Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Never Allies

Hosting Chinese dissidents, trading arms to Taiwan, these are just some of the highlights this week which demonstrate the growing tension between Sino-U.S. relations. Many suspect Washington's involvement is a follow-up of the Bo Xilai scandal, which originated when his chief aid Wang Lijun sought refuge in a U.S. embassy. However, this is far from an individual incident. In the case of arms trade to Taiwan, the most recent transactions were an arms sales package in 2008, with an estimated worth of over $6 billion, followed by another $6 billion deal in 2010.Throughout the history of arms trade with Taiwan, the U.S. government also demonstrates the tendency to trade more in even numbered years instead of odd numbered years, namely the years with midterm elections. In election years, Republicans and Democrats alike take a tougher stance on foreign policies towards China. The main reason is catering to public opinion. The latest Gallup poll of US-China ties show only 13% of U.S. adults see China as an ally, lower than the 17% who demonstrate unfriendly views towards China, and far less than the 63% majority view of seeing China as friendly but not as an ally. Another Gallup poll shows 83% percent of Americans favor Japan, and 75% favor India, while only 41% favor China. U.S. is more likely to form an alliance with Japan, South Korea, and even Vietnam over China. What is the reason behind U.S. foreign policy of distancing China? Is the clash of ideology the reason which stands in the way of a closer alliance or an excuse to explain why China and the U.S. may never become true allies?

Economic Policy, Foreign Policy

View more presentations from Congressional Budget Office

President Obama Visits Afghanistan

I found this article to be a timely and interesting example of presidential image in foreign affairs — "Obama: Afghan Pact Signals Goal 'Is Within Reach'". The president acted in his role as commander-in-chief by personally visiting the troops and speaking of his hope for the future. I think it especially interesting that he chose to frame his plan for the future in terms of national security, avoiding the idea of imperialism or of imposition of democratic ideals in Afghanistan. After the experience in Iraq, many Americans are much less sympathetic to the idea of spreading American ideals in foreign countries, but they still value national security. President Obama said, "Our goal is not to build a country in America’s image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and most importantly, many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al-Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Practice Final

I. Identifications. Explain the meaning and significance of 12 of the 15 following items (4 points each).Each answer should be a brief paragraph. What is fair game for an identification?
  • Items that we have discussed in class or on the blog;
  • Items that appear in bold or italics in the readings;
  • Items that cover several pages in the readings.
  1. National Security Act of 1947
  2. Progressive taxes
  3. Stare decisis
  4. Federal Register
  5. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  6. Cloture
  7. Exclusionary rule
  8. Unfunded mandate
  9. Bill of attainder
  10. Entitlements
  11. Party identification
  12. Thirteenth Amendment
  13. Statutes
  14. Recess appointments
  15. "Oppo"
II. Short answers. Answer 3 of 4 (6 points each). Each answer should be a brief paragraph.
  1. Explain the difference between unilateralism and multilateralism in foreign policy.
  2. Briefly explain: “I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous.”
  3. Briefly explain: “Our written laws are often hard to understand, but everyone can read them, whereas nothing could be more obscure and out of research of the common man than a law founded on precedent.”
  4. Does the prohibition against double jeopardy prevent the federal government from prosecuting even after an acquittal in a state criminal case?  Explain.
III. General Essays. Answer 2 of 3 (17 points each). Each answer should take 3-4 small bluebook pages.
  1. How can federalism foster deliberation and active citizenship?
  2. The unemployment rate remains over 8 percent. Is the president responsible? In your answer, consider the structure of federal economic policymaking.
  3. See this article.  Explain how it illustrates basic features of the nation’s civic culture.
IV. Bonus questions (one point each) Very briefly identify the following:
  • Susana Martinez
  • Paul Ryan
  • Bobby Jindal
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers
  • Francis J. LaBelle

Monday, April 30, 2012

Economic Policy

CBO Data

Where the data are pointing

Prop. 29: Cigarette Tax in California

Proposition 29 plans to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes in California by a dollar to use the tax-generated revenue on cancer research.

David F. Veneziano of the San Fransisco Chronicle supports Prop. 29 because he feels that increasing the price of tobacco would reduce the number of people consuming it, and thus reduce smoking. He feels that it is important to spend on cancer research because of its potential to save lives.

This editorial from the LA Times opposes Prop. 29 arguing that the National Institute of Health (NIH) already spends enough on cancer research. In addition California has more pressing areas to spend on, such as: retaining K-12 teachers, keeping parks open, public college education, health care for the infirm, and medical care for the poor.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birth rates and class divides

An interesting, and different, perspective on the issue of birth rates affecting government decisions and social structure:

This article cites the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) website, showing that 2012 estimates place Singapore as the country with the lowest fertility rate in the world. Singapore averages at 0.78 children born per woman. This article also cites the CIA website and shows that Singapore has the sixth highest net migration rate (the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country within a year per 1,000 persons) in the world. This is a big issue, and it is creating a great class divide in Singapore. In order to compensate for a decreasing labor force, the government is allowing vast inflows of foreign workers – changing Singapore’s social landscape. People worry, understandably, that the amount of “Singaporean” Singaporeans in Singapore is quickly dwindling with respect to the total population. Just found it interesting that in another part of the world, class divides are being created due to sharp declines in the fertility rate – and there’s really not much the government can do to target the root of this problem.