I have talked about numerous issues today that requires the U.S. to reshift its focus in how it views policy. DADT was something that the Democrats really wanted, but were unable to achieve because they moved to fast. As Sarah Palin would say they should “reload” for next time. The midterm election make it difficult for Democrats to make the crucial decisions about where and how to focus the debate.
Big breakthroughs are very difficult legislatively, usually always around election time. It would be smart to small election initiatives that Democrats can brag about for November that are not that controversial. The stove project for developing countries is one good example. Maybe even passing minor immigration reform could be another topic to tackle. Overall, I would say that sometimes legislative leaders focus too much on specific ideas like making China change its currency policy, when the benefits of that might be limited. The same is true on policy. Going big in politics is not always better, being small can sometimes go a long way.
To sum up my posts:
1. My theme was refocusing the debate
2. DADT was a big topic
3. One columnist gives an idea of who will be at the Stewart/Colbert rallies
4. Moses could have parted the Red Sea
5. Brooks makes an interesting point about characterizing the debate
Thanks for following along. See you tomorrow!
The U.S. State Department is putting more money towards clean cooking stoves for developing nations which cause terrible health effects to people all over the world. Reuters reports:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Tuesday a U.S. contribution of some $50 million toward providing clean cooking stoves in developing countries to reduce deaths from smoke inhalation and fight climate change.
The U.S. funding, which will be spread over five years, is part of a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves launched to combat a problem officials equate with malaria and unclean water in terms of its health impact worldwide.
Some 1.9 million premature deaths, mostly among women and young children, occur every year due to smoke inhalation from rudimentary stoves, which in many cases consist of a few stones and an open fire inside or outside a shelter, officials said.
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A common argument that is made amongst pundits is that raising China’s currency, the Remnbi, will force China to be on an equal playing field with the U.S. Right now, China is keeping their currency artificially low to keep exports cheap. This helps them grow as an economy. This is another reason why China cannot simply dump U.S. debt that it owns because their currency is not strong enough to sustain their economy without the backing of the U.S. dollar.
The New York Times gives a couple of interesting reasons why increasing the value of China’s currency will not be the cure-all everyone thinks it will:
But there are two main reasons that a stronger renminbi probably will not lead to a rapid hiring increase in the United States.
The first is that China and United States aren’t the only two countries in the world. Many products that we think of as being made in China, like the iPhone, are really just assembled in China. High-end parts often come from richer countries, like Israel or South Korea. Basic parts can be made in poorer countries, like Vietnam.
The entire value of the product counts toward the trade deficit between the United States and China. A stronger renminbi, however, would affect only the portion of the work done in China. And if the renminbi rose enough, some of this work would simply shift to a country like Vietnam (where per capita income is about $3,000, compared with $6,500 in China). Such a shift wouldn’t help close our overall trade deficit.
Chinese officials sometimes go so far as to suggest that the value of the renminbi makes little difference. That’s wrong. China’s economy is now large enough that its currency matters. But the issue is more complicated than it first seems.
The second reason not to view the exchange rate as a cure-all is that economies, like battleships, tend to turn slowly. Companies rarely move production in a matter of weeks. If they are using a Chinese supplier, it is often cheaper to stick with that supplier for a while, even if costs rise, rather than find a new one in another country.
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Is the problem in American society today that we characterize the other side as a stock character. Do we ever stop to ask the question about a particular movement or why a particular movement exists? I am probably as guilty as anybody of trying to portray certain types of people in political ideologies in the same light. David Brooks points out today:
The political world is caricatured worst of all. The environmentalists talk like the snobbish cartoons of Glenn Beck’s imagination. The Republicans talk like the warmonger cartoons of Michael Moore’s.
It is not the true point of his column, but wouldn’t it be nice if we all understood each other a little better? The world is so polarized by right versus left that we often forget the basic debate is about one type of American wanting certain values of another type of American value system. Fixing this problem is very difficult because we all want different things, and do not consider the other side’s perspective.
This also makes debating very difficult. It is hard to debate one group that wants to reduce the size of government from intervening in the lives of ordinary Americans when they see anyone who opposes that view as a group of rowdy socialists. The same can be said for those who see the right as a group of church-going, science hating people. We all know those are gross mis characterization. Reducing it from the political discourse is quite a different problem.
In the DADT debate today, we saw one side he sees allowing gays to serve openly in the military as harming national defense and other side sees it as a civil rights issue. In those two paradigms, debating this topic is almost impossible. We must find a way to bring these types of debates and party ideologies into the same light, otherwise debating these topics will be impossible.
Every few years, some study tries to reveal whether the parting of the Red Sea actually happened. Here is the latest from one research team:
Mother Earth could have parted the Red Sea, hatching the great escape described in the biblical book of Exodus, a new study finds.
A strong east wind, blowing overnight, could have swept water off a bend where an ancient river is believed to have merged with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean Sea, said study team member Carl Drews of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While archaeologists and Egyptologists have found little evidence that any events described in Exodus actually happened, the study outlines a perfect storm that could have led to the 3,000-year-old escape.
“People have always been fascinated by this Exodus story, wondering if it comes from historical facts,” Drews said. “What this study shows is that the description of the waters parting indeed has a basis in physical laws.”
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