Brother, can you spare a dime? 3rd in a series highlighting numismatics and diversity.

The beautiful Mercury Dime was in circulation during he 1930’s Great Depression

An Op Ed – Republicans are still up to those same tricks they pulled during the Great Depression.

As a diversity consultant and numismatist (a collector of money,) I am now finding some interesting connections between our nation’s money and our diversity as a nation. This past summer I wrote my first two parts of his series:

“Black Lives Matter and the $20 Bill – an Awful American Travesty,” (do use the link and read it), I recounted the very sad story of how the approved plans to place African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill got derailed.

• In “A Black Lives Matter and an American Coinage Travesty – blog 2,” I recount the sad story of a Ku Klux Klan-inspired coin.

In this blog, I am going to share an interesting sub-plot that was shared in the Numismatist Magazine story “Collecting Great Depression Coinage.” Our American coinage during the late 1920s and early 1930s included some beautiful and historic specimens such as the Buffalo Nickel, Mercury Dime and the Standing Liberty Quarter.

Typical scene from the 1930s Great Depression (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

In 1930, the song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” was written by lyricist Edgar Yipsel Harburg and composer Jay Gorney. Shockingly, its release and exposure on the radio was limited due to the censorship of the Republican Party who considered the song to be the project of “anti-capitalist propaganda.” Clearly, they wanted to deny the existence of the millions of hard-working loyal Americans hurting, homeless and hungry from the Great Depression, just like the Republican Party of today is trying to deny that COVID-19 is ravaging our nation, that systemic racism exists and that Joe Biden actually won the 2020 presidential election!

Great economic disparity continues to be a major issue in our country that still needs to be addressed. (See my 2014 blog “The Growing Culture of Poverty in the USA.”) And now we are seeing the highest rate of unemployment in our country since the Great Depression, and it is disproportionately impacting those on the lower ends of the economic scale.

Ultimately, the song “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” could not be repressed indefinitely due to recordings by well-known popular artists such as Bing Crosby (watch and listen here to Bing’s recording with a poignant photo essay), Lennie Hayton, Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee. The general public needed to become aware of the sad plight of their fellow Americans through this song.

Now, current day Americans should accept the reality that we are again in horrific times, and the truth should not and cannot be repressed. Hopefully we can rise up as a nation, face the truth, do the right thing, and give our brothers and sisters who need assistance several thousand dimes.

Addressing Poverty – Corporately, Personally, Politically

Many politicians refuse to admit that mass poverty exists in their own prosperous nation. Photo from

One of the major diversity issues within the United States is the continual increase of people living in poverty, and this is an issue that truly is critical to me as a diversity consultant. Part of including all people in the fabric of society means addressing systemic issues that hold people back from reaching their maximum capabilities.

In October 2014, I wrote about the culture of poverty within the United States (link) where I share some sobering statistics about the demographics of people living in poverty. These stats show that the number of people officially living in poverty in the US continues to grow, even as we tout ourselves as “the land of plenty.” In that blog, I also share three ways that corporate America can address this issue.

But in addition to corporate America, we can each personally strive to do our part, including at the ballot box when we vote each November, to address the growing poverty in our communities, states and country. Here are 10 questions that you can ask politicians running for office, and that you can use to evaluate what candidates are committed to bettering the economic plight of all Americans. These questions were developed by the NC Justice Center for North Carolina, and I edited them to be applicable for our entire nation:

The poverty rate among Black Americans is nearly double the general population, and particularly impacts women and children.

1. In almost all states, it takes at least $16 an hour for a family to afford the basics. Will you support raising your state’s or the nation’s minimum wage?

2. What will you do to ensure that all at-risk children can participate in quality early childhood programs?

3. Will you work to ensure that our public schools, where over 80 percent of our children are enrolled, are fully funded?

4. Will you stop tax-cutting initiatives that most often strip vital services from those that need them most?

5. In many places, middle and low-income citizens pay a greater share of their incomes than the wealthy. What will you do to fix the tax code to ensure that everyone pays their fair share and those struggling don’t carry a heavier tax load than millionaires?

6. How would you improve connections for jobless workers to secure good jobs?

7. Do you think it is acceptable to have a sub-standard unemployment insurance system that reduces benefits to those who have lost their job through no fault of their own?

8. Will you work toward ensuring that your locale, state or the nation pursues full employment for all of its citizens? What are the tools that you would use?

9. How will you ensure that businesses that have been historically excluded from opportunity are able to access public contracts and grow?

10. What does a thriving community look like to you? How will you pursue public policies that realize that vision?

When our citizens, elected public leaders, non-profits and corporate leaders truly work together to provide opportunities for the economically disadvantaged among us, it does indeed help all of us!