Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greed:More Internationally Infectious Than H1N1

I'm Just Wondering... when will Western-based NGO's and churches figure out that they have bought a bad bag of goods in regards to the ideas of Development in the Developing world...

There is the totally crazy idea that Western-based works... be they faith-based works for church-planting and discipleship, as well as social-development works like water drilling or health-care... that Western leaders, pastors, teachers, healthcare worlers, etc can go into a Developing-Least-Developed Country, "raise up leaders" "disciple and release leaders", "pass the vision to up-and-coming national leaders"... many forms of this ides... then somehow, at some point the nationals "get it", will take it over and aggresively find ways to "bless their own people" with continuing and expanding the said work (church-planting, drilling wells, taking care of the sick, etc) with their own resources and efforts... as the Westerners sneak out the back door and self-congratulate each other for having pulled it off...


FIRST... in the history of Development, either fatih-based or NGO work, the few works like this are exactly that... RARE. I have RARELY seen it (20+ years of international work), NEVER read about it in any way that lasted longer than a few years, and never past a rare one or two national who actually tried it.

I know that my heros like Bryant Myers and Dan Fountain worked hard to raise up nationals in Development, but their systems didn't last longer than 5 years, then 'economic entropy' spun them to a standstill in Zaire/Congo, Haiti, Ecuador, Guatemala, etc...

Definitely, the national pastors from xyz denomination or group go OUT OF THEIR WAY to create funding-stream ties that will INCREASE from the West, never diminish... I call it 'pocket-rattling', and in Zambia, I became weary of evangelical pastors trying to see how much they could get out me, how much money I could secure from them from America...

SECOND... how can the idea that the start-up of a work can be done with monies from the West, then (happily) shift to internally-funded-by-nationals sustainability??
This idea is based in a hippie-flower-child concept that the poor in Africa, Asia and South-Central America want to invest in thier own welfare... all they need to be shown is how to do it...

The missing reality is that the economies of most of these places really stink... few opportunities, graft-corruption run rampant, employers who are worse than slave-owners, monthly salary that a 19-yr-old working in a US Starbucks exceeds in one day of wage+tips.

So the Westerner gets off the plane, wearing tennis shoes worth a 6-month local salary, a huge amount of money behind him (or her) to get to country... to find a way to convince nationals to start something that that THEY have to pay for??

Give me a break...

TRUTH: The economy created by NGO's is a major factor in so many places in the world. I saw it in Zambia. The NGO's hire nationals, and for those nationals, they are great jobs. They have NO intention of letting the Westerners bring their project to the place where they 'pull out because it's self-managed and self-sustainable'.. because they know that as code-speak for 'the Western money dries up, and they want us to dig the ditches on our own time them... with no wage..."

Sorry Bono, but how do we create 'justice for the poor' in Africa and not go in with big $$$ programs... when they don't have an economy to build anything for themselves, it's hand-to-mouth existence, day-to-day economic survival...

I am convinced that we need to find a different paradigm for development. The previously-mentioned idea is, quite frankly, bankrupt.

I am not sure how to do it well... I'm working on that... I do think that Moyo (Dead Aid) may be on to something...


Thursday, October 8, 2009

What do THEY think about Christians?

I'm Just Wondering... how will we ever cure the 'them vs us' problem of those outside of faith in Christ and the Church... and those inside the box...

New book: uNChristian: What a Generation Really Thinks about Christianity, by Kinnaman and Lyons. (2009).

Research by the Barna group (good work in the past), via interviews with thousands of people late teens to early 30's (key demographic) who are agnostics, atheists, non-Christian traditions and 'unchurched' (and don't want to be).

Findings: negative opinions of 'born again' and 'evangelicals'.
Negative to the Christian 'swagger', how Christians project a (undesirable and offensive) 'sense of self-importance'.
Some report that Christians 'have bark... and bite'.
Six broad themes captured:
<>too convert-focused
<>too political

Authors make suggestions on how those professing to be Christians can move from negatively-viewed 'unChristian' positions and behaviors to being Christian (a positive).



08 October Health Insurance Reform, not Healthcare Reform

I'm Just Wondering... when the rhetoric from Washington will get it straight... all the hankering and yelling and partisan fighting is totally about health INSURANCE reform, and not healthcare reform!

I heard this on the radio when driving around in Reno, NV, some Nevada doctor who is a major public health person there... just so you know it's not my idea...

I still think requiring ANY healthcare entity... big pharm, insurance magnets, hospital and clinic systems, med equipment suppliers... that ANY company that receives ONE DOLLAR of public (writ large: govermental grant) monies MUST be NON-PROFIT... now THAT would be reform!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Healthcare 09: No Public Option, No Reform... Period!

I'm Just Wondering... will Healthcare Reform really happen in 2009, or will special interest win again??

Bottom line... NO Public Option for healthcare access, NO reform... period.

If the healthcare insurance industry wins this bit, with the Republicans being the go-to boys for their wishes... it will be same-old-same-old thing... dressed up but "Mission Accomplished" banners over every major healthcare insurance, hospital and Big Pharm location in the country...

and the 60 million + uninsured-underinsured will probably swell to 100 million...

... just watch!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sotomayer and wise Latinas

I'm Just Wondering... what will happen to the Republicans the next time there is a Supreme Court nomination...

They are 'majoring' on her 'wise Latina' comment as a HUGE part of their 'objections' to her judicial wisdom... a comment made in jest at a public dinner...

The current Republican leadership better wake up and smell the coffee, because they are about to self-inflict mortal wounds that can make them the party of extinction. Hatch and Kyle and McConnell need to write better legislation that is about people and not profit corporations, be origional in their insights and comments (and ignore the Republican play-books that we've all seen leaked), and learn to be quiet when faced with the choice of 'say something that elevates trivia to partisan politics' or simply 'defer'.

We all love and respect genuine debate and problem-identification. Hanging your argument on a public, 'off the record' quip at a dinner table shows nothing but desparation on the part of Republicans to make some point...

... and the point then becomes that the Republican party leaders have nothing relavent to say... and next time, their seats may all be vacant...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Healthcare Debate 2009... for Profit or Health4All??

I'm Just Wondering... when will the fog that is set over the current healthcare debate clear away, and we will see that the FUNDAMENTAL issus is... healthcare as a for-profit industry, or Health4All Aericans???

Bill Moyers (check out, click Bill Moyers) ran the most provocative show last week about healthcare. His guest is a 'wistle-blower' from the Insurance industry. Bottom lines: the industry worked 100 hrs/week to kill reform in the 90's under Clintons, workded hard to discredit Michael Moore and his 'Sicko' project (not hard, becuz Moore is a bit of a crank, but 'Sicko' was alarmingly right-on and a bit of a uncovering investigation on the daily sins of the Health Insurance business)... and are now 100% geared up to defeat any healthcare policy change that includes a public health option... BECAUSE the for-profit healthcare mulit-trillion dollar industry would be closed for business and found out to be the shake-down operation that it is.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership have become the lackeys for the for-profit healthcare industry. Read Luntz's playbook for the for-profits, then listen to the Republicans. This breaks my heart, as I used to be a Republican, and I accept many Republican ideas of government and taxes... but they have become the front-men for the Industry.

Bottom line, America. For-profit Healthcare at the same price we now have... or Health4All, and the Industry and their Republican front-men lose all their huge cushy profits (and political contributions).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

TLC's Jon & Kate... living in a vaccuum 2009

I'm Just Wondering... how long this totally detached, individualistic, non-community culture can survive on this planet??

OK, yes, been on 'grand-baby watch' at my daughters house near Reno, and watching alot more cable/satalite TV than I normally do... no, we only have local basic service at our house (who needs more? I get to watch every Padre baseball game, and LOST when it's running!)...

... and I became acquainted with the TLC phenom "Jon & Kate", which any cable TV-goer knows is this show about a young couple (Jon and Kate... uhhh...) and their 8 kids... living a pretty lower-upper-class lifestyle in the eastern USA... yeah, they have a Hummer and pretty nice house and clothes... so the $$$ ain't the issue for them... of course, the TLC thing is filmed like a reality show, and I'm sure Jon and Kate get a nice bit of $$ for the gig...

Anyway, the shows I saw were all about two young married people in total angst about their lives and their marriage... Kat e weeping and weeping, "I can't do this anymore..." but a constant "we are keeping it together for the kids" (and there are 8, so they must have had some marrital bliss along the way... )

... and in the last week of June, announced that they have filed for divorce... and TLC is trying to plumb the viewing public if their ratings would be high IF they continue to film the show during the break-up... or will there be a back-lash against TLC for being so shark-ish and continue to film, using the plight of the children to grab for ratings... I vote for shutting off the cameras...

ANYWAY, it made me wonder... what are the root problems with the JON & KATE situation???

Here's what I suspect... during the shows I saw, I viewed a very, very, VERY thin level of relationship outside their little bubble... no significant flow of family around them (they admittedly live away from their families, with the occasional and perfunctory visits annually), no strong social group around them (friendships are very neat and tidy and 'clink wine-glasses'... but not very real or involved)... no church or real faith-based group contact...

For my part, JON & KATE are about the real, 2009-ish couple that have 'everything'... and a totally isolated, non-community, sterile, modern-times nuclear family... and it's all melting down!!!

I'm not suggesting some quick solution to their terrible problem... it is heart-breaking.... but it seems to be a poster-child example of what the 'end result' of our Western culture is heading for... the 'nuclear family' idea of the New Mellinium leads to a smoldering heap of radio-active waste that is toxic to human life!!!

"It takes a village to raise a child" does not mean the American cul-de-sac of a million-dollar home and SUV, and nobody is really relating... or being all nice and PC and civil... but very, very fractured in reality

"It takes a village..." does not mean a quaint little church group that meets on Sunday, shakes hands, listens to some nice sermon and goes off, not to be all intertwined together the rest of the week...

Jon & Kate (and children) are the normal outcome of non-relationship culture.

I'd like to suggest that "It takes a village to raise a child" be grafted together with "We are all in this together" and the proverbial phrase of my fav TV show, "Live together, die alone".

Jon and Kate and kids... I'm praying for you to find a real community of peeps for you. Yes, it's all messy and there are tempers and bad dispositions... but "It takes a village, we are all in this together, and definitely, it's live together, die alone!"