It’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly unending torrent of things in the world that, frankly speaking, suck nasty toe cheese. There’s the ongoing effort by the world of high finance to turn the global economy into a gated community, with most of us on the wrong side of the wall. There’s the continuing mission of mega-corporations like Monsanto and Nestle to turn the world’s food and water supply into just another commodity with scarcity enforced for profit. The list goes on.
But, thankfully, there are things in the world that give us reason to be optimistic, or to take a break from the crushing force of cynical pessimism, at the very least. Here is a small sampling:
Student Loan Fairness Act (H.R. 1330) – Adopts what’s known as the “10-10 standard,” meaning students will be required to make 10 years of payments capped at 10 percent of discretionary income. Also caps student loan interest at 3.4 percent and limits the total amount of interest capitalization on a loan at 10 percent of the principle. In other words, under this legislation, American students will be free to make academic and employment decisions according to criteria other than how to avoid/survive crushing student loan payments.
This benefits the individual in the form of a more fulfilled life, and society in the form of a more productive, creative, and free populace—a worthwhile investment to say the least. H.R. 1330 was introduced by Karen Bass, Democrat from California. Let’s hope it passes.
CREDO Mobile – Founded in the ‘80s as Working Assets—an attempt to provide credit card service to working people—CREDO Mobile has since become a serious player in the mobile communications game, with a business model poised to turn the marketplace on its head, offering competitive service quality and prices below what one would normally pay with one of the big boys. CREDO also remains active in political causes, for instance sponsoring a 50,000 signature petition in support of H.R. 1330.
A few months ago, I snagged a plan with unlimited data for less than $80 per month, and have been thrilled with the service. And when I got mixed up on the due date for the bill, I didn’t have to worry about making payment arrangements because CREDO doesn’t interrupt service until someone is 75 days past due. The customer service rep even treated me like a human being. When placed in contrast with the Gotti-esque tactics of AT&T—my previous provider—interacting with CREDO makes me want to order pizza for their entire staff. Which I wouldn’t do because I’m fucking broke, but it’s the thought that’s important.
Elizabeth Warren – Senator Warren’s election was celebrated in this space—twice—but with the caveat that it would be naive to expect her to make too many waves as a junior senator. To your humble columnist’s pleasant surprise, Warren was assigned to the Committee On Banking, Housing, And Urban Affairs, where she has been a massive pain in the ass to every bankster with the misfortune of testifying in front of her.
No doubt her political opponents regret preventing her appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, because if the past few months are any indication, she will do more damage to the Wall Street Crime Family as a United States Senator than she ever would have as an agency chief, where she would have had to answer for not only her decisions but also the performance of an entire bureaucratic structure. As a senator, the bad guys have to answer to her.
The Helpers – Fred Rogers—that’s Mister Rogers to you—once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” This quote became one of the most shared in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing because it happened to perfectly fit the images we were seeing. Runners left the race to donate blood (there was such a huge outpouring of blood donations that the Red Cross had to start turning people away). Firefighters, police officers, emergency medical workers, and National Guard troops all sprang into action, saving many lives and likely preventing further destruction.
And Carlos Arredondo, attending the marathon in support of a suicide prevention group running in honor of his two deceased sons, became an instant hero when he saved the life of Jeff Bauman. The now famous photograph of Arredondo holding Bauman’s artery in his hand as they rushed the gravely wounded man to an ambulance is perhaps one of the most striking images ever captured. Bauman’s hospital bed description of the bombers helped lead to their capture.
It’s easy to lose faith. But there are people out there—a whole hell of a lot of them—who are making the world a better place with every choice they make and risk they take. They are politicians, business people, and everyday citizens, and the inspiration they provide serves as a much-needed counter to the things that make us want to hide away from the world.