Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chavez says US needs new constitution

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez says that he has the cure for the woes on Wall Street - a new constitution for the United States.

Chavez blamed capitalism for the financial crisis and said that the US should draw up a new "truly democratic" constitution. According to Chavez, America is run by a "dictatorship of the elite", namely big banks and corporations that enrich themselves at the people's expense, and that power must be returned to the people.

"Let the US empire end and let a great nation and great republic rise from the ruin ... It's time to shout 'Liberty!' again in the United States," Chavez said.

Of course the US government accuses Chavez of running Venezuela as a near dictatorship and of silencing any political opposition, so they may not be terribly open to his definition of "democracy".

Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus said that perhaps Wall Street should look to the world's poorest people for idea on how to get out of this financial crisis.

Yunus has been called the "banker to the poor", his Grameen Bank helped to start the concept of microfinance - giving small loans to some of the world's poorest people to help them start small businesses to lift themselves out of poverty. With loans of a few hundred dollars or less, people in desperate poverty have been able to purchase items like sewing machines, or even a cow, that enable them to produce and sell products and earn a living. Yunus began his lending more than 30 years ago with a $27 loan to a woman in Bangladesh.

What's most amazing is that his Grameen Bank has a loan repayment rate of more than 98%. "Don't ignore them (the poor) ... we lend over a billion dollars a year," he said. "We have to get out of the mindset that the rich will do the business and the poor will have the charity," he told an audience at the Clinton Global Initiative.
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