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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Stories

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Changing the World $500 at a Time

Let me start out with three simple statements and then I'll tie them all together.

1. For a long time I have been fascinated by and a big proponent of microlending in the developing world.

2. I am very concerned with our standing in the attitudes of most of the world, especially the developing world.

3. People who have nothing to lose are easy targets for radical groups that want to see the United States and whoever else is convenient to hate, damaged.

Since the mid 1970's, when microlending got its start in India it has helped numerous people around the world get a financial footing under themselves so that they can start to develop a better life for themselves and their families. As the name suggests, microlending basically consists of giving small loans at decent interest rates to people who could never borrow from conventional lenders. The purpose of these loans is to give these people the opportunity to start or expand their own small businesses that generate income. These businesses are often as simple as a one-cow dairy, sewing business or small milling operation. The loans are typically very small - $50 to $1,000. The people who get these loans are usually in the underground economy or living in remote rural areas with the vast majority of the borrowers being women. Often over 95% of total borrowers are women in certain regions of the world.

These loans help to start a positive economic cycle not only for the borrowers, but for those around them. Even at these small loan amounts, historic repayment rates have been very high and most people believe these programs to be an outstanding success.

This leads me into my second point in how do we go about repairing our standing with a great deal of the world, especially the developing world where the majority of our most dangerous enemies are currently coming from. Why is it that we have given so much foreign aid to a military dictatorship, as we have in Pakistan, with no real positive and often negative results? Have you ever wondered why we are propping up a military dictatorship with our money? Wouldn't our money be better spent trying to help the people in northern Pakistan improve their lives so they might not be so inclined to want to kill us and themselves? Instead we seem to be funding the lifestyles and weapons purchases of people who, as dictators, stand against everything we believe in here in the United States? We've often done the same in Africa and Asia with similar results.

My proposal, therefore, is that we start to take a much larger proportion of our foreign aid dollars and start to invest them where they will do us the most good: a comprehensive microlending program in developing nations.

Let's look at some numbers. $1,000,000,000 (billion dollars) is a lot of money, but it is about the cost of one B-2 bomber. Let's say we were able to take that $1,000,000,000 and go into a country as a microlender. We'll assume that the costs of the program are 25% which will leave us with $750,000,000 to distribute as microloans. If each loan were an average size of $500 that would give us the opportunity to help 1.5 million people build themselves a better future. If we, as a country, help 1.5 million people improve their lives, don't you think that our standing in those people's minds (and those of their friends, relatives and countrymen) will increase as well. Will they be less inclined to join groups that want to kill us? I think so. Plus, these are loans, not grants, so as the loans begin to be repaid we can make further loans to additional people. It is a program with unlimited potential and minimal risk with tremendous side benefits to us as a country.

As your President, I believe it would be far more useful to the long-term health of our country and the world if we were to use a portion of our foreign aid to help the poor of the world to lift themselves out of poverty by giving them economic options through microlending programs. What do you think helps people more? Giving their leaders billions of dollars to buy weapons; food and medicines that may or may not get to those that need it most; and the opportunity to fill their own bank accounts with however much they can steal out of the programs? Or helping the people of those countries with microloans to better their financial standing in their world? I strongly believe that our foreign aid would be much more productive using the millions of dollars spent on one fighter jet to directly help the people of that country.

If elected, I will immediately start to transition a large portion of our foreign aid from weapons and other programs that do not help the common person into a worldwide microlending program. I believe that it will not only improve how the rest of the world looks upon us, it will improve the lives of countless people, making them less likely to want to sacrifice their lives to harm us. When you've got something to live for, you want to keep on living.

Frank McEnulty - Independent candidate for President | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit the campaign website at at http://www.frankforpresident.org/

Heartless and Foolish

Once again George W. Bush has vetoed legislation that would fund education and healthcare. Once again legislation that would take care of our future in the form of our children has been sent to George W. Bush with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and he has chosen to veto that legislation. While he has done this under the guise of budget management bemoaning its $150 billion in domestic spending he approved $471 billion for the military with his next stroke of the pen. The domestic spending increase of 4.3% was less acceptable to him than the 9.5% increase in military spending. With a total budget for healthcare and education of less than one third of the approved military budget, President Bush told supporters that the domestic spending was Congressional mismanagement of public funds. To this an urgent call to approve an additional $196 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was made by Mr. Bush to Congressional leaders.

While some see this as some kind of patriotism and support for the troops, it becomes hard to ignore the trend of fighting for funds to continue to support a war effort half a world away but refusing to fund the future of our own nation. Where will the leaders of tomorrow learn how to lead if we donít fund education? How will our children grow to be productive adult members of our society if we donít fund the healthcare they need to grow up healthy and strong? The short-sightedness of the presidentís actions both shock the conscience and baffle the logical mind. It is hard to fathom the thought process that believes that we can survive as a nation over the long term by spending the vast majority of our resources on war and security while trying to finance our future on the cheap.

There are those who will justify these actions with rhetoric talking about people ďtaxing and spendingĒ but what they fail to mention is the bigger folly that they are committing by spending without taxing. Our government has made us reliant on China for the funds to fight our wars while giving those who have the means to help pay for the war a pass on paying their fair share so that they can be even richer than they were before George Bush took office. This is how our president has honored the public trust. This selling of our future to China and refusal to put aside the money needed to build a strong future for our children begs the question of the fitness of this man or his agenda to lead our nation. With this most recent act of foolish callousness, it is becoming clearer that we cannot afford to have leaders without the long term future of our people at the forefront of their policy making decisions.

In the coming election, we have a choice between the policies of the past and the policies of the future. While the frontrunners for the major parties may seem like the only choices, there are other choices that can be made. We have the option to choose the path less traveled in the interest of our future. We can choose the less polished candidate who will ultimately put the American people ahead of the lobbyists and corporations that fund them. We cannot afford to have leaders whose biggest concern is getting re-elected and who will sacrifice their principles for $10,000 per plate campaign fundraising dinners. There is a choice this election and we need to decide if we want more of the same or something truly new and different to put us on the right track.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

 

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