Part II Letter to the President

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Dear Mr. President,

I am not the sharpest arrow in the quiver, but I’d like to put the “Budget Deal” y’all are so proud of, in a prospective the average American can understand…even those in Washington. To do so I asked Mr. Reed Donelli, a sophisticated investor who knows how to speak in layman’s terms, to give me a hand. He sums up all the shenanigans that are going on in Washington these days with a simple analogous to your budget deal so ordinary households can get the picture:

2011 Federal Budget “Deal” in actual government-speak that gets lost in translation

Federal Budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000 (3.82 Trillion)
Income: $ 2,170,000,000,000 (2.17 Trillion)

New Debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 (1.65 Trillion)
Amount Cut: $ 38,500,000,000 ( 38.5 Billion) – about 1% of the total budget.

National Debt Total: $ 14,271,000,000,000 before this year’s budget.

Harry Reid is calling this an “historic amount“. The President said it is an “historic deal”. John Boehner simply said, “We’ve come to an agreement”.

Let’s remove eight zeroes from those numbers and pretend this is a household budget for the fictitious Jones family:

Amount of money the “Jones’ family spent this Year: $ 38,200
Total income for the “Jones’ family this Year: $ 21,700
Amount of new debt added to the credit card this Year: $ 16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
New outstanding balance on credit card: $159,210

So last week, the Jones’ sat down at the kitchen table and agreed to cut $385 from their annual budget. Would anyone in their right mind call this an historic amount??!!  With Mr. Donelli’s help, this charade is no longer complicated and hopefully been made understandable to everyone.

As I mentioned in my first letter, your administration seems hell-bent on molding this country into a Western European style socialist democracy, despite the warnings from those trapped inside such systems.

Formula for disaster of America

The financial crisis that hit the U.S. and the fallout has made its way across the Atlantic to Europe and is sparking an even greater credit crisis with its sights set on Central and Eastern Europe as well.  In this part of the world we are not talking about sub-prime assets or toxic sophisticated financial instruments that are causing headaches across the region. Instead, the more traditional problem of currency instability has reared its head.  The solution should come from the countries of Western Europe-the EU, but that’s not going to be an easy task.

IMF chief, Dominque Strauss-Kahn at the European Banking Congress in Germany, states that Europe is facing its greatest economic challenges since World War II. The European Union faces low growth, high unemployment, and growing economic situations whereby countries are growing apart, and a banking crisis unparalleled in modern times.  It is threatening Europe’s prosperity, social cohesion, and even the very belief in democracy itself.

“Socialism is a misconception whereby labor market institutions tend to reward privileged insiders at the expense of excluded outsiders,” said Strauss-Kahn. “As a result, a large portion of the population is distanced from the labor market and marginalized from society”

Mr. President, as an FYI, the concept of European style socialism is eerily similar to communism which attempts to reduce differentials in economic development and human well-being of its citizenry, to level the playing field for its social classes. The problems caused by any socialistic system, by any name you want to call it, has not done anything but  hurt those it was designed to help in the countries in which it was employed, cancelling any chance for progress and growth, paving the way to less freedom, innovation, and prosperity, as the tax base eventually runs out of money. Today in the old Iron Curtain countries there is even a growing movement among some to returning to the past, when everyone suffered equally under totalitarianism.

Even before the start of the global crisis brought on by Ireland, Iceland and Greece, which has affected the global banking institutions, Europe’s financial sector, like those in the U.S., have focused more on “sophisticated innovation”  ( i.e. Keynesian economics) rather than on tried and proven factors that drive economic growth.  One problem is that small-and medium-sized businesses have difficulty obtaining financing that is needed for expansion, new business development, and are the first to be cut off when pressures arise from the government using all the available finances.

Many of the citizens of Western Europe understand Europe suffers from imbalances within some countries that run persistent trade surpluses while others run persistent trade deficits. They need to focus more on domestic consumption instead of exports. Additionally, too many viewing the problem believe Europe is “fighting a losing demographic battle” as it stares into the face of a lethargic labor force trapped in a unionized structure unable to cope with change, and assured of cradle-to-grave security.

As you are aware Mr. President, an urgent call from Hungary for a large bailout for the newer Eastern European members was bluntly rejected by Europe’s strongest economy, Germany, and received little support from other countries. “The situation is the same for all Central and Eastern European states” Mrs. Merkel told reporters. This followed a warning by Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany of Hungary who stated, “We should not allow that a new Iron Curtain should be set up and divide Europe”, but the EU looks to remain resolute (From NY Times).

The traditional concept of “solidarity” is being undermined by protectionist pressures in some Western European countries and the challenge of maintaining a common currency, the Euro, for a region that has diverse economic needs. The economic problems in some newer members that once were part of the Soviet bloc will only makes matters worse.

German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung stated, “We always said you can’t really have a currency union without a political union, and we don’t have one. There is no joint fiscal policy, no joint tax policy, and no joint policy on which industries to subsidize or not. None of the leaders is strong enough to pull the others out of the mud.” (NY Times) German leaders are now faced with the unpalatable prospect of having to put German money at risk to bail out less responsible partners (Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece, and others in Eastern and Central Europe) that do not adhere to European fiscal rules. It’s also deadly for Washington, which wants the European Union to promote common interests in places like Afghanistan and the Middle East with financial and military help.

Governments of the countries of the European Union have already invested a total of $380 billion in bank recapitalization in the troubled countries and put up $3.17 trillion to guarantee banks’ loans to try and get credit moving again. Additionally, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development said they would provide $31.1 billion to support Eastern European nations, but much more will be needed. In Europe as in the US, the troubles are due to excessive debt and that the electorates have allowed such excessive debt levels to accumulate. Mr. President, no country can borrow its way out of debt.

As Europe is beginning to take a “tough love attitude” about their financial crisis, it stands in sharp contrast to Washington’s announcement regarding America’s budget woes last week that will send the United States more deeply into debt.

Mr. President, your leadership’s effort to redistribute income, nationalize health care, reduce energy production, print more money inflating the value of the dollar, promote the false concept of “global warming” with job-killing rhetoric, engineering class warfare against your detractors, and wanting even more federal spending on failed policies, is not befitting the leader of the free world.

HAIR-ITAGE ; MORE AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN ARE SAYING GOODBYE TO HOT COMBS AND STRAIGHTENERS AND EMBRACING MORE NATURAL HAIR STYLES

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) August 3, 2003 | EMMA D. SAPONG and JAZMYN BURTON A woman’s hair may be her glory, but for most of Ellen Peoples’ life, it was her shame.

She tried just about everything — from simmering straightening combs to perms to even cutting it off — to rid herself of the thick, tightly coiled tresses that sprouted from her head. Straightening her hair was her way of conforming to society’s standards.

“I wanted straight European hair,” she said. “I wanted it blond, if I could.” But now sporting short amber dreadlocks that gently frame her face, Peoples, 43, sees beauty in the natural texture of her hair.

“I finally love myself as I am,” Peoples said. “It’s just been the past two years that when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I’m happy with what I see. It took 40 years to get here.” Peoples, a Buffalo firefighter, is part of a growing number of African-American women in Western New York and the country who have stopped straightening their hair and embraced natural, Afrocentric hairdos as a statement of acceptance and expression of their heritage.

At work, in the malls, and on the streets, women can be seen wearing dreadlocks, braids, twists and afros. And while hairdos are often just a matter of personal taste, for black women they can be something more: a matter of identity. web site natural hair blogs

About 200 women a week go to Hair To Go … Natural on Allen Street, the first natural hair salon in Buffalo, paying up to $350 to keep their Afrocentric styles, said owner Althea Williams- Little. Her relatively high volume of clients is indicative of the boom in the natural-hair care and braiding industry.

“People are becoming more aware of their heritage,” said Williams- Little. “Before we wanted to fit in with the white girls.” Maisha Davis, 25, hasn’t straightened her hair in three years, and her cottony tresses are styled in individual two-strand twists that fall to her chin.

“A lot of people are going through a personal revolution,” said Davis, a local actress and poet. “It’s about finding out who you really are and getting in touch with yourself.” Akua Duku Anokye, co-chairwoman of Arizona State University West’s American Studies Department, said that society holds up blue eyes and blond hair as symbols of American beauty, a model black women have tried to mimic.

“You are going to find yourself measuring to that standard, although we are far from it,” she said.

“The straightening of the black hair is an attempt in projecting that white symbolic beauty as much as we can. They are the symbol for beauty. Black women have been laboring under this symbol.” Influencing style In the late ’60s and early ’70s, many African-Americans wore larger-than-life afros. The hairstyle grew out of the black pride movement, which rejected European standards of beauty.

Experts disagree on the extent of the politics involved in the choice of hairstyle. Some, like Alexis DeVeaux, chairwoman of the Women’s Studies Program at the University at Buffalo, think it’s less of a political statement now than in past decades.

“There are multiple reasons why natural styles are becoming popular,” said DeVeaux. “It’s perceived as a hairstyle. It’s not a political statement, which it was when I first began to dread. For us, it was a rejection of Western cultural aesthetics.” But no expert can count out media, celebrities and personal taste as influences on hairstyles.

When neo-soul singer Erykah Badu recently appeared on the cover of Essence with waist-length micro-braids that surrounded her narrow face, Khamit Kinks in Manhattan, one of the country’s premiere natural hair salons, was flooded with calls from women yearning for a similar style.

“We got so many calls for that hairstyle,” said Anu Prestonia, founder and owner of the shop. “Celebrities play a huge role. We are so influenced by what we see. Their influence is phenomenal. It accounts for at least 50 percent or higher.” With the Afrocentric hairdos becoming wildly popular, however, acceptance in “mainstream society” is always an issue.

“Black hair is antithetical to this society because this society is so European by its design and nature,” said DeVeaux. “The problem is we’re dealing with two different cultural realities, and the desire on the part of this society to make us believe that our culture is inferior.” And because of that, some women are often leery about sporting certain styles in the workplace.

Melonya L. Johnson, a sales manager for the Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been a longtime admirer of dreadlocks.

“I like the fact that it’s natural, and you can do so many things with it,” she said.

Over the years, she had worn a variety of hairdos — from a press- and-curl to the infamous Halle Berry cropped perm to braids. But she got cold feet when she thought about attempting dreadlocks.

“I know there are some places that may not be very happy with someone wearing dreadlocks,” she said. “I contemplated for a long time, and quite honestly, about which job would be more accepting of the hairstyle.” Johnson, 39, was worried about possible intolerance and insensitivity in corporate America to Afrocentric hairstyles.

“It was a very big decision,” she said. “It took me a long time to do it because in the corporate climate it’s an unspoken understanding that you need to fit in and look like everybody else. It’s expected for you to have straight hair, and to wear it in a European kind of style.” But after more than a year of hesitating, she made the move to start locking her hair.

Carlene Walker, a 45-year-old computer network specialist who has been braiding her hair for 10 years, said her employer and co- workers at a previous job in a bank were taken aback by her braided styles.

“You can be professional in braids, just like you can be in a European hairstyle,” said Walker, while undergoing the six-hour braiding process at Hair To Go … Natural.

Johnson has had locks for about two years, and she wears it in a variety of ways, from curled to pinned up.

“Natural styles allow you much more freedom, and you’re not fighting nature,” she said. “I think this is it for me. I can’t imagine not having them.” At work Johnson receives positive remarks, and she said many are fascinated by the style.

“Folks are fascinated about African-American women and their hair because they don’t understand the versatility and how certain hairstyles are achieved,” she said. “But the fascination can be uncomfortable when you have three people during the day asking you, ‘How did you do that?’ Sometimes it can be a little annoying.” With more and more professional women embracing Afrocentric hairdos, corporate America will become less intimidated and grow accustomed to the styles, she said.

“Because of us who wear these hairstyles and are in a corporate setting, people won’t be scared, so to speak,” she said. “There’s a fear of what’s different.” Social pressure Many believe that generations of black women have — oftentimes unconsciously — rejected their hair because of society, which has touted European standards of beauty — to the point that it’s second- nature for African-American women to straighten out the kinks in their hair.

“At this point, we have bought into it so much in terms of our hair that I don’t think it’s a conscious move,” said Arizona State’s Anokye. “I don’t think women are saying, ‘I want my hair straight like that white woman’s.’ There’s nothing wrong with straight hair, but I think sometimes it’s representative of shame — shame of our hair. And that’s problematic to me.” Prestonia said the society’s message of superior white beauty has been so ingrained that “so many women have no idea what their natural texture even looks like.” She believes that hair-straightening is hatred of black features – – comparable to skin bleaching and a vestige from slavery. in our site natural hair blogs

“When we did get our emancipation, we needed to emulate by straightening our hair to have a more European appearance to be accepted in society,” she said. “The more white you looked, the more you were accepted.” And that demand created a centuries-old culture of hot combs and perms.

“When I grew up in the mid-1950s, I have all those memories of the hot comb burning my neck,” DeVeaux said.

Peoples, too, has vivid childhood recollections of her grandmother straightening her hair on Saturday evenings in preparation for church the next morning.

She remembers sitting in a chair, elevated by pillows to the height of the kitchen stove, holding her ear so that she wouldn’t be burned by the iron comb.

Peoples and most women later graduated to perms, which at times have damaging effects, such as hair loss and scalp irritations.

“I killed my hair trying to press and perm it,” said Walker. “It was dead.” ‘A way of life’ Prestonia said Afrocentric styles won’t be a short-lived trend.

“Natural hair has become a way of life,” she said. “It’s a change in direction and consciousness — a way of thinking. There’s has been a whole shifting in the universe toward things that are true and natural. Your hair reflects your way of thinking and the way you see yourself.” Like most little girls who want to mimic their mothers, Peoples’ 8-year-old daughter Aqmeraamkhett requested that her hair be dreadlocked.

“But every once in a while she would come home from school crying,” Peoples said. “She goes to a predominantly white school, and they would tease her about her hair.” Aqmeraamkhett said a classmate threatened to stop being her friend because of her dreadlocks. But she’s grown to really love her hair and is no longer fazed by what her classmates think.

“She’s still my friend now, and she’s thinking about locking her hair now, too,” she said.

Peoples said she’s trying to give her daughter something she didn’t have growing up — a love of her natural beauty.

“I want her to realize the full potential and beauty of her hair,” she said. “I don’t think I ever had that chance. My mother started straightening my hair at a very young age.” EMMA D. SAPONG and JAZMYN BURTON

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