SIGNS OF HOPE PART II
February 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
To all those who missed the first installment of this article, feel free to refer back to yesterday’s post.
I’ve linked to articles about the transformative nature of microfinancing before; this type of anti-poverty initiative is occurring all over the world, conducted by public and private sectors alike. The Grameen Bank is Bangladesh has provided microfinance in its many aspects (credit, insurance, financial management to name three) to around 7 million Bangladeshi women, helping them to begin to emerge from deep poverty. The Brazilian and Mexican governments have instituted public investment systems for their poor to encourage them to undergo job training and to keep their kids in school. While the majority of the world’s poor do not yet have access to microfinance (let alone the resources and/or knowhow to make good use of it), the fact that this kind of education and support for the poorest among us is beginning to be created and offered is a promising sign of a growing awareness of the responsibility on the part of the wealthy to be creatively engaged in providing opportunities for every person on the planet who wasn’t lucky enough to be born in a rich country.
7. THE RISE OF A REAL ‘LEFT-WING’ MEDIA
As much as one hears the Great Lie, the genesis of which began in the Reagan years (also known as the Era Of American Catastrophe- okay, I just made that up), that the media is ‘liberal’, anyone who calls themselves a Progressive will probably tell you the same thing: the mainstream media isn’t even close to being progressive. It is entirely corporate in nature and, if anything, leans to the right: one only has to go back and look at the “leftist” New York Times’ coverage in the leadup to the Iraq war, or turn on Meet The Press on Sunday morning. That show has tilted alarmingly to the right- I almost spat out my tea a few weeks back when David Gregory asked Vice President Biden, with a straight face, if Julian Assange was a “terrorist”. Biden dutifully answered toward the affirmative, of course. No discussion on the possible positive merits of Assange’s actions, of why many of the leaked documents should never have been secret in the first place. None of that. These are only two examples among many others. So it has been with great pleasure that I have witnessed the emergence, thanks in large part to Keith Olbermann, who took aggressively progressive postures and turned them mainstream, of a genuine progressive presence in the media, from the aforementioned Olbermann through to his former MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow on television; people like the brilliant Thom Hartmann (his book Unequal Protection is a must read) on AM 1150 here in Los Angeles from 9 to 12 weekdays; as well as websites like The Huffington Post, with its many excellent progressive columnists. It’s heartening to remember one salient fact: ten years ago, most of these kinds of programs/websites didn’t exist. A very encouraging development.
8. WIND FARMS IN FRANCE
It’s time to get going. Although France generates the majority of its electricity from nuclear power plants, a choice that I am not in agreement with, President Sarkozy is also aggressively pursuing the construction of a large number of wind farms across France, seeking a massive expansion in wind-supplied generation of electricity. Although some of the plans are currently in hot dispute, such as one that proposes to build a huge farm off the coast of the beautiful Mont St-Michel, a Unesco world heritage site on the Normandy coast, it’s good to see that even corporate-friendly (by European standards, at least) politicians like Sarkozy are seeing the potential of renewable energy.
9. THE GREAT DEPRESSION GOES MAINSTREAM
Yes, Depression. Ask any of the 45 million in the US living at or below the poverty line whether or not this is a Depression, and I’m pretty sure of the answer you’ll get. Or maybe you’d like to have a chat with the millions of people who’ve stopped looking for work, thereby keeping the official unemployment rate below 10 percent, when it should be closer to 20. There’s a reason why President Obama, along with the entire “liberal” media, almost never speaks of the poor, drawing his line at the “middle class”: if he did, he’d have to then at least verbally address correlative issues that both parties long ago decided were too tough or simply unattractive, such as how to create a society with a reasonable spread of wealth and opportunity, for everyone.
Having said that, I’m noticing a greater awareness and acceptance of the reality of the entity that is the United States: large pockets of wealth and prosperity, surrounded by vast wastelands of squalor and decay. Arianna Huffington’s focus on the crumbling, formerly grand American cities which have turned to rubble in The Huffington Post and in her book Third World America shone a much-needed light on the issue. I was simultaneously captivated and saddened by the images of towns like Flint, Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland with their broken neighbourhoods and steel, industrial deserts. No longer is it possible for our collective consciousness to ignore the fact that idyllic America, as it was known in the 50s and 60s and whose image is still revered and held onto by backward-looking politicians in the “Tea Party” and the GOP, is gone. The American people, as a whole, have for decades been drunk on the false notion that their country is “the greatest” and “the richest”. The cold, sober light of morning is finally beginning to penetrate through the blinders, which makes me optimistic. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging its existence.
10. RICKY GERVAIS MIGHT BE COMING BACK FOR A THIRD GOLDEN GLOBES.
It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Things can’t be all bad.
Picture: Mont St Michel, Normandy. Wind turbines may soon be seen 10 miles off the coast.