TCS Daily


How to Wear Your Heart Just Under Your Sleeve

By Craig Winneker - July 11, 2005 12:00 AM

BRUSSELS -- This summer's hottest fashion accessory is the silicone rubber message bracelet. Look down at your wrist. If you're not wearing one, you probably are a self-centered person who does not give a damn about any important issue whatsoever.

Available in a rainbow of colors, these fetching trinkets combine a youthful joie de vivre with the ability to proclaim one's support for an endless array of causes: "Support Our Troops," "LiveStrong," "Tsunami Relief," "Support Their Troops," and even "Beer Monster." (Plus, for guys, they make another useful, if subliminal, statement: "Look, I care deeply about a pressing social concern. Now will you have sex with me?")

 

The trendiest new bracelet comes courtesy of a coalition of nongovernmental organizations hoping to "Make Poverty History" by getting as many people as possible to put white rubber bands on their forearms.

 

"By wearing one you are part of a unique worldwide effort in 2005 to end extreme poverty," the group's Web site proclaims. "You're saying that it's time to stop the deaths of more than 200,000 people every single week from preventable diseases. You can wear it any way you like."

 

Radical. So it came as no surprise that world leaders participating in last week's G-8 meeting in Scotland were being urged to sport solidarity bracelets.

 

U.S. President George W. Bush, as usual, was the focal point, not to say the target, of this G-8 gathering. He had to explain controversial positions on environmental policy, aid to developing nations and his insistence on protecting patents on life-saving drugs. But in the future, instead of giving lofty speeches and using a lot of fuzzy rhetoric aimed at placating critics, perhaps Mr. Bush can say it with a bracelet.

 

Here are some examples of how the president could wear his heart just under his sleeve.

 

"Steal This Wristband": Some of the same people who want to Make Poverty History also want to Do Away With Intellectual Property -- a policy that would have a devastating effect on innovation in everything from pharmaceuticals and life-saving medical equipment to development of any new technology that requires computer software. With this seemingly open-source bracelet, Mr. Bush could spread the message that while some things can be distributed freely, wealth and knowledge shouldn't always be given away.

 

"U.S. for Africa": Even Live 8 concert promoter and antipoverty knight errant Sir Bob Geldof recently gave some unexpected props to Mr. Bush, saying the Texan had done more than just about anybody to help Africa. Yes, the Bush administration has significantly increased aid to the continent and focused on wealth-creation and political reform rather than just debt-forgiveness and shipments of cash. But it still finds itself open to harsh (and sometimes justified) criticism that it isn't doing enough. How better to answer the critics than with a bracelet.

 

"Sayonara Kyoto": This is another message Mr. Bush should display proudly on his person. For one thing, it will remind his fellow world leaders that the U.S. Senate has recently reaffirmed its rejection of the climate change treaty despite all the wishful thinking in Europe that it will actually counteract global warming. In reality, Kyoto is likely to hamstring the world's economy while only creating the illusion that it will save the earth from environmental destruction.

 

Kyoto, in other words, is the world's biggest and costliest rubber bracelet. What's more, given the quite legitimate questions about the manufacturing process required to make all of these message wristband thingies, perhaps someone should print one urging political leaders to "Cut Silicone Emissions."

 

A version of this article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Europe.

Categories:
|

TCS Daily Archives