who they will distribute products to. This oftentimes leaves aspiring black owners disenfranchised", said Robinson.
Even when I was a Vice President at Dell Computers, one of the most cutting edge companies on the planet, our problems remained the same. The variables changed, but the bottom line always came down to figuring out how to sell to one customer at a time. Reaching this critical objective becomes more complex as technology changes and the world becomes more advanced. As complacent as we’ve gotten with new technology and global opportunities, this much has become clear: what got you here won’t get you there. In fact, what positioned you here, might not even keep you here…
…At least, not without a sponsor.
These days competition isn’t just stiff, it’s rigid. You need every advantage you’ve got, particularly if you’re a recent grad, female or minority. Think hard work, an MBA and a well-rounded resume will get you to the top? Think again; that might be what got you here, but to get there – the proverbial corner office or CEO’s chair – you’ll need more than just a spotless resume and a 4.0 GPA; you’ll need a sponsor.
Consumer bankruptcies soared 41% from the previous September and climbed from August, as high unemployment and the housing market crash took their toll, the American Bankruptcy Institute said Friday.
September filings totaled 124,790, the fourth-highest month since the bankruptcy law changed in 2005.
Filings also rose 4% from August, even as recent reports indicated the housing market might be stabilizing and consumer confidence appears to be recovering.
September’s filings pushed 2009 consumer bankruptcies to 1.05 million, the highest for the first nine months of a year since 1.35 million in 2005.
The American Bankruptcy Institute said it expects consumer bankruptcies to climb to more than 1.4 million this year.
The U.S. unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high in September at 9.8%, according to government statistics released on Friday.
Once upon a time your MBA was the gold standard; a guarantee for eventual and all-but inevitable success in your chosen profession. Today the starting line has moved; an MBA is still crucial for the well-rounded, would-be consummate executive, but no longer the gold standard by which success is currently measured.
Even those reliable old yardsticks by which past business success was calculated – hard work, seniority and massive overtime – no longer ensure you the success you desire today. Many men and women have built their fortunes on these skills alone in the past, but times are changing at a critical pace, and it is important that you keep up. There are thousands of MBAs awarded every year, and the cookie-cutter approach to business success has evolved. How are you going to be different from every other MBA in the country when it comes to finding your path to success?
Here are some things you can do to rise above your MBA, make yourself relevant and prepare for the real world:
1) Never forget that the world is changing: With the increased used of technology, business models are adapting, corporations are changing their strategies, industries are rising and others are dying. Make sure you know where you fit in this bold, new world and don’t assume that you are living the same life you would have lived in 1989. The textbooks used in your MBA courses might have worked for business models in the 1990s, but they may become obsolete in the new millennium.
Business knows one only color – green. Whether one has a history of success or newfound fame, businesses must continue to make a profit. Unfortunately, the announcement recently made by Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. the world’s largest African-American-owned and-operated publishing company, reflects the simple fact that long-term financial projections reveal that there is more month left than money. A painful pill to swallow for many in the black community due to the legacy of this family and its mission; however, there are important 21st century business lessons to highlight from this sad prospect. First, know and stay in tune with your audience. The graying demographic that historically supported Ebony can’t be relied upon for financial stability in recessionary times. New money is found in collaborative and results-based (not old school relationship) marketing. Sadly, time is really, really money in today’s new economy. Second, embrace technology or get left behind. Experts have clearly articulated the dying of print media over the past decade. Those who chose to sleep in and ignore the warnings are now locking the doors and turning in keys. Americans want and deserve information fast and accurate. The Internet provides that medium. And lastly, in times of struggle God always provides an opportunity. The leaders at Johnson Publishing have a tremendous asset in their people. They are creative and passionate about their community and they should be given the chance to provide direction. This moment is not the time for consultants and clairvoyants with crystal balls to steer the way. Truly listen to the heart and soul of the company – the journalists and staff – and make the necessary decisions to be a viable institution for another 63 years. Hey! No pressure but the Black community, avid readers or not, depends on it.
Dr. Deborah Stroman is a Professor at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and an expert on Leadership. To contact Dr. Stroman for speaking engagements or media requests, please click here.
Uncle Ben from Spiderman made the most prophetic statement of the entire film series in his dying days (I almost cried, but don’t tell anybody): "With great power comes great responsibility." Most of us understood what Uncle Ben was trying to say, and that includes Barack Obama.
Uncle Ben should have been the keynote speaker at the latest G-20 Summit, taking place this week in Pittsburgh,PA. The G-20 Summit is a gathering of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the world’s 19 wealthiest countries, plus the European Union. These countries encompass 85 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, so they would probably meet Uncle Ben’s qualification for "great power," at least when it comes to money.
The G-20 Summit’s primary objective is to achieve broad cooperation on the preservation of international financial stability. The motivations of the group, created in 1999, are seemingly noble and make perfect sense in light of the fact that the global economy has reached an unprecedented level of integration. If large nations do not work together, the world’s financial system will be subject to alarming amounts of volatility.
Not everyone can see the vision behind G-20 ambitions. Usually, the gatherings of the G-20 are as out of control as a frat party, as protesters have made a game out of disrupting the meetings as much as they possibly can. To prepare for this year’s economic fiesta, the city of Pittsburgh has brought in 4,000 police, 2,000 National Guard troops and 11 Coast Guard vessels.
Police, in an overwhelming show of force, declared Thursday’s march illegal almost as soon as it began, firing rubber bullets and canisters of pepper spray and smoke after small bands of anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling huge metal trash bins, throwing rocks and breaking windows. As of Friday morning, reports said nearly 70 people had been arrested and police were bracing for scattered protests around downtown.
President Obama, being the conflicted capitalist/black man/ex-community organizer that he is, made some telling comments about the demonstrators.
Most of us know very little about the ins and outs of property insurance. Christopher Chestnut is not in that category. As a prominent attorney out of Florida, Mr. Chestnut has taken on multi-million dollar cases and handled some of the most complex lawsuits imaginable. As one of the leading young black attorneys in America, Chestnut has been recognized by President Obama for his outstanding accomplishments.
I spoke to Chris this week about Property Insurance and what it can do to make your life a little simpler. Here is what he had to say:
1) If you rent, make sure you have renter’s insurance. Also, make sure your landlord has homeowner’s insurance, since renter’s insurance only includes the contents that are INSIDE the house
2) Check your landlord’s insurance regarding injuries on your rented property. Most people are unaware of the fact that the homeowner is liable in the event that someone is injured on their property. Even if the children across the street climb the fence to get into your yard, you are liable if one of them gets hurt. Find out how your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance would cover you if someone has an accident.
When I read about the predatory lending allegations against Tavis Smiley and Wells Fargo, I wasn’t surprised. Not because I feel that Tavis is some kind of crook, but because economic downturns are usually when everyone’s dirty laundry gets aired out. The high flying 2000s were a decade of extravagance, overspending, easy money and troubled relationships. The party was bound to end. Smiley’s party has ended with Wells Fargo, as the company has been accused of using Tavis Smiley and financial expert Kelvin Boston to convince African Americans to sign on to loans that turned out to be predatory. Neither Boston nor Smiley is willing to disclose the amount they were paid for the service, but I’m sure it wasn’t chump change.
I’ve been open and honest in my critiques of Tavis Smiley in the past, but I give credit where it’s due. I’ve always felt that Tavis Smiley is a man who works out of a sincere respect and appreciation for the black community. He is not out to hoodwink, swindle or hurt us, at least not deliberately. At worst, Smiley is guilty of being caught in a situation that he may not have fully understood.
Although I agree with the black community’s decision to hold Tavis Smiley accountable for his actions, I want us to be cautious of going overboard in our judgments. Here are 5 things I want to say about Tavis Smiley:
The president recently gave an interesting address to Wall Street on the anniversary of the start of the financial crisis which began last year (and also got him elected). One year ago, the fall of Lehman Brothers left the nation scrambling to find ways to secure critical liquidity to a financial market that was on the brink of devastation.
In his speech, the president wasn’t nice. He received applause from the audience only one time, so they don’t like him as much as black people do. What’s also clear is that he’s not President Bush: Wall Street doesn’t want Barack Obama to be president, but he is exactly what they need right now.Our banking system is ranked 108th in the world in terms of stability, behind Tanzania. What’s even more frightening is that while being incredibly reckless, our banking system is the most powerful in the world, driving the strongest economy on earth. We can’t afford to be silly or irresponsible.
The president focused his conversation around three key adjustments:
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Let’s be clear: This recession has become President Barack Obama’s personal War on Terror. Like the War on Terror, the enemy is evasive, the challenge is global, international cooperation is necessary, and the battle is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Wars are good for political business: when people get scared, politicians get a blank check to fulfill their legislative agenda. After 9/11, President Bush used fear to get the entire nation to sign onto the Patriot Act, and years later, we are wondering if someone is going to tap our cell phones and illegally imprison us for not eating our Freedom Fries. Bad legislation is like an STD: you can pick it up with a snap decision, but you pay the price for the next 20 years.
The nation’s financial regulatory system must be overhauled to strengthen oversight of banks, mutual funds and large financial institutions whose collapse would put the entire economy in peril, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday.
"We must have a strategy that regulates the financial system as a whole, in a holistic way, not just its individual components," Bernanke said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.
In his most extensive remarks on the subject, Bernanke built upon previous suggestions to bolster mutual funds and a program that insures bank deposits — and repeated his call for Congress to create a system to cushion fallout from the failure of a big financial institution.
The Fed chief’s remarks come as the Obama administration and Congress are starting to crafting their overhaul strategies. For the administration, critical work on that front will be carried out among global finance officials this weekend in London. That will help set the stage for a meeting of leaders from the world’s 20 major economic powers in April.
Dr Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor at Syracuse University, appears in the March issue of Essence Magazine to discuss money and investing in light of the 2009 Financial Crisis.
Dr. Watkins is one of the world’s leading experts in Finance and was the only African American in the world to earn a PhD in Finance during the year 2002. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.
Employers axed 651,000 jobs in February, pushing the unemployment rate to its highest in 25 years, as companies buckled under the strain of a recession that is showing no signs of ending, according to a government report.
While that figure was near economists’ expectations for a 648,000 drop in non-farm payrolls, January and December job losses were revised sharply higher.
The Labor Department on Friday said the unemployment rate surged to 8.1% in February, the highest level since December 1983. That was above market forecasts for a rise to 7.9 from January’s 7.6%.
Cost-cutting employers are resorting to even bigger layoffs as they scramble to survive the recession, feeding insecurities among those who still have jobs and those who desperately want them.
"The pace of layoffs is fast and furious," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, before the report. "We’re still in the teeth of this recession and the bite has not let up at all."
A woman who received a $5,077 bill from AT&T for data charges on her Netbook is suing the wireless carrier and RadioShack for fraud, reports Jacqui Cheng at Ars Technica.
The lawsuit alleges that the two companies conspired to promote a netbook plus data deal that deliberately misled customers and tricked them into paying thousands of dollars per month for service.
Here’s Parks’ story:
Parks purchased a netbook from RadioShack in December of 2008 after the electronics retailer began advertising a heavily subsidized netbook deal: for $99.99 and a two-year AT&T contract, customers could buy a netbook with AT&T’s DataConnect plan, allowing them to get online from anywhere. The DataConnect service costs roughly $60 per month before the usual taxes and fees.
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
I love Tavis smiley and I love the State of the Black Union. I must also admit that my mouth (which my mother used to say will either “make me great or get me killed”) has probably burned any bridge I’ve had with Tavis, thus implying that you will likely never see me on a panel at The State of the Black Union conference. I am ok with that, since I don’t like traveling when I don’t have to, and I don’t like the idea of having to kiss pinky rings of old school leadership in order to fit in (once you accept someone’s support, you can become beholden to them, reducing your ability to be honest). Beyond that, I have a nasty habit of telling the truth, which is neither profitable nor popular. So, the Your Black World Coalition is going to be my venue of choice when it comes to matters of Black Public Policy. Our corporate sponsors are clean, which means that we have a green light to do what’s right without worrying about offending Exxon Mobile, Walmart, The Republican Party, or McDonald’s. Again, I say this with all love and respect for Tavis Smiley.
As a Finance Professor who has spent the last 20 years studying money, I want us to understand the nature of how financial incentives can play a role in the nature of a forum such as The State of the Black Union. This is especially true in the midst of a financial crisis, during which our financial challenges may lead us to make decisions that are not always in the best interests of our constituents. I want to make it clear that my commentary on the State of the Black Union in the past has not been intended to be destructively critical in any way, as I feel that the forum is an important and necessary component of the Black community. But I am going to propose some quick thoughts about the State of the Black Union that should be considered for the future. If this venue is to be considered an important component and gathering of some segments of Black leadership, it is critical that we understand how to properly manage the temptation by some to use the venue as a source of power.
1) Corporate sponsors should be properly vetted: If the State of the Black Union is to be presented as the pseudo-diplomatic forum that Tavis Smiley wants us to perceive it to be, then just any old sponsor simply won’t do. No banks accused of predatory lending using the venue to wash away their sins with a donation to the Tavis Smiley Bank account. No firms trying to sell liquor, tobacco or other products. No companies which appear to get rich from exploiting the poor. All potential corporate sponsors should be evaluated by an unbiased committee and careful consideration should be given to the nature of the donor, where the money is going and other ways that the sponsor must prove their interest in serving the community. President Obama would never allow his State of the Union address to be sponsored by enemies of his country, but that is what we are doing if we allow any dirty corporation to walk through the door to give us money for our forums.
2) Consider the political agendas: I went to a great conference a couple of years ago in Atlanta, and wondered why there were so many videos and speeches being shared that had nothing but good things to say about the Bush Administration. It didn’t take me long to figure out why – The Bush Administration was a major donor to the conference, and in exchange for their money, they wanted the organizers to persuade Black folks to become Republicans and to love George Bush. I don’t think it worked. The lesson to be learned is that taking care of the gatekeepers can mean that those behind the gate are being manipulated. Don’t let another man sell your brain. If your brain gets sold, you should get the money.
3) Be careful with the Obama-Haterology: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Tavis Smiley was a clear “homie” to Hillary Clinton. This close relationship, as well as some hope that he might be her Press Secretary, led to some “interesting” words being fired across the aisle last year as Barack Obama chose not to attend the conference. This forum is designed for the people and should not be used to reflect the personal agendas of a few powerful men. One must draw the line between carefully considered critiques on The White House vs. politicized attacks in response to being “dissed”. I too have critiqued our president, but I have always wanted him to succeed.
4) Kill the self-righteousness: There is no boss of the Black community. We are not children who need to be told what’s best for us. Being of a strong religious background, Tavis Smiley can sometimes become more of a preacher than a leader. There is this idea that he and a few others know the solutions and the rest of us don’t have a damn clue. Please get over your selves….we’re all smart people. This does not, for one second, imply that strategic and intelligent guidance cannot be meaningful. But this guidance must be balanced with mutual respect for the people you are serving.
5) Kill the “flossing”: Sometimes, when people get on their respective soap boxes, the forum can become a contest of who can make the most earth-shattering, slap-ya-leg, koolaid-coming-out-of-your-nose, “hoo-hoo-she-sure-is-funny!” moment. Due to the presence of media, which many people on the panel are seeking by attending this forum, we can be pressured to entertain more than enlighten. While entertainment is excellent, the focus must be on commentary which educates the public. I encourage the audience to watch the forum and listen to the content and substance of the rhetoric, and not be swayed by distractive inflections, body language or vocal tones. Some of us are very good at saying a lot and saying nothing, all at the same time.
6) FYI – Here is the source of Smiley’s power (for which I congratulate him): He gets C-span to show up and he has access to major White corporations. Were there no media and/or no corporate sponsorship, The State of the Black Union forum would cease to exist. This is not to disrespect the nature of the platform, but to help those who don’t understand business and media to see why so many of our leaders flock to the forum and why many Black leaders gladly appear on Fox News. Since they don’t have any other outlets for their work, this is one of the few provided. This gives a great deal of power to the owner of the platform, sort of like having the only grocery store or hospital in town. When Black folks get more ownership of media (even online media), the need to succumb to the power of others will cease to exist.
7) This is not the only forum in Black America: Kevin Powell, a man who will eventually be elected to Congress, holds Black male empowerment forums in New York City. The “Your Black World Coalition” has done amazing work in the past. “Color of Change” engages in meaningful, effective protest that is not sponsored by any of the corporations known for the exploitation of African Americans. “Dangerous Negro” is a group of young, intelligent brothers who are changing campuses across the world. Tavis Smiley’s insinuation that The State of the Black Union forum is the place you must be if you truly care about Black people is simply wrong. You can be in a lot of places and still care about Black people, which is why there are a lot of Black Bloggers, Black leaders and Black business people who are choosing not to attend The State of the Black Union.
8) The Money Makes a difference: I am a Finance Professor, which makes me the last person to criticize anyone for showing up to collect the cash flow. But the truth is that money is POWER. Money determines what we do and who we do it with. So, the idea that (what some consider to be) one of the most critical forums in the Black community is driven by corporate sponsorship granted by our historical oppressors is a very serious and problematic contradiction. I encourage us to find ways to sponsor other forums without sponsorship from mainstream corporate America so that we can speak real truth to power.
9) The Covenant with Black America: This is a great book. But it is still just a book. It is a book written to make a profit. When you see the book being advertised to you, there is a business model designed to sell the book. It is not the most important book in Black history, it is not necessarily a “must-read” for you and your kids. It’s just a book. Remember that. If the advertisers convince you that it is a “must-read”, then they’ve achieved their corporate objectives.
10) We need Tavis Smiley: Tavis, like most of us, has to make a living. He has done an amazing job with his work and platforms, and like the rest of us, he is not perfect. If you are compelled by his work, you should support him and support The State of the Black Union, I know I will. Also, just because Tavis seemed to have personal reasons for his attacks on Barack Obama, that doesn’t mean that his critiques were invalid. Yes, we have a Black President, but we need Black leaders. The greatest Black leader in the world is the one you see in the mirror. Get out there and do your thing.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.
I’ll start by saying that I love Tavis Smiley and have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Ok, I’ve said it, and I meant it. I hope you believe me as I write.
Tavis Smiley’s work in the Black community is critically important. But there is a difference between being an intelligent guide to enlightenment and being downright self-righteous. Tavis has a way of putting political leaders “on blast” for not showing up at his forums. When he held a debate for the Republicans in the 2008 Presidential Primaries, there were several Republican presidential candidates who chose not to attend. I understand being upset about this, because the Republican Party has paid dearly for its racism and ignorance of the needs of the Black community. Smiley responded to the Republican snub by putting the name of the candidate on the podium even if they were not there. This was a clear reminder to those in the audience that the leader “doesn’t care about issues in the Black community.”
When holding the State of the Black Union of 2008 (some confuse it with the State of Black America, issued each year by the Urban League), Smiley again invited as many political leaders as he could find, with Hillary Clinton being his star for the day. Then Senator Barack Obama, in the middle of a heated battle for Democratic delegates in Texas and Ohio, said that he could not attend the forum. Instead, he offered his wife Michelle to attend in his place. That’s when the drama got heated.
Tavis, appearing to be offended by Obama’s slight toward his conference, proceeded to nibble away at Obama’s heels every morning on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. The segments started with “he-say, she-say”, in which Tavis claimed that no one from the Obama camp offered Michelle up for attendance. But even if they had, Tavis claimed that no spouse of a presidential candidate would be acceptable for the conference, even Bill Clinton.
I must admit that I felt Tavis was doing a “Karl Rove” on the truth. It was also a slap in the face of Black women everywhere who have tremendous respect for Michelle Obama. Finally, Smiley’s words and actions bordered on petty and angered the millions of African-Americans who’d come to believe that Barack Obama could walk on water. While I’ve never felt that Obama could walk on water, I certainly did not understand Smiley’s confused obsession with Obama’s behavior. Smiley’s comments toward the Black presidential candidate reminded me of the same double standard I can sometimes get as a Black professor. You may have Black students who feel a certain degree of comfort with you, and thus empowered enough to attack you more than they would a White professor with whom they have no prior social affiliation. These situations can be nightmares, as they reflect problems with the collective self-esteem of the Black community, which leads us to feel that attacking and hurting one another is easier, and thus more satisfying than working together to fight Black oppression. In other words, Smiley was reflecting the same sentiment held by Black men who shoot one another on the street, but stand in fear of the racism in White America. Aaron McGruder, creator of the popular cartoon, “The Boondocks”, would refer to this as “a nigger moment.”
Phones were ringing off the hook, as I had friends from California to New York calling and asking “What’s wrong with Tavis?” I had no idea, since I don’t know Tavis personally. However, because we run in the same circles, I know plenty of people who know plenty of people who know Tavis. One of my great and respected friends, Kyle Bowser, is one of Tavis’ best friends, and Kyle rang my phone the day after I made my comments. Going through the blogs of other Black scholars, I had a chance to see their reactions. Melissa Harris-Lacewell at Princeton University, an intelligent (though somewhat elitist) scholar, happened to be incredibly poignant in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s behavior.
Melissa angered Tavis by writing a column that asked ”Who died and made Tavis King?”. I wasn’t as direct in my critique of Tavis, but I did have some strong words for him. I did not want to deliver any commentary on the Tavis via the major networks, since I honestly feel that there are some conversations Black folks need to have behind closed doors. But given that we get nearly 100,000 Black readers per week on our website YourBlackWorld, I felt this to be a fitting venue to let the world know how I feel.
I issued a statement agreeing with my friend Roland Martin at CNN, who felt that Tavis was out of line by making such a strong demand on Obama at such a critical time. Yes, Hillary Clinton showed up in spite of being on the same campaign trail, but the fact was that Hillary was well positioned to win in the upcoming battlegrounds states, Texas and Ohio. Also, Hillary Clinton needed to regain the ground in the Black community that was lost when her husband Bill shot himself in the foot. The words out of Bill Clinton’s mouth were so vile, that his own “ghetto pass” was revoked immediately. Clinton had compared Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson, implying that he was simply a Black presidential candidate with no chance to win White voters. While Jesse ran a great campaign, the notion that Obama’s fate would be similar to his own was disappointing for many Black people to hear. Clinton was no longer one of us, and he certainly was not the “first Black president” anymore.
I also felt that Tavis should have been more careful about being too critical of Obama in light of the fact that he was accusing Barack of doing some things that he himself had been doing. For example, Tavis claimed that he was not going to give Obama a “ghetto pass” just because he was Black. Rather, he would challenge him and question him like he would anyone else. First, Tavis’ words presumed (self-righteously) that he knows what is best for Black folks and we cannot make this determination ourselves. No one gives the “ghetto pass” to Ward Connerly (the guy in California fighting against Affirmative Action) or Condoleeza Rice, so the idea that Black candidates get votes only because they are Black is simply ridiculous. A “ghetto pass”, should such a pass exist, must be earned, and Obama had earned the love, trust and support of the Black community. To presume that people were supporting him just because he is Black is an insult to the collective intelligence of the Black community.
Secondly, Tavis himself had been long receiving the very same “ghetto passes” that he felt Black America was unfairly bestowing upon Obama. As powerful and revolutionary as Tavis may have sounded on The Tom Joyner Morning show, the fact that you hear “This was brought to you by Walmart” at the end of each segment reminds you that the message has been diluted by corporate sponsorship. No great Black revolutionary in American history has ever been brought to you by McDonald’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo, or any of the other corporations that sponsor Tavis’ forums.
Additionally, there is a clear reality in the life of Tavis Smiley, one that he cannot ignore: the Covenant with Black America, The State of the Black Union Conference, The “Pass The Mic” Tour, and everything else Tavis has done was created with the express objective of obtaining revenue and profitability for his corporate sponsors. Tavis has sold himself (and I do not use the word “sold” in a negative sense) to White American corporations as the broker of Black leadership. He is the man that many corporate executives believe they can go to in order to reach the African-American masses. We are the drugs, and he is the pusher: White corporate America represents the group of addicts getting high on the profitability of Black consumption.
As a Finance Professor, I must say that I see nothing wrong with the Tavis Smiley business model. I am not here to say that Tavis has “sold out”, for I don’t believe he has. We all sell something in order to make a living, and even the concept of “selling out” presumes that one has managed the thin line between making a profitable trade, versus giving up something of tremendous value. The problems with the Tavis Smiley business model arise when such a business model is pursued carelessly or selfishly. I do not accuse Tavis Smiley of being careless or selfish. However, his attacks on Senator Barack Obama, none of which were thrust on Senator Hillary Clinton, smelled of self-interest from a man who appeared to feel slighted that Obama jumped his place in the line of great Black leadership.
I felt sorry for Tavis after seeing the reactions of our readers on YourBlackWorld. Hundreds of emails and comments were coming in every day, with many readers claiming that they were once Tavis Smiley fans, but not anymore. Overnight, Tavis went from being incredibly popular, to becoming the Milly Vanilly of social commentary. I can’t help but wonder what happened behind closed doors, as I am sure his publisher became concerned that he could no longer sell books. His corporate sponsors were surely aware of the fact that he was not in control of the Black audience they were buying from him. I am willing to bet that his life was a mess, at least for a while.
I hope this year’s State of the Black Union Conference is a bit more balanced. Tavis is a good brother who deserves our respect. But it is my greatest hope that he learns the difference between balanced critiques and flat out “haterology”. I do a lot of critiquing, but when it comes to Obama, I want him to succeed. I sincerely hope that Tavis wants the same.
One year ago, rising oil prices were taking travel costs to new heights and business travelers were feeling the pinch. Now travel prices are falling again, fueled by the global recession, and airlines, hoteliers and car rental companies are taking evasive actions to survive. Here are ten trends caused by the global economic meltdown, and what they will mean for business travelers in 2009:
1. Air travel on sale. With fewer travelers in this sputtering economy, airlines are desperately trying to fill seats. From January 2007 through July 2008, U.S. airlines raised fares 32 times, according to FareCompare.com. Less than two months into the new year, U.S. airlines have initiated 25 fare sales and prices are back to pre-2007 levels in many markets. If you still have funds in your travel budget, this is a good time to fly.
2. Capacity cuts continue. To counteract declining travel demand, U.S. airlines continue to trim their schedules. Most have already eliminated 10% to 20% of domestic flights and the Air Transport Association projects the seven largest U.S. airlines will cut another 3% to 10% this year. This means fewer seats available for last-minute purchase and more involuntarily denied boardings on oversold flights.
3. Ancillary fees proliferate. Although base airfares are declining, airlines are unlikely to relinquish the added revenues from those annoying ancillary fees for checked luggage, meals and snacks, in-flight entertainment, seat selection and more. United Airlines expects to earn $1.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2009. It’s difficult to avoid most fees unless you are an elite member of that airline’s frequent-flier program. Continental is the only major U.S. airline not charging for meals in coach and Southwest has shunned a la carte pricing, at least for now.
The Dow and S&P 500 tumbled to levels not seen in nearly 12 years Monday, as investors continue to worry that the government’s efforts to slow the recession won’t be sufficient.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 250 points, or 3.4%, according to early tallies., ending at the lowest point since May 7, 1997.
The S&P 500 (SPX) index lost 26 points, or 3.5%, ending at the lowest point since April 11, 1997.
The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 53 points, or 3.7%. The tech-fueled index has held up better than the rest of the market so far this year, closing at the lowest points since Nov. 20, 2008.
Stocks had gained in the morning on enthusiasm that the government may boost its stake in Citigroup, briefly assuaging fears that the troubled bank would have to be nationalized. But the early advance quickly petered out, as the worries of the last few weeks returned.
If anybody had a reason to doubt whether Tyler Perry has become one of the most bankable brands in all of movies, be skeptical no longer.
The domestic dramedy maestro’s latest release, Tyler Perry’s "Madea Goes to Jail," ran away with a big victory on the typically slow Academy Awards weekend, grossing a hefty $41.1 million, according to early estimates from Media by Numbers.
That opening sum is the biggest of all time for a Tyler Perry film, besting the $30 million debut of 2006′s "Madea’s Family Reunion." Too, it’s the top bow in the history of indie studio Lionsgate, improving upon all the Tyler Perry and "Saw" flicks that came before it. The movie’s per-theater average of $20,236 ranks in the top 40 for all wide openers ever.
And, no surprise, "Madea Goes to Jail" achieved all this success with a solid A CinemaScore grade from a crowd that included mostly older women. Watch Tyler Perry talk about his success »
Second place went to "Taken," which added another $11.4 million to its four-week tally, bringing said total to $95.2 million. Fellow strong holdover "Coraline" (No. 3) was next with $11 million.
"He’s Just Not That Into You" (No. 4) declined a sharp 56 percent to bank $8.5 million on its third weekend. And Best Picture favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" rounded out the top five with $8.1 million — a sum that brings its domestic total to $98 million.
President Barack Obama is ready to sign into law the most sweeping economic package in decades, a rescue plan meant to reinvigorate job creation, consumer spending and public optimism. Add the bill to an ever-growing deficit.
Capping the biggest victory of his month-old administration, Obama will sign the economic legislation Tuesday in Denver.
The setting, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, is meant to underscore the investments the new law will make in "green" energy-related jobs. It also allows Obama to get away from Washington, where the bill’s passage was a mostly partisan affair, and be among people who may benefit from the huge government intervention.
The flailing economy continues to dominate Obama’s time.
Tuesday is also when General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which are living off a combined $13.4 billion in federal bailout loans, are due to hand in plans to Obama’s government about how they can remain viable.
And on Wednesday in Arizona, Obama will unveil another part of his economic recovery effort — a plan to help millions of homeowners fend off foreclosure.
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
In case you weren’t sure, credit card companies are not out to help you. If you are financially illiterate and uninformed, they are going to exploit you. If you are worried about the financial crisis, they are going to prey on your fear to get money out of you. They are also doing exactly what the rest of us are doing: trying to remain protected in a fragile economy.
The stimulus is stymied. The bailout is a failout. The stock market has consistently given a “thumbs down” to every piece of legislation passed in response to this crisis. Our economy is like the sick man who won’t respond to antibiotics. While the results of the latest package are yet to be seen, the truth is that no one is sure what will work. Every company is out to protect their assets and hold on to their cash, which means they no longer have much interest in loaning money to you.
Yes, this is true even if you have a good credit score, which is the ironic part.
Customers are opening their monthly statements to find that credit card companies have started to either ration credit (give less of it) or raise the interest rate being paid on outstanding debt. This doesn’t even count all the dirty tactics used, like using your payments to pay off low interest debt first, quietly getting rid of the grace period or charging interest on your balance from the prior two months vs. the current one. Even when you’ve been making payments on time for years, banks keep raising the bar to maximize shareholder wealth. When liquidity is scarce, those giving out water demand a higher cost per bottle. Additionally, higher default rates have justified the increase in interest rates, but higher interest rates increase the likelihood of default. It’s a nasty cycle, really.
Lawmakers are trying to intervene. Congressional hearings have taken place. Banks are being scolded by senators who keep telling them that this form of business practice is unethical and that they are gouging the American consumer. All this might be true, but what is also true is that you can’t force banks to loan you money. Also, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to legislate a strong economy.
If you have a less than stellar financial history, there is an even greater opportunity for your credit card company to raise your interest rates. If you have defaulted on other loans or are a slow payer in other areas, then they have no problem telling you to pay up or ship out. The days of easy money are long behind us, and companies are dramatically shifting their business practices.
The bottom line is that THEY’VE GOT YOU. They know that you’ve become addicted to the debt they so readily offered in the past, and this debt has become the lifeblood for the lifestyle to which you’ve chosen to become accustomed. They know that they can charge you a higher interest rate because you can’t do anything about it. Like a drug addict who is angry about paying more for his product, you really don’t have any other choice.
Well, maybe you do.
Here is one solution: tighten your economic belt. That means putting together a financial fitness plan today that consists of getting rid of as much debt as possible. I’ve mentioned in prior articles and on our website that paying off debt can be one of the best investments you make with your money. This is especially true if you have a stable job and are paying a high rate of interest to your credit card company.
So, the Dr. Boyce Challenge for this month is simple: Create a budget which includes the steady elimination of credit card debt. That means you should list every single expense you have for the entire month on one piece of paper or a spreadsheet. Don’t leave anything out. Count the money you want to use for getting your hair done, your nails, paying your mortgage, car note, whatever. Count everything. That will be your first step toward obtaining financial fitness.
As you create the budget, allocate at least 10% of your monthly after tax income toward reducing credit card debt. So, if you earn $3,000 per month after taxes,$300 per month should be allocated toward removing credit card debt, not including interest. So, if you owe $5,000 in credit card debt, you can remove this debt in roughly a year and a half. While $300 may seem like a lot of money to find in your budget, it’s there if you look hard enough. In fact, if you spend $10 per day on lunch and/or coffee, you can find the bulk of the money by taking your lunch to work. Make this one of the first bills you pay, not the last. The last bill is the one that only gets paid half the time. It’s easier to negotiate with creditors if you don’t need them so much. Take small steps toward finding your financial freedom.
Next month, we will move to step 2 of the Dr. Boyce Financial Challenge. While I confess that this change won’t be easy, I can promise that it will be worth it in the end. Be strong and remain focused, this is your opportunity to shine.
Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lipo 101: From financial fat to fitness”, to be released in April, 2009. For more information, please visit www.DrBoyceMoney.com.
The U.S. Senate gave final approval Friday to a $787 billion recovery package that President Obama hopes will help boost an economy in freefall with a combination of government spending and tax cuts and credits.
Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at right on the Senate floor Friday.
Approved earlier by the House, the plan — which went through multiple permutations as it bounced back and forth on Capitol Hill over the past week — now goes to Obama’s desk, where he plans to sign it into law by Presidents Day.
Spending in the package includes about $120 billion for infrastructure — new projects repairing bridges, roads, government buildings and the like — more than $100 billion for education and $30 billion on energy-related projects that Obama says will create "green jobs."
More than $212 billion goes to tax breaks for individuals and businesses, and another $267 billion is in direct spending like food stamps and unemployment benefits.
The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that the plan will create between 1 million and 3 million jobs.
Most individuals will get a $400 tax credit, and couples will get $800.
The vote by the Senate took several hours longer than a simple roll call of its 100 members generally would. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, attended a wake for his mother until about 8 p.m. Friday.
Voting began about 5:30 p.m. Then, the Senate chamber sat nearly empty until Brown arrived to vote about five hours later.
He was flown from Ohio to Washington on a plane provided by the White House, which said no commercial flights were available that would have allowed Brown to cast a vote and return to Ohio in time for his mother’s funeral Saturday.
President Barack Obama, pressuring lawmakers to urgently approve a massive economic recovery bill, criticized Republicans who have balked at the legislation Monday night and said, "I can’t afford to see Congress play the usual political games." Obama used the first prime-time news conference of his presidency to warn that a failure to act swiftly and boldly "could turn a crisis into a catastrophe."
With the nation falling deeper into a long and painful recession, Obama defended his program against Republican criticism that it is loaded with pork-barrel spending and will not create jobs.
"The plan is not perfect," the president said. "No plan is. I can’t tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans."
Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House in a news conference that lasted almost exactly one hour. He hit repeatedly at the themes he has emphasized in recent weeks, including at a town hall meeting to promote his plan earlier in the day in Elkhart, Ind.
A coalition of Democrats and some Republicans reached a compromise that trimmed billions in spending from an earlier version of the Senate economic stimulus bill.
Senators worked late into the night to trim billions from the original stimulus bill.
CNN obtained, from a Democratic leadership aide, a list of some programs that have been cut, either entirely or partially:
• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)
• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)
• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)
• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)
• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)
• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)
• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters
• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization
A contentious debate over a "Buy American" provision in the economic stimulus package poses an early test for President Obama on both domestic politics and foreign policy.
The Senate this week is considering an $885 billion bill designed to help mend the ailing economy, which requires all "manufactured goods" purchased with stimulus money to be made in the United States. The House already has approved a narrower bill mandating the use of domestic iron and steel.
To supporters, including labor unions that helped the Democrats retake the White House last year, a "Buy American" requirement is just common sense at a time of economic crisis and rising unemployment. Factories have been hemorrhaging jobs for years; manufacturing employment is now 12.9 million, down from 17.2 million at the end of 2000. If Congress doesn’t insist upon the use of U.S.-made materials, taxpayer funds could line the pockets of European or Chinese workers rather than hard-hit Americans.