To say we’re blessed here in the United States is an understatement. We have an economy and an infrastructure which allows us to accomplish much as individuals. So seeing things like the Clinton Global Initiative and other projects going on out there to help the rest of the world catch up with us is definitely something we here, who have so much, can be proud of and support.
But coming from rural America, actually knowing people who – in some cases didn’t have running water year round, and often common amenities that almost all of us take for granted are not taken for granted in some of those areas I have a different view. It’s a place where jobs are not always easy to come by, and the odds of anyone becoming a member of the Fortune 1000 are pretty rare. People work long hours, and their children do not have the opportunities you see on TV and in the movies. It’s a lot of hard work for these people just to pay bills regularly.
I also know people in urban areas, who similarly work long hours at jobs which are at or below the poverty level, and do not have the ability to just … "Get something better". Bettering oneself, isn’t that easy when you’re already working two jobs just to make ends meet. So I have to ask myself if there shouldn’t be more programs in place to see to it the United States does not slip behind as I watch the progression of our 3rd world neighbors who, if the goals of these programs succeed – and I believe they will, progress from 3rd world survival to entrepreneurial success equivalent to many of our own rural communities.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating a protectionist attitude at all. I’m merely asking that as we point out our blessings and programs available here in the USA, and as we enable these 3rd world brethren of business — which we are told will one day re-enable our own markets and businesses here, just how the average under educated, not a Harvard MBA, American Citizen can do just that.
I keep hearing there are "many programs available to small businesses and Americans to take advantage of the 3rd world markets being generated"… but I’m not seeing them. Which programs are these? Who’s funding them? How do our businesses apply to them? How do they contact them? What doe it take to get involved in them? Who qualifies for them? That’s what everyone wants to know – but no one seems to have the answers for. I tend to look at these programs like bigfoot, or aliens – everyones heard they exist but almost no ones actually seen one for themselves.
What’s more most of your local business associations don’t know of them or how to get involved with them either. We’re enabling other parts of the globe, but it seems our own backyard – which could benefit from this enablement is just not getting the attention it should to allow both the 3rd world and our own struggling businesses the growth they need and deserve.
And this is a tragedy, because the only reason this isn’t happening that I can see is there just isn’t the glamour, the fame, for groups who help out in their own back yard. And there is also the fact that helping people on the other side of the world requires no more involvement for most of us than sending a check. Heaven forbid we should have to give up a evening or a weekend to share our time or knowledge. Let’s face it, what sounds like it’s more cool to support, starving children in Darfur … or 4H programs in rural America?
The next time there’s a war baby on TV we can soothe our global guilt with a swipe of a credit card, or you spend an hour at your local Chamber of Commerce, after a week or two of spare time studying and research to give a talk on federal programs available for you to do business with the widowed mother of that child in Darfur. Hmm? Which sounds more like what will get done? Which one is going to give you more bragging rights for the least investment of your time? I can see you reaching for the credit card now… you don’t have to answer.
And since that’s not getting done – since the word isn’t getting to our small businesses, our Mom’n Pop shops on the who and the how and the incentives available to them for connecting with these newly forming small businesses overseas … those overseas businesses will work with each other. Which is another problem for our businesses, let’s face it – many of these small businesses overseas being formed will work with each other because there’s no mechanisms for them to work with our small businesses here. They aren’t being told how to work with us, we’re not being told how we can work with them. There’s a huge chunk of this globally reciprocating economy cycle that’s missing – it’s the parts that connect it all together.
I have no doubt the Clintons, and the Gates and the various rock stars and movie stars will kick start the global economy. My only fear is – there’s no one to kick start what’s here in America. There just isn’t any cool factor or fame factor involved in helping those in need here because no one really sees a need. Even at our worst – with homeless numbers jumping every week, and massive numbers of the American population near the poverty level – we are not perceived by our own people as having problems that need to be addressed.
It’s not a question of "who’s got it worst" – the family starving to death or the family that can’t get out of poverty. Obviously where there is disease and death – attention and care must be given first. But not all of our efforts need to be focused there – and there are many solutions to help out the starving that can also help out those in poverty here. Attention can, and must, be given to both problems. But getting anyone to do that – is a problem in and of itself.
Maybe, if we’re lucky, 30 years from now, we can get a sexy Bollywood starlet to come to Hanna, Wyoming, and do a TV spot pointing out how, for only 50,000 rupees a week… you can help the families there build a better tomorrow. You never know… it could happen.