Why Beijing Shouldn’t Be Celebrating
By Jeffrey Kucik and Rajan Menon
U.S. President Donald Trump did not waste any time keeping his promise to kill the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), an agreement that would have strengthened U.S. economic ties to 11 Pacific Rim nations. However, the common assumption that his decision amounted to handing China an unqualified victory, with the United States’ pulling back from global trade leadership and leaving China to take the helm, is an oversimplification.
TPP’s demise has doubtless provided China an opportunity to build greater influence in Asia. And Beijing has been quick to seize this opportunity. In his speech to the Davos World Economic Forum this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping presented his country as a reliable supporter, perhaps even the leader, of open markets and globalization. By contrast, Trump’s election has brought with it a good deal of global anxiety about Washington’s future commitment to a liberal economic order.
Colin Powell didn’t sign up with four stars in mind. The New York City native and son of Jamaican immigrants had a much simpler objective.
“I came in the Army to be a good soldier. And what I’ve tried to do every day of my 35-plus years in services is to be a good soldier every day, and let the Army decide how far they wanted me to go.”
As it turned out, the Army wanted him to go very far. And Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush needed him to serve further still. Today, at 80 years old and “retired,” Powell is still finding ways to serve.
The first (and so far only) African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African-American to serve as secretary of state, recently shared insights from his incredible career as part of Military Times’ Black Military History Month.
Unlike other communities of color in the United States, it has not been so easy for South Asian Americans to organize and act as one. The very complexity of South Asia and the myriad of internal politics make mobilization a difficult issue. Even during my time in Atlanta conducting ethnographic research on the South Asian American sporting community, organizations like South Asians for Unity struggled to collectively engage the heterogeneous ethnic, class, and religious South Asian American community in Atlanta. Sikh American elders and I (a Christian Tamil) shared a sentiment of feeling minimally included in the discussions about peace on the subcontinent.
Thus, even the coming together as South Asian Americans during these precarious times is difficult. Similarly, in her work on Asian Americans, Linda Vo, in Mobilizing Asian America (Temple University Press, 2004), illuminates the struggle with organizing the multiple nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and histories of migration into one political voice. Taking Vo’s important work and extending it to understand South Asian American life in the U.S. proves informative and allows us to make sense of contemporary events, such as the Hindu support of Donald Trump. While South Asian America is not singular nor uniform nor tied politically to a single bloc, I argue here that the small segments who support Trump, particularly Hindu fundamentalists and nationalists, seek wages from that relationship that will not secure rights for the rest of South Asian America, especially Muslim Americans.
I hope you read the recent report about how vital CCNY is, in propelling so many of our students out of poverty. The report, led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty*, showed that 76% of City College students who started from the lowest 20% of income end up at least an entire quintile higher, so neither the lowest nor the second-lowest 20%. That report ranks CCNY #2 for mobility in the entire country. We are all proud of our contributions to this effort. But let me link that report to other strands of economic research.
That leap in income is tremendously rare. Most people stay in the same quintile where they start and of those who move, most move just one quintile up or down – very few take more than one step away. You may remember hearing Raj Chetty’s name last month, documenting what David Leonhardt called the “end of the American Dream,” as he tabulated data that showed people born in 1950 had nearly an 80% chance of making more money than their parents, while those born in 1980 had just a 50% chance. (He also provided data about the geography of opportunity: there are some parts of the country that do better than others.) CCNY’s American Dream Machine is enormously difficult; it was always tough but it is becoming even more so.
Continue reading “The City College Advantage”
Tell me if this sounds familiar: the leadership of a distant nation has its own ideas about whom you should vote for, or who should rule your country, and acts decisively on them, affecting an election. Such interference in the political life of another country must be a reference to… no, I’m not thinking about Vladimir Putin and the American election of 2016, but perhaps the Italian election of 1948, or the Japanese election of 1958, or the Nicaraguan election of 1990 — all ones in which the U.S. had a significant hand and affected the outcome. Or what about an even cruder scenario than just handing over suitcases of cash to those you support or producing “fake news” to influence another country’s voting behavior? How about just overthrowing an already elected democratic government you find distasteful and installing one more to your liking, as in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, or Chile in 1973?
This past summer I served as an Academic Affiliate of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST). A cross-agency group of applied behavioral scientists authorized to advise Federal agencies by an Executive Order of President Obama, SBST applies findings from the social and behavioral sciences to improve Federal policies and programs. For me – an economist whose research incorporates psychological research findings into models of economic behavior – this gig offered an opportunity to see directly how my research interests could be put to real-world use.
SBST’s job is an important one. Many Federal programs face serious challenges when it comes to the way in which real-live people interact with them. Websites often present constituents with information about Federal programs that is daunting to read and sort through. Intended beneficiaries often fail to find out about key Federal programs, causing the money allocated to help them to go unutilized or to go to people whose need is not as great. Perhaps you can recall a time when someone told you about a Federal program you should consider taking advantage of, but you didn’t because you feared having to navigate the various web pages, publications, and forms. SBST’s task is to provide Federal agencies the help they need to make government work better for real humans, so that we humans can benefit more – and more easily – from what government does.
Continue reading “Public Policies for Humans by Professor Matthew G. Nagler”
Photo caption: Fnu Duojizhand, Anasimon Takla, Juan Pablo Celis and Anne Joost
In 2013 the City College of New York (CCNY) became one of a handful of colleges in New York to be associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) as a nongovernmental organization (NGO). This year, the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and its interdisciplinary International Studies Program are revitalizing the NGO initiative.
Since 2013, CCNY NGO has worked on becoming an active member of international civil society and on promoting the participation of its academic community in United Nations activities. CCNY NGO complements other campus initiatives such as Diplomat-in-Residence, CCNY membership in the UN Academic Impact, and the Model United Nations (MUN), all of which are dedicated to educating future leaders in global affairs.
Continue reading “Colin Powell School to Revitalize NGO Initiative”