Focusing on Palestinian youth, the ADNI plans to create a network of individuals skilled in information technology, computer science, and related fields. Internet businesses serve as a key area for this body, as it will train its members in multiple programming languages, thus enabling them to create a variety of sites. Moreover, Mercy Corps introduced an Arabic-language version of its MicroMentor platform to further aid in the ADNI’s success.
When interviewed, Stephen Robert, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Source of Hope Foundation, talked about the importance of the endeavor, including how economic growth can encourage better and more peaceful societies. Outside of this initiative, Stephen Robert and Source of Hope Foundation contribute health care, food, water, and other necessities to people in need across the world.
Stephen Robert, financial expert and public intellectual, has been outspoken in his opposition to quick fixes for deep-seated economic problems. In his articles and essays, Robert has argued that Washington must focus on the underlying economic weaknesses in order to produce a long-lasting improvement in employment and GDP. Unlike many pundits, Stephen Robert does not simply popularize his theories on building a strong economy. He also puts them into practice through Source of Hope Foundation.
Source of Hope Foundation, founded, run, and funded by Stephen Robert and his wife, Pilar Crespi Robert, provides seed money for sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty. With projects throughout the developing world, Source of Hope seeks to alleviate poverty through food, clean water, education, healthcare, and microfinance. The charity prefers to fund programs that will give people the tools they need to break out of their day-to-day struggles and build a strong economic foundation for future growth. One current project focuses on creating jobs and economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza through Palestine’s fledgling information technology sector. By ensuring that people have access to the essential building blocks of prosperity, Source of Hope can promote peace and general well being.
Q: Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Robert. What do you point to as the main reason our economy’s recovery is taking so long?
Stephen Robert: Simply put, a depression of this magnitude simply cannot be repaired overnight. Our leaders continue to pose solutions that aim to repair the damage in two or three years. As with the Great Depression, working our way out of this situation will take many years.
Q: How important is an understanding of the reason for the decline itself?
SR: We can’t fix what we don’t understand. In short, our consumer and government debt is both the source of the problem and an impediment to a solution. Household debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 65 percent in the 80s to 130 percent in 2006, as consumers eschewed savings in favor of easily attainable credit lines. With the credit collapse, millions had to struggle to pay off their debt. As Americans prioritize debt repayment over consumer spending, America’s GDP will continue to lag.
Government debt is unsustainable, having risen to 100 percent of the nation’s GDP. Much of this debt is due to unfunded Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security payments. With no financial reserves, the government is unable to utilize traditional fixes, such as economic stimulus packages, without incurring further debt.
Q: In your view, what can be done to speed the recovery?
SR: We need to boost consumer confidence through economic stability. Balancing the budget by reducing health care costs should take priority. Another tactic is to forego short-term stimulus packages like Cash for Clunkers and build future programs around long-term investments.