Stimulus Measures

Editor’s Note: “Global Perspective” is Perry Newman’s take on what’s going on in the world and what it means closer to home.

From the relative comfort of our offices, easy chairs, living room couches or coffee emporia, we have the luxury of watching the rest of the world struggle. While we might wish for more profit, more customers, or a more vibrant economy, we surely must know that whatever our frustrations or dissatisfactions, we’ve got it pretty good.

To be sure there are those among us whom fortune has not favored. We may have family or friends who are in poor health, or who may be going through personal crises of one form or another. But such situations are either exceptional at the moment or ultimately common to everyone’s experience eventually.

Most of us have more than enough to eat, a roof over our heads, a paycheck coming in, a means of transportation, friends and family who care about us, interests and avocations that we can afford to pursue, and so on. Yet we insist on caterwauling about an endless list of luxury problems.

I often feel that for many of us – myself included – the most effective stimulus measure would be a good kick in the butt.

I had the occasion recently to attend a gathering of a small non-profit called Community Financial Literacy, based in Portland. The organization was celebrating another year of providing financial guidance and training to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers who, in many cases, had left war-torn countries in pursuit of safety and security in this country.

For many of CFL’s clients and constituents, the concepts of banking, building credit and borrowing are new and unfamiliar. For others, there is skepticism that institutions such as banks – or even government – can be fully trusted.

But out of the shadows, in communities many of us will never know, there are now emerging amazing and inspiring stories of grit, determination and success: the small shop that is beginning to accumulate inventory against which it can borrow for expansion … the families buying their own homes, and putting their children through college and university.

Immigration matters to us economically – 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants – but, as important, immigration reminds us that there is little we cannot accomplish if we stop wringing our hands and put our noses to the grindstone.

Look beyond your cubicle, your windshield, your living room or your latte. The world wants what we have and what we too often take for granted. We owe it to those less fortunate to make the most of ourselves, and to make it possible for others to succeed, as well.