Charting A New Course For America
The Task of President-Elect Barack Obama
Man’s domination and enslavement of his fellow man took on more subtle forms as we see today in the economic meltdown that has shaken the world economies.
By Seopaul Singh
Guyana Journal, December 2008
The beaten path America founded on a concept of freedom
America undoubtedly is the bastion of the capitalist world, its ideology and its economic (Free Market) system. That economic system, which was born out of the rule of the market forces, is the machinery through which the nation spiraled into the foremost position as champion of the Free World. The history of the nation unveils an ideal concept of freedom which moved the first immigrants to traverse the Atlantic to shake off the tyranny of despots whom they faced in their homeland.
The nation has since comprised a mixture of immigrants, of cultures and practices in a constant cauldron of melting and fusion that gave us the motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of many one). The same high ideals however, which moved the Pilgrims Fathers to chart a course for their own freedom, did not underscore their dealing with others who were there before them in the New World. We see how quickly people forgot to treat their fellow beings with the same kind of dignity that they readily attribute to themselves.
While all of the above is common knowledge, the nation made no move over the centuries to correct this deficiency in (Young) America's otherwise phenomenal spiral into world leadership. America now champions freedom and democracy around the world, or so we believe. Some people still interpret freedom to mean they are free to do anything to others and get away with it. However, the long arms of retribution will arrest the guilty and/or their posterity to make some form of restitution one day.
A departure from biblical principles of love for fellow humans
Indeed the biblical precepts that drove the early settlers to found a home in the State of New England were not the same precepts that pervaded their dealings with the native population. These natives were the people who rescued the fifty-four survivors in their early crisis in 1621 during their first year in the new settlement. Remember the basis for the celebration of the first Thanksgiving! Soon the camaraderie that began to develop between the Immigrants and the Natives was shattered.
In less than seventeen years there were atrocities that later marked the rise of the new immigrants, which the guilty were ready to bury with their victims. The Massacre of the Pequot Indians at Mystic on May 26, 1637 marked another era in the conquest and decimation of the native people and the ascendance of the Europeans since Columbus' arrival in 1492. While the massacre ushered in freedom for some, it was bound to cast a long shadow over a great nation's destiny that would come back to haunt the descendants of the guilty.
Such is the case throughout history with many guilty parties who are ready to advocate that we forget the past at their convenience. This is the beaten path pursued in the course of America’s history. Man’s domination and enslavement of his fellow man took on more subtle forms as we see today in the economic meltdown that has shaken the world economies. The die was cast for the future of America, and nothing could stop the spirit which pervaded the mind of all those who lust for quick riches since. There was bound to be some kind of change. This was long overdue in the course of the ongoing American Revolution.
Exploitation and control of the masses since slavery
“On the eve of the American Civil War approximately 4 million enslaved African Americans lived in the southern region of the United States of America. The vast majority worked as plantation slaves in the production of cotton, sugar, tobacco, and rice. Very few of these enslaved people were African born principally because the importation of enslaved Africans to the United States officially ended in 1808, although thousands were smuggled into the nation illegally in the 50 years following the ban on the international trade...
These enslaved people were the descendants of 12 to 13 million African forbearers ripped from their homes and forcibly transported to the Americas in a massive slave trade dating from the 1400s. Most of these people, if they survived the brutal passages from Africa, ended up in the Caribbean (West Indies) or in South and Central America. Brazil alone imported around five million enslaved Africans. This forced migration is known today as the African Diaspora, and it is one of the greatest human tragedies in the history of the world. (See the Map of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the Geography Section of this site…
This transatlantic trade created a new global economy and an international world. This new Atlantic World was unlike anything ever known before, linking the Americas to Africa and Europe in ways that resulted in the development of Europe and North America and the undevelopment of Africa and the rest of the Americas. It is not too much to say that profits made from slavery and the slave trade in the years from 1600 to 1860 greatly contributed to the emergence of Western Europe and the United States as the dominant nations of the world.” (Read)
A hallowed tribute to the victims
The foregoing was the scenario that prefaced the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower at Plymouth Harbor in 1620, which was peaceful. Yet only seventeen years later, Major John Mason a Puritan, and Captain John Underhill led the conquest of the native Pequot, and the decimation, which followed at Mystic on May 26, 1637. Steven M. Gillon wrote in Ten days that unexpectedly changed America, “As the last fires burned out, news of the tragedy spread throughout New England. A new era had begun.” The new era portended a destiny that belied the peace and freedom pursued by the Pilgrim Fathers. It heralded the most bizarre reign of cruelty to human kind by men who claimed to extol the virtues of the Holy Writ.
Furthermore, the new colony could not have moved forward without the enslavement of Africans, adding to the de-humanization of yet another race and another culture no different from the days of following Columbus landing in 1492 with the advent of the Spanish Conquistadors. The later activities of the settlers in taming the Wild West and the Founding Fathers in general were not on the same humane plane with the biblical prescription of the love of true Pilgrims for their fellowman. We must pay a hallowed tribute to the early victims and all those who paid the full price in this era of an ongoing American Revolution.
The consequences of the War of Independence
As the history unfolded, it was the War of Independence from the British (1775-1783), which set the stage for the founding of this nation, as ratified by the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. However, “Freedom is not Free” as noted a vibrant voice in America, Retired General Tommy Franks (who led the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq). It marked the annihilation of the native population and added to it four hundred years of slavery of Africans many of whom fought against the British for freedom.
Today many boast of America with pride as The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave forgetting, with their heads in the sand or in the clouds, that without any remorse they denied the same freedom to others before them who craved those rights as humans. There is an undeniable spirit of hero-worship as the few often eliminate the ‘masses’ to claim wealth and territories for their group. The quest for land and the greed it bred was unending in America. It pervaded every facet of the American Dream.
The birth of New York Stock Exchange 1792
The wasting of the populace had to find another way out. The oligarchs had to preserve the market before entrepreneurship could take root. They had to ensure there was a market base. Only this short cut would come out to be the backbone for the growing investment climate gripping the nation. Even before the abolition of slavery, 24 Merchant Stockbrokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement establishing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1792.
The language and expressions of these money magnates utilized metaphors overtly and covertly to describe the kind of culture that permeated the society. They spoke of "bringing the competition to their knees", of "gobbling up the small", of "ruining the adversary", "of massacring, destroying, ruining, of going for blood", the vocabulary is unending with infernal concepts, which are most inhuman. It is an ongoing war in every sense of the word.
The path plotted by the 'founders' way back when for this nation in the control of the masses led into treacherous shortcuts and pitfalls, which are not wholesome fares for the student of history. There is a cross over of the domineering spirit into a more subtle nonviolent control of the masses. It may be that some people had realized that the decimation of their fellow rebounded in their own impoverishment. Such also was the case of slavery days when owners lost as slaves died.
Lessons from the California Gold Rush of 1849
One single most significant impact on the life style of early America is the California Gold Rush of 1849. When James Marshall discovered gold in New Helvetia (New Switzerland) in January 1848, the American dream received the biggest boost of all. The rush to fast wealth gripped almost every wayfaring man of the West. Between April and December 1849 the population jumped from 79 buildings and shanties to 100,000 residents. Preacher Cleveland did not miss the lurking scourge of greed when he warned his congregation of the evil of the pursuit of fast wealth citing, Proverbs 28: verse 22, “He that pursues fast riches would not go unpunished.”
How appropriate the preacher’s warnings were for those who would hasten to find the American dream. They would all suffer. Of gold William Shakespeare wrote, “Many a man his life had sold just my outside to behold.” Such words take on new dimensions of meaning today. We need to remember that man did not construct the biblical judicial system. In that, the blood of the victims cries out for justice as with Abel and Cain.
The Civil War against slavery
The young nation added to the holocausts of two peoples yet another devastating tragedy 100 years after the Declaration of Independence. It marked the Civil War (1861-1865) for the abolition of slavery. That tragedy threatened the very unity of ‘United States’ which grew out of the War of Independence. Still, not all embraced the concept that slavery was an evil against humanity. It split the States with the north championing the cause of the slaves while the south, including presidents, owned slaves. It was a painful process indeed that lent true meaning to the words which prefaced the Constitution of America, “We hold these truths to be self evident…that all men are created equal… .”
Today these words could not come from a better orator than Barak Obama, the man who is the first non-white President elect of the United States of America. The Civil War was under all circumstances the war of true freedom. The casualties of the Civil War ran into thousands. Here were men who laid down their lives for the freedom of the Africans whom their fathers had enslaved. The situation was very ominous for the nation as a whole. It would set the pace for the true liberty that was not the legacy of all America. Still there was yet another course set for the nation to traverse on its beaten path to true nationhood.
The American Revolution continues
The American Revolution was not a done deal with the declaration of Independence. It was only the beginning of things to come. The Civil War may have settled the question of slavery, but it did not prevent the next tier in the struggle of the nation against human tyranny. The other course ushered in the Civil Rights Movement (1896-1954,) which sought to champion the cause of the descendants of slaves who were still denied rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of the USA.
It marked the refusal of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 to yield her seat to a white woman and move down to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. It triggered the vision and dream of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he vocalized the precept in his hope that, “I have a dream…One day my children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
We are living in a very crucial and climactic moment in the history of human kind. To experience the change, which the Senator from Illinois chose as his theme that was the driving force in his campaign, is like beholding the gradual unfolding of a miracle wrought by unseen hands with humans only playing a pantomime.
The Civil Rights movement ushered in another level in the upward mobility of the American nation. Even this did not end with the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. There is an indiscernible process at work. Oprah Winfrey did not have words for her apprehensions at the pace of the process at work. She did not name the kind of change, which all are living through in this period of history. At first, she noted that she was dubious about her move to enter into the fray. Now in the words of Barack Obama, she has gotten her answer along with all America who were dubious.
The constant of the American Dream
There is one constant however among all the changes which shaped the United States of America that stood out atop the various tiers of its struggles which the people, who formed part of this great nation, pursued. That constant provided a basis for the onward upward mobility of all those born in America and all immigrants. It embodies the pervasive concept that fills the minds of all who are here and the huddled masses that would come.
People everywhere touted this constant as the ‘American Dream’ in which ‘the sky is the limit’. However, while the sky is the limit as pointed out by motivational speakers, there is not always a clear-cut path for those who want to pursue that dream. Although that door seems open to all, only a few would enter therein. Opportunities though abounding do not always welcome everyone who long for the chance to grasp them.
A culture of dehumanization of the masses by the few
In spite of such initial broad scope for individual development, few individuals always surfaced with a mission to trample the masses in pursuing their selfish goals. This nation still pays tribute to many such people for delivering to America the system now known as the Capitalist Free Market. However, few have considered the dangers that underlie the unbridled freedom of the entrepreneur spirit which America unreservedly worship. In this arena, morality has long since departed. Anything goes with the players, and many seemed untouchable. Money talks and BS walks has become the maxim of the rich.
One wonders where all the biblical precepts have gone from those who ought to represent them. In that culture, greed had reached the nadir for entrepreneurship, while for others it spelled their utter demise. We all have lived through today’s most glaring example of the effects of the greed of a few with the collapse of the stock market in America and the domino effect it has around the world. What in the world could motivate the few to disenfranchise the multitude millions except a diabolic criminal condition of the mind.
Gangsterism and mob rule
Others pursued a different dream in the course of the American Revolution. Gangs and mobs made deep impact upon the nation in their kind of ‘get rich quick scheme.’ The violent pursuit to control every facet of the business sector formed one of the major hurdles in the path of the dream. Men like Al Capone (1899-1947) and John Dillinger (1903-1934) reigned supreme in their days, while the bodies of murdered men, who contended for turfs in illegitimate business pursuits of gambling, of protection/ extortion and prostitution, littered the history of mega-cities in America. They gave meaning to the biblical adage “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
Mafia style control of business was a ready pursuit of thugs with no consideration of morals and ethics. They determine who would set up shop and who would move out from their closely controlled turfs. Gangs controlled inner cities and carried out their nefarious activities even before the set of sun. For many, life was a living hell to experience. On the other hand, a few were able to achieve the dream by honest means. Nevertheless, today we only see the glitter, not the gory aspects of this nation’s history. Where people are able to clutch at the opportunities, we see how they are able to transcend the bounds of their limitations and achieve excellence in every aspect of life.
Greed the crime of the culture of the limitless dream
With the same drive that propelled the settlement of the Wild West, modern men have allowed their quest to trample the meek and decimate the voiceless as their culture. There is a caution to the limitless dream of the capitalist system. There is also an unbridled curse which goes along with the unbridled quest for the sky. Apart from climbing upon the shoulders if not bodies of victims, that curse is the tendency for man to fall into the quagmire of one of the deadliest of bondage greed. Greed too has no limit.
The course of the capitalist nation has led many into the bondage of greed. Many are willing literally to decimate millions of their fellows to feed their greed.
The nation has stood by idly for too long and watched the paragons of greed, sharks plying their trade among the innocent and unwary citizens. There is a danger in the absolute freedom that mankind crave. That absolute freedom has charted the course of this nation into dire straights today. Perhaps the president-elect Barack Obama had reminisced upon the course this nation pursued and came up with the simply put campaign mantra of change.
CEO’s, COO’s and CFO’s perpetrating greed unchecked
Greed permeated the entire business world at all levels. There was an unsupportable top-heavy inverted pyramid structure of Big Business and Investment Banking in America. There was no logic in the management style or the operational cost at the top. That wealthy super structure had to topple because of its own disproportionate impoverished base. The base became too poor to support the wealthy top brass. Those at the base of the structure, the rational minds, long observed the paradox; but the top-heavy hierarchy were blind to the squeeze at the bottom. They could not agree to tailor their superfluity. They doled out hefty loans to low income home-buyers only to foreclose and recover the properties as the job markets diminished.
How could individuals (CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s) with this malady of greed amass the millions and billions at the expense of their fellow with impunity? The tragedy of this malady is not simply the denial of others their fair share in the returns of their life earnings. It marked their willingness to stagnate the entire nation in the free flow of currency exchange to facilitate the basic purchase of goods and services. It has caused international stagnation with the crash that sent tremors around the world. This malady is no more a sickness, but a crime and requires strong judicial deterrence.
President-Elect must be in charge
If President Elect Barack Obama would forge a change, he must consider addressing the worst white-collar crime in American history. It was committed against the millions who unwittingly put their trust in greedy men. He must bring the guilty culprits to justice. They must be prosecuted and their ill-gotten gains over the years be confiscated to make some form of restitution. The next move should consider a cap on the actual annual income of the CEO’s and their board of directors, not forgetting the hefty bonuses they garner at year ends and proudly splash these in the headlines of the news media.
There should never be opening for runaway profiteering again. Any extra returns to investment banking should be the fruits of the people whose collective billions realize such revenues. The mantra should be no bail out but nationalization of the various mammoth Banking / Investment Corporations. Their leader must face quick justice, and their assets appropriated in public interest. President-Elect Obama must call the shots.
America must not continue in the path of the hero worship style revolutions. The few must not emasculate the masses. Change must take the nation a step higher on the plane of human existence. President Elect Barack Obama should move to make the masses the true democratic pillar of the society. The nation is sick of the advocacy of the exploitative system that it accepted as gospel. The departure from the true Gospel has taken the nation into a variety of violent upheavals.
The advent of Barack Obama, a paradigm shift
The election of Barack Obama marks the beginning of a new era. It should mark the end of the domination of the masses by the few. This is the beginning of a new people’s revolution. It marks the rise of the people to take back the governance of the nation they all worked hard to build. The opponents of this paradigm shift are the people who profited unjustly throughout the history of this nation. They are the ones who brand the sharing of the wealth as ‘socialist.’ They are the ones who oppose the taxing of the very high-income brackets of the nation, while the Middle Class face the brunt of rising cost of health insurances and inflation.
Quite without any surprise, they painted pictures of Obama and called him names to detract the constituents from electing him. However, they have awaken from their long slumber of hero-worship and apathy. The trend of change that Obama advocated has grown very contagious. It made waves around the world. Every press of every nation carried supporting captions for his election victory. His life size portrait hung huge in the ‘Tube’ of the English transport system.
Now is the time for tightening up the helmets as after the victory of a Samurai War. President Obama must keep a cool head. The regulators must be put in place fast to affect an even keel for smooth sailing. No more deregulation of the magnates who strut about with their jet sets and splurge on big bashes at the expense of the middle class and real taxpayers.
Charting a new course for the change
President-elect Barack Obama would undoubtedly pursue a more modified program than I have advocated here. Nevertheless, it befalls the man of the moment to examine the pitfalls of the various tiers in the upward spirals, which established this nation to identify the ‘when and how’ America has fallen into this rut. That ‘when and how’ would trace the course that led the nation into the quagmire of this economic meltdown. It is not just the system that failed; it is the men who failed the system. Without any doubt, the drive to attain the American Dream fast and without delays had driven the few into merciless dealings in the nation with nightmares for others.
First, the need to look at the spin-offs of the California Gold Rush, and the evil it bred in the hearts of men. He needs to examine the culture of fast wealth and the warning of Proverbs 28:22 of the holy writ for all mankind. Then he has to examine the birth of the NYSE and the move of the few money magnates to control the masses through the control of money. What we now see is that we must not blame the meltdown on the inanimate ‘economy.’ This is an abstract notion. The economy is only what men make of it. The blame rests solidly upon the shoulders of those who weaseled into the system to pocket the hefty profits that accrued from the money and investments of the masses.
Now is the time for the President-elect to find the CEO’s, COO’s and CFO’s who fiddled with the finances and carted off millions in limitless salaries, bonuses, and stock options. He must bring the whole kit and caboodle of hay-riders to fast justice and confiscate their assets to help adjust the bailout they have foisted upon taxpayers. Not until the President pursues such course of action would justice prevail for the masses. For those who have lost houses and jobs, and for whom the meager dream of owing a home has become a nightmare, this is the justice awaited.
Seopaul Singh CEM, CHS is an Ordained Christian Minister and member of the Faith Assembly Church in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY. He writes regularly on politics, religion, culture, security and emergency management matters. He was formerly Trade Intelligence Officer Ministry of Trade and Deputy Executive Officer Civil Defence Commission, Guyana.