Tag Archives: neoliberalism

Hero of the Week Award: March 15, Perween Rahman

15 Mar
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week’s hero is a sad example of how great work often goes unnoticed until it is eclipsed by tragedy. Perween Rahman was a Pakistani architect. She left her potentially lucrative career at a young age to join the Orangi Pilot Project, a group founded in the 1980s to address sanitation, health, and housing issues in Karachi.

The largest city in Pakistan, Karachi has boomed from under 500,000 to over 18 MILLION people in five decades. Much of that insane growth has been the rise of slums and squatter villages. Unscrupulous developers, capitalizing on the rising value of property, would sell small plots to poor families. This land had no structures and no connection to basic infrastructure. As a result, most of the city lives in horrific conditions–thank you, neoliberalism.

The Oragni Pilot was established as a local power program, using microfinance and local organizing to get residents to create innovative solutions to their own problems–good social work. It has been enormously successful in raising the standard of living for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis. Over time, it has expanded to apply its model to rural health and sanitation and other research and application projects. After several years of work with Orangi, Perween Rahman became its director.

Sadly, this great humanitarian work ran against powerful developer interests and crime cartels that profited from property turnover and sales scams. Rahman and her colleagues frequently received threats but carried on for the greater good. On March 13, at the age of 54, Perween Rahman was shot four times in the chest and neck; she died on the way to the hospital. This woman dedicated her life — literally — to improving conditions for others against great odds. We should all celebrate her work and honor her sacrifice, taking it as an inspiration in our lives.

Hero of the Week Award: April 13, Barney Frank

13 Apr

Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA) has never been one to mince words. This week he was particularly clear as he dismantled the chicanery that is the budget proposed by House Budget Chair Rep. Paul (I hate the 99%) Ryan (R – WI – of course). Reneging on every promise the House Republicans made during negotiations with the White House, Ryan’s plan is heavy on defense, light on needed tax reform, and brutal to the poor and needy (who cares about marginalized populations). For some reason, most of the media focus on his claims that he’s pushing needed belt tightening. Well, Barney Frank will have none of that. In an interview with TPM, he lays it out clearly.

It’s not deficit reduction when you increase military spending so that you can make up for that by cutting Medicare and Medicaid. That’s not budget reduction. That’s ideology. That’s the right wing. The other great scam for Ryan is to say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to help the rich people … I’m going to lower their rates and get rid of loopholes,’ although he doesn’t mention a single loophole that he’ll get rid of.

He’s also stern with the press, making the clear case that being independent of partisanship is very different from picking topics from both parties for “balance.”

Here’s the deal. The pundits don’t want to consider themselves to be siding with the Democrats. It’s important for their self-image that they be seen as centrist. The problem is the Republican Party has given them fewer and fewer things that they can identify with, because they’ve moved so far to the right. … So they have to find something they can support on the Republican side to maintain this self-image that they’re somehow independent of the parties. And so they pick up the Ryan budget.

Well said, Rep. Frank! After 30 years in the House, he has decided to retire and announced his forthcoming marriage to his long-time partner, James Ready.  Frank’s irascible wit and straightforward approach to politics will be sorely missed. We wish him much happiness in the next phase of his life. Who will pick up the torch and speak truth to power to help the disenfranchised?

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