lhowell

Archive for December, 2007|Monthly archive page

Why Global Social Problems are Relevant to People in the United States

In mindset 3.0, narcissism on December 17, 2007 at 5:57 am

I often hear the argument from people in the United States and especially people of color, even my mom on why should we be concerned about problems in Africa or India or places to which we have never traveled or do not know anyone?   

However, as simplistic as this sounds to focus on things here at home, focusing at home has brought and continues to bring failure, a few benefiting, corruption and frankly a poor return on investment.  From what I have seen personally and continue to witness is that our social fabric and mindset is limiting millions of people from advancing in our country.  Why?  It’s actually simple, but the journey is complicated.  Simply put, people tend not to think critically and in new ways as global citizens about how to address challenges. 

Here’s an example of a person who get’s it.  His name is Roderick and I get my newspaper from him each day as I approach the traffic light.  Roderick told me one day how globalization is hurting his business; he explained without prompting, because he likes to chat; he said with the Internet, people buy fewer papers and migrant workers will work for much cheaper and our local paper is more inclined to hire them for distribution.  Roderick has a huge smile, sans a top row of teeth, but he is conscientious, has a clear mind, honest and conversant about issues besides himself, but truly sees that the world is indeed flat.  Admittedly, he does not worry about what might have been, but is genuinely excited about what is happening; he lives in the moment in a healthy way.

Healthcare

To dive a bit deeper, there is an increasing number of aspiring medical school students who come to the United States to earn medical degrees and now, because of improvements “back home” they are leaving the U.S. to help their native country.  While here in the U.S., we continue to face increasing costs for healthcare and ever increasing wait time’s as well continuing lack of involvement in clinical trials that involve minority groups.  All of this is going on while our children continue to do worse in science and math and are moving away from the medical professions.  Young people, parents, teachers and higher education officials will only see this mindshare loss accelerate over the next 10 years and well beyond.

Food, Finance & Consumption

When it comes to food, products like Plumpy Nut is saving lives in countries like Africa, India and South America, while people in the U.S. continue to go to bed and subsequently to school hungry almost daily.  Remember, the United States is the richest nation on the planet, at least for now.  So, maybe we should think about getting Plumpy Nut into our public schools.

World Wealth Distribution in 2015: Will You be Participating?

 

Because of the ever increasing appetite for stuff and personal gratification to consume more and less on creating wealth in communities, people have become slaves to creditors and mortgage companies.  Our communities across the country are littered with “payday” loan stores that suck the life out of people.  By contrast, micro credit (lending in small dollar amounts to people who make less than $2 dollar a day) in countries like Mexico, India, and across Africa is creating opportunities for parents to send their children to school and improve their lives for the first time.  

Further evidence also shows we are finding that college graduates today are finding it difficult to become independent citizens with their own place to live outside their parents and that prospects look even bleaker for long-term prospects despite their education and technological know how.  Rather, many young people wait in line at American Idol auditions or hope a “baller” or entertainer or successful business person (woman or man) can help us click our heels and rescue us from the trials one might experience day to day. I have an inordinate number of women tell me that  a great many men they meet today often expect to receive gifts, cash and meals simply for “being there for them.”

By contrast, our brethren in every part of the world are participating in the global economy at any chance they might get to introduce their products, develop a relationship or have a conversation, no matter how difficult it might be for them to understand.  I hired a firm from Minsk, Belarus last year to work with and we had twice a week conference calls (4:30am for me) using Skype for over 6 months; while it was difficult for both of us at first, I learned a lot and now have solid connections should I visit Moscow or Eastern Europe.  Please note, MySpace friends do not count as real relationships especially if you have over 300 and you have never had a live conversation with them.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS continues to increase at even more staggering rates in places like Washington, D.C., Atlanta and other urban centers with high concentrations of minority groups despite all the rhetoric, funding, programs, non-profits, anti-retroviral drugs and the lessons learned since Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s announcement almost 17 years ago, in 1991.

Despite the knowledge we have (aka the media), access to information (aka the Internet) and tools to prevent this dreadful disease, hedonism, lust, narcissism and this unabating selfishness continues to prevail.  To be sure, there are rebel leaders and their soldiers in the Congo spreading this disease; by contrast, however, “In Thailand it was through education and condom promotion, and in Uganda via their “ABC” program — for abstinence, “be faithful”, and condoms, implemented in the early 90’s.  These governments made stemming the human and economic toll of the disease a priority of their administrations and poured tremendous resources into the effort.  Are you listening Obama, Hillary, anybody?

Yet, other program efforts have been undermined as in Uganda last year by collaborating with the U.S. world AIDS project that promotes abstinence only.  The new campaign does not support condom use; in fact, promotional material was distributed declaring condoms to be porous and pre-marital sex a form of “deviance”, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).  It is this same type of arrogance and complete ignorance that African-American women face when African-American male sexual partners expand their horizons with “down-low” trysts for sport, only to bring home this disease resulting in skyrocketing infection to their female partners, who unknowingly pass it on and BOOM, we have an epidemic.  

These same brothers are behaving just like the Bush-driven policies that do not support condom use, because clearly, if these down-low brothers did support a different policy, I would not have to tell this story.

Why Global Social Problems are Relevant to People in the United States is the title I have chosen for this post, and my last one for 2007, unless something really compelling happens between now and the drop of the ball to bring in the New Year.  Why is it relevant?  Here’s the answer: People in this country, need to learn how to think critically about what they do, who they deal with, how they deal with them, how to advance their life; improve their value to themselves and to their families.  By THINKING, TALKING and DOING (making personal changes no matter how small) with our global neighbors serving as a source of innovation, inspiration, and motivation, you get a fresh and perhaps clearer perspective on what could and should be right here at home.  It’s hard work, it’s exciting, and it’s refreshing and actually cool to make happen!  Happy New Year 2008!

Mindset 3.0: Ending Famine by Ignoring the Experts

In Africa, famine, mindset 3.0 on December 3, 2007 at 6:52 am

Often consultants come up with chic new terms like Mindset 3.0 and of course most people don’t understand what it means other than it being another buzz phrase.  For most women and men in developed countries, we hear about famine, hunger and the 4 billion impoverished souls who live on less than $2 dollars a day and give it scant thought.    Now, I want to share with you a real-life illustration of what it takes to make American Idol Gives Back a worthless exercise in popular television altruism.  To illustrate: In Malawi itself, the prevalence of acute child hunger has fallen sharply. In October, the United Nations Children’s Fund sent three tons of powdered milk, stockpiled here to treat severely malnourished children, to Uganda instead. “We will not be able to use it!” Juan Ortiz-Iruri, Unicef’s deputy representative in Malawi, said jubilantly.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer

  

Over the past 20 years, the World Bank and some rich nations Malawi depends on for aid have periodically pressed this small, landlocked country to adhere to free market policies and cut back or eliminate fertilizer subsidies, even as the United States and Europe extensively subsidized their own farmers. But after the 2005 harvest, the worst in a decade, Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s newly elected president, decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.

In a withering evaluation of the World Bank’s record on African agriculture, the bank’s own internal watchdog concluded in October not only that the removal of subsidies had led to exorbitant fertilizer prices in African countries, but that the bank itself had often failed to recognize that improving Africa’s declining soil quality was essential to lifting food production.  Full article.  This is what Mindset 3.0 is about.