The American Character

Progress of America by Domenico Tojetti

“Obama’s popular narrative, and the way he has told it, promises to revive interest in what scholars term American exceptionalism — the idea that the American story is somehow unique. Attempts to define that quality have led foreigners to these shores, generated countless commentaries, and after World War II helped give rise to an entire academic discipline — American studies. But the topic has been notably out of fashion in the scholarly world. Now, from the well-known historian Simon Schama, we have a new, contrarian view that looks at what’s unique in the American character, putting our past in the context of the election of the new president we are just inaugurating.” via ChronicleReview.com.


The Lie We Love

“Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. But more often than not, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt. There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.”

via Foreign Policy.


Lebensraum, 21st Century Style

Seoul is a leading financial center in Asia an...Seoul, Korea

“Rich countries launch great land grab to safeguard food supply: Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of “neo-colonialism”, with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second “scramble for Africa“. This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.”

via Guardian.UK


Emperor-Without-Clothes Dept.

Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882–January 18, 1949)...Charles PonziCogent explanation of my sentiments, that the economy is a Ponzi scheme and the bailout only helps the bloodsuckers at the top.

“The worst thing a doctor can do to a critically ill person is gloss over their condition and offer false reassurances. We need to know the realities to make the decisions which will affect our very survival…

…[a] contextual framework for capitalism (markets only allowed to go up variety), globalization, the loss of purchasing power and … the “exponential expansion of debt” which has acted as the worm-ridden foundation of this decade’s bogus “prosperity.” ” (Of Two Minds)


Will globalization be reversed?

Anti-globalisation protesters in Edinburgh
at the start of the G8 summit
It had occurred to me that the anti-globalization movement might be strengthened by the current finance crisis. Good to see that someone who might know a little more about macroeconomics has been thinking along the same lines: “Global integration, in large part, has been about the triumph of markets over governments. That process is now being reversed in three important ways.” (Dani Rodrik’s weblog: )