Monday, March 10, 2014

Ghetto's and Prime Minister's

When you're living a life filled with juxtaposition - consider yourself lucky.

I do.

This weekend I had the pleasure of a meeting with the Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, M.P., Former Prime Minister of Barbados. We had an informal discussion about economics that was both challenging and fun. It is refreshing to meet someone (anyone really) that understands the difference between growth for growth's sake, versus growth that is inclusive of the poor. I was encouraged to see that I had a lot in common with someone who is noted for bringing the unemployment rate of Barbados from 20% to 9% under his leadership. Great minds think alike? ;o)

This is the fourth country leader I have had the opportunity to engage in with some depth and I feel so honoured to be living a life that doesn't just offer me these great personal experiences but is also solely focused on doing good for the world.

An even bigger give-back from the Universe came less than 48 hours later, when a young man who knows of my work asked me to come and speak to a youth group he's forming with some young men from his neighbourhood. He said he and the 'boys' want to meet with me so I can help them learn how to start up an organization, and keep financial records and do things right so they can last as a group and not fight. I asked him if these young men were Ghetto boys (The young man who was requesting my help lives in a ghetto). He said "yeah" with a bit of shame - to which I replied - "All the better! If these young men want to 'big-up themselves' count me in".

In Grenada, 37.7% of the population are absolutely poor (cannot meet food and non-food needs)and 61.5% of them have jobs.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: The Ultimate Challenge for Neoliberal Economics

In the early 1990's when Glasnost led to the liberalization of Russia's borders, politics and markets; the dominant neoliberal economic paradigm basked in the glory of virtually undisputed domination around the world. The basic premise of neoliberalism was that opening markets to trade and globalized production would generate a new form of global security because the cold war style of aiming bombs at the enemy would be very complicated if your enemy was a trade partner.

This basic premise is now being challenged in the Ukraine, where Eastern and Western allied troops are going head to head over a dispute about geopolitical alliances with Russia and Europe. They are trade partners, and economically dependent on each other - so it this crisis is a test of the geopolitical commitments both sides have and whether those commitments trump the hardships that will result from a stand-off or worse yet an armed conflict.

This east/west dynamic makes this crisis dangerous for the international governance system because the movements of the eastern and western allied troops in the Ukraine are challenging the fundamental credibility of the UN Security System and our global commitment to international treaties.

It is a dispute that is not just about the Ukraine or Crimea - it is about our commitment to the international judicial, state and security system. I honestly think it's a fools game for any of us to profess to have a magic ball to foretell the future - but I do think it is reasonable for all of us who can see the extended ramifications of this crisis to talk about it, encourage peace and restraint and respect for all human life regardless of religious or political affiliation.

In humanity I trust.