Page 1

Review the horace mann

Domestic - International - Features - Economics - Science & Technology - Viewpoints

American Influence United Nations p. 20 Innovation p. 28

Middle East p. 12

Environment p. 36 Social Issues p. 4 Capitalism p. 44


The Horace Mann Review: Issue 8

American Influence Features:

Domestic: Social Issues

5 One Gun Too Many byphillip lin

The United Nations

21 The Human Right by alex posner

Economics: Innovation

28 Operating on

Innovation

by alexander daniel

6 The Right Side of

32 The Apple Effect

Immigration

by stephen paduano

by edward grafstein

8 What Type of Change?

by emily Feldstein

10 Why US? by harry manin

24 The Unofficial Charter of the

United Nations

34 World Wide War

by jasmine mariano

International: Middle East

26 Restructure by justin bleuel

13 Into One War, Out of by vivianna lin

46 Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of

Proliferation

Capitalism

16 A Strained Partnership

48 The Reform America Needs

by Mathieu rolfo

by susannah cohen

Science and Technology: Environment

Viewpoints: Capitalism

the Other

14 Nuclear Non-

by jordan berman

by samantha rahmin

by justin burris

36 A Global Warning by Nathan raab

39 A Cleaner Industry by alex familant

18 Instability in the

Middle East

by Jordan berman

2

50 Socialist Ideals in a Capitalist

Society

by rebecca segall

40 Pollution: Dirty Politics on the Hill

by zoe rubin

HM Review Vol. XIX


:

cs

Goodbye from the Editor The Horace Mann Review Volume XIX , Issue 8 A Journal of Opinion on Current Events, Politics, Public Policy, and Culture

A Special Goodbye from the Seniors

Missing below: Daniel Grafstein, Will Dubbs, Aylin Gucalp and photographer Camille Knop.

Kevin Lin Editor-in-Chief

Nicholas Herzeca

Jason Sunshine Executive Editor

Henry Hoglund Nancy DaSilva Spencer Penn Dan Shapiro Features Editor James Yaro Dan Temel Aradhna Agarwal Starlyte Harris Will Dubbs Editorial Director Production Manager

Alex Falk

Managing Editor

Jordan Federer Freddie Adler Antonia Woodford Ben Marks Mario Alvarez Eric Schwartz Business Manager Hill Wyrough Senior Columnists

Camille Knop Aylin Gucalp Photo Editor

Board of Trustees Maximilian D.C. Thompson, Zachary Freyer-Biggs, Charles Stam, Kunal Malkani, Venkat Kausik, Zachary Malter Associate Editors Aaron Goldman, Andrew Demas, Daniel Grafstein, Danielle Ellison, Deependra Mookim, Justin Katiraei, Victor Ladd Production Assistants Seth Arar, Elisabeth Stam Staff Writers Adela Kim, Alexander Familant, Alex Ma, Andre Manuel, Avital Morris, Christine Kim, Dorin Azerad, Emily Feldstein, Jacob Moscona-Skolnik, Jessica Chi, Justin Burris, Katie Cacouris, Matt Fox, Rebecca Segall, Wallace Cotton, Zander Daniel, Zoe Rubin Contributing Writers Hannah Jun, Nathan Raab, Stephen Paduano, Alex Posner, Greg Barancik, Jessica Bernheim Faculty Advisors Mr. Gregory Donadio The Horace Mann Review is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the American Scholastic Press Association, and the National Scholastic Press Association. Opinions expressed in articles or illustrations are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board or of the Horace Mann School. Please contact The Review for information on advertisements at thereview@horacemann.org. Visit The Review website at: web.horacemann.org/review/

March 2010 HM Review

Dear Reader and the board of the Horace Mann Review, It has been quite a ride this year, from start to finish. I am certain that I speak on behalf of the seniors on the Horace Mann Review when I say that it has been a pleasure and a learning experience to work with you all this year, staff writers, associate editors and contributors alike. I first began working on the Review three years ago, as a writer, like many of you. And over these three years, I had an experience at the Review that was professional, nurturing and unlike any other that I could find in Horace Mann or any other high school in the country. Where else could I stay late into the night proofreading articles, learning new facts and new positions each month? Where else could such a dynamic, diverse and opinionated group come together to produce something together, to work toward a common goal? Where else could one find an environment where students are both mentors and pupils, teaching one another expression, design,

layout? Now, with less than a month left before graduation, I leave both hopeful and wistful hopeful to be placing the Review in such capable hands, and wistful of my time leading this wonderful team of writers, editors, leaders. Thus, it brings me great pleasure to present to you the junior issue of the Horace Mann Review, arguably the best production we have had this year. All of the associate editors have had the freedom to plan and execute their sections according to their own visions, and what results is the magazine that you hold in your hands. I congratulate all of the writers, staff and contributors, and I applaud everyone who has worked to make Volume XIX of the Review so stellar. Good job, eveyone, and for the last time, I wish you a happy reading.

Kevin Lin Editor-in-Chief Volume XIXv 3


Domestic If It’s BROK E N Fix It Introduction: We focus on many of the social problems that plague the American public at home and their influence abroad. All of the pieces in this section zero in on a moral dillemma, and explain how, if at all, it is being dealt with. They also argue what the government’s obligation is to the people of its nation. In this section, one can read about a large range of topics. From gun control to immigration to a unique trip through the history of social reform in our country through an analysis of the plight of LGBT movement, there is definitely something for everyone. As a whole, our mission is to inform our readers of the problems and to offer practical methods of solving them. Lastly, I want to thank all the writers, editors, and advisors whom I have worked with during the production of this section. I hope everyone enjoys browsing through. gearthblog.com

4

HM Review Vol. XIX


log.com

Domestic

One Gun Too Many by philip lin

The most underestimated domestic problem in the United States is gun control. With minority gangs endlessly on the rise, and with white supremacy membership resurging, can America afford to proceed into the future with such relaxe gun laws? There are those who say that the constitution protects American citizens from becoming victim to an absolute ban on the possession of firearms. This is also part of the conflict; the conservatives of America wring their hands at the lack of gun control, while the expansionists, people who want to interpret the constitution more freely, feel as though gun control is too stringent. There is no easy way to solve this issue. A complete ban is not realistic, and in the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia versus Heller, the Supreme Court actually ruled that it is unconstitutional to enact an absolute ban on firearms, because the second amendment of the constitution distinctly states the right to bear arms. This is where the problem stems from. True, it is unconstitutional to ban all handguns. There are times when a person really needs a gun—whether it be to defend one’s family from a burglar, or shoot at someone trying to kill them in a dark alleyway. On the other hand, this amendment does not completely justifies citizens; walking around with handguns, as many anti-gun-control enthusiasts did so in a recent upheaval of gun control. Just this year, Starbucks issued a statement allowing firearms to be openly carried into and out of stores. This is a window of opportunity for people to commit all sorts of crimes and then utilize this dearth of gun control as an excuse for committing murder. In conjunction with this troubling new decline of gun control, white supremacy groups are on the rise. From 2001 until2007, white supremacy numbers were at an all time low. In 2005, there were under 50 groups in the entire US. After the horrific events of 9/11 and the beginning of the US invasion of Iraq, supremacy groups were momentarily comatose, as the world April 2010 HM Review

newscientist

shifted its attention to discriminating against Muslims. Then, in 2008, Obama ran for president, which was the equivalent

of dumping kerosene onto a still smoldering fireplace. The old hatred between whites and blacks rekindled, membership of white supremacy groups exploded, and in 2009, nearly 150 supremacy groups were registered inside the US. The real threat is that these groups are changing their tactics to be more efficient and radical, and the Starbucks gun law will only provide a fuel source for this internal fire. In fact, just weeks ago, a white supremacy group, Hutaree, based in the outskirts of Michigan, was discovered and incarcerated. Nine members were charged with seditious conspiracy, as they had drawn up intricate plans to spark a war against the government by killing local cops. While this does not seem to have much to do with gun control, imagine what would happen if a band of Hutaree members walked into a Starbucks store, where a few police officers waiting in line for some coffee. Under Starbuck’s openly-carryfirearms statement, the Hutaree members could walk in and shoot the police officers, offer some bogus reason for doing so, and not be charged for unlawful firearm posses-

a

sion. The US needs to clean up this volatile mess before it reaches a breaking point and starts getting out of control. First, Starbucks must repeal its openly-carry-firearms statement. Next, the US needs to issue out much more stringent rules to gun stores and illegal gun trafficking. The Mexico-US border wall would have been a serious deterrent to illegal arms trade, which would significantly reduce the number of murders committed because of availability of weapons on the black market. The easiest way to increase gun control is to enact rules on gun sellers. One of the most troubling factors in this situation is that many criminals, knowing they will be recognized and tagged if they enter gun shops asking to buy weapons, will use an intermediary— a person with a clean criminal record who is looking for some easy money. Stores need to run much more stringent background checks; not just whether the person has a clean criminal record, but where they live, and ultimately, why they want a gun. To add on to this, the sales of weapons to people who want a gun purely for aesthetic purposes or for the pleasure of owning a gun should be banned entirely. This would severely deter intermediaries, because without a sound reason for buying weapon, they should not be sold one. The only way to maintain the country’s status as a role model is to first quell the conflicts brewing on the inside. HMR

5


Domestic

The Right Side of Immigration Lee Pretti

A

by edward grafstein

n estimated 11 million people currently reside illegally in the United States of America. At a time of sharp political disagreements in this country, the question of what to do about illegal immigration threatens to become a divisive issue that could further polarize our national politics. In this light, it is worth asking what can we agree about, but also what principles we must keep in mind when formulating an effective solution to this serious social problem. In April, the Arizona state legislature passed a bill that makes it a state crime to be in the US illegally. It also requires local police to determine the immigration status of anyone an officer suspects of being in the country without proper documentation, allows for legal action to be taken against government agencies that hamper the enforcement of immigration laws, and outlaws the hiring or transport of illegal aliens. The bill is intended to strengthen the laws of the state and provide security within its borders, according to Arizona governor Jan Brewer. It was passed in response to skyrocketing rates of gang violence and drug trafficking related to illegal crossings of the border. However, the bill has met strong opposition, with hundreds of protesters congregating around the Arizona Capitol on the day of its signing. President Barack Obama made very clear his opinion of what is now the toughest state immigration law in the

6

nation. Hours before the bill was signed into law, Obama singled out the Arizona measure as undermining the “basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.” He also warned that without federal immigration reform the problem would continue to grow worse and open the door to further “misguided efforts” by state legislatures. Obama is expected to push for reform in the near future and likely plans to offer a way for certain illegal aliens to be granted amnesty. Democratic leaders have discussed taking up the issue this year, but after the hard-fought battle over healthcare, it may prove too difficult to get another highly controversial bill through Congress before the upcoming November congressional elections. It is clear that these arguments define sharp disagreements over the issue. However, far too rarely do we frame the areas on which all Americans should be able to agree, whether Democrat or Republican. First of all, the US must reduce the volume of illegal immigration as well as the number of undocumented aliens within its borders. Labor unions are increasingly concerned with the downward wage pressure caused by desperate migrants’ willing to work for a fraction of what an average American citizen would earn for the same jobs. In addition, with the vast unemployment caused by the recent recession, jobs that were once undesirable to Americans have become much less so. Also, Republicans and Demo-

crats alike are alarmed by the strain put on schools, hospitals, and other public services in high-traffic areas at a time of budget shortfalls. Because they are not legally permitted to be in the country, illegal immigrant families are reluctant to fill out the census, which skews the data used to decide federal funding for a given district. This can greatly increase the class sizes in schools and lengthen waits in the emergency room. Perhaps the most pressing matter is the security threat posed by the huge population of unknown immigrants. Some border towns in the southwest are virtually under siege by drug cartels and gang violence, bringing with them an astonishing amount of kidnappings and murders. The United States also needs to improve the legal immigration bureaucratic procedures. If the process by which one becomes naturalized can be made quicker and more efficient, the incentive for illegal immigration would be greatly reduced. The application mechanism for refugee status or political asylum can be long and arduous; streamlining it could not only save people who are persecuted in their home country, but will also discourage these people from entering unlawfully. Obama’s cutting of the border fence funding in his budget has made it easier for the hundreds of illegal aliens that cross the border each day. If the system for legal immigration is to preserve its integrity, we should not hesitate to take HM Review Vol. XIX


Domestic

Pretti

measures that reduce the flow of illegal activity. Another area for consensus ought to be our focus on humane treatment of the children of illegal aliens—many of whom have known no life outside the United States and cannot be held fully accountable for the decisions of their parents. In addition, many illegal immigrants are integrated into our economy already. If deported, many of these undocumented immigrants would have nowhere to go despite having lived here and taken part in many aspects of American society. While it is necessary to consider the welfare of all these people when reforming immigration laws, we cannot simply forget that they are indeed in this country illegally. The harsh truth is that they have willingly broken the law and from the earliest days of our Constitution

April 2010 HM Review

America has always tried to live up to the ideal of the rule of law. We have absolutely no obligation as a nation to offer illegal immigrants the same basic civil rights as either citizens or legally naturalized immigrants. Otherwise our entire process for granting citizenship would be a sham. Undocumented workers cannot logically expect the same protections or taxpayer-supported welfare benefits when the vast majority of them do not pay taxes. By voluntarily crossing the border and disregarding the law, they are effectively refusing to acknowledge the fundamental legal authority governing the United States. Offering “blanket amnesty” would not only weaken the nation economically, but would send a horrible message to the rest of the world. However controversial Arizona’s new immigration law might be, it garners 70%

support at the polls in the state for a reason. It is a tough law for tough times but reflects a context of growing concern that our politicians have ignored in an effort to avoid hard choices. Ultimately we should at least seek to enact reforms to address problems we can all identify. Our inability to stop all illegal immigration cannot be an excuse to ignore it completely—especially if we pride ourselves on being a nation of laws as well as a nation of immigrants. HMR

7

DC Pages


Domestic

by emily feldstein

T

8

What Type Of

the inspiration room

he United States has been trapped in a cycle. We vacillate between moral apathy and activism. Reforms are driven by reactivity, not proactivity. In an attempt to find balance, we have been playing a game of catch up, falling first into a time of disinterest and then into one of compensation. It is vital that we break the cycle and ensure that we constantly consider the importance of social issues. To determine the solution, we first must critically consider the problem. Take, for example, two important epochs in American history, the Gilded Age (1877-1900) and the Progressive Era (1901-1919). The Gilded Age was a time renown for its opulence and its corruption. Corporate interests dominated every sphere of life, including politics. With the backing of the federal government, industrial leaders were able to suppress the voice of the unions, who believed that big business was exploiting workers. The Pullman Railraod Strike in 1894 epitomized the clash between government and labor. Railroads cut wages but still provided returns to their investors, raising the fire of the railroad workers. They striked, paralyzing the railway system of the country. Ultimately, President Grover Cleveland called in the federal troops to break the strike. Compare that to the Progressive Era, which directly followed the Gilded Age.

Soon after becoming president, President Theodore Roosevelt exemplified the new approach to labor. He intervented on behalf of the workers in the Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902. This departure from anti-union policies of the previous era emphasizes the radical shift in governmental policy toward labor. The Progressive Era was clearly the backlash to the Gilded Age. People attempted to right the wrongs of the previous time. The Gilded Age and the Progressive

? Era are only two periods in American history. I said that we were trapped in a cycle. It stands to reason, then, that the backlash effect was not limited to one time period. Let’s take the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement as an example. At the beginning of the 20th century, homosexuality was just becoming an issue in the U.S. It was not met with much support. In fact, men were arrested for just being gay. Over ten men were jailed

HM Review Vol. XIX


?

Domestic

for supposed sexual misconduct in Portland, Oregon in 1912. This “scandal” ended up dying down, but it did cause a harshening of many of the sodomy laws in the U.S. It is clear that at the dawn of the new century the outlook for LGBT rights did not look good. In stark contrast, the 1920s were a much more liberal time. “Pansy” clubs operated openly. Actors could be in openly gay relationships. Even songs and movies referenced the new acceptance of people who were gay. “Girls were girls and boys were boys when I was a tot, now we don’t know who’s who, even what’s what!” This song, “Masculine Women, Feminine Men,” underscores the tolerance in this time. After the Era of Wonderful Nonsense, there was a shift away from some of its policies. Homosexuality was declared to be a mental disorder. Young police officers would go undercover to catch gay men. It was a time in which one had to be silent about one’s sexuality. The extreme of this conservatism occurred overseas. Many people were labelled “homosexual” and summarily executed during the Holocaust in Germany. This silence was broken by the 1960s. Again, we can see the backlash to the actions of the previous era, especially the Holocaust which was so reviled. The LGBT rights movement took off. Illionis repealed its sodomy law in 1961, then Connecticut followed suit in 1969, followed by over twenty states in the next twenty years. The Stonewall Riots of 1969, when activists took to the streets in major cities to protest a police raid of a gay bar, really catapulted the LGBT rights movement to the significance it has now. Even in the 1970s, the liberal thinking reigned. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association recognized the homophobia, not homosexuality, was the prevalent issue and removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases.

April 2010 HM Review

Unfortunately, the progress made in the 1960s and 1970s was undone by the 1980s. The downfall can be explained in three letters: HIV. Human immunodeficiency virus. The virus led to an epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This illness struck, seemingly coming out of nowhere. No one knew how it was spread; all they knew was that it was prevalent in the gay community. And so, homophobia took center stage amidst the fear of this devestating disease. In the 1990s and 2000s, there have been steps in the right direction. All anti-sodomy laws have been declared unconstitutional; there has been an increased emphasis on However, the LGBT movement has also suffered setbacks, such as the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy instigated in 1998 that ensured that American soldiers could not serve and be openly gay and Proposition 8, which added a amending California’s constitution to read: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” It is still undecided if our era will be a continuation of the eighties or a time of LGBT rights As can be seen with the LGBT movement, we are clearly trapped in a cycle, going through phases of apathy and activism. Rather than be victims of a pendulum effect, we must recognize that sometimes slow and steady progress is the best. It is certainly not efficient to attack an issue actively and then undo all progress in the following decade. We can learn a lesson from the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady can win the race. Undoubtedly, though, as the U.S., a country so proud of its ideals, we must push forward reform in terms of social issues. However, it is important to consider all views in order to find a happy medium that will acutally be successful. Believing in “freedom and jus-

tice for all,” isn’t enough. We must act on that principle, somehow, whether it is for women’s rights or human rights or workers’ rights. We can’t let fear of this cycle stop us from doing something. Above all, we must fight for what we believe in. Social reform comes in and out of vogue, but morality is always vital. The best way to avoid the cycle is to stick to our beliefs. What we believe is right doesn’t shift from decade to decade; the only thing that changes is what is being heard. To break the cycle, we must keep our voices raised. Only then will a balance be achieved. Only then can something truly productive be done. Only then will the cycle be broken. HMR

tellmichelle.com

9


Domestic

Why US?

2

U.S. Involvement in the Mexican Drug War

by harry manin

007 was a watershed year in what we now commonly refer to as the Mexican Drug War. It marked a shift from a mere squabble between more or less independent, rag tag smugglers and Mexican authorities to a cartelfueled, extremely dangerous international drug trade. 2500 Mexicans on both sides of the law were killed in 2007. By 2009, the civil war had claimed the lives of 8000 with no end to the bloody escalation in sight. Brutal assassinations ravage Mexico as eight major cartels compete for dominance. The cartels’ sheer size, combined with their use of sophisticated, military-styled weaponry, presents a grave threat to Mexico’s sovereignty. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that there are 100,000 insurgents in the two largest cartels alone. When one considers that the entire Mexican armed forces are comprised of a meager 130,000 active troops, it is no wonder that Mexican authorities feel increasingly threatened. Mexican Premier Felipe Calderón has repeatedly implored America for assistance in the extirpation of the cartels. He argues that America has enabled the cartels to succeed and, that therefore, American assistance in eradicating them is deserved. President Calderón’s appeals present interesting questions: Has America, indeed, fueled the growth of Mexican drug cartels? If so, how? Even if it can be demonstrated that America is culpable, do we necessarily have an obligation to assist? Mexican drug cartels are reliant on two things. The first, of course, is a market for product. According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “[Americans’] nearly insatiable desire for drugs fuels the cartels.” Further corroborating Mrs. Clinton’s assertion, the CIA contends that Americans consume more cocaine and marijuana than any other nation, and Mexican cartels have smuggled more cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine to the United States

10

than to any other “trading partner.” If we can take these assertions at face value, President Calderón has at least one substantiated reason to request American aid. The second requirement of a successful drug cartel is a steady flow of weaponry. The cartels’ arsenals grant them the terror-inducing strength needed to execute their illicit, cold-blooded operations. If a single entity, the U.S. for example, could be held accountable as the provider of the arms, it would add validity to President Calderon’s pleas. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, a subdivision of the Department of Justice, finds that 90% of confiscated weapons utilized by Mexican cartels originated in America. These include military-style assault weapons, most modified for automatic fire. In addition, the cartels have huge stockpiles of 50 caliber rifles capable of penetrating bulletproof glass and demobilizing lightly armored vehicles and aircraft. Highly destructive fragmentation grenades and rocket-propelled grenades have been utilized by the cartels as well. In conjunction with the rigorous training that cartel members undergo, the erstwhile banditos have morphed into organized paramilitaries that, in many respect, are more war-ready than the Mexican army itself. If America is both the biggest market for product and the biggest enabler of the cartels’ themselves, then she clearly has an obligation to support Mexico in toppling the monsters she helped to create. History has shown that it is folly to try to slake America’s thirst for the illicit product; the only realistic plan of attack is to eradicate the American-Mexican arms trade. America’s first step in achieving this goal is to improve the efficiency of the processing of confiscated arms. Presently, although the National Criminal Instant Background Check System (NICS) exists as a means to avoid the sale of firearms to criminals, no computer database manages to track the actual gun

sale, as pointed out by the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller. Therefore, cartels employ Americans to legally acquire weapons in so-called “straw-purchases.” Regulation of such transactions proves difficult as the buyer has a clean criminal record and acts as a proxy for the cartels. Upon confiscating the firearm, government agents must go on a paper chase to trace the weapon’s origin. The ATF has cited such investigations as taking upwards of two years to complete. Often, the weapon’s physical buyer and the cartel sponsor are not uncovered, only an innocent firearm salesmen. Just as the NICS provides prompt feedback, such a system must be utilized for tracking weapons sold. It would allow federal agents to easily determine the origin of confiscated arms and their buyer. Once the American who purchased the gun is in custody, ascertaining the sequence of events of the illicit transaction will be nearly foolproof. The installation of this system would prevent future straw-purchases and thus parry the American-Mexican firearms trade; rendering the cartels powerless. Undoubtedly, the Mexican cartels’ influence derives from their illicit use of military-styled weapons. Limiting American-Mexican gun smuggling would effectively squelch the cartels’ dominance and allow the Mexican military to regain control of the situation. The last thing America needs is a coup d’état on the Southern border. The U.S. must remember that Mexican Cartels present a significant danger to American security. Not only are the drugs inflicting harm on citizens, but also, the drug war has moved onto U.S. soil, endangering American lives. Twenty murders in the U.S. this year alone have been confirmed as the work of cartel-trained assassins. If the United States does not offer substantial aid to Mexico out of remorse or the Good Neighbor Policy, than she can at least acquiesce to President Calderón’s plea in order to protect the welfare of the American people and to maintain border security. HMR HM Review Vol. XIX


Domestic

40 billion Dollars of drugs from Mexico sent north each year

wordpress.com

15,000

scrapetv

Lives claimed by drug-related violence in Mexico over the last three years mexico institute

90 Percent of weapons intercepted in Mexico made in U.S.A

defense.gov

April 2010 HM Review

11


International

The Middle East In recent years the Middle East has been the primary stage for American foreign policy and conflict. Currently embroiled in unpopular wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Administration continues to be plagued by the debate of whether to carry on fighting against evasive terrorist groups. Amidst continuing conflict among Israel and its neighbors, the American government must decide whether to continue its historic unconditional support of the Jewish state or switch to more hardline policies. Hanging over the Middle East as well as the rest of the world is the threat of nuclear warfare, and the question of whether it is fair for some countries to be permitted to have nuclear programs while others are not. Finally, all this turmoil in the Middle East raises the question: how did it all start?

washingtonindependent

12

HM Review Vol. XIX


International

Into One War, Out of the Other

America’s Involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq

H

by vivianna lin

undreds of thousands of lives have been lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Beginning with the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom in which the United States invaded Iraq with the conviction that weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were in the region, America has occupied Iraq with the objective of institutionalizing a democracy for the Iraqis. However, seven years later, weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found. The war in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The war’s objective was to defeat Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Parts of Afghanistan remain under Taliban rule. But this insurgent group is slowly regaining power. Therefore troops deployed to Iraq should be redirected to Afghanistan. Quite a few of America’s allies, including France, Germany, New Zealand, and Canada, were strongly opposed to the invasion of Iraq. In accordance with their arguments, no evidence of WMDs in Iraq has surfaced. As a result, thenpresident George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May 2003, and the troops entered the military occupation phase. Since then, the conflict between U.S. troops and insurgents has deteriorated intro guerrilla warfare, roadside bombing, and suicide bombing. Death has been rampant on all sides. Since the start of the war, 4,400 Americans have died and over 30,000 have been wounded. Over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed in the fighting. There are also over 4.7 million refugees as a result of the military presence. Troops in Iraq could be used elsewhere instead, notably in Afghanistan, where we have clearer and more realistic goals. The loss of life in Iraq is tragic and unfortunately, pointless. Nevertheless, the U.S. has indeed aided the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government is transforming into a stable April 2010 HM Review

and secure democracy with the help of U.S. diplomats and advisors. On March 7th, 2010, a parliamentary election was held in Iraq, determining the 325 members of the Council of Representatives. The Iraqi National Movement, led by the former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, won 91 seats. Today’s Iraqi government is much improved from that of seven years ago. The Iraqi Transitional Government, established in 2005, has replaced the Iraqi Interim Government. The Iraqi government is focusing on reforming the country’s infrastructure and has strived to improve water and sanitation, food and humanitarian aid, and healthcare. However, the improvement of the Iraqi government should have been better planned and executed. If improving the Iraqi government had been our main focus, then we would have achieved much more with far less damage. What we hope for now is that all the lives lost will not be in vain, and that we can withdraw from Iraq having helped it evolve into a nation with freedom and a stable government. In February of 2009, President Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal plan from Iraq with 50,000 troops remaining in the country to train Iraqi police forces. General Ray Odierno said that he believes all troops will be out of Iraq by 2011. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that as of September 1, 2010, Operation New Dawn would replace Operation Iraqi Freedom. The plan is reasonable since the Iraqi police forces need to be trained. There should be no delays in executing Obama’s strategy. We cannot withdraw from Iraq immediately as leaving an untrained police force would be irresponsible. The circumstances of the War in Afghanistan are very different from those of the War in Iraq, but nonetheless, both situations have improved from the start of the war. The aims of the invasion of

Afghanistan were to eradicate Al-Qaeda, prevent its use of Afghan territory as a base of operations for terrorist activities, bring terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden to justice, and overthrow the Taliban. The initial attacks on the Taliban displaced its rule in Afghanistan, but the Taliban has once again regained strength through profits from the opium trade. The second operation of the War in Afghanistan was the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The ISAF was established to secure Kabul and the surrounding areas governed by the Taliban. On December 1, 2009, President Obama declared the addition of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan over a period of six months in order to safeguard the Afghan civilians and speed the training of the Afghan police forces. He also declared that troop withdrawal would begin in 2011. The main problem in Afghanistan right now is the weak and unstable government. The Taliban has gained support through Afghanis’ dissatisfaction with the fragile and often corrupt new government. In addition, President Hamid Karzai has said that Afghanistan will be unable to pay for its own security until at least 2024. Though the Afghan government is fraught with corruption, the U.S. must continue to support Afghanistan. Presently, the country’s new political system is young, and thus needs U.S. support so that it can mature to fruition. We must defeat the Taliban in order to keep AlQaeda in check in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The reign of the Taliban has brought only oppression to the Afghan people. The current government of Iraq is supposed to be a model for all the other Arab countries, including Afghanistan. Though the problem in Iraq is far from solved, the main issue for the American government right now is in Afghanistan, and that is where our efforts should be focused. HMR

13


International

Nuclear Non-Proliferation: A

T

by mathieu rolfo

his April has seen much development in the nuclear sphere, largely in reaction to American policy. The U.S. released the Nuclear Posture Review of 2010, which re-evaluated current U.S. nuclear policy; signed the New START treaty with Russia, which will pare back the nuclear arsenals of both nations; and held the first ever Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, drawing representatives from 47 countries. In light of these recent events, Obama has become the first U.S. president with nuclear disarmament as a goal on his agenda; the President has said he envisions a world free of nuclear weapons. However, as America moves forward with its new nuclear mission, countries across the globe have grown increasingly wary of America’s attempts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons and impose new global regulations. The question that remains

is how America’s influence and vision of a non-nuclear world will affect this recently rekindled global debate. Currently, the focus of these American policies is on the volatile Middle East, and in particular on the extremely precarious situation in Iran. Both political and economic tensions have long existed between Iran and the Western world. The new nuclear regulation movements implemented in April have exacerbated the already existing tensions with Iran, creating additional pressure on Iranian officials. Although Iran does not openly possess nuclear weapons and is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970, the U.S. and other nations fear that the Iranian nuclear program plans on producing weapons. As a result, America and countries such as Russia have committed to imposing sanctions on Iran to keep its nuclear program in check. In addition, President Obama’s Nuclear

Posture Review, although declaring that the U.S. will not use retaliatory nuclear weapons against NPT members or non-possessors of nuclear weapons, still leaves the U.S. with the option to potentially use nuclear force against Iran. In response to these two jabs and to the Nuclear Security Summit, Iran held its own nuclear conference in mid-April. Representatives from 60 nations attended, none of whom from the Western hemisphere. At the conference, Iranian lawmakers and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei derided America’s new nuclear plans, highlighting the apparent blind eye turned to Israel’s nuclear program. The emphasis was that a nuclear-free Middle East cannot be achieved if Israel refuses to join the NPT. Although the United States and Israel are steadfast allies, the U.S. has supported the NPT since its inception, while to this day Israel refuses to become a signatory of the treaty. Israel’s ambiguous

talklikeaphysicist

14

HM Review Vol. XIX


International

: All for One or None for All nuclear status has increased tension in the Middle East as well as strained the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. At both the Tehran and Washington nuclear conferences, one clear message was that countries allegedly possessing nuclear weaponry, such as India, Pakistan, and Israel, should sign the NPT in order to promote a world of controlled and diminished nuclear stockpiles. However, Obama stated at the conference that he would neither discuss Israel’s nuclear program nor force it to declare its nuclear weapons. At the same time, Israel feels pressure from the U.S. to conform to Obama’s nuclear agenda of limiting arms counts. By attending neither of the nuclear conferences, Israel missed its opportunity to participate in a new global initiative of an eventual nuclear-free world while simultaneously worsening its image in the eyes of both its most powerful ally, the U.S.,

April 2010 HM Review

and one of its most powerful enemies, Iran. Within the next several years, if not months, Israel’s contribution to international nuclear discussions will be necessary to establish a nuclearreduced or even a nuclear-free Middle East, a region which has been a hotbed of action and for which such limitations would establish a sense of global order. Currently, what is most important to examine is how the U.S. plans to push its agenda and reduce nuclear armaments in the world. America has already established its renewed interest in the topic under Obama, who mentioned his vision of a nuclear-free world. Our President organized and held the most significant conference devotioned to nuclear security in history, where he successfully urged other global lawmakers to uphold previously established nuclear pacts and to create new promises, such as Ukraine’s pledge to eliminate its

highly enriched uranium. Although the final arrangement did not offer as firm a reassurance on nuclear security as hoped, it was only the first of many gatherings on the topic. It is paramount that the U.S. and nations in Middle East continue discussions on the nuclear topic. It is unfortunate, although expected, that the area of most concern regarding the illicit possession and use of nuclear weapons by terrorist groups lies in a region where America’s political influence is largely rejected. Nevertheless, this adversity should not diminish America’s hope of establishing a safer, nuclearfree world; on the contrary, it should galvanize Obama, Congress, and countries around the globe to continue their efforts to reduce the presence of nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear terrorism or accidental detonation is too dire to ignore. HMR

15


International

A Strained

blackchristiannews

Partnership

S

by susannah cohen

ince the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, Israel and the United States have enjoyed a close and productive relationship. As Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a democratic system of government and the guarantee of human rights, it is natural that it receives strong American support. In fact, all the candidates running for President in the U.S. in 2008 promised to maintain America’s support of Israel in an effort to capture votes from Jews, Christians and other Israel supporters. According to Vice President Joe Biden, Israel and the US have an “unbreakable bond.” However, as in all close relationships, the road is not always smooth. Lately, this relationship has become somewhat strained over the issue of building new settlements in the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank. The strain has played out publicly and privately, with people speaking out very strongly for and against Israel’s right to build these settlements. The reason this is controversial is that the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank are primarily settled by Palestinians who believe that the land belongs to them. But because Israel has gained these territories through legitimate victories in war, Isra-

16

el’s government believes that its right to the land is undisputed. In addition, proposed two-state solution maps generally include the territory in East Jerusalem in the Israeli state, not the Palestinian one, so members of the Israeli government see this land as most certainly belonging to Israel. America wants to maintain a close relationship with Israel with one caveat: Israel must stop all building of new settlements and housing units. America is Israel’s biggest supporter, and provides Israelis with about $3 billion per year in

We need the friendship of Israel, the only nation in the Middle East with a Democratic system of government providing civil rights and liberties to its people. aid. Some would say America is a large stockholder in Israel’s future, and therefore should have a large say in Israel’s decisions. America definitely wants to continue its strong “unshakable” relationship with Israel. Even Hilary Clinton, a strong opposer of new settlements in the disputed territory, said, “We have an absolute commitment to Israel’s security. We have a close unshakable bond between the

United States and Israel and between the American and Israeli people who share common values and a commitment to a democratic future for the world.” In the hopes of maintaining a good relationship with Israel, the Obama administration has tried to offer some friendly advice on this issue in order to continue pursuing the American as well as Israeli objective in the Middle East: peace. President Obama believes that the Israelis’ refusal to freeze the building of new settlements is impeding their chance for peace with the Palestinians. Therefore, the Obama administration believed it was very insulting, not only to the Palestinians who claim the territory but also to the American government attempting to mediate negotiations, when Israel’s Interior Ministry announced that they would be building 1,600 new units in the eastern part of Jerusalem, precisely at the time while Biden was visiting Israel to discuss this specific issue. The U.S. government felt that this announcement sabotaged the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that were in the works, and simultaneously insulted the Israeli-American relationship. Biden was quoted saying, “Yesterday, the decision by the Israeli government to advance new planning units in east Jerusalem unHM Review Vol. XIX


International

annews

p

dermines that very trust, the trust that we need right now in order to begin, as well as produce profitable negotiations.” In addition, the move to build the new settlements against the wishes of the U.S. made America look weak and powerless in the eyes of the world community, and especially the Arab community, because it made it look as if America had little or no influence over Israel’s behavior. This benefits neither the U.S. nor Israel in the drive for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. After the announcement of the new settlements, Secretary of State Clinton spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting him with four requests that the United States had. He acceded to two of the four requests, holding his ground on the right to build new settlements in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, on this issue, America and Israel have still not come to an agreement. The stalemate has left the two countries deadlocked. Israel finds itself in a very tough position: on the one hand, Israel relies on the United States for political and financial support. In the past, Israel has always counted on this bipartisan support, as well as the support of the American people. However, Israel wants to maintain its independence in terms of internal affairs, and believes the United States should treat it as an equal partner capable of governing itself without external interference. Israel is fully willing to hear America’s advice, but it doesn’t want to be obligated to implement policies that go against its own beliefs. Recently, Israel has felt bullied and unfairly judged by the United Nations for its military action in the Gaza Strip. Now more than ever, Israel is relying on America’s allegiance and support as a counter-measure to the public criticism and anti-Israel rhetoric that has come from the UN and much of the international community. The newly formed government of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, maintains a strong pro-building stance. As Netanyahu sees it, “The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem April 2010 HM Review

3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.” Netanyahu believes that building in the eastern part of Jerusalem is both acceptable and necessary. Israel needs more housing for its growing population, and because it has legal claim to this land, it believes it has the prerogative to build in the eastern part of Jerusalem. Israel also believes that it is doing all it can in trying to make peace with the Palestinians by proposing a two-state solution and freezing the building of new settlements on the West Bank for ten months. It also feels that backing down on the issue of building in East Jerusalem will demonstrate weakness and insecurity about its claims to the land. Israel believes that it is the Palestinian’s turn to make the effort. Although Israel wanted direct negotiations with the Palestinians, it accommodated the Palestinians’ preference for indirect negotiations through United States envoy George Mitchell, as a good faith gesture.

However, Netanyahu questions whether Israel can rely on the current American administration for support in taking risks for peace. It seems that it is in the best interests of both Israel and the United States to maintain their symbiotic relationship. We need the friendship of Israel, the only nation in the Middle East with a Democratic system of government providing civil rights and liberties to its people. Israel needs the unilateral support of the United States as well as its help in solving the Middle East conflict. Both countries share the common goal of peace in the Middle East. Therefore the solution is clear: Israel and the U.S. must come to an agreement on the issue of settlements in order to further the peace process with the Palestinians. The two countries must work to remedy their relationship so that their sixty-year alliance can be preserved and the goal of peace in the Middle East can be achieved. HMR

rnw rnw Colleagues in Negotiations Both the United States and Israel aim to resume peace negotiations such as this one between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas, mediated by U.S. President Barack Obama.

17


International

Instability in the Middle East:

America’s Fault?

patdollard

18

HM Review Vol. XIX


International

T

by jordan berman

oday, when one thinks of the Middle East, violence, brutal dictators, and a poor quality of life flood ones mind. Such an association, however, has not always existed. During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East was prosperous and generally stable. So what brought the Middle East to where it is today? Did America help cause this downward spiral? Prior to World War I, democracy seemed a real possibility for the states under Ottoman rule. Revolutions, similar to those that occurred earlier in Europe, transpired across the vast Empire. The disruption these revolutions inflicted effectively weakened the once formidable Ottoman Empire. In fact, many historians concur that had WWI not erupted, the Empire would have eventually separated on its own into several democratic nations. But this was not meant to be. When WWI broke out, the once -impressive Ottoman Empire sought to demonstrate that it still possessed power and hence declared war as a contingent of the Central Powers. The dominant political figures of the era, the Three Pashas, strove to consolidate the empire by extirpating the interior revolutions. They saw WWI as an opportunity to generate nationalist fervor by establishing a common enemy in the Triple Entente. Naturally, the unstable Ottoman Empire experienced significant losses due to the more advanced weaponry and military tactics of the allied nations: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire. Soon after its belittling defeat in the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned into several weak protectorates by the Allies. Unfortunately, the division was based not on ethnicity, but on resources and the interests of European imperialist powers. This meant that groups which saw themselves ethnically and culturally as one were split or lumped with dissimilar groups. This division of the Ottoman Empire posed particularly grave consequences for the Middle East. The system patitioned people of differing religious sects, namely the Sunni and Shiite Muslims, to live in new countries alongside enemy sects. Naturally, when religious groups that have

? April 2010 HM Review

been in conflict for hundreds of years are forced to live in a country together, fierce conflict ensues. Here lies the roots of today’s problems. Later in the twentieth century, during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in an ideological struggle to demonstrate the superiority of their system of govenment and economy (democracy and capitalism versus communism and socialism, respectively). What better way to do this than by accomplishing the international goal of stabilizing the Middle East using their own systems there? The involvement of world powers in the Middle East sounds like a good idea, and it may even seem indicative of prospective positive developments in the Middle East. However, the way that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. went about influencing the region was all wrong. The Soviet Union made the first move and tried to indoctrinate Afghanistan. The US, threatened by the Soviets’ maneuvering, decided to prevent Russia’s progress by funding revolutionary groups like the Taliban to rebel against the oppressors and hopefully implement democracy once they gained power. All this did, however, was cause one group’s hatred for the other to become violent; thus further destabilizing the region. Also, the installation of these new governments was often achieved through corrupt and violent means (as seen by the Iranian Revolution and America’s support of the shah), underscoring the political and ideological divisions at the heart of present dilemmas. Today, groups in the Middle East divided religiously as well as politically, are expected to see eye to eye, not just an eye for an eye. Not surprisingly, they do not. Learning from history, we see that although the United States and Soviet Union hurt the Middle East, it was really the Allied powers’ ignorant division of the region after World War I that eliminated the Middle East’s chance for stability and democracy. Perhaps if the West maintained less interventionist approach after World War I, today’s imperative intervention would not be required. HMR

19


Features ning

by alexander posner 20

HM Review Vol. XIX


Features

The Human Right http://good50x70.org/2008/imagecontest/

http://www.gilleslaheurte.com/images/

image/1204.jpg

graphics/haitivaccinekidscopyweb.jpg

O

n January 6th, 1941, in an address to Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt articulated the U.S.’s vision of a free world built on four basic tenets: freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from want and fear. This historic speech was a direct response to the Nazi aggression and brutality during World War II. As Roosevelt stated, “That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for the kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.” In the aftermath of World War II as the scope of Nazi brutality became apparent, the United States led a global effort to create the United Nations, an organization whose founding charter was based on the four freedoms spelled out in Roosevelt’s speech. It established the Security Council in an attempt to ensure global peace and security, and to provide a freedom from fear. It’s charter spelled out freedoms of religion and speech as fundamental global obligations of all member states and established an Economic and Social Council and Commission on Human Rights to promote this aspect of the UN’s mandate. Lastly, it created a series of economic institutions, such as the UN Development Program (UNDP) aimed at addressing what Roosevelt called freedom from want. There have been three key chapters of the UN’s involvement in human rights. The initial phase, in which the U.S. played a leading role, was the effort to create the April 2010 HM Review

http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/media/images/UN-LO-

Commission on Human Rights and to develop broad international principles through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the second phase, which lasted from the early 1950s until the end of the century, the United Nations established legal treaties, which provided a concrete framework and began the enforcement of these legal standards in specific country situations. During this fifty- year period, the U.S., Democratic and Republican administrations, alike, continued to play an important leadership role, though the implementation efforts yielded mixed results. In the third phase, the Bush Administration rejected the value and importance of the UN and sought to limit its power and influence. Luckily, we are now entering into the fourth phase, where the Obama administration is seeking to reengage the UN on a range of issues, including human rights and to make the UN a more effective institution.

The challenge the Obama Administration now faces is how far and how fast it can make these changes in a manner that will signal success both to the American public and the world. The challenge the Obama Administration now faces is how far and how fast it can make these changes in a manner that will signal success both to the American public and the world.

In order to understand the current challenges faced by the Obama Administration in re-engaging with the UN, one must examine the progression of human rights within the United Nations. When the UN was created in 1945, it immediately took steps to create a special body called the Commission on Human Rights. The United States government led the effort to create the Commission and upon its creation, it promoted Eleanor Roosevelt to be its first chair. The challenge she faced was that the government of the Soviet Union and others opposed strong international guarantees on human rights, as they viewed UN involvement as tantamount to interference on their sovereign affairs. At the same time, the Soviet Union felt strongly that civil and political rights were of secondary importance to economic and social rights. To overcome these obstacles Eleanor Roosevelt worked to draft and build consensus for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was completed in 1948. Because it was a declaration of principles, not a legally binding treaty, no countries were required to ratify it. In this way, Eleanor Roosevelt was able to win support for the world’s first ambitious articulation of basic human rights without having the Soviets block this effort. Once the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, the Commission turned to next phase, which was to create legally binding human rights treaties. By the mid-1950’s it had drafted two fundamental treaties, one on civil and po

21


Features cachefly

msu

1940s

indymedia

timesonline

Eleanor Roosevelt completed her onsensus for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Eleanor Roosevelt was able to win support for the world’s first ambitious articulation of basic human rights

198

Human Rights History litical rights and a second on economic, social, and cultural rights. More than 150 countries have now ratified each of these treaties. In the years since the drafting of these two core treaties, called Covenants, the UN has passed additional treaties barring torture, genocide, racial discrimination, discrimination against women, and ensuring the rights of the child. These treaties provide the legal foundations for enforcement and implementation of human rights throughout the UN system. From the outset the hardest challenge facing the commission has been the enforcement of these legal safeguards. While many governments profess a commitment to abide by these formal obligations, in practice they often do not comply with these international standards. Over the last 60 years the UN has had a mixed record in implementing these guarantees proactively and effectively. In general the enforcement effort has three basic components. The first is public reporting on human rights conditions in particular countries and with respect to specific categories of violations. . Each year the UN releases a series of reports highlighting specific human rights violations in various countries as well as thematic reports prepared by issue experts on a wide range of subjects. Governments are often sensitive to

22

any form of public criticism, and because of this, these reports sometimes have surprising impact and importance in reinforcing the efforts of local advocates to press for change. A good illustration of this was in Argentina with respect to disappearances, which were being carried out systematically by government agents in that country in the late 1970’s. The Human Rights Commission published an extensive report on disappearances in Argentina in the early 1980s, which served as a catalyst for increased public debate of human rights globally and in Argentina itself. The UN’s role helped to legitimize this topic and ultimately was a factor in the election of a pro-human rights candidate, Raul Alfonsin, in 1983. The second thing the UN does is to provide recommendations for countries on how to improve their long-term human rights records and by providing technical support to help to overcome existing obstacles. Although some countries ignore these suggestions, others welcome the constructive support and resources the UN can provide. In 1993 the UN created the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which now operates field offices in approximately 25 countries throughout the world. These offices both gather information and provide technical assistance

to governments in implementing some of the recommendations made by the UN. When countries fail to cooperate with these recommendations and demonstrate an unwillingness to address serious and ongoing abuses the UN can and sometimes does resort to economic and other sanctions to enforce the protection of human rights. Throughout the 1980’s the UN commission recommended a series of economic sanction against South Africa because of the government’s policy of apartheid, which required forced segregation and discrimination against nonwhites. The UN sanctions isolated the South African government and played a major role in ending the policy of apartheid. Similar efforts have been undertaken to impose sanctions on countries such Myanmar, North Korea, Iran and Sudan. In 2006, the UN General Assembly reorganized the Human Rights Commission into a new body called the Human Rights Council. The idea of the Human Rights Council was that it would be smaller and that there would be more of a link between a government’s human rights performance and whether it would be allowed to join the Council. This improved new Council also established a new procedure known as Universal Periodic Review through which all 195 countries in the UN are required to submit a HM Review Vol. XIX


Features un.org

ekantipur

980s

The idea of the Human Rights Council, founded in 2006, was that it would act as a link between a government’s human rights performance and whether it would be allowed to join the Council.

2000s

in the United Nations comprehensive reports on their human rights records every three years. These reports are then reviewed by the Human Rights Council, which makes recommendations to each country on how to improve its performance. The United States is obligated to submit it’s initial report under the UPR process later this year. When the Council was initially formed, the Bush Administration declined to run for a seat on the Council. They argued that Council laws not credible and therefore the United States should not participate. Their refusal to participate only worsened the problem. The initial years of the Council’s work was marred by polarized debates and a limited record of achievement. In June of 2009, the Obama Administration decided to reverse this policy and to run for election to the Council. In an overwhelming vote, the U.S. was elected in June of 2009 and there has been a broadly shared view that U.S. membership in the Council strengthens its ability to play a meaningful role in enforcing human rights on a global scale. In its first year on the Council the U.S. has already accomplished several early victories. In September, a U.S. sponsored resolution on free expression, in which Egypt was a primary cosponsor was passed by consensus. This April 2010 HM Review

was an important accomplishment as it reinforced the basic human right of free expression. Secondly, the U.S. has succeeded in keeping Iran from joining the Council, despite an active effort by the Iranian government to win a Council seat. Luckily, these efforts were successful as the Iranians withdrew from the 2010 Council election this past week because they realized that they would not win that election. Lastly, the U.S. is taking a lead in the review of the council’s operating procedures, which will be formally reviewed in 2011. Among its objectives is for there to be a single standard that is applied to all countries based on the universal principles of human rights. This would mean for example that the council’s permanent agenda item on Israel would be removed, though Israel’s record could be reviewed in the same manner as other countries. Over the last sixty efforts by Eleanor Roosevelt and many others have chipped away at the defense of national sovereignty, preventing this from being a broad defense to international scrutiny for failure to live up to international human rights standards. One important factor that has led to the weakening of the sovereignty argument stemmed from the fight against South Africa’s practice of apartheid. A number of governments sought to use the UN and its human rights standards as a basis for imposing economic sanctions against South Africa. This set an impor-

tant precedent that made it harder for governments to oppose subsequent international interventions to challenge other gross violations of basic human rights. Thanks to this precedent and other subsequent cases, the concept of non-interference in internal affairs has lost much of its credibility. As a result, we now see a greater incidence of countries criticizing the human rights records of other governments. These criticisms are routinely re-enforced by a growing galaxy of local and international non-governmental human rights organizations. This international pressure is often key to improving human rights conditions through the world. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that any countries are comfortable being criticized, the UN’s involvement in these debates has increased the global dialogue about human rights issues. Virtually every government is now part of the game and by joining the Human Rights Council the US is now in a position to regain its leadership role. Human rights are now part of the world order and that means that human rights conditions are more likely to improve, atrocities will be challenged and at an earlier stage thereby saving lives, and more people will have their rights and dignity protected. Although there will definitely be challenges on the road ahead, FDR’s vision of the four basic freedoms is now closer to reality. HMR

23


Features

r e t r a h C l a i c ffi The Uno by jasmine mariano

Does the United Nations need to play a greater role in world affairs or does the UN already have too much sway?

I

n the aftermath of the bloodiest war in human history, fifty nations gathered at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center to sign the Charter of the United Nations. The Charter called for the maintenance of peace and international security, the mitigation of poverty and hunger, the development of global prosperity, and the universal recognition of basic human rights. Though lofty and perhaps optimistic, the founders of the United Nations were anything but idealists. They were the leaders

thenagain

24

that had survived both the rise of Communism and the emergence of fascism and the far right, the worldwide economic depression of the 1920’s and 30’s, and the human horrors and tragedies of WWII. Their goal was to create an international structure that could solve international problems. In order to be able to criticize the United Nations, we must first assess its efforts in an equally realistic manner. After all, the UN has succeeded where the League of Nations, the precursor intergovernmental organization, had largely

failed. Since its inception and ratification in 1945, the UN has adapted and reacted to numerous international crises and situations, and with varying degrees of success. As of late, numerous critics of the UN deem the organization as too bureaucratic, or impotent, or driven by the interests of the elite nations, mainly the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. All of these criticisms are valid to a certain degree. But were these flaws inevitable as a result of the structure of the UN? After all, the UN is not a world government, but a forum for the countries of the world to deliberate and achieve consensus to pressing issues. Can the United Nations be successful, considering that one of the singular things that almost every member state can agree on is the preservation of their sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial unity? When there is conflict, for many of the UN members, this principle of state sovereignty still trumps all others, and perhaps understandably so. For many countries, especially those in Africa, Asia and South America, it is one of their few defenses against threats and intimidation from wealthier and more influential states seeking to promote their own economic and political interests, most likely at the smaller countries’ expense. But this noninterference norm has been sometimes used by governments to block international efforts to end human rights abuses in their countries. Though humanitarian crises are only a facet of the international HM Review Vol. XIX


s n o i t a N d e t i r of the Un conflicts that the UN deals with, they are perhaps the sharpest and most terrible example to illustrate the shortcomings of the UN. When we take into account the massacres in Srebrenica and Rwanda, and the ongoing crisis in Darfur, all events in which the UN has failed to act upon, it calls into question the UN’s effectiveness in preventing conflict at all. So, after more than half a century of existence, the United Nations presents the international community with two choices. Countries should either decide to reduce their demands on the UN, thus giving it a decent chance to pursue policies within the realm of its existing resources, or recognize its necessity and thereby grant it greater resources, functions and coordinating powers. With issues such as unprecedented global demographic growth, a looming food shortage crisis, climate change, state terrorism, human rights abuses, nuclear proliferation, natural disasters with casualties on unthinkable scales, the world cannot afford to scale back. As demands on part of governments and their responsibility increase, the need for world organization grows as well. To international lawyers and human rights advocates, the UN is a tool to advance the principles elucidated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In North America and Europe, the media regards the UN as an organization primarily concerned with peacekeeping conflicts, like in Gaza, or humanitarian aid, like in Haiti. To South American finance ministers, the UN is the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. For isolationist critics, it is an ineffective, unwieldy bureaucracy. As for those seeking to reform the United Nations, whether through financial and procedural improvements, reform of the UN Security Council (from veto powers to membership), reform of the Secretariat, or the establishment of a parliamentary assembly to make it more democratic, the myriad political and April 2010 HM Review

buzzybloggers

electronicintifada

ideological stances will have to be taken into account. Unless governments can agree to on the basic principles and roles of the UN and are ready to compromise, significant reform could not be truly instituted. The most important question that arises now is whether, in the face of these obstacles, we can reform the UN at all? To which I have to say, yes, because reform is not impossible, nor is it beyond our reach. Though the road to noteworthy, effective reform will certainly be difficult and arduous, the UN is the most probable vehicle for achieving the lofty goals stated by its founding charter. And they are certainly goals worth achieving; even those that think that reform is at the very least improbable, it is our responsibility to attempt it, so long as there exists the likelihood that we could succeed. The history of the United Nations has had its share of failures and triumphs, like any other human endeavor. What we must understand is that the UN is a human institution, one that reflects the re-

alities and efforts of the people who work within its scope; it can never be more than the sum of its parts. And with such a diversity of directives and goals among its members, the fact that we can even reach consensuses at all is reason enough not to dismiss the UN as superfluous or inessential. One can hold the opinion that the UN is flawed, without having to proceed to the conclusion that it must then be dismantled. Indeed, it has succeeded where past efforts have failed. The UN is what we have, and we have to be able to make it work. HMR

25


Features

R E S T R U I by justin bleuel

n order to manage some of the “threats” previously outlined in The Review, a new global organization is needed. This organization would be modeled on the EU and not the UN. There are several problems with the UN; one is that everyone can become a member. It is a good thing that there is a global organization like the UN, but it ends up giving legitimacy to dictators and corrupt regimes across the globe. Contrast this with the EU. In order to become a member, it is necessary to fulfill certain criteria. These criteria played an important part in the transformation of a number of ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe to stable liberal, democratic states. It gave extra impetus to these countries to reform, knowing that the costs were worth it. And as the people of these countries shared this view, the transformation happened smoother and faster than it otherwise would have. I do not deny that the EU can be criticized for many things, but that is for a later blog. The fact is that the EU is a unique historical project that has been far more successful than most anticipated when it got started. I propose a similar organization on the global stage: This is not a new idea. During the presidential campaign of 2008, advisors to John McCain suggested the set up of a ‘League of Democracies’ to justify interventions in “non-democratic” states around the world. But if that is the main aim of the organization I do not think it will work, Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of the difficulties of such an approach. Instead, I believe the aim should

26

In order to manage some of the “threats” a new global organization is needed.

HM Review Vol. XIX


Features

U C T U R E The EU is a unique historical project that has been far more successful than most anticipated

be similar to the EU’s. It should hold up the carrot for countries that are not members initially but could become. If it is worth something to become a member, it will be worth paying the price. Exactly what the membership rules would look like is something I would have to return to, but as a principle they should be somewhat relaxed compared to the present standards set by the EU, but not so much that e.g. Russia would get in without further reforms. Some would argue that such an organization would be perceived very negatively by Beijing. Well, so be it. The Soviet Union once tried but failed to offer an alternative to the western liberal, democratic state. The challenge posed by China will be far tougher. There are those that say that once China has become rich enough (GDP/ Capita) internal pressure to reform will rise and the country will become a democracy. Maybe. But it might just as well not. And if China manages to become the world’s most powerful nation, without enacting any major political reforms, the end of history will not look anything like Fukuyama envisioned it. HMR

http://www.dfa.gov.za/eumaltilateral/images/maps/european_union.png

April 2010 HM Review

27


Economics brandon-medical.com

Operating On Innovation How Obamacare Corrodes America’s Competitive Edge

by alexander daniel

C

ontrary to President Obama’s belief, the United States has been a vanguard and standard-bearer for health care innovation in recent decades. America’s preeminence as the cradle of innovation has manifested itself through myriad accomplishments. Since 1975, more Americans have won the Nobel Prize in medicine than all other countries combined. Fifteen of the nineteen “biotech” drugs used by non-diagnostic companies were the product of U.S. companies alone, and key innovations in eye surgery, ACE inhibitors, MRI, and CT

28

have originated in the U.S. These advances have facilitated significant economic growth in the United States, as eight of the ten top-selling drug companies are headquartered in the U.S. The question begs: how can a country with health care system perceived to be inferior produce such innovation in the health care system? Simply put, the free market-based health care model in the U.S. incentivizes innovation and fosters development of both technology and creative health care techniques, alike. This positive system will be impaired by excess government involvement in the health care sec-

tor generated by Obamacare. Inevitably, reform will deter further innovation in health care. In a largely free market-based health care sector, individuals were encouraged and given latitude to pursue unique solutions to health issues. This entrepreneurial gusto directly led to many life-saving inventions, which have bettered humanity. In an industry where scientists make just $61,000 on average, the lucrative pursuit for a patented innovation motivates many. By having that incentive to work independently or at the bequest of pharmaceutical companies, American scientists eagerly HM Review Vol. XIX


al.com

Economics seek transformative ways to solve health care problems. Without excess government regulation and with an equitable system for patenting a product, American scientists have reaped the benefits of the model. Yet, new technologies in the health care goods and services industry differ greatly from typical innovation, as medical innovation is ubiquitous, and benefits all of society, not just a select few. Although, health care costs in American have skyrocketed in recent years, that trend can be reasonably be explained by improved care. From 1950 to 2001, American life expectancy increased from 68.2 years to 77.2 years. Although the U.S. spends a higher percentage of GDP on healthcare than other countries, that trend can also be attributed to higher quality care due to innovation in America. The United States heath care industry currently spends more on innovation than any other country; yet, all peoples around the world reap the benefits of America’s forward-thinking approach to health care. Furthermore, the free market-based solutions, necessitated for innovative practices, do contribute to slightly higher costs for the overall industry. However, for every dollar spent on improved drugs, up to seven dollars is saved from other procedures. Other single payer systems procure the benefits of American ingenuity, as centralized care providers can negotiate lower costs for medicines and technology than America due to a lack of competition. However, cost cutting mechanisms and deterrence from innovation would result in severe ramifications and would impede upon the quality of patient care. The behemoth of a health care bill directly impinges on the autonomy of the health care industry. The central tenet of the American health system has long been a solid patient-physician relationship. The free market element of the system allows the individual to chose his or her doctor and decide in conjunction with the doctor the type of care and treatment deemed fit. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and are not constrained by bureaucratic rules and restrictions, which impede upon the best course of action. Government does not attach a number or monetary figure to patient care, as is the case in single payer systems; instead, doctors have the latitude to treat patients with unique solutions and technologies. According to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks first in the world in “responsive-

April 2010 HM Review

altertops.com

A Legislative Battle: President Obama signed the health care bill into law on March 23, 2010 after powerful Republican opposition.

carsties.com

29


Economics

President Obama announces his health care agenda in a speech before a joint session of Congress.

April 21, 2009

August 7, 2009

February 24, 2009 Sarah Palin likens Obama’s health care proposal to “death panels.” Democrats in Congress face angry reactions to reform at town hall meetings.

The Senate Finance Committee begins to discuss health care reform.

ness,” a measure of client orientation and autonomy for individuals and doctors to decide care. Unfortunately, the health care bill attempts to centralize health care decisions in the hands of bureaucrats. By placing 30 million Americans on the roles of subsidized government plans, patients will become subjected to out-dated stringent regulations, which undercut care.

Furthermore, the bill expands government’s role as an umpire in the health care industry and encourages governmental impingement into the free market. The bill mandates that all Americans own a “qualified” plan, and bureaucrats will have purview over decisions addressing appropriate treatments and drugs. In turn, certain companies will be favored, while the canchealthplans

The Wrong Prescription: The health care bill passed by Congress and approved by President Obama endagers American innovation in the health care sector. 30

pacity for companies denied governmental endorsement would be inhibited. A whole set of Washington bureaucrats will become arbiters of a product’s merit, making irrelevant the judgment of doctors, patients, manufacturers and insurers. The free market and innovation will suffer. Like any other service, health care is a product. The supply is finite. The health care bill neglects to restructure the health care system to accommodate the millions now mandated to receive care. Inevitably, the amount of resources, namely medicine, doctors, and technologies, will be spread thin to fill government health care quotas. Therefore, doctors will have limited resources at their disposal and will be unable to innovatively address their patients’ needs. Whereas doctors now have time to adequately analyze patients’ health issues and develop a prognosis tailored to their circumstances and problem, physicians will instead adopted one-size fits all solutions for inexpensive care provided through government programs. In any nationalized system, the worker’s performance is not incentivized. Therefore, as a greater number of doctors receive funding through Medicare, Medicaid, and government-sponsored plans, they will not exert themselves, as their wages will remain stagnant, regardless

HM Review Vol. XIX


Economics

The Senate Finance committee approves its bill with one Republican supporter.

November 7, 2009

Two days after the House passes the Senate’s bill, President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law.

December 24, 2009

March 23, 2010

October 13, 2009

The House of Representatives passes its reform bill by 220-215 margin, partly due to a last minute deal with pro-life Democrats.

of performance. The impetus behind the bill centered around allocating health care to poorer individuals and providing low cost minimal care. Implicit in that effort is gearing health care in America to a lower standard—creating an industry that intends to care for the masses, while not creating innovative solutions through high costs procedures. The entrepreneurial spirit driving individuals to patent medical technologies and medications will be stifled by overregulation of the health care sector. The variety of health care options provided by insurance companies enhances innovative scientific practices. Innovation not only relates to doctors, but also patients. The general structure of payment in America is conducive to the overall efficiency of the health care sector. Individuals’ premiums drop if they take care of themselves and exploit preventative care options. Some insurance companies have emphasized this incentive. After four years of extensive research, Aetna Health Fund postulated that sustained health savings could be procured through more preventive options and greater engagement in managing health; thus, their services have been expanded, allowing for lower costs and greater patient care. Employers and providers are bent on

April 2010 HM Review

The Senate passes its bill—it does not include a public option.

slashing services to reduce costs, by using free market solutions to encourage workers to expend less on health care. Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey and the companies’ employees agreed to shift coverage to an account based system, which provides employees with a $1,800 yearly stipend and higher deductibles. This account can roll over for subsequent years, which encourages employees to minimize their cost; thus, care is enhanced and Whole Food’s saves money, because employees are less inclined to request superfluous care. The health care bill threatens small businesses and companies, failing to comply with arbitrary standards, with fines and penalties,. The bill is tantamount to Washington conveying to businesses that government is more equipped to determine the operation of a company in the private sector. Innovation in patient care will be further stymied through the bill. Since the health care bill tacks on taxes and regulates the health insurance industry, individuals and employers can only afford base line plans, which limits the ability to have unique, albeit more expensive, care options. The bill ultimately taxes “Cadillac plans,” namely plans costing more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for families. Many employers are likely to evade the tax

by simply cutting their employee’s plans and will be forced to scale back coverage in order to absorb the tax. As a result, the market for high quality care in America will plunder. Furthermore, advancements in technology and medicines are destined to stagnate, due to excessive governmental involvement in the pharmaceutical and medical technologies industries. In 2007, the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly $59 billion on research and development— far exceeding the investment in new drugs from other industries. The health care bill will force the industry to pay a whooping $85 billion to the federal government in the form of taxes and discounts for drugs purchased through government programs. Consequently, pharmaceutical companies will hemorrhage investment in new programs to adapt. In many socialized health care systems, a recurring horror story is that of a government’s denying its citizens lifesaving drugs or medical devices that are available in the United States Since Congress ushered in this odiferous government takeover of health care, the world will experience a far greater tragedy: those new drugs and devices will cease coming into existence. Lives will be lost. HMR

31


Economics

The Effect

Effect

by stephen paduano

O

obamapacman.com

n October 23rd, 2001, Steve Jobs and his crack staff at Apple unveiled the iPod, giving rise to their seemingly perpetual domination over the tech industry. For the past nine years, Steve Jobs has reached into his pocket and shocked the world with something that was once thought to be unfeasible. From the iPod, to the iPhone, to the iPad, Apple and its whiz kids continue to deliver. But why is Apple so ahead of the game? Why are they light-years beyond everyone in the industry? Why are more and more people switching to Macs? What are Steve Jobs’ secrets? There is only one good answer -- strategy. Unlike CD Players, MP3 Players, or most other music-playing devices, the iPod relies on its base computer. More often than not, that computer is a Mac. Al-

though this devilish strategy could have blown up in the faces of Steve Jobs and his colleagues, due to the unwillingness of the people at Windows to allow Apple’s “iTunes” to run on their systems, it didn’t. People began to choose iPods over PCs, as the demand for both iPods and Macs went up due to the fact that iPods relied on Macs, and they were the only computer at that time carrying the software. It was not until Windows XP, that somebody could operate their iPod from their PC. However, there is a big difference between reluctance and ignorance. The men and women at Microsoft soon learned, and caught up with the rapidly changing times. Six years after the unveiling of the iPod, Steve Jobs reached into his pocket, and once again changed the game. Now with the iPod and the Mac’s exponential growth, Steve Jobs revealed the one thing

sencoph.com

32

HM Review Vol. XIX


techmynd.com

Economics

Staging the Revolution: Steve Jobs helped set Apple on the path toward gains in market share in the consumer electronics market. The iPod revolutionized the music player market and was Jobs’ first hit product after returning to the company in 1996. that Apple was missing – a cellphone. The combination of advanced mobile phone technology with the iPod and the plugging of this unheard of contraption into the cutting edge Mac succeeded in bringing buckets of money to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2007, those buckets of money amounted to approximately $7.1 billion. The trick to making this type of money was the groundwork that Apple had been laying since its first Mac in 1984. The iPhone could do everything, and then more. With virtually the same design and means of operation as the everso-popular iPod, Apple established itself as a major company in the smartphone

business. It is estimated that as of 2009, 50% of the smartphone industry is composed of iPhones. Since then, the iPhone has continued to soar in the Smartphone industry, while raising Apple’s stock price by nearly $120, a whopping 80% increase. At number 43 on the Forbes 400, with a net worth of $5.5 billion, Steve Jobs’ trick was certainly paying off. However, Apple’s genius did not end there. In January of 2010, Apple revealed its newest product – the iPad. Designed like an iPhone, the 1.5 lb revolutionary touch screen contains Safari, Email, Photos, Videos, YouTube, an iPod, iTunes, Google Maps, Apple’s Notes, Apple’s iCal Calendar, Contacts, and the ground-

breaking App Store. In addition, the iPad has word-processing ability, turning it into what some gadget-analysts refer to as the next computer. However, unlike the iPod, which ventured into the preexisting music playing industry, or the iPhone, which ventured into the mobile phone industry, the iPad is in a league of its own. The only thing that it is competing against in terms of portable, music playing, photo taking, word processing, and email and web accessible devices, is itself. However, the question now is what will the iPad replace? Would having an iPad render laptops and iPods useless? Although it seems unlikely, Apple’s track record could certainly make that happen. In spite of their stunning history of innovation and perfection, on March 18th, 2010, their legendary secrecy failed. On the night of March 18th, Apple Software Engineer and soon-to-be 27 year old accidentally left the next generation iPhone on a bar stool, and gave the world of glimpse of the future. Although it wasn’t revealed to the world in the same, unspoiled fashion of the Apple products that had preceded it, the next generation iPhone equally rocked the tech industry. Although the analysts at Gizmodo, the people who currently posses Apple’s latest miracle work, have only been able to verify that it came from Apple and analyze the phone’s exterior, a lot of advancements have been made since the iPhone 3GS. This latest iPhone contains a front-facing video chat camera, improved regular and slightly larger back-camera, camera flash, Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM, a secondary mic for noise cancelation, split buttons for volume, the power, mute, and volume buttons are all mechanic, 16% larger battery, slightly smaller screen, and an aluminum border surrounding the higher resolution touch screen. This first, and most likely last, look into the future only tells us one thing – Apple will continue to amaze. HMR

sencoph.com

April 2010 HM Review

33


Economics

World Wide War api.ning.com

How Cyber Attacks Restrict Innovation by jordan berman

T

he United States of America, although arguably in decline, is still indisputably the world’s lone superpower. The latter fact became true during the mid 20th century, while the former opinion became true during and perhaps as a result of the technological age that we are in now. Due to its failures regarding internet security, America has been unable to build a secure foundation for further innovation. Internet security is a problem of increasing severity, as it is one of the greatest impediments to future technological growth. This problem manifests itself in many areas of society, from the highest level of business fraud to personal identity theft. Although the problem results from a variety of factors in society, our legal system’s lack of legislation on the

34

topic is the main cause of the problems. Without a safe internet, we cannot use the internet to its fullest potential. The new technological advances we are seeing today have created many problems for the aging United States Constitution, which is having a hard time keeping up with the times, so to speak. This partly stems from the slow process in passing amendments, which was designed as a way to stop the government from oppressing its people. In addition, the government is slow in enacting reform because of the many hands that proposed laws have to pass through for approval. This system of checks and balances has it benefits, but the system frequently results in compromise that cuts out the heart of much-needed legislation. The lack of laws meant to control cyber crime has exposed this problem in the US government, which will only get worse as technology gets more and more

advanced. In response to this, we need to streamline the method of lawmaking, in order to keep up with cyber crime and technology in general. This could be done by an impartial committee, outside of the standard elected government and thus outside of the public’s influence, who would be responsible for defining what is and is not “illegal.” Although this is a radical suggestion, right now the government needs radical change to regain control over this growing problem of cybercrime. The magnitude of our cyber security problem cannot be understated. Foreign hackers are constantly a problem for US banks as well as the government, and freedom of speech and expression protect the creators of some of the most dangerous and widespread computer viruses. Although stopping hackers would take a serious investment, one which the government has already begun making in HM Review Vol. XIX

t c a e a

i c t a r l c b n n s o


Economics Internet Usage:

A Prime Target: Increases in the number and severity of cyber attacks coincide with the dramatic increase in internet usage over the course of the previous two decades.

google

the form of secret service and FBI anticyber crime taskforces. Defining viruses as outside of the protection of freedom of expression would effectively deter a sizable number of cyber attacks. The relatively new technology of the internet and its ability to link together computers from all over the world means that it is increasingly difficult to regulate all of the information, programs and viruses going into and out of the US. This lack of control is the real cause of our cyber security problem. In order to combat it, the government has been drafting new security programs, and many organizations are investing more of their resources into their cyber security instead of their physical security.

110 Percentage increase from 2008 to 2009 in cybercrime and online scams

Although the government is spending a lot of money trying to combat cybercrime, this is purely reactionary, and shows how we are losing our edge in technology due to our government’s languor in regard to cybercrime. Make no mistake, this problem is not just going to go away if we ignore it or throw petty change at it and hope someone figures out a silver bullet program to stop it. Last year, the Cyberwatch security survey stated that 60% of companies were victims of cybercrimes, and 51% of those companies were victims of inside jobs: cyber crimes committed by individuals with direct access to the company’s servers and computers. Currently, suggestions and propos-

79 Percentage of web-based attacks that originated in China

als to create new international laws regarding cyber crime place the nation of origin of the crime in the wrong when a criminal damages another nation or its citizens. This legislation is greatly needed and is one of the great beacons of hope in this losing battle we are fighting. This failure to keep up with and regulate technology could be one of the greatest failings of our government in its short history. Without a secure internet for businesses and individuals, America will not be able to maintain its status as the world’s leading innovator. As technology continues to outrun our legal system and our government, we will continue to fall behind in the race to stay on the cutting edge. HMR

91 Percentage of businesses that perceive cybercrime as a major business risk

559 Millions of dollars lost to cybercrime in 2009

From Kaspersky April 2010 HM Review

35


Science and Technology

A Global Warning

by nathan raab

D

ourcoty.org

oom to come! So once cried an eminent scientist in an incredibly influential book. Within fifty years, he claimed, massive shortages of food and water would rock civilization and the urban poor would begin to die in the streets; unless the whole world took immediate action, everyone of the next generation was fated to live a life of misery. Who was this man, and what did he warn against? Was he an early prophet of global warming? Peak oil? Deforestation?

36

HM Review Vol. XIX


April 2010 HM Review

The real cash crop: Government subsidies on ethanol have made farming corn production extremely profitable such that farmers devote more resourses to the ethanol market than to the food markert.

libreamerica.com

No. The author’s name was Thomas Malthus. He warned against overpopulation, and he lived over twohundred years ago. Every era, it seems, has its environmental craze: recently, there was peak oil, deforestation, acid rain, frankenfoods, killer bees, and nuclear waste; earlier, it was eugenics, Malthusian catastrophes, and Armageddon. Men have worked themselves into a lather for no apparent reason since the year 1000. All these crazes, moreover, share two things in common: they were backed up by “scientific” evidence, and therefore true, and they were all demonstrably not true. By this I do not mean to entirely dismiss all the evidence of global warming. There is a very real possibility, however, that the dangers of climate change, while not entirely a myth, could be dramatically overstated—the science involved, of course, is complex and does not lend itself to sound bites or politics— and America would then run the risk of making regulatory response equivalent using a ten by twelve foot sheet of plywood to swat a fly. Because of this uncertainty, both of what the problem is and what solutions could be, our response to global warming cannot be hasty or heavy handed: instead, it must harness the natural productive power of the American free market to find a solution to environmental problems that does not prohibit economic growth. No climate regulation is cost free. Every expensive carbon-scrubber put on a GM plant’s smokestack is more money added on to the price of a working family’s car; every polar bear saved from malnutrition in the Arctic because a power plant in India didn’t get built is a child in India impoverished because their father couldn’t find work at the new, now non-existent power plant. What makes the climate-change legislation currently being bandied about in Congress so dangerous to the poor of America is just that: it kills jobs through disincentivizing investment in industry and encouraging American companies to outsource manufacturing while raising the prices of necessities—food, cars, and so on—that Americans need to survive. If there was an immediate threat to the health and

welfare of the American people, perhaps our leaders could justify such a drastic plan; it is foolhardy and immoral, however, to impose upon hardworking Americans immediate costs for benefits that will only come in a hundred years, if at all. And those benefits will come—if they ever do—one hundred years down the road. It will take one hundred years for the melt of the Arctic ice cap to make sea levels rise three feet and the same amount of time for global temperatures to rise three degrees. These in themselves are not trivial changes, but in one hundred years anything can and probably will happen: someone in China could invent new technology creating millions of kilowatts of power from electric eels, or men could land on the moon and discover alien technology that harnesses human brainwaves to power dishwashers. Are any of these possibilities likely? Absolutely not. But there are so many like them—many far more plausible—that at least one of them will probably come.

Think about it: one hundred years ago, no one would have predicted computers, lasers, or the internet, all revolutionary technologies that totally affected how we treat the environment. To figure out in more detail why new innovations will probably save the day, let’s consider poor Mr. Malthus again. Based on the evidence he had, Thomas Malthus was absolutely correct in assuming that increased population growth would eventually lead to famine. The amount of people on the planet, after all, was doubling every fifty years, while the food supply only increased incrementally; sooner or later, it stood to reason that humanity would outgrow the amount of food they had. Such an analysis, however, failed to consider the market’s influence on technology: once food prices began to rise in the 1970s as demand increased, it became more profitable to sell food, prompting investment in food technology, more ways to sell more food, and, eventually, food enough for almost everyone. The food market, in

37


National Environmental Policy Act

The first law which established a U.S. national policy promoting the enhancement of the environment

1969

Clean Water Act The act established the goals of eliminating releases to water of high amounts of toxic substances

1970 1972

What now?

Clean Air Act

Controlled air pollution on a national level

other words, increased in value. Market forces found a solution to the food problem. We can expect similar things with global warming. If people value saving polar bears enough to pay a few extra dollars for their water bottle, a whole market for “green” products will spring up—as the success of the Whole Foods supermarket chain shows, at least part of one already has—and the effects of global warming will be as a result reduced. When there is a green market, innovators work in the American economy and help American workers—who would be hurt under the prevailing scheme of tax-andtrade—while at the same time making green products which solve environmental issues. There are some who argue that this market-based approach does not do enough. The first major problem is that no one really knows exactly what enough is: as mentioned before, the science is complex and the federal government— which compiles much of the data— doesn’t even know how much it will spend in one hundred years, much less what the weather will be like. In the free market, consumers get to decide what enough is by balancing the benefits and costs they

38

incur by paying for green products and making decisions accordingly; instead of Washington deciding whether everyone needs to save the polar bears, each individual gets to decide whether to save a polar bear. The second is that if the people—who in a democracy make the decisions anyway—think that global warming represents a greater threat than they thought before, they can and will sink more money into green markets! This, as the earlier “green revolution” showed, will incentivize more innovation and lead to greener commodities and less damage to the planet. The market will save the planet by listening to far more consumers and adapting to much more new information than any politician could. To compare this market based approach to something that we’ve all seen in action, consider the federal government’s ethanol subsidies. For the longest time, bureaucrats in Washington scratched their heads over why ethanol hadn’t been developed as fuel: after all, it was green, readily available (all it took was corn) and made in America. Finally, those very same bureaucrats stepped in and decided to make ethanol a proper fuel and—lo and behold—they discovered the free market knew something

How will the government address the growing public concern surrounding our enviornmental impact

they didn’t! Apparently, farmers needed to grow ethanol on cropland. Instead of producing food, which was normally more profitable, they thus produced government-subsidized ethanol. Food prices went up. More Americans went hungry. And no driver to this day fills his car with ethanol. America has the greatest engine of material prosperity at its feet, but it refuses to give it gas. If we do not remove the shackles of taxation and regulation from our economy, innovators will move elsewhere; to Singapore, Hong Kong, India, China, and Europe. We do not need government intervention, or taxand-trade, or Obamanomics to make our economy a leader in the coming green revolution: it already is in a position to lead. Through the free market, we can find efficient and effective solutions to environmental issues without punishing those who can’t afford to solve the problem. We can find answers to global warming that neither underestimate nor overestimate its impact. We can make America a front-runner in the global race for green innovation. It’s about time we said “yes we can” to the free market. Let’s get going.

HMR

HM Review Vol. XIX


A Cleaner Industry

Rising above the Trash

by alex familant

A

n open forum at Columbia University gave business school students the opportunity to ask Warren Buffet and Bill Gates questions regarding future industries and economies. When asked which sector would be the most lucrative in the future, Gates immediately mentioned the alternative energy industry, describing the solution to stop global warming as an industry. However development in this industry has been often halted due to the policies of the United States government in addressing climate change. There is a common trend relating the stock prices of alternative energy firms. Whenever oil prices are high and expected to be high in the future, people invest in alternative energy. However, once oil prices sink down from speculative levels, people lose interest in energy investment. This trend is due to the inability of people to put faith in companies that cannot compete with the low prices of petroleum. However, this situation is only made worse because the government does not subsidize alternative energy industries to the extent that it should. If the government could cover more of the costs of firms in the alternative energy industry, America could be at the forefront April 2010 HM Review

of the alternate energy industry. For many of us, it seems as though the idea of climate change is a brand new concept. However, this is a misconception. Conversation about a warming planet has been around since the late 1960’s when Richard Nixon campaigned to reduce acid rain and the greenhouse effect. Climate change was an even more pressing concern during the 1973-1974 recession when oil prices surged to an all time high. In fact, in history, it seems as though whenever oil prices are high, there is always concern about improving alternative energy sources. Nonetheless the alternative energy industry has moved forward drastically. Recent improvements to solar energy serve as a prime example of the innovation present in this emerging industry. Currently, a team of scientists at the California Institute of Technology has been working on reducing the costs of solar energy by producing solar cells consisting of 98% polymer and only 2% silicon, the high-cost component. Normal cells contain much larger amounts of silicon and are therefore more expensive and create less energy, for example the newer cells absorb ten times more energy as normal solar cells. Harry Atwater, Ph.D, the leader of the group, says that there is no reason that solar panels cannot be as

cheap as other forms of energy. According to him, “there are no intrinsic barriers” that could limit solar power’s emergence as a cost-effective form of energy. However, the major strides to end global warming are being made outside of the United States. In Europe, converting waste to energy is becoming a major industry. Denmark, a country of only 5.5 million people, has 29 plants that convert local trash to heat and other forms of energy. Better yet, these plants contain filters to catch any harmful substances that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. By eliminating trash that would normally be dumped into landfills, these systems also solve the problem of trash disposal. Unfortunately, United States avoids such cost-effective systems as those in Europe. Instead it uses landfills due to political pressure, and the low cost of landfill use. The American government’s opposition against waste energy programs conveys the message that the United States does have a large investment in environmental sustainability. A recent controversy about the construction of offshore wind turbines in Massachusetts and Rhode Island further exemplifies this point. For some time, the two states have been competing to be the first to harness the offshore ocean breezes as energy. Despite Rhode Island’s

39


40

Pollution:

nbc.com

three-year scientific study about the prgram’s effectiveness and similar efforts by Massachusetts, the United States’ government has still not approved either of the projects. Additional opposition from Indian tribes and the competitiveness of receiving government permits has slowed this process even more drastically. Subsequently the lack of subsidies issued by the American government in purchasing alternative energy resources has not given the industry advantage over foreign energy industries. For example the American solar energy industry has not been able to compete with international companies such as China’s Suntech Power which receives are large government compensation from the Chinese government. More recently, the American government imposed tariffs on all Chinese solar technology, a decision that could reduce competitiveness in the American solar industry on the global scale. An increase in pricing of Chinese products will not allow consumers to purchase more technologically advanced products and therefore hinder the American market. The vast number of energy sources available magnifies this issue. The number of energy sources that can be utilized is much higher than expected. One popular form of energy that is gaining credibility is algae fuel. In addition the power of ocean waves has been recognized as a significant source of energy since the early 1920’s. However, due to the restrictions associated with using ocean water to power homes and businesses, this goal has never been realized. There are several ways that people can improve the environment. Unfortunately, while eating organic foods and using recyclable water bottles will make a contribution to the betterment of the environment, there is no legitimate reason to believe that these factors will stop global warming. The best way that people can end global warming is to promote new technologies for alternative energy by investing in alternative energy companies. However the United States government holds the power in making this decision. Therefore it is a necessity that the US government supports the cause to better the environment. HMR

HM Review Vol. XIX


Dirty Politics on the Hill

by zoe rubin

With the advent of what many have termed “the Age of Obama,” liberals hoped that the United States would reverse its obstructionist policy toward global warming—or the more politically neutral, climate change—legislation. Unlike much of the developed world, the U.S. lacks a clear-cut plan. While we may have coined our president as “the leader of the free world,” much of that leading has yet to begin. Until the U.S. makes a commitment to reverse global warming, other major emitters, such as China, have no obligation to follow. China had signaled to the U.S. that, were we to pass April 2010 HM Review

significant climate and energy legislation, they would put a serious effort into creating a strong treaty in Copenhagen. Yet we did not. And so, despite the media commotion over the December Climate Change summit in Copenhagen, little was done. With the two largest polluters declining to act, the international community was crippled. Consistently over the past decade the environmental movement has been immobilized by two key issues, its low ranking on voter priority lists and political partisanship. The root of America’s inability to address this key aspect of the environmental

movement lies not in Obama’s failed leadership, but rather in our nation’s current political paralysis. Arriving in Denmark’s capital, other chief executives wielded supreme bargaining power for their nations. Obama, however, had to contend with a U.S. Congress more divided than at any other point in our nation’s history. Just within the Democratic caucus, senators were split by ideology, geography, and economic interest. Only the Republicans were united– in the spirit of “no” with which they now address nearly every Democratic piece of legislation. Some of these opponents of greater climate

41


apoliticus.com

change legislation are backed by oil and coal companies, while other conservatives are just against any form of increased government regulations in general. Yet, while partisanship has reached a peak in recent years, the lukewarm support the environmental movement has received from the U.S. government is nothing new. The federal government has a long history of failing to address the global issue. While we may have signed the Kyoto Protocol, we have no intention of ratifying it—unlike North Korea, Iran, and the other 187 nations who have ratified the treaty. As a result, the requirements of the treaty are rendered non-binding. The treaty, whose purpose is to stabilize “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” was originally signed by the United States in 1997. In 2001, the Bush Administration decided not to apply it, citing an economic backlash and the lack of pressure it

42

placed on developing nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Bush administration, the federal government did more than just stymie further action to stem global warming; it attempted to rewrite science. Instead of educating the American public on the growing issue at hand, the administration worked to actively mislead Americans on global warming. Responding to lobbying by Exxon Mobile and the Global Climate Coalition among other groups, Vice-President—and former CEO of Halliburton—Dick Cheney created an energy task force studded with former oil lobbyists and industry-insiders for the sole purpose of doing nothing. The force initiated a campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on the issue, according to a comprehensive report published in Rolling Stone. The Bush Administration removed critical portions of a Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on the adverse effects global warming will have

on human health before sending it to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works committee. According to senior officials of the Government Accountability Project, a non-partisan whistleblower protection organization, the administration also attempted to conceal another report on such devastating ramifications of climate change written in accordance with binding U.S. law. Moreover, the Bush administration pressured scientists to reflect the administration’s skepticism, leading many leading scientists to resign in protest. The very same interests blocking change under the previous presidential administration are still at work today. In the last quarter, Exxon Mobil alone spent $7.2 million on lobbying– more than the entire alternative energy sector. Their desire to let current climate change go, for lack of a better word, unchanged is succeeding. A pressing issue facing environmentalists is the lack of support from voters. According to recent public opinion polls, Americans care about the environment, however; it consistently ranks behind other priorities, such as jobs, terrorism, and health care. In particular, polls have proven that Americans are less, not more, concerned about climate change than they were in the past. Other surveys have found that those Americans who were concerned with the issue were far more likely to buy “green” products in response, as opposed to contacting an elected official. As a result, the U.S. Congress has repeatedly sidelined the ever-growing issue of climate change in favor of other, more politically important, issues. On April 26th of this year, Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, Joseph Lieberman, Democrat turned Independent of Connecticut, and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, had planned to announce their new energy legislation, titled the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.” Such a cap-and trade bill would set a limit, or “cap,” on the amount of pollutant that could be emitted. Companies are required to hold a certain amount of credits that represent their right to emit a certain amount of pollutant. By transferring these allowances in a “trade,” those companies that needed to HM Review Vol. XIX


April 2010 HM Review

The Power of Money

britannica.com

not been sufficiently developed. Constant political squabbling is decreasing any hope of creating a lasting mandate for environmental change. Climate change is not a separate environmental issue; the effects of global warming are intricately tied to America’s national security and economic interests. Each year, we send billions of dollars across the world to foreign regimes in exchange for oil. More money, such as the $100 million that we send to Iran each day, could be used to create millions of jobs in the alternative energy sector. Moreover, it is in our vital economic interest to join the race for markets in the clean-energy industry. We cannot sacrifice more jobs than necessary to competitors overseas. China already has taken the lead in clean-energy investments, making it ever more important to follow soon. After having very little to no presence in a multitude of clean-energy sectors, China is fast becoming a world leader in the manufacturing and exporting of clean-energy technologies. Opponents of climate change and energy reform legislation argue against even mild regulation, just as Big Tobacco did before them, due to the dependency their companies or financial backers have on carbon-based fuels. However, even they should be able to realize that reducing foreign oil and expanding energy efficiency can only benefit our national security. The recent action of global leaders to “take note” of the impending climate crisis at Copenhagen is most certainly not enough. The United States is wrong, but certainly not alone in its inaction. Winston Churchill once said: “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.” The future of the global economy, national security, and furthermore mankind demand that we step up our efforts to combat global warming. The American people, their children, their children’s children, and further generations, not to mention the international community, deserve better. HMR

Over 90 million tons of greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere a day, constantly warming the atmosphere

wxyc.org

increase their emission allowances could buy remaining credits from those companies who naturally pollute less. However, two days before the announcement, Graham dropped out. In a sharply worded statement, the Republican cited Majority Leader Harry Reid’s choice to push immigration reform to the front of the Senate’s legislative calendar. In the face of his tight reelection campaign, Reid regarded the immigration issue as far more crucial. This year in particular, climate change skeptics have emphasized the lack of urgency for climate change and energy reform legislation. Citing the uncommonly cold winter, manyh ave argued that that global warming is nothing more than a hoax. Sceptics went so far as to build an igloo next to the Capitol Building labeled “Al Gore’s New Home.” Unfortunately for those who think they can wish away the massive problem, the rather snowy winter is just further evidence of global warming. In a recent op-ed to the New York Times, Al Gore himself responded to the growing fallacies on recent weather patterns and explained that these weather patterns are, if anything, greater proof of the reality of global warming. Rising temperatures lead to a greater rate of evaporation from the oceans. As a result, the increased moisture in our environment has caused greater downfalls of precipitation across the Northeast. Regardless of factual evidence, the pushback from skeptics has hampered progress in the United States. The United States is far behind foreign nations in the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The House of Representatives bill that passed in June of last year, upon which the Senate bill had been modeled, called for a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. While the original goal was set for 20%, even this is better than the 14% the Obama administration suggested or the 6% Congress considered a year before. Constant compromises also significantly decreased the bar that electric companies must follow when generating a portion of their power from renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power. Originally 25% by 2025, the number decreased to 15% by 2020 but only 12% in regions of the nation where such renewable energy has

The increased temperature lead to greater amounts of moisture in the atmosphere increasing precipitation. These effects can be diminished with an effective reduction of greenhouse gasses.

However, Exxon has spent millions of dollars lobbying to halt climate change legislation. Last quarter Exxon spent more money on lobbying than the entire alternative enery sector.

43


Viewpoints Capitalism: Is It Working?

I

n examining American influence throughout the world, we must take a reflective look at what influences America. An economic superpower in decline, the United States must now reevaluate the various ideologies and policies that make up its social fabric. The recent economic crisis, in which countless Americans lost their jobs or homes, was a wake-up call to those who had felt completely comfortable with the way our economy is run. The recklessness and failure of Wall Street giants and the governmental bailouts that ensued beg the question: to what extent is capitalism working in America? True capitalists put full trust in laissez-faire economics, hoping that competition in the free market will yield stronger businesses. Others argue that the free market has had its chance, and now the government is responsible for getting the economy back on track through oversight and regulation. How can we pull our country out of this economic disaster? blogspot

44

HM Review Vol. XIX


Viewpoints

Yes

“American capitalism may not guarantee equality but its founding principles foster equal opportunities, just principles, the growth of industry, and a stimulated economy.”

38%* usnews

Capitalism has emerged as the only economic system that can truly motivate our country’s citizens and create a prospering economy, enabling us to emerge as a superpower in the world. This free market based system, has allowed open competition and privately owned trade and industry to flourish. The system’s emphasis on individualism is a trait that has remained the foundation by which millions of Americans can thrive on the basis of their own labors. This “your work, your reward” ideology has upheld the American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Overt government interference in the American economy would deteriorate this sense of liberty and ruin an economic system that has benefited our country for centuries.

See More by Sam Rahmin - Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Capitalism pg. 46

48%*

usnews

It’s time for a change in the way our government regulates private enterprise. We need to implement new strategies that can help bridge the gap between our infrastructural framework and established ideals. Recognizing that a hybridized economy that rejects laissez-faire capitalism, while still protecting the rights of the individual, is the key to our nation’s future prosperity. Government intervention is a powerful tool that cannot be ignored as a guiding force in our economy- yet it cannot be abused. The search for this equilibrium is the chief concern of today’s policy makers as they retool legislation to create a functioning homeostasis will best serve America.

newsweek

Maybe

“The American economy’s framework and goals are in place- we just need to reevaluate our methods of execution.”

See More by Justin Burris -The Reform America Needs pg. 48

No

“In order to serve our best interests and protect us from the economy’s dangerous pitfalls, the government has the duty to regulate.”

14%*

*The poll was conducted by Zoe Rubin who questioned 307 Horace Mann students. April 2010 HM Review

philsbackupsite

See More by Rebecca Segall - Socialist Ideals in A Capitalist Society pg. 50

usnews

America stands for equality and equal opportunity. However, the current disparate distribution of wealth and disparity between socioeconomic classes is demonstrated by the millions of Americans who cannot afford health care, “livable pensions,” education, or adequate homes, juxtaposed to the elite group of Americans making millions through corporate hierarchies. While some true capitalists argue that this model encourages innovation and creativity, the government is responsible for ensuring a certain quality of life for all Americans. If the recent economic crisis has taught us anything, it’s that laissez-faire economics have the potential to cause disastrous effects. The government must have a heavier hand in regulating the free market to make sure our economy is serving our best interests.

45


Viewpoints

Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Capitalism

C

by samantha rahmin

apitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit rather than by the state. The United States itself can be seen as the very definition of capitalism. Our system is one in which people embrace free-market ideas, such as competition in the marketplace and the absence of government intervention, regulation, and monopoly. While pure capitalism does not exist these days except in the black market or in a simple marketplace, our system, now a mixed economy with some regulations, began as a more pure form of capitalism in the nineteenth century. The recent government interventions implemented in order to bail out the banks, Wall Street, and the auto industry have had a questionable impact on the structure and strengths of American capitalism. Would laissez-faire capitalism prove stronger in the long run or were these anti-capitalistic bail-outs the only solution possible to save a badly hobbled economy? Capitalism leads to economic success because it is the only economic system that works in the best interest of society by promoting achievement. It does so by encouraging competition, which in turn develops economic growth. Additionally, capitalism promotes the most economic opportunities. Consumers benefit the most from capitalism because they are ultimately the people who regulate the market. Such a system is needed to stimulate individuals’ curiosity and to encourage people to achieve their best. Capitalism is vital for our country’s success because it is developed from the ideas of enlightenment and individualism, upon which American

46

government is based. Through this notion of human achievement, America has become an economic superpower. The American government was put in place to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for individuals. These individuals should have the right to pursue their own economic activities. The primary job of government is to “control force,” prevent fraud, and protect its citizens. The control of finances, however, is left to the individuals. Early in American history, capitalism emerged due to its close relationship with liberalism, the philosophy of decreasing government interference to the least possible degree. Thus, capitalism, otherwise known as “economic individualism,” is embedded in the philosophical roots of our country. Yet not only are the principles behind capitalism rooted in our nation’s core, but they are also undeniably beneficial to our present economy. Capitalism encourages economic growth by providing open competition in the market, ultimately giving individuals an opportunity to elevate their income. Moreover, open competition encourages people to improve the work of others in order to advance all aspects of society. Individuals exposed to competition must overcome challenges in order to stay in business. Standards are bound to rise because each individual is striving to be the best in his or her

americansong

field. As a result, all aspects of American life, from technology and astronomy to education, are among the most developed in today’s world. Additionally, capitalism leads to a decentralized economic system; thus giving more business opportunities to the people. Citizens are attracted to jobs that they are truly interested in, and they are willing to put forth their best efforts in order to attain these professions. Such a competitive market leads to the manufacturing of HM Review Vol. XIX


Viewpoints to grow, bailouts and government intervention only prevent the economy from further prospering. The bankruptcy of General Motors is a primary example of this decline in American capitalism. Once an industrial giant, GM employed countless Americans and raised socioeconomic living standards for employees and customers alike. Its forced bankruptcy could have proven to be positive influence on the auto industry. Now other companies would see GM as a reasonable rival, fostering competition between the companies. During the crisis, U.S. President Barack Obama hinted at a private, handsoff approach–in keeping with the essence of capitalism. Obama remarked that GM “will be run by a private board of directors and management team… They—and not the government—will call the shots and make the decisions about how to turn this company around.” He continued, “The federal government will refrain from exercising its rights as a shareholder. ... In short, our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a handsoff approach, and get out quickly.” In reality, however, President Obama took direct control over GM’s bankruptcy out of a desire to rescue the nation’s largest auto maker. The auto industry is a cornerstone of America’s economy, and without GM, the second largest car manufacturer in the world, the bottom might have fallen out of the American economy. Yet, this dependency on the eleventh-hour intervention is not an isolated theme. The government’s takeover of GM, along with the bailout of Wall Street and of the mortgage-backed lenders, demonstrates the failures of a freemarket system. Many argue that the auto industry should be left to go through the natural cycle of what economists call “creative destruction.” To remain competitive in the marketplace,

an industry must sometimes undergo the “destruction” brought about by competing, new “creative” innovation. A notable past example would be the bailout of “Big Steel” by the Carter Administration, which ultimately resulted in radical downsizing and widespread unemployment. Today this trend continues nearly unchanged, as seen by the downfall in the publishing industry coupled with the rise of the Internet. Old industries wane while new industries are formed, and, in the end, the competitive productivity sparks a thriving economy. By contrast, a government bailout defies the principles embedded in our country’s philosophy of rugged individualism. Too much intervention can only devastate the economy, and so the nation as a whole. No economist claims that capitalism will create a flawless society. Capitalism almost guarantees a successful economy, but not a perfect, equal society. On the other side of the economic spectrum is socialism, whereby the government takes control of the distribution of goods based on the principles of equality. In theory, everyone is equal, poverty is abolished, the government provides, and the importance of money is diminished. However, a society based on socialism does not stimulate individuals to produce their best for society. Socialists may criticize capitalism because of its inherent inequalities; however, capitalists are not necessarily greedy, but rather want to be compensated for their willingness to work hard. The vast initiative and ambition that are hallmarks of American society came into being precisely because of capitalism. It has provided a social framework for creating dynamic personalities and inventions. American capitalism may not guarantee equality but its founding principles foster equal opportunities, fair principles, the growth of industry, and a stimulated economy. HMR

NYT

wordpress

a wide range of products and a variety of services. In a capitalistic system, that hard work is rewarded. Capitalism is one of the only economic systems in which there is a multitude of business options for people to engage in. Capitalism also stimulates an economic system where consumers regulate and benefit from the market. Industries that satisfy the consumers are the industries that thrive. Also, individuals are encouraged to work with the incentive that they will be financially compensated for this labor. This principle leads to a better lifestyle, which in turn benefits the economy. Free markets have proven to be the best functioning economies throughout the world and should remain an intrinsic part of our economic system. During America’s formative years, capitalism quickly gained prominence. However, in order to keep money within the United States, congress initiated high foreign tariffs. On the surface, these tariffs seemed to be promoting America’s industries. In actuality, however, they forced companies to rely on government support and so contradicted the main principles of capitalism. Eventually, this concept “exploded.” As the government support grew, businesses, such as General Motors, grew more and more dependent on the government’s financial support to protect them from foreign competition. It’s no coincidence or irony that foreign competition is eventually what brought down GM. In a capitalistic system, the government’s role is not to help these companies with bailouts, but rather to let these companies compete in the marketplace. Whichever manufacturer comes up with the most innovative ideas will thrive. As a result, companies are constantly challenging each other to perform at their best, for the benefit of consumers nationwide. While capitalism has enabled our economy

April 2010 HM Review

47


Viewpoints

The Reform America Needs

A

by justin burris

merican capitalism needs reform. The financial crisis is a crisis brought on by the current American economic system. After years of deregulation and lax government oversight, private enterprise has proven itself irresponsible. Reckless and over-leveraged investing, greed-driven mass securitization, and rampant sub-prime lending are only three of the faults committed by the American financial industry that led to the financial crisis. Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” mentality, the very sentiment that drives the free market, also created its shortfalls- after all, greed is only good when it is profitable, and the free market has demonstrated itself incapable of determining when it will be so. While Americans have always recognized that some services are simply better controlled by the public than by private enterprise (Amtrak and Fannie Mae to name a few), we have always believed that when private enterprise can perform

48

a function, it should be allowed to do so with as little governmental intervention as possible. With this valid reasoning, we’ve created a societal framework that is ready for a new era of revised capitalism. This framework has taught us such invaluable lessons as the detriment of protectionism, the rights of every man to the fruits of his own labor, and the importance of a consumer base with large purchasing power. The problem lies in how to equilibrate this homeostasis. The American economy’s framework and goals are in place- we just need to reevaluate our methods of execution. Consider the issue of increasing the purchasing power of the average consumer. To do this, not only do we want to increase the income of the lower and middle classes, but we also want to ensure that goods are produced as efficiently as possible in a market with near-perfect competition so that prices and goods will remain competitive as well. The health care overhaul is a great example of the

government’s attempt to increase the services received per dollar of the average American. The health care insurance premium of the average American is expected to drop by 12-14% under Obama’s new health care plan. Much of these savings, however, are paid for by the tax hikes imposed on the drug manufacturers and biotech firms. Obama is attempting to redistribute the wealth: the middle class receives more service at the expense of the wealthy medical executives and investors in biomedical firms. This method of redistribution of wealth, though effective, is far too costly in terms of the impact that it will have on the health care industry, where America still had a competitive advantage. Due to the new expenses associated with manufacturing health care equipment and drugs, America is a much less bio-business-friendly place than it was a year ago, and it will doubtlessly drive companies away. This expatriation will reduce the number of employers and HM Review Vol. XIX


Viewpoints

joergengeerds

American jobs will be lost, and once more America’s middle class will be struggling. With the health care overhaul serving as an example of failure on the part of the government to effectively aid the average American, let’s look at an example of a way that the government can empower us. The nationwide housing market crash has financially ruined millions of Americans who are now drowning in debt. Twenty years ago, when an individual wanted to buy a home, the bank made sure the individual could afford to pay a mortgage based on a conservative appraisal of the home and required a large percentage of the total purchase price down initially. Seeking an opportunity to maximize profits (while ignoring risk), bankers decided to reinvent the system. They ignored the suitability of the buyer and were unconcerned with his or her ability to make payments while requiring next to no money down. They packaged these sub-prime loans into pools and securitized the pools, knowing that with the approval of the April 2010 HM Review

credit rating agencies, they could pawn these securities off to the open market, making a profit regardless of the loan performance, leaving the open market holding the bag. The ultra-liquid credit that this strategy created enabled millions of Americans to purchase homes that they could never afford, effectively creating a massive and unsustainable pricing bubble. Needless to say, the government is responsible for this reckless Wall Street activity. Besides the obvious lack of regulation of the financial institutions packaging these securities (many of the packagers were hedge funds, which are totally unregulated), the government also didn’t step in to control the expense of it to the banks. By not increasing the federal funds rate, the government kept money cheap and allowed banks to continue to distribute these loans. In this example, the government’s lack of intervention hurt the American consumer. Through simple increases in regulation, say for example, by limiting the size of the mortgage pools

or requiring a loan applicant’s income to be a certain percentage of their mortgage amount, the government could have easily curbed Wall Street’s reckless practices and prevented the financial disaster. The need has arisen for reformed capitalism. It’s time for the government to take a more active role in ensuring that financial institutions and other essential services function responsibly while refraining from strangling private enterprise. We need to reassess the role of government in the free market and create a more hybridized economy in which laissez-faire capitalism is allowed to rule wherever possible, but the government is not afraid to exert its powerful influence to push the free market in the right direction. The government needs to learn when and where to intervene, and should do so in order to build towards the stalwart ideal of a functioning economy in which every man is entitled to the fruits of his own labor. HMR

49


Viewpoints

Socialist Ideals In A Capitalist Society Why We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Government Regulation

T

by rebecca segall

he classic argument in support of capitalism is that it is the driving force behind societal improvement; by creating competition it encourages creativity and innovation. The extension of this ideology to the business world yields unregulated free markets, where companies and industries can and must do what it takes to create the best product, grant the best loans, sell the biggest houses, and attract the most consumers. This Darwinian competition among private businesses can sometimes be a positive thing, forcing companies to provide higher-quality goods at lower prices in order to stay afloat. However, unregulated businesses have the power to make irresponsible choices, break laws, and jeopardize the investments of millions of Americans. In short, a business without any kind of governmental regulation or supervision can fail, bringing down countless Americans with it. The recent economic crisis is a prime example of how deregulation and lack of governmental power in the private sector put Americans at risk. In order to serve our best interests and protect us from the economy’s dangerous pitfalls, the government has the duty to regulate. Much of the governmental economic policies of the last several decades could be characterized as criminally negligent towards big business. Pushing for deregulation of private business in the hopes of increasing and liberalizing free trade, the conservative government slowly abandoned oversight of big industries. For example, the Republicansponsored Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 exempted derivatives from regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), two governmental bodies traditionally responsible for overseeing trade. Additionally, the “Contract With America,” a platform released by the Republican Party in 1992 which empha-

50

sized deregulation, is also a prime example of the conservative policy that contributed to the high-risk, overlooked activity in the private sector. Additionally, the Community Reinvestment Act, implemented in 1977, encourages mortgage firms to make loans to lowerincome Americans in an effort to expand the housing market. In 2004, the Bush administration removed the anti-predatory lending rules of the act, mandating riskier lending to individuals who would likely default on their loans. This gross amount of debt in the housing market that could not be paid off was the primary cause of the recent economic crisis. However, with further government oversight and regulation, financial companies would not have been able to make such irresponsible choices. Clearly, the governmental endorsement of laissezfaire economics exemplifies the dangers that can come of capitalism in excess; when industries seemingly “too big to fail” have free reign to make whatever fiscal decisions they want to in order to make the most capital, Americans pay the consequences. Government has a history of intervening in the economy to provide relief for Americans. After every major burst of the economic bubble in the past two centuries, a strengthening of government oversight comes through to protect American investors and consumers from further loss. Most notably,

enduringsense,silive,wordpress,bendeily,gettyimages,time,cnn

HM Review Vol. XIX


me,cnn

Viewpoints in the wake of the Great Depression, Democrat President Roosevelt set up financial safety nets to prevent the same investor panic and loan default that led to the crisis. For instance, the FDIC was established to ensure that one’s bank account could be protected to a certain extent. Also, the stock market was further regulated, with the new recording of statistical data and the government’s resolving to close the stock market if it dipped below a certain amount. This manner of curbing the unrestricted freedom of big banks and lending firms not only re-instilled confidence in Americans, but also took measures to assure that the safety and well-being of Americans came before capitalistic gain. Though the recent economic crisis was caused by the same irresponsible loans, credit defaults, and unsupervised corporate policy that caused the Great Depression, the state of our current economy would be much more disastrous if the government had not taken the regulatory precautions it did in the 1930’s. As it is the government’s duty to safeguard the welfare of Americans, our politicians are responsible for taking whatever actions are necessary to protect our savings and investments. Another benefit of government involvement in the economy is the protection of workers. Through government contracts with specific corporations, such as those involved in defense or agriculture, the government can be further included in the dealings of big businesses, ensuring that workers’ rights are protected and employers adhere to labor legislation and standards. For example, the National Labor Relations Act, which was also enacted in the wake of the Great Depression and is still enforced by the government, legitimizes unions. It ensures that employers treat their workers with a certain code of conduct and recognize and negotiate with union leaders. Unfortunately, when government is absent from free trade, exploitation and human rights abuses can result. An example of this is the capitalistic international trade practiced by transnational corporations (TNC’s). TNC’s that manufacture goods expand their trade by seeking out foreign markets where they will not be strictly regulated by host governments. TNC’s can hire workers for criminally low wages, deny their workers basic rights mandated by international human rights and labor standards, and use the cheapest materials in order to make the most profit. Child laborers and other exploited April 2010 HM Review

workers, shoddily made and lead-poisoned products, and foreign economies abused for their raw materials are examples of the disastrous effects of deregulated free trade. The private sector is an important and historical part of American culture, but there must be moderation. In order for our government to serve its purpose in providing for its people, it must be willing to intervene in the economy. While a drastically nationalized economy may not be feasible or popular, many government-run public services demonstrate how governmental oversight, involvement, or management can benefit Americans. Public education, social security, the military, and the postal service are all examples of areas controlled by the government that act to serve all Americans. Funded by our tax dollars, government-run programs truly are by the people and for the people. Though many fiscal conservatives may be weary of government involvement in the economy, the American government clearly has a rich history of establishing and running

“It is time for the government to take concrete, affirmative action to regulate the economy to ensure that it is serving the people’s interest, not Wall Street’s.” programs exempt from the ups and downs of the unpredictable free market. The current debate over health care reform truly delineates those in support of and those against government involvement in a historically privately run industry. Though the Republican Party and other conservatives fear that a government-funded and run public health care option would be ineffective and economically impractical, over 45 million Americans remain without health insurance because they cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by capitalist insurance agencies looking to make a profit. Conservatives argue that if you remove profit from the industry, drug companies and doctors will lose incentive to find new cures and to treat patients. However, as the government is responsible for ensuring the welfare of all Americans regardless of socioeconomic level, it seems that it is obliged to provide some sort of public option to those who cannot afford private insurance. If the socialist model of health care practiced successfully by nations such as France and

the United Kingdom truly are not feasible in the United States, the government at least has a duty to regulate and enforce legislation over private health care agencies in order to protect those Americans who cannot afford to pay, much like it has a duty to supervise and monitor banking and mortgage companies. Our economy now faces a crossroads. A bill sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd (D) currently being debated in Congress promises to strengthen regulation of Wall Street by establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. This agency would impose “strict rules for capital, leverage, liquidity, risk management and other requirements as companies grow in size and complexity.” This piece of legislation for economic reform seems like a natural and necessary step for gradually involving government in the private sector and further enforcing regulation from bodies such as the SEC and the FDA. Some criticize the Dodd Bill for being too vague as to exactly who will create this regulation, but this seems like an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation to iron out these details in Congress. However, many Republicans are demonizing the bill for being too socialist and radical for American politics, in accordance with traditional conservative fiscal ideology. In the back-and-forth war of words taking place in the media, it appears that the progressive and conservative factions of Congress have been thus far unable to compromise over how much government regulation is too much. If this country is to maintain its rich and competitive private sector, some sort of compromise must be made between the government and big business. While allowing free trade to flourish can benefit workers and consumers, the laissez-faire system offers no protection to Americans and is proven to be capable of devastation to all socioeconomic classes. Debates taking place in Congress about health care, financial reform, and other forms of government intervention are not simply a partisan issue of ideological capitalism; they require a progressive balance to be struck. With the health and economic safety of all Americans at stake, the time for allowing the free market to run its course is over. It is time for the government to take concrete, affirmative action to regulate the economy and ensure that it is serving the people’s interest, not Wall Street’s. HMR

51


52

HM Review Vol. XIX

The Horace Mann Review Horace Mann School 231 West 246th Street Riverdale, New York 10471

Issue 8 - American Influence  
Advertisement