Are multinational corporations undermining freedom in poor countries?


Here are the latest reports from the Washington Posts ‘In Theory’.

Are multinational corporations undermining freedom in poor countries?

Have private multinational companies been undermining the sovereignty of the world’s poorest countries, or is ISDS a reasonable mechanism for independently regulating complex multi-party agreements? What should the international community do to protect the independence of developing nations? Do we need to rework the arbitration deals governing our global economy?

Can we please stop complaining about our two-party system?

Last week was a bad week for Gary Johnson. The Libertarian candidate has spent his whole campaign arguing that he would be able to recruit voters if only he were given chance to make an appearance at the presidential debates.

Yet in what was one of his few break-out moments of media exposure this campaign season, Johnson totally blew it. “And what is Aleppo?” was the death-knell for Gary Johnson, and for the Libertarian Party in general.

Visa reform could be the smartest way to secure our border

Ali Noorani is executive director of the National Immigration Forum.

Our immigration system must serve the interests of all Americans.

And the vast majority of Americans — Republicans as well as Democrats — recognize that our immigration system is broken, and support a new process that replaces our outdated laws. One key area is visa programs that are part of our legal immigration system. We need to update visa programs in a careful way that helps our economy — not reduce visas significantly, as some politicians and policy makers have proposed.

Donald Trump wants local police to enforce immigration laws. Here’s why they don’t.

David A. Martin is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as principal deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security during the first two years of the Obama administration.

Donald Trump has made empowering local police to enforce federal immigration law a key part of his campaign. He has said that local agencies know where violators are, and that they would be “so happy” to get them out.

But Trump apparently hasn’t been paying attention to what local jurisdictions have been doing over the last 10 years. A great many law enforcement agencies — including those covering large immigrant populations — have sharply restricted their cooperation with federal enforcement, even for violators arrested for local crimes and in the face of a formal federal request.

Why are conservatives pushing a failed statist policy?

Free trade is out; protectionism is in. At least, that’s the sense you get listening to today’s populist, right-wing leaders — or watching the fallout of Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union.

In the wake of the impending “Brexit,” conservatives in the U.K. have suddenly warmed to the idea of instituting policies that promote domestic industries, calling on the government to develop new industrial plans for local communities. This rejection of free trade in favor of domestic products is a stunning reversal for the political right, but at the same time, it demonstrates a hallmark of right-wing populism around the world: the drive to preserve national independence. Indeed, for many conservative pundits, Britain has ceded too much of its independence to the European Union and international law.

To improve education, focus on excellence — not failure

Michael J. Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

School failure is no longer America’s most pressing educational problem — mediocrity is. Both Trump and Clinton could do a lot of good by changing the tone of the education reform debate — and backing it up with a few discrete changes in policy. Specifically, they could shift the conversation from “failure” and focus it instead on “excellence.”

We need more charter schools — but the debate can’t end there

Andrew J. Rotherham is a co-founder and partner at Bellwether Education, a national non-profit educational consulting firm. He worked in the White House during the Clinton Administration and has analyzed charter school policy for two decades.

You wouldn’t know it from how our politicians talk about school choice, but we actually know quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Broadly speaking, vouchers have at besta modest effect on student achievement but seem to improve certain other outcomes of interest, like parental satisfaction and graduation rates. Charter schools, for their part, outperform on standardized tests in urban areas, show mixed but positive results elsewhere, and have pockets of serious underperformance. There is some evidence that choice helps spur the overall school system to improve, but not as much as free market adherents might think. In other words, the zealots on all sides are wrong: If you want to see a more equitable American education system choice is a key ingredient but by itself is not transformative.

Good luck finding that kind of nuance in this year’s presidential race. One candidate treats charter schools like a minefield while the other sees them as a club.

Why not being ‘a racist’ isn’t enough
Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, got into a bit of hot water last week for leaving an expletive-laced voicemail for Drew Gattine, a Democratic state legislator, after a reporter apparently insinuated that the legislator had called the governor a racist. LePage also later told reporters that he wished it were 1825 so that […]

The best weapon against Chinese expansionism is not a weapon

Jennifer M. Harris is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of “War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft.” She previously served on the policy planning staff at the State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Despite all the military bluster regarding China’s encroachment in the South and East China Seas, this is an economic contest, not a military one.

Politicians want you to believe they can fix inequality. Don’t believe them.

We’ve heard a lot of talk from politicians over the past year about the rich having too much power within the United States economy. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have suggested that the system is “rigged” in favor of the wealthy and well-connected. Hillary Clinton promises that under her administration, “Wall Street, corporations and the super rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.”

Inequality has become the unexpectedly hot topic this election cycle. But for every time you hear a politician promising that they’ll be able to change the system, overturn the power structure and revive the middle class, here’s some advice: Don’t believe them. Wealth inequality is too ingrained in our economy to be fixed by any simple policy reform.

A free lunch for the federal government

Josh Bivens is a Ph.D. economist and is the research and policy director of the Economic Policy Institute.

Criticism that this year’s presidential candidates are ignoring the national debt is at least half-misplaced. Trump’s approach to this (and all other issues) is unserious, of course. But Hillary Clinton has taken a perfectly reasonable approach — one without the unwarranted concern that debt is crowding out other policy priorities. She is not whipping up fears about deficits that are unsupported by economic data. She is proposing that her new, permanent spending plans be matched with progressive revenue increases.

These are reality-based stances. The only change I’d urge is to rely more heavily on deficit financing for proposed infrastructure investments.

The first step towards solving the debt crisis: Stop digging

Maya MacGuineas is president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

We need to control our national debt and leave a strong economy for the next generation. Yet there are no policy ideas from the campaigns to do so. We are on course to add $9 trillion to our debt over the next decade, yet neither candidate has a plan to reduce that by even one penny.

If the next president’s priorities are to help grow the economy, to preserve public investments and important safety net programs or to ensure that we are prepared for the next economic downturn, this is a huge problem.

Your free time isn’t free

Shivani Radhakrishnan is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Columbia University.

In a 1930 essay, John Maynard Keynes predicted that our grandchildren would work around three hours a day — and probably only because they chose to. Thanks to technology, we’d be free from pressing economic cares, and that would mean more time to ourselves. Working hours had already shrunk in Keynes’ lifetime, and it seemed likely that this would continue. Social psychologists even began to worry: What would people do with all of their free time?

Needless to say, the three-hour work shift hasn’t arrived, even if Keynes’s predicted “age of abundance” has. It’s true that many people still don’t have enough free hours after we’re done clocking in and out of the office. But of all of our problems with leisure, the worst may be that our leisure, too, has become work.

We work too much, but it doesn’t have to be that way

Peter Frase is on the editorial board of Jacobin Magazine and is the author ofFour Futures,” forthcoming in October from Verso Press.

Throughout the history of capitalism, workers have demanded a reduction in working hours in order to leave more time for leisure, while employers have pushed for the opposite. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, workers fought for and won the 10-hour day and then the eight-hour day. Since then, however, progress toward shorter hours has stalled. It will take political organizing and legislative reforms to expand and enrich the time available to us outside of work.

In defense of leisure

Last week, Uber announced its plans to roll out its first self-driving car initiative next month in Pittsburgh. The move shouldn’t come as a surprise: Uber has been running a well-funded self-driving car program internally for years. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, their goal is “to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers — as quickly as possible.”

Robot workers and the so-called “automation bomb” loom even as some Americans find themselves working hours more than ever. Yet at both extremes, a similar question arises: What will all of those out-of-work humans do? When we aren’t working, how should we make our time matter?

The Affordable Care Act is not in crisis — but it could be better

Ezekiel Emanuel is a physician, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Reinventing American Health Care.”  He served in the Obama White House from January 2009 to January 2011. Topher Spiro is Vice President Health Policy at the Center for American Progress.   

Aetna’s withdrawal from Affordable Care Act markets has sparked the latest round of dire predictions about the law’s survival. Yet time and time again the ACA has proved durable,insuring 20 million Americans with improvements each year. This time will be no different.

To save Obamacare’s exchanges, learn from their critics

Avik Roy is Forbes’ opinion editor and a former advisor to Sen. Marco Rubio and former governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

All but the most hardened partisans understand that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges are in serious trouble. In 2010, the CBO predicted that 21 million people would have exchange-based coverage in 2016; the real number was about 12 million. As insurers head for the exits, the gap between initial hype and final reality will widen.

Russia is now a threat. The U.S. should treat it like one.

David J. Kramer is senior director for human rights and democracy at the McCain Institute for International Leadership and a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the George W. Bush administration.

The next president should recognize that Russia under Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian, kleptocratic regime that poses a serious threat to our values, interests and allies. We should contain and deter Russian aggression by reassuring our NATO allies that we will defend them, fulfilling the collective defense guarantees of Article 5, and reaffirming our support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and aspirations of Russia’s neighbors to join NATO or the European Union. We must also support those living inside Russia who are struggling for a better, more democratic future.

The problem boils down to the nature of the Putin regime. Since coming to power 17 years ago (initially as prime minister) by ordering brutal force against Russia’s region of Chechnya, Putin has demonstrated a ruthless willingness to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. Any threat — real or imagined — is dealt with decisively, whether it originates inside Russia or abroad.

There will be no ‘reset’ with Russia

Angela Stent directs the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University and is the author of “The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century.”

It’s been a quarter-century since the Soviet Union collapsed. In the aftermath, the United States had two main goals: The first was integrating the new Russia into Euro-Atlantic and global institutions; the second, if that did not work out, was ensuring that Russia not thwart America’s commitment to create a peaceful, rules-based post-Cold War order. A quarter century later, it is clear that the first goal was not achieved. That means the next occupant of the White House will have to redouble efforts to achieve the second.

The Russia challenge has radically changed since the 1990s. Today we read new allegations that Russia is interfering in the U.S. election, hacking into the DNC and, through intermediaries, posting confidential and sometimes damaging information. Whatever the accuracy of these charges and scope of these disclosures, they seem clearly intended to sow doubts about the legitimacy of our democratic election process. From the Kremlin’s point of view, the more uncertainty and questioning the better.

The media is ruining science
A year ago last week, researchers from Drexel University released a study about the benefits of “sexting” in relationships, which included a figure that suggested that the vast majority of adults — around 82 percent — had sexted at some point in the past year. As expected, the surprising statistic was widely covered online, including by CNN, the Los Angeles […]

Inequality is a distraction. The real issue is growth.

Scott Winship is the Walter B. Wriston Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of the forthcoming study, “Poverty After Welfare Reform.”

Changes to the tax code certainly could reduce inequality, but the real question is whether we should try to reduce it. There is little evidence that we should.

Are American levels of inequality harmful? Some analysts claim that they hurt middle-class incomes or increase poverty. But child poverty is at an all-time low, and middle-class incomes are also at historic highs. Across developed countries, those with higher inequality have slightly higher middle-class incomes and less poverty.

Inequality is deeply entrenched. We’ll have to think big to fix it.

Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the new book “The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity.”

Whether the next president should try to reduce economic inequality is beyond question. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ran on fixing a system they characterize as “rigged” against those on the wrong side of the inequality divide — as did Bernie Sanders, of course, whose campaign was built on reversing historically high levels of income and wealth inequality.

How to go about reducing inequality is another matter. Republicans, including Trump, default to the same old trickle-down tax cuts that, if anything, make after-tax inequality worse. A true anti-inequality policy agenda must begin with an accurate diagnosis of the problem, which simply can’t be that the wealthy aren’t wealthy enough.

The Missing Debate: An Introduction
In a normal election season, the presidential candidates would spend time laying out their platforms, defending their ideals and discussing the policies they plan to implement if elected. But this, as we know, is no normal season. For months now, we’ve seen more coverage of gaffes, conspiracies, and flagrantly unrealistic claims than we could ever […]

Young voters live online. That’s where the future of politics will be.

Carolyn DeWitt is president of Rock the Vote. Heather Smith is a member of the Rock the Vote board of directors and an independent consultant working on questions of online advertising and civic engagement.

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