This morning Fareed Sakaria noted the need to view the words of politicians as being politically motivated and within a political context. When a politician speaks, we need to consider the intended audience and remember the political context. Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, interviewed by CNN’s Candy Crowley, and others observed that this week’s anti-West and anti-U.S. actions, resulting in destruction of U.S. property and the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, three other Americans, and uncounted others in more than 20 countries, was the act of a large group of people, who collectively represented a small minority of the residents of those countries.
The violent acts are troubling, disappointing, even enraging, but to respond against those nations as if the nations have attacked the U.S. would be as misguided, even ignorant, as the apparent inciting of the violence by a rumored anti-Islam film as being representative of and endorsed by the U.S. and the West collectively. The West, and particularly the U.S., needs to respond, but that response must have focus, on the perpetrators and their leaders not the general population. The identity of the perpetrators may be difficult to ascertain.
Two links, parts 1 and 2 of a lecture I gave to the University of Phoenix Leadership Colloquium. 500 doctoral learners and faculty from Phoenix’s School of Advanced Studies registered. I have another 10-20 minutes of responses to questions posed during the lecture and am constructing a document drawn from online discussions during the week before and the week after the lecture.
In the August 22, 2011 issue of Time, Thornburgh, Adams, Assinder, Cooke, Mayer, and Grose (2011) noted some similarities between the economic situation in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Tunisia, and the United States. While Thornburgh et al. focused on the violence and unrest in the United Kingdom, he observed that the United States has more income distribution inequality than the United Kingdom although more people in the United States seem more optimistic about their economic prospects than their U. K. counterparts.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that income distribution inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, was 0.26 in Sweden; 0.30 in Germany and Australia; 0.32 in Greece, in Canada, in Japan, and in Spain; 0.34 in the U.K.; 0.35 in Italy; and 0.36 in Portugal. By comparison, the Gini was 0.38 for the United States and Yemen, 0.43 in Turkey; 0.47 in Mexico; 0.34 for Egypt, 0.40 for Tunisia, 0.42 for Syria and for Iraq, and 0.4 for Jordan.
Another apparent measure of potential unrest seems to be unemployment in various demographic groups. Table 1 shows the unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds and overall and measures of national debt, % GDP of exports, and % college graduates.
Unemployment, national debt, export, import, and college graduation levels by country.Country Unemployment15-24 UnemploymentTotal National Debt % GDP Export % GDP Import % GDP % College Graduates Australia 11.5 5.2 11.0 22.5 23.1 33.7
For most of 2011, national lawmakers in Washington, DC have invested what seems to have been the vast majority of their time, and our attention, on the need to get the debt ceiling raised and the nation’s revenues and expenses aligned. Meanwhile, the economy flounders because business executives in the United States, and increasingly globally, have little or no confidence in the direction or stability of the legal and economic arena. Uncertainty like that makes strategic investing in jobs and in job-creating expansion risky and seemingly unwise. The debt ceiling crisis is a symptom of a much more difficult problem, the mismatch between overspending and too little revenue.
Political rhetoric out of Washington, DC is simply lip service meant to placate the itching ears of the electorate. Politicians have devolved into re-election machines focused on the next election cycle as soon as the last one is over. Most members of the U.S. House and Senate simply have no experience or education that would allow them to create effective policy for most of the topics they must address. So, with no basis for for developing, debating, and implementing effective solutions to the problems the nation needs them to address, elected and appointed decision makers in Washington seem inclined to simply parrot back the words the electorate and self-serving advisors and lobbyists beg them to say.