‘Representative of the Poor’ Elected As Indian President: The Poor Need Greater Representation in the US and Beyond
India’s electoral college has elected Ram Nath Kovind as the fourteenth President of India. What distinguishes Kovind's victory is his socioeconomic background. Unlike most public officials inside India and abroad, Mr. Kovind hails from the ranks of the poor while he belongs to the Dilat caste, whose members are traditionally called the “untouchables” and often suffer from unmatched institutionalize racism. In short, President Kovind is a representative of the world’s most disenfranchised. While Mr. Kovind’s victory may or may not translate into significant changes, the willingness of India’s political elites to embrace someone who represents the disenfranchised is a step toward social and economic justice.
The US is the world’s most powerful democracy. In comparison to most other governments and democratic societies, Americans enjoy a fairly professional government and a high degree of democratic representation. The US government has, however, grown increasingly dysfunctional in the face of extreme political polarization while the United States has always been ill-democratic to varying degrees. Although the Civil Rights Movement has helped address disenfranchisement based on race and gender, the broader disenfranchisement of the poor, due to a scarcity of opportunity and a general lack of meaningful representation in government, has gone unaddressed.
Problem solving requires a working comprehension of the subject at hand in order to correctly identify the sources of the problem and potential solutions that might actually address the problem. For experts, and other well-versed insiders, industry bias leads to stagnant views and the tendency to adopt rigid stances that prevent novel solutions from being explored. Newcomers to the problem-solving process, however, find themselves unable to develop effective solutions, because they do not have a working comprehension of the subject matter, which leads them to make highly predictable, yet easily avoidable, mistakes and adopt solutions that are doomed to failure.
This is particularly apparent, and problematic, in the industry of politics where elections empower newcomers with big plans and high expectations who almost always falter in their mission. The political industry is divided between various factions that each have their own public policy priorities and agendas. There views are so ingrained that they only know how to impose their solutions based on what they think are the problems when they need to develop viable solutions based on the needs of people and the actual circumstances surrounding the issue.
“Made in America,” “Buy American” Requires Good Trade Policies: Trading Manufactured Versus Extracted Goods
The “Made in America” campaign of the Trump Administration, which is akin to the decades-old “Buy American” campaign, may draw the scrutiny of critics, but the sentiments resonate well among the American People. A PR campaign is, however, not what Americans need. Encouraging people to buy American products with patriotism and guilt might push some individuals to purchase products made in the Untied States. Unfortunately, economics behavior is not driven by emotion. Over time, people will buy whatever products serve their economic interests.
The only individual economic question is whether to opt for cheaper, less durable products or more expensive, more durable products. Beyond that, the winners will always be the businesses, industries, and countries that provide consumers with products that present the best value. Consequently, the United States, and all other nations, need to focus on policies that can foster the kind of economic environments and industries capable of providing domestic and foreign consumers the best value. In part, this means crafting trade policies that reflect the national interests of nations and the Peoples of those nations.
Trade both fuels economic growth and threatens the economic interests of domestic workers and businesses that derive their earnings mainly from their local economy. Increased trade can offer consumers access to new products and suppress the rise of prices for products consumers already enjoy. Trade helps increase the standard of living for domestic consumers and foreign workers, yet it can also diminish the standard of living for domestic workers, deleverage the taxing and regulatory authority of government, and undermine industry standards, product quality, and product durability through degenerative competition based primarily on price.
Too much trade can also make domestic economies over-reliant on foreign production, which leads to inflated prices and shortages during periods of crisis. In turn, it can make export economies overly reliant on foreign consumption and globally sourced goods, which have a limited supply, instead of loyally plentiful goods. In short, trade can either help bolster the economies of trade partners to ensure economic prosperity or foster unbalanced, unstable economic growth. Alleged “dumping,” such as the dumping of steel, is one trade issue that the Trump Administration is struggling to address without undermining healthy trade.
Beijing has established China’s first foreign military base in Djibouti. The move can either be interpreted as a sign that China is taking on greater international responsibility as an emerging global power or be interpreted as a threat. For those who hope to use Chinese might to balance US military muscle, the development is more than welcome. For China’s neighbors and the US, the willingness of Beijing to extend the China’s military machine is troubling. On the other hand, the US needs world powers to contribute to global security. With the size of the Chinese population and economy, China can do a lot. Unlike world power allies Britain and France, however, China is not a democratic society, which complicates things.
Democracies face an inherent conflict of interests when it comes to their policies toward non-democratic and ill-democratic governments. They must either choose to respect the boundaries and sovereignty of foreign governments or conflict with these governments over their dominance of their territories and populations. In practice, the former too often means hypocritical betrayals of their own democratic values while the latter means exerting undue influence in the affairs of other nations, which is something all forms of government are compelled to do in order to ensure their interests. At best, democratic governments will support policies that favor foreign governments when the interests of the populations of both nations align.
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