We've detected an outdated browser.

You may want to consider updating your browser. International Policy Digest requires a modern browser in order to view the website properly.

Click here for information on how to update your browser.

Continue Anyways
Occupy Wall Street

Tag Archives | Occupy Wall Street

The GOP: Retrograde or Reformist?

|
Former Governor Mitt Romney campaigning

The Republican Party is in a state of disarray and needs to change. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and the extreme positions from which he is now trying to distance himself, provides insights into this situation.

Former Governor Mitt Romney campaigning

It is not surprising that Governor Romney tacked hard to the right during the Republican primary and is now emphasizing a more moderate brand in his latest incarnation of himself. Nonetheless, I am concerned about a range of public policy issues: the deficit, a disastrously dysfunctional Congress and the rising cost of higher education. I am also worried that there is no overarching strategy that underpins American foreign policy today. Yet, as this election cycle painfully draws to a close, what bothers me the most is the current state of the Republican Party and its dismal prospects for the future.

During the next two years, the party leadership (and others) should think long and hard about the type of party they’d like to be and what that means given America’s irreversible demographic trends (towards a less white, more ethnically diverse electorate) and the way that peoples’ positions on social issues are shifting. The Democrats have their far-left crazies for sure, but I am worried that Republicans may be cornering the market on insanity.

Continue Reading →

In the Midst of Plenty: American Plutocracy

and |
Traders work in the oil options pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Richard Drew/AP

In the lead up to the global financial collapse, America’s top 1 percent held nearly 35 percent of the nation’s wealth; a 275 percent increase over the past 30 years. Growing income inequality has been a concern for generations; however, the nation’s shift away from its traditional economic policies succeeded in silencing the most vocal critics.

Traders work in the oil options pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Richard Drew/AP

America’s transition into a service economy and subsequent push for market dominance has created an elite class that has superceded its predecessors in expanding enterprise and cementing personal advantages. The economic reforms that enabled the spread of ideas, innovation, and wealth also centralized power into the hands of a new plutocracy.

Concerns over income inequality seemed to have been lost in the 1990s, but a series of market collapses pulled back the curtain and began exposing the population to the true market system. Since 2008, the nation’s illusion of financial stability was replaced with the reality of wage stagnation and mounting household debts.

Continue Reading →

Nationalism 2.0

|
Impromptu Free Tibet rally. SFTHQ/Flickr

Impromptu Free Tibet rally. SFTHQ/Flickr

Identity matters in international affairs. How political, economic, or military power moves the affairs of state is easy to see. But it is what people believe and hold to be true—their identities—that underpins these power resources and define their use. From transnational movements to nation brands and even new nationhood, national identities are increasingly vying for international influence. They are being packaged for global consumption and exist inasmuch as they earn international recognition.

These identities represent a new form of nationalism—what we might call “nationalism 2.0”—and it is one that is externally oriented, inclusive, and participatory. Traditionally, the notion of a “national” identity was wedded to the nation-state. It was an identity rooted in the common bonds that defined and united a national constituency, such as ethnicity, religion, and language. It was an identity that came as a birthright, produced patriots, and fought “for God and country.” It served as the je ne sais quoi that made Frenchmen French and Germans German.

But anyone with an Internet connection is no longer a prisoner of geography; identities are no longer accidents of origin. The ease of access to information and international experiences has replaced the traditional notion of a national identity with something more of our own choosing. For those of us who have come of age with this exposure, our self-selected identities are increasingly wedded to nations of like-minded individuals rather than to nation-states. We are defined and united less by the national identities we are born into than by the transnational identities in which we choose to believe. We are becoming advocates rather than patriots. Our fight is increasingly for cause before country.

Continue Reading →

The Year of the Dragon

|
Pete Souza/White House
Pete Souza/White House

Pete Souza/White House

As the world’s largest yearly migration of people is underway in the PRC many travelers will be wondering on the long journey to celebrate the Chinese Spring Festival what good fortune the year ahead will bring? Cheng Siwei, Former Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) is fresh off his interview with the BBC show “Hardtalk” and had a few choice comments about China’s outlook and the hurdles they face in 2012, but stuck very much to the Party line. He was frank when asked what he thought about the outlook of the Chinese Economy in 2012, the supposedly lucky “year of the Dragon.”

Mentioning external factors such as excessive liquidity and low interest rates as a cause for concern due to the inflationary pressure in developing countries, he mainly was referring to the US Fed policy of quantitative easing that has produced two rounds so far pumping billions into the global economy. This money moved to developing economies in what some called “speculative investment,” according to Edward Harrison. Moroever Cheng Siwei spoke of the massive deleveraging and withdrawal of investments in the coming year as part of China’s slowdown.

Continue Reading →

Of Eurocrats and Kool Aid

and |
kaiban/flickr
kaiban/flickr

kaiban/flickr

It seems the worst nightmares of ‘Sir Alan Walters and Margaret Thatcher’ with regard to the grand European project are coming to full and dangerous fruition. The wheels have already come off the latest Eurocrat attempt to put a band aid on the gaping wound that has become the Euroexperiment, instead of performing major surgery. Sadly, it seems Europe has no leaders of stature and probity to lead us out of this economic mess. The task of facing reality coldly in the face with courage and conviction by taking bold action is instead being left to committee after committee, with no realistic long-term prospect of success.

Quite apart from all the needless and petty meddling on the manner in which cheese is fermented in France or how Brussels sprouts are packaged, adoption of the single currency has proven to be Europe’s Achilles heel, and a possible death knell of the EU, which rushed into monetary union without fully contemplating its possible negative ramifications. While not perfect, the European Currency Union was at least transparent and gave dignity, sovereignty, and a useful means in which to trade. The beauty of Europe is its rich diversity of language and cultures, so why are all these politicians and overpaid, unelected bureaucrats trying to force some ghastly vision ‘of such’ on us all?

Continue Reading →

Jeffrey Sachs and The Price of Civilization

|
Random House Trade Paperbacks
Random House Trade Paperbacks

Random House Trade Paperbacks

Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, was named among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time Magazine in 2004 and 2005. Sachs, the Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by 2015.

Continue Reading →