“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Michelle Chen: How Humanitarian Aid Weakened Post-Earthquake Haiti
More than four years after Port-au-Prince crumbled to the ground, last month’s meeting with a delegation from the American Chamber of Commerce seemed to mark Haiti’s steady new pathway to recovery. Business elites posed for photo-ops and affirmed President Michel Martelly’s goal to “make Haiti an emerging country by 2030.”
Elsewhere on the island, tens of thousands had yet to emerge from the ruins of the 2010 earthquake and were clustered in makeshift encampments, still frozen in the aftermath of the catastrophe.
It was on behalf of these Haitians that human rights activist Antonal Mortime paid a visit to Washington, DC, the same week that the AmCham shmoozed in the Haitian capital. In collaboration with the American Jewish World Service, he came to tell US activists that Western aid efforts had harmed far more than they had helped. More than four years since Haiti was flooded by aid money, the chaotic rebuilding effort has widened the country’s social rifts, bringing the first emancipated black republic under the yoke of a new kind of imperialism.
Amy B. Dean: Free-riding on the labor movement
American communities depend on collective action. Fire and police departments are great examples: They can function successfully because all of us pay in – not only those whose houses have burned down or been burglarized.
These institutions work on the principle that the most effective way to protect individual interests is for all to contribute a little for the common benefit. When someone doesn’t contribute, everyone suffers. If someone didn’t want to chip in for firefighters or police officers but still expected the benefits of these collective protections, they would be considered freeloaders, and their behavior would be rightly vilified.
Yet when it comes to the labor movement, free-riding is exactly the response that conservatives are encouraging.
Hong Kong is a sideshow in Beijing’s main act: securing its status as a rising superpower.
Hong Kongers are used to being a pawn in the game of superpowers. In 1997, Britain handed the city over to China under the “one country two systems” principle leaving it “Special Administrative Region” status. The principle was enshrined in the Basic Law, the legal framework for how Hong Kong would be governed from that point on.
The recent ruling by the National People’s Congress (NPC) on the fate of Hong Kong is just a staging post in China’s advance to consolidate its status as rising superpower. The decision is best viewed through this lens. Hong Kong is a sideshow in the main act: President Xi Jinping’s ambition to cement China’s economic and geopolitical stature as a superpower.
With the bank’s policy taking cues from the financial industry, a vocal citizenry must push back to sustain growth
The media often cover debates over Federal Reserve Board policy as though it is arcane and technical subject matter beyond the understanding of ordinary people. In this context we are supposed to take the statements of Fed officials as though they are pronouncements from Dr. Science, who “knows more than you do.”
In reality, the basics of Fed policymaking are fairly straightforward. The main question the Fed is considering right now is whether it should have its foot on the accelerator to try to promote growth and jobs, or alternatively whether it should have its foot on the brake to try to stop inflation. In the latter case, the economy will grow less rapidly and we will have fewer jobs and higher unemployment.
Richard Brodsky: Cuomo Wins!/Loses!
Conventional political wisdom has New York Governor Andrew Cuomo winning the Democratic primary and the November general election handily. The same wisdom has him badly damaged in New York and nationally. What gives?
The objective measures of political success show Cuomo on a roll. He’s raised over $35 million. His opponents are starving. His poll numbers are good. Most voters don’t know the opposition. He’s dominated the political news as a candidate in the same manner that he dominated the government.
That may be the rub. His political operation was never satisfied with winning. Opposition was to be crushed and the methodologies were simple and punishing. It worked. Republicans voted for gay marriage and gun control. Democrats folded to an austerity economic agenda that cut taxes for the rich, cut spending, and gave billions to corporations as “economic development.”
Should we really get mad if our representatives spend too much time in Washington, where they’re supposed to be doing their jobs?
This year, not one, but two, incumbent senators up for re-election have been dogged by the “issue” of the precise location where they rest their heads at the end of a weary day of lawmaking. First it was Republican Pat Roberts, who, we learned in February, lists the home of some friends as his official residence in Kansas; apparently he crashes there when he’s in the state. And now it’s Democrat Mary Landrieu, whose heretofore unimpeachable Louisiana roots (her father Moon was the mayor of New Orleans in the 1970s, and her brother Mitch holds that office today) are now being questioned. It seems that although Landrieu owns a home in Washington, she’s registered to vote in the New Orleans house she grew up in, where her parents still reside (even though it’s technically owned by Mary and her eight siblings, all of whose names begin with “M”-make of that what you will).
The opposition researchers have certainly been earning their keep. But should the rest of us care? The easy answer is, of course not; this is the kind of inane faux-controversy that consumes campaigns, where one side pretends to take umbrage at something with no importance, then the press pretends it means something because a candidate is “on the defensive.” But as far as phony issues go, this one is actually revealing-not because of anything it says about the senators, but because of what it says about the often absurd and contradictory expectations we have of our representatives. We berate them for being lazy and not getting enough done, but at the same time, we get mad if they spend too much time in the place where they’re supposed to be working