28 March 2017   Leave a comment

We are getting more information about the protests in Russia.   Apparently there were protests in about 90 cities all over the country, and some of them were quite large.  The majority of the protests were conducted without permits and young people were the largest demographic in the the protests.  These attributes suggest that despite polling number signalling approval in the 80 percentiles, there is significant discontent against President Putin in the country.  The media in Russia did not cover the protests and it appears as if social media was the determining factor in supporting the protests.  Alexey Navalny is the face of the protests and he was jailed for 15 days for protesting.  We will have to see how the discontent in Russia is addressed, and whether it has any staying power.

US President Trump has signed an Executive Order that calls into question the commitment of the US to limit its greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with its Paris Agreement commitments.  According to CNN:

“Tuesday’s order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan, rescinds the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands and urges federal agencies to ‘identify all regulations, all rules, all policies … that serve as obstacles and impediments to American energy independence.'”

It is hard at this point to measure the significance of the Order since there are a number of laws that constrain environmental damage that cannot be overridden by an Executive Order.  But it seems clear that the Trump Administration does not regard climate change as a serious problem.

Graphic showing US energy sources

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has published a study on the impact of automation on employment and its conclusions are troubling.  According to a report on the research by Matthew Rozsa:

“A new study by the National Bureau of Economic research has shown that every fully autonomous robot added to an American factory has reduced employment by 6.2 workers…..The study also found that for every fully autonomous robot per 1,000 workers, the employment rate declined 0.18 to 0.34 percentage points and wages dipped 0.25 to 0.5 percentage points.”

These effects are likely to grow as automation and robotization become more pervasive.  The world needs to think seriously about how it defines labor and the types of work that merit an income.

Posted March 28, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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