The Good Faith Illusion: Searching for Economic Justice

by April 21, 2016

The more I investigate the status of economic justice in public spending the clearer the horror of economic exclusion becomes.  Once I was reminded that the objective of equity in public spending had been addressed in NCGS § 143-128.2, Minority Business Participation (See link No. 1 below), I began study gathering information to aid in assessing the success or failure of the program.

Sadly, I’ve found very little success and a lot of failure.  “Good Faith” is supposedly the teeth of statute.  As I’ve written before, public spending is the province of voters and elected officials.  So at the end of the day, if we as people of color don’t feel we’re receiving our fair share of benefits that come from public spending, we must hold ourselves and the officials that we vote for accountable.

During the past few months I’ve been gathering data on minority business participation in public spending awards.  The revelations have been very disappointing as a whole.  There are isolated situations that show minority businesses receiving a fair share of contracts for construction and for goods and services.  I’ve talked with numerous Minority and Women Business Enterprise Coordinators (M/WBEs), and received numerous reports outlining minority business participation.  These reports are required by NCGS § 143-128.2.   There is unanimity in the belief that “Good Faith” is an illusion for businesses of color.

My preliminary findings revealed that many public bodies don’t have formal programs to support minority businesses and many that do have them are failing to meet minimal expectation of minority participation.  Women owned businesses are considered minority businesses and there is a widespread practice of using white owned women businesses to meet goals established by NCGS § 143-128.2.

Although my investigation is ongoing, I’ve identified a few M/WBE programs that have established relatively good records of finding and using minority vendors.  I continue to reflect on my findings and continue to search for remedies to our failed status quo.  All of my conclusions require cooperation between voters of color and the elected officials that they vote for.  While we address economic inequality it is important that we remember that it is a 400-year problem for people of color and is not going to be resolved with a quick fix.

As I’ve suggested before, as a community, we have to create a broad-based strategy to respond to the historical economic despair that is endemic of too many communities of color.  In spite of all of my doom and gloom, I see no reason that we can’t effectively address economic equity in public spending as well as in private enterprise.

One of my recommendations is that voters and elected officials make concerted efforts to get as many public bodies as possible to adopt formal M/WBE programs and file annual reports with the North Carolina Department of Administration as envisioned by NCGS § 143-128.2.   I’ve reported in the past that the Pitt County Board of Education is engaged in the process of establishing such a program and can serve as a good “case study” on how to get it done.  As their board meetings are recorded and posted on YouTube, we’re providing a link to their meetings by clipping and consolidating their sessions.  (See link No. 2 below).

Although planning is in an early stage, the Eastern North Carolina Civic Group (ENCCG) has expressed a willingness to host a July public forum to address the issue of economic equality in public spending where we can screen the video and do questions and answers.  The forum will be open to the public with special invitations to voters and elected officials.  Hopefully, we be able to get a M/WBE Coordinator to serve as a technical presenter.

Last week we carried an article written by Rev. Jesse Jackson.  His article was entitled:  Make the Election About Economic Justice. As noted last week, we would do well to follow his  advice.  (See link No. 3 below).

So that we’re not guilty of ignoring politics in our quest for economic justice, it is important that political activist and their candidates attend our July forum for input into a process that can only help encourage voter participation going in to November.  We always encourage people of color to vote their economic interest.

I believe that candidates advocating for equality in public spending as provided in NCGS § 143-128.2 and advocating for a substantial increase in the minimum wage, represent clear proof that economic justice is on the ballot.

Again, I reiterate the need for our Black Elected officials, Legislative Black Caucus members and local elected officials to help turn NCGS § 143-128.2 into an economic success.  The Pitt County School Board efforts represent an excellent starting point, but unless others step up to the plate with other public bodies, we’re wasting 40 years of political pursuit of economic equity and we’re failing to “vote our economics.”

Voters must insist that public officials address the failures of “Good Faith.”

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Peter Grear, Esq. writes for Greater Diversity News with a primary focus on political, social and economic justice.  To support our efforts, to unite our politics and economics, please “Like” and follow us at www.facebook.com/greaterdiversitynews, “Share” our articles and post your ideas and comments on Facebook or at our websites www.GreaterDiversity.com. He is available for radio commentaries upon request. Follow Peter on twitter.com/yourrighttovote. Finally, please ask all of your Facebook “Friends” to like and follow our page. 

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