By Fareed Zakaria
Congress has been playing an ever decreasing role in U.S. foreign policy, with significant implications for U.S. defense posture, suggests Jim Webb in the National Interest.
“When it comes to foreign policy, today’s Americans are often a romantic and rather eager lot. Our country’s continually changing, multicultural demographics and relatively short national history tend to free many strategic thinkers from the entangled sense of the distant past that haunts regions such as Europe and East Asia. The ‘splendid isolation’ of the North American continent obviates the need to account for future challenges that otherwise would be inherent due to geographic boundaries as with Germany, France and Russia in Europe, or China, Korea, Japan and Russia in East Asia.
“And so when our security is threatened we tend to take a snapshot view of how to respond, based on the analytical data of the moment rather than the historical forces that might be unleashed by our actions down the road.”
A fixation on growth rates has had a demoralizing effect on the United States – and is disguising the size of economic gains in recent decades, argues Brookings fellow Scott Winship.
“The distinction between absolute gains and relative gains has been roundly ignored in the way that policy makers, analysts, and the media conceptualize economic growth,” Winship says. “Comparing ourselves to what might have been if we had experienced higher growth rates, rather than to what our actual income and wealth were in the past, makes us feel that we are doing worse than our predecessors when we are actually better off. This comparison unnecessarily increases worker anxiety and is as likely to inspire selfishness as generosity among voters. Perhaps most troubling, the focus on growth rates misdirects our attention from the minority who are struggling to the broad majority who are doing well, leading progressives to suggest costly universal policies, or mistargeted ones, when more- focused policies aimed at the poor would be more appropriate.”
A 41-year-old man tried to get arrested in an effort to receive medical treatment, according to Joshua Mezrich, writing in The Atlantic.
“A recent study showed that out of over 2,300 bankruptcy filers in the United States in 2007, greater than 60 percent of them were caused at least in part by medical illness. It is hard as a physician to watch patients and families who are scared, facing these difficult times in their lives, also knowing that they are going down a pathway to bankruptcy from which they may never recover.”