August 31, 2006– Vol. 42, No. 3
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Melvin B. Miller
Editor & Publisher

It’s Deval Time

The next governor of Massachusetts must have special qualities. It is not enough to simply be honest, intelligent, imaginative and hardworking — that is expected of any elected public official. Now, because of the trauma this nation has suffered in recent years, the next governor must also possess special qualities of leadership.

The World Trade Center tragedy of September 11, 2001 robbed Americans of their innocence. The events of that day shattered our public confidence in the impregnability of Fortress America. Then, a year ago, Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the American government was not capable of coming promptly and efficiently to the aid of citizens trapped in a natural disaster.

Constant setbacks in the war in Iraq have raised serious doubts about the might of the vaunted U.S. Armed Forces. Spiraling increases in the cost of gas have caused citizens to question the nation’s control of essential resources. In addition to those national problems are local issues, not the least of which is the embarrassment caused by the flaws in the “Big Dig” project.

Troubles with that public works project have brought to mind difficulties in the private sector. Sizeable Massachusetts corporations — Polaroid, Wang and Digital — have suffered financial collapse. The First National Bank of Boston, New England Life, Gillette, John Hancock and Putnam Investments have all been acquired by companies with headquarters outside of Massachusetts. They have been either completely absorbed by their parent company or they operate as a subsidiary. And the halcyon days of the Route 128 Miracle are long gone.

Massachusetts has been left with a myriad of problems in housing, health care, education and business development. The high cost of living and diminished employment opportunities have induced the children of long time residents to seek opportunities elsewhere. The state is losing population, and without the inflow of immigrants, the loss would be much greater.

Is it any wonder, then, that the spirit of optimism among Massachusetts residents has deteriorated? There are many proposals for change on the drawing boards, but they are all still just that — proposals. None have as yet been tested in the fires of the legislative approval process. Few proposals could succeed without a governor with the leadership qualities to motivate and inspire the people to mobilize behind the changes necessary for a Massachusetts renaissance.

Deval Patrick is the only candidate for governor with the leadership qualities needed to transcend the public’s psychic malaise. With Patrick in the corner office, Massachusetts can once again gain the national stature it first enjoyed in colonial times. A vote for Deval Patrick is a vote for Massachusetts’ future

Much ado about nothing

Andrew Young created quite a furor when he accused Jewish, Korean and Arab-owned “mom and pop” stores of selling rotten meat to low-income blacks in Los Angeles. He was speaking on behalf of Wal-Mart, which wants to locate stores in urban areas. Attention focused immediately on the ethnic slur implied in his remarks.

Ambassador Young’s sin was in limiting the ethnic description of small shop owners. If he had added Latino, black and Chinese to the list, that would have expanded the group realistically.

It is a common process for immigrant and low-income groups to make the first step up the economic ladder by starting small businesses. And it is also a common practice for small shop owners to sell inferior goods when they can, rather than suffer the loss. In fact, chain stores have also been known to sell goods beyond their expiration date.

The more important question is why blacks allow themselves to be victimized by unethical shopkeepers of any ethnicity. And an even more interesting question is why Andrew Young, an icon of the civil rights era, would use his good name to help Wal-Mart implement business strategies of questionable merit.

America has many racial and ethnic issues to worry about. This is not one of them.


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