Showing posts with label Christian Science Monitor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Science Monitor. Show all posts

Monday, January 26, 2015

Going Solar!

The cover piece for this week's Christian Science Monitor is truly splendid. Africa is experiencing a quiet solar revolution and brushing off the usual criticism of developing countries not being able to do renewables.

Now, however, a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives. 

Going smaller better fits the budgets of the rural poor. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar.

Check out the whole piece, folks. There are going to be big things happening with renewables in the next couple of years!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good News Round Up

Most of the news that is heavily reported these days is bad news. There are number of reasons for this but the main one is that bad news sells better. I think this is complete bullshit and, quite frankly,  a cop out by the media. They could decided tomorrow to focus on all of the progress in the world (like the Christian Science Monitor did) and people just might feel better about the future. In fact, they could evolve away from anger, hate, and fear into much more reasonable beings. I haven't talked about good news on here in a while but starting today, it's going to become a more regular feature here at Markadelphia.

First up, we have this story about the Earth's ozone layer.

The ozone layer that shields the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion, a UN study says. The ozone hole that appears annually over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year. The report says it will take a decade before the hole starts to shrink. Scientists say the recovery is entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone. The study was published by researchers from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story... This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Very good news on a problem that has been around all of my life.

Next we have this report on US child wellness and education which concluded there have been gradual and incremental improvements in the lives of American children. Child-wellness indicators in four main areas – economic well-being, education, health, and family and community – reflected an overall increase in the well-being of America’s youths.

Areas of improvement included the drop in teen births per 1,000 (from 40 to 29) and a decrease in the number of children without health insurance (from 10 percent to 7 percent). All four education trouble spots addressed in the study – children not attending preschool, fourth-graders not proficient in reading, fourth-graders not proficient in math, and high school students not graduating on time – dipped at least slightly, between 2 and 8 percent. All health issues improved as well, with fewer low-birth-weight babies, fewer child and teen deaths, and fewer teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol. The CDC also confirms some of these improvements.

Very cool!

Finally, we have news from the United Nations that Rwanda and Ethiopia have the fastest growing economies in Africa. This is especially amazing when you consider that, historically, the names of each of these countries meant violence, death, famine, and literally, a boiling pit of sewage! Each country has provided better access to health care, diversified their economies, and reduced child mortality by nearly 30%.

Look for good news like this every week at Markadelphia!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Both Irrational and Offensive

Here is a piece from the Good Reads section of the Christian Science Monitor.

The Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut brought a deluge of media attention to gun control. One useful perspective came from the Lexington’s Notebook column in The Economist magazine. Britain’s gun-related homicide rate is drastically lower than that of the United States not only because guns are harder to purchase, but because ammunition is scarce, the writer points out. In one recent incident in a crime-plagued British neighborhood, for example, “the gang had had to make its own bullets, which did not work well....”

In one recent year England and Wales experienced 39 fatalities from crimes involving firearms; the US had 12,000. In Britain, “The firearms-ownership rules are onerous, involving hours of paperwork. You must provide a referee who has to answer nosy questions about the applicant’s mental state, home life (including family or domestic tensions) and their attitude towards guns. In addition to criminal-record checks, the police talk to applicants’ family doctors and ask about any histories of alcohol or drug abuse or personality disorders.” 

Some US gun owners argue that they might need firearms to fight a tyrannical government. But “I don’t think America is remotely close to becoming a tyranny, and to suggest that it is is both irrational and a bit offensive to people who actually do live under tyrannical rule,” the writer responds.

Yes, it is irrational and very offensive. I'm reminded of the older, Hungarian gentlemen from my gym who chided Doctor Sean and Pastor Ed who gave them his piece of mind about communism.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Good News Keeps Rolling In

For all the talk about how broken our health care system is, the world as a whole is actually doing much better than in the past. Some examples.

  • Dr. Benn singles out Rwanda as an example of stunning progress: More than 90 percent of eligible Rwandans were receiving ART by the end of October. "This is fantastic ... historical. That is beyond our expectations from a couple of years ago," Benn says. 
  • Kazakhstan is the site of another moment of global public health progress this year. In March, it was certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization, joining only four other malaria-endemic countries with that designation. 
  • Nigeria heads the pack of 17 countries poised to eliminate malaria. Their antimalaria agenda includes a $50 million bed-net program, underwritten by The Global Fund, which hopes the country will offer two bed nets per household. 
  • The Republic of the Congo, meanwhile, has made massive strides in combating maternal mortality. The number of women dying in childbirth dropped 60 percent between 2010 and 2011, from 740 deaths per 100,000 live births to 300 deaths.

There are many more examples like this happening around the world and the best part about all of it is that it is happening exponentially. Juxtapose this with the sharp reduction in extreme poverty and it's clear that we are heading in something more than the "right direction." 

Honestly, it's becoming more and more apparent every day that we are heading towards that Star Trek vision of the future and it's largely due to the leadership of the United States. 

Friday, January 11, 2013


Get used to a new word for 2013: reshoring.

Conventional wisdom says that American jobs are flying like crazy over to China. But a recent piece in the Christian Science Monitor says otherwise.

There's no official tally of the number of jobs returning, but Harry Moser, director of the Reshoring Initiative, which aims to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, estimates that 50,000 jobs have returned in the past three years. He bases his estimate on a close read of the media and on reports his organization receives. If that number is accurate, reshoring would account for 12 percent of the manufacturing jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports returned to the American economy since 2010. 

The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, in a September report projected that returned manufacturing could bring 5 million new jobs by 2020 and add $90 billion in US exports to the economy.


Why is this happening?

Rising wages in China, unpredictable supply-chain problems, oil prices, and the risk of intellectual property theft are making manufacturers more wary of producing overseas, analysts say.

That's the beauty of the free market, in this case the labor market. Eventually, workers start to demand more money and everything evens out as the labor market adjusts in its growth. But this isn't even the best part.

It's not just that it's getting more expensive to produce overseas. It's also getting cheaper to produce back at home. "It's the shale gas revolution," says Kevin Swift, chief economist and managing director of the American Chemistry Council. "There are low-cost, abundant sources of energy [here] now." Mr. Swift says that's a game changer for his industry: "We were being written off as being noncompetitive. It's completely changed. There's significant investment on the books ... 50 [planned] projects valued at over $40 billion."

Yes, indeed. Things are looking up for our country and it makes me quite happy!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Planet Earth

For all of my crabbing on here, the world is actually getting to be a much better place in which to live. There's a lot of good news out there and if are diligent, you can find it. The best place to start is The Christian Science Monitor as they are usually very unbiased and shy away from sensation. The last issue, for example, had a plethora of good news and I'm going to be highlighting some of their stories over the next week or so. This, by the way, keeps my promise to put up more world news content as well:)

The first one that caught my eye was this story on poverty. I had to read it twice before I believed that it was real. Extreme poverty in the world has been...cut by half?!?

In fact, the rate of decline in extreme poverty everywhere in the world has more than doubled in the past decade, Ravallion says. That's after adjusting for China, whose sheer size makes it an outlier.

Simply amazing.

Now, the article does go on to say that there is still a great deal of poverty in the world but we are heading in the right direction. With the changes seen in China (as noted in the article), the direction we are heading as a world is very, very positive. In fact, I think the prediction that Bono made a year or two ago is going to come true: within 50 years, there will be no more hunger on this planet. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, there will be no going back to "Live Aid" days. (Note: this includes climate change, incidentally, which is actually quite "foreseen" and will be eventually dealt with in an appropriate fashion).

So, why has this happened? Well, mainly, it's because of us. Our country has spread prosperity around the world in the form of liberal economic theory. Communism is gone and capitalism and free markets are spreading everywhere. If countries don't want to be a part of this (and there aren't many left out there), they will find themselves on the outside. Our new world certainly is not perfect and we have had some growing pains but the increased prosperity has no other explanation. Everyone on the planet wants an iPhone.

And, as the countries of the world begin to need less aid, we are going to see greater wealth in the Global North countries. In fact, my children will likely live in a time where there will be no delineation between the Global North and the Global South.

It's simply going to be Planet Earth.

Monday, December 12, 2011


My main source of news, The Christian Science Monitor, recently posted a wonderful summation of the EuroZone economic crisis. As is often the case with the CSM, their analysis is thoughtful and well balanced. Let's take a look at the five graphics they provided. First we have the shadow economy graphic.
When nearly a quarter of your economy is untaxed (as is the case with Greece and Italy), you're going to have problems. Couple this with all the tax evasion that goes on in Greece, for example, and it's both a revenue and spending problem. Next up we have the export issue.

Germany is obviously the behemoth here. Greece is the lowest which is another explanation as to why they are in so much trouble. They aren't selling anything in the global marketplace. To put it simply, they aren't competing. Of course, we also have the issue of public sector size.

And the issue of deficit spending as a percentage of GDP.

Note here the stability of Germany. Finally, we have the main thing that the right in this country focuses on nearly to a fault.

My main point in showing all of these graphics is to stress that it is the summation of all five of these issues (plus interest rates, of course) that is causing the problem. To say that it's simply an issue of spending is ridiculous. Germany, for example has fairly high debt as percentage of GDP but their deficit spending is low and their exports are high. Their shadow economy is much lower as well.

So, it's the whole meal and not just the salad.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Temporarily Inconvenienced Millionaires

Yesterday, the Patriotic Millionaires, a growing group of wealthy individuals who are demanding that Congress raise their taxes, went to Congress and pestered the offices of Senators John Kyl, R-AZ, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Reps. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader, Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., and Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., assistant democratic leader.

They were led by entrepreneur and former AOL exec Charlie Fink who apparently didn't get the memo that innovators and the wealthy are under attack by vicious government regulators and idiotic moochers all bent on taking the fruits of their hard earned labor with the butt of a gun. Shit, man, didn't this Fink guy see what happened to Steve Jobs and Apple? The US federal government destroyed him.

Fink, who lives in Washington, D.C., said if the Bush tax cuts do not expire, the country "is digging itself a big hole by foregoing revenue." "Without revenue, we will never solve the problem by giving tax cuts to the wealthy while supporting two foreign wars," he said.

Patriotic Millionaire Robert Johnson, former chief economist of the U.S Senate banking committee, said that the current economic system is not broken, but it is "working on behalf of those who designed it in their favor."

"America is no longer based on markets and capitalism, instead our economy is designed as 'socialism for the rich' – it is designed to ensure that the wealthiest people take all of the gains, while regular Americans cover any losses," he said at a press conference this afternoon in Washington, D.C.

"It's a Las Vegas economy where regular Americans put their money on the table and the richest 1 percent own the house," he said. "And if the 1 percent happen to lose money, the 99 percent bails them out – covers their losses and then stands by watching while the house does it all over again."

Amen, brother.

Of course, the response to these simple facts usually consists of any or all of four of the following. First, the wealthy pay more than half of the total taxes. Second, their portion or responsibility of total revenue has doubled over the last 30 years. Third, half of Americans pay no taxes. Fourth, the wealthy pay a higher ratio of taxes paid to income earned than any other country.

All of their points are true but, as is usually the case, they leave out information and don't tell the whole story. A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor explains all of this in a very balanced way. Here are four graphics that take a serious and critical look at the whole picture.

In looking at all of this information, it's obvious that the various cheerleaders for the wealthy (or at least only some of them now that Buffet and the PMs are out lobbying to have their taxes raised) are not being honest. No one is denying that the half of the story they are telling is true. It's the other half that brings out the technicolor and shows us that we have some very serious problems with the way our country is being run by both public and private leaders. As Mr. Johnson said above, it's "socialism for the rich" and no longer capitalism. But why is it this way? How can people (and I'm speaking specifically of a few my regular commenters here in addition to the 40 percent of this country who votes GOP) who aren't wealthy continue to support Bizarro Capitalism? Sadly, the answer is simple.

Because they view themselves as temporarily inconvenienced millionaires.