Archive for October, 2012

Dispelling the Obamney-China relationship

In previous debates, either candidate touted promises of his ability to to be “tough on China.” The tough rhetoric slowed to a minimum on Monday night, October 23rd, at the third presidential debate. Feedback from China of discontent may have been the catalyst, yet during the debate neither candidate could afford to be so forthcoming as to acknowledge that it’s not only in the best interest of the US from an international relations perspective to cool the rhetoric, but also that the US is unable to assume a superior position over China or to bully it. This is not to say the US are subordinate to China; rather, it’s a relation of codependence as articulated by Thomas P.M. Barnett in his article “The New Rules: Hubris Drives Mistrust in U.S.-China Relations.” To simplify it as an economic codependence (our trade for their labor) would be a gross misconception. Barnett investigates the relationship in terms of military and security, the meaning of the democratization of China and its effects on the US, as well as the US’ waning global prominence in politics or economic consumption. Barnett opines that the nature of the US-China codependence escalates both cautiously (albeit relatively quickly) and defensively as neither country can afford to give the other an upper hand in a seemingly paradoxical struggle that is delicate yet bearable. One thing’s for certain: although neither candidate can admit otherwise for the sake of his candidacy, “tough on China” rhetoric is a romantic glorification of our position in relation to our cross Pacific neighbors. Cooperation, codependence, and co-struggling is a more realistic appraisal of the situation for both today and the near future.

A look at Prop 37: California and the EU

Even though genetically modified (GM) food hasn’t yet been proven as hazardous, there’s plenty of reason to error on the side of caution and alert consumers with a label. California’s Proposition 37 would be one step closer to applying the logic of the precautionary principle–that a chemical is assumed hazardous until proven otherwise–, an application the US and the well outdated TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) has failed to execute, falling far behind other countries (95% of over 65,000 chemicals have yet to be tested at all here in the US as reported in the “Notes” section on our Environment page). Before entertaining the question whether the precautionary principle demands too much regulation, one should note that new chemicals are being synthesized at incredible rates and there’s little to nothing being done to inhibit them from entering into our every day lives (via our water at home, or even our bottled water, just as an example). Not only has the EU mandated GM labels for over 15 years (as well as Australia since 2000), but they have also banned thousands of hazardous chemicals with help from the application of the precautionary principle (compared to a mere five chemicals banned by TSCA since its induction in 1976). It’s about time that we not only depend on deeper enrichment of consumer knowledge and the power of the consumer’s dollar, but also introduce and implement a wider, further reaching application of the precautionary principle. Hopefully Prop 37 not only passes, but proves the first step of urgent progression in US chemical and food policy.

Awareness precedes change…

And we’re not the only ones talking about it. The US continues its fall from its potential and precedent as noted keenly by Arthur Goldwag in his article, seemingly regardless of who’s running for the White House. If we’re striving for true change, where should we turn? Goldwag’s insightful review of Howard Steven Friedman’s latest book, The Measure of a Nation, offers a blunt and empirical wake up call for the awareness that is needed if significant change is going to take place in order to turn America back from just a great idea and into execution. Noting from Friedman, Goldwag focuses on the lack of attention given to the poor, minority communities citing our negligence towards them as the reason why we’re so far behind in quality of life indicators such as education, voter participation, life expectancy, incarcerating, amenable deaths, health care, and other areas. To paraphrase Goldwag, incarcerating the minority is ignoring the problem when we should be more attentive to the community if we are to make a priority of making the US the best country it once was.