Wednesday Water Cooler
US Disengagement Would Be Dangerous
Michael Gerson, a former Bush speech writer and Washington Post columnist, warns against a growing movement in US foreign policy away from engagement and intervention.
Rising radicalism in the Middle East and the ongoing threats posed by nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea “would seem to require expanded, sophisticated American engagement to shape an economic and security environment favorable to our long-term interests.” But this is not what is being suggested by the Obama administration and segments of the Republican Party led by Sen. Rand Paul.
“A nation that is economically stagnant, weighed down by debt, politically congested, militarily retrenching and conflicted about its global role is not becoming safer in the process. These trends feed our rivals’ destabilizing dreams of global realignment. This, in the long run, invites challenges we might have avoided,” writes Gerson.
In Globalized World, A Trend Towards “Going Local”
In an age of increased globalization that permits individuals to sate their immediate needs with the click of a button, there is a growing trend toward local commerce.
John Yemma of the Christian Science Monitor says localism began to emerge across cities where “residents began to care about the community around them instead of just launching away on their morning commutes and reentering their neighborhoods at night.”
Although “large box” stores like Wal-Mart and Target offered greater bargains than the neighborhood store, Yemma attributes the allure to the patron’s belief that a local store “contributes to the fabric of life and is worth patronizing.”
Are Economists Natural Egalitarians?
Economic blogger and MSNBC contributor Tyler Cowen posits that all economists may not be created equally, but most share the same egalitarian approach to economic theory and, contrary to popular perceptions, at its core economics is a profession deeply shaped by an egalitarian viewpoint.
He contends economic analysis often “encourages a cosmopolitan interest in natural equality” that is based on an assumption “that all individuals are motivated by rational self-interest” and, therefore must be treated as individuals in theoretical constructs.
Cowen believes the egalitarian nature comes through clearly where the debate of immigration is concerned.
“The nation-state is a good practical institution, but it does not provide the final moral delineation of which people count and which do not. So commentators on trade and immigration should stress the cosmopolitan perspective, knowing that the practical imperatives of the nation-state will not be underrepresented in the ensuing debate.”
He concludes, noting that economists spend too much time debating and “too often forget that we are part of this broader battle of ideas, and that we are winning some enduring victories.”