Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time. It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so. America’s best days lie ahead.
If Buffet means the human potential for greed and self-destruction he may be right. It’s difficult to find a reason for optimism. Perhaps it is this: that the meltdown of the economy might provide an opportunity for change of a more profound kind than Barack Obama has in mind.
A bit of Summer Wood’s article, “Egos Without Boundaries” at bitch magazine:
A further danger of feel-good philanthropy is that its staunch apoliticism can lead to out-and-out misinformation, as was the case when Lucy Liu appeared on Oprah (coincidentally, during the same March 2006 episode as Ryan) to discuss traveling with UNICEF to visit earthquake survivors in Pakistan. After showing some footage of the devastated Kashmir region, where more than 70,000 people died and more than four million were left homeless at the onset of winter, Winfrey asked Liu what viewers could do to help. Liu responded with the reassuring-if patently untrue-statement that “America is one of the most generous countries in the world.” In fact, the U.S. ranks second-to-last among the world’s wealthiest countries when it comes to government spending on foreign aid, giving a miserly 0.22 percent of gross national income in 2005. (Not that Liu is alone in her misapprehension: Studies show that most Americans think the U.S. spends up to 20 percent of its budget on foreign aid.) Liu continued pushing the warm-and-fuzzy mood by emphasizing that the Oprah audience “can participate by loose change-even a penny for UNICEF counts.” more here
Ya. That. And this: the mega-philanthropy foundations of people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet may do more harm than good. For instance, they are now focussing on eliminating malaria by developing and distributing a vaccine – the big pharmas will cash in on this – though it wouldn’t have been something they would otherwise be interested in. And likely, the money is better spent, given the effectiveness of providing mothers with specially treated mosquito netting to protect sleeping families. Low cost and it works, leaving money available for hundreds of other humanitarian catastrophes. But Bill and Melinda are accountable to no one but their own Board of Directors. And we talk about government waste and mismanagement in the distribution of aid!!!
See this for instance. Oh and BTW, the netting is provided to women specifically in many places because it’s been found that, when it’s given to men, they don’t necessarily let women and children sleep under it. On the other hand, in some African villages, women are the last to get the netting because men claim first dibs.