A Good Decade for Africa

Africa is in the news these days, and not in a positive way. Events in Cote’ d Ivoire, where the incumbent president refuses to step down after losing a presidential election, once again add to the stereotype of Africa as a continent of failed states, dictatorships and coups, and economic backwardness.

Yet despite the news in Cote’ d Ivoire, Africa hasn’t been doing too shabby in the 21st century. The past decade constituted a comparatively good one for Africa.

Things were best economically. Africa grew faster than the West – for the first time in many decades – especially in light of the Great Recession. Much of this was due to the influence of China. It’s vast appetite for commodities boosted economies throughout the continent, as did its foreign investment in infrastructure. Many complain that China built roads for dictators without regard to human rights, but from an economic perspective a road in Sudan is the same as a road in Ghana.

Politically Africa did not do as well. Even today there are precious few true multiparty competitive democracies in the region. Ghana is one, as are Botswana and Senegal. Many countries in Africa nowadays hold elections, but very few are free or fair. The Cote’ d Ivoire election is more the norm than the exception.

Yet things are still better than before. Compare the 2000s with the 1990s. In the 90s there was the Rwandan genocide, war in Congo, Islamist-fueled civil war in Algeria and Somalia, blood diamond civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and other civil wars in Angola and Sudan. These events led to millions of deaths.

Most of these conflicts were ended – or damped down – by the early 2000s. Since then, few events have approached the bloodshed of the 90s. Even the Darfur genocide is far less violent than the civil war that preceded it.

All in all, the recent decade constituted one of the better decades in Africa’s recent history. One wonders what this new decade will bring.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 


Redefining Our Economy and Wealth

    For a long time now, I have been in agreement with the idea that Global Warming is by far Humanity's greatest problem and challenge of the 21st century. In truth, however, it is not. Global Warming is the greatest problem caused by the mother of the vast majority of our problems: Growth Capitalism. Indeed, we will not solve global warming without first solving its mother.
    In a growth capitalist society, we must define economy as the way in which a society distributes limited goods and services to satisfy limitless wants and needs. Our society must teach us and train us to believe that we have limitless wants and needs in order for growth capitalism to work: the great idea that "You can never have too much money". In fact, we do not, naturally, have limitless material wants and needs. For example, I have fairly elite tastes. I want to eat delicious, high quality, healthy foods. I want a super fast computer. I want a brand new Prius, fully loaded. But I don't want to eat too much, I don't want more than one PC or more than one car. I want a beautiful, well built, environmentally friendly home, but not a mansion. People who think they want 5 Ferraris, a mansion and 3 vacation homes, etc. have, essentially, been brainwashed. It is happiness and health that they want and they have been taught that these things equal happiness and health but, in fact, we know for certain they do not. I will admit that it is, perhaps, impossible to satisfy everyone's limited wants and needs but I know that they are still limited and that we are wealthy enough to completely satisfy many people's and most of others.
    We measure the health and wealth of our economy in growth capitalism by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GDP per capita. This is supposedly a measurement of the monetary value of all the goods and services produced in a given country. The problems with this measurement are many. When we produce products that do not improve our health and happiness and are even detrimental to them, we still increase the GDP. When I purchase more food than I need and let it rot in my refrigerator before I throw it out, I increase the GDP. When people are more unhealthy and need more health care, we increase the GDP. When we go to war, we increase the GDP. And, perhaps most importantly, when we work 40-70 hour weeks rather than 20 hour weeks, we increase the GDP. Therefore, this is a horrible measurement of the wealth of an economy.

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A New Mexican's Call For Richardson For President

Disclosure:  I am a mom of four in Albuquerque, and I typically diary at Daily Kos, but also at my own blogs.  I have been a vocally supporting Bill Richardson for president since the primary season of 2004.  I work part time in the health care field, am passionate about the environment, education, health care, energy, public transportation, economic growth and pay equity, and I believe in my heart that Bill Richardson is the candidate to get America back on track.  This is my story, and why I support Bill Richardson for the democratic nomination...

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Beyond Sprawl: New Policies for Better Managing Growth

Over at Florida Public Policy (the ideas presented here can be applied throughout the country, so don't let the "Florida" part discourage you), I've posted a GARGANTUAN post on better growth management policies for Florida's counties.

Its actually my research paper for one of my classes at the University of Florida (Florida Environmental Politics.) Some of you (probably all of you) may know how serious the growth issue is, and some of the information I put in you may or may not know already.

Nonetheless, I encourage you to read it, because you might learn something you didn't - and maybe you'll get some ideas for your community.

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