History of slavery and the racial wealth/ employment gap: In “WHITE” America.

I want to start off by taking you down memory lane and reminding you of the deeply embedded old-fashioned prejudiced traditions and values that have assisted the formation of the racial wealth/ employment gap in the US. Yes, you’re correct, I’m talking about slavery.

image 1Image available at: http://www.lightboxcollaborative.com/start-here-top-10-resources-change-conversation-race/


Siddiqui’s (2017) article on a brief history of racism in the United States. Found that many of the African Americans brought to America in the early 17th century arrived as slaves kidnapped from their homeland and separated from their families. A boy as young as 12 would be separated from his mother, father, siblings and friends. Do you remember what it was like being 12? A time where your only worry would be about friends and homework. Now contrast that and imagine a world where a boy as young as 12 is taken to a foreign land in which he is unable to speak the language, no family or friends in sight and the first thing that happens when he arrives there is his identity is stripped from him; the only thing he had that would link him to his motherland and remind him of his heritage is gone, and failure to cooperate would result in him being stripped, whipped or even lynched. This ladies and gentlemen, is what African Americans have been going through in America for centuries in the hands of their white oppressors.

You’re probably wondering what the link between slavery and the racial wealth gap is ?

Well, when examining history we found that slavery has existed in countries where it has been economically beneficial for the rich “white” man. An example of this is the US, out of the 4 Million African slaves living in the United States in the 1850s 80% of them where owned by “white” business men (Burton 2008). These slaves received $1 a day for a quarter of a billion hours of free labour (Burton 2008).Whereas the white slave owner made $3.1 million a year of the back of these slaves (Wahl 1998). Those of you reading this blog do not be surprised by these statistics, always remember that slavery assisted the formation of the wealth gap as it flourished and accumulated income off the back off its low paid black slaves.

The University of Chicago’s Law review journal (1969) states that slavery has been abolished and outlawed, today there are laws such as the civil right act of 1866 which guarantee equal rights for its citizens and prohibits any discriminatory acts towards African Americans. Many people are living under the false notion that slavery being eradicated also means that the racial wealth/employment gap has too. However we can see that racism in the workplace is still prevalent, the only difference now is that it has been manifested in subtle and discreet way as opposed to the 1850s. When looking at the chart below remember that the black bars represents a criminal record; stripped bars represent no criminal record. From this we can see the predominant racial inequality in the US. Black people in the US committed 12% less crimes than their white counter parts (The Huffington post 2014). However those law abiding black citizens were still 20% less likely to get called in for a job interview in comparison to the white criminal (The Huffington post 2014).

image 2Image available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/civil-rights-act-anniversary-racism-charts_n_5521104


Siddiqui’s (2017) article found that black people are 50% more likely to be categorised and discriminated when it comes to job interviews. Similarly, Hetzel and Soto-Hinman`s (2009) book notes that there is significant disproportionality when examining race employability. They conducted a study on 19 year old high school dropouts, and found that 38% of African American teens where employed in comparison to 67% of white teens. Despite the fact that both these group of adolescents carry the same credentials, there is still a 29% chance that a white teen is more likely to land the job. White teens have a superior chance of succeeding in this competitive capitalist economy due to their skin colour. A teen should be judged on meritocratic principles such as talent, ability and effort as opposed to race. This is one of the many examples of the differing racial employment gap and the inequalities African Americans face in “white” America.

Surely we all know by now that just because a law has been passed doesn’t necessarily mean that all the injustices prior to it will disappear. The civil rights act of 1866 is a significant example of this, yes it has helped implement change to a degree but the racial employment gap is still prevalent. Ultimately the only way we can bridge the racial wealth/ employment gap, is by first educating the masses and showing them that just because slavery has been abolished it doesn’t necessarily mean that the racial wealth/employment gap has too. Similarly holding government officials accountable for not taking any extensive measures to combat this economic and racial injustice would be a step on the road to an equal economic system.

 

By Hanan Mire

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Burton, O. (2008). Gale library of daily life. 1st ed. Detroit, Mich.: Gale.

Hetzel, J. and Soto-Hinman, I. (2009). Literacy Gaps, The: Bridge-Building Strategies for English Language Learners and Standard English Learners. Corwin Press, p.172.

Lopez, G. (2017). Study: anti-black hiring discrimination is as prevalent today as it was in 1989. Vox. Available at: https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/9/18/16307782/study-racism-jobs  [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017].

Racial Discrimination in Employment under the Civil Rights Act of 1866. (1969). The University of Chicago Law Review, 36(3), p.615. Available at: http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3598&context=uclrev  [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].

Siddiqui, S. (2017). A brief history of racism in the United States. Sound vision. Available at: https://www.soundvision.com/article/a-brief-history-of-racism-in-the-united-states [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

Wahl, J. (1998) The Bondsman’s Burden: An Economic Analysis of the Common Law of Southern Slavery. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Winquist, T. (1958). Civil Rights: Legislation: The Civil Rights Act of 1957. Michigan Law Review, 56(4), p.619.


 

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So, we are out of the European Union. What now?

June 23rd, 2016, the day that started it all. On this day, the British citizens were given the right to choose the future in which the country will develop. The referendum ballot paper presented a simple question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”, and two choices: “Remain a member of the European Union” and “Leave the European Union” (McCann, 2016).

 

But how did that happen? And how was that possible? In 2009, all member states of the European Union, at the time were just 27, with Croatia joining the union only in 2013, agreed to sign a treaty which later was called the Lisbon Treaty. In that treaty, there was a first ever article that officially allowed a member state to withdraw. The article, is the now very famous article 50, and it had a series of rules on how a country can and cannot do in case it decides to withdraw (Rothwell and Midgley, 2017).

 

As much as this seems to be an easy topic to be studied, this is where it gets complicated. On the 24th June 2016, when the results of the referendum were announced to the public, 52% of voters chose to leave the European Union. That led to the immediate resignation of then prime minister, David Cameron, and the pound sterling reached the lowest value in three decades. Not only that, but various key people in British politics started to resign leaving the country in a political limbo (Kennedy, 2017). As with not a big of a surprise, various member states stated their opinion regarding to the results. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had warned the United Kingdom’s government that there will be no cherry picking regarding to the UK’s status within the European Union (Kennedy, 2017). This is quite interesting, because the United Kingdom was known for only accepting legislation that was only interested on. Opting out of the Schengen area and Eurozone, the United Kingdom somehow always had what it wanted (Grey, 2013). Brexit is an unprecedented event that built up a huge state of the unknown, and everyone just seems lost. As much as we try to understand it, there is not black and white or a right or wrong answer at this point. Everything seems to happen at the same time, but nothing it is happening.

 

According to our media, Brexit opened this Pandora box, with people receiving deportation letters before the actual exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Busby, 2017), to the fall of the pound sterling and the rise of the prices of chocolates and other goods that are imported from the European Union (Mann, 2017). And what will happen to all the laws that were in a symbiotic relationship with the EU laws? Will the government re-do all its laws or it will maintain the core of the EU laws as its own? What will happen after the UK is finally out of the European Union? Will the pound be able to rise again to its former glory? The only ‘simple’ answer is: we have to wait and see.

 

By: Sergiu Chirilenco

 

Bibliography:

 

Busby, M., (2017). EU nationals deportation letters an ‘unfortunate error’, says May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

Grey, C. G. P., (2013). The European Union Explained*. Available at: http://www.cgpgrey.com/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

 

Kennedy, S., (2017). Brexit Timeline: From the Referendum to Article 50. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

 

Mann, T., (2017). Price of chocolate is about to go up quite a lot. Available at: http://metro.co.uk/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

 

McCann, K., (2016). This is what the ballot paper for the EU referendum vote will look like. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

 

Rothwell, J., and Midgley, R. (2017). What is Article 50? The only explanation you need to read. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ [Accessed 15th December 2017]

 

 

Positives and Negatives of a technological economy.

With the increase in technology and the vast developments it’s had an impact on global economy. For one technology has allowed currency flow easier in turn creating transnational borders. Due to this the global economy is increasingly interconnected. As each economy is linked to the other, countries have to work together in order to keep the market stable. However, this has also been a negative as it’s left economies more fragile and prone to crashes. As each country is interconnected if one economy crashes it sets off a domino effect that leads the other economies crashing as they rely on each other e.g the 2008 banking crisis. Furthermore, technology has advanced to the point that it’s now able to do a variety of jobs that humans can do. This was a growing fear that technological advances would lead to mass unemployment as businesses would replace majority of their labour workforce with machines. For many reason machines are seen as more efficient one, they are able to manufacture and produce products at a much faster rate than humans can. Secondly, it’s cheaper to have machines than a whole workforce as machines. The biggest cost that most companies have is salaries, with a robotic system you only require a few technicians controlling the system. Thirdly, businesses don’t have to worry about health and safety regulations as well as decreased risk to the workforce that is left. However, replacing the workforce with machines can also have its negatives. For one, it’ll lead to high numbers of unemployment and a decrease in consumerism as citizens won’t have the money to spend and contribute to the economy, therefore the economy will suffer and will eventually crash. In addition, it could lead to a large majority of those who are labour workers being marginalised as they are now unemployed and the skills they possess are no longer needed. Labour skills would in turn become redundant and instead more technical and engineering positions will surface. There would be a demand of people who can fix the machines as well as operate them.  This would require a reform in order to re-educate the labour workers in more technical fields. Even though, a more technological economy may lead to some unemployment overall, it’s been positive to economies than negative. Having a technological economy allows you to monitor the markets and avoid or decrease the effects of a crash as well as allowing the economy faster. For example, due to the protocols set up the crash in 2008 was not as detrimental to the economy as earlier crashes were. As well as that technology has the ability of spreading throughout companies therefore, can observe the rise of sectors within the economy.  “An important measurement of the technology economy is the observing the Worldwide IT Spending volume, which is regarding the corporate spending for hardware, software, data centers, networks, and staff, both internal and outsourced IT services. Currently, this volume is close to USD6 trillion per year.” (M.A. Cavallo, 2016). Technological advanced has also provided us with quick access to vast information that allows companies to gain knowledge on improved ways of developing. As well as providing an efficient way of tracking progress and economic growth in comparison with other companies. This is important in preserving competitiveness between economies and inspires innovation as each economy id trying to outdo the other in technological advances.  Furthermore, corporations that can’t afford robotic systems are able to move their manufacturing abroad to low- wage countries, therefore are still able to compete with technologically advanced corporations. “Mexico, in particular, has become an important production-sharing partner for the United States because of proximity, demographic factors, and the Mexican economic crisis which has resulted in lower wage levels that are competitive with labor costs in the developing countries of Asia and government programs that support production-sharing”.( H.G. Stever, J. H. Muroyama, 1998),

 

 

Zanab M Abdullahi

 

Bibliography

 

M.A. Cavallo, (2016), The growing importance of the technological economy, CIO Global networking Group, Available at: https://www.cio.com/article/3152568/leadership-management/the-growing-importance-of-the-technology-economy.html <Accessed 6/12/17>

 

H.G. Stever, J. H. Muroyama, (1998), Globalization of technology: international perspective, The national academics of Science, engineering, medicine, Available at: https://www.nap.edu/read/1101/chapter/2 <Accessed at 9/12/17>

‘EVIRO-ECONOMICS’ – the marriage between environmentalism and economics

environomics2

As the economy has developed through industrialisation, environmental issues have become increasingly apparent, particularly through the rise of environmental politics. Some of these issues include air pollution, natural resource depletion, and waste disposal ((Rinkesh, 2009). The more we become aware of these issues the more we realise the importance of dealing with them.

International political economy never drew focus on the environment during it’s early years, nor did it work together with ‘green’ thinkers – also know as environmentalists or ecologists. Global environmental change can only be effective and long lasting if everyone contributes to changes. Since 1992, during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, many international organisations have come together to work in allegiance to create sustainable development (O’brien and William, 2016. p.241) – the beginning of working together to identify sustainability issues and establish points of action.

Issues which affect the environment can be classified in different ways – each classification focussing on different aspects of production and development, helping identify how each issue affects the environment. There are physical changes which are concerned with air pollution, ozone depletion, or marine depletion, developmental activities, such as energy production, agricultural production, and tourism, and aspects of the human condition and wellbeing, such as population growth and security (O’brien and William, 2016. p.243). These issues can also be separated between those which arise directly from human activity, for example deforestation, and those which arise indirectly from waste, such as greenhouse gasses. These classifications help countries to deal with sustainability issues on a global scale.

Environmentalism is a wide and deep issue, and it is accepted that links between it and the economy are complex. This is because of the broad and ethic nature of environmentalism, and the uncertainty of the future, economically, socially, and environmentally. It is therefore realised that these aspects must work holistically if any developments are to be sustainable.

It is recognised that economic growth is essential to improve standards of living, and decrease levels of poverty. These objectives mean that the economy needs to adapt and grow but sustainably, shifting to low-carbon and resource-efficient production, particularly with produced capital (man-made produce and methods such as machines and infrastructure) (Everett et al, 2010. p.28).

This has led to the creation of SDG’s (sustainable development goals). The SDG’s are targets set in 2015 by the UN, adopted by many countries, aiming to create a more sustainable and healthy globe. Some of these goals include: affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, responsible production and consumption, and clean water and sanitation (UN, 2017). These goals are beneficial in helping mark progress and giving countries aims to work towards.

Economic development and environmental sustainability undoubtedly affect each other, so dealing with economic growth without considering environmental impacts would be like adding an extension onto a house with crumbling foundations. Therefore, the incorporation of sustainability with economic growth becomes compulsory, and the only way to effectively overcome environmental issues is to tackle them on a global scale.  This has led to the holistic view of both the environment and the economy, to lead towards a cleaner, efficient, and sustainable way of living which is fair to the whole population. Like any marriage, conflicts may be presented, but like a good marriage, efforts must made to overcome these to be successful in the creation of a stable future.

 

Hana Sayeed

 

Everett, T. Ishwaran, M. Ansaloni, G. Rubin, A. (2010). Economic Growth And The Environment, available at  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69195/pb13390-economic-growth-100305.pdf [p.28] [Accessed 14th December 2017]

O’Brien, R & Williams, M. (2016). Global Political Economy: Palgrave Macmillan [p.241, 243]

Rinkesh. (2009). Environmental Problems, available at https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-current-environmental-problems.php [Accessed 14th December 2017]

UN.org. (2017). Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals To Change The World, available at http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Image source: http://www.inspiredwomen.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/moneytree.jpg

‘Robonomics’

robots

Development of technology has changed the way we do everything from domestic tasks to trading. Looking at the changes this development process has delivered can help us evaluate the inclusion of these changes, as well as look at how they have enhanced the economy. Doing this allows us to improve current methods so we can shape the future of the economy, and most importantly improve the standard of living and interaction technology provides.
 

Pre-industrialisation & Industrialisation

The pre-industrial age was simply the time before industrialisation – before machines and mechanisation. During this age, the economy existed at a ‘subsistence’ level, which means that goods were produced for the consumption of an individual family. Industrialisation marked the beginning of rapid developments in the world of technology. Before then trading was small scaled and limited. Business and manufacturing took place in someone’s home, or private property (Whittemore, 2017).

This was until the first industrial revolution which began in the 16th century (O’Brien and Williams, 2016. p.64-65), when Europe and America shifted into mainly industrialised cities, also described as urbanisation. Society transformed itself from heavy agriculture into the manufacturing of goods and services, enhanced by the creation of machinery. This is not to say that farming life struggled, as farmers found themselves experiencing an economic boom, as people from the city still needed food supply (Whittemore, 2017). This revolution was followed by others of similar nature, introducing coal and the railway system.  (O’Brien and Williams, 2016. p.64-65).  It is important to reflect on this shift because it represents how quickly the economy changed.

 

Robonomics

The emergence of machines, or robots has brought with it a new brand of economics – ‘robonomics’. This term is used to describe economics which relies on robots, and artificial intelligence for production rather than human labour (Rector, 2017. p.2). The use of machines and robots are used more widely than we appreciate – think about, even the local corner shop has a digital card reader. Traditional forms of production are forced to incorporate technology in their methods to keep up with demand, for example the use of tractors which are able to harvest quicker than human labour.

Robots are preferred for repetitive laborious jobs, as they can work continuously, do not need holiday pay, and they maintain their standard of service or production without complaining or slowing down (unless they develop a fault of course). They can stick to the same routine, be on time, and produce work of a consistent standard (Rector, 2017. p.3).

Despite this, they present their own problems – most surrounding the absence of emotion such as lack of personal approach and creativity (Rector, 2017. p.3). Also, although modern designs are sophisticated and created to function efficiently, we are not at a stage where human supervision is not required – yet.

Robots have allowed a significant increase in production. As a result, humans are spending less time doing repetitive jobs which are left to robots, and the focus for humans has shifted to ingenuity, with increased demands in designing and entrepreneurship. Human labour is now mainly used to oversee the functioning and maintenance of robots.

This shift in economics presents both benefits and challenges. The benefits are clear in terms of production and efficiency, but there are further benefits which stem from this such as more leisure time, and liberation from labour intense work.

The challenges consist of unemployment issues – which could lead to further divides between employed and unemployed people, changes in social values – particularly as the introduction of more sophisticated robots lead to emotional interaction, and possible functional illiteracy – where people forget how to perform certain tasks because robots are relied on to do them (Rector, 2017. p.5).

These benefits and challenges will undoubtedly give way to political and social changes which could force society to revaluate its structures and cycles, to fit with a technologically led way of life; this is especially likely with the progression of robot creation entering intelligent and emotional levels. This article explores emotional intelligence of robots in more detail (Thomson, 2017.)

 

Looking ahead

The purpose of the creation of new technologies is to improve production and efficiency. As humans we are trying to do more and create new things all the time, so the transition into robonomics is inevitable. Traditional methods of production find themselves struggling in competition with robotics; this could mean eventually these methods become non-existent, and we become fully reliable on machinery and robotics. The exploration and progression into intelligent and emotional robotics could mean that the requirement for human labour becomes increasingly unrequired and society enters a new world of human and robot interaction – and who knows, maybe robotic government.

 

Hana Sayeed

 

O’Brien, R & Williams, M. (2016). Global Political Economy: Palgrave Macmillan [p.64-65]

Rector, V. (2017). Robonomics – Principles, Benefits, Challenges, Solutions, available at https://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=545088089111020064022120122120095120039012007068065003094083111117029100126101118093035043107025020012109114019012120108114013033055024073042110004085008117093069007023011114119083116126013095066082126109030004098084087013109119119066101013096027022&EXT=pdf [p.2,3,5] [Accessed 12th December 2017]

Thomson, A. (2017). Emotionally Intelligent Computers May Already Have A Higher EQ Than You, available at https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/02/emotionally-intelligent-computers-may-already-have-a-higher-eq-than-you/ [Accessed 12th December 2017]

Whittemore, J. (2017). Pre-industrial, Industrial, and Post-industrial, available at https://study.com/academy/lesson/economic-activity-pre-industrial-industrial-post-industrial.html [Accessed 12th December 2017]

 

Image sourced from: http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2015/0111/20150111__FE12SMFUTURE3~p1.jpg

The Tiringly Unresolved Imbalance

 

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest –  Nelson Mandela (Guy-Allen, 2015)

 

unfair

Poverty; a broad and complex term, which carries connotations of deserted places deprived of civilisation and resources. Whilst there are whole countries which have a way to develop to catch up with the more developed places, high levels of poverty also exist within developed countries. Many times, these poor groups of society live parallel with the richer half of the population, in an almost cruel mockery. The majority of us continue in our fast paced, money driven lifestyles and grow increasingly ignorant to the evidence of this divide around us. How many of us have really considered the true reality of it?

Let’s take a statistical look at the distribution of wealth across the globe.

stats wealth

The blue bars represent the percentage of global adult population, while the pink bars represent the share of total global wealth by percentage. The data reveals an unignorable fact; just over 70% of the population hold less than 3% of the world’s wealth – whilst less than 1% of the population own almost 50% of the worlds wealth. Staggering.  This suggests that something in the way we govern, and trade is seriously wrong because this level of inequality is unjust. We have to question who the ‘top dogs’ are, and how they are getting their money. It probably won’t surprise you that over 40% of them are from the United States. There are many more statistics on wealth distribution available here (Inequality.org, 2017).

When researching levels of poverty, it is usually GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which is used for a comparison of wealth. Looking at wealth is a simple and easy method of understanding how rich and poor segments of society are, however poverty is much wider than that. What these values can’t tell you is where this income is going and the living conditions of the population. It is important to delve further because it gives a more accurate picture of the issues poorer people are facing; this is a starting point if we want to work towards improving these conditions. Researchers are beginning to recognise this, and thus turn to qualitative factors to measure the living conditions of groups of people. Some of these factors include, life expectancy, infant mortality. One factor which is particularly important is the share of income within a country. As I mentioned earlier what we fail to recognise is the extremities of living conditions within a country.

To put this in perspective we can take a look at the US. The US ranks number 1 for GDP, meaning it has the highest level of GDP, but their ranking for share of income of the richest 20% of their population is 5 meaning there is a larger gap between the richer and poorer half. This tells us that although America holds most of the riches, it distributed unevenly, giving way to poverty (Sayeed, 2016).

To demonstrate further, let’s take a look at the UK. It is recorded that 30% of children are classified as poor, said to be the highest since 2010 (Butler 2010). With austerity clawing at the pockets of working class families, more people are finding themselves monetarily stretched. Theresa May claimed that the economy was now stronger than ever, but John leader of Oxfam stated that there are more people in poverty in the UK for 20 years (Butler, 2017). This leaves individuals with hunger, little or no disposable income, and deteriorating conditions of mental health – a growing issue.

Often, conditions of poverty come from exploitation, for example sweatshops. Most people have heard of sweatshop sourced items such as clothing and coffee, being aware either through word of mouth or headlines. But with conversations quickly forgotten and media, in the modern age, as more of an entertainment than an information source, the meaning of sweat shop produced resources is entirely missed. A sweat shop is defined as a factory which violates two or more labour laws (DoSomething, 2017). Some examples of what these violations could be are, unfair wages, unreasonable hours, or child labour. To further explain the implications of this, it is estimated that there are roughly 18 Million children aged between 5 and 14 worldwide who are forced to work (DoSomething.org, 2017).  It is not only developing countries such as Asia where sweatshops are based; America is known to be home to some of these conditions (Oxfam.org, 2017). They are inhumane and exploitative, usually taking advantage of the most vulnerable of us.

Sadly, it is not only children who are hit hard poverty but pensioners too. The number of pensioners living in poor conditions has been recorded as rising –  with currently 300,000 more than in 2012/13 (Wright & Case, 2017). That is a significant number of individuals still receive a below average income, which does not compete with rising costs of living. The state has a responsibility to provide security to the public, particularly as a representative government.

The lack of responsibility from the state is also evident in the need for charities. I’ve always considered the existence of charities a symbol of the failure of the state, especially when you consider the role of the state from an economic nationalist point of view (O’brien & William, 2016. p.9-10). Firstly because of the obvious, lack of moral responsibility, but also because it just patches up symptoms rather than deal with the root causes of injustice. Charities fix poverty like salt water to a raging thirst; it will never eradicate the issues which cause it – until they are addressed poverty will not be resolved.

So, going back to what Nelson Mandela said, how CAN we rest when we know there are fellow human beings who live poorly. Many of the most vulnerable people are at the disadvantaged ends of our societies, as a people we have a moral obligation to help them. Not only is a global issue but a domestic one too; poverty exists right under our noses. The economy is not balanced and fair; It’s time to hold governmental bodies accountable, and demand humanitarian action. After all isn’t their job to serve the people?

 

Hana Sayeed

 

Butler, P. (2017). Child Poverty At Highest Rates Since 2010, Figures Show, available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/16/child-poverty-in-uk-at-highest-level-since-2010-official-figures-show [Accessed 10th December 2017]

DoSomething.org. (2017). 11 Facts About Sweatshops, available at https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-sweatshops [Accessed 10th December 2017]

Guy-Allen, C. (2015). 10 Powerful Quotes From Mandela’s Make Poverty History Speech available at https://www.one.org/us/2015/02/03/10-powerful-quotes-from-mandelas-make-poverty-history-speech/ [Accessed 10th December 2017]

Inequality.org. (2017). Global Inequality, available at https://inequality.org/facts/global-inequality/ [Accessed 10th December 2017]

O’Brien, R & Williams, M. (2016). Global Political Economy: Palgrave Macmillan [p. 9-10]

Oxfam.org, (2017). Are Your Clothes Made In Sweatshops?, available at https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/ethical-trading-and-business/workers-rights-2/are-your-clothes-made-in-sweatshops/ [Accessed 10th December 2017]

Sayeed, H. (2016). Poverty Report, available at file:///C:/Users/Hana/Documents/Internation%20Politics%20Year%201/Poverty%20Report.pdf [Accessed 10th December 2017]

Wright, D & Case, R. (2017). UK Poverty 2017: Country Reaches Turning Point After Rises in Child and Pensioner Poverty, available at https://www.jrf.org.uk/press/uk-poverty-2017-country-reaches-turning-point [Accessed 10th December 2017]

Is China the new imperial power in Africa?

The West’s presence in Africa as ‘benevolent’ has been a long disputed and rather contentious subject due to the long history of exploitation and the colonisation of Africa, to solely profit Western development and the expansion of European sovereignty, and due to the current exploitation and neo-colonialism of Africa still occurring in relations between the West and Africa today.

But what of the presence of non-Western nations and institutions? Particularly, China?

China has been present in the African continent since many of its countries’ independence from colonial rule. They have helped build much needed infrastructure and have presented themselves as equal partners, void of attempting to impose any form of political influence, through their principles of foreign policy which emphasise on ‘non-interference’ and respect for other country’s sovereignty. Their principles of foreign policy have opened doors of opportunity for widely viewed contentious governments “in countries like Sudan and Zimbabwe with much-needed financing” (Albert, 2017) showing themselves to provide something the West does not, an economic relationship that doesn’t attempt to influence or dictate a country’s politics. In comparison, Western nations and institutions have been emphatic in promoting their political imposition globally, through institutions like the UN and the IMF. These Western institutions have a strong stance in their foreign policy which seeks to implement and promote Western social and political values of democracy and ‘human rights’, to the extent that Western institutions and governments will only provide loans and aid based on ‘conditions’ that would help promote these values. Furthermore, many of the decisions to grant aid or loans to begin with are very much “dependent on a country’s human rights track record” (Manero, 2017). It has been disputed whether the priority use of this policy is genuinely to promote ethical values, like human rights, and not to expand control and political influence of countries across the globe.


Taking into consideration the history and current state of relations between the West and Africa, it’s no surprise “China surpassed the United States as Africa’s largest trade partner” (Albert, 2017) and that African nations would find trade with China more favourable, with “almost two-thirds (63%) of Africans say China’s influence is positive” (Afrobarometer, 2016). Many African leaders have also expressed that there is an existing common ground between them which subsequently makes China a more reliant and even trustworthy trading partner, both being ‘developing’ countries. Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade stated that “China has a much greater sense of the personal urgency of development in Africa than many western nations” (Wade, 2008) emphasising the perception of China being a more positive and beneficial one in comparison to the West.
However, the relations between China and Africa, and perceptions of it, have evolved significantly in the past few years – from increasing interests in making larger investments, to concerns of exploitation for Chinese interest, and even reclining on their foreign policy stance of ‘non-interference’. All this has raised an amount of criticisms concerning China’s intentions in Africa and questions of how their investments and trade deals will affect the continent in the long run, in contrast to how it may benefit China.
Between “2000 and 2014, Chinese banks, contractors, and the government loaned more than $86 billion to Africa” (Albert, 2017) to invest into the development of African nations, but in 2014 Premier Li Keqiang stated that “Chinese direct investment was also expected to quadruple to $100 billion” (Keqiang, 2014) between 2014 and 2020.
It is fair to argue that much, if not more, of this expected investment is needed to help develop African countries and while their trade partnership may spur great economic growth, what effect will such an increased debt have on the future of the continent? Many critics have argued that these increased investments are “showing indications of a potential debt crisis” (Albert, 2017) which has led to concerns of whether this Sino-African trade is more damaging than it is beneficial for Africa.

Along with concerns surrounding the huge interest in making investments there are also concerns around the presence of Chinese companies and the impact their trade has on local companies and communities.

The perception is that the Sino-African trade is a ‘win-win’ for both China and African nations, in exchange for Africa’s natural resources China will make investments, help build infrastructure and export the machinery and electrical goods that African countries need. A seemingly beneficial and smooth transition of goods to promote development for both parties. However, the reality is that the Sino-African trade is a lot more one-sided than it appears to be.
Chinese companies have been accused of using exploitative behaviour within African nations “for unfair labor practices, including disputes over wages and working conditions” (Albert, 2017) and the Humans Rights Watch produced a review disclosing that while “the Chinese-run companies saved existing jobs and are creating thousands of new ones” (HRW, 2011) the Chinese-run companies are guilty of “persistent labor abuses” (HRW, 2011) and “deplorable health and safety practices” (HRW, 2011).
In response to these criticisms Premier Li Keqiang has stated that the actions of these Chinese companies that have been publicised are “isolated incidents” (Keqiang, 2014) and has insisted that “China will never pursue a colonial path” (Keqiang, 2014).

While it can be assumed that the abusive actions of these Chinese-run companies are, as Premier Li states, “isolated incidents” (Keqiang, 2014) what cannot be dismissed is the poor quality of goods exported back to African countries and the negative effect it has on local businesses and the overall health of African economies.

Africa has become “China’s second-largest source of crude imports after the Middle East” (Albert, 2017), with Angola as “China’s third-largest oil supplier” (Albert, 2017), and in turn China has become Africa’s largest trading partner and source of machinery and electrical goods.

But who really benefits from this trade?

While African nations export billions worth of rich natural resources, China exports “cheap — and often shoddy — manufactured goods to African countries” (Esposito, 2015) which has consequently led to detrimental effects on local businesses and companies, and have also led to local economies becoming “increasingly dependent on China” (Esposito, 2015).
As Africa’s exportation of natural resources feeds China’s “need for industrial output” (Esposito, 2015), China’s exportation of goods is not only poor quality but is “overwhelming local producers” (Manero, 2017) due to the “large volumes of cheap products that are difficult to compete with” (Manero, 2017) which potentially will weaken local businesses and damage local economic growth within African countries.

Is China genuine in trying to help development in Africa or are they simply seeking to become the new first world power?

The increasing presence of Chinese-run companies, development investments and large volumes of Chinese goods within Africa very much mirrors the neo-colonial presence of the West in Africa. Both parties, the West and China, have seemingly large interests in Africa and both claim to benefit and promote the development of Africa but in reality, both parties show themselves to work for the benefit of their own economic growth and to promote their self-interests above Africa’s. They both have a great need for Africa’s rich natural resources and in order to maintain a steady inflow of these resources they create dependency, whether in the form of development ‘aid’ or ‘investments’, and push for more control and influence of the country through imbalanced trade deals and self-promotion within Africa.
It is evident that this system of trade is benefitting the advancement and empowerment of China but not necessarily holding the same effects on African counterparts, these “trade imbalances that are handicapping the nations involved, while grossly advantaging China at the expense of the African people” (Manero, 2017) are almost no different to the economic disparities in trade present between the West and Africa.

Although China does seemingly hold respect for African countries’ sovereignty and their right to freely govern their country, without imposition or mandatory conditions influencing or dictating the politics of their country, it does not necessarily mean there is an equal respect in trade and in their economic relationship. By increasing the huge amount of debt already present and by creating an imbalanced trade deal – large quantities of cheap, poor quality goods, damaging local businesses while extracting billions of dollars’ worth of resources – they are essentially slaving them economically. This debt and their growing presence in Africa through their companies consequently replacing local ones, will inherently create a new form of dependency between African nations and China which will ultimately divert Africa from progressing towards self-sufficiency and independence.

China may be helping them to advance their development and grow economically but they are not promoting economic independence or sustainability, rather they are putting their own interests above that and focusing on expanding their own economic growth and sustainability.

The former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, wrote “we must see China for what it is: a competitor” (Sanusi, 2013) and he went on to add “Africa must recognise that China—like the U.S., Russia, Britain, Brazil and the rest—is in Africa not for African interests but its own” (Sanusi, 2013).

Grace Ashenafi M00557803

Bibliography:
Eleanor Albert (July 2017), China in Africa, Council on Foreign Relations. Available at:
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/china-africa (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Elizabeth Manero (February 2017), China’s Investment in Africa: The New Colonialism?, Harvard Political Review. Available at:
http://harvardpolitics.com/world/chinas-investment-in-africa-the-new-colonialism/ (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Afrobarometer (October 2016), China’s growing presence in Africa wins largely positive popular reviews, Afrobarometer. Available at:
http://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/publications/Dispatches/ab_r6_dispatchno122_perceptions_of_china_in_africa1.pdf (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

President Abdoulaye Wade (2008), quote found at:
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/china-africa (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Premier Li Keqiang (May 2014), Trade with Africa will double by 2020, Li Keqiang tells Ethiopia conference, South China Morning Post. Available at:
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1505388/trade-africa-will-double-2020-li-keqiang-tells-ethiopia-conference (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Human Rights Watch (November 2011), China in Zambia: Trouble Down in the Mines, Human Rights Watch. Available at:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/21/china-zambia-trouble-down-mines (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Mark Esposito and Terence Tse (November 2015), China Is Expanding Its Economic Influence in Africa. What Is Africa Getting Out of It?, Slate. Available at:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2015/11/24/china_s_role_in_africa_is_exciting_for_china_but_is_it_as_great_for_africa.html (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (2013), quote found at:
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/china-africa (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

Images found at:
http://foreignaffairsreview.co.uk/2014/10/reproducing-dependency/ (Accessed: 12th December 2017)
http://chiholocastle.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/chinas-engagement-in-africa-and-neo.html (Accessed: 12th December 2017)
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/opinion/cartoon-heng-on-china-africa-ties.html (Accessed: 12th December 2017)

The Unfair Nature of the Education System

Taran Adamson

Capitalism relies on education teaching a wide variety of skills, ensuring there is a division of labour in order for each section of industry to have experts, otherwise the system would fail. If we analyse in depth we see the nature of capitalism is creating competition, and this is completely instilled in children from a young age, for example the system of receiving grades for your work. The rhetoric passed down to us from our parents during primary socialisation is very much so formed from their own secondary socialisation, which they were taught whilst they were in education: work hard and reap the benefits. However no one digests the fact that although you yourself may be succeeding and reaping benefits, the person you were competing against, who fell short, is often left in limbo. This is what the capitalist system relies on, if everyone succeeded, then who would do the lower skilled jobs?

The author Diane Reay wrote a book suggesting that the working classes still get less of everything in education.  “She suggests that in order to move towards a fairer educational system, the UK needs to implement a National Education Service that provides the same standards and level of resources to all children, regardless of class and ethnic background”. However what Reay fails to address is that in order for this to happen, there needs to be a want for it to happen within the more affluent classes, which is arguably unlikely because it would disrupt a comfortable status quo they had themselves established. If the education system in England was serious about truly extending equality of opportunity to all students regardless of class and ethnic background then  “four-fifths of children from working-class minority ethnic families are taught in schools with high concentrations of other immigrant or disadvantaged students – the highest proportion in the developed world, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, where half of all free school meal children are educated in just a fifth of all schools”, would not be happening. There should be an array of students from various backgrounds interacting in a class situation, helping one another, which would undoubtedly translate into professional lives after leaving the education system.  Reay adds that, “…research shows that it is the wealth and inclination of parents, rather than the ability and efforts of the child, that have the most bearing on a child’s educational success today. If you’re a working class child, you’re starting the educational race halfway round the track behind the middle class child. Middle and upper class parents are able to guarantee their children’s educational success through private tuition, extra resources and enrichment activities”.

So it’s pretty obvious right? If you are a parent with great wealth that you can inject into your child’s education, then they are already more likely to become someone in a high paid position in society, and of course there are anomalies where children from underprivileged backgrounds achieve the same, but that is just it, it is an anomaly. Therefore the more affluent classes are able to reproduce through generation to generation people who then gain ‘higher’ paid jobs, while those working class children are limited in what they can achieve, and reproduce people who gain ‘lower’ paid jobs. Looking beyond what we must do to achieve a fairer education system for all, as mentioned, it is crucial to address the deeper problem here, and that is that a particular status quo has been established, one which extends power to those whom are the ‘richer’ people in society, and one which would require people within that class to want to disrupt this…not likely.

Putting the word ‘fun’ in the funeral of our climate

Yes, you have read the title, and yes, it is about climate change. But from hundreds of depressing blogs about climate change that you have read until now, how many gave you a humorous feeling? My guess is none, because climate change is far from being a funny topic.

As a species who is witnessing global climate change first-hand, the attention to create a more sustainable and better environment for us and all the species living on the same planet seems relatively low (Irvine, 2015). A study from 2015 found out that only 38% of Americans believes that global warming needs to become a priority policy (Ferdman, 2015). Perhaps, these numbers do not seem low enough, but coming from a country who is the country that releases the most CO2 particle to our atmosphere per capita, those numbers seem to be too low (EPA, 2017). As much as global warming is a serious issue, people tend to overlook this problem because news of terrorism, horrible economic status in various countries and government’s spying on our private parts via social media and other outlets, has always been a more impactful and gets always our full attention, but for some reason the serious it is, the lower is our attention span (Irvine, 2015).

Then how can we address something extremely serious, that has consequences irreversible in the future, if nothing is done now? Just add humour! In an era of social media and meme fever, people are crazy for different images that criticises ignorant people about various issues. Internet is full of cartoons and memes that puts climate change as their prior subject and there is nothing more entertaining to learn about serious issues through humour and sarcasm (Kurtzman, 2017).

As ironic as it seems, we give more attention to problems if they do not sound problematic at all. Various comedians like John Oliver, Jon Stewart and Jay Leno addressed this issue in one or more episodes of their shows and the attention they have got was massive.

One of the most memorable episodes, John Oliver brought the famous Bill Nye the Science Guy to his show to have a debate against a climate change denier, but the twist was that instead of being one on one debate, they will debate with accurate ratio of climate change deniers versus climate change believers (Irvine, 2015). This was represented with 3 scientists that are denying climate change against 97 scientists which believed in climate change, correlating with the 97% of the scientists that agree that climate change is real against the 3% of scientists that deny that climate change is real, harmful or man-made. (Foley, 2017). Although climate change deniers are quite common in the United States and a little bit around the world, there are significant errors when comes to how they present their data to the public. The papers posted by climate change deniers usually use pseudo-science and much of the information is cherry-picked, ignoring a large proportion of data that counters their ‘findings’. Some climate change deniers go as far as ignoring physics altogether, as some of their experiments are only valid in a lab environment (Foley, 2017). Jay Leno is one of the figures that used humour and sarcasm to criticise those who still deny climate change like one of his quotes:

 

“Climate experts say we should tell villagers in developing countries to reduce the amount of cooking smoke they generate to help fix global warming. You know, it’s as if these people don’t hate us enough already. I mean, they live in mud huts, they have thatch roofs, their clothes are made of straw. We pull up in a bunch of Humvees and SUVs going, ‘Hey, you want to cut the smoke out of here?’” (Kurtzman, 2017).

And as much as it seems crazy, learning about any serious issue through humour shows that the world is evolving with an electronically driven generation, with memes beings our teachers and with social media being our main way to understand the world in a ‘language’ that the older generations seems not yet to comprehend. Twitter and Facebook have been a massive part of the viral information that spreads like wildfire across the world wide web. Some ‘tweets’ achieve as much as 80 thousand ‘retweets’ and 186 thousand likes (Oakes, 2017). But what has this to do with Global Economic Problem, you ask. Well it is simple. Perhaps it is easier to understand serious concepts like global warming with unorthodox methods than not to understand it at all, creating a generation that it is more aware of how their future can develop, making them to act. There cannot be Global Economic Problems, without our globe.

 

By: Sergiu Chirilenco

 

Bibliography:

 

EPA, (2017). Global greenhouse gas emissions data. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Ferdman, R. A., (2015). A new Pew survey shows Americans might finally be getting serious about global warming. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Foley, K. E., (2017). Those 3% of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed. Available at: https://qz.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Kurtzman, D., (2017). Cartoons and Memes That Put Climate Change in Perspective. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Kurtzman, D., (2017). Global Warming Jokes. Available at: https://www.thoughtco.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Irvine, T., (2015). Handle with humor: why we want you to laugh about climate change. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

Oakes, K., (2017). 18 Tweets About Climate Change That Will Make You Laugh Then Despair. Available at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ [Accessed 14th December 2017]

 

 

 

 

 

Panama Papers: deception and lies of the rich

Taran Adamson

The Panama Papers perfectly signifies the anti-establishment response all of us ‘lefty’s’ wish we could comprise. It was an “unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC”. The document illustrates the neo-liberal attitude which emphasises greed arguably created by the capitalist agenda, whereby those whom had committed tax crimes amounting to billions of dollars where obviously people at the very top tier of society. To give an idea of the scope in which these crimes reached, national leaders were involved, most notoriously Russian President Vladimir Putin, who managed to hide $2 billion as his ‘best friend’ whom is said to be at the heart of a scheme which “money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore”. Other national leaders with vast offshore wealth: Ayad Allawi, the former Vice President and ex-interim prime minster of Iraq; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former President;   and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson…the list goes on.

Unsurprisingly guess who’s daddy ran an offshore investment fund which avoided ever paying tax…yes, ever, by hiring a large group of residents in the Bahama’s to sign its paper work? You guessed it, our very own ex-Prime Minister David Cameron. Even more troubling than the evasion of tax itself, the company sent HM Revenue and Customs a detailed tax return every year since its creation, which had until the release of these papers, satisfied the tax man to the utmost. But then, it is fair to say that if the people committing these crimes are the most powerful and influential people in society, who is to say that those working for HM Revenue and Customs were not aware of the illegal activity taking place. Those that commit tax evasion have to have a sophisticated knowledge of how to do so, and this requires experts in most cases, something that your average Joe whom works hard for their money and pays tax could not so easily achieve. While the rich are robbing their country of more money for National Health Insurance, a service that has received relentless cuts, effecting its performance and subsequently endangering the citizens of the UK, the middle and working class people pay their way. While the rich are robbing their country’s citizens of the chance to send their children to state schools where the facilities are of a high standard to allow for the best education possible, the middle and working classes pay their way…you get the point.

We must ask ourselves if the politicians running our national and international affairs are capable of such corruption, how do we know the corruption does not extend further into other facets of our lives? We in the western world live in representative liberal democracies, in which we vote and hand over our trust to political representatives, in the hope they will create a better society, but the Panama Papers has ignited a deepened crisis of trust. It could be argued better checks need to be established in order to prevent this from reoccurring, but it is questionable on how likely these checks would be carried out, when they would be enacted by the very people committing the crime.

 

 

Bibliography

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers

https://www.bna.com/eu-panama-papers-n73014473158/

Urbinati, N. Representative Democracy: Principles And Genealogy. Chicago, III: University of Chicago Press, 2010.