Dear Friends –
We send our prayers and strength to those struggling in the crisis in Haiti and to the loved ones of those who have perished.
Many great teachers tell us that it is in times like these we need to be strong and stay open-hearted, to give our help on the material level as much as we are able, and to give our prayers and courage too. It is also important not to sink into fear and guilt. Those who are in extreme suffering do not need more of these negative emotions, they need our positive energy and courage.
To manage our own feelings when we see fellow humans in a hell-realm it is helpful, as always, to do our practice. Whether it is our prayer, meditation practice, breathing, or posture practice, or better yet – all of them. When we do our practice, we notice that afterwards the world appears a little calmer, and hope begins again.
Breathe into your heart – breathe out from your heart – may we not waste a moment withholding love.
In peace – Max Strom
Imagine if women in developing countries had more money and more education and more power. We would live in a world where disagreements would be settled diplomatically (not by the ravages of war), children would be educated and fed (not sold into slavery), and communities would flourish – regardless of religion or political beliefs. Change is happening with micro-loan operations.
Nicholas D. Kristof is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Sheryl WuDunn is a former Times correspondent who works in finance and philanthropy. This essay is adapted from their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will be published next month by Alfred A. Knopf. You can learn more about “Half the Sky” at nytimes.com/ontheground.
PBS’s Frontline program Ten Trillion and Counting, sheds light on the enormity of our the national debt. In 2001 – when Bush took office, there was a surplus. Then 911 happened, they took us to war, then proceeded to borrow billions to pay for the war, while cutting taxes. His actions served himself and his administration politically, and not the country economically. I would have gladly paid more taxes, to keep us out of the mess we’re in now. They never reckoned where the money would come from to pay back the borrowed billions. During the 8 years George Bush was in office, the amount of the national debt doubled. On the day of President Obama’s inauguration the national deficit was $10,626,877,048,913.08. By the time he leaves office (if he’s in for 8 years) it will have tripled.
I have trouble imagining what a billion means let alone 1 or 10 trillion. It’s been said that our brains have not evolved enough to really comprehend how much money that really is. In 1979 author Frank Trippit wondered: “…can any imagination get a practical hold on such a quantity? It is easy to picture the symbolic numerals: 1,000,000,000,000. Still, who can comprehend that many individual units of anything at one time? The number teases, dazzles the mind and even dizzies it, but that does not add up to understanding. Biology ought to find out what happens to the brain when it tries to visualize 1 trillion.” (Getting Dizzy by the Numbers, Time Magazine)
Fortunately, we have designers, developers and artists who can help us picture the incomprehensible. Mint.com created visualizations of 1 Trillion dollars, using examples to show how much the money is worth, such as “one trillion dollars can pay an additional 11 weeks of vacation for every American worker.” And here’s another that uses Google sketch that shows the physical scale of the actual dollars. Chris Jordan is making some great images which visualize a specific quantity of consumables such as fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption).
I cannot comprehend Obama’s $775 billion stimulus package, and budget proposals that, if carried out, would produce a staggering $9.3 trillion in total deficits over the next 10 years. As much as I want to believe that Obama is doing the right thing, those numbers really scare me. How can we feed the beast, when we owe so much? Who’s gonna pay for all of this, when so much wealth has been lost and squandered already?
Posted in Current Events, Economy, Politics, Rants
Tagged billion, budget, bush, Economy, frontline, numbers, Obama, pbs, Politics, recession, trillion, visualization
Dwayne just sent me this article on rollingstone.com. It’s takes a good loooonngg look at what how we got into this economic mess and puts in layman’s terms. Well… layman rollingstone reader’s terms – calling Cassano – the guy who headed up the AIG financial derivatives division a “… just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington’s deregulation of the Wall Street casino.” The Big Takeover is a must read.
Maceration of Money
I love this pic of Barak Obama (I wish I knew who to give the photo credit to!) It reminded me of another famous democratic presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson, who said, “all progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.” Stevenson ran against Eisenhower unsuccessfully in 1952 and 1956. He was Governor of Illinois for one term, and also UN Ambassador from 1961 to 1965.
These are the shoes of a hardworking man, pounding the pavement, tirelessly delivering his message, in it to win it. No time to worry about such details, when you will soon be tasked with fixing an unprecedented global recession. While the majority of consumers and corporations are scaling back and ‘making-do’, those holey soles worn by the democratic presidential candidate are a glaring contrast to Palin’s $150,000 new wardrobe, paid for with campaign funds.
Did you watch Obama’s infomercial last night? This morning, the Hollywood Reporter suggested that, “if Barack Obama fails to win the election, perhaps the networks should hire him to entertain viewers on Wednesday nights.” If he loses (god help us) the networks can buy him a new pair of shoes.
If I hear one more person flippantly say – “It’ll come back… we’ll recover….” I think I’m gonna scream! Trillions of dollars of wealth have been evaporated — lost and gone forever!! That means probably you, your friends, your parents, and other acquaintances have lost some portion of their savings. Entire countries have gone bankrupt! This economic crisis is a complicated and serious affair. It will affect every single one of us, regardless of who is to blame.
I encourage you to check out a radio podcast from Ira Glass’s “This American Life.” You might be familiar with the program if you listen to NPR. The name of the program is The Giant Pool of Money, and it originally aired in March of this year. (click on “Full Episode” to listen from your computer). They do a great job of explaining how the sub-prime mortgage lending practices brought down the system.
Then they aired piece that explains how that sub-prime crisis led to the credit crisis, called Another Frightening Show About the Economy.
There’s not much we can do, now that the giant wave is about to hit, but we can increase our understanding, in order to make informed decisions about what to do with our money now and in the future.
Yesterday, I went to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see The Missing Peace – organized by the Committee of 100 for Tibet and The Dalai Lama Foundation. The show displays “works by upwards of 88 artists from 30 countries in a landmark exhibition that offers up art as a lens through which we experience our common humanity.” (Sorry but the show is ending today, but maybe it will travel to a museum near you.)
Overall, the show was very moving. I got blessed by the Dalai Lama. It was a video blessing, which is probably not the same as getting a blessing from him in person, but it made my heart feel lighter. I loved the simplicity of it. Here’s a picture:
It’s not the greatest picture because I got caught and they asked me to put my camera away. It’s funny these days in a museum. I was just in London and was taking pics of everything! Anyway, there was lots of great stuff to look at – I wish I could have recorded more on camera – like the names of the artists, etc.
I took one other picture of a giant video wall that had a grid of videos of different monks in prayer:
The video was accompanied by a wall of sound that layered all of them on top of each other and it was very relaxing and beautiful. I sat there for a long time – wondering if any of those monks was this guy:
and hoping that all of those monks are safe and sound. What kind of world do we live in? When peaceful, non-violent people are treated so horribly to an unfair ‘cultural genocide’.
Although I found the Missing Peace yesterday, I am fearful, that for the people of Tibet, it’s a long way off.