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.

A Proper Response

June 15, 2010

Pres. Obama addressed the nation tonight regarding the oil spill in the Gulf.  He laid out some plans about repaying legitimate claims of monetary loss from the spill.  I agree.  BP screwed up and should pay.  He probably should have included that anyone who puts in a blatantly false claim will go to jail, or pay for the salary or 3 claims workers for one day.  Look at me, compassion.  This is similar to the fees that balloon boy’s dad had to pay, or McDonald’s had to pay for keeping their coffee too hot.  Not similar in amount but there is a precedent.

BP will ultimately pay a huge price for the spill.  Cost of clean up, loss of oil, opportunity costs of their employees and resources during this time.  This is a huge disaster, so it fits.  What about Lindsey Lohan?  She is a huge disaster.  Shouldn’t she have to pay?  Why not stop covering her every move in the press?  More than 3 years ago the AP did something similar with Paris Hilton.  It was great.  I didn’t have to sift through crap to get actual news.  It still was not enough.  Her celebrity was still significant enough for her to get out of jail due to stress or unhappiness.  Everyone is unhappy when they go to jail.  She should not get special treatment.  So I think Lindsay should be stricken from news coverage forever.  At least until she does something news worthy like star in a feature film, or help someone other than herself.

Not meaning to beat a dead horse, but I’ll rant a bit more about Lohan.  Her lawyer has attempted to move the hearing somewhere else because the jury pool is tainted.  Too many potential candidates would have read bad press about his client.  I have issues with this as well.  If she didn’t break laws by the minute, she wouldn’t have as much bad press.  And if we were to try to find a jury pool that hadn’t heard news about her, what kind of jury would that be?  Juries already consist of people who have not tried to get out of the duty, which creates a skewed representation.  What sort of social outliers would have no idea who Lindsey is or what she has done?

Why stop with Lohan?  Let’s extend this to a referendum on Kanye‘s music,  ban Artest from the NBA, Haynesworth and Vick (for Paul) from the NFL.  If people are going to be cruel, sadistic and attack innocent people/animals then they have no place in the public favor.  This should be extended even beyond citizens.  Countries who fail to evolve should also receive equal treatment.

North Korea played in the World Cup today for the first time in 44 years.  It was a proud moment for the citizens and leaders.  South Korea historically has broadcast international competitions to North Korea.  Given the current situation, they opted not to.  Well done.  They turned their back on the revenue in order to punish North Korea.  So here comes China to the rescue demonstrating their disdain for civil rights and freedom.  The soccer team also received a sponsorship for the World Cup.  A company called Legea has partnered with the PRK to provide uniforms.  When asked about the negative press the company’s president replied “I disagree, there is no such thing as bad press.”  He could have easily tried “North Korea has shown great strides to improve their freedoms, and we want to bring hope to that nation by sponsoring their representatives to the World Cup.”  If the president of a company can’t muster that much of a response, you know it’s bad.

So, North Korea gets uniforms, Kanye’s music gets played, Artest may win a ring (I hope not), Haynesworth got a record breaking contract, and Michael Vick gets a shot at starting quarterback.  If President Obama has the spine of the NFL, NBA, any rap station, or Legea we can all expect that BP will soon have a billboard on the Whitehouse lawn.