Monday, January 01, 2007

The Problems are Not the Solution

One notices that many new arrivals to the Islands feel that everything is beautiful and life has no bounds -- but after a few years of living in the Islands, come to have a very negative attitude, that nothing can ever be done right, and everybody in government is self-serving or corrupt. So one wonders how it is that many people can undergo such a tremendous disaffection from their once high hopes and feelings about the promise of life.

Invariably, in an attempt to assimilate into the native culture and society, they begin to subscribe to the easiest sources of information and participation, which are the mass media, schools and universities that are world-infamous for their negativity and despair -- as a reflection of their own dashed ambitions and hopes.

Knowledgeable people just learn to turn these people off -- in the nation’s leading lowest participation rates. Using primitive psychological techniques, the only way the latter think to get their way is to browbeat everybody else into accepting their way -- as though there is no other.

But if we know nothing else today, it is that life as a generalization for all, does not exist, but is only limited by our awareness of the possible, and our willingness to adapt them into our own lives. It is not free -- but they are well worth it. All that is required, is that one knows what they are getting -- because not everybody possesses that appreciation and gratitude.

That is the one thing one doesn’t find in the popular culture -- because their cultural message is that there is never enough, no matter what and how much one has. That is the underlying message in the old world of information and communcations -- only for the purpose of discussing and legitimizing (reinforcing) age-old deficiencies and needs as the only way they can ever be.

There is no culture and language for the sharing of the new -- of creativity, ingenuity, prosperity and goodwill -- as the ordinary course of daily living. It is only one calamity and controversy after another -- as the daily course of the national life and identity -- that many are realizing, they can opt out of -- just by not tuning in to that negativity.

Somebody, somewhere, at any time, is doing something marvelous and wonderful that one won’t hear about -- and all that is left in old culture, is the negativity of all that doesn’t work. But rather than being mesemerized by that, addicted to that way of looking at life, intelligent life of the present times, finds those ways that do work -- for themselves, and in personally choosing those ways, manifest the reality of the experience to come for many more in society.

Those are the cultural heroes (leaders) of these times, rather than the old who merely hold ceremonial titles labeling themselves as such. These people have to at least find out what is happening in the world of ingenuity -- instead of demanding more funding for the continuation of problems that are obviously not the solution.

Understanding Conditioning(repeat) FOCUS (Channel 49, Honolulu, Hawaii) 1/2/2007 2:00:00 PM A revolutionary new way of looking at exercise. Environmental/Health


At January 01, 2007 6:36 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Kuwait Times ^ | 1-1-07 | Dr. Sami Alrabaa

Generally speaking, the media worldwide report predominantly about the sensational, catastrophes, deaths, controversial statements by international personalities, wars, celebrity stories, gossip, rumours and the abnormal.

News about socio-economic success, development and progress is scantily tackled. A veteran German reporter told me this kind of news is boring for media consumers. People prefer the sensational. Hence, media providers fiercely compete to get hold of dramatic events. This is the kind of news that mesmerises people to the media. Commercial media, above all TV channels rejoice in reporting about wars and killing, the sooner the better. They rush to the scene of events and report live. "Thank God! At last something sensational is happening. Now we can make money (through commercials of course)." Commercial TV owners celebrate joyfully. Sensational events overshadow normal, ordinary, effective, humane achievements.

Had Mohammed Yunus not won this year's Nobel Prize for peace, no body would have taken notice of his great Mini-Loan Bank in Bangladesh which helped eradicate poverty for seven million people. International media used to report almost only about floods and poverty from Bangladesh. Yunus's work was ignored. It was not sensational enough. Commercial media live on the sensational, the weird, the bloody, the negative, the abnormal, and the controversial.

All this seems to apply to Iraq. We only hear and read bad news from Iraq: suicide and car bombs. Random killing, sabotage, and destruction are the only news we get from Iraq. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General describes the situation in Iraq as "worse than a civil war." Obviously he watches only CNN. But is Iraq really only killing and destruction?

An American businessman with links to major parts of Iraq told me another story of Iraq. While he admits that there is daily killing and destruction in Iraq, there is also construction, development, progress and freedom. Here are some of his facts: Slowly but steadily, "80 per cent of Iraqis are creeping (back) to (normal) life."

"Um Qasr, in the southeast extremity of Iraq on the Persian Gulf" which was deserted by the spring of 2003 is back to normal. "It is back in business as a port with commercial and military functions. "Hundreds of families have returned - joining many more who have come from all over Iraq."

"The boom in Um Qasr is part of a broader picture that also includes Basra, the sprawling metropolis of southern Iraq"

Very few media report about good news from Iraq. "Newsweek has just hailed the emergence of a booming market economy in Iraq as "the mother of all surprises," noting "Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are." The reason, of course, is that Iraqis know what is going on in their country while Americans are fed a diet of exclusively negative reporting from Iraq."

The growing dynamism of the Iraqi economy is reflected in the steady increase in the value of the national currency, the dinar, against the three currencies in direct competition with it in the Iraqi marketplace: the Iranian rial, the Kuwaiti dinar and the US dollar, since January 2006."

"No doubt, part of the dinar's strength reflects the rise in Iraq's income from oil exports to almost $40 billion in 2006, an all-time record. But oil alone does not explain all, since both Iran and Kuwait are bigger exporters than Iraq."

"The fact that civil-servant salaries have increased by almost 30 per cent, with a further 30 per cent due to come into effect early next year, also has helped boost demand.

But a good part of the boom is due to an unexpected flow of foreign capital. This has been facilitated by the prospect of a liberal law on direct foreign investments, which exists only in such free-trade parts of the region as Dubai and Bahrain . None of Iraq 's six neighbours offers such guarantee for the free flow of capital to and from the country."

"Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the number of private companies in Iraq has increased from a mere 8,000 to more than 35,000 this year. Each week an average of 60 new companies spring up in Iraq 's booming areas. A good part of the investment in southern Iraq , including in Um Qasr, comes from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates."

"Whatever happens, Iraq is Iraq ," says a Kuwaiti businessman, building hotels in the south. "Iraq will always remain the country with the world's largest oil reserves and the Middle East's biggest resources of water."

"One hears similar comments from local and foreign businessmen investing in real estate in Najaf and Karbala. Over 200 million Shiite Muslims regard the cities as holy. Najaf and Karbala have always been dream destinations for pilgrims. Under Saddam Hussein, however, few foreign pilgrims were allowed. With the despot gone, pilgrims are pouring in-and with them the fresh money."

"That good business is possible in Iraq is reflected in the performance of new companies, most of which did not exist three years ago. One privately owned mobile phone company is expected to report revenues of more than $500 million this year, a sevenfold increase in three years. Another private firm marketing soft drinks has seen profits double since the end of 2003. The number of luxury cars imported has risen from a few hundred in 2002 to more than 20,000 this year. The leading export of Iraq is producing nearly $41 billion in revenues."

But what about continued attacks of insurgents and terrorists?

"Most foreign investors coming to make money in Iraq shrug their shoulders. "Doing business in any Arab country is always risky," says a Turkish investor who has set up a trucking company and a taxi service. "In some Arab countries, you risk nationalization or straight confiscation by the ruler. In other Arab countries, you must give a cut to one of the emirs (and princes). Here, you face possible terrorist attacks. But such attacks are transitory."

"The relatively low cost of labour is another attraction to investors. Wages in Iraq , where unemployment is (still) over 30 per cent, are less than a quarter of the going rates in Kuwait . Nevertheless, the Iraqi boom appears to be attracting some Iranian labourers from areas close to the border-people who come in for a few days to make some money before returning home."

"Although Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's government has slowed down the pace of privatisation, the foundations of the command economy created by Saddam continue to crumble."

"The transition from a rentier economy-in which virtually the whole of the population depended on government handouts-to a free-market capitalist one entails much hardship for some segments of society. Many pensioners and some civil servants find it hard to make ends meet as prices rise across the board. The end of government subsidies on virtually everything-from bread and sugar to gasoline and water-is also causing hardship."

"But, judging by the talk in teahouses and the debate in Iraq's new and pluralist media, most people welcome the switch to capitalism and regard it as an exciting adventure.

"Since 2003 the salaries of average Iraqis have risen in excess of 100 per cent. In addition the Iraqi government has slashed the income tax rates from 45 per cent to just around 15 per cent. That has resulted in the average Iraqi family being able to develop long term nest-eggs (we call them IRAs)." "Gasoline is only .56 cents a gallon. It wouldn't be that high except that Iraq decided to payoff some of its debt to the World Bank and are using energy profits to do so.

In addition much of the formerly centralised organisation of the economy has been turned over to private sector endeavours and while some government sectors have seen a spike in unemployment, private sector unemployment is hovering around 30 per cent. High to you and me, but still better than in the Saddam era."

The more and more Iraqis are taken on the board of development, the less they would listen to warlords and terrorist groups. Insurgents are not recruited among the 70 per cent of peaceful and diligent Iraqis; they are recruited among the 30 per cent jobless and retainers of the old regime. I'm confidant and millions of Iraqis with me that the course of development will prevail.


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