The Globalist http://www.theglobalist.com Daily online magazine on the global economy, politics and culture Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:52:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Visiting India? Battling a Kafkaesque Bureaucracy http://www.theglobalist.com/visiting-india-battling-a-kafkaesque-bureaucracy/ http://www.theglobalist.com/visiting-india-battling-a-kafkaesque-bureaucracy/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:35:22 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36401 By Stephan Richter

Reflections on the amazing difficulties of obtaining a visa to India.

TH24_Stephan_Ritch_2217803eReflections on the amazing difficulties of obtaining a visa to India.

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By Stephan Richter

Reflections on the amazing difficulties of obtaining a visa to India.

TH24_Stephan_Ritch_2217803e

It is often said that foreigners visiting India for the first time will either love it – or instinctively hate it. I suggest a third category: Open-minded visitors who are systematically induced by the Indian government to dislike the country before their first-ever arrival.

Like many global citizens, I had long heard about the stifling tentacles of the Indian bureaucracy. Still, I was not prepared for what was to come.

After all, the Indian government has run the glossy “Incredible India“ advertising campaign for over a decade now. That campaign’s goal is to overcome a shocking imbalance in the global tourist trade.

Poor marketing?

The world’s largest democracy accounts for a truly miniscule share of international tourist visits – just 0.6%. China has a 5.1% market share (and 7.5% if Hong Kong is included), 12 times India’s share. Even Japan, quite reclusive and with only 1/10th the population of India, boasts a larger share of the global tourism market, at 1.0%.

Moving up that league table is a more than legitimate aspiration for India – and an economically sensible one. Tourist dollars, euros, yen or yuan are a valuable commodity for any nation. It should all be a no-brainer.

Little did I know, in my consecutive attempts to get a visa, there always seemed to be one last-minute unforeseen hiccup after another.

The only way to comprehend it all was to see myself as the humble – and systematically humbled – main character in the novel “The Castle” by Franz Kafka, the famous early 20th century Central European writer. His book captivatingly describes a man’s struggles to gain access to a castle that towers high above a village and all the common folk.

The book is a parable for individuals’ futile struggle against the highhandedness of a government that keeps itself deliberately at a distance from the very people it is supposed to serve.

The impassable walls of bureaucracy

The first time I applied, to travel to a World Bank-sponsored conference held in Delhi, my visa did not arrive in time. I was far from the only conference participant denied access to the Indian castle.

In that case, there was the curious matter of having to have an official invitation letter (understandable), but also having it certified by the Ministry of External Affairs/Ministry of Home Affairs (incomprehensible, other than as a job-creation scheme).

Another time, I planned a personal, entirely tourism-oriented visit. Thankfully, I needed no letter of invitation from a conference organizer or its certification by a government office.

And yet, I failed in that attempt to get access to the “castle,” too. What was the cause for the fatal delay that time? Even though I had been assured by the government’s visa processing outsourcing service upon filing that everything was in order, it was not.

At the last minute, the Indian authorities decided that, since one of my occupations is to run a global affairs website, I would have to file for a journalist visa.

It did not matter that the purpose of my trip was to visit an old friend. Once Indian authorities decide one way, everyone’s only choice was to oblige. Otherwise, I would not gain access to the castle.

Here is the kicker: Even though my departure was imminent, the visa service manager told me that the visa granting procedure for journalists was quite an involved one. At best, it would take several weeks. And there was absolutely no way to expedite the procedure.

Compounding problems

I was speechless. And quite naturally, I wanted to bag the whole application and just get my passport back. The visa service manager helpfully explained why that would be a disastrous decision.

If I unilaterally abandoned a visa application procedure, the authorities would consider that as their having denied me a visa. That would make it much harder in the future to ever make it into the castle, aka India.

This high-handed practice effectively also robbed me of my freedom to travel internationally, which I have to do frequently. In order to travel abroad, one needs to be in possession of a passport.

My own passport was in effective lockdown with the Indian authorities until they would deign issuing me a journalist visa for an entirely private tourist visit.

To add further sting to this, when the Chinese say visa processing will take seven business days, it does. No more, no less. And China is not the nation that advertises itself as the world’s leading IT back office.

This October, I humbly tried again. Third time’s a charm, they say. Even though planning a tourist trip, since I still just wanted to see India for the first time, I was nevertheless told that I would have to apply as a journalist. Once deemed a journalist by Indian authorities, forever a journalist.

Curiously enough, the authorities also wanted me to sign a form that I would “not engage in any journalistic activities” – even though they required me to apply for a “J” visa.

A problem of conscience

I could not sign that form in good conscience. I am a columnist – and, in that capacity, always have my ears and ears open and I generally travel with my brain wide alert. How could I sign such a form, without being completely muzzled – or lying by signing a form that is an obvious logical impossibility?

Now you must wonder about the outcome of my application process this time around. Was three times a charm?

Indeed, it was. As you read this article in the pages of this newspaper, I am happy to report that I actually made it to India – and loved every minute.

I had the good fortune that a very senior Indian diplomat, recently retired, had made it his personal mission to have his colleagues in Washington look out for my application this time around.

With his intervention, everything worked like a charm. As grateful as I am for that act of kindness, one shouldn’t have to rely on such good fortune. It should be a matter of, yes, bureaucratic routine to process such applications expeditiously.

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13 Facts about Winston Churchill http://www.theglobalist.com/18-facts-about-winston-churchill/ http://www.theglobalist.com/18-facts-about-winston-churchill/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:00:38 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36488 By Denis MacShane and The Globalist

The remarkable downsides of Britain's most famous leader.

Winston ChurchillThe remarkable downsides of Britain's most famous leader.

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By Denis MacShane and The Globalist

The remarkable downsides of Britain's most famous leader.

Winston Churchill

1. Churchill did not invent the term “Iron Curtain” to describe the barrier between Soviet-dominated Europe and western Europe.

2. “Iron Curtain” was first used by the Nazis – above all, by their propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

3. Churchill did not invent the term “Middle East.” The American naval thinker Alfred T. Mahan coined it in 1902.

4. Churchill as Colonial Secretary in 1922 did draw up the frontiers that make Iraq impossible to govern as a unitary state.

5. Churchill had a psychotic hatred toward Indians, saying, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people.”

6. Three million Bengalis died of starvation in 1943-1944 because Churchill took their land to grow jute for wartime sandbags.

7. No grain or rice was made available by Churchill to starving Bengalis, though plenty was on hand from Australia and stockpiled in imperial India.

8. When given reports of the genocidal starvation of Indians in 1943-1944, Churchill asked why Gandhi hadn’t died yet. The famine was their own fault, he declared, for “breeding like rabbits.”

9. A 1933 cartoon in The Daily Herald portrays Churchill as an SS trooper, hand flung up in a fascist salute, denouncing Gandhi’s peaceful campaign for independence.

10. Sixty of Germany’s main cities were destroyed — long after the western allies and the Red Army were closing in on Germany.

11. One million German civilians – hardly military targets – were killed or injured by bombing of cities.

12. Churchill sold out the Poles to Stalin at Yalta, then gave the green light at Potsdam for 12 million Germans to be driven from lands they had lived in for centuries.

13. In his last weeks as prime minister in 1945, Churchill gave instructions to prepare plans for “Operation Unthinkable” — intended as a surprise assault on the Red Army. His generals told him he was mad.

Source: Winston Churchill: Hagiography versus History by Denis MacShane (The Globalist, November 23, 2014); Winston Churchill: Der späte Held by Thomas Kielinger (September 15, 2014); “One man who made history” by another who seems just to make it up: Boris on Churchill by Richard J Evans (New Statesman, November 13, 2014)

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Winston Churchill: Hagiography versus History http://www.theglobalist.com/winston-churchill-hagiography-versus-history/ http://www.theglobalist.com/winston-churchill-hagiography-versus-history/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:00:49 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36484 By Denis MacShane

History would serve the UK better in looking at today’s problems.

churchillHistory would serve the UK better in looking at today’s problems.

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By Denis MacShane

History would serve the UK better in looking at today’s problems.

churchill

Two biographies of Churchill, one in English, one in German, have just been published. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London and favorite to succeed British Prime Minister David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party calls his “The Churchill Factor. How One Man Made History.”

Thomas Kielinger, the long serving London correspondent of Die Welt, who has written a biography of Queen Elizabeth, entitles his account “Winston Churchill, Der späte Held” (WC The late hero).

In England, Churchill overwhelms all other political leaders. He is hero, not history, and Britain still lives under his shadow as both these book show.

After the war, Sir Henry Tizard, the UK Government’s chief scientific advisor noted that after 1945, “We are not a great power and never will be again. We are a great nation, but if we continue to behave like a Great Power we shall soon cease to be a great nation.”

The uncritical Churchill-worship that infuses British politics may hinder — not help — the clarity needed to work out what Britain’s future is.

Of these two books, Thomas Kielinger, a German Anglophile since his early days lecturing at a provincial British university, provides a more balanced account, drawing on many more sources than Boris Johnson, who takes as holy writ anything his hero wrote or said.

Uncritical Churchill worship

But Kielinger will not be read outside German-reading Europe, whereas Johnson has already paraded his book at the Yale Club of New York on the basis that the future leader (in his eyes) of the Conservatives should write about its most famous past leader.

In a cruelly devastating review of the Johnson book in the New Statesman, Richard Evans, the most senior history professor at Cambridge, mocks Johnson thus, “Anyone who has the time or energy to press a couple of keys on a computer to look up ‘tank,’ ‘RAF,’ ‘welfare state’ or even ‘the Second World War’ on Wikipedia will see Boris’s sweeping claims vanish in a cloud of inconvenient facts.”

“Churchill did not, as Boris claims, invent the term ‘Iron Curtain’ to describe the barrier between Soviet-dominated Europe and western Europe. It was first used by the Nazis – above all, by their propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.”

“Nor did he invent the term ‘Middle East’: It was coined by the American naval thinker Alfred T. Mahan in 1902. At many junctures in the book, the ability to think historically deserts its author.”

Kielinger, by contrast, shows a steady hand blending archival research. He also points out that Churchill as Colonial Secretary in 1922 drew up the disastrous frontiers that make Iraq impossible to govern as a unitary state.

Racism – Churchill’s hatred of Indians

Neither book deals with the psychotic hatred Churchill had for Indians. Three million Bengalis died of starvation in 1943-1944 because Churchill took their land to grow jute for wartime sandbags. No grain or rice was made available though plenty were on hand from Australia and stockpiled in imperial India.

Churchill had already derided Gandhi as a “half-naked fakir” and said, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people.” When he was given reports of this genocidal starvation of Indians, Churchill asked why Gandhi hadn’t died yet. The famine was their own fault, he declared at a war-cabinet meeting, for “breeding like rabbits.”

Kielinger prints a 1933 cartoon of Churchill from the Daily Herald. It portrays him as an SS trooper, hand flung up in a fascist salute, marching ahead of a Swastika-decorated banner denouncing Gandhi’s peaceful campaign for independence. Johnson just skips over this uncomfortable but important chapter in the Churchill history.

Unleashing destruction on common people

Kielinger deals with the equally uncomfortable issue of the mass firebombing of German civilians. Sixty of Germany’s main cities were destroyed long after the western allies and the Red Army were closing in on Germany.

“It is one thing to kill a dictator but should he kill all his people?” questions Kielinger. Johnson repudiates this charge, arguing, “Churchill’s war was never with the German people.”

Given that 1 million German civilians were killed or injured by bombing of cities – hardly military targets – Kielinger is the historian and Johnson the apologist.

Having sold out the Poles to Stalin at Yalta, Churchill then gave the green light at Potsdam to the biggest ethnic cleansing in recorded history. Twelve million Germans were driven from from lands they had lived in for centuries.

One of them was a boy from Danzig called Thomas Kielinger. The German biographer simply records the facts, leaving the reader to make a judgment. Johnson acts as a histrionic defense advocate unable to admit his hero has a single stain on his escutcheon.

Hagiography in service of current ideology

Johnson, who heads the anti-European wing of the Conservative Party, ties himself up in knots over Churchill’s repeated wartime calls for supra-national government in Europe and his 1946 appeal for the creation of a “United States of Europe.”

That appeal led to the founding of European Court of Human Rights, which can tell sovereign states to treat citizens fairly. Today many in the Conservative Party would like to quit the European Court and repudiate the European Convention on Human Rights that Churchill had drawn up in 1952 when he returned to power.

Johnson writes about a “Gestapo-controlled Nazi European Union,” as he lurches around the landscape of Churchill’s life, trying to find support for his own anti-European ideology.

Both biographers do at least write about Churchill’s instructions in his last weeks as prime minister in 1945 to prepare plans for “Operation Unthinkable.” This was to be a surprise assault on the Red Army with a view to achieving Churchill’s ambition of defeating Bolshevism.

Churchill rightly saw Bolshevism as a mortal challenge to British imperialism. His generals told him he was mad and the papers were buried for decades.

Later in June, 1953, the West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer went on a panic visit to see Churchill after the re-elected British premier had made a bizarre speech suggesting a UK-USA-USSR summit after Stalin’s death with the proposal of declaring Germany neutral – a long time aim of Soviet foreign policy.

Washington was not interested. According to the German note of the meeting Kielinger quotes, Adenauer found the British prime minister unfocussed, rambling and looking quite gaga.

Die Welt published a cartoon of Churchill as Neville Chamberlain waving a bit of paper with “Peace in Our Time” on it, as Churchill appeared to have reversed his stance at Fulton and was now keen to appease Soviet tyranny.

Churchill’s bizarre idea about Soviet Communism

A few days after Adenauer’s meeting, Soviet tanks crushed the uprising of Berlin workers for democratic rights. Soviet stooges in East Germany executed and imprisoned hundreds of pro-democracy Germans.

Churchill’s bizarre idea that Soviet communism was interested in working with democracies was quickly forgotten. It does not, of course, appear in Johnson’s hagiography.

Professor Evans writes that the endless howlers in Johnson’s Churchill “will ensure this book has a very brief shelf life.” German readers are much better served by Kielinger’s work.

History now needs some serious re-thinking of Churchill mythology. In the summer of 1940, he rendered service to freedom that few men in history have ever managed. But much of the rest of his time in public office was crammed with bad judgments, loopy policies, windy writing, contempt for opponents, crude racism and a nostalgic belief in the past.

No one can remove the glory of his stand against Hitler along with the British people in 1940. But compared to a Napoleon or a Roosevelt, who utterly transformed their nations, Churchill was a leader when it mattered, but other than in 1940, Britain got on better without him.

And today, the Churchill industry allows Britain to wallow in an imagined glorious past and not to be required to think about today’s problems, let alone prepare for the future.

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18 Facts: Christians in China http://www.theglobalist.com/18-facts-christians-in-china/ http://www.theglobalist.com/18-facts-christians-in-china/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:00:26 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36446 By The Globalist

Despite current attempts at suppression, the number of Christians is growing.

christianity chinaDespite current attempts at suppression, the number of Christians is growing.

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By The Globalist

Despite current attempts at suppression, the number of Christians is growing.

christianity china

1. Christianity came to China in the 7th century AD. Roman Catholicism came in the 13th century and Protestantism in 1807.

2. Most Chinese Emperors banned Christianity – and sentenced proselytizers to death.

3. At the time of the1949 Communist takeover, China – then a country with 540 million people – had 800,000 Protestants and 3 million Catholics.

4. China’s constitution technically guarantees freedom of religion.

5. China’s government must approve all religious organizations and strictly regulates their activities.

6. The government claims China has only 23 million Protestants and Catholics, but even officials acknowledge that is an underestimate.

7. The Pew Center estimated in 2010 that there were 9 million Catholics and over 58 million Protestants in China. Current estimates are based on a 10% annual growth rate.

8. China has tens of millions of believers attending underground “house churches,” mostly Protestants. Local officials have tolerated them as long as they are not “political.”

9. The Chinese Communist Party now sees Christianity as a serious threat to be suppressed.

10. Chinese officials believe the Catholic Church helped destroy communism in Poland.

11. Despite these strictures, China could become home to the world’s largest Christian population within 15 years from now.

12. The Protestant brand of Christianity has been spreading most rapidly in China.

13. Protestantism appeals to ritual and community, but also allows people to feel international – within a global community.

14. Catholicism is based on centralized power – and hence reminiscent in Chinese eyes of the CCP.

15. The flexibility of Protestantism leaves room for individual interpretation and appeals to younger people.

16. Protestants also have simpler structures. They can start a group with a Bible and a couple of people, which aligns with the rise of Chinese civil society and empowerment of the individual.

17. In the 1980s, 8 of 10 Chinese Christians lived in poor rural areas. That is rapidly changing. Now, most conversions are in cities and more believers are well educated.

The Upshot

China is estimated to have now more Christians (100 million) than members of the Chinese Community Party (86.7 million).

Sources: China’s other leader by Jamil Anderlini (Financial Times, November 8, 2014); Pew Research Center; Church of the East by Wikipedia, and Benoit Vermander, Fudan University in Shanghai.

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Immigration: Drain on Resources or Source of Growth? http://www.theglobalist.com/facts-immigration-drain-on-resources-or-source-of-growth/ http://www.theglobalist.com/facts-immigration-drain-on-resources-or-source-of-growth/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 09:00:30 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=19514 By The Globalist

What is the effect of immigration on national budgets? What is the GDP growth effect?

Credit: Andy Dean Photography - Shutterstock.comWhat is the effect of immigration on national budgets? What is the GDP growth effect?

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By The Globalist

What is the effect of immigration on national budgets? What is the GDP growth effect?

Credit: Andy Dean Photography - Shutterstock.com

1. Immigrants are often viewed as a drain on a country’s resources and this reason is cited to oppose looser policies.

2. However, the OECD has found that the fiscal effect of immigration is small.

3. Generally, immigration does not push a country’s GDP more than 0.5% in either direction.

4. In a country such as the United States, where immigrants are often young and the social safety net is not large, the effect of immigration is often more positive.

5. In a country such as Germany, where the social safety net is larger and immigrants are older or aging, the impact is often more negative.

6. In the case of the U.S. economy, immigration was a net contributor to the U.S. economy in 2011. It helped increase GDP by 0.03 percentage points.

From Immigrants help U.S. economy, study says by Katerina Sokou (OECD/Washington Post)

Editor’s note: This Just the Facts feature was originally published on The Globalist on November 26, 2013.

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Blind Women Make Music in Egypt http://www.theglobalist.com/blind-women-make-music-in-egypt/ http://www.theglobalist.com/blind-women-make-music-in-egypt/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 09:00:26 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35044 By The Globalist

A government program in Egypt helps educate and train young blind woman as classical musicians.

Credit: Nadia Sablin - The Other HundredA government program in Egypt helps educate and train young blind woman as classical musicians.

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By The Globalist

A government program in Egypt helps educate and train young blind woman as classical musicians.

Credit: Nadia Sablin - The Other Hundred

Fernando Moleres is an award winning freelance photographer. Moreles often photographs stories related to human rights issues and current events. He approaches documentary photography as an art and instrument to help explore issues across the world.

•  •  •

Shaimaa Yehia, 28, is a violinist with the Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra, a 40-strong ensemble of blind women from Cairo. The orchestra, which plays a full range of string and wind instruments, is run by the Al Nour Wal Amal Association, an Egyptian non-governmental organization that takes in blind girls from Cairo’s poor.

The association was founded in 1954 and its name means light and hope. It gives the girls a formal education in the mornings, emphasizing literacy and vocational training, and teaches them music in the afternoons. Shaimaa entered when she was seven. In her first year, she was taught to read and write words and musical notes in Braille.

The following year, aged eight, she chose the violin as her instrument. She then spent five hours a day practicing and just one year later became a member of the association’s junior orchestra. At 12, she entered the senior orchestra, since then travelling with it across Europe, to North America and to Australia.

Unable to read music as they play, the orchestra’s musicians memorize it, typically carrying around 45 pieces in their heads at any one time, among them works by the Egyptian composer, Ahmed Aboeleid, and classical European pieces by Mozart, Brahms, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and others.

Text and photographs by Fernando Moleres


03 Fernando Moleres resize Enlarge   Members of blind women chamber orchestra Al Nour wal Amal (Light & Hope) making up before a performance in Segre, France.

07 Fernando Moleres resize Enlarge   Members of blind women chamber orchestra Al Nour wal Amal (Light & Hope) during the concert in the Manoel Theatre, Malta.

04 Fernando Moleres resize Enlarge   Members of the Al Nour Wal Amal orchestra take a break during a concert at the Manoel Theatre in Malta’s capital, Valletta.

10 Fernando Moleres resize Enlarge   Shaimaa with some members of blind women orchestra Al Nour wal Amal shopping after the performance during a tour in Malta

01 Fernando Moleres resize Enlarge   Shaimaa on her way to vote in a national election. As well as being a violinist, she also has a university degree in English, which she teaches for a living.

Fernando Moleres is an award winning freelance photographer. Moreles often photographs stories related to human rights issues and current events. He approaches documentary photography as an art and instrument to help explore issues across the world.

The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.

Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.

Selected from 11,000 images shot in 158 countries and submitted by nearly 1,500 photographers, The Other Hundred celebrates those who will never find themselves on the world’s rich lists or celebrity websites.

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Why Obama Is Right on Immigration http://www.theglobalist.com/why-obama-is-right-on-immigration/ http://www.theglobalist.com/why-obama-is-right-on-immigration/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 09:00:11 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36454 By Jacob Conteh

Like Reagan and Bush, Obama takes action when Congress won’t.

immigration actionLike Reagan and Bush, Obama takes action when Congress won’t.

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By Jacob Conteh

Like Reagan and Bush, Obama takes action when Congress won’t.

immigration action

As an African immigrant here in the United States, I believe that President Obama was right to issue an executive order to help a segment of the immigrant population get temporary legal status to live and work in the United States.

The President gave Congress ample time to act on immigration, but it failed to act, and now Members of Congress are accusing the President of behaving like a czar or a king.

When covering immigration, the media often focus on the thousands of immigrants who cross the borders illegally. They fail to mention the thousands of immigrants who came here legally and overstayed due to numerous circumstances.

Many of these immigrants speak English fluently, pay taxes regularly, have homes and have children who are United States citizens. Yet because there is no clear comprehensive immigration policy, these immigrants, like the ones that came illegally, are constantly facing the fear of deportation.

Although those Congress people who oppose immigration reform often cite their support from the American public, many Americans have a double standard when it comes to immigrants.

What happens in the real economy

In many jurisdictions like Northern Virginia, undocumented immigrants play a vital role in the local economy. In cities like Woodbridge, Alexandria or Arlington, undocumented immigrants stand on street corners where they are picked up to do construction and menial jobs for citizens.

Those citizens pay them pennies, compared to the wages for hiring Americans. In fact, in a section of Arlington, Virginia, called Shirlington, authorities built a park where the undocumented immigrants may spend the day while waiting for work.

Walk into any nursing or assisted living home in any major city in the United States, and you are greeted by hard working nurses and aid workers from Africa, Asia or other parts of the world. They do all the menial jobs in these homes.

Most Americans have no problem with so-called aliens who take care of their parents, mow their lawns, fix their roofs or clean their houses. As long as the aliens are confined to low-paying jobs that Americans do not want and kept from mainstream jobs, they do not have a problem with foreign workers.

It is when new immigrants strive to get legal status and realize the American dream that many citizens oppose immigration reform. This is not the American spirit.

The Republicans who vow to fight Obama on this issue and to cut off funding for the government are treading on a dangerous path.

As already widely reported, both President Reagan and George H.W. Bush issued executive orders on immigration issues. Moreover, the Republicans should realize that without votes from immigrants, they are less likely to win the presidency in 2016.

In any case, as President Obama pointed out during his speech on immigration, this is not just a political issue. It is about giving hard working immigrants the status they have earned.

A friend of mine in Rhode Island has worked in the same company for more than a decade, owns his own house where he lives with his wife and children, pays his taxes and is law abiding. The executive order will grant him legal status to stay in this country and take care of their two American kids.

Until the incoming Republican controlled Congress passes a comprehensive immigration reform bill that President Obama can sign, the Republicans and their backers can continue to complain.

Meanwhile, immigrants that have been given temporary legal status will continue to stay and work in this country. That is a good thing both for the American economy and for the immigrants and their families.

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Why Europe Needs to Put Privatization Back on the Agenda http://www.theglobalist.com/why-europe-needs-to-put-privatization-back-on-the-agenda/ http://www.theglobalist.com/why-europe-needs-to-put-privatization-back-on-the-agenda/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:00:25 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36092 By Wolfgang Schüssel

Privatized firms neither need to accommodate politicians’ wishes nor maintain unproductive jobs and factories.

Credit:  cosma  - Shutterstock.comPrivatized firms neither need to accommodate politicians’ wishes nor maintain unproductive jobs and factories.

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By Wolfgang Schüssel

Privatized firms neither need to accommodate politicians’ wishes nor maintain unproductive jobs and factories.

Credit:  cosma  - Shutterstock.com

For Europe, the most urgent task is to bring back economic growth. Only growth can deliver jobs to Southern Europe’s young people. Only growth can keep the demographic burden bearable. Only growth can safeguard the cohesion of our societies. And equally important, only growth can restore our belief in our common destiny as Europeans.

Yet, our policy options are extremely limited. After the bailouts of the financial crisis, public debt is far too high to allow for major spending programs. With interest rates close to zero, monetary policy has also largely exhausted its possibilities to boost the economy.

Privatization as an economic tool

One of the most important tools that governments can use to improve the structure of their economies is privatization.

Selling off stakes in publicly held companies actually delivers a double benefit. First, it makes those companies more productive. Second, it brings in additional revenues which can be used to pay back a part of the debt and boost investment in areas that are critical to future growth.

In short, we need a second wave of privatization. In the 1990s, Europe went through a first big wave of privatization. The EU’s single market legislation put pressure on national governments to open up markets, cap subsidies, dissolve monopolies and privatize state-owned companies.

Yet, with the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, the move toward more privatization slowed considerably.

Despite all the good economic policy, far too few publicly held assets were actually sold. In Greece, the government in 2011 announced a comprehensive privatization program to raise an additional 50 billion euros in state revenues by 2015.

This turned out to be completely unrealistic. Until the end of 2013, Greek privatization revenue only reached 5% of the target – a grand total of 2.6 billion euros.

Public opinion as a barrier

Governance problems in Greece aside, public opinion throughout Europe is highly skeptical of privatization. In the political environment of the aftermath of the financial crisis, people instinctively put far more trust into state intervention and management than into markets.

As a result, few politicians today dare to speak up about the benefits of privatization.

What about the facts? A recent study by the Economica Institute in Vienna covered 14 EU countries – the ten biggest Eurozone countries by GDP, as well as Britain, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Economica identified a total of 263 companies each with a turnover of more than 100 million euros that could be privatized. That number excludes sovereign mandates, the health and education sectors as well as real estate directly held by public authorities.

Even under these restricted circumstances, the 263 publicly held companies represent a total of 4.6 million employees and an annual turnover of 1.5 trillion euros.

National, regional and local governments could raise up to 511 billion euros in additional revenues by selling company stakes. If they wanted to retain a 25% share in all of these companies, potential revenues would still amount to 272 billion euros.

This is a lot of money – but in comparison to the towering public debt that EU countries have built up, it’s actually not very much at all.

The potential revenues would amount to only 4.4% of the total debt of EU member states. Clearly, debt reduction has to be done by restructuring the budget rather than via privatization.

Reasoning behind privatization must be clear

Just as clearly, any state will have to be very careful how privatization funds are spent. It would be simply unacceptable for any government to sell its assets in order to fill holes in the budget.

This is money that should be invested in areas of particular importance for future growth – for instance, in the broadband infrastructure or R & D.

The most important benefit of privatization concerns neither the amount of money that can be raised nor the purposes that such money can be spent on. Privatization makes companies more productive which, in turn, improves competitiveness and creates growth.

Why is this so? Private owners are quite simply more single-minded about competitiveness. Plus, while they cannot count on state money to help them out in a bad year, they also do not need to bow to political objectives.

They thus neither need to accommodate politicians’ wishes for patronage nor do they face the public sector’s pressure to maintain unproductive jobs and factories. Their main objective is to satisfy their customers and shareholders.

According to estimates, companies’ productivity improves by an average 20% once privatized. In the short term, some of this may translate into job losses when public companies are privatized.

But in a longer-term perspective, the fact that private companies have to be more competitive and innovative is what safeguards jobs.

Productivity gains are central if we want Europe to continue as one of the world’s most prosperous regions. Over the last decade, we Europeans have fallen behind dramatically.

Between 2002 and 2013, labor productivity in the United States grew by 19%. In Europe, productivity only grew by 11%. This is not a trend we can afford for very long.

Changing public opinion

How can the public gain the confidence that privatization will actually help create jobs and prosperity? For starters, we must make sure that every sale of public assets that takes place is entirely transparent, in order to rule out any whiff of corruption.

Just as important is the regulatory framework. Privatization will not be useful to a country’s economy if it replaces public with private monopolies.

At the European level, a privatization monitor could help create cross-border transparency, while a best practices handbook could assist national governments in making the right choices. Both could do much to ensure that a country’s assets aren’t being traded away cheaply.

Of course, privatization won’t solve every problem we have in Europe. Citizens are right to ask hard questions about a policy that is difficult and costly to reverse.

But if we want to transform Europe and the Euro back into an engine for growth, we simply cannot afford to ignore the enormous benefits that privatization presents.

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Holy Shit! http://www.theglobalist.com/holy-shit/ http://www.theglobalist.com/holy-shit/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:00:48 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36422 By The Globalist

India has 17% of the worlds population but accounts for 60% of all people with no access to toilets.

Globalist ChartroomIndia has 17% of the worlds population but accounts for 60% of all people with no access to toilets.

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By The Globalist

India has 17% of the worlds population but accounts for 60% of all people with no access to toilets.

Globalist Chartroom

holy-shit-pikto

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The Connection Between Toilets and Rape in India http://www.theglobalist.com/the-connection-between-toilets-and-rape-in-india/ http://www.theglobalist.com/the-connection-between-toilets-and-rape-in-india/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:00:18 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36418 By The Globalist

Around 65 percent of the rural population in India defecates in the open - this puts women at risk.

Globalist ChartroomAround 65 percent of the rural population in India defecates in the open - this puts women at risk.

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By The Globalist

Around 65 percent of the rural population in India defecates in the open - this puts women at risk.

Globalist Chartroom

rape-india-pikto

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South Africa: Cry, the Beloved Country http://www.theglobalist.com/south-africa-cry-the-beloved-country/ http://www.theglobalist.com/south-africa-cry-the-beloved-country/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:00:16 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36411 By Ellis Mnyandu

What took South Africa from 1994 to 2014 will not take it to 2034.

nelson mandelaWhat took South Africa from 1994 to 2014 will not take it to 2034.

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By Ellis Mnyandu

What took South Africa from 1994 to 2014 will not take it to 2034.

nelson mandela

When renowned author Alan Paton penned the words – “Cry, the Beloved Country” – he probably did not imagine that in 2014 South Africa would still be a country wrestling with itself. In that short, poetic and prophetic title, Paton aptly summed up the perennial condition of South Africa.

His seminal novel, first published in 1948, was ultimately a call for South Africa to put its past behind it and look to a new and a brighter future.  The novel was subsequently adapted into a stage play, as well as a movie starring U.S. actor James Earl Jones.

Fast forward to 2014 and Paton’s words seem to have been quite prescient as South Africa keeps taking one step forward and two steps back.

The global player with developmental problems

Although South Africa is now a global player — via the G20 and the BRICS — the country is beset with challenges that remind everyone of the long road that still lies ahead.  Unemployment is sky high, poverty is endemic, education outcomes are dismal, crime is rampant and corruption continues to rob the economy blind.

Earlier this year, South Africa even lost its status as Africa’s No. 1 economy — to Nigeria.

In the second quarter of this year, South Africa narrowly averted a recession after the economy had contracted by 0.6% in the first quarter. This was a consequence of the country reeling from the longest strike in its history. South African platinum mines, responsible for three-quarters of world’s platinum supplies, stood shut for five months.

Add to that the weekly, if not daily protests over service delivery and the recent chaos in Parliament, it soon becomes clear that the South Africa that Nelson Mandela may have dreamt of has not yet arrived.

In the last two weeks, politicians from the opposition parties have almost come to blows with those of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) over their differences about how President Jacob Zuma should account for taxpayer funds that were spent on upgrading his Nkandla homestead.

Not the dream of Mandela

The chaotic scenes in parliament, laced with utter disregard for public decency, hardly depict a country that is at peace with itself. Even a well-intentioned attempt by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to broker a peace deal among parties in Parliament in recent days is on the verge of collapse.

Institutional turmoil, both in the public service and in the private sector, increasingly represents a fundamentally sorry state of affairs.

What country goes for four months without a postal service? Mail delivery centers across the country are bursting at their seams with millions of undelivered mail due to a strike that appears to have no end in sight.

And what about instability in the executive ranks of money-losing national carrier South African Airways (SAA)? The disarray at the public broadcaster SABC? Add to this the power crises at power utility Eskom. South Africa just makes you want to say as did Paton, “Cry, the Beloved Country.”

It just seems as if failure has become a pre-condition for being in the public service, politics and business in South Africa.  What other reason explains why suddenly there is a raft of top executives, especially in the public sector, with bogus or unexplained missing qualifications?

All this and more points to an urgent need for some form of intervention, now.

What to say of the boardroom brawls that are fuelling value destruction running into billions of rand at major corporations? PPC, the major cement company with operations elsewhere in Africa and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is a case in point.

Currently, PPC is embroiled in an ongoing fiasco with its former chief executive, who until September was esteemed among South Africa’s highly respected black corporate executives.  

As a result, shareholders have seen about R3 billion ($300 million) of PPC’s market value being wiped out. This is what happens when the business of business turns into a business of settling personal scores.

Both government and business asleep at the switch

These episodes, and others like them, are a concern for one simple reason: Both government and business appear to be sleeping at the switch, forgetting that the country is at an inflection point. It can either move forward progressively, or backward with haste — which seems to be the case at the moment.

Some try to explain this away, saying that this is all business as usual. Hardly so.  In a country that is beset by massive socio-economic challenges, there is just no way to gloss over the prevailing paralysis.

Paralysis is manifesting itself on a daily basis, especially as those who are supposed to lead in fact shirk their responsibility. South Africans are yearning for those who hold public or private office to act as grown-ups – in word and in deed.

They are also yearning for business to have a heart. South Africa’s youth is yearning for real role models. South Africans are also yearning for the opportunity to better themselves and their communities.

It is appalling that unemployment among youth aged 15 to 34 jumped from 32.7% to 36.1% between 2008 and 2014. South Africa needs targeted policy interventions to achieve much better outcomes.

South Africans also yearn to see an end to corruption, crime and violence. This generation of South Africans is no different to that of Alan Paton’s. 

Look to China and its rise out of poverty

That future, however, will prove elusive, should the current state of affairs – characterized by despondency, apathy, complacency and indifference – persist. As a developing country, South Africa has a lot to learn from its peers, especially China, whose development has seen the largest number of people on the planet extricated out of poverty, with more to follow.

Although China is by no means perfect and has its critics, what is often not appreciated about its strides is that as a developing economy, it presents a developmental canvas that should be adapted to give countries like South Africa structural impetus to drive real change, especially at the level of ordinary people.

Speaking to a top Chinese diplomat in recent days, I learnt that what makes “China, Inc.” work is the fact that it has a “national consensus.”  That is precisely what South Africa needs — and very soon.

Survey after survey shows that South Africa must become more dynamic and competitive in order to build a more resilient economy.  Yet, all the signs so far point to the fact that mediocrity is something that South Africa is not yet prepared to do away with.

Lest we forget – what took South Africa from 1994 to 2014 will not take South Africa to 2034.

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10 Facts: “Open Defecation” in India http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-open-defecation-in-india/ http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-open-defecation-in-india/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 23:00:29 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=29872 By The Globalist

India needs to change some sanitation habits to protect health and safety.

(Credit: Jorg Hackemann - Shutterstock.com)India needs to change some sanitation habits to protect health and safety.

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By The Globalist

India needs to change some sanitation habits to protect health and safety.

(Credit: Jorg Hackemann - Shutterstock.com)

Prime Minister Modi has announced a well-publicized domestic program related to sanitation. Called the swachh bharat scheme, the program aims at eliminating open defecation by constructing toilets in every household in India by 2019.

1. Mohandas Gandhi said good sanitation was more important than independence.

2. India’s current prime minister says building toilets is a priority over temples. His administration has set a goal of ending defecating in the open by 2019.

3. Some 130 million households in India lack toilets.
 

4. More than 72% of rural people in India relieve themselves behind bushes, in fields or by roadsides.

5. India accounts for nearly 600 million of the 1 billion people in the world who have no toilet.

6. Hindu tradition encourages defecation in the open, far from home, to avoid ritual impurity.

7. Many people, notably in the Hindu-dominated Gangetic plains, today still show a preference for going in the open—even if they have latrines at home.

8. Since the 1960s, child mortality rates have been higher in Hindu families than Muslim ones—though Muslims typically are poorer and have less access to clean water.

9. 67% of all Hindu households, rural and urban, practice open defecation, compared with just 42% of Muslim ones.

10. In india, women who lack access to toilets, particularly in rural areas, go in the mornings and evenings to fields. That is where many rapes occur.

Upshot: India has 17% of the world’s population, but accounts for 60% of all people in the world without sanitation.

 

Sources: Sanitation in India, The final frontier by The Economist and Was ist los mit dem indischen Mann? by Jan Ross (Die Zeit)

 

 

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India’s Potty Problem http://www.theglobalist.com/indias-potty-problem/ http://www.theglobalist.com/indias-potty-problem/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 17:00:32 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36404 By Richard Walker

World Toilet Day is no laughing matter in many parts of the developing world.

Credit: toey19863 - Shutterstock.comWorld Toilet Day is no laughing matter in many parts of the developing world.

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By Richard Walker

World Toilet Day is no laughing matter in many parts of the developing world.

Credit: toey19863 - Shutterstock.com

To people in the world’s wealthy countries, the idea of World Toilet Day (November 19) may sound like a feeble attempt at potty humor. To many in the developing world, the lack of safe and sanitary toilets can be a deadly reality.

The lack of toilets is so severe in India that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made building toilets a national priority. The Globalist Quiz asks: Which of the following statements about India’s lack of toilets is true?

A. 60% of all households without toilets in the world are in India.
B. India’s Muslims are less affected by the sanitation problem than Hindus.
C. India’s lack of toilets is worse than China’s.
D. Lack of toilets in India puts women at especially high risk.

A. 60% of all households without toilets in the world are in India is true.

Despite rising incomes and living standards from India’s two-decade-old economic boom, India still has an estimated 626 million people who live in households without toilets.

With a total population of 1.27 billion, this means that nearly half of India’s population practices “open defecation.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the practice has dire consequences for health — especially for the healthy development of children.

When people defecate in fields and other places where poor children also play, the children are inadvertently exposed to parasites and bacteria that lead to physical and cognitive development problems and higher mortality rates. These in turn jeopardize the country’s future economic potential.

B. India’s Muslims are less affected by the sanitation problem than Hindus is true.

India consists of two major ethnic groups — Hindus, who make up about 80% of the population, and Muslims, who account for about 15%. For centuries, Hindus have been encouraged to defecate in the open, far from their homes, in order to maintain ritual purity.

India’s Muslims, on the other hand, are less likely to view in-house latrines as “impure.” Thus, Hindu households are far more likely than Muslim households to engage in the practice of open defecation.

Children are especially susceptible to the fecal pathogens the practice spreads. According to several academic and government studies, open defecation is the primary explanation for the higher mortality rate for Hindu children than Muslim children. Experts would ordinarily expect the opposite — given Hindus’ higher average incomes and educational attainment than Muslims.

C. India’s lack of toilets is worse than China’s is true.

An estimated 1.1 billion people — about 15% of the world population — practice open defecation, according to WHO data for 2010. They may do so because of cultural norms (as in the case of India’s Hindus) or because of a simple lack of indoor toilets.

In China — the only nation other than India with a population over one billion — a comparatively small number of people still practice open defecation. The number of Chinese who practice open defecation (14 million) is 45 times smaller than the number of Indians who do so (626 million).

Since 1990, 593 million Chinese and 251 million Indians have gained access to improved sanitation, according to WHO estimates. However, water sources befouled by human waste (as well as by agricultural waste and industrial effluents) continue to pose significant health risks in both countries.

An estimated 75% of India’s surface water is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. The estimated 97 million Indians who lack access to improved drinking water are second, as a group, only to the 119 million Chinese.

D. Lack of toilets in India puts women at especially high risk is true.

In 1925, when India’s independence was still more than two decades away, Mohandas Gandhi famously said, “Sanitation is more important than independence.” India’s newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, invoked that statement on the campaign trail when he declared, “Sanitation is more important than temples.”

Modi’s administration has announced plans to invest in public sanitation projects throughout what will soon be the world’s most populous country and to build thousands of public toilets. His goal is to eliminate open defection in India by 2019, the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth.

Ending the practice will also help eliminate a dire public safety problem for women. In May 2014, two teenage girls were raped and killed while visiting a field used as a communal toilet — and many similar attacks on girls and women have been documented.

Because 130 million of India’s households lack toilets, women and girls often have no other option than to venture out — often at night and alone — to relieve themselves.

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Piketty, Right or Wrong? The Global Wealth Game http://www.theglobalist.com/piketty-right-or-wrong-the-wealth-game-cant-go-on-for-long/ http://www.theglobalist.com/piketty-right-or-wrong-the-wealth-game-cant-go-on-for-long/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 07:00:52 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36165 By Daniel Stelter

How can it be that wealth grows faster than income for a sustained period of time?

Credit:  Roobcio - Shutterstock.comHow can it be that wealth grows faster than income for a sustained period of time?

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By Daniel Stelter

How can it be that wealth grows faster than income for a sustained period of time?

Credit:  Roobcio - Shutterstock.com

Thomas Piketty and his followers get support from Credit Suisse. In the newest release of its Global Wealth Report, the team of analysts at Credit Suisse supports the French economics professor’s – and top-selling author’s – thesis of growing wealth and wealth concentration in the world.

The bank’s analysts, like Piketty, predict a continuation of the existing trend. Wealth will continue to grow faster than income, leading to ever higher wealth and wealth concentration.

Obviously, Credit Suisse shares Piketty’s view that “r” – the return on capital – is constantly higher than “g” – the growth of the economy. In contrast to Piketty and his followers, Credit Suisse doesn’t see a problem in such a development. The bank perceives it as only a temporary phenomenon – and it is, of course, good for its own business.

In the emerging market economies, Credit Suisse expects a broader distribution of wealth once more people rise into the middle class and start saving. On the other hand, the analysts do not expect a similar change in the western world.

Different growth for different worlds

As long as the growth rate of their economies remains low – which is a reasonable assumption given demographics – wealth is expected to grow faster, leading to higher wealth and more wealth concentration.

Piketty and Credit Suisse therefore not only agree on the historical development, but come up with a similar view concerning the future. Both are extrapolating existing trends.

Piketty expects a real return on capital of 4 to 5%, Credit Suisse estimates future profits and works with a regression analysis based on past data.

Both also come up with only one future – instead of working with scenarios, as one would expect, given the fact that the influencing factors are quite volatile.

But how can it be that wealth grows faster than income for a sustained period of time? Credit Suisse comes up with a simple mechanism. People with higher income can save more – this leads to a higher demand for existing assets, bidding up the price.

Higher values for financial assets and real estate lead to higher incomes of the wealthy, allowing them to save even more and therefore bid up the prices of existing assets even further.

That makes wealth accumulation a kind of perpetuum mobile of unlimited wealth, detached from the harsh realities of the real economy. Those owning the assets are therefore unaffected by the business cycle. Recession or boom, the wealthy are always the winners.

At the same time, economists like Larry Summers see excess savings, which could be translated in growing wealth relative to income, as the main reason for the slow growth we have to deal with in our “secular stagnation.” In short, it’s a world of too much savings and not enough consumption and investment.

But are we really facing a period of ever faster growth in wealth and stagnating real economies? I doubt it.

More debt makes more wealth

Piketty, Summers and Credit Suisse only look at the symptoms – not at the true causes behind this development. The key element they neglect is the continued and excessive growth in debt. Without constantly increasing overall debt levels, the growth in wealth would be impossible.

There are several mechanisms in which debt underpins the growth in wealth. Normally, a higher concentration of incomes and wealth would lead to stagnating or shrinking incomes for the broader population – and therefore a drop in demand. The higher the income and wealth, the lower the share which is actually used for consumption.

In order to be able to consume in spite of stagnating income levels, broader sets of the population start to borrow money. That is exactly what happened in the United States over the last 30 years.

As long as real estate prices were rising – thanks to ever more and cheaper debt – this could go on. In Europe, it was governments that increased their spending on social welfare – which, in turn, was financed by credit, creating more debt.

Without all this credit-financed demand, the level of GDP, employment and profits would be lower in Europe and the United States – and stock prices as well.

Debt boosts asset prices

Even more important is the direct impact of higher debt levels on the valuation of assets. The possibility to take on credit leads to more demand for assets. The lower the required share of equity, the higher the demand for the asset.

That connection was easily visible in the run-up to the last crisis in the United States, but also in Ireland and Spain. An ever bigger proportion of new loans were made on the assumption that rising asset values in themselves would cover the costs of the credit. “Ninja-Loans” (No Income, no job, no assets) were the most extreme version.

The leverage effect makes it even more attractive to buy assets on credit. As long as the return on an asset is higher than the interest rate, any substitution of equity by debt leads to a higher return on equity. The demand for the asset increases even more.

China as a “richly” indebted country

That is why Credit Suisse expects a continuation of the existing trend of growing wealth for China as well. Of course, the bank does not mention that the existing debt level of China – at 250% – is already at the level of the developed economies in the west.

Without these debts, the demand for and valuation of real estate in China would certainly not be on the current level.

Over the last 40 years, the development of wealth and debt is pretty synchronized. If Piketty, Credit Suisse and others expect wealth to continue growing faster than income, they implicitly assume debt to continue growing faster as well.

Indeed, since the start of the crisis in 2009, politicians and central banks have done as much as possible to keep the house of debt from cracking. Global debt has grown from $105 trillion to $150 trillion since 2007.

The western world has to deal with a debt level (government, corporations and households) of 275% of GDP, the developing countries with 175% of GDP, both up 20 percentage points since 2007.

But can it go on?

It will not be possible to have debt grow faster than income forever. As long as the value of assets bought on credit grows faster than the interest expense, the game can go on.

But even in an environment of zero interest rates, this has come to an end, at the latest when no one has any debt capacity or willingness left. Once we have reached this point, asset prices will collapse. What remains is an unbearable debt load.

As debt is used to stabilize economic demand, it is only a question of time until we reach a limit. The debt capacity is limited and many countries have reached this limit.

All efforts to increase the debt capacity — whether by lowering standards and interest levels and/or to induce those with some countries like Germany which have some capacity remaining to take on more debt — can only buy time.

As attractive a world of ever increasing wealth would be, it is only a dream. It is much more probable that wealth and debt will shrink together. This will happen either because of a collapse of the house of debt that has been built up – or through drastic taxes as proposed by Piketty. As for politicians, it doesn’t matter whether or not Piketty`s theory is wrong, if it is useful.

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Rousseff, Brazil and Global Leadership http://www.theglobalist.com/rousseff-brazil-and-global-leadership/ http://www.theglobalist.com/rousseff-brazil-and-global-leadership/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:00:53 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36131 By Mark S. Langevin

Is President Dilma ready for a change of course at home and abroad?

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR-FlickrIs President Dilma ready for a change of course at home and abroad?

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By Mark S. Langevin

Is President Dilma ready for a change of course at home and abroad?

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR-Flickr

In late October, a slim majority of Brazilians chose to re-elect President Dilma Rousseff, but it is not clear that Brazil has decided how to move forward.

Most Brazilians are frustrated with the country’s sluggish economic growth during Dilma’s first term. Many of Dilma’s own supporters want the state to take more aggressive measures to reboot the economy during her second term.

Others, including supporters of her challenger Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, want to shrink the size of the state and further liberalize trade and investment policies in order to drive growth through expanding export markets and increases in foreign direct investment.

That at least is the path chosen half a world away by India’s new leader, Narendra Modi. Brazil cannot afford to do any less than India.

Still, it is not clear that either policy model can overcome the headwinds Brazil faces from the global economic downturn. But try the country must, in particular with regard to inviting greater productive investment.

That is necessary in order to successfully reposition Brazil on a path to sustained growth and meet everyone’s expectations.

What will President Dilma decide?

Managing the deteriorating conditions of the external sector would challenge any government. What makes this all the harder for Dilma Rousseff’s administration is that it must also contend with a rapidly increasing budget gap. It is larger now than at any time since the Workers Party (PT) took control of the federal government in 2003.

Dilma and her policy team must prepare to brace against the perfect storm that could submerge her second term in economic failure.

The consequences of that would be monumental: Most important, it would undermine the very social policies that have eliminated hunger and moved millions of Brazilians away from extreme poverty and bury Brasilia in turmoil.

Saving Social Policies

In an effort to preserve the country’s social policies, Brazil’s governing coalition is unlikely to tack toward the deep fiscal consolidation advocated by the IMF.

However, government expenditures will need to be recalibrated so as to maximize immediate growth and create the conditions for continued public investments in education and infrastructure, as well as the “internationalization” of Brazilian private firms.

Even so, the government may well run into real limits to its spending in the next couple of years. This makes private investment all the more important.

To weather the storm and neutralize speculative investment, the government this time around will hesitate to reestablish capital controls. It is more likely that Dilma’s government, in coordination with the government banks, especially BNDES, will intensify consultations with financial and industry leaders to increase investments and productivity.

Dialogue for investment

Such an initiative, if indeed it materializes, cannot be launched soon enough. Brazilian industry must focus investments on greater workforce development and training, productive innovations, and moving the industrial sector toward participation in higher valued added global production chains.

These outcomes are possible during the last half of Dilma’s second term, but they can only be achieved through dialogue, negotiation and joint planning. The players involved are her economic policy team, the government development bank BNDES, as well as private sector leaders committed to increasing private sector industrial investment.

Reducing the “Brazil Cost”

Dilma’s goal for her second term must be to reboot the economy and drive sustainable growth with a fiscally prudent mix of public investments, greater regulatory flexibility and private sector incentives.

To achieve that, she must focus efforts on eliminating those obstacles that interfere with private investment, both domestic and foreign, as well as the transfer of technology.

This means that she must make Brazil’s opaque taxation and customs systems more transparent and efficient. Properly understood, measures such as this are not pro-capitalism and/or anti-poverty.

They are key to strengthening Brazil’s economy in such a manner that it generates the growth that will help Brazilians make the most of the nation’s potential.

Thus, President Dilma’s second term administration must drive through reforms that lessen the costs of doing business with an eye on the export prize. Important as that is, this alone won’t be enough.

Making the global economy work for Brazil

Brazil’s recovery also depends upon the global economy and it is here where the re-elected President could choose to exert her leadership on the global level. She should focus the world’s attention on the pressing need to expand and deepen global demand for Brazilian commodities and industrial goods.

Now that the skilled Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevedo has taken over the reigns of the WTO, President Dilma must harness Brazil’s global political stature to refocus both the developed world and leading emerging economies on the benefits of multilateral trade liberalization.

Brazil can no longer afford to lackadaisically advocate for a resolution to the Doha round without making mid-course corrections in its trade policy. It must achieve both short and long term increases in market access for Brazilian goods and services.

President Dilma finds herself in a jam, but to win sustainable economic development and growth, she needs to find her global voice. She will need to sing the praises of deeper global integration that aligns investment with comparative advantages.

Her Workers Party’s government program does not clearly propose greater global leadership for the Brazilian president or more global integration for its economy.

Rewriting the Workers Party script

To succeed, Dilma will need to rewrite the existing script. She has to advance a foreign policy that effectively advances the country’s economic and political interests with a dual focus – Brazil contributing more to the global economy and increasing the returns from it to Brazilians.

The upcoming G20 leadership summit in Brisbane, Australia, offers the perfect opportunity for Dilma to deliver a strong global message. She will also meet with U.S. President Obama to place bilateral relations on a more productive footing.

At Brisbane, she can highlight Brazil’s impressive recent record of implementing demand-side policies that redistribute income. She can explain that doing so not only furthers social justice at home, but it also drives an idle global economy forward.

These policy positions have always framed the Workers Party project in Brazil. Now, President Dilma must find ways of globalizing these policies so that Brazil can harness all of its comparative advantages on behalf of its citizens.

She can no longer serve Brazil by sticking to her old habit – burning the midnight oil in the cloistered confines of the Presidential Palace. That, in fact, is a Chief of Staff’s job description – notably the position she occupied during Lula’s presidency.

Dilma Rousseff entered the Presidential office to administer a national growth agenda in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Today, she cannot lose sight that Brazil’s future is now inextricably connected to the rest of the world.

Brazil’s president overcame military dictatorship and torture, she survived cancer – and she narrowly escaped electoral defeat last month.

Despite the obstacles, including her own personal reluctance to move toward the center of the global stage, Brazil needs her to overcome them to advance Brazil’s national development by seizing the opportunities from economic globalization.

Former President Lula did not just show – but indeed embodied – Brazil’s potential to be a global leader. Now it is time for Dilma to move on to global prime time before she runs into a dead end at home.

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Romania: The German Factor and a Continental Pattern http://www.theglobalist.com/romania-the-german-factor-and-a-pattern/ http://www.theglobalist.com/romania-the-german-factor-and-a-pattern/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:00:45 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36341 By Denis MacShane

The election in Romania shows how Europe grows together – quietly.

Credit:  Arc de triumph Bucharest - Shutterstock.comThe election in Romania shows how Europe grows together – quietly.

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By Denis MacShane

The election in Romania shows how Europe grows together – quietly.

Credit:  Arc de triumph Bucharest - Shutterstock.com

In a big surprise to almost everybody, in Romania’s just concluded run-off elections for the post of president, the strong favorite, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, received a beating at the polls.

Instead, Klaus Johannis, a Romanian of German origin, won the presidential election. It is rare for any — certainly any East European — country to vote a member of the nation’s ethnic minorities to top political offices, never mind the presidency.

There were three reasons for Victor Ponta’s defeat.

First, Romanian voters did not want to give all power to a single party. Former leaders and government ministers of the Social Democrats, the party of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, had to contend with serious charges of corruption. Prison sentences have been handed down and there was the fear that pardons might emerge if just one party controlled the presidency and the premiership.

The same is true of Ponta’s rightist opponents. As with Bulgaria, the European Union is deeply unhappy about the political-business nexus, with politicians emerging much richer than their nominal salaries.

With a conservative now in Cotroceni Palace, the president’s residence, Romania now has more of a true balance of power between the president (Johannis) and the prime minister (who is likely to remain Ponta).

The German element

Second, Klaus Johannis received strong backing from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU party. With that as backdrop, Klaus Johannis, even though he came across as a stern, correct German, still succeeded. Voters believe that he will not abuse his office, in contrast to what previous Romanian top office-holders have done.

There now is a Berlin-Bucharest relationship. This transcends the aspect of political solidarity between political parties. Romanian voters evidently put some trust into this new connection – likely in the hope that it will yield some benefits by making Romania a more integrated, better disciplined and hence also better performing part of the EU family.

Diasporas matter

Third, the margin of victory in both cases was interestingly provided by Romanian voters residing elsewhere in Europe. This was also the case with the 2009 presidential election, when the rightist, Traian Bsescu, won by just 70,000 votes out of 10.5 million cast.

One million Romanians live in Italy, 850,000 in Spain and probably up to 200,000 in the UK. Since Romania joined the European Union in 2007, more than 3 million out of a total population of 20 million have left to work or live in richer EU states.

The strong turnout among them shows that they stay engaged in their birth country’s political affairs and critical choices for the future.

The Romanian election signals the continuation of another important development. In neighboring Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Socialists Party was ousted from power last month.

Like Victor Ponta, they had a western-trained young leader, Sergei Stanishev, who had been prime minister and currently heads the Party of European Socialists – the federation of all center-left parties in Europe.

Sayonara to European social democracy?

But in the October parliamentary elections, the socialists were decisively beaten in an election and also charged with accusations of money making and political favors to pro-Russian businesses at the expense of European and American investors.

The message in these twin defeats is simple: The center left has a greatly diminished political presence in east and southeast Europe 25 years after the Berlin Wall fell.

If one adds the virtual elimination of PASOK in Greece, the decline of PSOE in Spain, the increasing marginalization of the SPD in Germany, the difficulties of the PS in France and the failure of SAP in Sweden to get more than 31%, even though it ended up in power after the September 2014 elections, there really is a generalized crisis of classic post-1945 democratic left parties in the EU.

Who dunnit?

What’s the cause of this surprising development? Social Democrats, after all, were the driving political party in many a European country in the so-called post-war period.

In a nutshell, it is the rise of protest politics that is sapping the electability of 20th century social democratic/labor parties.

Britain is no exception. There are possibilities that the Labour Party might form the next government after the next parliamentary elections in May. But the new populist nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party is quietly hollowing Labor’s white working class support. It is also expected to win a key by-election on November 20th in a seat which until 2010 was held by Labour.

The centrality of Germany

At least at this juncture, the only country in Europe that seems to inspire confidence – and that people want to turn to for leadership, economic partnership and to get close to – remains Merkel’s Germany.

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Trade as a Confidence-Building Measure in East Asia http://www.theglobalist.com/trade-as-a-confidence-building-measure-in-south-east-asia/ http://www.theglobalist.com/trade-as-a-confidence-building-measure-in-south-east-asia/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 07:00:32 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36298 By Volker Stanzel

The future of East Asia depends upon the ability of its nations to jump over the shadows of the past.

Credit:  crystal51- Shutterstock.comThe future of East Asia depends upon the ability of its nations to jump over the shadows of the past.

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By Volker Stanzel

The future of East Asia depends upon the ability of its nations to jump over the shadows of the past.

Credit:  crystal51- Shutterstock.com

The world debate may be preoccupied with “hot” crises in the Middle East, ISIS, Eastern Ukraine and fighting Ebola. Yet, tensions in East Asia have not subsided.

Even though the region has seen quite a remarkable level of peace ever since China’s war against Vietnam in 1978-79, there is a new uncertainty.

The major cause of past progress was the security guarantee provided by the United States, coupled with China’s intent to “rise“ peacefully. Another key stabilizing factor has been the gradual economic integration among the countries of Southeast Asia and in East Asia.

Together, this has brought slow, but continuous accommodation of one another’s political interests and objectives across Asia.

If there is talk now of rising tensions in East Asia and a growing apprehensiveness, then usually it is China which is seen as responsible. More precisely put, the tensions are seen as a consequence of China’s rise.

China asserts its power

As things stand, it appears that whenever a neighbor of China acts in a way that may be interpreted in Beijing as an even minor provocation of China, China will assert itself robustly and change the overall situation to its advantage.

To give but one example, when the Philippine navy tried in May 2013 to expel Chinese fishermen from the Scarborough Shoal reef, 130 nautical miles from the Philippine coast (and 550 miles from the Chinese coast), the Chinese navy intervened. Today, the reef is de facto in Chinese hands.

It seems that the way in which China’s leaders regard the future role of their country in the region and the world has changed. Both the “peaceful rise” rhetoric and statements made only ten years ago to express the intention that China’s rise will remain compatible with the interests of its partners seem to have made room for a new way of thinking.

This issue loomed large again in the background of the recently concluded APEC Summit. For all the official focus on economic cooperation, geopolitical and strategic issues always lurk large, even though they are not on the “official” agenda.

While this is no surprise to Asians, what may surprise them is how much this is also a matter of global interest. The reason for that is twofold: First, looking ahead, Asia may eventually become the most important part of the global economy.

And second, China already has intense economic relationships all over the globe, including in Europe and the United States. That’s why other nations outside of Asia are greatly concerned if China’s relationship with the rest of the continent remains unsettled.

One key question at this juncture is what the other countries in Asia can do to keep their relationship with the Chinese on a constructive footing and to do their part in securing the future prosperity of Asia.

Forging new bonds

It is here that the European example and the importance of relying on trade relations as a key confidence-building measure may be of use. For real progress to be made, countries have to be able and willing to jump over the shadows of the past. That is no easy feat.

However, strengthened trade relations have the advantage of incentivizing countries in that critical regard. They offer up meaningful progress in people’s daily lives through greater economic integration across the entire region.

At a time when progress towards freer global trade at the multilateral level move at best at a glacial pace, bilateral and regional trade deals assume a bigger importance.

And despite general concerns that this may lead to a fracturing of the global trade landscape, certainly with regard to Asia, such agreements – whether bilateral, trilateral or multilateral– could turn into true progress.

Far beyond the “China factor” in Asia, many nations across Asia have quite a loaded history when it comes to some of their neighbors. Trade agreements can be a very useful lever to overcome such shadows of the past.

One particularly inspiring example in this regard – and one that ought to give courage to other Asian countries with similarly fraught relationships to take similar steps – concerns the change in relations between South Korea and Vietnam.

Fifty years ago, South Korean troops fought in Vietnam alongside the Americans, all in the name of checking the Iron Curtain. Some of those troops have been accused of committing wartime atrocities against Vietnamese civilians.

In spite of that painful past, South Korea and Vietnam are now set to ink an FTA of their own by year’s end. Constructive steps like that show the way forward for all of Asia.

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U.S. Double Standards: ISIS and Murders in Mexico http://www.theglobalist.com/mexican-cartels-and-isis-a-tale-of-two-threats/ http://www.theglobalist.com/mexican-cartels-and-isis-a-tale-of-two-threats/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:00:49 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=36230 By Bill Humphrey

The Mexico conflict is the U.S.'s most unjustifiable strategic blind spot.

(Credit: Frontpage - Shutterstock.com)The Mexico conflict is the U.S.'s most unjustifiable strategic blind spot.

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By Bill Humphrey

The Mexico conflict is the U.S.'s most unjustifiable strategic blind spot.

(Credit: Frontpage - Shutterstock.com)

There are heavily armed militants with substantial military experience terrorizing, extorting and beheading people in a major oil-producing desert country to the south of a NATO member, destabilizing a wide region encompassing many countries.

They are the Mexican cartels and the United States hasn’t bombed them at all (unlike ISIS), even as they have captured and held territory for years on end.

Even two dozen student protesters being mass-executed and set on fire – either by the cartel-captured local government/law enforcement or by the government’s convenient cartel fall-guys willing to confess – has barely stirred a reaction in the United States.

The overall numbers of victims in the last eight years – whether in mass graves or individual assassinations – are astonishing.

A more horrifying problem than ISIS?

ISIS is held up for its barbarity. But the cartels in Mexico have them beat there, too, with far more public beheadings and dismemberments. There has also been a far more systematic campaign against reporters and citizen journalists in Mexico than anything seen from ISIS.

The treatment of women is at least as bad under the Mexican cartels as under ISIS but on a much vaster scale, with thousands upon thousands being enslaved, sexually trafficked or sexually assaulted to intimidate communities.

U.S. airstrikes this summer in Iraq began when ISIS forces came within a few dozen miles of the U.S. consulate in Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, while U.S. airstrikes in Syria came after two beheadings in Raqqa, Syria.

How does that stack up with Mexico? The Mexican cartels have not only staged attacks and assassinations inside the United States but have killed more U.S. citizens inside the United States itself than were killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. The cartels have even attacked U.S. consulate compounds. (Where are the endless Benghazi-style “investigations”?)

In contrast, ISIS has not staged any attacks in the United States, or killed large numbers of U.S. citizens anywhere, for that matter. They’re bad, but are they a bigger threat?

Perhaps it’s just that it’s politically easier to conduct airstrikes in Syria or Iraq – without getting substantive pushback from the relevant governments – than it would be in Mexico.

(And I’m not saying this to make an argument for a U.S. military intervention in Mexico, since that would be the wrong approach, too.)

Why a double standard?

Or is Mexico “one of us” – a fellow North American civilization of suit-wearing businessmen and politicians who are good Christians? Whereas, perhaps ISIS is an “orientalist” archetypal threat led by people who “dress funny” and claim to be Muslims, who were supposed to be the big cultural threat to “the West” before “the West” tore itself apart over Martin Luther’s ideas?

Consider: Republican members of Congress are more likely to fabricate elaborate tales of Islamist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah crossing into the United States from Mexico to stage attacks than to talk about actual infiltrations by Mexican cartels to murder U.S. citizens. (Perhaps they just lump the latter in under a general antipathy toward all Mexicans entering the United States.)

Another argument for a U.S. intervention against ISIS – in Iraq at least – was that the United States owed it to the people of Iraq (including but not limited to Kurdish allies) to protect them from some of the unintended consequences of US actions.

But the United States has arguably done more, historically, to destabilize Mexico than it has done to destabilize Iraq, so Americans probably owe them more.

Moreover, while the United States doesn’t buy oil from ISIS (not even indirectly) and fill their coffers, its population does buy a vast sea of illegal drugs from the Mexican cartels. The United States is directly fueling and arming this conflict in Mexico.

The Mexico conflict is the most egregious and unjustifiable strategic blind spot the United States currently has anywhere in the world. Every argument raised for the aggressive response toward ISIS could have been (and still can be) made toward the ongoing conflict in Mexico.

And yet only one situation earned the response. That should raise serious questions about U.S. policy in both places, as well as questions about how U.S. officials assess threat severity and then how the country handles it.

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Aborigines in Australia: Living Off of the Land http://www.theglobalist.com/aborigines-in-australia-living-off-of-the-land/ http://www.theglobalist.com/aborigines-in-australia-living-off-of-the-land/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:00:45 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35525 By The Globalist

Community leader Gordon "Sunno" Mitchell helps hold a local Aboriginal community together in Australia.

(Credit: David Maurice Smith - The Other Hundred)Community leader Gordon "Sunno" Mitchell helps hold a local Aboriginal community together in Australia.

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By The Globalist

Community leader Gordon "Sunno" Mitchell helps hold a local Aboriginal community together in Australia.

(Credit: David Maurice Smith - The Other Hundred)

Awarding-winning Canadian photographer David Maurice Smith bases his operations out of New Zealand. He uses his photography to highlight cross-cultural issues and marginalized communities. His work can be found in many publications including but not limited to the New York Times, Le Monde and the Guardian.

•  •  •

In Wilcannia, a rural district in eastern Australia’s state of New South Wales, traditional culture and the rituals of contemporary life intermix. Many members of the Barkindji Aboriginal community depend upon hunting kangaroos and wild boar to supplement their diets.

A key community figure is Gordon Mitchell, usually known as Sunno, a hunter and mentor to young people who also works at the local school liaising between students’ families and the school board.

To encourage others to eat healthy, traditional foods, he often takes young men from the community out into the country, showing them how to track and shoot animals and live off the land. He hunts to provide meat for his family and the other members of the community, charging just enough money to cover his fuel and other costs.

Text and photographs by David Maurice Smith


DavidMauriceSmith-TheOtherHundred-0015-resize Enlarge   Sunno sits before his home in Wilcannia, one of the most remote communities of New South Wales.

DavidMauriceSmith-TheOtherHundred-0001-resize Enlarge   Children watch intently as Larissa Jones (Left) and Kade Cattermore prepare to blow out candles in celebration of their shared sixth birthday

DavidMauriceSmith-TheOtherHundred-0002-resize Enlarge   An emu (a large flightless bird native to Australia) is placed in the pit filled with hot coals to be cooked on the banks of the Darling river.

DavidMauriceSmith-TheOtherHundred-0007-resize Enlarge   Children play on the newly built community playground. The playground was constructed by the international aid agency Save The Children in 2011.

DavidMauriceSmith-TheOtherHundred-0016-resize Enlarge   An intimate moment between mother and daughter, Freda Bugmy kisses her 6 month old daughter Jacky Bugmy

Awarding-winning Canadian photographer David Maurice Smith bases his operations out of New Zealand. He uses his photography to highlight cross-cultural issues and marginalized communities. His work can be found in many publications including but not limited to the New York Times, Le Monde and the Guardian.

The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.

Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.

Selected from 11,000 images shot in 158 countries and submitted by nearly 1,500 photographers, The Other Hundred celebrates those who will never find themselves on the world’s rich lists or celebrity websites.

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The World’s New Thirty Years War http://www.theglobalist.com/world-new-thirty-years-war/ http://www.theglobalist.com/world-new-thirty-years-war/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 09:00:23 +0000 http://www.theglobalist.com/?p=35487 By Ludger Kühnhardt

How to shape a coherent long-term Western strategy for the age of new global violence.

Credit:  Axel Lauer - Shutterstock.comHow to shape a coherent long-term Western strategy for the age of new global violence.

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By Ludger Kühnhardt

How to shape a coherent long-term Western strategy for the age of new global violence.

Credit:  Axel Lauer - Shutterstock.com

Given the arch of instability that is surrounding Europe in its East and in its South, Lenin’s question of 1902, “What is to be done,” has gained renewed importance – only this time for the West.

The current wave of violence and uncertainty – think of the ongoing undeclared war in Donbass or the protracted war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria – requires more than just analytical clarity about root causes and potential consequences. It also requires responses which, at least over time, can tame the flood of violence and coercion, suffering and fear.

Otherwise, the memories of the past few decades when we enjoyed the sunny side of post-Cold war politics will quickly become a faint memory.

Thinking about any Western strategic responses has to begin with self-critique: Although the center of violence and war has shifted away from Europe, the intellectual root causes of many concepts of violent politics (including autocracy, ethnic violence or the manipulation of religion for violent means) across the world today have intellectual sources in Europe.

Yes, it is true that these concepts have thankfully been overcome for the most part in Europe itself. But we Europeans cannot ignore that many of today’s biggest conflict areas still live under the long-range consequences of Europe’s colonial legacy as well the subsequent preeminence of the United States.

The West’s three-part strategy

Historic legacies aside, it is also true that we in the West, perhaps because our societies – exhausted from centuries of infighting and virulent social conflict, have become largely pacified at home.

As a result, we have underestimated that confrontational concepts of politics as well as ethnic and religious identity still have a lot of currency around the globe. People living in the more conflicted parts of the world look at the West with a curious mixture of disregard and inferiority complexes.

Under these circumstances, the West needs a three-part strategy to cope with the current tide of uncertainty, violence and disregard for human dignity and diversity that has become virulent in too many countries of the world.

The first element is strong defense: whether one likes it or not, this includes deterrence based on Article 5 of the NATO Treaty (meaning that an attack on the territory of one NATO member is an attack on all).

It includes a more efficient and flexible rapid intervention force, as agreed upon at the NATO Summit in Wales in September 2014, and urgent efforts by the EU to advance joint European counterintelligence and military procurement policies. Finally, it also includes the need to better prepare for future cyber crimes.

The second element for a successful Western strategy is the use of creative and proactive forms of crisis prevention.

This includes continuous dialogue with those in power anywhere, even if they use power for violent means. It also includes efforts to cope with the root causes of the current escalation of the politics of violence.

We need to speak clearly about some core ideas and we need to resist their violation wherever necessary.

Three core tenets of global thinking

1. No religion justifies the use of force. No search for cultural identity justifies the exclusion and elimination of minorities.

2. No quest for national pride justifies the revision of borders and annexation of territories.

3. No legitimate interest in national cohesion justifies the infringement of fundamental human rights.

But fundamentally, crisis prevention needs to start with understanding that the youth bubble in the arch of instability requires new economic strategies and more creative forms of advancing economic life chances. Otherwise, the West will continuously remain exposed to illegal migration pressure and blame-games about its egoism.

The courage of our convictions

The third element of a coherent long-term Western strategy for the age of new global violence is to support those who promote human rights and reason.

This applies especially to activists in the civil society of countries which have become the origin, source and center of conflicts with regional, if not even global ramifications.

One example of hope is the European Humanities University, founded in 1992 in Minsk, Belarus. Since 2004, it operates in exile in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The university, its founder Alexander Mikhailov and its courageous students deserve the Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen, the most prestigious civil society award from the European Union. The next prize will be given in May 2015. It will be the right moment to encourage civil society pluralism through intellectual diversity in Belarus.

Next: A war of ideas

A war of ideas will accompany the next phase of the global age. For the West, the new Thirty Years War at its doorsteps comes as a quintessential test case for the credibility of its legal and political norms. We must also urgently revitalize trust in moral and social values that have stood the test of history but are challenged anew today.

Credibility begins at home, which is why compassion with refugees and enforced migrants who simply look for a better life must be the starting point of any Western reaction to the arc of conflict.

Despair and disenchantment among young people are guarantees of further instability and violence if they do not find positive, constructive outlets to contribute to a better world.

Religion has its place: Self-limitation, not aggression

In preparing for such a world, we should also defend the idea of religion, provided it is properly understood. We can make the argument regarding many of the most conflicted areas that only where there is religion can violence eventually vanish.

Ultimately, religion (etymologically derived from the Latin re-ligare, reconnecting with God) is about accepting humans’ limits in dealing with fellow humans. This is why violence in the name of religion is the biggest blasphemy of all.

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