A taxicab conversation


One of my favorite hobbies in a city like New York, one that gets me flack from my fellow passengers in any taxi cab, is engaging with the drivers about their opinions on world affairs. I find that their lives are sprinkled with wisdoms that are won only by their journeys over to this country and further by their commitment to stability here. I find the conversations riveting wherever they are, whether it is in New York City, the Middle East or somewhere else. When reading Dylan Ratigan’s article, I realized that this particular pastime can lead even an expert such as Ratigan illumination on some topics.

“America has poor people… with no house, job, education or healthcare?” was the question the cabbie asked Ratigan last week as they whisked along the causeway toward Saadiyat Island. “Yes,”  Ratigan replied.

He was in the Middle East for the first time to attend a conference of investors, agencies, designers, ministers and kings on innovations in agriculture.

Ratigan explains that Prince Charles (via video remote) addressed the opening ceremony. Two hundred and fifty presenters, representing most of the nations of the West, the Middle East and Africa, all in Abu Dhabi for the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA). Each was there to highlight the cost to America’s land and water reserves brought upon by the last 100 years of scorched earth agricultural practices. Ratigan tells us that the Emirati driver questioned him about America’s wealth while accidentally exceeding the speed limit by more than 6 kilometers per hour. Ratigan explains that he knew this because an on-board speed monitoring system has a function where it chimes in to notify the driver that if it happens two more times then he would incur a fine of 100-dirhams.

The next conversation is why it is worthwhile to engage with people who are different to you. No matter your relative educational background, space between perspectives is what wins progress:

“America is superpower yes?” he said, with a tone of sincere confusion and a hint of disappointment. “We are,” Ratigan responded, “We have the most powerful military in the world, in fact we can deliver a precision guided missile via remote control to any cell phone number in the world with the push of a button.”

“But isn’t a super power a country rich enough to engage its population in meaningful work while offering all of its citizens adaptable access to world class education and health care?”–Ratigan was stumped. This definition of a “superpower” had never been presented to him before.

The article that Dylan Ratigan writes is much more detailed in topics of agriculture like insect protein and livestock, fish, chickens or salt-water plants that turn into jet fuel or an electric tractor that that has a spinning rod that can also be a crane, a drill, a plow or a motor. The question the taxi cab driver asked was important enough for me however to write a simple piece surrounding it: “Why would America bankrupt itself at the expense of its own people simply to project military prowess half-way around the world? How is that a superpower?”

Ultimately, Ratigan explains that the true first superpower of today will be that country that is creating meaningful work and shared prosperity for its citizens and the rest of the world by implementing a durable distributed grid resource system that is deliverable anywhere. Right now, this is Germany and the hope is that America will come through soon. Read more at Business Insider.

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