Editorial: Press Release: African Criminology and Justice Association Policy Proposal on Black Unemployment

By Agozino, Biko | African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Editorial: Press Release: African Criminology and Justice Association Policy Proposal on Black Unemployment


Agozino, Biko, African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS


This resolution was tabled at the annual meeting of the African Criminology and Justice Association in November, 2011, Washington D.C. Following a debate, the meeting voted to approve the resolution. A text of the resolution was later circulated by email for approval by the members and following approval, it was released to the press. A similar resolution was earlier drafted for an association of black social scientists but they are yet to approve it for release. I commend the members of the African Criminology and Justice Association for approving this resolution the way they approved the earlier resolution against the war on African Americans.

The unemployment rate for African Americans (16.7%) has been reported to be at its highest level since 1984.i At nearly double the national average (9.1%) or over double the rate for white Americans (8%), the members of the African Criminology and Justice Association, meeting in Washington DC, November 2011, hereby vote to propose feasible policies for the elimination of such a scandalous level of unemployment among African Americans in particular and Africans in general who were always at the receiving end of hardship even in 1984 when unemployment was lower than it is today. We disagree with the rightwing proposal of Mr. Arthur Laffer, chairman of Laffer Associates, the architect of Reaganomics who is co-author, with Stephen Moore, of "Return to Prosperity: How America Can Regain Its Economic Superpower Status" (Threshold, 2010).ii In an opinion editorial article published in The Wall Street Journal of September 12, 2011, Mr. Laffer called for the creation of 'Enterprise Zones' in the inner cities where a) There should be zero payroll tax on employers employing people who live in the inner city zone; b) The minimum wage legislation would be suspended; c) Building codes in the zone should be audited quickly with the view not to constrain entrepreneurs and union membership requirements should be suspended; and d) Profits from the zone should be taxed at one-third the normal tax rate.

Such a policy of sweat-shop zones in American inner cities would make matters worse by turning our fellow citizens into working poor who would be trapped in unsafe working conditions with less than minimum wages while corporate fat cats would enjoy tax holidays. Mr. Laffer's ludicrous suggestions would only take African Americans back to the years of share-cropping with all the attendant oppression, exploitation and impunity. There must be a better way for African Americans and indeed for all people of African descent.

First of all, we call on President Obama and all the presidents of African countries to look beyond the Jobs Bill and consider an entrepreneurship bill for African Americans and all Africans. Obama needs to set aside at least $50 billion from the proposed Jobs Bill (estimated at $470b) to be disbursed to unemployed Americans to enable them to set up their own small and medium businesses. The same way that the government gives out huge grants as agricultural subsidies and business start-ups for the richest one per cent, we call on the government to initiate enterprise subsidies for the urban poor.

We commend the governor of Anambra State in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Obi, for disbursing one hundred million naira to a thousand unemployed youth after their training to help them to be self-employed. We urge him to make this an annual part of the budget and not a one off and to increase the size of the checks given to some to enable them to become medium to large-scale entrepreneurs. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State in Nigeria has also implemented a similar grants program worth about fifty million naira while the federal government announced that it has fifty billion naira set aside for similar purposes.

We condemn the plan of Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich to turn poor inner city school children into janitors and toilet cleaners for their schools in the guise of training them as apprentices on the assumption that poor children have no work ethics even though poor people are the hardest working people. …

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