25 April 2017   Leave a comment

The Pew Research Center has done a study on middle class fortunes in Europe and has found a mixed bag.  The US has sesen a steady decline in middle class households from 61% of the population in 1970 to 50% in 2015.  The situation in Europe is less uniform:

“The fortunes of the middle classes in Western Europe’s largest economies are moving in opposite directions. From 1991 to 2010, the shares of adults living in middle-income households increased in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but shrank in Germany, Italy and Spain.”

The study also found that the discrepancy between the middle class and the upper class in the US was significantly greater than in Europe.  New research published in Science also confirms the negative trends in the US.  That study found that the percentage of children who made more money than their parents fell from 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s.  That decline in income mobility completely contradicts the idea of the “American Dream”.

 

Foreign Policy magazine has obtained documents which outline President Trump’s budget proposals for foreign assistance.  The plans call for a merger of the Agency for International Development into the State Department and for some rather drastic cuts in the levels of foreign assistance to poor countries.  The proposal would likely cripple the technical parts of AID.  It is not clear that the Congress will go along with these proposals, but, according to the article,

“…..the agency still anticipates that the budget proposal will necessitate eliminating 30 to 35 of its field missions while cutting its regional bureaus by roughly 65 percent. USAID currently operates in about 100 countries.”

The health programs of the AID may be reduced by as much as 25 percent.

The US has slapped tariffs on imports of Canadian lumber.  The US accuses of Canada of unfair trading practices because it believes that the price of timber in Canada is artificially low because forest lands are owned by the provinces whereas American timber is grown on privately owned land.  The Canadian prices are in fact lower, but that is because Canadians have decided that their forests should not be part of a profit-making enterprise.   Such is their sovereign right.  Whether that decision should be interpreted as an “unfair” trading practice will likely be determined by the World Trade Organization.

 

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Posted April 25, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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