Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
September 16, 2022
Recently, President Biden asked a very good and important question “What the hell is the matter with us?” But Biden did not provide a real pathway forward! As of now, probably no one can offer any silver bullet for the US so that all the troubles will go away soon! First of all, the US decline does not happen overnight! Second, US domestic challenges are enormous. Unfortunately, there is no serious efforts to heal and re-unite the nation. Rather, US politicians are taking more and more polarized positions against each other for the benefit of staying power!
US does not need any “global ranking” to realize that we are becoming a “developing country.” We live trough it everyday and night: gun violence, staggering number of homeless people, grand standing by politicians all the time at every level, the sense of hopeless: what should we do? How can I help? Obviously, US should focus on resolving domestic challenges first, rather than being a full-time sheriff for the world!
It is a contrast of idealism against reality. Somehow, many in the US have lost confidence or forget the true spirit of this great nation. So, blaming foreign powers for challenging the US value and global influence is fashionable or routine. But if we look at US ranking that we are already a “developing country” behind many other nations, who will bother on challenging a downhill US? Specifically, the US is facing genuine domestic challenges, no foreign power will bother to invade and occupy the US anytime soon!
Still, US foreign policy becomes reactive rather than proactive. For example, the justification becomes that if the US does not spend more money on national defense than our national security will be in danger. No mater our defense budget is already much more than China and Russia, our main perceived rivalries, combined.
Then, to contain China, Biden administration is allocating billions of dollars for re-building US high-tech dominance such as microchips. With unlimited funding, isolated infrastructure such as airports can be refurbished quickly. But real high technology infrastructures such as world class high-speed rail, 5G and beyond, space explorations, anti-climate change measures need global cooperations. It is impractical that any nation, including the US, to suggest that it has enough resources to develop/dominate all technology and innovations. The world will be a much better place when we realize that we can work with each other rather than fighting with each other all the time.
US Is Becoming A ‘Developing Country’ On Global Rankings That Measure Democracy, Inequality
Kathleen Frydl, Sachs Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University
Thu, September 15, 2022 at 5:18 AM
The United States may regard itself as a “leader of the free world,” but an index of development released in July 2022 places the country much farther down the list.
In its global rankings, the United Nations Office of Sustainable Development dropped the U.S. to 41st worldwide, down from its previous ranking of 32nd. Under this methodology – an expansive model of 17 categories, or “goals,” many of them focused on the environment and equity – the U.S. ranks between Cuba and Bulgaria. Both are widely regarded as developing countries.
The U.S. is also now considered a “flawed democracy,” according to The Economist’s democracy index.
As a political historian who studies U.S. institutional development, I recognize these dismal ratings as the inevitable result of two problems. Racism has cheated many Americans out of the health care, education, economic security and environment they deserve. At the same time, as threats to democracy become more serious, a devotion to “American exceptionalism” keeps the country from candid appraisals and course corrections.
‘The other America’
The Office of Sustainable Development’s rankings differ from more traditional development measures in that they are more focused on the experiences of ordinary people, including their ability to enjoy clean air and water, than the creation of wealth.
So while the gigantic size of the American economy counts in its scoring, so too does unequal access to the wealth it produces. When judged by accepted measures like the Gini coefficient, income inequality in the U.S. has risen markedly over the past 30 years. By the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s measurement, the U.S. has the biggest wealth gap among G-7 nations.
These results reflect structural disparities in the United States, which are most pronounced for African Americans. Such differences have persisted well beyond the demise of chattel slavery and the repeal of Jim Crow laws.
Scholar W.E.B. Du Bois first exposed this kind of structural inequality in his 1899 analysis of Black life in the urban north, “The Philadelphia Negro.” Though he noted distinctions of affluence and status within Black society, Du Bois found the lives of African Americans to be a world apart from white residents: a “city within a city.” Du Bois traced the high rates of poverty, crime and illiteracy prevalent in Philadelphia’s Black community to discrimination, divestment and residential segregation – not to Black people’s degree of ambition or talent.
More than a half-century later, with characteristic eloquence, Martin Luther King Jr. similarly decried the persistence of the “other America,” one where “the buoyancy of hope” was transformed into “the fatigue of despair.”
To illustrate his point, King referred to many of the same factors studied by Du Bois: the condition of housing and household wealth, education, social mobility and literacy rates, health outcomes and employment. On all of these metrics, Black Americans fared worse than whites. But as King noted, “Many people of various backgrounds live in this other America.”
The benchmarks of development invoked by these men also featured prominently in the 1962 book “The Other America,” by political scientist Michael Harrington, founder of a group that eventually became the Democratic Socialists of America. Harrington’s work so unsettled President John F. Kennedy that it reportedly galvanized him into formulating a “war on poverty.”
Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, waged this metaphorical war. But poverty bound to discrete places. Rural areas and segregated neighborhoods stayed poor well beyond mid-20th-century federal efforts.
Biden slams state of US airports, promises more airline regulations
Once famous — or perhaps infamous — for his comments as vice president likening New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to something seen in a “third world country,” President Joe Biden held the airport up as an example of progress Monday, while offering a sobering — if less rhetorically pointed — assessment of airports and air travel in America.
“It’s turning into a world-class airport again,” Biden said of LaGuardia while contrasting the airport and its recent multibillion-dollar makeover with other terminals across the country in a speech that also saw him celebrate what he called a “crackdown” of his administration on airlines.
“Today, not a single, solitary American airport — not one — ranks in the top 25 of the world,” Biden said. “What the hell is the matter with us?”
The president’s comments came at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), which is set to get $62 million for improvements as part of the 2021 federal infrastructure bill; the largest piece of the funding the Federal Aviation Administration earmarked for airport terminal upgrades this summer.
At Logan, the money will go toward expanding and improving the baggage claim, ticket counters, gates and jet bridges inside Terminal E, the international terminal, in hopes of easing overcrowding — a problem, Biden argued, that has helped fuel the sort of issues with which passengers grew all too accustomed in recent months.
“It means crowded gates, longer taxi times, airplanes full of passengers just waiting, all of which is causing congestion and flight delays,” he said.
Bottom of Form
In a speech ostensibly about infrastructure, that comment proved to be a segue of sorts into the latest round of criticism of airlines.