What an odd combination: a lame-duck president in his last year and a soon-to-be-octogenarian with a weak lung taking on Big Business capitalists at home and abroad. There are many scorecards out there that measure these two leaders’ progress over their terms in office but let’s distill them down to a Top Five accomplishments list each.
Let’s see, Obama has done the following:
a) Restored America to its economic powerhouse status from the Bush legacy of a collapsed economy in 2008.
b) Provided Healthcare to those without it in the richest nation on earth.
c) Ended two unpopular and draining wars abroad.
d) Taken a stand on the Environment and on Renewable Energy.
e) Stopped nuclear proliferation with a creative plan on Iran that traditionalists are having a hard time comprehending.
As for the Pope:
a) Cleaned out hidden accounts and rogue budgets at the Vatican.
b) Come out strongly on Climate Change and challenged corporations to comply.
c) Speaks to service rather than privilege within the Church hierarchy and demonstrates it by visiting prisons and washing the feet of prisoners.
d) Talks freely with journalists and reporters instead of using the carefully prepared press statements synonymous with corporate bureaucracies.
e) Has undertaken a reform of the infamous Curia.
Naysayers will argue that many of these initiatives are incomplete or that they have been improperly executed. The fact of the matter is that they have been attempted.
The world goes through cycles of economic systems: capitalists epochs, socialist ones, back to capitalism and so on. None of these systems are perfect, and when they have been in place for long periods, greed infiltrates, a stasis develops, and the epoch begins to crumble. In just the last century, we have seen parts of the world swing from monarchies, to unbridled capitalism to communism, to social-democracy and back to capitalism, with two global wars acting as catalysts for change. We emerged into the 21st century with capitalism being firmly in the lead, and with many of the other systems having fallen behind for reasons of poor implementation and lack-lustre management. But now it’s time for capitalism to take a back-seat for it has gone on for too long and caused too much damage:
a) The rich have got richer, the poor poorer, and by 2016 the world’s wealthiest 1% will own more than 50% of its resources.
b) Climate change is a fact and the 20th century was the warmest in 1300 years. And 14 of the hottest 15 years have occurred in the 21st century.
c) Worker rights have declined; first with governments taking over what trade unions did (because the trade unions themselves created their own bloat and demise), and then reducing those rights with subsequent legislation when under pressure from Big Business sponsors.
d) The world has become an unsafe place, with many countries ending up as “failed states” caused by civil war or economic mismanagement, to the point that the have-nots want to harm the haves, and the haves are erecting walls to keep the have-nots out.
Many of us, once former capitalists, agree that the world has swung too far right and a course correction is required lest we plunge into the abyss. It’s time to bring in the “other guys,” even for a breather, until we find our direction again. Therefore, tough choices need to be made at inflection points like this, and it’s refreshing to know that these two old veterans, Barack and Francis, are willing to lead the charge and go to bat for the rest of the world. It’s a pity that the rest of the world is not rising to this call as a collective, and that people are still polarized and caught up in a “to be or not to be” paralysis, caught in the middle by the clever media manipulation of both sides of the political divide.
Come on guys, give this odd couple a chance. These two aging puppet masters have no more skin in the game, other than personal glory. And personal glory has a better chance pumping some good back into the system than monetary gain which takes value out and places it only at the disposal of the puppet master.