Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.
I had the honor of being keynote speaker at the One Hundred Black Men ceremony for young men graduating from Eagle Academy schools. These charter schools are doing remarkable things in places people gave up on a long time ago. The graduates are all going to college and most know their majors. I hope to have the speech on our website soon, in the meantime here's an excerpt.
Tomorrow [today] is a holiday known as Juneteenth
Not many people know about this holiday in New York but it's very important in American history. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 ordering an end to slavery on January 1, 1863. That of course didn't happen as Confederate States including Texas, continued to hold onto slaves. But on June 18th, 1865 Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 troops rode into Galveston Texas to take possession of the state and free the slaves. So on June 19th, 1865, almost three years after Lincoln's most famous speech and order, General Gordon stood on the balcony of the Ashton Villa and read "General Order no 3."
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
That's what freedom was all about back then. The right to own property, to work and earn a living and not expect the government to pay you for not working - that was being a man.
America has had its share of growing pains and continues to work towards a more perfect union. The battle shifted at the turn of the century and the industrial revolution. Commercialism and individual success created fortunes, and while self-made, sparked envy and anger. There are several nations around the world going through the same scenario these days.
Mo Money Mo Problems
What's we're seeing around the world the last couple of weeks are governments getting stung by their very own success. I've written and argued a lot about the amazing economic success being enjoyed around the world. It's not about western Europe or America or Japan anymore... what's moving the needle are economies like Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil. Yet those places have also proven to be tinderboxes ready to explode and the spark doesn't have to be much. Consider how these nations have gone up in flames:
Lowering fuel subsides
Announcement to build a museum - mall
Raising bus fare ten cents
Of course there would have to be much more than the events above to spark widespread violence in nations making major transitions into greater prosperity. Brazil was poised to have its coming out party showcasing the Confederations Cup this month, the Pope next month, then the World Cup and Olympics. Events like these cost lots of money, billions when you're building stadiums from scratch and that's got people with poor housing and public services wondering what it is all about. Protestors also complain about police brutality and government corruption.
It's that last point that seems to be the sticky, common thread around the planet. I still see anti-capitalism movements pulling lots of strings using what might otherwise be innocuous sparks by fanning the flames through social media and old media. There is no political system without corruption but democracy and capitalism are moving so swiftly in the emerging world while socialistic tendencies and polices sink the west a last stand has to happen. What it all reveals are hurdles. Growing pangs associated with rapid success that will obviously have stragglers.
It also points to problems with taking away freebies and subsidies.
An election was lost in America because of freebies and the only way Obamacare is not eventually overturned is if it becomes a giant welfare benefit ultimately seen as a birthright along with cell phones, high speed internet, food, shelter, clothing, and rights to other people's earnings. I've witnessed how free stuff can destroy wide swathes of people and communities and now we are seeing how it can derail fascinating growth and prosperity. This is how it started in Egypt last year and how it will start in other places this summer.
Make no mistake, these things will not be accidents. They haven't been accidents. They're designed to spin the world in a direction of communal sharing and limited self-interest.
Amazingly, the world has come a long way from the notion of being free - now idleness is rewarded and success is punished.
Emerging nations are going to have to figure out better ways to allow access to success without punishing achievers and limiting potential.
It's World Sauntering Day, coined at the Grand Hotel of Michigan which sports the world's longest porch. It's probably what Ben Bernanke would like to be able to do as he lays out policy agenda. The problem will be the hounds of Wall Street, chasing, barking, howling about anything that smacks of pulling up and yet this week reports say that's exactly what the message will be today. The last couple of weeks saw the market banged around on the whiff of less Fed accommodation, but this week it's reversed the bias to the upside even as conventional wisdom suggest less money printing is in the cards.
The thing is, Ben Bernanke has room to err on the side of being too accommodative using historic metrics and government measuring of things like inflation, currently at a 53 year low. Still, the Fed knows it will taper at some point. Now would be a great time to get that notion through the thick skulls of Wall Street, even if they whine the entire time. In the meantime we're missing the main point of all this nonsense - the flaccid recovery. I understand the White House keeps selling a counterfactual that they avoided catastrophe but in the real, non-hypothetical world the rest of us live in this has been a tough drudge.
The Fed isn't going away, even if they take a more pedestrian approach to money printing.