Friday, October 13, 2006

Let's Talk About Microloans

There is a tendency in this country to throw gobs of money at problems. Some want to throw it from the top down in the form of tax bribes to spur industry. Some want to push it from the bottom up through tax enabled wealth redistribution.

Perhaps, it's time for a third way.

Which brings me to Muhammad Yunus. He won this year's Nobel Peace Prize and he was not the usual choice. Mr. Yunus founded the Bangladeshi Grameen Bank which specializes in microloans. It operates on the belief that those who need the most help do not necessarily need the most money. He began his economic program with a loan of 27 dollars to 42 people people. Roll that around in your head for a while. 27 dollars. 42 people.

It is an unusual but inspired choice. Peace will always be an illusion without economic stability. It is much easier to discuss such high concepts as peace if the person to whom you are talking is not worried about their next meal.

We've tried bribes. We've tried hand outs. Isn't it worth trying something new? Isn't individual economic independence what we all desire? Isn't it time to talk about new ways like microloans?

Maybe it takes a Nobel Peace Prize to start that conversation. I can only hope.


Sara said...

When I saw that article this morning I knew you would be all over that shit!

I think the hardest thing for people to wrap their head around in this concept will be that if you're not giving that much money, you don't need to have an insanely difficult qualification process and therefore you are accepting the risk that a higher percentage of folks won't pay their loans back as opposed to the traditional loan process. People just hate hearing about how someone bilked the government or got something for free when they shouldn't have. (See, e.g., Hurricane Katrina aid recipients spending their aid money at strip clubs or making fraudulent claims.)

Button Gwinnett said...

Grift, thanks for calling this to our attention. I read the article a couple of days ago. But then I was listening to Ilise Glink on WSB today talking about microloans and the success that it's had both in helping and promoting peace.

Good stuff.....