Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaack!

Let me begin by dispelling the rumor that my long absence was the consequence of being placed in protective custody at Wildwood.  Let's just say I had to leave the country for a while.  The federal government was only slightly involved.

I did pay attention while I was in places where English wasn't spoken and did come away with some consistent observations:

1) I didn't see any obese people (other than some tourists from the US).  Most towns/cities had vibrant central business areas where most folks shopped/did business on foot.  Not much pre-processed food available.  I saw one Hummer (driven guessed it, someone from the US).

2) China.  I was no where near that country, but they are everywhere.  They are providing developing countries with what they need: cheap consumer goods ranging from home appliances to little motorcycles.  Guess what?  They have also cornered the alternate energy market.  Even in some very remote and impoverished places that have no (or unreliable) power sources, most every home has solar panels from China that provide enough energy to run  a few lights, a TV and a satellite dish.   Small-scale is good.

3) There's a powerful and growing middle class in developing countries.  The growth of the bourgeoisie is bringing (relative) political stability, prosperity and safety to these countries.  And many of the economies have experienced more growth than what we've had here.

4) Environmental protection laws are a good thing.  I know SOLdotna, anyone who recycles here is a considered an extreme whacko greenie,  but if you think that protecting the environment is a bad thing, go check out countries where those laws don't exist or where no one even thinks of enforcing them.  It's horrific.  But it was encouraging that it is the local, ordinary folks, the ones who live with the consequences of putting profits ahead of safety and poisoning the land (and humans), that are insisting that rules are put in place and enforced.  So far, greed and corruption still have the upper hand.

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