Earlier this month, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico met to renew their economic partnership to promote free trade and “openness.” Since the 1940s, the world economy has largely abided by norms of openness, but trade and tech wars between the U.S. and China are one example of the deterioration of those norms and a trend towards more protectionist agendas. China’s integration of the world economy has always used subsidies and state control to finance business. In response, the U.S. has resorted to industrial policy using subsidies, conditional on North American production, with the Inflation Reduction Act and the Chips Act. Other parts of the globe have turned towards industrial policy, including Europe and Asia. Pertinent to our discussion, Indonesia, a developing country, has banned exports of nickel to get the battery making industries to invest in their local economy. In light of these developments, Balassa’s (1980) work as well as Moran’s (2015) piece become strikingly relevant.
Based on our readings, I think that many developing countries would face significant challenges in attempting to emulate China’s "Indigenous Innovation Policy" or "Made in China 2025" programs. China appears to use an inward oriented development strategy that also attracts multinational investment and participation by offering its market to corporations should they receive something in return. China then uses this power at the negotiation table with other countries. It resembles a power wielding system of coercion rather than a well-designed industrial public policy for development that could end up having unintended, negative consequences. For example, it is difficult to determine which industries, and to what extent, need protection or subsidizing. It is possible that China’s industrial policy, and in turn the trade wars that ensue, lead to wasteful government expenditures and market distortions that impede economic growth. Therefore, as a framework of development, I don’t think replicating this approach would yield great results among other developing states. Instead, focusing on government interventions to guide the appropriate development through careful investment provides promise for developing countries during this era of the green economy and tech boom.
Balassa’s (1980) piece discusses the stages of development, highlighting the importance of transitioning from import substitution, with and industrial policy that protects certain sectors, to an open economy. The argument goes that infant firms and industries need protections and can help increase production. As production surpasses consumption, countries will need to move to the next stage of development to avoid declines in output. The next stage is second stage import substitution or a greater reliance on exports. Those countries that did not open up and focused instead on a strategy of inward oriented development were not successful. This played a significant role in shaping development economists’ theories of development and helped shape the Washington Consensus.
Moran (2015), contrary to more traditional development frameworks expressed by Balassa (1980), argues in favor of a more open system. Instead of government intervention that protects certain local infant industries with tariffs, quotas, or other subsidies in the early stages of development, Moran is in favor of interventionist policies that improve development through targeted high-skilled investment. Examining three case studies, Moran shows that efficient and effective use of foreign direct investment (FDI) has provided more rapid growth and more substantial welfare gains compared to traditional development schemes. For example, in Costa Rica, the government was able to attract Intel business and investment by showing Intel that they would be able to easily assimilate into the global economy. Further, Costa Rica provided incentives for the company. This investment ended up having significant positive impacts on Costa Rica’s overall growth and development by creating and employing a higher skilled workforce with positive spillover effects.
Naturally, this change in direction, focusing on government interventions and the importance of effective public policy to mend market failures, makes sense given the limited and dispersed success that the market economy provided the Global South due to the Washington Consensus. As highlighted by Moran, “it remains true that multinational investors try to limit horizontal spillovers as much as possible.” Without government protection and intervention, multinational corporations have and will take advantage of host countries and stymie indigenous competition. So, it makes sense we need public interventionist policies to help dictate and guide development. The debate at this point seems to be about which policies best guide that development.
China, however, provides a unique case study for analyzing frameworks of development because its protectionist approach seems to blend the inward-oriented development strategy described in Balassa with the high-skilled investment approach described by Moran. China’s "Indigenous Innovation Policy" and "Made in China 2025" programs are designed to expand Chinese influence among strategic industries through state investment and protectionist policies that allow foreign participation for a price. Ultimately, China is or was attempting to create a comparative advantage in certain sectors of the economy through policies such as subsidies, low-interest loans, regulatory standards, and financial support for key initiatives. But Beijing also attracts investment in key sectors and multinational interest that increase innovation and rapid growth. From a strictly development perspective, this may work, given China’s political and economic power.
A small, humble city resting at the foot of the pyramid, kissed by sun rays reaching through clouds stretched across the sky like butter spread over too much bread. Houses cradled by rolling mountains under the watchful eye of Teufik-Tufo Buza - a hero who gave himself so that others may see streets washed by rain instead of painted red by the forgotten. A hero who understood that "a society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit." This is Visoko.
I woke up this morning still hungover from the dark thoughts that carried late into last night. I picked a fight with my pops I knew I'd lose. He was nice enough to spend his energy fighting me back.
After we got off the phone, I texted him "Thanks, I needed that" with a little winky face.
I was angry, at this system we uphold. A system that tells us we're never good enough, demands our soul, tells you to kill or be killed, sows guilt into your stride as you walk a thousand miles in someone else's shoes only to find there's another thousand to go. And a thousand after that. And a thousand more.
But guess what, it's the journey, they say. Pull yourself up by your boot straps, they say. You get what you deserve, they say. You create your own luck, they say. It's all about developing, growing and progressing.
Fitting that such a word, readopted in 19th century American English, should coincide with the birth of our deepest American values of expansionism, imperialism, and domination.
Progress coming from progradi, pro meaning forward and gradi meaning walk. A mantra epitomized by the westward expansion. A science that taught the few to take and take, and the many to wait their turn.
Wait your turn.
Psychology always did teach us that we are attracted to waiting in lines. Guess I'll stand in the back then. I'm not worried though, 'cause they told me the meek would inherit the earth. I didn't really ask for the earth, only some safety, some security, some freedom to cry and laugh, to express myself, to be anything and everything. To love. Ya, on a mission to love. The funny thing is I asked for my buddy too, but I was told only one of us could have it. Boy were they wrong though. I'll show you. Ya, I'll show you.
They would have you start wars over morality - a notion that you thought you agreed to, an idea you thought was your own. They would have you pointing, yelling, screaming "hypocrite!" at someone across the room. Someone in the mirror that you couldn't recognize as yourself because you never really took the time to look in the mirror. Because you never really saw yourself. Because you were taught to tie your worth to shiny objects featured in magazines and pixelated realities that fed on your deepest insecurities, fabricated your identity, your subconscious being, until your conscious mind played like a broken record the learned mantras so that even when you close your eyes in an attempt to escape, their prophecy is still being written.
So tell me, who is the fool...those who see the system for what it is, or those who pretend the system is what is sold?
Shadow stains the foreground enveloping a memory of what once was. But where shadows cast, so too must flicker the future, past, and present of what might be. What could be.
What should be is only realized through intrepid rose colored glasses where light may sprout amidst itching iniquity. On this day, the people of Sarajevo cast pink upon their city. Danas, ljudi iz Sarajevo šetali su zajedno kao jedno.
A moment sought in the burning embers of a kafa, carried on by thoughts like wisps of smoke lifted from the mind, and held between pierced lips gazing down the barrel of cigarette butt. Ovo je Sarajevo. A moment that has seen reigns the likes of the Bosnian Kingdom, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. To understand Sarajevo, one must live Sarajevo, walk, drink, breathe, share, cherish, love and heal among Sarajevans.
The Fulbright program is a cultural and educational exchange program funded by Congress and carried out by the US Department of State. The program was a part of a bill proposed by US Senator William J Fulbright that aimed to use US war sales surplus to fund international exchange in 1945. Shortly after, President Truman signed the bill in 1946 allowing the State Department to send and receive a number of professors and recent graduates each year abroad to either teach English or carry out research projects. As cultural and citizen ambassadors, each individual awarded a Fulbright represents the US and plays a small yet significant role in America's foreign policy initiative.
Prior to international educational and cultural exchange, foreign policy was largely viewed in a realist context where state influence was measured by military strength. Programs such as Fulbright represented America's pivot towards a foreign policy incorporating soft power. Soft power today can largely be seen in Hollywood bringing American pop culture to the worlds doorstep, diplomacy opening and respecting communication, and cultural exchange providing mutual understanding between people from different lands.
Thus, the Fulbright program is a mechanism of US soft power intended to maintain and improve bilateral relations across the globe. Further, it is a program that utilizes culture and the sharing of ideas to spread American values while simultaneously understanding those of other countries. It understands that mutual understanding and knowledge is not always found at the end of a book but in the world one seeks to understand. To this end, I am a tool of American foreign policy, but an individual seeking a moment in Sarajevo, a moment sa zlatnim ljiljanom.
I sat in a dim lit bar on a Wednesday evening after work with my colleagues, discussing politics over a hazy IPA. I was quickly identified as someone who felt the bern. Its quite obvious after a few probes about my views on current issue areas where I stand and always warrants a defense of my position. Within this was probe was my opinion, put simply, of Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
"A good guy" I said, "With loads of political potential, a knack for captivating audiences with his voice, and undeniably smart. That said, whether I like his policies, ideas, or approach in my eyes was and will continue to be jaded not by political mistakes he's made that saw his presidential run come to an abrupt end, but his donor profile."
While well balanced in some respects in terms of contribution amounts, his donor list is comprised of "too big to fail" banks and corporations that are actively monopolizing the world we live in. I told my friends and colleagues that "even the best of politicians with the most genuine intentions are acting in a system in which the money you take dictates whom you serve."
A week later a story came forth highlighting the very precarious nature of donor/politician relationships. Buttigieg is now entrenched in a scandal that reflects a politician that bent to the will of his donors priorities before those he represents and serves, even if unknowingly. Buttigieg's firing Police Chief Darryl Boykins coincided with backdoor chatter between white police officers attempting to use the "money people" (i.e., donors) behind Mayor Buttigieg to persuade him to let Darryl Boykins go once he became Mayor.
Such a turn of events reveals the obvious concerns surrounding Buttigieg's network, but also brings forth larger discrepancies of donors and their influence on presidential candidates. With Bernie Sanders being the only candidate taking primarily small donations, we have an array of candidates representing the Democratic Party whose political judgment may already be inherently compromised.
To bring to the light the full extent of this issue, it is imperative that Citizen's United be brought back to the debate as a subject for voters to see how money driven politics has and is influencing our candidates and the platforms they have and will put forth. Sander's is the only candidate clean enough to carry out his policies proposals with his unique demographic and number of donors and this should be well understood by the public before heading to the polls come this February.
The opioid ruling saw Oklahoma receive $527 million dollars. At face value an enormous amount of money issuing blame to Johnson & Johnson for playing a role in causing the opioid epidemic. While such was celebrated as a landmark ruling, it should be understood that the importance of stated ruling had all to do with the precedent set rather than the check that will be written.
The $527 million ruling is but a meager sum of the settlement requested on behalf of the plaintiffs that only covers one days worth of reparations outlined to heal the state in the wake of the crisis. The plaintiffs originally asked for $17 billion to cover a 30 day plan.
That said, the platform by which the case was tried provides a unique precedent for trying corporations. Judge Balkman held the defendants, Johnson & and Johnson, liable on charges of public nuisance by continually downplaying the addictive risks of opioids. That is, Balkman effectively concluded that J&J interfered with the rights of the public. Such an interpretation of Oklahoma's public nuisance law provides a platform by which corporations can be tried and perhaps held accountable for egregious acts that damage the general publics' well being.
The opioid ruling itself, therefore, should not be celebrated for the dent it makes in the pockets of Pharma but instead the precedent that might allow corporate malpractice and corruption to be checked and challenged.
The Crisis Watch group published a briefing on the Colombian civil war between the ELN, an insurgency group that is fed up with the government only serving elitist interests, and the the state of Colombia. Crisis Watch provided several "neutral" recommendations to all actors involved. Some of these included telling the ELN and the Colombian government to enter into ceasefire agreement, for both sides to continue the ELN peace talks, and the government to take the same approach as the former administration in dealing with the ELN. This, however, seems unlikely due to the nature of the new administration under Duque. Why would the ELN decide look to enter continue peace talks with an administration that is reportedly making greater and harsher demands of the guerilla group. Perhaps the ELN could be pushed to make concessions and hash out an agreement with the new administration due to the threat of renewed conflict and their weakened position. That said, I think the ELN will need a victory. While they may have to resort to drug trafficking, I believe the ELN will justify this action by blaming (and rightfully so) the repressive actions of the state.
Thus, already unstable negotiations will come to a halt and the situation will likely deteriorate unless the government grants amnesty to prisoners that have been captured by the state. While unlikely under the new administration, President-elect Duque would be smart to strike a deal with granting amnesty because it would allow the government to establish a peace accord in Havana and and legitimize the party among the people. However, we cannot expect the President-elect to do anything short of wage a new war against the insurgency group. This is perhaps the worst news for civil society actors and organizations in the region as their soft power will most likely be unable to bridge the two warring factions.
Neoliberalism has been used to describe the contemporary and recent political history both in the U.S. and abroad. Neoliberalism has crossed party lines in unique ways and has been enmeshed in every fabric of American society since in the 1960s and the election of Richard Nixon. As an ideology and policy model, neoliberalism refers to a style of 20th and 21st century politics that has transgressed back to 18th and 19th century liberalism focused on lasaiz-fare economics. However, neoliberalism encompasses social and political qualities that transform society in significant ways that are not outlined solely in economic definition above. For the purpose of this paper, Pain: A Political History by Keith Wailoo, “The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link” by Robert Procter, and “The Family that Built an Empire of Pain” by Patrick Keefe will be contextualized in broader themes of neoliberalism such as competition, individualism, and the monetization of many aspects of society.
Pain by Wailoo looks at the ways pain has become an effective political issue over the last century. Wailoo gives insight into the rise of the welfare state and entitlement programs today with the ending of the world wars and copious soldiers who carried pain home from war and needed support from the state. Veterans became a political opportunity for presidents to shape pain to their political advantage. Wailoo begins in the Eisenhower era and continues through the Clinton and well into the Obama years discussing theories surrounding pain and how the right and left positioned themselves to extract votes from their respective bases, but simultaneously made pain a highly divisive issue that would dictate American politics.
Procter and Keefe capture the historical corruption in industry and corporate greed that has killed millions. Procter assess the corrupt history of tobacco companies and their squelching of scholarly and public knowledge that uncovered the link between smoking and lung cancer. Similarly, Keefe discusses the opioid epidemic and how Purdue Pharma engineered an empire that would produce, review, and advertise opioids across the nation and now the globe.
Each of these three scholars unveils the neoliberal ideology in an indirect manner. Wailoo highlights individualism, a pillar of neoliberalism, when he quotes Republican representative Mike Rogers saying, “Abraham Lincoln said, ‘You can’t make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak.’ And so what we have decided to do today is abandon the very principles of America and say . . . we’re going to punish the 85 percent of Americans who have earned healthcare benefits . . . to cover the 15 percent that don’t have it. Rogers said this in response to the Affordable Care Act, affirming the traditional conservative but contemporary neoliberal narrative that tells people to pull themselves up by their boot straps and take care of themselves. Wailoo presents this individualist ideology in the context of healthcare and the broader idea of pain, but healthcare and pain management policy are just one of many fields that are affected by this neoliberal framework. Wailoo consistently addresses this theme throughout, and identifies pain treatment from conservative and liberal perspectives. Breaking down this construction of pain even further, it is evident that the ways politicians and society have decided to define and construct institutional solutions to remedy group pain is rooted in whether or not one feels compelled or responsible for others. In other words, whether they share values of individualism or collectivism.
Proctor’s analysis of pain felt by cigarette smokers due to addiction and lung cancer aims to assess the corruption in the tobacco industry. Further, proctor unearths the core concept in neoliberal ideology that qualifies everything, even the life of person, under monetary standards. As publications came out about the harm of smoking and revealed the link between smoking and lung cancer, tobacco companies engaged in a frontal attack on the science community by funding propaganda to tell people otherwise. This tactic proved effective and has since been used by other denial campaigns such as the fossil fuel industry and right-wing media aiming to protect their interests at the expense of the environment. All this said, neoliberal ideology has played a role in shaping corporate greed and exploitation. First, tobacco corporate exploitation of the public and denial campaign was done to keep the money coming in. Tobacco companies began competing against the science community to convince the public that cigarettes were not harmful. Competition was always a foundation of Americanism due to capitalism, but has been emphasized in the neoliberal era.
In a more substantive manner, Proctor assess the fatalities of tobacco companies’ corruption by monetizing the lives of the people in the U.S. Proctor found that the value of a life to a cigarette manufacturer is $10,000. By monetizing the life of an individual, Proctor has identified the neoliberal mindset that drives every decision tobacco companies make. Tobacco companies no longer see death or harm to a society as a fault of their own, they only reflect on the profit they make when someone smokes. Large corporations in this neoliberal ideology are no longer able to see humans. They see capital. Keefe identified the same horrifying truth behind Purdue Pharma and the opioid crisis: the fact that corporations become enshrined in an ideology and market based system that teaches them to squelch competition and get rich at the expense of others, and shift blame to the consumers. Keefe highlights this last point while quoting a psychiatrist from the University of Washington saying, “Our product isn’t dangerous – its people who are dangerous.”  He explains how Purdue concluded that it was not the corporation’s fault that users of opioids overdosed or became addicted. Rather that onus rests with the consumers, Purdue argued.
Corporate desire to elevate themselves at any cost, even the lives of others, was present before the onset of neoliberalism, but has been exacerbated since. The rise of an ideology and policy framework that places blame on the individual while adding a dollar value to each of their lives has created large corporate monsters from tobacco, fossil fuel, and the opioid industry. Only a neoliberal system which produces actors built on competition, individualism, and monetization will create an outcome where corporations wield the power and the will to kill.
 Keith Wailoo, Pain: A Political History (John Hopkins University Press: John Hopkins, 2014),
 Robert N. Proctor, “The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link: evidentiary traditions, corporate denial, global toll,” Tobacco Control, no. 21 (2012): 90, doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050338.
 Patrick R. Keefe, “The Family that Built an Empire of Pain,” The New Yorker, October 30, 2017.
 Wailoo, Pain, 210.
Patrick R. Keefe, “Empire of Pain,” October 30, 2017.
 Robert N. Proctor, “The history of the discovery of the cigarette-lung cancer link,” no. 21 (2012): 90.
 Keefe, “Empire of Pain,” 35.
Colorblindness is a complex aspect of contemporary structural racism today. In my piece on colorblindness, I argue race, specifically racism, is fundamentally intertwined with capitalism and that both work together to elevate the wealthy at the expense of the poor. You can read my piece below: