Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “create jobs”

Roshaneh Gets What Politicians Don’t

Roshaneh Zafar is helping to fight extremism and create a sustainable model that will discourage recruitment to terrorist organizations by giving people hope that they can live a prosperous and stable way of life. Tell me this does not make political sense whether you sit on the left or the right, or balance precariously in the middle.

On Monday, I talked about micro-lending as a model to help our domestic policy, This American-educated banker is focusing her efforts on micro-financing and while she has found a way to empower some of Pakistan’s poorest women by giving them the tools and educational opportunities to create businesses and income for themselves and their families, I want to propose that this as a sustainable solution to cutting back our huge financial burden in foreign policy.

“Charity is limited, but capitalism isn’t,” Roshaneh told Nicholas D. Kristof in an interview for the New York Times. “If you want to change the world, you need market-based solutions.”

Micro-financing lends a small amount of money to impoverished people that will enable them to set up a business and have a stable income. I wrote about the mechanics in a post last year,

Ms. Zafar grew up in Lahore and took the opportunity to study business at the Wharton School and economics at Yale. She worked for a while at the World Bank before returning to Pakistan in 1996 to start the Kashf Foundation.

Below is an interview with Ms. Zafar. Make yourself a cup of coffee, then sit down and spend 7 minutes with this inspiring woman.

Despite many setbacks, Kashf can now boast 152 branches throughout Pakistan and has loaned over  $200 million to more than 300,000 families. Ever thinking ahead, Ms. Zafar is now studying how to leverage this model to encourage the poor to build up savings and accrue assets.

Ms. Zafar is not only helping people start businesses, create jobs and support education that will enable people to break out of the vicious spiral of poverty, but will offer an option to living that is neither violent, nor exploitative.

She deserves a Nobel Prize, in economics and in peace. Micro-financing is a tool to ending the very conditions that create terrorism and extremism. Every Western and stable country has an interest in incorporating her model into their foreign policy.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

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It’s OK to be Food Secure – Roger Ingalls

Have you seen or read the weather reports coming from America’s heart land? Heat and lack of rain are playing havoc with the crops. The prices for corn, soybean and wheat have jumped over the past two days (5.5%, 3.6% and 3.1% respectively). This may seem like a small increase but when you consider that 70% of everything we consume uses these three commodities in some way, it is a significant jump. Hot, dry weather is expected to stay with the nation’s breadbasket for awhile which may further impact crop yields and prices.

Picture from Standeyo.com

To those who understand our so-called modern food system, it’s obvious that we, the consuming public, have lost control of the basic necessities we need to sustain ourselves. The enticement of farm subsidies has created a corporate rush to drive out traditional local farmers. We now have consolidated and centralized mega-farms all practicing similar techniques. This lack of diversity exacerbates weather related events leaving the public at risk (food shortages and high prices). In addition, food prices are no longer solely established by supply and demand. Since deregulation under the Bush administration #2, it is now legal to speculate on food commodities in ways similar to stocks, hedge funds and oil which further drives the price of food. Yes, Wall Street is now gambling on our food. Lastly, corporatized or industrial farming is fossil fuel intensive so food prices are tied to oil and natural gas.

So how do we take back control of our food? This is really an economic and marketing question. We need to develop a substitute food system with value that will motivate consumers to switch.

It just so happens that an alternate food system does exist and has been successfully implemented in an American country very close to our border. Cuba had a farming system similar to the US, Europe and other industrialized nations but they relied on imports from the Soviet Union for oil-based pesticides, natural gas based fertilizers and diesel for transportation of goods from farm to city. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, Cuba’s supply of fuel and fossil-derived chemicals dwindled to near extinction. Fortunately for the Cuban people, their government saw what was coming and developed a smart strategy to replace industrialized chemical farming. They rolled out a farming system based on biological fertilizers, biological/cultural pest control and implemented it right in the cities. Essentially, they created organic urban farming out of necessity. Here are a few amazing statistics and other information:

1)       With a workforce of approximately 4.8 million, they’ve created 350,000 new jobs.
2)       Local production of fresh vegetables increased a thousand fold, yields per square meter increased from 1.5 kilograms to 25.8 kilograms.
3)       Food production is local so transportation is eliminated, food is fresh and harvested when ripe and not chemically gassed to ripen as with industrialized farming.
4)       Diets and health of the Cuban population improved, food is nutrient rich and free from toxic petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers.
5)       Urban farmers earn more than government workers and are as respected as doctors.

By duplicating something similar to the Cuban urban farming method we can take local ownership of our food, create jobs and enjoy healthier, tastier food. Just as important, we reduce the risk of shortages and high prices by decoupling food from the oil industry and speculative gambling by financial institutions. Urban agriculture is formed on multiple locations and managed by many small companies or sole proprietors. This creates additional diversity in produce and farming methods, thereby further improving food security.

Take a few minutes and really think about this organic local food system. It’s not a backward approach; it’s scientifically progressive with a thorough understanding of biology and how a living ecosystem really works. Imagine the positive benefits this would bring to your community: healthy food growing in every available space, people working and food secure, produce businesses or co-ops within walking distance for most everyone, a thriving self-made community.

It’s OK to say no to 1940s industrialized chemical farming practices, it’s OK to say no to market manipulation by financial institutions and IT’S OK TO BE EMPOWERED!

Roger’s Random Rants

At the beginning of the year I promised to be less negative and focus on positive developments and ideas that benefit mankind and the environment. Well, I lasted two months…it’s time for some ranting.

The big debate this week is the corporate tax rate. Like clockwork, the Republicans want to reduce the rate for the big guys from 35% to 25% which I find utterly grotesque. But wait, we have President Obama who will apply some sanity in Washington, right? Oh yes, he is fighting really hard. He’s stepping up to the plate to take a swing for the American working-class with a big fat wet noodle. The President only wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 28%. I’ve been an Obama supporter but people, we are getting screwed.

Check out these three charts. The first one shows corporate taxes as a percentage of income for companies that reported profits. As we can see, the effective rate has been cut in half starting with the Reagan years (1981). They’re only paying slightly more than five percent today.

The second chart shows the rapid increase in the national debt thanks to the change in corporate tax rates, again starting in 1981 (Reaganomics-Era).

This last chart shows the growing wealth disparity between Middle America and the wealthy. Can you guess when this disparity starts? You got it! It starts in 1981 with the lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

The Conservatives are puking the same old story, “lower taxes for the rich and corporations will create jobs”. After thirty years of failure, it’s surprising that half the population still believes this economic vomit. Big business continued job outsourcing and, adjusted for inflation, Americans make less today than they did thirty years ago.

Let’s try a novel approach; instead of giving gifts to big business before they create jobs why don’t we let them earn it. Increase the tax rate to 50% and then give tax breaks based on year-over-year analysis of job creation. If they create more jobs in the US than overseas (on a percentage basis) they get a tax break. The more they create the bigger the break.

I don’t understand why more people don’t get Mad as Hell with these crazy conservative tax breaks. History has proven that the middle class must pick up the tab for breaks given to Corporate America.

How much more of an economic whipping are you willing to take?

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Occupy Protest: The Demands – Roger Ingalls

Mainstream media is finally starting to cover the Occupy Protests but their reporting follows a common theme, “it’s a protest without a real purpose or demand”.

Well…here are the demands:

1)      Create a nationalized commercial bank to fund small businesses based on the prime lending rate plus overhead costs. Bank personnel wages and salaries must be similar to government or military pay grades. Most jobs in America are created by small business (70 to 80%). This will create jobs by providing affordable money to small business. The current Wall Street Institutions benefits from selling financial products back and forth to each other and therefore have little interest in small business lending.

2)      Reinstate the business and personal tax rates and codes (including write-offs and loopholes) used in the 1960s. This was a period of prosperity for both the general population and the business community. These tax rates will balance the budget without compromising public services and will stop the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich that has taken place since the early 1980s.

3)      Create a nationalized commercial bank for home ownership based on the prime lending rate plus overhead costs. This will revive the American dream, bring affordable money back to the housing market and separate housing finance from the risky investment banking practiced by Wall Street.

4)      Allow Medicare buy-in for all people regardless of age. This will provide affordable health care for more Americans. It will also bring needed funds to Medicare because the young and healthy will be participating along with the elderly (costs are spread).

5)      No individual person (real or artificial), company, corporation, PAC, Union or special interest group can donate more than $1000 to a political candidate. Organizations cannot be created for the purpose of funding candidates. Organization with multiple business units or multiple businesses owned by an individual or common group of individuals can only make one collective political donation of $1000 per candidate. This will remove the influence big business and special interests have on politicians.

6)      No artificial person, company or corporation can advertise in support or opposition to a candidate (directly or indirectly). This will remove the influence big business and special interests have on politicians.

7)      Political advertisements, candidates, PACs, special interest groups, supporters and opposition groups of ballot issues must maintain an easy-access website that clearly identifies financial contributors. This will remove the influence big business and special interests have on politicians.

8)      No lobbyist can aid a member of congress unless they have not lobbied in the preceding six years. This will remove the influence big business and special interests have on politicians.

Keep the faith, spread the word and keep fighting…it’s a good fight!

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well-traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

 

The Great Deception

Who benefits from the childish playground feuds between the Republicans and the Democrats? While the two major political parties are busily spitting on each other and promoting their agenda like a Kardashian C-List entertainer, Big Business is quietly getting away with murder. Have our political leaders become so blind, they can’t see what Big Business is doing?

No, they know exactly what’s going on, it’s by design. It’s a deceptive puppet show. Our elected officials are willing marionettes controlled by corporate puppeteers, just like a junky is a willing slave to their dealer.

But why would Big Business produce such a show and finance politicians? One word – deception.

“All warfare is based on deception”, Sun Tzu, The Art of War.  Just like a magician uses a distracting hand motion to set up a trick, corporations steer their funded politicians into polarizing issues to create a media frenzy. While we’re all watching the show, the real action is taking place behind Washington’s closed doors. And don’t forget, your favorite media network or newspaper is probably a subsidiary of some big multinational corporation.

Let’s take a closer look at this deception by focusing on America’s largest company, General Electric. The top corporate tax rate is 35%, yet G.E. paid zero taxes in 2010 on $5.1B profits for its US operation and claimed a $3.2B tax credit. How is this possible? G.E. assembled a large tax department headed by a former Treasury official, and staffed by personnel from the IRS and Congressional tax-writing committees.

It’s been reported that General Electrics’ lawyers and lobbyists were deeply involved in rewriting portions of the corporate tax code that were signed into law by George W. Bush in 2004. When certain tax loopholes were set to expire in 2008, G.E. successfully persuaded Rep Rangel to keep them and shortly thereafter, G.E. announced a $30M donation to NY schools with $11M going to Mr. Rangel’s district. Of course G.E. says their tax benefits are good for American jobs, but they’ve reduced their US workforce by 20% since 2002.

By receiving great incentive to invest their money offshore, we are now facing, as a nation, one of the most jobless futures of the last eighty years.  We won’t hear it in the media – Big Business now pulls most political strings, and controls most “news” outlets – but soon we may be taxed so multinational corporations can receive subsidies to create jobs here in the US.

In other words, we’ll be paying to get our own jobs back.

–Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

A Woman Changing the World

Roshaneh Zafar is helping to fight extremism and create a sustainable model that will discourage recruitment to terrorist organizations by giving people hope that they can live a prosperous and stable way of life.

This American-educated banker is focusing her efforts on micro-financing. She has found a way to empower some of Pakistan’s poorest women by giving them the tools and educational opportunities to create businesses and income for themselves and their families.

“Charity is limited, but capitalism isn’t,” Roshaneh told Nicholas D. Kristof in an interview for the New York Times. “If you want to change the world, you need market-based solutions.”

Micro-financing, as I discussed in a post on Kiva.org/, lends a small amount of money to impoverished people that will enable them to set up a business.

Ms. Zafar grew up in Lahore and took the opportunity to study business at the Wharton School and economics at Yale. She worked for a while at the World Bank before returning to Pakistan in 1996 to start the Kashf Foundation.

Below is an interview with Ms. Zafar. Make yourself a cup of coffee, then sit down and spend 7 minutes with this inspiring woman.

Despite many setbacks, Kashf can now boast 152 branches throughout Pakistan and has loaned over  $200 million to more than 300,000 families. Ever thinking ahead, Ms. Zafar is now studying how to leverage this model to encourage the poor to build up savings and accrue assets.

Ms. Zafar is not only helping people start businesses, create jobs and support education that will enable people to break out of the vicious spiral of poverty, but will offer an option to living that is neither violent, nor exploitative.

She deserves a Nobel Prize, in economics and in peace. Micro-financing is a tool to ending the very conditions that create terrorism and extremism. Every Western and stable country has an interest in incorporating her model into their foreign policy.
——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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