We, as americans, have long been characterized as people who have pulled ourselves up by our boot straps.  We boomed in the industrial revolution and create an economy that has been the largest in the world for decades.  We worked hard, fought for our share, and built the american dream.  We were able to benefit by being on the forefront of production and technology.  Other countries were not so lucky. Many of these countries are on the African continent.  Let’s look at some of their struggles, and let’s see how we have evolved.

Africa has some issues with being short-sighted, most recently an example in agriculture.  Uganda has a booming tobacco industry.  Last years alone they exported 32,000 tons of tobacco leaves.  That fetched $52,000,000 in revenue, and let’s be honest, that’s major cash flow in Uganda.  In order to cure the leaves of the tobacco they need wood to burn.  Well, as an agricultural nation they have some trees to burn.  Fruit trees.  They are simply taking water from the left side of the bucket to put on the right(this is a simple illustration as a bucket does not have sides).  This has driven up the cost of wood in Uganda, wood that is needed for the emerging furniture industry, construction and wood is still widely used to heat homes.

This is a difficult cycle to get out of, where problems are cyclical and one leads to another to another.  Fortunately, for us, we had to opportunity to develop and work through these problems, right?!

The oil spill has been horrific.  Finally it is closed and BP can start to take credit for that.  BP has put away a huge amount of money to pay pack individuals and businesses who have lost money as a result of the spill.  They will pay anyone who can provide them with a tax form showing how much they earned last year.  Well this presents a problem for some of the fishermen who work as a cash only business and didn’t pay taxes last year.  Uh oh.  So they didn’t pay taxes, but now are complaining to the government that they didn’t pay for.  Call it karma, call it whatever you want, seems like if you didn’t pay taxes, you didn’t earn anything or it is tax evasion. Easy decision for the person handing out thecash.

Maybe this wasn’t a good example of how we have developed and advanced as a nation.

Let’s look at another major problem in our country.  The housing crisis.  This is multi-layered issue but let’s simplify it dramatically.  People are buying homes that they cannot afford.  They are then foreclosing, declaring bankruptcy, something to get out of the loan.  The government has come to their aid demanding that the banks help them out.  So the financially irresponsible are getting bailed out and are staying in homes that they cannot afford, while citizens who live within their means are forced to pay for it. 

Maybe we haven’t come that far after all.

The Global South part 2

April 18, 2010

The World Cup is coming.  Not to the US, at least not for a few more quadrennial games.  It’s coming to South Africa.  The world is watching, and not just soccer fans.  I obviously don’t know, but I would be willing to wager that the IOC is keeping a close eye on this one.  This will be the first major worldwide games in the modern global south.  Alright, time to defend that.  Austrailia doesn’t count as global south, I will explain shortly.  Argentina, Uraguay, and Brazil have all hosted the World Cup before but they don’t count either.  Mainly because they are soccer crazy, but also because it was many years ago back when your globe’s eastern Europe was covered by for letters.  U.S.S.R. not ….stan. So after World War 2 the world had changed.  Lessons were learned and two super powers emerged.  The USA and Russia.  This could have been considered a bipolar system, two world superpowers.  This ultimately created the Cold War conflict.  As the U.S.S.R. failed at everything the idea of national communism was exposed.  This is why people refer to poor countries as 3rd world countries. The US and other industrial democracies were considered first world.  Communist countries, mainly those in Asia and Eurasia, were considered second world.  Everyone else was third world, it’s just that no one ever said first world and second world.  With the fall of communist Russia, conceptually, first and second world no longer needed extinction.  There was American hegemony, everyone else, and then below that was the global south.  Let me explain that I don’t really agree with this term, Brazil, Austrailia (an argument can be made for a few other countries as well) don’t really fit the description as they are well developed.  But since it is more accurate than third world, I’ll go with it.

So as South Africa opens it’s doors to the world the IOC is watching.  You may not have noticed with the failure of the Obama brigade, but instead of Chicago, Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 summer games.  So for this is almost a case study for the IOC.  I earlier mentioned that Brazil wasn’t quite the global south.  It isn’t, but it’s also not England, the US, China or  Spain.  Really South Africa and Brazil have quite a bit in common.  They are both leaders in their respective regions, economically, politically… basically they are more advanced than their neighbors.  South Africa is not quite up to speed with Brazil, but the World Cup isn’t the Olympics. FIFA does the same thing.  South Africa has hosted international games before.  I haven’t seen “Invictus” but I would guess that centered around the 1995 Rugby World Cup.  And is 2003 they hosted the Cricket World Cup.  You could have caught that on “the Ocho“.  South Africa learned from those games but you can’t prepare for everything.  Already some people were trampled when tickets went on sale.  Last minute updates to rail and road are going to come down to the wire.  Other issues will come up I’m sure.  Crime may be an issue at the games. Same with lodging.  And sense the games are being played at the three capitals of South Africa, I would looking for travel issues as well.

Invite some friends over, find at least one who knows alot about soccer so they can fill you in.  Enjoy the games, there should be some good ones.  Enjoy the ad’s and promotions of South Africa. Sitit back, buy a jersey, and cheer for someone.  But while you are kicked back on the couch somewhere in the world the IOC is taking copious notes, and leaders of nations across Africa are keeping their fingers crossed that all goes smoothly.  The games may be in South Africa but they represent alot more.  Go look at the logo.  The success of these games will ultimately reflect on Africa as a whole, and the rest of the global south.