By James Clingman
Imagine the U.S. dollar being worthless. Picture millionaires and billionaires becoming “thousand-aires” overnight. Think about the possibility of 200 million U.S. citizens being unable to eat unless the government provides food for them. Fathom a day when you check out your 401-k or your bank account and find nothing there. What would happen to Social Security and Medicare if the dollar was devalued to the point of being virtually worthless? The short answer to these scenarios: We would be in a world of hurt and misery.
As the recent National Urban League report stated, despite our current fiscal situation, Blacks are “optimistic” about our economic future. So it naturally follows that we seldom, if ever, give a thought to the possibility of an economic collapse in this country. After all, we are the world’s “top economy” the “biggest, strongest, and the ‘baddest’ nation on earth.” Our dollar is the reserve standard for the world; oil is traded in what we call “petrodollars,” which assures that our economy will always rule because everybody needs energy, right? We are the “breadbasket” of the world, and everybody needs to eat, right? We are indeed “all that” aren’t we?
In case you have been spending most of your time watching all of the award shows on BET, the housewives and divas of – you fill in the blank – or the many other mindless, provoking distractions being tossed at us 24/7, you have no idea about the true state of our union. You are hung-up on what Donald Sterling said, what Stephen A. Smith and Michael Eric Dyson said, what that police commissioner in New Hampshire said, and what Mark Cuban said. You are ensconced in what Michelle Obama is wearing, what brand of Vodka P. Diddy drinks, Solange’s elevator beat-down, and buying a $200 ticket for the Beyonce/Jay-Z concert.
While I understand the need for us to get away from the real world and reside in fantasyland for a while, the amount of attention we give to the 140 character banter of some celebrity or athlete, no matter how mindless or ridiculous it may be, is very dangerous. We have no sustainability, no patience, and no staying power when it comes to the things that really affect our lives and our very survival. In other words, we have been swept away from reality by reality shows through which we live vicariously; and to make matters even worse, we have fallen for the absolute delusion of economic progress in spite of all the indicators that point to the complete opposite.
We are not teaching our children and grandchildren about economics, wealth building, finance, entrepreneurship, inflation, hyperinflation, deflation, quantitative easing, cashless society, bartering, self-reliance, gold, silver, bitcoin, fiat, and the role of money in general. In many cases we adults have very little knowledge of these things. We are too busy working 70 hours a week to earn dollars that could be worthless in the next decade or two. We are not making efforts to prepare for the worst; we are not “hedging” our bets against economic collapse, and we are definitely not working to become more independent, which includes, at a minimum, being able to grow food and feed our children.
In general, we have very little understanding of what our government is doing and the plans it has for us just in case things get really bad financially. Yes, we talk about conspiracy theories all the time, and we think we know about the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Affairs, the Illuminati, Skull and Bones, the Boule, and all the other so-called secret societies that run the world. While they may make for great conversation, we cannot affect them one iota. They are doing their thing, and all we do is talk about them. Do you really think they care? When it’s all said and done, if a collapse does come, they will be the ones we will have to depend upon because they have the vast majority of the wealth.
This is not meant just to instill fear in us, albeit, we are at the very bottom of every economic category. Rather, it is to stimulate us to use that fear to change our minds, to be more informed and active, and to direct our attention to economic empowerment in a world where that’s all that counts. It is an effort to bring us back to where we once were, when we took care of ourselves and built for future generations. It is a cry for a stronger and collective foundation of Spirit-led people who know that while we are on this earth we have an obligation to share our talents and to multiply them rather than squander or “bury” them in the ground of conspicuous consumption.
As for our position in this country, as a citizen of 1st century Rome said, “I smell smoke!”
Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.