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After spending like Congressman, Duane & Tisha Martin file for bankruptcy.

Christopher Harris

This past weekend, news broke of actress Tisha Campbell-Martin and her husband actor, Duane Martin, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January of this year. Tisha is know for her five seasons as “Janet ‘Jay’ Kyle” on the ABC tv series, “My Wife and Kids”, with Damon Wayans. She is most famous for her co-starring role as “Gina Waters-Payne” on the hit 90’s sitcom, “Martin”, with Martin Lawrence.

Tisha Campbell & Duane Martin - Bankrupt

I’ve never filed for bankruptcy but I can imagine it must not be an easy thing to do, especially as a celebrity. Not only is it humiliating, but as a celebrity, those court documents easily go viral. So all of the details surrounding your bankruptcy can, and more than likely will, be scrutinized by the general public and other celebrities. According to court documents, the Martin’s debts exceeded $14 million, while they had less than $19,000 in cash and other assets.

 

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What often isn’t scrutinized are the cultural ideologies that promote this lifestyle of excessive materialism. I grew up embracing Black Hip-Hop culture. The music, the slang, style of dress, and mannerisms, represented a way of life. With that lifestyle comes this idea that success is determined by the amount of stuff you accumulate. Rarely emphasized is the concept of building long-term wealth.

There is a significant difference between being rich, and being wealthy. The perfect example is professional athletes. When you look at the young men who get drafted into professional athletics, they instantly become “rich”. But the person who is able to write the check to those athletes is “wealthy”. Educator, Booker T. Washington once said, “At the bottom of education, at the bottom of politics, even at the bottom of religion, there must be for our race economic independence.”

Despite there being celebrities within Hip-hop culture who invest, that isn’t the prevailing message communicated in Hip-hop culture. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is the mantra. Perceived wealth is the image projected while actual wealth is often missing.

What I’m saying is this, culture matters. The ideals and ideologies we embrace affect our personal lives. So why should we care about someone’s personal beliefs? We should care because those ideals and ideologies are reflected in the way we vote. We elect the type of leaders that reflect our values. As is true with most Unhyphenated Americans, I too believe, that American was founded on fiscally conservative principles. We believe that America must return to these principles of low public spending, low taxes, and low government debts. History has proven time and time again that these principles work. They work on a national level as well as a on a personal level. The micro, and the macro.

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson warned Americans of the dangers that excessive debt posed to our freedoms, he said, “to preserve their [Americans’] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.”

 

Congress - No More Spending

 

The man who earned the title, “America’s Mayor”, former Mayor of New York City, Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani (who was the first and only real Republican to run NYC since Fiorello H. La Guardia lead the city from 1934-1945) had this to say about fiscal conservatism:

“Returning to principles of fiscal conservatism is not an end to itself. We believe these ideas ultimately help government work better for all Americans. Cutting taxes and controlling spending creates a government that is smaller and smarter, more efficient and more effective. It can help balance the budget and reduce the deficit. Most of all, a healthy combination of pro-growth policies and fiscal discipline unleashes the genius of America’s free-market economy — empowering not government, but the citizens it exists to serve”.

What happened to the Martin’s didn’t happen over night. It was a gradual process. The same process that we see taking place on a nation level. Unhyphenated Americans want to see America return to the fiscally conservative principles that have helped shape our great nation. But, as the great 20th century humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator, Will Rogers, famously said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  Americans in general, and our government in particular, needs to hear that advice. Someone certainly should have told Duane & Tisha Martin to put down the shovel a long time ago.

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