I was skeptical reading Jonathan Tepperman’s book The Fix (Amazon | Indiebound) at first, because as much as I’d like to say that I’m a pretty open and flexible person, my politics are not. I’ve been invested in a specific ideology for a while now, something that has helped me understand the world, our society and how people function.
With a barrage of economic and political crisis around the world, it’s inevitable to lean into a little bit of idealism. To dream up of an alternative world where the 1% isn’t ravaging the rest of us, where wars aren’t the norm, where governments actually function to serve the people.
The reality is grim. The level of inequality among the world’s population is at the highest, threats of nuclear warfare are imminent, and the political rhetoric is at its most toxic, at its worst. And this is only in the United States.
But there is hope, as Tepperman writes in The Fix. And even better — there are solutions. As he breaks down the “terrible ten,” most pressing issues of our time such as poverty, immigration, Islamic extremism and political gridlock, he also provides concrete illustrations of how different countries have tackled them.
Ten problems (half political, half economic), ten countries, ten solutions.
But first, it is important to note Tepperman’s premise, as illustrated by the cases he presented. Much of these solutions rely on existing government structures and more specifically, politicians.
Take Brazil for example. In a country where about a third of the population is beneath the international poverty line (defined as living on less than $2 a day), former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva implemented a policy which defied all conventional wisdom (and politicking). He introduced Bolsa Família, a social welfare program which attempted to reduce short-term poverty by providing direct cash transfers provided that families ensure their children’s educated and vaccination.
Described by The Economist as an anti-poverty scheme that was winning converts
worldwide, close to about forty million Brazilians moved from poverty into middle class, with the average household income up by 27 percent.
The program is not without fault of course, and also drew criticism from other sectors of the government and Brazilian society. Still, Tepperman was able to illustrate something that many nations are adopting at the moment, like the Philippines and Zambia. Continue reading