Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Freedom Tax

Many in the African American community feel that one main reason that we cannot set up and successfully operate neighborhood business establishments is that we have to pay more for everything. In the hood, it is widely believed that Black businesses don’t receive the same low wholesale prices as non-Black businesses. This is thought to account for Black business establishments having to charge customers higher prices than non-Black competitors do. We have no personal knowledge that any of this is true but we intend to test the theory. We must investigate and document whether or not this is real or whether higher prices result from poor business and management practices. If it turns out that unfair or biased pricing practices are routinely levied against Black business establishments, everyone involved should face legal sanctions and the community should consider boycotts as a response. Where, on the other hand, we discover pricing practices to be fair and poor management is the problem, help and training can be provided.

If, after careful review, we uncover an unfair system that forces Black business establishments to pay more and therefore charge more, we must develop more effective strategies for creating and growing our merchant class. In any event, we must be aggressively absolute about their success and patronize them as exclusively as possible. We also have to encourage everyone we know to do the same. What about the higher prices? We say pay them. Consider it a cultural tax or a freedom tax. The few pennies difference should be viewed as the cost of independence and self-sufficiency. We should pay it gladly—but not without demanding quality service. We can never accept less than prompt, polite, quality service. We must never tolerate any degree of rudeness or abuse, especially if we are agreeing to pay more. Establishing and promoting a climate that supports paying the freedom tax begins to redefine and solidify our commitment to “Us For Once.” If we adopt this approach, we will ensure the success of our merchant class by establishing a loyal consumer base and acceptable customer service standards. Those who mistreat and take customers for granted will wind up where they belong…out of business.

We do know that many businesses don’t have sufficient capital to place orders large enough to deal directly with manufacturers or producers. They have to go through brokers, jobbers and middlemen to buy the supplies and products they need to operate their businesses. It stands to reason that they might need to charge their customers a few cents more to make a fair profit. This is the perfect example of how and why the freedom tax might be levied. Our response should be supportive. PAY THE TAX!

What the community must understand and accept is the importance of owning and operating businesses in their own neighborhoods. The importance of being able to offer neighborhood children part-time jobs that provide them a little honest spending money and help to develop good work habits. It is in our interest to give our children a respect for work and business at an early age. Without these things they are less well equipped for the world of work that they must inevitably face. Our children must learn and believe early in their lives that they can own and control businesses and companies. If it is what they see and experience every day, they will know it’s true. EXPOSURE is half the battle. Exposure breeds awareness and belief. It is easier for any person to see himself or herself in the role of boss if they have routinely seen others like themselves in that role.

Recognizing and paying the freedom tax is essential as a support mechanism to assist the viability of Black business establishments in the short term. It is as important as a small business loan or affirmative action. Indeed, it is an affirmative action that we, as a community, can take to support our own. If we incorporate and support the freedom tax concept in our approach to Black merchant class economics, surely there will be those who exploit us. We believe such exploitation will be relatively minor and short lived. In the Black community there is a widely accepted practice of hustling and getting over on one another. This is the larceny tax that we must all work hard to repeal. As the community sees businesses that we own open and thrive, we will develop the unity to stamp out even the law-abiding criminals. It all starts with the freedom tax.

August 21, 2007

1 comment:

Uriel Burwell said...

I will not polish the unfounded ideology that neighborhood businesses can not prosper because they pay more for everything. Not true. When urbanites want something cheap, and in some cases better, they know where to go, from boilers to car tires, marijuana to french fries, dvd’s to lollipops, cigarettes to cable tv.
The world has grown closer and we now have access to anything in the WORLD at the press of a button. Black businesses must simply learn to be more savvy, yet creative with our buying power. Think. With the ever impregnating power of the internet, many black businesses are doomed to fail if they don’t know how to buy.

I support the protective direction of a Freedom Tax but the seed of laziness continues to be sown. Check this out. Visit some of our local Black owned businesses and you will see young Latino/Hispanic/Mexicans working in the kitchen, cutting flowers, and sweeping floors. Our kids can handle these jobs. Even my favorite sandwich, which happens to be owned by black muslims, has a worker who barely speaks English, flipping cheeseburgers.

Whoa, easy on the grease, poppy!!!

Perhaps the money we are saving on labor can go towards better pricing or a reduced Freedom Tax. With such an example, why should our kids want to do something or be somebody that they audaciously humorize. In an effort to “get ahead”, we now insert other economically oppressed groups into those positions because who wants to teach work ethics. Besides, the basketball game starts in five minutes.

It has always been a part of my personal constitution, to empower black business and teach black youth and always will be; however, do not place guidelines on a Freedom Tax because it may become like a church offering. You never what someone has put in and you never know what someone has been taken out.

The cost of living is going up and the chances of living are going down. Welcome to Los Estados de Unidos. Stay black.