Saturday, June 10, 2006

This isn't rocket science

Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy speaking at New York University’s commencement:
Think of the people around the world, and particularly in Africa, who have no clean water. Women in Africa — and the job falls to women — must spend six, eight hours a day just in trying to bring clean water to their children.
Eight billion hours a year of human effort are spent just in bringing water. And when I heard that statistic, sitting like you are in an audience, I thought, "Well, he must have said eight million." Then I thought, "Maybe it's 80 million." It's eight billion hours a year of wasted effort because the water is often contaminated when it gets there. This isn't rocket science. You can fix this.

You’re right Mr. Kennedy, development is not rocket science.  It’s much harder.

Every little thing is gonna be all right

Peru is going to make it.  

Why am I suddenly reconvinced of this fact?  The answer lies in my recent visit to Mercado Mayorista (“Oldest Market” for those that haven’t been practicing their castellano).

The Mercado Mayorista is a few square blocks that serve as a center for all fabric and clothe sellers in Lima.  What surprised me was the vibrancy of the market and the sheer mass of humanity.  In just one concrete building, there were signs that said listed the maximum capacity per floor as 1200 people.  While we probably didn’t make it halfway to that number, each of the 11 floors was swarming with people.  In short, this was the densest group of people I have ever been witness to outside of a fútbol (or football) stadium.  All just going about their business in a country that does have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

On the bus back to Ica I sat next to a very friendly civil engineer.  After chatting a bit about the world cup and other sports, we got talking about politics and economics in Peru.  This guy was clearly educated.  He did not come from a poor family.  

And you know what he said to me about Alan Garcia?  “El tiene la oportunidad para ser el mejor presidente en la historia del Perú.”  I couldn’t agree more.