5 June 2017   Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain all cut ties with Qatar, and were followed later by Yemen, Libya and the Maldives.  The move signals discontent with Qatar’s relations with terrorists (specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood) and its contacts with Iran.  The rupture is a major split among the Sunni governments, but it is not the first time the countries have broken contacts with Qatar.  This most recent move is likely the result of pressure from the US on US President Trump’s recent trip to the region, as he wishes to make a strong campaign against jihadist groups a central feature of US foreign policy.  At the same time, however, the rhetoric threatens the US military presence at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar–the largest US military base in the Middle East.

The US is sending a third aircraft carrier group, led by the USS Nimitz, to waters near North Korea.  The Nimitz joins the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan in the western Pacific.  So three of the 11 US carrier groups are focused on North Korea,  a concentration of supercarriers that is unusual.  On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Mattis called North Korea, a “clear and present danger”, a strong characterization of an imminent issue.

Economics professor Richard Reeves has written a book, Dream Hoarders, which puts a different twist on the issue of income inequality in the US.  Instead of focusing on the top 1% or 0.1%, Reeves focuses on the upper middle class, the top 20%, those families with incomes greater than $120,000 a year.  His argument is that this class concentrates on dominating the options available to its children to the detriment of the bottom 80%.  His data suggests that the composition of this top 20% does not change greatly over time.  According to The Guardian:

“‘The upper middle class families have become greenhouses for the cultivation of human capital. Children raised in them are on a different track to ordinary Americans, right from the very beginning,” he writes.

“The upper middle class are ‘opportunity hoarding’ – making it harder for others less economically privileged to rise to the top; a situation that Reeves says places stress on the efficiency of the US economic system and creates dynastic wealth and privilege of the kind the nation’s fathers sought to avoid.

“’The US labor market is mostly meritocratic and not some kind of medieval cartel,’” Reeves told the Guardian, “’but it’s what happens before that that is unfair.’” The problem, he says, is that people enter the race with very different levels of preparation.

“’Kids from more affluent backgrounds are entering the contest massively well prepared, while kids from less affluent backgrounds are not. The well-prepared kids win, and everybody pretends to themselves it’s a meritocracy,’” he says.”

The study is consistent with others that have identified the lack of social and economic mobility in the US over the last 40 years.


Posted June 5, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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