The Rationale Behind Rules, Regulations, and Rations

Last night I had the opportunity to go check out a one-night showing of the documentary “To Catch a Dollar,” featuring Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus and the micro-finance organization he helped to found, Grameen, which started in Bangladesh (his home country) and which has been brought to the States as Grameen America, largely focused in New York so far, and looking to expand into other interested communities. Following the main part of the documentary there was footage from a panel on Mar. 9, 2011 that featured Professor Yunus, Suze Orman (financial author), Premal Shah (Kiva), Vidar Jorgensen (Grameen America), and Maria Bartiromo as moderator.

While I found the quality of the video a little lacking in places (a bit jerky and the lighting could have been better), I felt it portrayed a realistic view of micro-lending’s pros and cons both from the perspective of those lending and those receiving the funds. The stories of the characters shone through, and I was moved with emotion as I watched these women struggle, but at the same time begin to rise above their circumstances with the help of microfinance. I was particularly glad to learn more about both Kiva and Grameen, and will certainly be more likely to participate with both organizations in the future. Your funds are repaid or can be reinvested – very cool.

One of the things that stood out to me as someone interested in owning my own brick-and-mortar business in the future, and as someone interested in causes such as these, was the comment made in the film that all the regulations surrounding getting a business off the ground are very inhibitory, in part because they are designed not so much to protect the general public as to help protect the competition. While of course there are various facets to the problem of regulation, I do think this is probably at play.

The question then becomes, how can we change that? What should we do about it? Obviously some regulations and rules are necessary for public safety, for collecting taxes, the whole bit. But how do we turn things around so that people aren’t penalized for trying to be good citizens, for trying to earn something instead of panhandling, for generating income – which is a good thing for society?

All these “R” words have to do with restrictions, and another one I’ve been thinking about today is rations. Like I wrote about yesterday, there’s certainly a case for moderation, but it’s sad when people don’t have enough food to count on for the upcoming week or other time period and have to ration it – and it becomes very easy to hoard.

In disaster relief situations today, the safe, fair distribution of food can also be a challenge. FedEx and UPS both helped deliver the Numana food we sent to be distributed by the Salvation Army for Haiti Earthquake Relief, and the Salvation Army utilized a barcode system that UPS came up with for keeping track of which families had received meals and how often.

I’ve only read stories about both World Wars and the food rationing that occurred, especially in Europe but also here in the States. I haven’t even experienced the same challenges or shortages that my grandparents remember going through. I’ve been thinking about Victory Gardens and the correlation with community gardens. And I’ve been thinking about portions and why we eat the amount that we do in the first place. I had to run some errands today, and I caught myself thinking of stopping at a fast-food restaurant or other food-related shop probably 6 or more times as I was out and about.

And I realized, yes, in one sense I was hungry (my one meal today will be with my family tonight)…but on the other hand, was food really all I had to dream about? Fill my time with? Look forward to? No way! And yet I purchase food almost without thought on a regular basis. I don’t think we have to wait till our stomach is growling and our tummy is aching to eat…but as I think about it, a lot of the time when I eat, I think I do it because I can. Because it tastes good. Because it’s there and I have the funds…maybe even because I’m bored (which seems shocking to me, as I almost always feel busy and happy to be busy).

Bear in mind, I’m not suddenly turning into an advocate for constantly measuring our portions, counting calories, any of that stuff. I think food was designed to be nourishing to our bodies (although unfortunately much of our current food supply is not), enjoyed, and actually not thought about too much, as I stated previously. But when you’re in good health and can and do “eat like a horse,” like me, I think maybe sometimes it’s good to take a second to think “am I really hungry? Do I really need that?” That’s another reason this fast has been good for me – it’s an exercise in self-discipline.

I haven’t been keeping a list of tally marks for each food that I would have gotten had I not been fasting, to stock up on later. In fact, while I went ON this fast cold-turkey, I plan to go off of it more slowly and gradually…and make sure I savor everything as it comes back in. Believe it or not, I may eat more than I did before when I go back (since I’d been skipping breakfast and eating at odd hours)…but I have a hunch I’m going to try to make it better food, find ways to bring food with me to campus, and maybe save the eating out for times with friends.

Whatever I do, it’s important to me that this fast is not just a low point on a food consumption graph this year, but that it actually helps me think, helps me change my habits, and helps me identify with the needy. Those plans get to wait to be implemented on a future date however…sometime after…oh…Monday. For now I get to enjoy the blessing of ONE meal per day…and enjoy it I will!

Read the rest of the posts in this series:


This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 5:40 pm and is filed under Important Causes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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