Songs in the Key of Light

  • William Laraque, Managing Director at US-International Trade Services

  • 13.07.2015 01:00 am
  • undisclosed

The art of Rodin, Rembrandt and so many other artists demonstrates that the greatest art is a play of light and darkness. A Rembrandt is also a pitcher in baseball who “paints” the corner of the base with his perfect delivery of the ball. There is no such thing as darkness, just the absence of light. Light is the means by which man peers into the darkness. Faust sold his soul for a chance to peer into the darkness. So did Adam and Eve sell theirs.

There will be a fundraiser on 26 September of this year, on the Great Lawn of Central Park, in NY. This event will raise funds for the 17 new UN Millennium Development Goals, the MDG. The event will prominently feature a number of rock stars and Cold Play, the group famous for “Sky Full of Stars.”  This reminds me of another song, this one by the Eagles, “Already Gone.” The song contains the lyric “You can see the stars and still not see the light.” 

The September 26th event can be transformative for the extremely poor of this earth only if we transform the economics of the process, only if we play “money ball” with the economics.


Reaching the first MDG set by the UN to reduce extreme poverty in the world, was achieved because China was able to lift a massive number of its poor into the middle class. China did this by exporting massively and by creating a global financial and economic development infrastructure called R4I or Resources for Infrastructure Investment, which is seen everywhere from Africa to South America. China is now struggling to maintain economic growth. At the same time Europe and theU.S. are struggling to drive economic growth while coping with the fundamental desire of humanity to seek “the pursuit of happiness.” How an economy can grow and create jobs while providing a refuge from war and violence and economic depravation of the “financially underserved,” is the Millennium challenge. This is not achieved through consumerism or by currency manipulation. It is achieved through economic democracy. It is empowered by the logistics of the delivery of capital to the entrepreneur.

The Pope

Pope Francis challenges us in his exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospels, and in his second encyclicalLaudato Si, We Praise You, from Francis of Assisi’s canticle “We Praise You, O Lord,” to transform Capitalism and economies from short-sightedness, the sole motives of profit, guided by the idolatry of wealth and cost-benefit analysis. What is the cost-benefit analysis or algorithm for a human life; life on this planet? 

I realize that today, nobody reads long exhortations but please read the Brazil Bishop’s statement from Evangelii Gaudium. It is riveting…and pragmatic. Barney Frank, the former Senator, tells us that in order to be transformative, we have to be pragmatic and have to study accounting. 

Economic Transformation 

 On 26 September, Cold Play will be part of a massive exercise in economic delusion. In seeking the light in a “Sky Full of Stars,” the group is part of the darkness. It is part of a WMD, a Weapon of Mass Delusion. The majority of rock stars, economists, politicians, academics and “consultants” have no idea how to raise people from poverty, much less extreme poverty. To paraphrase what George Will said as the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, we have no idea how to build Detroit, how are we going to do nation-building in Iraq? We do shock and awe really well in the U.S., nation-building is something else altogether.

China and the rest of the world can transform economies by investing in products and projects that create an infrastructure of light. Millions of Africans live in darkness, deprived of electricity. Millions of children in the world die from lack of food and potable water. Millions of refugees suffer because they pursue happiness but are financially “underserved.” In theU.S., 40% of the food produced is wasted. It is thrown out because farmers cannot get the price they seek. The drought in the Salinas Valley is not from lack of water, it is from lack of thought, of imagination. The market is flawed because it is short-sighted. 95% of consumers are overseas as Michael Dell says. In the Bronx (NY), the Hunts Point Market feeds 30-40 million people daily. Yet I have seen companies located nearby that stock dog food so as to feed the poor, the poor located within a mile of the market, for 29 cents a can. The poor are not lifted from poverty by fixing a failure in the logistics of food. The “financially underserved” poor are lifted by the logistics in the delivery of capital.

The Logistics of Capital 

The World Economic Forum has just completed a 16-month long detailed analysis that points to the transformation of the global financial industry. The transformation will not come from Wall Street or High Street or Pennsylvania Avenue, Tiananmen Square or Silicon Valley alone. It will come from Main Street, from the people, the demos. How? I will point to the solution, before Sep. 26th, I promise. First we have to open minds. 

A sign hung over the desk of Thomas Alva Edison. His father was a refugee from Canada. The sign had a quote from Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of the greatest artists of his time.  It read “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” When we don’t think, we don’t care. In order to get our generations to care, we need to lift them from their apathy. We do this by singing, singing Songs in the Key of Life and Songs in the Key of Light.

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