I got an e-mail this morning from Barack Obama, and the subject line was “We Do Big Things.” I watched the State of the Union last night and lately I have to admit to a certain amount of discouragement about our seeming inability to tackle big problems. As someone who lives and drives in northern New Jersey, I think about the challenge of improving our transportation infrastructure ALL THE TIME. Usually after a life-threatening merge into an unmarked exit. Every time the camera panned to Ray LaHood, I thought about the magnitude of his challenge. I almost felt bad for him.
Yet as I read my morning news summaries, I was struck by stories about small things companies and governments are doing to make a big impact. One of the most notable was a piece in the Jakarta Post about the Indonesian government’s mandate that vitamin A be added to cooking oil. Producers estimate the cost of fortification as minimal (.006 US cents per kilogram). Yet the benefits — improving maternal health and reducing infant mortality — are enormous. Food fortification efforts are one example of an area where the social and business opportunities are significant.
So, at the end of the day, I think we need to rise to the challenges facing us and think big. But before coffee, I was content to hear about small successes.