Sunday, 19 February 2017
News with tag Economy  RSS
Should India Be Ruled With A Stick?

Added: 20.08.2016 14:25 | 57 views | 0 comments

Yes, the stick of law. That would be good for India, and good for investors in Indian equities, as it would unleash the great potential of the country. India could become the next China and South Korea combined. Of all the factors that help emerging economies maintain growth momentum and eventually [...]

From: www.forbes.com

How Japanese economist gave it all up for love

Added: 20.08.2016 13:18 | 43 views | 0 comments

Life for Chigusa Imada turned upside down when she left Japan and fell in love with Rio.

From: www.bbc.co.uk

Ukraine at a Crossroads: Could Putin Lose His Job Over Mishandling the Crisis?

Added: 20.08.2016 13:15 | 79 views | 0 comments


Anti-government protestors in Euromaidan Square, Kiev February 21, 2014
One of the unintended consequences of Great Britain's Brexit vote is that the European Community has put any future expansion of its membership on hold. Kiev had signed the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement on June 27, 2014, with high hopes that it would eventually lead to a full application to join the European community by 2020. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's then newly elected president, had described the 2014 agreement as a "first but most decisive step" toward joining the EU.
The initial agreement had been followed by Ukraine joining the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on January 1, 2016. That agreement gives selected Ukrainian business sectors access to the EU's internal common market. It also guarantees European investors in those sectors the same regulatory environment that currently exists within the EU.
Similar agreements have been signed with Moldova and Georgia. The agreement is designed to bring the Ukrainian economy, its political governance and the legal system up to EU standards, and to pave the way for formal entry into the EU.
Now, in the wake of Brexit, any hope of becoming a full-fledged member of the EU has receded into the indefinite future.
In the meantime, of late, Moscow has been reminding Kiev of its strategic vulnerability by ratcheting up tension with Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin, on August 11, accused Ukraine of staging two "incursions" into Crimea to infiltrate "trained saboteurs" in order to target "critical infrastructure" over the weekend of August 5.
Russia has claimed that one of its soldiers and an employee of the FSB security agency were killed. Putin used the alleged incident to cancel Russian participation in scheduled talks in Normandy, France to discuss the implementation of the Minsk Peace Accord between Russia and Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government labeled the Russian claim "a fantasy," and accused Putin of deliberately escalating tensions in the two-year-old conflict between the two countries. In the meantime, the Kremlin announced that the Russian Navy would be staging "war games" in the Black Sea. Several days later the Kremlin also announced that it would deploy the advanced S-400 Triumph air-defense missile system in the Crimea, as well as stage additional military exercises along its eastern border with Ukraine.
According to Pentagon sources, Russia has deployed approximately 40,000 troops, along with tanks, armored personnel carriers and air force units, in eight separate staging areas along Ukraine's eastern border. In addition, an unspecified number of troops in adjoining rear areas are slated to also participate in the exercises.
Unmarked Russian soldiers blocking access to the Ukranian Perevalne military base in the Crimea, March 9, 2014
Russian intentions are unclear. The announced exercises could be nothing more than saber rattling on Moscow's part or a prelude to a future invasion of the Ukraine. Russia conducted similar military exercises prior to its seizure of the Crimea on February 27, 2014. Moreover, the Kremlin has a long history of such saber rattling, both as a prelude to negotiations and as a prelude to a military intervention.
The upshot is that Kiev finds itself increasingly in an economic and diplomatic no-man's-land, dangerously perched between Russia and the EU, dependent on both but not formally within either bloc. Currently, about a sixth of Ukraine's external trade is with Russia, a third is with the EU, and the balance with a variety of other countries.
For the Kremlin, Ukraine is simply too important strategically to ever allow it to become a full-fledged member of either the EU or NATO. Ideally, Russia would want a pro-Russian government in power, but it could live with a neutral government. A pro-Western government integrated into the EU and NATO, as has happened with the other former Warsaw pact states in Eastern Europe, would be simply unacceptable.
The Kremlin has made it clear that a NATO membership for Ukraine would immediately precipitate a Russian invasion. That threat would persuade most NATO members to defer a Ukrainian request for membership rather than risk finding the organization being called on to defend its newest member from a Russian invasion.
Is Russia considering a second invasion of the Ukraine? Perhaps eventually, but probably not for the moment. To begin with, the Russian military simply lacks the manpower to invade and occupy Ukraine. Such an invasion would also kill any prospects of lifting the economic sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU and the United States. It would also breathe new life and resolve into NATO at a time when the organization is uncertain about its ongoing role and mission.
A more limited invasion, say the seizure of Odessa, and/or the portions of the Black Sea coast between Odessa and the Crimea, or the coastline along the Sea of Azov, would be more attainable militarily but would still precipitate the same consequences as a full-fledged invasion.
Pro-Russian seperatists in Sloviansk with armored perrsonel carrier
Instead what is more likely is that the saber rattling is part of a broader Russian strategy of keeping the Ukraine unbalanced by alternating between the possibility of peace and the prospect of renewed fighting, while at the same time giving the EU and NATO a not so subtle warning that cozying up to Kiev will draw them into the middle of a hot war zone.
Moreover, the lack of a strong response by either NATO or the U.S. to the Russian escalation of tensions allows the Kremlin to send an equally unsubtle message to the former Soviet states and clients in the "Near Abroad" that they cannot rely on Europe, the United States or NATO should their security be threatened.
Vladimir Putin's hold on the Kremlin may also be an issue here. In recent weeks Putin has made significant changes to his inner circle, in what some intelligence analysts have described as a purge. He abruptly replaced his longtime Chief of Staff and close confident, Sergei Ivanov, with Anton Vaino.
Additionally, a raft of high-level officials has been removed, some on the pretext of criminal activity, over the last few weeks. Saber rattling in the Ukraine allows Putin to project an image of power and authority, even if in the end it proves to all be a bluff.
Among the Russian elite, privately, Putin is blamed for seriously mishandling the situation in the Ukraine. Between 2012 and 2016, Kiev went from a pro-Russian government to a pro-Western government. Russia was left with control of just Crimea and the eastern portion of the Donbas basin.
There is little doubt that the U.S. and its allies were responsible for encouraging and partially funding the Euromaidan protests that precipitated the 2014 revolution. Those protests would never have started, however, had the Kremlin and the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych not overreached in trying to bring Ukraine into closer ties with the Russian Federation.
Beyond keeping tension in the region high, Russia has not managed to accomplish much in the Ukraine since its 2014 invasion. The Ukrainian Army has effectively contained the separatists from further expansion, even though it has not been able to roll them back in a significant way. Only with significant ground support from the Russian military can the separatists hope to expand their enclaves.
In the meantime, the imposition of economic sanctions against Russia came at a time when the Russian economy was already reeling from the collapse of crude oil prices. The sanctions have lasted longer than the Kremlin imagined they would and, coupled with ongoing low petroleum prices, their impact on the Russian economy has been profound.
Pro-Russian demonstrators in Odessa, April 13, 2014
Over the last two years the dollar-ruble exchange rate has gone from 36 rubles to 63 rubles to the dollar. Foreign investment has virtually dried up and the economy and the standard of living has been contracting.
Ultimately, the Russian strategy toward the Ukraine will be shaped by two, at times conflicting, objectives: the need to eliminate the economic sanctions against Russia and the need to ensure that the government in Kiev is ideally a pro-Russian or, at worst, a strictly neutral government.
A military intervention at this time may solve the governmental issue at the expense of aggravating the economic one. For that reason, a military solution is the least desirable option and would only be used if Moscow saw Kiev slipping irreversibly from its grasp, i.e., joining NATO or a full membership in the EU.
Alternatively, if a political or diplomatic solution can't be found, Russia's elite might opt to offer its own version of a "reset button," ousting Putin and blaming him for the Ukrainian debacle and offering to "normalize" relations with Ukraine, Europe and the United States.
It's unlikely that the Kremlin would ever give up its control of the Crimea. Some compromise over the status of the Russian separatists in the Donbas basin and a full implementation of the Minsk Peace Accords in return for keeping Ukraine out of NATO and stopping short of a full membership in the EU common market, might, however, lead to the elimination of the sanctions.
A more aggressive deployment of U.S. air forces in Eastern Europe and the prospect that they might be deployed to counter a Russian invasion of Ukraine would go a long way to taking the Russian military option off the table. Such a move might prompt the Kremlin to find a political and diplomatic solution. It would also be seen as a significant escalation by the United States, however, and could well precipitate a preemptive Russian military response before the U.S. deployment was operational.
In the end, it will be all about who blinks first. So far Vladimir Putin has refused to blink. Europe and the United States have followed suit, despite the wavering of a few countries. Whether Russia's elite, whose pocketbook is certainly being decimated by the impasse, will prove to be as steadfast as Putin remains to be seen.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Why Progressives Are Cautiously Optimistic About Hillary Clinton

Added: 20.08.2016 13:11 | 67 views | 0 comments


WASHINGTON ― Courting Republicans turned off by Donald Trump is an increasingly prominent part of Hillary Clinton’s general election strategy.
That has some progressives nervous that Clinton will take them for granted once in office, making their policy priorities disposable as well.
Many other veteran liberal insiders and activists, however, are unfazed by Clinton’s electoral strategy and bullish about her presidency. They believe that the candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) helped solidify a leftward shift in the party’s center of gravity that Clinton recognizes.
And while these progressives claim to hold no illusions about Clinton’s personal views or ties to special interests, they have more confidence in their ability to exert pressure on Clinton and other party leaders than they had even four years ago.
The argument for progressive skepticism was laid out by former Sanders supporters like economist Robert Reich and ex-NAACP head Benjamin Jealous in a .
In a race against Trump, Clinton’s ideology and agenda matter far less than her non-Trumpness ― or ability to meet a basic threshold of responsibility and sound temperament, according to the skeptics. Clinton, in turn, can make the case for her candidacy based less on progressive policies she would pass than a better-than-him personality argument, weakening her mandate to govern liberally, the Times’ interviewees fear.
Other observers ask a separate, but related question: If Clinton is courting Mitt Romney voters, neoconservative thought leaders and Bernie Sanders supporters alike, whose core interests will she fight for once in office? She cannot please all of them at once, and with progressives lacking an alternative in the two-party system, she is more likely to view their priorities as expendable, the theory goes.
Progressive optimists respond by noting that Clinton has not actually compromised her domestic policy platform to appeal to these "swing" voters. She still supports expanding Social Security, a public health insurance option, debt-free college and raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12. Most crucially of all, Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the massive trade accord negotiated by President Barack Obama, has only grown stronger over time. She now promises to oppose it before the election, after the election ― a tacit reference to the of Congress ― and as president.
The Democratic nominee is not coy about mentioning these plans on the campaign trail. Clinton put them at the center of her at the Democratic National Convention in July, as well as in a in Michigan last week.


The Democratic Party is not the same party it was eight years ago, let alone 20 years ago when Clinton was in the White House with her husband.
Richard Yeselson, progressive writer

In Egypt, IMF deal brings austerity few can afford

Added: 20.08.2016 11:17 | 36 views | 0 comments

A few years ago Imad would not have imagined himself queuing in the Cairo sun for a weekly ration of subsidized baby milk. The only thing that doesn't rise in Egypt is people's pay yet all they talk about is cutting subsidies," said Imad, smartly-dressed like many in the line. Squeezed by economic and political turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are preparing for a new era of austerity.

From: news.yahoo.com

Why American Democrats May Be Right About Russia Using Lies in Next Email Dump

Added: 20.08.2016 8:13 | 59 views | 0 comments


Image: Hillary Clinton. Public Domain

Top figures in America's Democratic Party are warning that any new release of emails that the Russians have hacked may contain lies aimed to damage Hillary Clinton's run for president.
Republicans have labeled such announcements by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others as Democratic "spin." The Democrats are trying to prime the public to think that a new email dump will contain fabrications in order to minimize the damage of any embarrassing disclosures the dump contains, the Republicans assert.
This is one time where both sides got it right.
The Democrats are using a tested public-relations ploy to give them "plausible deniability" if there is another embarrassing email dump.
They are also right that the Russians may sprinkle lies into the dumped emails to try to increase the damage that the dump will inflict on Clinton.
Those of us who grew up in the Soviet Union know that government officials and the KGB often used fabrications against opponents. And that continues today in the Soviet Union's successor countries.
An ironic example is the late, KGB-trained former son-in-law of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev presenting documents to an Austrian court that purported to prove that former U.S. President Bill Clinton was heading an international conspiracy against him.
The documents that Rakhat Aliyev gave the court, which was preparing to try him for two murders in Kazakhstan, alleged that in addition to Clinton, those out to get him included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former American CIA Director James Woolsey.
After prosecutors objected that the documents were forgeries, the court brought in a renowned forgery expert who proved them right. In fact, it turned out, one of the skills the KGB taught Aliyev was forgery.
Facing life in prison for the murders, he hung himself in his cell in February of 2015.
A more high-profile example of spreading lies to inflict political damage was Russia's use early this year of a story about Middle Eastern immigrants in Germany gang-raping a 13-year-old girl who was part German and part Russian.
The story created firestorms in Germany, where people savaged Prime Minister Angela Merkel for letting in too many Middle Eastern immigrants, and in Russia, because of the girl's part-Russian heritage.
The Russian fury included politicians lambasting the Germans for failing to protect ethnic Russians on German soil and lots of "outrage stories" about the girl in the Russian media.
The problem is the story was made up. The girl admitted she had concocted it to prevent her parents from finding out the real reason she had been away from home for 30 hours: She had stayed overnight with a male friend.
The German authorities and media quickly told the public the truth. The Russians, angry over Germany's hard line on European Union sanctions that have hurt the Russian economy, let the rape story continue to stay out there, uncorrected.
Another high-profile example of the use of lies for political purposes in the former Soviet Union was a fake letter sent to Western news media about the health of Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western presidential candidate during Ukraine's Orange Revolution of 2004.
Russia's FSB, the successor to the KGB, had helped Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko's pro-Russian opponent in the presidential race, poison Yushchenko.
The poison was dioxin, which at the time was almost impossible to detect, but poison specialists in Austria discovered it and treated Yushchenko. Otherwise, he would have died.
The news in Ukraine that Yushchenko had been poisoned caused a voter backlash against Yanukovych, whose team came up with a list of strategies to try to reverse the damage.
One strategy was to send a fake letter to Western news media, supposedly from Yushchenko's doctor in Austria, saying that he had not been poisoned.
Not only was the letter sent, but some gullible news media did stories about the doctor saying Yushchenko had not been poisoned.
When the doctor learned about the fake letter, he quickly alerted the media, and the resulting stories further damaged Yanukovych's candidacy.
Yanukovych went on to steal the election in rigged vote counting, but a Ukrainian court overturned the victory, giving Yushchenko the presidency.
Donald Trump's recently resigned campaign chief, Paul Manafort, helped Yanukovych polish his image to the point that Yanukovych won Ukraine's presidential election in 2010. Four years later, Ukrainians rose up to oust Yanukovych for reneging on his promise to sign a treaty that would have paved the way for Ukraine to join the European Union.
Another political lie surfaced in a joint press conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan gave in Moscow 10 days ago.
The lie came as Putin tried to shore up support for the Eurasian Economic Union that he forced Armenia to join in 2015. Sargsyan's cave-in to Putin triggered demonstrations in Armenia, where many people had wanted their country to join the European Union.
At the press conference in Moscow, the Russian president said Armenia had achieved 10 percent economic growth since joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union. The problem was that Armenia's actual growth was a third of that -- just 3 percent.
Fabrications in the former Soviet Union don't always involve documents, and aren't always aimed at political opponents.
In 2011, then-19-year-old Armenian television actress Ani Yeranyan was horrified to learn that a porn video of her had been posted on YouTube.
Whoever had tried to damage her career had done a poor job on the video, however. It was clear to even casual observers that the woman in the video wasn't her.
The questions of who produced the video, and why, have never been answered.
These are just a handful of examples of officials and others in the former Soviet Union using lies to try to damage someone they have grudges against. There are likely hundreds of other examples -- or more.
So when top figures in America's Democratic Party warn that a new Russian email dump against Hillary Clinton may include fabrications aimed at damaging her, the world would be wise not to discount it.
Armine Sahakyan is a human rights activist based in Armenia. A columnist with the Kyiv Post and a blogger with The Huffington Post, she writes on human rights and democracy in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Schooling Is Reason To Keep Olympic Torch Burning

Added: 20.08.2016 1:35 | 41 views | 0 comments

Over the past two weeks, I have contemplated whether the Olympics have outlived their useful life and if it would be best for everyone involved to let the fire of the Olympic torch burnout forever. There is no shortage of stories where host cities spend billions of dollars building venues for the games only to have these venues become abandon and useless when the Olympics leave town. Many of the two dozen facilities built for the Games in are now surrounded with chain-linked fence and covered in graffiti. Billions of dollars were wasted to bring the games to Athens. Greece has fallen into a deep economic recession and the Olympics have become symbolic of government waste. In Beijing, the Chinese government spent $480 million to build a stadium. Today, that stadium costs $11 million annually to maintain yet cannot find a regular tenant.
The estimated cost of hosting the Olympics is staggering. The Sydney games cost $4.7 billion, Beijing $42 billion, London $11 billion, and Rio $15 billion. These costs include building new infrastructure at the expense of urban areas. In China, over a million people were forcibly evicted from their homes, receiving only minimal compensation if any. In , neighborhoods were torn down and residents moved far from family and work. The 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal were projected to cost $124 million. This figure underestimated the cost of hosting the Games by $2.6 billion. City taxpayers took nearly thirty years to pay off the billion dollars of debt. Independent research that included metrics like tourism inflows and foreign investment showed that cities did not benefit in the short or long term by hosting the Olympics.
, an economics professor at Lake Forest College stated, "The number of applicant cities now is in decline in part because people are beginning to see these mega-sports events as mega-bad deals." The "legacy benefits" are difficult for emerging economies to capture because remote countries that sometimes host the Olympics are less likely receive repeat tourists. Vancouver was left with $630 million of debt after the 2010 Games. "I think Vancouver, which is typical for the Olympic Games, overestimated the benefits from hosting and underestimated the costs," Baade said.
The lack of redeemable qualities of the Olympics that place such an unfair burden on so many people while benefiting relatively few is appalling and in my opinion makes the Olympics expendable. As soon as I had convinced myself that the 2016 Olympics should be the last, I learned about the story of the swimmer from Singapore, Joseph Schooling. Schooling is a 21-year-old swimmer who was born and educated in Singapore and moved to Florida as a teenager to train. His Olympic debut in 2012 was less than memorable. Schooling failed to pass the heat phase because his swim cap and goggles were determined to be unsuitable. Michael Phelps was there in 2012 to console a dejected Schooling. Incidentally, Phelps who is the most decorated Olympian in history has more gold medals than Singapore has medaled in all of the Olympics combined.
Schooling's time in 100-meter butterfly finals was less than a half-second faster than the legend himself, Michael Phelps and any other swimmer. Joseph Schooling had successfully overcome disappointment in 2012, and won gold in 2016. Of even more significance is that Schooling won the first-ever gold medal for Singapore. was greeted by several hundred people at the airport in Singapore before dawn on Monday. He not only returned home with a gold medal but returned a sense of national pride to his home country. Fire trucks gave the Olympian's Singapore Airlines flight a water salute that was a wall of mist for the plane to taxi to the gate.
Schooling spent nearly an hour soaking in the environment, meeting fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. The significance of Schooling's gold medal cannot be overstated. Businesses offered discounts or free items, schools gave presentations to their pupils using Schooling as an example of what can happen with hard work and perseverance. The Parliament in Singapore presented a motion to congratulate their national hero. Tan Chuan-Jin, who serves as Singapore's Social and Family Development Minister said, "I believe for years to come, Singaporeans will remember this moment."
Schooling idolized Phelps. "As a kid I wanted to be like him. A lot of this is because of Michael. He's the reason I wanted to be a better swimmer," said Schooling. What Phelps did for Schooling, Schooling can now do for an entire country. Singapore has been starved of Olympic medals but now has their spokesperson and advocate for Olympic gold. The true like this is immeasurable and we will not likely know the significant impact of his performance in Rio for possibly another eight years, but as Schooling said himself, "It's crazy to think of what happens in eight years."
Despite inspirational stories like Joseph Schooling, the Olympics is an international event that negatively impacts the lives of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of citizens of the host country. There should be a way to continue the Olympics and continue creating Joseph Schoolings for the world to aspire to be without causing irreparable harm to other people. One suggestion is to host the Olympics in the same city, instead of moving it from country to country every four years. This may not be fair to other countries but is our current corrupt system fair? Whatever the solution, the world needs the next Joseph Schooling.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A Man Of The Ocean: Pablo Zapata Aramburuzabala

Added: 20.08.2016 1:31 | 53 views | 0 comments

Diving on the ocean, something he's passionate about, Zapata has devoted his free time to the environment. But no cause is more important to him than protection of the sea. He is a lifelong diver and explorer.


Photo Cred By Pablo Zapata Aramburuzabala

Carolina Rodríguez Hernández: How do you start your interest in diving?
Pablo Zapata Aramburuzabala: I studied at SMU in Dallas, and we needed to take an optional class some sport and the one I felt attracted was a diving course that offered that university, it wasn´t the better experience as it was winter and the weather in Dallas is very cold at that time of the year. We did the training at the university pool, but the final test was in a lake outside Dallas. My first diving experience wasn't exciting, the weather was under 0 degrees and after getting down the lake we make dust with no visibility. Anyway, I did finish my exercises and I was certificated, and I don´t was motivated in order to keep diving. Some months after the course, my mother told us that she wanted to visit Indonesia in the summer for a diving trip, which was so exciting, because Indonesia is widely recognized as the best destination for diving in the world. Since that moment my first diving experience in Indonesia I felt in love and I knew that was something I wanted to still doing the rest of my life.
CRH: Which have been your expectations until now?
PZA: I´m very lucky to met with Manuel Lazcano, he´s not just a great person, but also one of the best divers/photographers in the world, not to mention that he´s an ocean advocate in Mexico, I really want to learn from him, knowing places, new species and keeping on photos and video.
CRH: Which is your favorite destination to disconnect under water?
PZA: In Mexico we´re proud to have so much incredible places to dive, but it´s so difficult to choose only one as my favorite, because you´ll find different things in each place. In Cozumel, you will find a lot of coral reef and an incredible biodiversity, but there´s no big fauna, just few sharks and turtles. In Cancun, you will find big rays, whale shark and sailfish, but no coral reef like in Cozumel.
I have to discover many places as the Sea of Cortez, where Jacques Cousteau named as world aquarium, dive at the famous cenotes of Tulum, as well to swim with the crocodiles at Chinchorro, among many places. I believe what makes funny the diving is the surprise moment to discover something new, as well to find new experiences with the time.
CRH: Which is your vision on ocean preservation?
PZA: The immensity itself of the oceans, make us to think that we can´t destroy them. But the fat growing of the population have been drive us to exploit in a no responsible way the natural resources, among them the ocean.
The damage is very clear, we not just destroy almost a 90% of the big species of fish, but we also did the same exact thing with the coral reef that is a fundamental part of the ecosystem. For that reason, Indonesia is a key place for the ocean future, because is the only place in the world where the coral reef is not death because of the climate change of the water. I believe that with the ideas of Silvia Earle in her documentary https://www.mission-blue.org/ or the one from http://www.mexicopelagico.org/, we can think of a balance where we use responsible this resource, and to restore the fish populations and coral reef without hurt the fisherman economy and local economy.
CRH: Which is your message to ocean preservation?
PZA: Enjoy the ocean, go diving and to interact with sea animals, just like me, people will fall in love and protect it.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Demand, Demand!

Added: 20.08.2016 1:24 | 52 views | 0 comments

People in America are mad - at government, at politicians, about economic realities - and I completely get it. Even the rich people are mad, though they have enjoyed increases lately, many of them speaking as if their government is strangling them. In fact, who isn't mad in America?
But most people are mad at the wrong things, and they need simple answers like Trump to help them vent. Our desire for simple answers notwithstanding, we will remain here living in a complex and evolving world which defies simple answers.
There are other simple answers we might turn to. If you want to be mad at somebody, be mad at the people killing consumer demand. I am furious at these people. Nothing happens without demand; supply-side economics doesn't work. I can prove that. Demand is the great mover.
I was on a comment board online and asked a supply-sider, "Why would any business expand or open in a place with no demand for what they are selling?" The obvious answer is that no business would ever do that, but they evade: "Businesses cannot predict demand." In other words, a business can never make the determination that there is no demand, so they never have to answer my question.
Horse shit. I can be sure that in towns where people have no extra money - all of it is tied up in shelter and clothing and food and transportation and tax - I can be sure that they will not be able to buy my good or service. I mean, buy it with what? Right? Supply-side advocates will never, ever answer this question directly about demand. Never. Because the only correct answer is that businesses never open or expand into apparently floundering demand. Why would they? Why sell to people with no money?
And this is exactly what we see in a floundering or recessed economy. Go and look where there is austerity and you will also find floundering demand and stagnation. Only investment works.
Hillary Clinton - warts and all - is offering a simple solution that is not insulting, bullying, inciting ... and isn't it compelling how obvious it is which individual I am seeking to accuse? Warts-and-all Hillary is offering this plan:
First, make sure the top earners - who are doing magnificently well I understand - pay their fair share in taxes. Yes! Because that opens the way for infrastructure jobs which will put money into the hands of ordinary American citizens who will certainly spend it.
Second, charge corporations an exit tax for taking their business elsewhere. Yes! Because those businesses made their bones right here in America, standing on the shoulders of the apparently successful democratic experiment. The reason the huge and profitable corporations did not make their fortunes in that other new destination country is that country is not America. America has value, is valuable. If you leverage this great society to your benefit and then decide there are cost benefits to taking your business to a place where doing business is cheaper, you are free to do that, but not before you pay us for what you took from us - an exit tax. Because here is the truth: You could never have made that fortune in the first place without America; America is the foundation stone. America is valuable real estate - pay what you owe.
Third, take the money from 1 and 2 above and invest in infrastructure. Yes! What was built in the 50's will not last forever, not even for much longer. Interest rates are historically low, we should leverage that to repair our weather and time worn country. We should invest in us.
Because of demand. It is so simple. It doesn't matter how many tax breaks and cuts you give to people who are already bursting with money, if you place them in a scenario of no buyers, every orifice of theirs will pucker up when it comes to hiring people or expanding.
The supply-side argument is along these lines: If taxes are raised, or if the minimum wage is increased, then businesses will have to cut jobs, because they are faced with increased expenses. And that does sound plausible, even convincing, until you realize this: Business will always, always, always produce to meet demand. Always. If I say something today which somehow means everyone wants to wear a yellow shirt with a black banana silhouette, people will crawl out of the woodwork to plunk down cash to start producing those yellow shirts. It could be magic shoes, doesn't matter, supply is always a whore for demand.
They will never lay you off if they have to meet demand. Don't jump when they say, "Boo!"
Therefore, those people saying we should give the rich more tax breaks are all wrong! Because that doesn't create demand. But demand will always bring out the business - the cash will flow like wine when there are buyers.
The construction workers which had to be hired to dig up the old, lead-ridden pipes and the engineers and laborers who work to replace our ailing and dangerous water transportation system, I wonder if those individuals will need to eat lunch and stay at hotels and visit places. I wonder if that flow of money would be helpful for local businesses. And wouldn't those local businesses have to pick up to meet the new demand? Might they hire? All of a sudden, the young girl who filled that newly minted job can buy some new shoes. And so forth. Right?
Funny, even the rich themselves are harmed by their own austerity. Because demand is everything, even for them. If conservatives get their way, if all of the money flies upward and none of it trickles down, then there will be no demand. Isn't that the death of growth? Doesn't that describe the economic downturn of the past few decades? But if progressives win, and I think they will, conservatives will lick their wounds while further profiting by the implementation of progressive policies and the stifling of their own misguided ones. I wonder if they will ever learn that generosity of spirit is always right, even and especially in the way we govern ourselves.
Don't demand from an unstable man that he make America great again when America is already great. America is valuable real estate, and we should invest in us, because the collateral is so good and solid beneath our feet. Demand we invest in all of us. Demand demand!
And for that reason alone we should support Hillary Clinton, just to get demand going, even ignoring the fact that Republican generals think Donald Trump is a national security threat, even without giving Nero his fissionable matches and a new ally for the Kremlin. Hillary Clinton, whom the Republican generals do not think is a national security threat, has a plan that will bring demand.
Hillary Clinton's plan will bring demand. Certainly, mathematically - like gravity. Tax breaks for the fortunate few never will. Money flowing is the life blood of our economy. Please vote accordingly. Only investment works.
Demand demand!
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California Comeback

Added: 20.08.2016 0:28 | 47 views | 0 comments


By Narda Zacchino


The California Dream
Living in California is like living in a bowl of granola; what ain't fruits or nuts, is flakes.
—GALLAGHER, COMEDIAN
This popular late '70s East Coast rip on a state already then famous for trendsetting, cultural liberation, and technological innovation was notable for its ubiquity, so common that young children shared it without understanding who, exactly, it mocked: radicals and rebels, new agers and hippies, gay men and women. The fact that those on the cutting edge only made up a tiny percentage of California's huge and fantastically growing population didn't temper the joke's sentiment, since these colorful groups so dominated media coverage of the state.
And while the jibe was light, the mocking hinted at a larger American defensiveness, an attempt to write off the previous decade's dramatic social and political upheavals as nothing more than a goof. Because if California wasn't the site of all the nation's conflicts over civil rights, the war in Vietnam, and the attempt to depants "the Man" and his "system," it certainly had seemed to be the symbolic locus of changes many "mainstream" Americans were bemoaning as the root of a host of social ills. Meaner quips, in fact, often centered on the notion that if an earthquake pushed the state off the continental shelf into the Pacific, it would be no great loss.
From the rise of a bold Chicano culture in Los Angeles to the decadence and "obscenity" of an increasingly artistic and unchained Hollywood, from the myriad communes and cults dotting the forests and coastal towns along Highway 1 to columnist Herb Caen's radical "Berserkeley" and Oakland, home of the Black Panthers, Hells Angels, and even the renegade Raiders, California seemed to have exploded with color, strife, and new ideas, some silly, some scary, some brilliant.
Nor was it all "airy-fairy" stuff, another popular dismissal of the Left Coast from Manhattan's towers: The home-garage invention of the personal computer and the inventive commodification of the Internet created overnight fortunes even Wall Street had to respect—at least, that is, until the dot-com collapse that began in 1999 drew national mockery for the hubris and chutzpah of twentysomethings blowing billions on concept companies built around nothing more than a URL. And, perhaps a bit jealous of all the attention San Francisco's overheated housing market had attracted pre-mortgage meltdown, the East Coast media was quick to celebrate presidential candidate Rick Perry's mocking of California's foreclosure crisis after the recession.
Of course, as early as the gold rush, the East Coast establishment had chuckled at those crazy left coasters, perhaps smugly glad to have emptied their cities of so many dreamers, hustlers, and con artists making the migration westward. Yet the powerful draw of California, the final frontier of continental manifest destiny, ultimately prevented it from being perceived as a backwater for outcasts in the way, say, that the British saw their old penal colony Australia.
Instead, California became the seductress of the Wild West, bedazzling her suitors with shiny gold trinkets and promises to make them rich. They came in hordes and most stayed, if only to bask in her beauty. She was starkly different from what they'd left back home, warm and welcoming, her spirit conveying a sense of adventure and abandon. Over time, she would become the envy of the entire country, while those behind were left pouting, like jilted lovers.
Occasionally, she stumbled, yet she has always recovered her balance and run ahead, racing to embrace the future. Today, several years removed from a devastating recession that deeply challenged her confidence, California is surging once more—economically, politically, and culturally—as its quirky, "ruthlessly practical" leader, Governor Jerry Brown, aggressively pushes forward a new, trimmer, yet still essentially compassionate and optimistic version of the California dream.
As historian H. W. Brands described the birth of the California dream after the staged "discovery" of gold near Sacramento: "The old American dream ... was the dream of the Puritans ... of men and women content to accumulate their modest fortunes a little at a time, year by year by year. The new dream was the dream of instant wealth, won in a twinkling by audacity and good luck. [This] golden dream ... became a prominent part of the American psyche only after [gold was found at] Sutter's Mill."
The dream proved remarkably enduring, even as reports began drifting back about the hell that was a miner's life and the bawdy lawlessness of the nation's new Paris-style theme park of debauchery, San Francisco, where venereal disease and earthquakes were equally terrifying facts of life. New Yorkers, Bostonians, Philadelphians, and the rest assumed that California would never be more than a distant novelty; the real power would always reside with the bankers on Wall Street, the industrialists in Chicago, the politicians in D.C. Let those westerners send us some fine, rowdy tall tales to read by the fire in our brownstone—tales of cowboys and sailors, miners and naturalists—and then let us get back to work.
But by 1963, California had knocked off prideful New York as the most populous state in the nation—and it seemed to have become the most interesting one, too. That many of the nation's young people had been streaming west for more than a century left the nation's elite a bit queasy, especially since by then the region had several bona fide industries of towering global importance: aerospace, computers, and entertainment. So it is perhaps not surprising, then and now, that when bad times befall California, pundits, historians, and leaders of other states often appear unseemly in their haste to pronounce the California dream on life support, if not already dead.
"The California Dream is a love affair with an idea, a marriage to a myth," wrote historian Claudia Jurmain, explaining the rank disappointment of the farmers who fled the 1930s Dust Bowl for the sustained poverty they found in California—the same scenario that subsequent destitute immigrants from China, Mexico, Guatemala, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other parts of the developing world would find upon arrival.
"California is a tragic country—like Palestine, like every Promised Land," wrote Christopher Isherwood. "Its short history is a fever-chart of migrations—the land rush, the gold rush, the oil rush, the movie rush, the Okie fruit-picking rush, the wartime rush to the aircraft factories—followed, in each instance, by counter-migrations of the disappointed and unsuccessful, moving sorrowfully homeward."
It's true that the dream, regardless of how it was marketed or perceived, could never be a promise, but many found that the strip of desert, mountain, plain, and coast spanning one thousand by four hundred miles offered greater opportunities than the rigidly stratified and frequently war-torn societies they had fled. With each receding echo of the post-World War II population and economic booms, the dream is renewed, reinvigorated. The place is just so fertile, spawning cultural trends and whole industries as easily as it produces grapes, or olives, or avocados, and this tends to alleviate the often harsh realities that threaten to tarnish the veneer of the Golden State: racial tension, exploitation of immigrants, massive and, since the 1970s, increasing economic inequality.
In fact, by the eve of the Great Recession of 2008, California had navigated a thirty-year period of increased political polarization, exacerbated by a steady stream of reactionary citizen-initiated ballot measures—targeting immigrants, people of color, and gays and lesbians—to become dominated once again by the centrist Democratic Party; the state also was a key bulwark for the historic election of Barack Obama. Host to the dominant corporate engines powering the again-booming and synergistic technology and entertainment industries and the "cool factor" they accrued, the state was in the midst of another astonishing housing boom, financed by easy credit and equity loans based on seemingly ever-rising property values.
Sure, no matter how high the share prices of Google or Apple climbed, the state was still struggling to fulfill its promise to those not able to afford a $95,000 Tesla Model S. And the once shiny educational and infrastructure systems were widely perceived as still in decline thirty years after a national "taxpayers' revolt" was kicked off with the shocking passage of Proposition 13. But, hey, the laser, iPhone, blue jeans, and the summer blockbuster were invented here; there was even a macho, charming, cigar-chomping actor in the governor's mansion. And the weather was still nice.


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