Thursday, April 20, 2017

The World Needs More Rick Steves

The vast majority of you are undoubtedly familiar with Rick Steves, the peripatetic world traveller who has taken his PBS viewers and readers of his travel guides on some memorable adventures.

But there is much more to Steves than his wanderlust. It turns out he is also a very, very impressive philanthropist
Back home, one of my pet social causes has long been affordable housing. Twenty years ago, I devised a scheme where I could put my retirement savings not into a bank to get interest, but into cheap apartments to house struggling neighbors. I would retain my capital, my equity would grow as the apartment complex appreciated, and I would suffer none of the headaches that I would have if I had rented out the units as a landlord. Rather than collecting rent, my “income” would be the joy of housing otherwise desperate people. I found this a creative, compassionate and more enlightened way to “invest” while retaining my long-term security.

This project evolved until, eventually, I owned a 24-unit apartment complex that I provided to the YWCA. They used it to house single moms who were recovering hard-drug addicts and were now ready to get custody of their children back.
The election of Trump, with his mean-spirited, exclusionary billionaires-club policies, changed Steves' plans:
With the election of our president and the rise of a new, greed-is-good ethic in our government, I want to be more constructive than just complaining about how our society is once again embracing “trickle-down” ethics, and our remarkable ability to ignore the need in our communities even as so much wealth is accumulated within the top one percent of our populace. I’m heartbroken at how good people, dedicating their lives to helping others (through social organizations and non-profits across our society), are bracing for a new forced austerity under our government of billionaires.

So, inspired by what’s happening in our government and in an attempt to make a difference, I decided to take my personal affordable housing project one step further: I recently gave my 24-unit apartment complex to the YWCA. Now the YWCA can plan into the future knowing this facility is theirs. And I’ll forever enjoy knowing that, with this gift, I’m still helping them with their mission.



Ricks Steves: clearly a man who recognizes the real value of money.

8 comments:

  1. Rick Steves not Steeves

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    1. Thank you, Anon. I stand corrected.

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  2. Great article, Lorne. Thanks for the link. As I read about this Christian "Jubilee Year" I was reminded of something John Ralston Saul describes in "The End of Globalism." It involved a period of ancient Greece during which their economy came to a virtual standstill. They had a debt crisis. Creditors were spending far too much time chasing uncollectable debts from people who simply could not pay. It was a looming disaster until those wise Athenians came up with an answer. They simply cancelled all debt, wiped the slate clean. The economy exploded. The creditors were able to get back to the business of making and selling stuff and their former debtors, relieved from the burden of their debts, were able to actually buy stuff from their former creditors. It was the ultimate win-win.

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    1. Such thinking is clearly not part of today's orthodoxy, Mound. Pity.

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  3. It's inspiring to know that some public figure are wise and courageous enough to call Trump's bluff, Lorne.

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    1. As I said, Owen, the world needs more such people.

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  4. If there is such a thing as a progressive government left in this world Lorne, they should hire him as an advisor, immediately.

    What an impressive man!

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    1. As Owen suggested, Pamela, it gladdens the heart to know there are such people with us today.

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