One of the ways of trying to reduce the vast disparities in economic success, which are common in countries around the world, is by making higher education more widely available, even for people without the money to pay for it. This can be both a generous investment and a wise investment for a society to make. But, depending on how it is done, it can also be a foolish and even dangerous investment, as many societies around the world have learned the hard way.
Last week, President Barack Obama, at a Capital Hilton fundraising event, told the crowd, "We can't go back to this brand of you're-on-your-own economics." Throughout my professional career as an economist, I've never come across the theory of "you're-on-your-own economics." I'm guessing what the President means by — and finds offensive in — "you're-on-your-own economics" is that it's a system in which people are held responsible for their actions, that they take risks and must live with the results, that people can't force others to pay for their mistakes, and that they can't live at the expense of other people.
With all the talk about "disparities" in innumerable contexts, there is one very important disparity that gets remarkably little attention — disparities in the ability to create wealth. People who are preoccupied, or even obsessed, with disparities in income are seldom interested much, or at all, in the disparities in the ability to create wealth, which are often the reasons for the disparities in income.
When New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Buffalo was going to receive $1 billion over the next five years to raise the city from its near-poverty level, local politicians were already dreaming of how to spend the money. Cuomo declared in his second annual State of the State speech, “We must address the crisis in Western New York. It’s gone on too long. It’s going to stop today. We believe in Buffalo and we’ll put our money where our mouth is.”
U.S. credit ratings giant Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered its rating on the credit-worthiness of nine European nations January 13. "It's not the cut in the rating that is historic," BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet told the Wall Street Journal. "It's the depth of the euro crisis that is historic."
The latest international Index of Economic Freedom revealed that the economy of the United States lost even more liberty for a fourth consecutive year, dropping from ninth to tenth place under the Obama administration and solidifying its designation as “mostly free” — earned in 2009, down from “free” the year before that.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce targeted the Obama administration Thursday with a call to authorize the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to southern parts of the United States. TransCanada’s 1,700-mile pipeline has been battling an ongoing review by the State Department, and while a final stamp of approval was expected last fall, the Obama administration folded to Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups in November, deciding to suspend its verdict until 2013.
The Chamber’s plea arrived a day after Obama held a White House meeting with U.S. business leaders to announce a new plan designed to boost job "insourcing." "In the next few weeks, I will put forward new tax proposals that reward companies that choose to bring jobs home and invest in America — and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas," the President declared. "Because there is opportunity to be had, right here."
At a press conference Thursday, Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, referenced Obama’s job-creation rally cry. However, Josten affirmed, "The president missed the biggest in-sourcing opportunity yesterday and it’s called the Keystone Pipeline."
Central banks are often justified on the basis that a complex, modern economy requires top-down management by experts. These people, it is said, can study the markets and then “fine-tune” the economy to keep it humming along.
As if the last few years haven’t provided evidence enough that such notions are pure folly, newly released transcripts of 2006 Federal Reserve meetings offer further proof. The transcripts show that the “experts” — members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) — were so clueless that even as late as December, when the housing market was displaying serious signs of decline, most showed little concern that the bursting bubble could take down the entire economy.
The latest revelations from WikiLeaks confirm Monsanto’s continuing efforts to influence governments worldwide to rule in its favor and punish those who won’t.
A cable written in 2007 and released recently by WikiLeaks confirmed the company’s important influence at the very highest levels of the U.S. government. Authored by Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of then-president George Bush, the cable outlined a response to resistance from various members of the European Union to adopting GM (genetically modified) crops. At issue specifically was France’s move to ban Monsanto’s GM corn variety:
The Black Hills of South Dakota have long been associated with the four U.S. Presidents who adorn Mount Rushmore. The granite faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have been etched into the American imagination. Yet a fifth granite face has emerged from the Black Hills in the form of the famous Lakota leader Crazy Horse.