In this Series in The Lancet, we review the past 50 years of Japan’s universal health coverage, identify the major challenges of today, and propose paths for the future, within the context of long-term population aging and the devastating crises triggered by the March 11 earthquake. Japan is recognised internationally for its outstanding achievements during the second half of the 20th century, in both improving the population’s health status and developing a strong health system. At the end of World War 2, in Japan, life expectancy at birth was 50 years for men and 54 years for women; by the late 1970s, Japan overtook Sweden as the world’s leader for longest life expectancy at birth. Japanese women have remained in the number one slot for 25 years, reaching a life expectancy of 86.4 years in 2009 (while Japanese men slipped to fifth longest living that year, at 79.6 years).In 2011, Japan celebrates 50 years of kaihoken: health insurance for all. Universal health insurance was achieved in 1961, assuring access to a wide array of health services for the whole population. Since then, benefits have become more egalitarian while health expenditures have remained comparatively low: 8.5% of the gross domestic product and 20th out of countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2008. This achievement is all the more remarkable because the percentage of the population aged 65 years or older has increased nearly four-fold (from 6% to 23%) over the past 50 years.
Using the most comprehensive data file ever compiled on air pollution, water pollution, environmental regulations, and infant mortality from a developing country, the paper examines the effectiveness of India’s environmental regulations. The air pollution regulations were effective at reducing ambient concentrations of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. The most successful air pollution regulation is associated with a modest and statistically insignificant decline in infant mortality. However, the water pollution regulations had no observable effect. Overall, these results contradict the conventional wisdom that environmental quality is a deterministic function of income and underscore the role of institutions and politics.
President Obama should take a page from Ronald Reagan’s playbook in winning the final inning of the Cold War. Obama can challenge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to put his enriched uranium where his mouth is—by stopping all Iranian enrichment of uranium beyond the 5 percent level.
A quarter-century ago, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was touting a new “glasnost”: openness. President Reagan went to Berlin and called on Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Two years later, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and, shortly thereafter, the Soviet “evil empire” fell as well.
While in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly in September, Ahmadinejad on three occasions made an unambiguous offer: He said Iran would stop all enrichment of uranium beyond the levels used in civilian power plants—if his country is able to buy specialized fuel enriched at 20 percent, for use in its research reactor that produces medical isotopes to treat cancer patients.
Obama should seize this proposal and send negotiators straightaway to hammer out specifics. Iran has been enriching uranium since 2006, and it has accumulated a stockpile of uranium enriched at up to 5 percent, sufficient after further enrichment for several nuclear bombs. Iran is also producing 20 percent material every day, and it announced in June that it planned to triple its output. Halting Iran’s current production of 20 percent material and its projected growth would be significant.
A stockpile of uranium enriched at 20 percent shrinks the potential timeline for breaking out to bomb material from months to weeks. In effect, having uranium enriched at 20 percent takes Iran 90 yards along the football field to bomb-grade material. Pushing it back below 5 percent would effectively move Tehran back to the 30-yard line - much farther from the goal of bomb-grade material. Even more important, extracting from Iran a commitment to a bright red line capping enrichment at 5 percent would stop the Islamic Republic from advancing on its current path to 60 percent enrichment and then 90 percent.
Stopping Iran from enriching beyond 5 percent is not, in itself, a “solution” to its nuclear threat. Nor was Reagan’s proposal to Gorbachev. The question for Reagan was whether we would be better off with the Berlin Wall or without it.
Iran today is the most sanctioned member of the United Nations; it has been the target of five Security Council resolutions since 2006 demanding that it suspend all uranium enrichment. The United States and Europe have organized their own, tougher economic sanctions forbidding businesses from trading with Iranian companies and limiting Iran’s access to financial markets.
But Iran does not require the permission of the United Nations or, for that matter, the United States to advance its nuclear program within its borders. Nor are current or future sanctions likely to dissuade Iran from progressing steadily toward a nuclear weapon.
So far, Obama has essentially continued the Bush administration’s policy toward Iran with one addition: an authentic offer from the start of his administration to begin negotiations. Negotiations, however, have not been feasible because of sharp divisions within Iran. Those rifts were exacerbated after the June 2009 elections, in which Iran’s ruling powers (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, Ahmadinejad and the Revolutionary Guard) rigged the presidential vote and then moved to suppress the opposition Green Movement protests. In the last two years, they have tightened control over their society.
Enter Ahmadinejad’s proposal to stop all enrichment at the 5 percent level—without preconditions. Although differences between Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader have become evident, the United States should pay attention to the president’s offer.
Arguments against testing the offer are easy to make. An embattled Ahmadinejad may not be able to deliver. Iran will use negotiations to seek to relax or escape current sanctions. If a deal were reached, it would be more difficult to win international support for the next round of sanctions. An agreement that stops only the 20 percent enrichment could imply a degree of acceptance of Iran’s ongoing enrichment up to 5 percent.
Recognizing all of these negatives, however, the policy question remains: Would the United States be better off with Iran enriching its uranium to 20 percent or without it?
President Obama should act now to test Ahmadinejad’s word.
Most social scientists would like to believe that their profession contributes to solving pressing global problems. There is today no shortage of global problems that social scientists should study in depth: ethnic and religious conflict within and between states, the challenge of economic development, terrorism, the management of a fragile world economy, climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, the origins and impact of great power rivalries, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, just to mention a few. In this complex and contentious world, one might think that academic expertise about global affairs would be a highly valued commodity. One might also expect scholars of international relations to play a prominent role in public debates about foreign policy, along with government officials, business interests, representatives of special interest groups, and other concerned citizens. Yet the precise role that academic scholars of international affairs should play is not easy to specify. Indeed, there appear to be two conflicting ways of thinking about this matter. On the one hand, there is a widespread sense that academic research on global affairs is of declining practical value, either as a guide to policymakers or as part of broader public discourse about world affairs. On the other hand, closer engagement with the policy world and more explicit efforts at public outreach are not without their own pitfalls. Scholars who enter government service or participate in policy debates may believe that they are "speaking truth to power," but they run the risk of being corrupted or co-opted in subtle and not-so-subtle ways by the same individuals and institutions that they initially hoped to sway. The remainder of this essay explores these themes in greater detail.
KS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP11-030, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.Download PDF
The human race is interconnected as never before. Is that a good thing? Ask the Lords of the Internet—the men running the companies Eric Schmidt of Google recently called “the Four Horsemen”: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—and you’ll get an unequivocal “yes.” But is it true? In view of the extraordinary economic and political instability of recent months, it’s worth asking if the Netlords are the Four Horsemen of a new kind of information apocalypse.
Don’t get me wrong. I love all that these companies have achieved. I order practically everything except haircuts from Amazon. I write this column on a MacBook Pro. I communicate with my kids via Facebook. It’s 6:55 a.m., and I’ve already run six searches on Google. Did I forget to mention that I’ve already received 29 emails and sent 14?
I also really like the Netlords. They are among the smartest guys on the planet. Yet they are also self-deprecating and sometimes very funny. (OK, not Steve Jobs.) So my question for them is a real question, not some kind of Luddite rant: does the incredible network you have created, with its unprecedented scale and speed, not contain a vulnerability? I’m not talking here about the danger of its exploitation by Islamist extremists or its incapacitation by Chinese cyberwarriors, though I worry about those things too. No, I mean the possibility that the global computer network formed by technologically unified human minds is inherently unstable—and that it is ushering in an era of intolerable volatility.
The communications revolution we are living through has been driven by two great forces. One is Gordon E. Moore’s “law” (which he first proposed in 1965) that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every 18 months. In its simplified form, Moore’s Law says that computing power will double every two years, implying a roughly 30-fold increase in 10 years. This exponential trend has now continued for more than half a century and is expected by the techies to continue until at least 2015 or 2020.
The other force is the exponential growth of human networks. The first email was sent at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same year Moore’s Law was born. In 2006 people sent 50 billion emails; last year it was 300 billion. The Internet was born in 1982. As recently as 1993 only 1 percent of two-way telecommunication went through it. By 2000 it was 51 percent. Now it’s 97 percent. Facebook was dreamed up by an über-nerd at my university in 2004. It has 800 million active users today—eight times the number of three years ago.
Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner sees this trend as our friend (it has certainly been his). As the number of people online doubles from 2 billion to 4 billion over the next 10 years and the number of Internet-linked devices quadruples from 5 billion to 20 billion, mankind collectively gets more knowledge—and gets smarter. Speaking at a conference in Ukraine in mid-September, Milner asserted that data equivalent to the total volume of information created from the beginning of human civilization until 2003 can now be generated in the space of just two days. To cope with this information overload, he looks forward to “the emergence of the global brain, which consists of all the humans connected to each other and to the machine and interacting in a very unique and profound way, creating an intelligence that does not belong to any single human being or computer.”
In the future as imagined by Google, this global brain will do much of our thinking for us, telling us (through our handheld devices) which of our friends is just around the next corner and where we can buy that new suit we need for the best price. And if the best price is on Amazon, we’ll just click once and look forward to its next-day delivery. Maybe it’ll already be there when we get home.
That’s the kind of sci-fi scenario that gets a true nerd out of bed in the morning. But is it just a bit too utopian?
Exhibit one for a contrarian view is the recent behavior of global financial markets, the area of human activity furthest down the road of computerization and automation. According to math wonk Kevin Slavin, algorithms with names like the “Boston Shuffler” are the new masters of the financial universe. Whole tower blocks have been hollowed out to accommodate the computing power required by high-frequency (and very high-speed) trading. So how is this brave new world of robot traders doing?
Well, the VIX index of volatility—Wall Street’s so-called fear gauge, which infers the expected volatility of the U.S. stock market from options prices—reached an all-time high of 80 in the aftermath of Lehman Brothers’ failure and surged back up above 30 in early 2010 and again this summer. Part of this is just a good old-fashioned, man-made financial crisis, of course. But some of the volatility we’ve seen in the past four years is surely attributable to technology: think only of the “flash crash” of May 6 last year, when the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 9 percent and then rallied in a matter of minutes.
Could the same kind of volatility spread into other markets as these become as wired and as integrated as Planet Finance? The answer must be yes. Consider how Greece’s fiscal woes have destabilized markets across Europe and around the world in recent months. Then there’s the market for consumer durables. We know that the speed with which new technologies have been adopted by American households has increased around eightfold over the past hundred years. But that speed of adoption has its obverse in the speed of obsolescence. Consumers are becoming ever more fickle. Millions bought RIM’s BlackBerry after its advent in 1999. But today the iPhone is the hotter handheld device, and I am far from alone in having a dead BlackBerry in my bottom desk drawer. In late September Amazon launched the Kindle Fire in a bid to challenge the iPad’s dominance of the tablet market. The name is appropriate. The market for such devices is on fire. The whole world is on wi-fire.
In politics, too, online electorates are becoming more volatile. The current race to find a Republican candidate for the presidency is a case in point. Only the other day Sarah Palin was a serious contender. Then Mitt Romney was a shoe-in. Until Rick Perry came along. Until Chris Christie came along. Meanwhile, the number of independent voters who have uncoupled themselves from the traditional parties has reached a historic high of 37 percent. Floating voters are the high-frequency traders of the political market.
Computing power has grown exponentially. So has the human network. But the brain of Homo sapiens remains pretty much the same organ that evolved in the heads of African hunter-gatherers 200,000 years ago. And that brain has a tendency to swing in its mood, from greed to fear and from love to hate.
The reality may be that by joining us all together and deluging us with data, the Netlords have ushered in a new Age of Volatility, in which our primeval emotions are combined and amplified as never before.
We are LinkedIn, but StressedOut. And that “cloud” of downloadable data may yet turn out to be a thundercloud.
It was a scene to curdle liberal blood. A ballroom full of New York hedge-fund managers playing poker…to raise money for charter schools.
That’s where I found myself last Wednesday: at a Texas Hold ’Em tournament to raise money for the Success Charter Network, which currently runs nine schools in some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods.
While Naomi Wolf was being arrested for showing solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, there I was, consorting with the 1 percent the protesters hate. It’s no surprise that the bread-heads enjoy gambling. But to see them using their ill-gotten gains to subvert this nation’s great system of public education! I was shocked, shocked.
Except that I wasn’t. I was hugely cheered up. America’s financial elite needs a compelling answer to Occupy Wall Street. This could be it: educate Harlem…with our poker chips.
Life, after all, is a lot like poker. No matter how innately smart you may be, it’s very hard to win if you are dealt a bad hand.
Americans used to believe in social mobility regardless of the hand you’re dealt. Ten years ago, polls showed that about two thirds believed “people are rewarded for intelligence and skill,” the highest percentage across 27 countries surveyed. Fewer than a fifth thought that “coming from a wealthy family is essential [or] very important to getting ahead.” Such views made Americans more tolerant than Europeans and Canadians of inequality and more suspicious of government attempts to reduce it.
Yet the hardships of the Great Recession may be changing that, giving an unexpected resonance to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Falling wages and rising unemployment are making us appreciate what we ignored during the good times. Social mobility is actually lower in the U.S. than in most other developed countries—and falling.
Academic studies show that if a child is born into the poorest quintile (20 percent) of the U.S. population, his chance of making it into the top decile (10 percent) is around 1 in 20, whereas a kid born into the top quintile has a better than 40 percent chance. On average, then, a father’s earnings are a pretty good predictor of his son’s earnings. This is less true in Europe or Canada. What’s more, American social mobility has declined markedly in the past 30 years.
A compelling explanation for our increasingly rigid social system is that American public education is failing poor kids. One way it does this is by stopping them from getting to college. If your parents are in the bottom quintile, you have a 19 percent chance of getting into the top quintile with a college degree—but a miserable 5 percent chance without one.
Your ZIP code can be your destiny, because poor neighborhoods tend to have bad schools, and bad schools perpetuate poverty. But the answer is not to increase spending on this failed system—nor to expand it at the kindergarten level, as proposed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times last week. As brave reformers like Eva Moskowitz know, the stranglehold exerted by the teachers’ unions makes it almost impossible to raise the quality of education in subprime public schools.
The right answer is to promote the kind of diversity and competition that already make the American university system the world’s best. And one highly effective way of doing this is by setting up more charter schools—publicly funded but independently run and union-free. The performance of the Success Charter Network speaks for itself. In New York City’s public schools, 60 percent of third, fourth, and fifth graders passed their math exams last year. The figure at Harlem Success was 94 percent.
The American Dream is about social mobility, not enforced equality. It’s about competition, not public monopoly. It’s also about philanthropy, not confiscatory taxation.
I’ll cheer up even more when I hear those words at a Republican presidential debate. Or maybe next week we should just tell the candidates to shut up and play poker.
“Treat people as they want to be and you help them become what they are capable of being.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What is the motivating force behind all human interaction—in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships from the personal level to the international level? DIGNITY. It is the desire to be treated well. It is an unspoken human yearning that is at the heart of all conflicts, yet no one is paying attention to it.
When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance; the human connection is the first thing to go. On the other hand, when people treat each others with dignity, they feel their worth is recognized, creating lasting and meaningful relationships. Surprisingly, most people have little understanding of dignity. While a desire for dignity is universal, knowing how to honor it in ourselves and others is not.
After working as a conflict resolution specialist for twenty years, I have observed and researched the circumstances that give rise to dignity violations. On the other hand, when the following ten elements of dignity are honored, people feel their dignity has been recognized and that they have been treated well. Relationships flourish under these conditions. The Ten Essential Elements of Dignity
Acceptance of Identity. Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you. Give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged. Interact without prejudice or bias, accepting the ways in which race, religion, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability may be at the core of the other people’s identities. Assume that others have integrity.
Inclusion.Make others feel that they belong, whatever the relationship—whether they are in your family, community, organization, or nation.
Safety. Put people at ease at two levels: physically, so they feel safe from bodily harm, and psychologically, so they feel safe from being humiliated. Help them feel free to speak without fear of retribution.
Acknowledgement. Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating, and responding to their concerns, feelings, and experiences.
Recognition. Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help. Be generous with praise, and show appreciation and gratitude to others for their contributions and ideas.
Fairness. Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way according to agreed-on laws and rules. People feel that you have honored their dignity when you treat them without discrimination or injustice.
Benefit of the Doubt. Treat people as trustworthy. Start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.
Understanding. Believe that what others think matters. Give them the chance to explain and express their points of view. Actively listen in order to understand them.
Independence.Encourage people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.
Accountability. Take responsibility for your actions. If you have violated the dignity of another person, apologize. Make a commitment to change your hurtful behaviors.
Our desire for dignity resides deep within us, defining our common humanity. If our capacity for indignity is our lowest common denominator, then our yearning for dignity is our highest. And if indignity tears relationships apart, then dignity can put them back together again.
Our ignorance of all things related to dignity—how to claim our own and how to honor it in others, has contributed to many of the conflicts we see in the world today. This is as true in the boardroom and in the bedroom, as it is in politics and international relations. It is true for all human interaction. If we are to evolve as a species, there is no greater need than to learn how to treat each other and ourselves with dignity. It is the glue that could holds us all together. And it doesn’t stop there. Not only does dignity make for good human relationships, it does something perhaps far more important—it creates the conditions for our mutual growth and development. It is a distraction to have to defend oneself from indignity. It takes up our time and uses up our precious energy. The power of dignity, on the other hand, only expands with use. The more we give, the more we get.
There is no greater leadership challenge than to lead with dignity, helping us all to understand what it feels like to be honored and valued and to feel the incalculable benefits that come from experiencing it.
The leadership challenge is at all levels—for those in the world of politics, business, education, religion, to everyday leadership in our personal lives.
Peace will not flourish anywhere without dignity.
There is no such thing as democracy without dignity, or can there be authentic peace if people are suffering indignities.
Last but not least, feeling dignity’s power—both by honoring it and locating our own inner source of it—sets us up for one of humanities greatest gifts—the experience of being in relationship with others in a way that brings out the best in one another, allowing us to become more of what we are capable of being.
In Cases about Redefining Global Strategy Pankaj Ghemawat and Jordan Siegel have assembled 26 full-length case studies as a resource for active learning about the nature of cross-border differences and strategies. As technology innovation globalizes markets and firms, management education must adopt a truly modern perspective on globalization-one that illuminates differences across borders rather than emphasizing similarities and imposing local models onto far-flung cultures. A new generation of managers and innovators who must compete in a "flat" world cannot succeed while following a one-size-fits-all approach to global strategy. Pankaj Ghemawat, Professor of Strategy at Spain's IESE Business School and author of World 3. and Redefining Global Strategy, and Harvard Business School Professor Jordan Siegel represent a new era of thinking in global strategy. This carefully chosen selection of classics and new material from Harvard Business Publishing also includes an introduction and six introductory module notes that identify key themes and strategic concepts explored in the cases. Though attuned to the format of an MBA course, the cases and text may also be used individually or in programs outside the strategy curriculum.
During the three days that the Greek Parliament was discussing and voting on the latest round of austerity measures, 138 police officers were injured, more than 500 protesters were hospitalized with breathing problems caused by the use of tear gas by the police, Syntagma metro station resembled a wartime hospital, tens of protesters were wounded, while 46 demonstrators were taken to police stations and 11 of them arrested on June 29 alone.
The police brutality was unprecedented according to Skai news and many witness accounts. Through Twitter, Facebook, email, and text messages, the Greek protesters spread the word of indiscriminate police beatings.
A peaceful protester injured by the police called a radio station to express his consternation at the attack he suffered at the hands of the police, “who are supposed to be there to protect citizens.” He further argued that he was there to “protest for Greece and its rights, so why was I attacked by another Greek?” Another citizen claimed that he was almost beaten by motorcycle police while walking around recording the events with a camera and that what saved him was an old expired press pass. At the same time, families were calling in reporting brute force without any provocation on their part. Many citizens, especially older ones, claim that they tried to talk to the police officers and dissuade them from using chemicals against simple protesters but to no avail.
Amnesty International had already condemned Greece for the use of force against protesters on June 15. June 29 was much worse.
There are several possible explanations for why Greek police used such force. One view is that it was hard for them to tell which were peaceful demonstrators and which were troublemakers. The police might have felt threatened by the mayhem. They may have determined that if they did not strike first, the protesters would attack them.
An alternative explanation is that the government wanted to break the “Indignant” movement using force. The vast majority of protesters saw the events as a strategy employed by the state to keep them from protesting. After all, most protesters were family types who were not going to remain there under such circumstances. And as expected, they fled the scene.
The ones left were younger, more determined and enraged and, again expectedly, engaged in street fights with the police. Thus, what was a peaceful demonstration that challenged the legitimacy of the government, if not the Parliament as a whole, turned into the “usual” fight between the “known unknowns” -- as they are often referred to -- and the police forces.
On top of this, some believe the government planted provocateurs among the peaceful protesters to justify the escalation. Regardless of whether this hypothesis is true or not, the mere perception is damaging to the reputation of the government and the police. Let’s hope that these events have not killed peaceful protest.
All this violence was happening while those inside the Parliament had just voted in favor of the new austerity measures. Many think that it was much more convenient for the government that people were discussing police brutality rather than the midterm plan that was being voted on. Regardless of motivation, that was indeed the case. The next day, June 30, when the government had to vote on the implementation law of the plan, there was hardly anyone in the ruins of Syntagma Square and the discussion within the Parliament had turned into a discussion about the quality of democracy and the right of people to demonstrate freely.
Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis, who is ironically now called the citizens’ protection minister, made an analytical distinction between governmental and police responsibility.
The head of the main opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, suggested that the scenes raised questions about the existence of state-sponsored provocateurs. However, ND deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis later rushed to congratulate the police officers and, together with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, repeated the high number of police officers wounded during the street battles.
The leader of the right-wing nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, Giorgos Karatzaferis, suggested that special recognition should be given to the Evzones presidential guards because they remained in position before the Parliament during the fighting despite the fact that tears were running down their faces due to the chemicals used against the protesters.
Dora Bakoyannis, the head of the Democratic Alliance political grouping who was expelled from the main opposition ND party in 2010, commented only on the destruction of Hania MPs’ offices by a raging crowd.
The parties of the left were furious and suggested that the democratic foundations of the political system have cracked.
Of course, in the end the vote passed.
Killing terrorists with drones is great politics. To the question, “Is it legal?” a natural answer might well be, “Who cares?”
But the legal justifications in the war on terrorism do matter - and not just to people who care about civil liberties. They end up structuring policy. As it turns out, targeted killing, now the hallmark of the Barack Obama administration’s war on terrorism, has its roots in rejection of the legal justifications once offered for waterboarding prisoners.
The leaking of the basic content (but not the text) of an Obama administration memo authorizing the drone strike that killed US citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki therefore calls for serious reflection about where the war on terrorists has been - and where it is headed next.
The George W. Bush administration’s signature anti-terror policy after the September 11 attacks (apart from invading countries) was to capture suspected terrorists, detain them, and question them aggressively in the hopes of gaining actionable intelligence to prevent more attacks.
In the Bush years, after the CIA and other agencies balked at the interrogation techniques being urged by Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House asked the Department of Justice to explain why the most aggressive questioning tactics were legal. Lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel—especially John Yoo, now a professor at the University of California at Berkeley—produced secret memos arguing that waterboarding wasn’t torture.The Torture Memos
What was more, the memos maintained, it didn’t matter if it was torture or not, because the president had the inherent constitutional authority to do whatever was needed to protect the country.
Some of the documents were leaked and quickly dubbed “the torture memos.” A firestorm of legal criticism followed. One of the most astute and outraged critics was Marty Lederman, who had served in the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton. With David Barron, a colleague of mine at Harvard, Lederman went on to write two academic articles attacking the Bush administration’s theories of expansive presidential power. Eventually, Jack Goldsmith, who led the Office of Legal Council in 2003–2004 (and is now also at Harvard), retracted the most extreme of Yoo’s arguments about the president’s inherent power.
In the years leading to the 2008 election, all this technical criticism of the Bush team’s legal strategy merged with domestic and global condemnation of the administration’s detention policies. The Supreme Court weighed in, finding that detainees were entitled to hearings and better tribunals than were being offered. As a candidate, Obama joined the bandwagon, promising to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year of taking office.
Guantanamo is still open, in part because Congress put obstacles in the way. Instead of detaining new terror suspects there, however, Obama vastly expanded the tactic of targeting them, with eight times more drone strikes in his first year than in all of Bush’s time in office. Barron and Lederman, the erstwhile Bush critics, were appointed to senior positions in the Office of Legal Counsel—where they wrote the recent memo authorizing the Al-Awlaki killing.
What explains these startling developments? If it’s illegal and wrong to capture suspected terrorists and detain them indefinitely without a hearing, how exactly did the Obama administration decide it was desirable and lawful to target and kill them?
The politics were straightforward. Obama’s team observed that holding terror suspects exposed the Bush administration to harsh criticism (including their own). They wanted to avoid adding detainees at Guantanamo or elsewhere.
A Father’s Appeal
Dead terrorists tell no tales—and they also have no lawyers shouting about their human rights. Before Al-Awlaki was killed, his father sued the government for putting the son on its target list. The Obama Justice Department asked the court to dismiss the claim as being too closely related to government secrets. The court agreed—a result never reached in all the Guantanamo litigation. Anwar Al-Awlaki now has no posthumous recourse.
In the bigger picture, Obama also wanted to show measurable success in the war on terrorism while withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. But even here the means were influenced by legal concerns.Osama bin Laden is the best example. One suspects that the US forces who led the fatal raid in Abbottabad almost certainly could have taken him alive. But detaining and trying him would probably have been a political disaster. So they shot him on sight, as the international law of war allows for enemies unless they surrender.The authority for targeted killing—as expressed in the Lederman-Barron memo—offers the legal counterpart to the political advantages of the Obama targeting policy. According to the leaks, the memo holds that the U.S. can kill suspected terrorists from the air not because the president has inherent power, but because Congress declared war on Al-Qaeda the week after the September 11 attacks.
The logic is that once Congress declares war, the president can determine whom we are fighting. The president found that Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which didn’t exist on September 11, had joined the war in progress. He determined that Al-Awlaki was an active member of the Yemeni groups with some role in planning attacks. And, the memo says, it’s not unlawful assassination or murder if the targets are wartime enemies.
From a formal legal standpoint, Lederman and Barron can claim consistency with their attacks on the Bush administration. They relied on Congress and international law; Yoo’s “torture memos” didn’t.
But this argument misses the more basic point: Most critics rejected Bush’s policies not on technical grounds based on the Constitution, but because they thought there was something wrong with the president acting as judge and jury in the war on terrorism.
No Defense Allowed
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed because the president decided he was an enemy. Like the Bush-era Guantanamo detainees, he had no chance to deny this—even when his father tried to go to court while he was still alive.
Naturally, a uniformed soldier in a regular war also wouldn’t get a hearing. But like the Guantanamo detainees, Al-Awlaki wore no uniform. Nor was he on a battlefield, except according to the view that anywhere in the world can be the battlefield in the war on terrorism.
Al-Awlaki might have maintained that he was merely a jihadi propagandist exercising his free speech rights as a U.S. citizen. Which might well have been a lie. Yet we have only the president’s word that he was an active terrorist—and that is all we will ever have. The future direction of the policy is therefore clear: Killing is safer, easier and legally superior to catching and detaining.
Sitting beside Al-Awlaki when he was killed was another US citizen, Samir Khan, who was apparently a full-time propagandist, not an operational terrorist. Khan was, we are told, not the target, but collateral damage—a good kill under the laws of war.
Legal memos are weapons of combat—no matter who is writing them.
After years when young Americans yearned only to be occupied on Wall Street, suddenly they have taken to occupying it. It’s easy to scoff at this phenomenon. I know, because I have.
This is certainly not America’s answer to the Arab Spring—the Bobo Fall perhaps, unmistakably both bohemian and bourgeois. But it’s still worth taking seriously. What is it that makes evidently educated young people yearn to adopt leftist positions that are eerily reminiscent of the ones their parents adopted in 1968?
Check out the protesters’ website, which on Monday featured a speech by Slovenian critical theorist Slavoj Žižek. At first I thought this must be some kind of parody, but no, he really exists—red T-shirt, Krugman beard, and all: “The only sense in which we are communists is that we care for the commons. The commons of nature. The commons of what is privatized by intellectual property. The commons of biogenetics. For this and only for this we should fight.”
Yeah, man. Property is theft. Ne travaillez jamais. And all that.
There are three possible explanations for this retrogression to the language of ’68. 1. Increasing inequality exemplified by Wall Street is worth protesting against.2. So is the fact that only a handful of bankers have been prosecuted for their part in the financial crisis.3. Demonstrating is way cool.
Yet if I were a young American today, occupying Wall St. would not be my objective. Just reflect for a minute on the unbridled economic mayhem that would ensue if the protesters actually succeeded. The headline “Goldman Sachs Under Control of Hip Teenage Revolutionaries” would be the last straw for an already fragile economic recovery.
Now ask yourself what the financial crisis really means for today's 15- to 24-year-olds. Not only has it raised the probability that they will be unemployed after graduation. More seriously, it has massively increased the debt that they will have to service when they do get jobs.
Never in the history of intergenerational transfers has one generation left such a mountain of IOUs to another as the baby boomers are leaving to their grandchildren.
When you do the math, there is only one logical political home for today’s teens and 20-somethings ... and that is the Tea Party. For who else is promising to slash Medicare and Social Security and keep the tax burden at its historical average?
Let’s just remind ourselves of the report of the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds back in 2007, which projected a rise in the cost of these two programs from 7.3 percent of gross domestic product to 17.5 percent by 2030. The trustees warned that to achieve actuarial balance—in other words, solvency—for these two programs would require (for Social Security) an increase of 16 percent in payroll tax revenues or an immediate reduction in benefits of 13 percent. For Medicare we are talking a 122 percent increase in payroll taxes or a 51 percent cut in spending.
As Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns pointed out in The Coming Generational Storm, by 2030 there will be twice as many retirees as there are today but only 18 percent more workers. Unless there is really radical reform of entitlement programs - especially Medicare - the next generation of American workers will be paying roughly double the taxes their parents and grandparents paid. This is what Kotlikoff and Burns mean by “fiscal child abuse.”
Of these harsh realities the occupiers of Wall Street seem blissfully unaware. Fixated on the idea that they somehow represent the 99 percent of people who scrape by on 80 percent of total income, they fail to see that the real distributional conflict of our time is not between percentiles, much less classes, but between generations. And no generation has a keener interest in slashing future spending on entitlements than today’s teens and 20-somethings.
So occupying Wall Street is not the answer to this generation’s problems. The answer is to occupy the Tea Party—and wrest it from the grumpy old men who currently run it.
Call it the Iced Tea Party.
This essay is not about Steve Jobs. It is about the countless individuals with roughly the same combination of talents of whom we’ve never heard and never will.
Most of the 106 billion people who’ve ever lived are dead—around 94 percent of them. And most of those dead people were Asian—probably more than 60 percent. And most of those dead Asians were dirt poor. Born into illiterate peasant families enslaved by subsistence agriculture under some or other form of hierarchical government, the Steves of the past never stood a chance.
Chances are, those other Steves didn’t make it into their 30s, never mind their mid-50s. An appalling number died in childhood, killed off by afflictions far easier to treat than pancreatic cancer. The ones who made it to adulthood didn’t have the option to drop out of college because they never went to college. Even the tiny number of Steves who had the good fortune to rise to the top of premodern societies wasted their entire lives doing calligraphy (which he briefly dabbled in at Reed College). Those who sought to innovate were more likely to be punished than rewarded.
Today, according to estimates by Credit Suisse, there is approximately $195 trillion of wealth in the world. Most of it was made quite recently, in the wake of those great political and economic revolutions of the late 18th century, which, for the first time in human history, put a real premium on innovation. And most of it is owned by Westerners—Europeans and inhabitants of the New World and Antipodes inhabited by their descendants. We may account for less than a fifth of humanity, but we Westerners still own two thirds of global wealth.
A nontrivial portion of that wealth ($6.7 billion) belonged to Steve Jobs and now belongs to his heirs. In that respect, Jobs personified the rising inequality that is one of the striking characteristics of his lifetime. Back in 1955 the top 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of income. Today the figure is above 14 percent.
Yet there is no crowd of young people rampaging through Palo Alto threatening to “Occupy Silicon Valley.” The huge amounts of money made by Jobs and his fellow pioneers of personal computing are not resented the way the vampire squids of Wall Street are. On the contrary, Jobs is revered. One eminent hedge-fund manager (who probably holds a healthy slice of Apple stock as well as the full array of iGadgets) recently likened him to Leonardo da Vinci.
So the question is not, how do we produce more Steves? The normal process of human reproduction will ensure a steady supply of what Malcolm Gladwell has called “outliers.” The question should be, how do we ensure that the next Steve Jobs fulfills his potential?
An adopted child, the biological son of a Syrian Muslim immigrant, a college dropout, a hippie who briefly converted to Buddhism and experimented with LSD—Jobs was the type of guy no sane human resources department would have hired. I doubt that Apple itself would hire someone with his résumé at age 20. The only chance he ever had to become a chief executive officer was by founding his own company.
And that—China, please note—is why capitalism needs to be embedded in a truly free society in order to flourish. In a free society a weirdo can do his own thing. In a free society he can even fail at his own thing, as Jobs undoubtedly did in his first stint in charge of Apple. And in a free society he can bounce back and revolutionize all our lives.
Somewhere in his father’s native Syria another Steve Jobs has just died. But this other Steve was gunned down by a tyrannical government. And what wonders his genius might have produced we shall never know.
Estimating the mechanisms that connect explanatory variables with the explained variable, also known as “mediation analysis,” is central to a variety of social-science fields, especially psychology, and increasingly to fields like epidemiology. Recent work on the statistical methodology behind mediation analysis points to limitations in earlier methods. We implement in Stata computational approaches based on recent developments in the statistical methodology of mediation analysis. In particular, we provide functions for the correct calculation of causal mediation effects using several different types of parametric models, as well as the calculation of sensitivity analyses for violations to the key.
Informal payments are a frequently overlooked source of local public finance in developing countries. We use microdata from ten countries to establish stylized facts on the magnitude, form, and distributional implications of this “informal taxation.” Informal taxation is widespread, particularly in rural areas, with substantial in-kind labor payments. The wealthy pay more, but pay less in percentage terms, and informal taxes are more regressive than formal taxes. Failing to include informal taxation underestimates household tax burdens and revenue decentralization in developing countries. We discuss various explanations for and implications of these observed stylized facts.
During the past decade, a variety of intermediaries have emerged to facilitate the trading of patents: brokers, non-practicing entities (NPEs), defensive aggregators, online platforms, auctions and unique entities such as Intellectual Ventures. We discuss the fundamental causes for the lack of liquidity in the IP market and analyze the merits and shortcomings of the various business models used by patent intermediaries. A key conclusion is that platform-type intermediaries (who facilitate transactions without taking possession of assets) have struggled, whereas merchant-type intermediaries (who acquire patents and seek to monetize them directly) have reached significant scale and influence in the technology industries that fall under the incidence of their assets. We also discuss some efficiency issues raised by the growing prominence of patent merchants.
We study patterns of FDI in a multi-country world economy. First, we present evidence for a broad sample of countries that firms direct FDI disproportionately to markets with income levels similar to their home market. Then we develop a model featuring non-homothetic preferences for quality and monopolistic competition in which specialization is purely demand-driven and the decision to serve foreign countries via exports or FDI depends on a proximity-concentration trade-off. We characterize the joint patterns of trade and FDI when countries differ in income distribution and size and show that FDI is more likely to occur between countries with similar per capita income levels. The model predicts a Linder Hypothesis for FDI, consistent with the patterns found in the data.
Co-author Gene Grossman is a professor of economics at Princeton University. Co-author Pablo Fajgelbaum is an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, LA.Working Paper 17550, National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2011. Download PDF
Novelists have a better track record than economists at foretelling the future. Consider then Gary Shteyngart’s timely comic novel Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, 2010), which provides a rather graphic vision of what lies in store for the world economy. The novel takes place in the near future and is set against the backdrop of a United States that lies in economic and political ruin. The country’s bankrupt economy is ruled with a firm hand by the IMF from its new Parthenon-shaped headquarters in Singapore. China and sovereign wealth funds have parceled America’s most desirable real estate among themselves. Poor people are designated as LNWI (“low net worth individuals”) and are being pushed into ghettoes. Even skilled Americans are desperate to acquire residency status in foreign lands. This is sheer fantasy of course, but one that seems to resonate well with the collective mood. A future in which the US and other advanced economies are forced to play second fiddle to the dynamic emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere is rapidly becoming cliché. This vision is based in part on the very rapid pace of economic growth that emerging and developing economies experienced in the run-up to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. Latin America benefited from a pace of economic development that it had not experienced since the 1970s, and Africa began to close the gap with the advanced countries for the first time since countries in the continent received their independence. Even though most of these countries were hit badly by the crisis, their recovery has also been swift. Optimism on developing countries is matched by pessimism on the rich country front. The United States and Europe have emerged from the crisis with debilitating challenges. They need to address a crushing debt burden and its unpleasant implications for fiscal and monetary policy. They also need to replace growth models which were based in many instances on finance, real estate, and unsustainable levels of borrowing. Japan has long ceased to exhibit any growth dynamism. And the eurozone’s future remains highly uncertain—with the economic and political ramifications of its unraveling looking nothing less than scary. In such an environment, rapid growth in the developing world is the only thing that could propel the world economy forward and generate increasing demand for rich-country goods and services—the only silver lining in an otherwise dreary future. The question I address in this paper is whether this gap in performance between the developed and developing worlds can continue, and in particular, whether developing nations can sustain the rapid growth they have experienced of late. I will not have anything to say on the prospects for the advanced economies themselves, assuming, along with conventional wisdom, that their growth will remain sluggish at best. My focus is squarely on the developing and emerging countries and on the likelihood of continued convergence.
Does democratic governance expand wealth and prosperity? There is no consensus about this issue despite the fact that for more than half a century, rival theories about the regime-growth relationship have been repeatedly tested against the empirical evidence, using a variety of cases, models and techniques. To consider the issues, Part I of this paper reviews and summarizes theories why regimes are expected to influence economic growth directly, either positively or negatively. After considering these debates, Part II discusses the technical challenges facing research on this topic and how it is proposed to overcome these. Part III presents the results of the comparative analysis for the effects of democratic governance on economic growth during recent decades. The descriptive results illustrate the main relationships. The multivariate models check whether these patterns remain significant after controlling for many other factors associated with growth, including geography, economic conditions, social structural variables, cultural legacies, and global trends. The evidence supports the equilibrium thesis suggesting that regimes combining both liberal democracy and bureaucratic governance are most likely to generate growth, while by contrast patronage autocracies display the worst economic performance. The conclusion considers the implications.
We document the behavior of trade prices during the Great Trade Collapse of 2008–2009 using transaction-level data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. First, we find that differentiated manufactures exhibited marked stability in their trade prices during the large decline in their trade volumes. Prices of non-differentiated manufactures, by contrast, declined sharply. Second, while the trade collapse was much steeper among differentiated durable manufacturers than among non-durables, prices in both categories barely changed. Third, despite this lack of movement in average price levels, the frequency and magnitude of price adjustments at the product level noticeably changed with the onset of the crisis.
Co-author Oleg Itskhoki is a professor of economics at Princeton University. Co-author Brent Neiman is at the
Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.Download PDF