It’s going to be a crazy week with board meetings, audit committees etc, so I’m going to do some quick posts with my video interview series with FINCA clients around the world. Check out this amazing lady, Priche, who runs a bakery in Dar Es Salaam. “>
I spoke to the George Papandreou, the Prime Minister of Greece, today to see how their efforts were going to stave off a second global financial meltdown. I was a bit concerned as I had heard that the latest strategy was to let them default on their debt, which would bring down a number of major European banks who prudently loaded up on Greek debt over the years.
“No, no, no,” the Prime Minister told. “We have the situation firmly in hand. We have a plan, and we are executing it.”
I asked if the plan was to exact more sacrifices from the Greek people, like raising the retirement age from 50 to something more in line with the rest of the industrialized world.
After the Prime Minister stopped laughing, he said: “Rupert, please understand. Our country founded civilization and democracy. It was a lot of work. We are entitled to rest for a while now.”
I asked him to define “a while”.
“We’ll let you know,” he promised. “Beside, you northerners are workaholics. Those of us from the southern hemisphere have a more balanced approach to life. It works out. You guys generate the wealth, and we spend it.”
I pressed him for more details on the plan.
“For now, the plan is to have the German people bail us out a third time.”
And if that isn’t enough?
“We’re thinking of selling some landmarks and islands. The Chinese are very interested in the Parthenon. The hedge fund managers who crashed the global financial system last time and made billions from it are in a bidding war for some of our islands.”
It got me to thinking: maybe this could be a solution for our country? I wonder how much Hawaii would go for?
And why stop at islands? Why not sell the whole thing? Then this whole tax-deficit debate would go away.
I asked my assistant to put me through to Boehner. He should take my call. After all, it’s me, not Obama calling.
In which FINCA International’s CEO gets “>some advice on our interest rate. Also, some have commented “Are you really that fat? What happened to that six-pack abdomen?” Come one, everyone knows the camera adds ten pounds! In my case, twenty. And what a mistake to wear white! Live and loyne.
Thou comest, much wept for: such a breeze
Compell’d thy canvas, and my prayer
Was as the whisper of an air
To breathe thee over lonely seas.
I first met Bill Doherty in 1978 in the Domincian Republic, under circumstances he would rather forget. I was invited to a reception organized by Doherty’s American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), which had hired me to design a rice marketing scheme for a peasant farmer union affiliated to the Dominican Labor Confederation. Doherty had arrived by Lear Jet in the company of all the AFL-CIO bigwigs — including “The Plumber” himself, George Meany — to witness the electoral victory of Doherty’s handpicked candidate, Rafael Tejada. The problem was, as Bill discovered only upon landing, Doherty’s candidate was going to lose. His Country Director had screwed up, and lost touch with the rank-and-file. Tejada was a corrupt blow hard, good at making speeches but a zero when it came to delivering to his members, and they all hated him. They were going to elect instead someone more left-leaning, who would be an anathema to Doherty and the AFL-CIO. In short, a major embarrassment.
All this was explained to me as Joe Campos, the guy who hired me, led me through the crowd to introduce me to Doherty. “Oh, hi, yeah, good to meet you!” His hand struck at mine like a barrucada at a silver lure, and then the big Irish-American turned back to his reaming of his Country Director.
Doherty was one of the most colorful human beings I have ever known. He was not content to be a witness to history, he had to make it. I will never forget the excitement of being called to “the bridge” (his office) in the middle of the wars going on in Central America during the 80s. It was like being admitted to a secret room where the fates of nations were being decided. He taught me much of what I know about politics. In 1983, at the height of the war, he asked me to take over the El Salvador program. I told him my only reservation was that I had met a woman I was in love with, and I didn’t think she would quit her job just to follow me to El Salvador. Doherty, a staunch Catholic, had the answer: “We’re going to hire your girlfriend, but you have to marry her.”
Sleep well, Bill.
As I have recorded earlier in this space, Bruno, my dog, objects to my leaving the house. Usually this protest takes the form of racing towards me with the muzzle velocity of Glock round, after which I whirl and shout at him, and he pulls up just short of my ankles. Often Penny, the mini daschund, acts as my wing man (or woman), biting Bruno on the back of his neck until he desists.
Oh, and all the while, Sweet Lorraine is shouting over the hubub “Stop, you’re scaring him!”
I don’t think she’s talking to Bruno.
Lorraine insists that if I just do nothing, that Bruno will break off his attack and allow me to exit our home peacefully. So, today I thought, ‘Why not?’ Let’s give it a shot’.
The picture above is the result. The little bugger bit me! I mean, REALLY bit me! That’s not strawberry jam, that’s my hemoglobin!
Still, Lorraine insisted, even this time, that I had brought this upon myself. Prudently — after 28 years of marriage I have learned to think before I speak — I said nothing, but I did take it up with Bruno to get his take on the whole incident.
“Bruno, was this my fault?”
“We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.”
“Bruno, that wasn’t the question…..”
“We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.”
Then I realized I had left the radio on yesterday morning, tuned to WMAL 630. It reminded me of the time I was listening to Rush and an hysterical woman came on asking him “I don’t understand, Rush, why do they (Liberals) hate America?”
So, now, in the wake of the loss of our National Debt Rating, it’s my turn: Rush Limbaugh, why do you hate America?
I first went to Somalia in the late 80s at the request of Ben Brown, a former Peace Corps volunteer and UN Development Programme official who had hired me to design small farmer credit projects in a number of countries in Africa. Ben and I worked in a number of dangerous countries over the years, but ironically he was killed in Phoenix, Arizona, when he surprised a burgular in his brother’s apartment.
In Mogadishiu, we usually pitched up in the Al-Aruba Hotel, which was right on the coast and had a fabulous view of the Indian Ocean from its seaside rooms, a feature which helped to leaven the hotel’s other not-so-charming aspects. Thrown up hastily to house officials from a Pan-African conference that never happened, the hotel had only a handful of rooms where everything — the A/C, the water, the electricity — worked, and even these could hold surprises for the unsuspecting guest. Like the rat I awoke to find eyeing me hungrily from the foot of my bed.
Other fond memories of Somalia include sitting on the porch of our guest house in the middle of the desert when a huge owl flew out of the night and smacked squarely into my colleague, sending his whiskey flying. Or driving along side a herd of goats who, inexplicably, began charging ahead at a full gallop, only to find them a half kilometer down the road with their thirsty snouts plunged deep into the muddy waters of the Shebelle. Or walking on the beach at night, through a herd of bedoins and their camels, and then awaking an hour later at my dump of a hotel, my body covered with silver-dollar size camel flea bites. It reminded me of how every other chapter in T.E. Lawrence’s “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” ended: “And the fleas delighted in the fresh meats served to them.”
I didn’t stay in the Al Aruba that last trip, because it was deemed too dangerous. I stayed instead in a small pensione near the UNDP office, where I was kept up most nights by the crackle of automatic weapon fire.
A few weeks after I left, Barre packed his wives and loot into a 727 and fled to Nairobi. His government fell a few days later, and Somalia has been in chaos every since.