4 February 2017   Leave a comment

There is a tendency to think that income inequality is a natural part of economic growth.  That tendency stems from the assumption made by many that the free market chooses the winners and losers in a completely neutral and anonymous fashion based upon the productivity of individuals.  Two researchers, Max Roser and Stefan Thewissen, have compiled data which strongly suggests that inequality is not simply a byproduct of economic growth and globalization, but rather a consequence of distinct political choices.  By comparing economic growth and inequality in four countries over the same time period, the researchers produce data which suggests that inequality grows in different ways at at different rates, regardless of the macroeconomic conditions.  THeir conclusion:

“The differences we have identified across countries and time imply that increased globalization and technological change cannot be blamed as sole causes for rising inequality. Those forces work across borders and should affect all countries. The fact that other developed countries have been able to share the benefits of these market forces suggests that policy choices on the national level play a central role for boosting living standards. Policies can make a difference not just in growth levels, but also in who gets the benefits of that growth.”

So we should not expect the market to produce desirable outcomes unless economic activity is tempered by political decisions designed to produce those outcomes as well.

 

One fear of medical professionals is that the overuse of antibiotics in the world will lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could lead to serious health consequences.  we already have anecdotal evidence of the emergence of such bacteria, but there are currently about 2 million people in the US who are infected by them.  Researchers have found that the agricultural use of antibiotics in China has led to a dramatic increase of such resistant bacteria in Chinese estuaries.  According to those researchers:

“….antibiotic resistance genes have now become a major pollutant in estuaries, where rivers join the sea. Some estuaries in China have up to 100 million antibiotic resistance genes per gram of mud. That’s a million resistance genes in a fragment of mud that’s the size of a match head. None of these genes were there 100 years ago.”

The consequence of the cultivation of these bacteria may be quite dangerous:  “…..by 2050, a total of 10 million people will die every year from antibiotic resistant infections. This is more than deaths from cancer.”

There are reports that the new US Administration has ruffled the feathers of many close allies:  Australia, Germany, and Mexico, to name just a few.  The Associated Press reported that in his telephone conversation with Mexican President Peña Nieto, President Trump said: “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there….You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”  The threat to use military force is never something to be taken lightly, and President Trump should brush up on the lessons that should have been learned the last time the US invaded Mexico.  In 1913 President Wilson was outraged at a military coup and sent troops demanding that the military government be removed.  After initially taking the city of Veracruz, the military expedition quickly became a futile effort.  Even though the military government was replaced, the opposition to the new government was based on its illegitimacy due to the US intervention and rebel forces, led by Pancho Villa in the north and Emiliano Zapata in the south, created chaos.  US President Wilson then sent General Pershing into Mexico with 10,000 to track down and capture Villa.  Villa continued his campaign, humiliating the US forces which were ultimately withdrawn because the US entered the war in Europe in 1917.

Image result for general pershing in MExico

Pancho Villa

Image result for pancho villa

 

Posted February 4, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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