Connect with us

Op-Ed

Is Democracy Overrated?

Published

on

Lekan Oguntoyinbo

By Lekan Oguntoyinbo
NNPA Columnist

 

Long before China and India became the economic wonders of Asia, there was Singapore, a small, diverse country with no natural resources that took the audacious step of breaking away from the Malaysian federation in 1965 to become an independent nation.

Lee Kuan Yew, the new country’s founding father, knew that the odds of survival were clearly against them when they decided to go it alone 50 years ago.

“To understand Singapore and why it is what it is, you’ve got to start off with the fact that it’s not supposed to exist and cannot exist,” Lee said in a 2007 interview with the New York Times. “To begin with, we don’t have the ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors: a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and common destiny.”

Still, Lee played the odds. By the time he stepped down as prime minister in 2000, he had transformed Singapore into an economic powerhouse, one of the world’s most efficient countries and, arguably, the least corrupt.

Due largely to Lee’s efforts, the World Bank now lists Singapore as the world’s fourth wealthiest country based on per capita income – ahead of other powerhouses such as Brunei, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Singapore is the cultural and recreational hub of Asia. It is a major destination for shoppers and affluent medical tourists from nearby countries like Vietnam and Malaysia.

But in propelling Singapore into the club of the world’s wealthiest nations, Lee took some steps that made leaders of many traditional western democracies uncomfortable. He practiced a form of authoritarianism that included jailing some opposition politicians, intimidating the press, and suppressing dissent and some forms of free speech. Singapore is largely a one-party state.

Lee died last week at age 91, spawning many western news outlets – including the New York Times – to comment on Lee’s “mixed legacy.”

“As Singapore reflects on Mr. Lee’s legacy, in seven days of national mourning, many people will focus on the country’s economic growth under his rule,” theTimes opined in an editorial. “But a leader’s accomplishments should not be measured by material achievements alone. The next generation of leaders should make Singapore a political model, not just an economic one.”

Says who? Singapore’s political model has been studied by many Asian countries, including China.

The Times’ editors added that now is a good time to rethink the order of things in Singapore, particularly given rising economic inequality there. Hmmm! I wonder if that same lesson of reflection could apply to some other country like, say, the United States.

Singapore’s story of prosperity also has some observers pondering another crucial question: Is democracy overrated?

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, we’ve seen a staggering rise in the number of democratic countries around, especially in third world regions, particularly in Africa and the Americas.

Some countries have remained unmoved by this trend. For example:

  • China, which has the world’s largest economy and has shifted more than 300 million people into the middle class in the last 20 years, remains stubbornly authoritarian.
  • Vietnam remains a communist country, but its people are enjoying a degree of affluence and economic prosperity unknown since independence from France more than 60 years ago.
  • Although Cuba has loosened some economic and political restrictions in recent years, it is still an authoritarian country. Yet, the island nation’s literacy rate is one of the world’s highest, its doctors are among the best on the planet and it’s first-rate health system is accessible to all Cubans.

In contrast, Nigeria, which had elections this weekend, returned to democratic rule in 1999. But it is rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Moreover, its public education system is in the toilet, more than half of its young people are unemployed, and nearly three of every four of its people live in poverty. Nigeria’s story is, in some respects, that of many African countries experimenting with democracy.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke about an America in which Blacks in the south don’t have the vote and Blacks in the north have no reason to vote.

Given a choice, then, would you rather live in a safe, clean and mildly authoritarian society that is economically prosperous and ensures that all citizens benefit from the wealth or in a democratic society where most people are mired in economic struggle and the government has no concrete plans to lift them out of it?

Talk about a no-brainer.

 

Lekan Oguntoyinbo is an independent journalist. Contact him at oguntoyinbo@gmail.com

 

Op-Ed

Opinion: Governor Newsom Has More Than Proven He’s Worthy of Office

When Newsom became lieutenant governor (2011-2019), that tenure allowed him to acquire on-the-job-training, which, in today’s electoral climate seems to be a forgotten asset. 

Published

on

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo by Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Daily Breeze via Getty Images.

It seems more than 1 million Californians are upset.  They are mad at Gov. Gavin Newsom, and – in their minds- that is justification for this very expensive recall election.

I, too, was upset with Newsom long before he became the Golden State’s top leader.  It was circa 2010, the period when Newsom initially sought the gubernatorial post.  I so wanted to participate in that campaign, but my excitement was short-lived.  In deference to Jerry Brown’s candidacy Newsom withdrew, and his decision upset me.  Why, you ask? I had longed to support a gubernatorial candidate that displayed capacity, commitment, compassion, competence and, might as well say it, a degree of coolness.

When Newsom became lieutenant governor (2011-2019), that tenure allowed him to acquire on-the-job-training, which, in today’s electoral climate seems to be a forgotten asset.

The lessons I gleaned from observing the lieutenant governor would alleviate any ire.  Even prior to holding that position, as mayor of San Francisco from 2004-2011, Newsom weathered controversies, again on-the-job-training. However, all told, nothing like the ones contrived by today’s dissenting voices that have amassed this recall election with some 40-plus contenders.  I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it; I just voted my reconstituted anger, “NO” on the recall.

My mind won’t let go of questions I would love to get answers on from the contenders:

  • Describe your experience balancing budgets of, let’s say, more than $200 billion?
  • What accomplishments did you achieve while serving in elected office?
  • Where were you and how did you show up during the raging firestorms of the past and present?
  • What are your commitments and plans to mitigate homelessness in California?
  • What allocations did you facilitate for small businesses to help them during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Are you vaccinated against COVID-19? Have you encouraged others to get vaccinated?

Of course, there are many more questions I’d love to get answers to but, I am busy organizing and planning because, when the smoke clears and the drought ends, I want a clear conscious and an experienced leader.

Continue Reading

Barbara Lee

OPINION: Rep. Barbara Lee Urges Constituents to Take Advantage of Opportunities to Get Health Insurance

Special enrollment is underway and lasts through December 31. Any eligible Californian can sign up without needing to have a qualifying life event – for example, losing your job, recently getting married, or having a new child.

Published

on

Stethoscope on Bed; Photo courtesy of Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

The past 18 months have shown, more than ever before, the fragile, precious, and priceless nature of our health.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our economy, our ability to educate our children and our general wellbeing.

There is an important  tool to help us stay safe and vibrant. That’s health insurance. With the pandemic far from over, having affordable, high-quality health coverage is more important than ever.

The economic stimulus package known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), signed into law in March, is helping to lower health insurance premiums to levels never seen before.

Covered California, the agency that administers the Affordable Care Act in this state, has been working hard to get out the word about the new increase in the financial help available to ensure millions of Californians can get quality health insurance coverage.

Covered California estimates the new financial assistance available through the ARP can directly help more than 450,000 people in the Bay Area by significantly lowering their monthly premiums.

New data shows that an estimated 103,000 people in the Bay Area are uninsured and eligible for health insurance coverage through Covered California, with an additional 89,000 eligible for no-cost Medi-Cal. Under the ARP, most of those eligible for Covered California would be able to get a high-quality plan for as little as $1 per month, or a plan that offers additional benefits for less than $100 per month.

The new law is already helping about 280,000 people in the Bay Area currently enrolled through Covered California by lowering their premiums and making coverage more affordable than ever before. Covered California consumers statewide have already seen their net premiums decrease by an average of $190 per household per month.

Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Affordable, accessible, high-quality healthcare is a fundamental human right. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, I worked to ensure strong provisions that expand health care access, address health disparities and create incentives for people to live healthy lives.

While citizens and leaders in the greater Bay Area, including the 13th Congressional district which I represent, reacted quickly to slow the spread of the virus, our communities have still been hit hard, especially communities of color.

With the help of vaccines and ARP, we are making positive steps forward. We can hug our grandchildren again. We can go to restaurants again. We are returning to school and to work.

But the pandemic is not over. As the Delta variant continues to spread, it is now just as important as ever that we continue to get vaccinated.

Last November, I spoke on the House floor emphasizing the need for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic was having on Black, Brown, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people – communities that historically have been left behind in times of crisis.

We can’t allow that to happen again this time.

Vaccines are readily available, and they are proven safe and effective. Please don’t hesitate. Let’s not lose the ground we have worked so hard to gain.

Vaccinations and affordable health insurance are invaluable tools that can help us get back to normal. We must use them.

To find out how much financial assistance you can get and enroll for coverage, go to: https://www.coveredca.com/.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents the 13th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

The Tragic Sports Abuse of Oakland

All 3 teams leaving?

Published

on

Spalding Basketball on a court; Photo courtesy of Sabri Tuzcu via Unsplash

Oakland is the most victimized sports city on the planet, and there is no close second.

And it’s not Oakland’s fault. Pirates, highwaymen and carpetbaggers have unified their heartless souls to rob Oakland of its championship, and fan-supported, sports existence. Under high crimes and misdemeanors, this is the highest crime in sports pilfering.

The Raiders are the only sports franchise to leave the same American city twice, despite sellout crowds before skipping off to Los Angeles, and sellout crowds again after their inglorious failure in Tinseltown. And now they’re off to Las Vegas, which, in time, might prove a worse investment than playing craps.

But, at least, the Raiders were homegrown, Oakland’s own. The Warriors came to Oakland from San Francisco, where the franchise was going broke, and built themselves up financially, with capacity attendance, as by winning three NBA championships in the short space of five years. After that, it was back across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, where this one-time dynastic bunch has found itself in serious slippage.

And, lastly, Oakland is one fleeing franchise short of a hat trick — all three of its teams taking flight. The last team still with an Oakland zip code, the Athletics, are looking at Las Vegas or — who knows? — the moon for a new home. This is the same franchise that bottomed out in Kansas City, after burning out in Philadelphia, and now is seeking to bury Oakland among its dearly departed.

It isn’t failure on the field of play that’s driving these teams elsewhere. Despite becoming a major-league sports town in 1960, a late start in sports economics, Oakland has produced 10 national championships. The A’s and Warriors have four titles apiece, and the Raiders have won two Super Bowls.

And it isn’t disappointment at the box office that these teams can use as an alibi. The Raiders and Warriors filled their facilities despite having long stretches of losing seasons, built on horrific draft picks. Jamarcus Russell, anyone? Joe Smith? The A’s haven’t drawn nearly as well as the other two tenants at the Oakland Coliseum Complex, but when you’re constantly trying to move to Fremont, Santa Clara, and now Las Vegas, why should local fans display loyalty?

I’ve been observing the Oakland sports scene closely since 1964 after gaining employment at the Oakland Tribune, which has left Oakland, too, with no relocation, no nothing. My arrival coincided with the building of the Coliseum and adjacent Arena in 1966, which was large-scale planning since the Raiders were the only team in town back then. The A’s moved here in 1968, and the Warriors in 1974. The Coliseum and Arena, over time, would be the last of the dual sports complexes in the country, but let it be known that it was the absolute best of its kind.

First, it was built in the middle of six Bay Area counties, with Contra Costa to the North, Santa Clara to the East, San Mateo to the South, San Francisco and Marin to the West, and Alameda County where the first shovel of dirt was dug for the complex itself.

Fortuitous still, the complex would be abutted in time by rapid transit (BART), a freeway, and railroad tracks, with an airport five minutes away. The Father of the Coliseum, the late Robert Nahas, was Einstein-like in his blueprints for the complex, and for Oakland’s future as a big-league, big-time sports town.

Adding to that image were the most loyal, passionate and, well, loony crazy fans. Oakland has the most abused fans in the universe in spite of fanaticism that couldn’t be rivaled anywhere. Who gets stepped on not once, but twice, by the black-attired, blackhearted Raiders and still professes loyalty. If the Raiders fail in Las Vegas, and they might eventually, the Coliseum in Oakland would fill up again. Nobody loves a team like Raider fans, bless their ravaged souls.

You mean the Raiders could come back to Oakland for a third go-around? If the Davis family is in charge, of course. Al, the father, was a user, and Mark, the son, a loser. Neither one of them, in all this time, has stuck their nose out for Oakland. They advertised little if all, they gave to charities nil, and they expected deference regardless throughout their penuriousness. There have been traitors replete throughout the history of organized sports, but nothing like the Davises, father and son: Benedict Arnold and Benedict Arnold Junior.

But as bad as they were, Oakland’s biggest problem, sadly, is Oakland itself. Oakland’s sports owners look at Oakland as a place to run from, rather than to grow with. Being situated across the Bay from San Francisco always has been Oakland’s detriment, dating back to early last century when Oakland native Gertrude Stein said of Oakland: “There’s no there there.” She said that after returning home from Paris and finding her old neighborhood changed, but historians took it as a slight on Oakland.

So the Warriors’ new ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber began packing up right away for San Francisco, but like other sports ownerships, myopically. Because, at that same juncture, Oakland suddenly came alive as a city commercially, more so than at any other time in history. New businesses, new buildings, new daytime choices, and new nighttime adventures suddenly spurted. Oakland had become, of all things, a boomtown.

Imagine that, while the thinking of the Raiders and Warriors ownerships could go “boom” in their faces. There is no rapid transit or railroad tracks abutting the stadium in Las Vegas, and there is limited parking next to the stadium, which means most fans will tailgate a mile away and take transit to the stadium. The Warriors have no rapid transit close by, no parking to speak of, and game tickets cost high-roller prices.

What was there in Oakland has been lost in franchise-and-fan togetherness in Las Vegas and San Francisco. And if the Raiders and Warriors start losing, which is immediately possible, who will want to mortgage homes and businesses to pay those exorbitant ticket prices? And if the A’s follow the Raiders to Las Vegas, it gets costlier because the A’s will need a domed stadium. You see, you can’t play baseball in 115-degree heat, for there’s nothing cool about that.

It just might turn out, for all three Oakland teams, that “there’s no there there” in their new digs.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending