Archive for September, 2009

US Health Care Reform & Emissions Targets

September 24, 2009

Please pray for Barack Obarma in the areas of  :-

1. Essential Health Care Reform : as he tries to introduce legislation for the reform of the US Health Care System, to enable health care to become accessible and affordable for all American citizens and not just the wealthy middle classes. Naturally the rich  are campaigning against this because they can easily  afford their own health care and probably couldn’t care less if poorer underpriveleged families cannot afford it and have to suffer in the process. (Is anything new under the sun?)

Pray that God will intervene with his miraculous power (which was able to turn two little fishes and five loaves of bread to feed 5000 people) – to help provide the funds necessary to allow this new health care reform to become a viable and affordable reform to benefit all  American individuals and families no matter how poor or underprivileged they may be.

2.  God’s Guidance for Emissions Targets: please also pray that God will guide him as to his decisions in the recent climate change summit. He has a huge amount of weight on his shoulders as he tries to deal with the economic collapse of the US economy as well as try to achieve some sort of targets to reduce green house gas emissions in collaboration with all other world leaders.

Thanks for your help.

Send the G20 to Africa

September 23, 2009

Hi,

I’ve just taken action with ONE and asked the leaders of twenty of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations to hold an upcoming G20 Summit in Africa, to focus the world’s attention on how Africa can and must be part of any successful economic recovery. I hope you’ll join me:

http://www.one.org/international/g20toafrica/index.html?rc=g20toafricataf

The nation that hosts a G20 summit helps set the agenda, and bringing the G20 to Africa would focus the world on this market of 1 billion people like never before. And, with world leaders headed to Pittsburgh for a summit September 24-25, now is the perfect time to ask them to look to Africa for one of their next meetings.

http://www.one.org/international/g20toafrica/index.html?rc=g20toafricataf

Together as ONE, we can make a difference.

Thanks!

–The ONE Team

Dead Aid

September 23, 2009

I recently read a book called “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo, the Head of Economic Research for Africa.  In her book she discusses the negative effects of foreign aid given by Western countries to Third World nations such as Africa.  

She firstly makes clear that aid from Western countries are really loans to be paid back with interest with no strings attached or accountability as to what these funds are used for.

As a reult these huge loans mostly fall into the hands of corrupt government officials and very little is used to build the necessary infrastructure that is needed to benefit the lives of the poorer population eg.  hospitals,  roads,  schools,  houses etc.

A consequence of this is that Africa’s own economy does not benefit but instead their debt mounts up higher and higher as they continue to receive these aid loans year after year.

The author goes on to say that the solution is to aim to gradually decrease the percentage of aid given to these Third World African nations over a period of 10 years.

When this occurs the African governments should instead begin to attract more direct foreign  investment from other countries.  In this way there is more leeway for accoutability for Third World governments.  This is so because when another nation makes a direct investment they will be expecting concrete returns over time in the future.  The author mentions how China has already made huge investments in the order of billions of dollars into Africa’s infrastructure. 

Other sources of income that these Third World Nations could draw upon are:-

1. Trade with other countries –  ideally to aim for 30% of the nation’s income. 

2. Foreign Direct Investment – from other countries  via capital markets ( as China has demonstrated)  – 30%

3. Remittances & Savings–  this is when African people find work overseas whitch enables them to send money back home to support their families 25%

4. Foreign Aid –  to be reduced to only 5% of the nation’s income.

5.  Microfinance – has proven to be highly successful.  This is where small lenders from NGO’s go into the country and give very small loans eg. $50  or $100 to local individuals so they can start up their own business.  Many women have been very successful in this endeavour with the default rate on repayments close to NIL.  Some businesses involve selling vegetables or hand made or sewn items.  An example of an NGO who has successfully done this is “Bridge of Hope” started by a group of people from the Northern Suburbs Manly area in Sydney.  Often money is lent to an individual but a group of people help to secure the loan if there is a possibility of default on repayment of the loan.

The author goes on to say that the problem is that Africa often lacks the political will to make this sort of change and implement such measures. For instance:-

a)  Western Governments often have to protect their own farmers with heavy subsidies and also punish African traders with high tariffs.

b)  African Leaders – still want to retain the aid loans coming in,  for their own corrupt purposes

c)  Most policy makers do not wish to be critical enough of Africa’s aid policies  to instigate such change

d)  Ordinary people in African nations may wish to see long term change.  However they are often faced with intimidation and punishment of death from their own governments that are corrupt who wish to retain the status quo for their own gains. For instance from Robert Magabe the President of Zimbabwe.

Her solutions may seem overly simplistic and she also assumes that the mechanisms of the free market economy will always work.  Some proponents could also argue that at least a small percentage of foreign aid could still benefit the people.   Also that funds from direct foreign investment could still be corrupted.  However her ideas can still provide food for thought to help form possible strategies for Third World Nations to escape the continual cycle of debt and extreme poverty for their long term future.

Perhaps this information could also form a basis for praying into this desperate situation that many people in Third World nations are facing today.

The book “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo can be ordered from any ABC bookshop.

If you would like to listen to the author talking about the issues in her book you can follow this link:-

http://odeo.com/episodes/24746635-Dead-Aid-Dambisa-Moyo-Head-of-Economic-Research-for-Africa-Goldman-Sachs-Author-Dead-Aid-Why-Aid-is-Not-Working-and-How-There-is-a-Better-Way-for-Africa

Kid’s Doing Time

September 22, 2009

An insightful documentary was aired a few weeks ago on the ABC program “Four Corners” called “Kid’s Doing Time”. It deals with the fact that the NSW Juvenile Justice System is in crisis.

This has been partly due to the  State government’s “get tough on crime” policy which usually wins many votes in an election but does little to reduce the rate of crime and in turn promote positive rehabilitation for present offenders.

Instead, young people can end up being condemned to an eternal life in gaol because there are not enough effective rehabilitation programs to help reform offenders to integrate them back into society to lead a productive life.

The irony is that it costs thousands of dollars more to keep many of these juvenile offenders locked up, then it is to put them through an often effective rehabilitation program.   For instance it costs $150 000— per year to keep a juvenile in detention.  Whereas it costs only about $2000— to put a child through an effective rehabilitation program which are often run by NGOs.  The child is then able to integrate back into society to lead a productive life.

The success rate of these rehabilitation programs which aim to redirect the lives of young people to positive and constructive outcomes, has been shown to be extremely successful as well. Some programs show even a 95% result,  that young people completing these programs do not re-affend again.

Naturally each young person has to be assessed carefully whether he or she is suitable for these programs.  One  young offender interviewed, expressed that he would like to reform his life and change, but there is very little support and training to show him how.  Many of these offenders have come from highly dysfunctional families or families with no parents.

This reminds me of the events in the famous novel by Victor Hugo that eventually became the stage musical “Le Miserables” .  This is where a convict who served 18 years in prison doing hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread,  eventually reformed his ways to lead a godly life because of the undeserved mercy he was shown by a godly priest.     If he had continued to be condemned and treated like a criminal,  he would more likely have continued in his criminal ways.

This is similar to the mercy and love God, extends to all of us.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve.  Instead through Jesus’ death He forgives us and gives us his love strength and guidance to reform ourselves gradually into new people.

Perhaps the government needs to consider more seriously the effectiveness of these successful rehabilitation schemes when working out a better long term strategy and funding plan for the  present justice system.

For  a more detailed summary of the whole program “Kid’s Doing Time” click on the following link :-

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2009/s2662775.htm

Help Prevent Child Abuse

September 19, 2009

Greetings. Why not help prevent child abuse by filling in the following survey. This will take about 15 minutes and remains anonymous.

Just follow the link then click on the “Complete the Survey” button at the bottom of the screen.

http://www.preventingchildabuse.com.au/

Thanks for your help