The Real Issue of Redefinition

Stand down from greed: I argue the real issue is to redefine the public-private partnership between business and government and reset common and national goals. The wrongheaded approach of greed, deception, and inequality can not sustain itself in a global environment that is changing by leaps to cooperative measures.

For example, the Philippines has lent $251M to Ireland, Greece, and Portugal and put $4.55B into a multilateral Asian fund. 32 countries are funding a great Asian highway, connecting Asian economies to Europe while the US squabbles over bridges and pot holes, and GOP holds up a transportation bill. Japan has directly financed debt issues for other countries. The most successful effort at eliminating poverty are direct payments to families tied to education. (Mexico, Brasil).

My point is not the quality of the projects, but to highlight the underlying way of thinking–and its absence from discussions of US growth and priorities. The scatter shot examples here only highlight 100s of cooperative relationships involving government and business not feuding for advantage but teaming to productively expand into global markets.

More than labor costs led India to develop customer service outsourcing (now the Philippines). Brasil, now larger than Britain GDP, developed the world’s fastest growing middle class, reducing its poverty in a decade. China, in the 1st quarter 2012, bought a million GM cars.

The debt will shrink when we see a vision of a new future. I am more concerned about greed being embedded in the system rather than the human condition. My faith is based on the simple and profound evidence of history, and its evidence of hard, profound change. Despite Southern bishops who seceded with their states and whose first bishop’s letter called slavery their “gift,” slavery ended. Despite the objections (mildly!) of many citizens, segregation ended. Schools were integrated. Despite the run of bullets that left a six month waiting backlog after the last Presidential election, all is nearly safe in the Republic. Despite those opposed, women can vote.

If we apply the same persistance to our economic system and see the major advances being made by reformed systems elsewhere, we would be foolish to persist and not desist. Always issues of corruption, excess, and power will be present, but a review of global economic systems rapidly moving upward–Brasil! (which has more than its share of greed and corruption!)–shows framing our progress in terms that doom it to decline will not lead the way forward.

A final historical note, on the higher ground: Weren’t there those who opposed fire? Saying hunters would become lazy and fat? That women would be too independent of the family? The original meaning of the hunt would be lost? That spears would allow weak cowards to compete with the clubs of the strong and brave?

Progress has always been opposed; by those who feel new tools were too complex, others who saw power redistributed, the status quo changed. But there’s another reason why greed can be gotten around as an obstacle, as has fear. Simply: truth expands. The colonies are freed, apartheid ended, children are not in the mines—truth expands. Not evenly, or without setbacks, or declines; forces resist, mistakes are made (austerity!), but truth expands and changes what lies ahead. That expanding truth even changes the children of those on history’s wrong side. The expanding truth brings acts of courage that are adopted as commonplace. Its history’s long arc, and its path is marked by peril, but we get there, even if our arrival is imperfect. For a fuller discussion of this idea in 19th century America, see “A Glory Over Everything” [ ].


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