Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: Silver Lining in Downsizing Cloud

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: Silver Lining in Downsizing Cloud

Article excerpt

SPEAKING OF EDUCATION: Silver Lining In Downsizing Cloud.

Thanks to Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, people are talking about the economic insecurity that so many Americans are experiencing. To be sure, Buchanan is not the first to discuss the plight of the people Labor Secretary Robert Reich calls "anxious Americans," but his hard-hitting attack on corporations that have downsized millions of workers out of jobs is hardly what one expects from a Republican candidate -- even a seemingly populist one.

Buchanan may have the right message, but he is the wrong messenger. While he describes the problem well, he offers few solutions. Instead, his shortsighted scapegoating pits "us" against "them," and his tailoring of his message to the white middle class ignores the fact that the poor have also been affected by downsizing.

There are two approaches that can be implemented to make sure that workers survive the current climate. Responsible companies that maintain sizable payrolls and hire more full-time than part-time workers should be rewarded through the tax system. And, secondly, if large companies are laying people off, government should do what it can to assist small and medium-sized businesses in their growth and development.

For many, especially women and people of color, business ownership provides an alternative to climbing the corporate ladder. The number of businesses owned by African Americans grew by more than 60 percent between 1987 and 1992. The number of women-owned businesses almost doubled in the same five-year period, while the receipts from these businesses more than doubled. Indeed, the 6.4 million women-owned businesses in the United States employed more than 13 million people and generated $1.6 trillion in revenues. These businesses employed more people than did the "Fortune 500" companies!

While recently released data do not track the number of businesses owned by African-American women, our history shows that many excelled as entrepreneurs. The story of the beauty empire that Madam C.J. Walker built is a tribute to the ingenuity, tenacity and acumen that is typical of most African-American women business owners. The entrepreneurial descendants of Madam Walker now own businesses in construction, broadcasting, wholesale and retail sales -- and virtually every other category of enterprise.

Today's entrepreneurs, armed with undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration, are better educated than their foremothers. …

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