Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Community organizer"

Apparently, the Department of Labor doesn't recognize "community organizer" as a job.

By Barack Obama
(c) 1990 Illinois Issues, Springfield, Illinois

Over the past five years, I've often had a difficult time explaining my profession to folks. Typical is a remark a public school administrative aide made to me one bleak January morning, while I waited to deliver some flyers to a group of confused and angry parents who had discovered the presence of asbestos in their school.

"Listen, Obama," she began. "You're a bright young man, Obama. You went to college, didn't you?"

I nodded.

"I just cannot understand why a bright young man like you would go to college, get that degree and become a community organizer."

"Why's that?"

" 'Cause the pay is low, the hours is long, and don't nobody appreciate you." She shook her head in puzzlement as she wandered back to attend to her duties.

I've thought back on that conversation more than once during the time I've organized with the Developing Communities Project, based in Chicago's far south side. Unfortunately, the answers that come to mind haven't been as simple as her question. Probably the shortest one is this: It needs to be done, and not enough folks are doing it.

The debate as to how black and other dispossessed people can forward their lot in America is not new. From W.E.B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, this internal debate has raged between integration and nationalism, between accommodation and militancy, between sit-down strikes and boardroom negotiations. The lines between these strategies have never been simply drawn, and the most successful black leadership has recognized the need to bridge these seemingly divergent approaches.
After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois(c) 1990 Illinois Issues, University of Illinois at SpringfieldISBN: 0-9620873-3-5

Today Gov. Paterson of NY said that McCain was being racist for questioning Obama's "community organizer" job, and the McCain camp said that Obama needs to apologize for making a reference to Sarah Palin as "lipstick on a pig."

We have soundbite politics and a soundbite stock market.

And today it was evident that the only ones who told the truth about the financials balance sheets were the shorts!

Is it any wonder why people are fleeing paper?

Today the shorts were emboldened. They won on Fannie and Freddie, and now are taking down Lehman, despite all the lies that Fuld has said.

It now looks like Fuld shouldn't have fired Erin Callan. As long as they were talking about her mini-skirts they weren't looking over the balance sheet.

So be grateful that politics are still in "soundbite" mode.

It will help us get through the next week.

Because commercial real estate is unraveling. Look what BAC had to say today:

Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. consumer bank, said credit weakness is spreading to commercial borrowers from residential customers and loan losses probably will deepen in the third quarter.

Home builders unable to repay their loans are contributing to deterioration among commercial borrowers, said Brian Moynihan, head of the global corporate and investment banking unit, at a New York conference today. More than half the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank's $13.4 billion in loans to builders are considered troubled, 19 percent are not paying interest and losses are likely to mount, Moynihan said.

Bank of America's commercial loans were $335 billion as of June 30, and a home-builder portfolio that accounts for less than 4 percent ``won't create major pain for us, but it's going up,'' he said. ``It's not pretty.''

The banks have had a good rally from their lows. I wouldn't own them here.

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