All Articles Tagged "wealth"
Sweeping statements about morality and religion populate the debate over same-sex marriage, while the financial consequences often go unaddressed. The financial impact on the Black community isn’t even an afterthought. But for some African-Americans, love is one of the biggest barriers to achieving wealth.
Marriage As A Contract
Many forget the financial safety net legal marriage provides. “There are roughly 1,100 benefits, rights, and protections conferred on married couples on the federal level. And hundreds more benefits, rights, and protections that married couples receive under state law,” attorney Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project director at Lambda Legal, a national organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people with HIV, tells Black Enterprise.
Eight states currently allow civil unions or domestic partnerships. Another nine and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage. Twenty-nine states ban same-sex unions.
The government has never viewed marriage or divorce as the jurisdiction of religion, but as the forming and breaking of a legal contract. Under the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government does not recognize any state-issued marital contracts. Until DOMA is struck down, the progress made for gay couples at the state level has limited benefits. And the financial consequences trickle down to the simplest life decisions.
Want a buy a home for your family? Unlike heterosexual couples where a home is automatically passed on to the surviving spouse in the event of their partner’s demise, your partner will have to pay a gift tax if they were added on to your deed.
Want to start a family? Some health insurance policies don’t cover maternal care costs; even more don’t offer domestic partner benefits. States that don’t support same-sex unions won’t allow you to be put on the birth certificate of non-biological children born during your partnership. This will affect your ability to list the child as a dependent on your health insurance, make medical decisions for the child, or even enroll them in school.
Want to care for your sick partner? If you live in a state that doesn’t recognize your marriage, getting health insurance will be an obstacle. Some employers have special programs that offer health insurance to domestic partners, but those benefits are federally taxed as additional income.
Want to take advantage of your federal benefits? You will receive fewer social security benefits than partners in a heterosexual marriage. The federal government will not recognize your same-sex spouse or non-biological children. And your partner will not qualify to receive your social security benefits.
Want to take care of a loved one after your death? While traditional husbands and wives have unlimited transfer of assets, you and your partner must piece together financial and legal protections for your assets after your death.
Want to start a new career? State marriage laws will limit what job offers you can take. If an attractive job offer is located in a state with discriminatory legislation you could lose more than you would gain from the opportunity.
Same-sex partnerships are so financially cumbersome that firms are creating divisions that cater to the LGBT community. Wells Fargo even developed an Accredited Domestic Partner Advisor certification in 2010 that specializes in the unique challenges same-sex couples face in estate and financial planning.
Dollars and Sense
According to a Gallup special report on the LGBT population in the United States, 4.6% of African Americans publicly identify as LGBT. That means currently at least 1.9 million Blacks will never be able to reach their full financial potential.
If the obstacles posed to millions of individuals’ financial dreams doesn’t mean anything, consider that a 2004 report by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that federally recognized gay marriage would reduce the budget deficit by about $450 million a year.
Maybe it’s time to stop viewing this issue in sweeping indictments. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of our government as the purveyor of morality. Didn’t that ship sail a long time ago? Let’s look at this issue through a lens our government understands: the good old-fashioned American way of cash money.
Marriage is a legal structure that allows people to depend on each other, so they don’t have to depend on the government. And it doesn’t make much sense, or cents, to block the prosperity of a growing population of our country.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveOutLoud) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
America’s favorite case study of familial fame and dysfunction made its way back to the headlines last weekend. Fresh off driveway disputes over the late King of Pop’s estate this summer, the latest Jackson family gossip has LaToya Jackson stepping up to take the heirs of the family fortune under her wing. According to reports, LaToya signed all three of her brother’s children to her Ja-Tail enterprises talent agency. Her nieces and nephews would be the agency’s only clients. LaToya later denied the claims.
It’s tempting to judge the Jacksons. But we have to remember, when money’s involved it’s always about more than money. Money triggers emotions. Add in family drama and income equality and it’s easy to understand how things repeatedly get out of hand.
The breadwinner of the family seems like the best role to be in in all this mess, but the position comes with responsibility and stress. Just ask Michael and Janet. Money gives you more power in business and family. An imbalance of power means one thing – drama.
Even if you haven’t eclipsed your family’s earnings yet, it’s probably something you should start preparing for if it’s in your future. Women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners of their households. And the income gap between rich and poor continues to grow.
We’ve combed the web for advice from financial and relationship experts to help you navigate the rocky terrain where family and funds overlap. Paris Jackson, this one’s for you.
Understand That Money Makes People Crazy
Don’t take it personally when your sister feels you owe it to her to pay her credit card bill, or your cousin tells your aunty you’ve changed. Psychiatrists have proven that people generally feel worse about themselves the more they feel they earn less and have lower social rank than those around them. Try and be empathetic to the emotional impact your difference in wealth has on your family.
Have A Plan For Your Money, Honey
When you experience an increase in wealth, the first step is one of adjustment and planning. Decide what type of life you want to live and the personal financial goals you want to set for yourself. Don’t think about your family during this stage. This is your money, so take care of you first. You can’t help anybody if you’re broke too.
Empower, Don’t Enable
Money doesn’t fix everything. If a family member comes to you with a need, discuss other options that could remedy their problem. Asking for money is a simple solution, but it might not be the best. Use your wealth to empower your family to be self-sufficient rather than taking care of them. That goes for friends, too. Learn from MC Hammer and his 40-member entourage.
Give What You Can & Don’t Keep Score
Only lend money you can afford to lose. If you won’t miss the money, just give it as gift. Money is a notorious relationship destroyer. Avoid feeling bitter about a transaction later by being upfront about your ability to part with the money, and the other person’s ability to pay it back. Furthermore, communicate! Address problems when they arise. If you plan on leaving your money to your kids and giving your siblings the cold shoulder, say that while you’re alive. A lot of money problems are made worse because people are so uncomfortable talking about them.
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
Move over Oprah. There may be a new financial queen of the hill.
According to Ventures Africa, a news and business publication on the continent, a Nigerian fashion designer and oil tycoon (what a combination!) named Folorunsho Alakija may well be the world’s richest black woman, a title Winfrey has held for years.
A press release on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website outlining the story puts Alakija’s worth at an estimated $3.3 billion. At last count by Forbes magazine, Winfrey’s worth is estimated at $2.7 billion. That would make 61-year-old Alakija $500 million richer than the American media mogul. Alakija is the founder and owner of Famfa Oil. Famfa, reports Ventures, owns a 60 percent working interest in OML 127, an offshore oil field that pumps out 200,000 barrels of oil per day.
Douglas Imaralu, online editor of Ventures Africa, explained, “When we did the math… we came to the realization that Alakija’s stake is easily worth billions of dollars. At this point, we have no doubt that she is indeed, richer than Oprah.”
Forbes still lists Alakija as the richest women in Nigeria. “[Alakija's] biggest break came in oil,” the magazine says.
“In 1993 Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida awarded her company, Famfa Oil, an oil prospecting license which went on to become OML 127, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks. Famfa Oil owned a 60% stake in the block until 2000 when the Nigerian government, led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, unconstitutionally acquired a 50% interest in the block without duly compensating Alakija or her company.”
She fought the stake acquisition in court and won in May 2012 when the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated the 50 percent stake to Famfa Oil. Her fashion company, reports Forbes, is Supreme Stitches, which she founded in the 1980s to cater to upscale clientele.
Let’s face it, marriage isn’t for everyone. As a matter of fact, Nia Long made headlines recently for declaring that marriage wasn’t a “priority” for her, despite having a baby with her long time boyfriend – her second child out-of-wedlock. While we know that you can be in a loving relationship without having a piece of paper to legitimize your commitment, that piece of paper can reap greater benefits to couples who make it “official” as opposed to those who are simply shacking up. Society, communities, congregations and even the IRS tend to make things a little easier for those who decide to say “I do” – so while marriage may not be YOUR cup of tea, for those who ARE considering it, here are a few reasons why uttering a few vows in front of friends, family or the courthouse officer may be worth your while.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I am infatuated by race and identity in this country, particularly how we as black folks relate to both race and identity.
My general belief is that our inability to reconcile with or even denounce one or the other is the main causation for why our community struggles to progress in this country. In short, we are serving two masters: We are trying to buy/work our way into the American dream while also trying to fix and build the community. I have found that those two concepts are often in opposition to each other, which is often demonstrated by our reluctance at times to unify and work together. And sometimes I wonder if Abraham Lincoln had followed through on his plans to resettle recently freed blacks back in Africa, where would be now? However, the way in which some of us refuse to act in our own self-interest, especially politically, I wonder if emancipation and self-determination is what we really want?
Those questions are very important to answer if we are ever going to properly educate children, build economic infrastructures and generally move the community ahead. However, those questions are as old as our history in this country itself. And many great leaders, from the likes of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and both Malcolm and Martin, have all been debating for hundreds of years and yet have failed to reach a consensus. So in an effort to once and for all settle this debate, let’s put our thinking caps on and consider this hypothetical situation. Keyword: hypothetical.
Before I get to the actual theoretical situation, let me tell you first about the inspiration. Last week, I was re-watching “Cosmic Slop,” an early 90s television special, which originally aired on HBO. The series is like Twilight Zone but with an anthology of stories about race relations. One such story is called Space Traders, a 30-minute short about a U.S. President faced with the dilemma of having a clean environment, and living in world peace and prosperity in exchange for giving all the black people on the planet away to bartering aliens, who offer no assurance of their intention with them. The story first appeared in Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism, a book written by scholar and Critical Race Theorist Professor Derrick Bell. And while I won’t give away the story, I’ll just say that people shouldn’t be surprised how that story ended.
But in that situation, the black community didn’t have a choice. SO in the spirit of the late great scholar Professor Derrick Bell, mixed with a little John Quinones of the “20/20″’ show “What Would You Do?” fame, I’ll give us one.
Let’s pretend that it is the year 2013. President Obama has won his second term as President of the United States. He is standing at the podium, in front of a live audience, giving the first State of the Union Address of his second term. He spells out his goal for fixing the economy, he talks about immigration, he gives his plan for gay, lesbian and transgendered equality and now, for the first time in his presidency, he speaks about a black agenda.
Tags:affirmative action, Africa, america, Booker T Washington, charing ball, Choice, Cosmic Slop, debt, derrick bell, emigrate, fairness programs, Frederick Douglass, hypothetical situation, incentive, leave, Madame Noire, options, politics, President of the United States, state of the union, stay, W.E.B. Du Bois, wealth
Every week, there’s a new report on an instance of black people being excluded, overlooked, or discriminated in some shape or form. This week it was Acura and “The Bachelor,” a few weeks ago it was Vanity Fair and Kerry Washington, always its fashion magazines and runways and beauty campaigns. The thought that comes up most consistently after the outrage is why are we looking for white people’s approval, why are we seeking their validation, why don’t we spend time nurturing our own? And while I don’t agree that by pointing out these instances of discrimination we are seeking white people’s approval (I think it’s holding them accountable and demonstrating evidence to the contrary of their melting pot, post-racial society, we love diversity claims), I do think that more time would be better spent not seeking or needing to be a part of what white people have going on—and have obviously shown through their actions they want to keep to themselves. But I’m curious if we really know what that would mean or how to even achieve it.
When I think of a time when black people had their “own” on a large scale in entertainment, I think of the Robert Johnson 1980 BET days, even Don Cornelius’ Soul Train days come to mind. These men had a vision to give black people something they could be proud of on TV and they made it happen. But the reality is Bob Johnson had to get John C. Malone to invest $500,000 in the project to get it off the ground, and once the network became a raving success, it no longer remained a black-owned network because he sold it to Viacom for $3 billion in 2003, and ever since we’ve been left with the version of “black entertainment” we see now. When I thought about the wealthy rappers that were acknowledged by Forbes yesterday, I noticed a common thread. A lot of the men’s wealth came from selling companies and brands they’d built. Jay-Z sold Rocawear, 50 Cent sold his stake in Vitamin Water, and Dr. Dre gave up his majority ownership in Beats Electronics for a hefty price. It’s a common—and smart—business practice, but not one that allows us to have the ultimate say in the decisions that upset us, like who appears in which advertisements and how we’re portrayed on TV. That wealth also doesn’t trickle down into the community because we’re not selling these businesses off to other African Americans, they’re going to large corporations headed by white men mostly who could care less about our representation, and the money remains in the hands of the black 1%.
I even think about Oprah and the enormous opportunity to change the face of black programming if she would even just back a venture financially, aside from putting it on her network, but from what we’ve observed of her career that’s just not her thing. If we look at where the wealth is distributed in black America and the individuals who have the dollars to invest in independent black films or black clothing designers, the interest just isn’t there. That doesn’t make these figures bad people. They’re businessmen. White people aren’t thinking about sharing the wealth when they embark on a new venture, they’re building their individual pockets. It’s just that there’s so many more of them and so few of us, and so when we run out of the few select black people who could open doors to come through, we’re left with relying on white people to at least acknowledge we exist in some way and to represent us fairly in the media. That’s why we get so upset when they fail—often times on purpose—it really is our last resort in a lot of ways.
The idea of not having to look at programs and networks that weren’t created for us to begin with as the only source of quality programming is like the black community’s Nirvana but we don’t own much and when something isn’t yours, you don’t get much say in how it operates. There’s hope on the horizon with Diddy and Magic Johnson’s new cable channels that are in the works, but even those networks will be owned by Comcast. A few years ago, Quincy Jones announced plans to buy back Vibe, the magazine he started, I’m not sure if the web presence of the publication is evidence he kept his word or not. I hope that there are other black business minds out there with altruistic goals of putting black people on the map, and not just self, but I’m not too optimistic. I am completely behind the idea that we need to create our own and nurture it, my question is, how will we ever be able to do that without needing white people’s approval, at least from a financial backing standpoint, if we’re not even holding on to the things we’ve built or paving the way for others?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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If there was ever a reason to start taking lottery pools at your job more seriously, the winning pool of two Baltimore teachers and an administrator should be proof that you can’t miss out next time.
The three educators stepped forward on Monday to collect their winnings, but did so anonymously: they wore sweatshirts, gloves and hid behind one of their checks. I guess they were smart enough to realize that the minute they let the world know who they were, the sooner the “world” (and all of its many cousins) would want to get broke off too.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the individuals aren’t planning to spend their new millions on extravagant and wasteful things. After taxes, all three winners will attain $35 million in the next few days, which they plan to use on sensible things like new homes, investments (BORING! I’m kidding…), a European vacation, and probably the best idea: a college fund for one of the winner’s children.
After the big lottery on March 30, a woman by the name of Mirlande Wilson, a single mother of seven kids who played the lottery in a pool with her McDonald’s co-workers (but bought extra tickets for herself, alone), tried to claim that she was a winner. Then she wasn’t so sure if she was, causing a great deal of stress for her co-workers and lottery officials. In the end, she wasn’t the winner, we all learned the importance of making photocopies of the tickets we buy in pools, and these three winners shared a good laugh: “They were humored by it,” says Maryland Lottery Director Stephen Martino. Now that the three winners from Maryland stepped forward yesterday, and the winner from Kansas stepped up last week, the last
baller winner from Illinois is the only person left to come forward.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Maryland winners are two women (one in her 20s, the other in her 50s), and a man (in his 40s), and before winning the lottery, each were said to have been working second jobs to pay the bills. Now that they don’t need a second or primary job, I’m wondering if they will chuck the deuces to their education positions? I love the kids just as much as the next person, but with $35 million??? Geez…I think I’d already be on my way to backpack through Europe. Congratulations!
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I am totally in need of a mental break from discussions about this Trayvon Martin murder. Everyday I wake up to more news of the absurdity and pointless debates with stupid people via Facebook, who insist on engaging in a smear campaign to passively defend their racism.
So to help us keep off the meds, here is a little mental respite by way of this question: If money was no object, what would you do with your life? Last night, I watched an episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” in which Kandi Buruss premiered her first co-written country song about money growing on trees. I think the question gets asked a lot in different ways, but no one really puts thought into what this really could mean…I think we all have our beauty pageant answers to this question, and they sound like a dope follow-up to the Nas/Lauryn Hill collaboration of If I Ruled the World. But how many of us would readily admit that the plans for our newfound financial whirlwind would be much closer to Mase’s 24 hours to Live than anything else?
So let’s say that due to some sort of strange twist of good fate, I won the lottery or inherited an infinite amount of money from a dead long lost relative (fingers crossed) and had more money than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and all the world’s top one percent combined–how would I go about living my life?
One thing I know for sure is that I would instantly quit my job and pledge to never work again – ever. Seriously, I never understood why those folks who win those multimillion dollar lotteries always say that they will continue to work. I mean, I like the work that I do, but I would be lying my A$$ off if I didn’t say that I like the days I don’t have to work, much, much more.
Of course I would pay off all my bills and loans, as well as the debt of my brothers, my parents, my Uncle Keith and my grandmother. Additionally, I would give them each a million dollars and set up a trust fund for my nieces and nephews to be retrieved when they turn 30 years old. But that’s it as far as family is concerned. The way I see it, the less the extended family knows about my new financial status the more chances I have to avoid going back to being broke.
If money were not an object, traveling the world would definitely be second on the list. There would not be a country, island or U.N. unrecognized territory on this planet that I wouldn’t touch ground in. I would collect art, spices and textiles from these places. I would also collect phone books, census counts and registries…
Trust me, it will make sense later.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has swept the nation, with new factions popping up in new cities as we speak. Though specific agendas vary, there is one very clear purpose behind this leaderless coalition: spread the wealth. And, while some have found refuge in the movement, others have been inspired by their exclusion from the one-percent club. However, it is not the sort of inspiration that marches through the streets or chants in the cold rain. It is the reality-check that comes with self-made economic success stories, such as GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain, telling them, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, it’s your fault;” it is the inspiration that cultivates ideas, creates and innovates.
Rich is a subjective term, but perhaps, there is some truth to the aforementioned. Economic success rarely comes to the faint of heart and those resistant to sacrifice. Although many of us would like to be wealthy, few are willing to do what it takes to get there; and, for reasons such as those listed below, we are not part of the $350,000 (roughly the amount of income it takes to be among the nation’s wealthiest) and up crowd:
The Daily Finance’s article titled, “How Rich is Rich? Where America Draws the Wealth Line,” reveals one thing: everyone, including the wealthy, is insecure about their financial status. But the title question – how much money actually makes you rich – remains murky.
Earlier in the nation’s history, $1 million was the deciding factor, but today, being a millionaire is not so special (to some folks, anyway). There are 8.4 millionaires in America. Having a billion would make you one of 400. So in a not-so-far-fetched version of America’s future, being a millionaire will make you middle class. But the main indication of someone’s financial fortitude is not surprising for those who follow politics: taxes – the trigger that will spring America’s upper-class to action.
“One way of dividing the rich from the middle class is through the top tax rate,” the Daily Finance reports. “There are a few problems with the highest tax bracket as a wealth line, the biggest of which is that the top rate often has more to do with political maneuvering than any measure of wealth.” When President Obama tried to lower the qualifications of the top tax bracket from $373,651 to $250,000, the trigger was again pulled.
“Some of the loudest complaints about Obama’s attempt to set the rich line at $250,000 have come from Northeastern cities,” Daily Finance reports. “According to these critics, the high cost of living in urban centers means that a quarter of a million dollars barely buys a middle-class existence.” So, $250,000 annually is apparently still not rich enough. According to a study of America’s wealthiest 1%, there will never be such a thing as rich enough. “Even the country’s richest people are worried about their finances. When a survey by PNC Advisors asked how much money it would take to make them feel secure, most answered that they would need around twice as much money as they currently had,” Finance Reports.
So in the end, wealth is relative, and the country’s non-millionaires are screwed.