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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
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Journal Archives

What the UN Millennium Development Goals Have Accomplished

Today, fewer people go hungry. There are more children attending school. Fewer and fewer people are dying unnecessarily from easily preventable and treatable diseases. Yet with only 500 days until the end of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, criticism remains that many countries will be unable to reach what can be considered arbitrary global targets.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the world decided to make tackling global poverty a top priority. The MDGs attempted to address this through a set of eight specific goals and 21 targets. The framework focuses on economic poverty, communicable diseases, gender equality, education, environmental issues, and global partnerships. In an unprecedented manner, developed nations rose to the challenge of addressing the key issues facing humanity by instituting innovative programs and significantly increasing funding.

While valid criticisms surround the current MDGs, their success in reducing poverty is difficult to ignore. It is thus worth reflecting on some of the countries that have not achieved overall MDG success but have nonetheless managed to improve the lives of millions of their citizens despite large challenges. This column takes a look at the great progress nations have made toward four specific MDGs.

Pulling back from these notable victories and continuing challenges, the global community must now look toward the next 15 years with lessons learned and should feel a great sense of accomplishment in the number of lives saved and improved—even if targets and goals are not fully met in 500 days’ time. It is, and will always be, a challenge to apply a uniform set of targets and goals to all nations, but with continued, focused efforts, we may see a world without poverty by 2030.


Much has been accomplished and much still needs to be done. Neither should be ignored.

It does help explain why the republican base wants the US out of the UN and to slash US foreign aid. Their concern for poverty - domestic or global - is negligible.

Hey the John Birch Society seems to be the source of most of Paul's policy positions.

The John Birch Society (JBS) is an American political advocacy group that says it supports anti-communism and limited government. It has been described as radical right. The organization claims to identify with Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism. It opposes collectivism, totalitarianism, and communism. It opposes socialism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating U.S. governmental administration.

The society opposed the 1960s civil rights movement and claimed the movement had communists in important positions. In the latter half of 1965, the JBS produced a flyer titled "What's Wrong With Civil Rights?", which was used as a newspaper advertisement. In the piece, one of the answers was: "For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years." The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states' rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes "one world government", and it has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued in favor of political and economic globalization, and that this alleged trend is not accidental. It cited the existence of the former Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union.

The society has been described as "ultraconservative", "far right", and "extremist". The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the society as a "'Patriot' Group". Other sources consider the society as part of the patriot movement. Fred Koch, founder of Koch Industries, was one of the founding members.

The society continues to press for an end to United States membership in the United Nations. As evidence of the effectiveness of JBS efforts, the society points to the Utah State Legislature's failed resolution calling for United States withdrawal, as well as the actions of several other states where the Society's membership has been active. Since its founding, the society has repeatedly opposed United States military intervention overseas, although it is strongly supportive of the American military. It has issued calls to "Bring Our Troops Home" in every conflict since its founding, including Vietnam. The society also has a national speakers' committee called American Opinion Speakers Bureau (AOSB) and an anti-tax committee called TRIM (Tax Reform IMmediately).


Krugman: It’s not just facts that have a liberal bias; so does careful, open-minded analysis.

Here’s how it works: If you believe that we’ve spent the past six years suffering from a huge overhang of excess supply, that inadequate demand is the whole story — as Yellen does, I do, and so should you — you do have one slightly awkward question to answer: while inflation has been subdued, why hasn’t it turned into deflation? If labor is in huge excess supply, why are average wages still rising, albeit slowly?

Doves like me have taken that question seriously, and placed a fair bit of weight on downward nominal wage rigidity. If wages don’t fall except in extreme cases, you can explain average wages continuing to rise by the combination of sticky wages for some workers and rising wages for those workers who, for whatever reason, face better-than-average prospects.

What’s notable, then, is that you hardly ever see this kind of thing on the other side. Inflation hawks never lay out any specific model of how inflation is supposed to take off in a depressed economy; nor do they talk about testable implications of their view, or for that matter offer any explanation of why they’ve been so wrong for so long.

It is, in other words, an asymmetric debate from an intellectual point of view. Doves are doves because their analysis leads them to believe that rates should stay low, and they make a point of explaining that analysis, addressing its implications even if they don’t lend support to their policy case, and suggesting what information might lead them to change their mind. Inflation hawks know what they want, and don’t feel any need to explain clearly why or how they might be wrong.

If this reminds you of other debates these days, it should. It’s not just facts that have a liberal bias; so does careful, open-minded analysis.


Just goes to show that even in discussions of economics (just like with climate change denial, cutting taxes for the rich), conservatives "know what they want, and don’t feel any need to explain clearly why or how they might be wrong." Liberals believe what they believe "because their analysis leads them to believe" it "and they make a point of explaining that analysis, addressing its implications even if they don’t lend support to their policy case, and suggesting what information might lead them to change their mind."

Conservatives never, never suggest "what information might lead them to change their mind" because the policy choice comes first and now amount of facts or evidence will "lead them to change their minds."

Ouch! "Some less evolved populations deserve a dictator to keep law and order." Got to admit

that I never thought I would see that here at DU.

Now there is a liberal foreign policy. We support dictators in some countries because frankly you folks are just less evolved than those of us in the West.

Or would any of those "less evolved populations" that would benefit from a dictator be in North America or Europe?

Krugman: new study shows Americans think income is much more equal here than in Europe. The opposite

is true.

Inequality Delusions

Via the FT, a new study compares perceptions of inequality across advanced nations. The big takeaway here is that Americans are more likely than Europeans to believe that they live in a middle-class society, even though income is really much less equally distributed here than in Europe. I’ve truncated the table to show the comparison between the U.S. and France: the French think they live in a hierarchical pyramid when they are in reality mostly middle-class, Americans are the opposite.

As the paper says, other evidence also says that Americans vastly underestimate inequality in their own society – and when asked to choose an ideal wealth distribution, say that they like Sweden.

Why the difference? American exceptionalism when it comes to income distribution – our unique suspicion of and hostility to social insurance and anti-poverty programs – is, I and many others would argue, very much tied to our racial history. This does not, however, explain in any direct way why we should misperceive real inequality: people could oppose aid to Those People while understanding how rich the rich are. There may, however, be an indirect effect, because the racial divide empowers right-wing groups of all kinds, which in turn issue a lot of propaganda dismissing and minimizing inequality.

Interesting stuff.


At other times, Krugman has said that the US would have to adopt European fiscal, tax, regulatory, labor and social policies in order for us to achieve European levels of income equality. That seems a long way from happening.

It is interesting that Americans say they want a degree of income equality similar to what Sweden actually has, but we are not willing to adopt the taxation, labor and economic policies that Sweden has used to accomplish this.

A Brief History of Wingnuts in America (US vs THEM", “heated exaggeration & conspiratorial fantasy")

American political history has been marked by periodic eruptions of the “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy” that Richard Hofstadter famously characterized as “the paranoid style in American politics.” Wingnuts have masqueraded under different names and causes at different times, but they have always been committed to an “us against them” framing of domestic debates while inflaming group hatred in the name of politics and alleged principle. They prey on fear and ignorance.

Survey Wingnut rhetoric through the ages and the usual suspects keep surfacing: appeals to religious suspicion; ethnic and racial divisions; foreign subversion of sovereignty; and perhaps the oldest conspiracy theory of them all—accusing the president of the United States of being a tyrant and a dictator bent on destroying the Constitution.

In the long journey from frontier expansion to landing on the moon, there are clear common undercurrents to the paranoid politics advanced by the Wingnuts during different eras in America.

There is always the divisive drumbeat of ‘us against them’—the demagogue’s favorite formula. There is always an emotional appeal to an idealized past, targeted to people who feel besieged by cultural change, paired with the promise of a well-deserved return to power after years of resentment. And there is always the sale of special knowledge, pulling the curtain back on a monstrous conspiracy that will prove once and for all that your political opponents are not just misguided, but evil. The result is not only vindication, but also the self-serving sense that only you can save the republic.

Today’s unhinged hyper-partisans are not likely to look any better or wiser in the rearview mirror than the Wingnuts of our past. Instead, they will be at best a stale and bitter punchline of our times and then fade, unloved, into obscurity.


Just when I think the tea party types are a unique 21st century phenomenon, the author details "tea partiers" of old. "US vs THEM" and "the paranoid style in American politics” goes back to the days of Washington. The opposition to Washington, Adams and Jefferson were 'tea partiers' of their day. Then came the "Know Nothings", the KKK, the anti-evolutionists of the Scopes Monkey Trial in the 1920's, Joseph McCarthy and the John Birch Society.

There are probably many others in the book which this is an excerpt from. We all know of these examples of the disease of "US vs THEM" and "conspiratorial fantasy" but it is interesting to see them brought together throughout American history.

Good news to liberals that global inequality is falling. Bad news that domestic inequality is rising

The top 1% has seen its real income rise by more than 60% over those two decades. The largest increases however were registered around the median: 80% real increase at the median itself and some 70% around it. It is there, between the 50th and 60th percentile of the global income distribution that we find some 200 million Chinese, 90 million Indians, and about 30 million people each from Indonesia, Brazil and Egypt. These two groups—the global top 1% and the workers of the emerging market economies— are indeed the main winners of globalization...

But the biggest loser (other than the very poorest 5%), or at least the “non-winner,” of globalization were those between the 75th and 90th percentile of the global income distribution whose real income gains were essentially nil. These people, who may be called a global upper-middle class, include many from former Communist countries and Latin America, as well as those citizens of rich countries whose incomes stagnated.

More than fifty percent of one’s income depends on the average income of the country where a person lives or was born (the two things being, for 97% of world population, the same). This gives the importance of the location element today. There are of course other factors that matter for one’s income, from gender and parental education which are, from an individual point of view externally given circumstances, to factors like own education, effort and luck that are not. They all influence our income level. But the remarkable thing is that a very large chunk of our income will be determined by only one variable, citizenship, that we, generally, acquire at birth. It is almost the same as saying, that if I know nothing about any given individual in the world, I can, with a reasonably good confidence, predict her income just from the knowledge of her citizenship... Around 1870, class explained more than 2/3 of global inequality. And now? The proportions have exactly flipped: more than 2/3 of total inequality is due to location.

OECD study: Income gains to top 1% last 30 years - US worst (by far), Europe best (by far).

Canada is second only to the U.S. in its growing inequality. In the U.S., about 47 per cent of total growth went to the wealthiest one per cent between 1975 and 2007, compared to 37 per cent in Canada, while in Australia and the U.K., about 20 per cent of growth went to the wealthiest.

In Nordic countries and in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain, about 90 per cent of growth went to the 99 per cent of middle and low-income earners in the same period.

Larry Summers, who was secretary of the treasury under Bill Clinton and is now a Harvard professor, has pointed out how the constant push for tax cuts and the erosion of union bargaining rights has led to greater income inequality.

The study calls for higher marginal tax rates and fewer tax deductions and credits aimed at high income earners. It also advocates wealth or inheritance taxes.


Nordic countries support (and the rest of European countries for that matter) support trade with the global poor with tariff-free trade with the poorest countries. They both support global equality and domestic equality at the same time.

Canada Day: How to Be Patriotic About a Country Built on Diversity

In absence of a single narrative, Canadians by and large cling to a celebration of difference. Accommodating a new culture is the national pastime, while intolerance is the national sin. This, of course, gets tricky when a new culture is intolerant. In such cases, Canadians -- or, to be specific, the Canadian justice system -- firmly defaults to its liberal democratic roots. It prioritizes individual rights over the community in question's right to force its values onto one of their own. But such clear stand-offs between specific rights do not themselves reveal a nascent national identity. Canadians are still left with a vague sense of collective self that is largely held together by a spirit of respecting differences.

This spirit as the main ingredient in the national consciousness is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it promotes a self-reflexive sense of political identity that inhibits the ugliest elements of nationalism. It is difficult to rouse much Us vs. Them fervour when a) there is no clear Us and b) respecting differences is the one value respected by most. On the other hand, it inhibits a feeling of collective pride and care for each other with the capacity to stretch across the entire country.

There is much to be said for such a feeling. A deep sense of national belonging motivates not just the soldier, but the engineer designing bridges, the civil servant writing briefing notes, the small business serving customers, and the politician running for office, to name but a few. Collective identity, curbed before it escalates into ugly nationalism, can fuse civic purpose into all we do in the public sphere. And public actions couched in civic purpose can be the most rewarding societal acknowledgement that Canadians are responsible to, and benefit from, one another.

How can we achieve such a sense of collectiveness in a country so big and diverse? It may be simpler than it appears. We cannot rely on any one cultural marker, because a.) we're too diverse and b.) we know that such markers -- especially ethnic, racial, or religious ones -- as sparkers for national pride can be dangerous. We can, however, invigorate our loyalty to and affection for those Canadian political institutions that keep us accountable to one another; the ones that have stood the test of time even while demonstrating an ability to mould with the ages.


The celebration of difference in Canada is encouraging. A country with an immigration rate over twice that of the US and a multiethnic, multiracial democracy that functions better than ours does. Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms declares multiculturalism to be a constitutionally protected value.

Our right loves to rail against multiculturalism. It is small wonder that Canada holds little appeal for them. They base much of their appeal in the US on generating fear in the "us vs. them" paradigm that is much harder to sell in Canada.

It is difficult to rouse much Us vs. Them fervour when a) there is no clear Us ...

Poll: repub base/establishment agree (Obama, gov't role), disagree (immigration, gay rights)


All republicans agree on how bad Obama, the federal government and help for the poor are.

They disagree on immigration, acceptance of gays, the value of Wall Street and US efforts to solve global problems.

None are too surprising but interesting to see them summarized so succinctly in this poll.

How China views the TPP, the WTO and bilateral trade agreements.

China’s FTA Strategy

Beijing takes a strategic approach on free trade agreements, particularly in the face of challenges such as the TPP.

This post explores the motivations of China’s promotion of FTAs, and examines its FTAs to highlight underlying trends and the future strategies Beijing may pursue in the face of the challenges posed by mega-regional trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP.)

China has one of the busiest FTA programs in Asia. Agreements in place include FTAs with countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Meanwhile, FTAs now in the pipeline will boost China’s economic integration with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates. China has recently taken a more comprehensive and vigorous approach to FTAs. For example, agreements with Iceland and Switzerland, signed in 2013, provide wider coverage in goods, services, and investments.

Meanwhile, a number of initiatives are underway to liberalize trade and facilitate investment within the region. For instance, RCEP incorporates a range of Asia-Pacific countries, such as ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, and New Zealand. The fourth round of negotiations was held in Nanning, China, from March 31 to April 4, 2014. it is expected to be concluded by 2015.

On the other hand, the U.S.-centered TPP negotiations have put China under considerable pressure. Though it is open to joining TPP negotiations, given its domestic industrial structure China would find it difficult to accept some of the issues under negotiation. Issues such as state-owned enterprises or labor and environmental standards would impose very high costs on China’s domestic industries. Consequently, Beijing has been cautious on joining TPP talks.


China seems to be negotiating many bilateral trade agreements rather than going for multilateral deals. Perhaps this is because they are sensitive to maintaining control of their "domestic industrial structure" (weak unions, lots of pollution). That is easier to do with bilateral deals in which they are the larger, stronger partner rather than multilateral deals where things get more complicated.
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