2 January 2017   Leave a comment

Predicting the effects of climate change is very difficult since the effects will not be uniform.  There very well may be winners in terms of economic activity, but we suspect that the costs of adaptation will produce more losers.  The fear is that climate change will generate greater economic inequality since richer individuals and countries will be able to bear the costs of adaptation more easily than poor countries and individuals. MIT’s Technology Review has an article that suggests that inequality will be seriously aggravated by climate change.

As the US begins another debate on health care insurance, we should all be wary of those who argue that the US has the best health care system in the world, a position often taken by those who support greater privatization in health care and less government support.  The evidence does not support this proposition, although it is probably true that the US health care system works magnificently for those who can afford superb care.  For the country as a whole, however, the US lags pretty far behind other rich and not-so-rich countries.

One word which pops up frequently in political discussions is “populism”, a word that is used too casually and by people who don’t really know what the word means.  The word became popular in the late 19th century America to refer to a rural movement against urbanized elites, led ultimately by William Jennings Bryant.  The Economist offers a different perspective on the word, using it more to describe an attitude that attaches itself to other ideologies.  The populist attitude is that the urbanized elite is always corrupt, but the appropriate solution depends on how the phenomenon of poverty came to be.  Thus, if one is a socialist with a populist attitude, the solution is to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.  If one is a capitalist with a populist attitude, then the solution is to eliminate government interference in the economy.  This way of understanding populism divests the term of substantive meaning, liberating it to be used more as a rhetorical device than an analytic framework.

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Posted January 2, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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