"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".
No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."".
The first built his house on a pile of sand, and it was soon destroyed when a storm hit. But the second is known as the wise man, for when "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." "It was founded upon a rock."
We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity: a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.
It's a foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century.
Number one, new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation, not reckless risk-taking.
Number two, new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive.
Number three, new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and new industries.
Number four, new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses.
And, number five, new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations.
... that's the new foundation we must build. That's our house built upon a rock. That must be our future -- and my administration's policies are designed to achieve that future."
"I am planning to show up at our tea party and pass out flyers with a copy of what is at http://www.lcurve.org/
The US population is represented along the length of the football field, arranged in order of income.
Median US family income (the family at the 50 yard line) is ~$40,000 (a stack of $100 bills 1.6 inches high.)
–The family on the 95 yard line earns about $100,000 per year, a stack of $100 bills about 4 inches high.
–At the 99 yard line the income is about $300,000, a stack of $100 bills about a foot high.
–The curve reaches $1 million (a 40 inch high stack of $100 bills) one foot from the goal line.
–From there it keeps going up…it goes up 50 km (~30 miles) on this scale!"