What Does Globalization Mean To You?

If we were to go out on the streets in any major city and ask people to explain what globalization is and how it affects people in a “Jay Leno” type manner we would probably arrive with many different answers. Why is this? Why are their so many different definitions of globalization and why are there so many different opinions on the topic? In this essay we will look at the definition of globalization including the pros and cons of this concept. To First tackle these questions let us take a look at the definition of globalization.

There are many types of globalization, which give us the ability to describe it in many different fashions. We could look at cultural globalization for example, which explains and discusses the movement of a culture and cultural values around the globe and ways in which they build upon one another and meld together, or we could take a look at communication and how it changes across the globe. Though, for the sake of this article, we are going to focus on Economic globalization described by Bhagwati in his book “In Defense of globalization.” According to Bhagwati, “Economic globalization constitutes integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, direct foreign investment (by corporations and multinationals), short-term capital flows, international flows of workers and humanity generally, and flows of technology…” Now that we have a brief understanding of what economic globalization is, let us look at some controversies revolving around globalization and identify positive areas of globalization and other areas that need fixing.

When was the last time that you turned on your television or opened the news paper and read some article regarding globalization and outsourcing or globalization having to do with an increase in poverty? It seems that this is a hot-topic among the media today driven by rallying youths, banners waving, and non-government organization (NGO’s) voicing their opinion. Is all this anti-globalization justified? According to Bhagwati, it seems that we have two types of people leading this anti-globalization movement: “stake-wielders” and “stake-asserters.” Stake-wielding people are people who feel that they are at war with globalization and are usually wild extremist waving posters and shouting out arguments that they most likely don’t understand themselves. Now stake-asserting people are different in that they use reasoned dialogue to argue their points and generally try to inform and educate people on globalization issues rather than protesting. So what are some of the issues that these people spend all their time voicing concern over?

One very common discussion is whether or not globalization increases the poverty level and the gap between the wealthy and the poor. One argument that we could take regarding this issue would be to argue that through globalization we are able to slowly increase free trade and thus the movement of goods and services across boarders more easily. We would then have gains from trade that will enhances the growth of the economy which will in turn provide more jobs and lower the unemployment rate bringing countries out of poverty. The best way to do this according to Bhagwati is to have “an increase in the size of the pie.” This is done not by an economy simply producing more of what they specialize in but rather by increasing the gains they make through the process of international trade. In his article, “Fixing Globalization – A Review Essay,” Joel J. Toppen argues that globalization is still very much up for debate and that our real focus should be directed towards the poor. Though globalization may not be specifically directed toward the poor, we can defiantly argue that it helps to elevate people out of poverty. So what are some other issues regarding globalization that people strongly advocate against? Does globalization actually solve these issues or does it need fixing?

Let us take a look at an issue that is constantly seen in the news, this would be the issue of outsourcing. When Nike first started outsourcing jobs overseas people were outraged. They were giving away American job just to make a few extra bucks and people were simply not happy about it. So how is this form of globalization even possibly a good thing? An argument that would support this aspect of globalization would be that by shipping jobs overseas countries in our economy are able to better maximize profits and thus help to grow our economy. Well this sounds all well and good but how long is it going to be until we see some of these gains in our economy? Are we not taking advantage of people overseas by paying them next to nothing? If one of us went to work one day and found out that our job was lost to outsourcing we can be sure that we wouldn’t be content with someone telling us that it was going to benefit the economy as and whole and eventually increase the standard of living. No. We would be miserable because we were now out of a job and among the unemployed; a person doesn’t live off of future gains. Now when deciding whether or not we are taking advantage of those “less fortunate” overseas by paying them so little we need to look at real wages.

Though it seems that we are taking advantage of people overseas and forcing them into sweatshop labor we are in fact increasing their real wage. Due to this increase in real wage the price of labor increases and we see a shift from longer hours of leisure to longer hours at work. This explains why people work so long at their jobs overseas. They want to work. Though this may explain that we are not taking advantage of people, we still see a loss of American jobs. Though we are seeing a loss in jobs, Bhagwati claims that we have “…actually raised the real wages of the workers.” He claims that the lower jobs are being outsourced and we are creating better jobs through and increase in education and technology. So is a part of globalization that needs fixing. If so, how do we do this?

If globalization causes an increase in real wage overseas and an eventual increase in the economy through the sacrifice of American jobs, how is it that we can stop the loss of these jobs and still maintain the benefits from globalization? This clearly needs some kind of fixing. One way that we could help with the loss of jobs would be to compensate those that lost their jobs from a clear from of outsourcing until they are able to get back on their feet. This is already done through programs provided by the U.S. government though it is often hard to make a clear distinction when it comes to the manner in which a job is lost.

Along with benefits form globalization there are also other areas that need fixing. A problem that we can see clearly results from globalization is the problem of illegal immigration from poor countries to rich countries. Through globalization, it has become easier and more beneficial for people living in a poor country to move to a country with a stronger economy. This is especially true when looking at the movement of people from Mexico to the United States. So why don’t we just open up our boarders and make it legal? If we were to simply open up the boarders between the U.S. and Mexico our economy would be obliterated. There would be a huge rush from into the U.S. by people waiting along the boarders. This huge rush of people would suck our economy dry, leaving us in a far worse condition. We are therefore presented with the problem of what to do with preventing illegal immigration. It used to be that most of our illegal immigration from Mexico came for people crossing the Rio Grande though it now comes from a different form. Bhagwati says that 50 percent of illegal immigrants now come form legal means such as visas. They enter the country legal and stay illegally. We know that it is impossible to eliminate illegal immigration so what do we do about it? He explains that to fix this problem “governments in the developed countries must turn to policies that will integrate migrants into their new homes in ways that will minimize the social costs and maximize the economic benefit.” This is a problem that will not only result between Mexico and the U.S. but also other countries as well.

Now we are going to take another look at an area of globalization that needs improvement. This problem is the ease at which capital flows can move in and out of an economy. It has been increasingly easier and easier to invest in foreign economies due fallen barriers broken down by pressure from institutions such as the IMF and OECD. According to Stiglitz, “The most adverse effects have arisen from the liberalization of financial and capital markets-which has posed risk to developing counties without commensurate rewards.” As globalization continues to occur it has become easier to invest in foreign economies through decreased barriers and instant transfers via the Internet. This can could potentially cause overwhelming problems because “as investor sentiment changes, the money is pulled out, leaving in its wake economic devastation.” So how do we fix this problem that arises form globalization? There clearly needs to be some type of barrier when it comes to capital flows. “[Capital-market liberalization] illustrates what can go wrong with globalization. Even economists like Jagdish Bhagwati, strong advocates of free trade, see the folly in liberalizing capital markets.” It is clear that we need to have some type of resistance to the ease at which capital may flow in and out of a country.

In this article we have looked at the definition of globalization, areas of globalization that are sound as well as areas that could use some improvement. From this we are better able to understand the complexity of the issue and hopefully gain some insight that will help us to live in a way that will help better our world.

Are You A Foreign Model Looking To Enter And Work In The United States?

Are you a model living abroad wanting to work and live in the United States? Do you want to gain more exposure in a new market? Are you interested in receiving a higher compensation for your work while living in the U.S.? There are several manners of entry available for these people. Professional modeling agencies in the United States protect the interest of their clients by assuring that the models they represent are able to legally work in the U.S. American citizens and lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) have the right to work in the U.S. However, everyone else must have a work visa to be able to do so. Though there are many visas available to enter the U.S., there are specific visas available for models.

U.S. Immigration laws actually offer a specific visa to foreign models who have an employment (modeling agency) offer in the U.S. and can prove they are of “distinguished merit and ability.” The visa available to them is the H-1b3 visa. The H-1b3 category specifically applies to models who are nationally or internationally recognized for achievements, to be employed in a position requiring someone of distinguished merit and ability. In addition, U.S. Immigration laws even offer lawful permanent residence (the Green Card) to some models as long as they satisfy all the requirements. This article will compare the different benefits and requirements of the H-1b3 visa and seeking lawful permanent residence (the Green Card) through modeling. It’s important to know of these visas to protect yourself against agencies or persons in the industry that offer false promises or quick results. The American Immigration system does not work through short cuts or connections and these people will only put you in a position where you are subject to arrest and deportation for being in this country illegally or with the incorrect visa.

To qualify for the H-1b3 model visa, the model must be able to show he or she is of “distinguished merit and ability.” This may be proven in several ways. For example, the model may submit evidence that he or she received reviews in major newspapers, journals, or magazines or received recognition for achievements from modeling agencies, organizations, or fashion houses, and tear sheets. There are specific requirements for this visa and failure to submit the sufficient and correct amount of evidence may result in a denial of the visa.

In addition, models must show evidence that they are coming to the U.S. to perform services which require a fashion model of prominence. The model must have an employer in the U.S. and the employer (modeling agency) must pay the fashion model at least the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment. Freelance work is not accepted to qualify the model for this visa. It’s very important to be aware of these requirements as to not be taken advantage of by persons referring to “short cuts” or “connections” in the government. The U.S. Immigration system does not work that way and these persons are only trying to take your money.
Models that qualify for this visa may live and work in the U.S. for the period required by the employer up to a maximum of 3 years. Before the completion of those 3 years, the model can qualify to extend his or her stay or even change to another visa category. Once the model is inside of the U.S., he or she may qualify to change visa categories or qualify for a Green Card without having to leave the U.S as long as it is done before the H-1b3 modeling visa’s authorized period of stay expires.

The benefits to this visa are that the probability of obtaining one is relatively high. Applicants that submit proof of “distinguished merit and ability,” have a high probability of obtaining the modeling visa. The model visa category does not subject model applicants to the strict requirements of non-immigrant visas. Hence, if the process is done correctly, the model has a much higher likelihood of obtaining the modeling visa at the U.S. Embassy. In addition, once the model’s H-1b3 visa is approved, the model can enter and depart from the U.S. without limit during the years authorized on the I-94 card; the white card given to him or her upon entry into the U.S. However, it is crucial to understand that this visa category has a specific amount of visas given each year and has a deadline of April 1st of each year. Those who need to enter the U.S. even after this visa deadline has expired can enter through other sorts of visas. Now, since the deadline for this year’s visas already passed, it is important to know of alternative ways of entry.

Another visa that is commonly used by foreign models is the P-3 cultural event visa. This visa applies to artists and entertainers who enter the U.S. to participate in a culturally unique function, program, or event. The model must show that his or her talent is authentic and that the performance is culturally unique. These requirements can usually be satisfied by providing evidence of received prizes or awards or published articles about the model’s accomplishments and newspaper or magazine articles explaining the cultural performance. A common example of a culturally unique event is a model trade show sponsored by an American company in the U.S. to showcase models or artists for beauty and talent from a specific country. The great advantages to this visa are that aside from allowing the model to enter and work in the United States., the model is also able to receive a decision on the case within 15 days if they pay the premium processing of $1,000. Do remember that if the function cannot be established to be culturally unique, the model will not be able to obtain the visa. This is why its important to seek the advise of an Immigration lawyer who deals with this sort of work on a daily basis.

The most common and attractive alternative to models instead of entering the U.S. with a visa is seeking a U.S. Green Card through their modeling experience. U.S. Immigration laws provide Green Cards for models wishing to come in to the U.S. to work as models as long as they can establish they are of extraordinary ability. Persons that can prove they are of national or International recognition in their field of work can qualify for a U.S. Green Card.
To qualify for a U.S. Green Card, models would have to show the government sufficient evidence to establish without a doubt that they are of distinction. There are many ways to be able to do this. Some basic examples are: proof that the model has received a major International award or prize, has made significant contributions to modeling, and has received a substantially high amount of money as compensation for modeling. In proving distinction to the U.S. government, tear sheets are also utilized. The model should be able to show at least 12 tear sheets. If the requirements are not met, the Green Card will not be approved.

There are many benefits to obtaining a Green Card. Models that have a Green Card do not have to rely on a modeling agency to sponsor them to come into the United States. As a result, models that enter the U.S. with a Green Card have much more power to make decisions regarding their profession. Because these models do not have to rely on a specific agency that sponsored them to enter the US, they are able to search for the agency that provides them with the most attractive benefits. These models are also able to travel around the world and return to the U.S. without having to seek another visa or documentation from their agency or abroad. No further paperwork is necessary to leave and re-enter the U.S. The model would even be eligible to seek U.S. citizenship within 5 years of obtaining the Green Card. However, even if the model does not qualify for a Green Card right away for lack of experience or recognition, he or she can enter the U.S. with a visa and seek a Green Card from inside of the U.S.

The Immigration system in the U.S. is extremely complex and its laws change constantly. The key to obtaining a visa or a Green Card through the modeling profession is to establish to the American government that the applicant is employable as a model in the U.S. As shown on this article, there are a multitude of ways to prove this.

Because the U. S. has such strict Immigration laws, it is extremely important to seek the counsel and representation of a specialized Immigration Attorney. Only by doing so, will you be legally in the U.S. with the correct visa and not be subject to arrest or deportation. You will also have more protection against being professionally exploited. Another benefit to seeking the advice of a qualified Immigration attorney is that if you are new to modeling and still wish to pursue a modeling career in the U.S., you may learn whether you qualify to enter through another visa. Only a specialized Immigration attorney can counsel you as to which visa is most beneficial and secure for your individual circumstance.

Are Government Documents Copyrighted?

Works produced by the U.S. government don’t receive copyright protection. If you want to use government documents as web content, you can do so without fearing any claims of infringement.

There is, however, a caveat to that rule. Some government documents may contain a copyright notice that indicates certain portions of specific documents cannot be used in this manner.

For instance, you might find a report from the Department of Labor that would work well with your job search site but you’d be unable to use it “as is” if it indicated a copyright was claimed by a specific author for portions (or all) of the report.

Government documents can be a great source of content (and information) but care must be taken to ascertain with certainty that no rights are reserved.

Additionally, potential users of government documents for web content should consider the fact that most government publications are not written in a manner that makes them a particularly enjoyable or interesting read.

They tend to be long on information and short on readability! Reliance upon government documents for web content can create more yawning visitors than happy ones.

There is a time and a place for everything, though. Sometimes, a great government report or a special document will be just what you need to make your website complete. In those cases, make sure there aren’t any specifically delineated reserved rights and feel free to use the government document.

You can find government documents online by using any of the major search engines. Google makes it remarkably easy. They have a special federal government search function. You can also go into advanced search options on the main Google search page and adjust the results to showing only those documents that originate from a “.gov” domain.

Beware, however, of using “.gov” materials that don’t come from the federal government. The law requires the federal government to relinquish copyrights in most cases, but state laws don’t always follow suit.

If that article you just found came from a “.gov” site for the State of Kansas, for instance, you might not be able to use it without infringing upon copyright. Not all government documents are available for use without clearance.

The Government GIP!

Is it possible for government to have a budget deficit? On the surface it would seem so; budget deficits seem obvious, not to mention persistent. A slightly deeper look into the machinations of funding government (the most public of corporations), reveals that there is no such thing as a deficit, nor is there really such a thing as a national debt. A government that oversees a productive and profitable economy, and which has legitimate costs to do its duties, must tax that productivity to pay for its expenses. To take less than what it needs from our national productivity and yet borrow from that same productivity, offering the profit of interest to the lenders, along with burdens of debt to the producing taxpayers, is a conspiracy to defraud and enslave the working class with continually increasing taxes and or continually decreasing services.

Government must pay its bills, and the money used to pay those bills can only be, and are in fact, tax dollars. There are no other dollars available to a government unless it simply creates them, which is taxation by inflation, devaluing future labor until wages and prices rise to consume those dollars. The definition of debt is, in principle, the obligation to repay borrowed labor or borrowed commodities, from one person to another, or from one group of persons to another. But no person or group of persons can be in debt to themselves. Only a moron would take money from his wallet to spend on himself, and replace it with an IOU. We are in principle supposed to be one people, indivisible. We cannot be in debt to ourselves; we cannot write ourselves an IOU. Therefore, the so-called national debt is not a debt. It is, however, misfeasance and malfeasance in the operation of government.

So how can these borrowed deficit dollars be considered taxes? Quite simply it follows from the force or persuasion principle, which is the principle by which all levels of society interact with government. We are all familiar with the power of government to force our participation in the tax system. The government also takes in tax dollars through persuasion. This is accomplished by having the elected representatives create a Government Investment Program (GIP), whose function is to take seed money from the dollars coming in by force and offer it as interest payments to anyone persuaded to invest money in the government. The Government Investment Program is competing for, and getting, surplus dollars from wealthy citizens, many private investment groups, such as insurance companies, mutual funds companies, retirement funds (401K and IRAs), large and small businesses, all manner of stocks and bonds related investment companies, foreign companies and citizens, foreign governments, etc. Since individuals own all manner of businesses by owning stock in those companies, all of these persuasion tax dollars are idle dollars held by individuals, who are directly, or through their elected corporate representatives, or through their hired investment counselors, seeking to put those dollars on loan to increase their future wealth at forced taxpayers’ expense.

Even with increasing foreign investment in our national tax system, Americans still own about three-quarters of this so-called debt; but where foreigners must be paid back for their loans, US citizens will eventually just forfeit their persuasion taxes; after all, their money is spent and it will bankrupt the country just to repay the foreign investors.

Much of the idle wealth accumulated in the 1980’s came as a result of tax reform, whereby taxes were reduced for everyone. However, upper income citizens reaped greater amounts of wealth to re-invest, while the federal government was running larger and larger fictitious deficits. With wealthy individuals and corporations already receiving substantial labor rewards from their workers, government services would have to be cut or government would have to raise funds another way. Borrowing idle dollars from wealth was chosen. But since our government is supposed to be a non-profit organization, every dollar coming in is spent, and since our government is also supposed to be a non-debt organization, every dollar taken in by persuasion, must eventually be repaid with a dollar taken in by force, plus interest. Persuasion taxes on idle wealth will eventually have to be converted to forced taxes on the productivity of our economy; or the debt will have to be abrogated.

Persuasion tax money is idle money, and is not needed by wealth to expand the private economy. The economy would not suffer if all taxes were forced taxes, and it would be perceived to be much stronger because there would never be an artificial deficit.

Although banks must keep a certain amount of their depositors’ dollars in reserve, available to cover withdrawal demands and to pay for insurance from the government on all deposits, using the government’s liquidity to cover for any mismanagement by the banks. The GIP does not retain any reserves against the spending of these persuasion dollars except the printing press to create new dollars, the power to raise additional taxes by force, and the power to sell national resources (parks, lands, minerals, forests, etc.) to the debt holders. In our current fiscal difficulties the government must keep the nine-plus trillion dollars taken in by the GIP in an idle state simply because government is still forced to continue persuading additional idle dollars to be deposited into the GIP.

What is becoming ridiculous is the cost of keeping all those spent dollars from being returned to the investors. The Government Investment Program must compete with private investment companies, national and international, to retain those trillions of dollars. Its only power to do so lies in offering higher interest returns, and the fear of the consequences to international economics if the investors fail to leave these idle dollars where they are. Since these dollars are already spent, any request for withdrawal of the principle by investors in the GIP that could not be repaid by additional borrowing from other investors would have to be raised by the confiscation of private assets. In other words, government would have to raise forced taxes drastically to pay persuasion tax refunds, so that those least able to pay would have to contribute to refunds for those most able to pay.

The on-going tug-of-war between idle wealth and the producing class makes our social existence very precarious. Those who hold the paper of government debt should be advised that when the producing class is no longer able or willing to service that debt, the government will be obligated to raise the taxes of those most able to pay, in order to pay off these notes. It would be the easiest way to abrogate a debt that is not a debt and should never have occurred in the first place. So if government fails to take in the first place, what it spends in the first place, then those who have been persuaded to invest in government will come to realize that they have also been taken. Such is the reality of the taxation authority that resides in the people.

The federal government and the common people are two different entities now. Since the common people have already paid their taxes, the federal government will have to turn to its controllers to abrogate this debt. Keep in mind that the interest expense on the national debt is paid to keep the nine-plus trillion dollar principal from coming due. When those who invest in these pieces of paper determine that our eroded job base does not have enough taxable income to support our own needs, as well as the interest expense on their bond-paper, they will cash in those bonds as they mature, adding additional hundreds of billions of dollars to our tax burdens yearly. And you can be assured that not only will your taxes go up, but also the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Social Security, Head Start. Many other programs will be cut or abolished to help pay back those bonds. The choices for the future are to pay the bills and suffer social chaos while maintaining economic stability; or do not pay the bills and suffer economic chaos, while trying to maintain social stability. Or inflate the currency, pay the bills with worthless dollars, and bring on both economic and social chaos.

Many believe our country can operate with an unbalanced budget, when in fact we have always had a balanced budget. We just use unbalanced taxation to achieve it, borrowing from idle wealth directly and through its myriad investment resources, to cover our government’s obligations to ourselves. A balanced budget amendment is a farcical thing, since every budget is always balanced (forced taxes and persuasion taxes equal money spent). A new amendment should be called “the equitable and forced taxation from all” amendment.

Does the middle class really believe that their pension funds, mutual funds, and life insurance money can be invested in government bonds to provide future income for themselves, without requiring that they tax themselves into poverty to pay those bonds when they are due; or requiring that their money inflate to worthless paper? Labor barters for labor and consumption privileges today. The future can only be likewise. If you expect to receive a pension when you retire, and your pension fund is investing in government bonds, then you should prepare yourself to continue working until death retires you. You will have to pay your share of the increasing taxes that will come due to pay all of the bonds that we the government owe to our wealthier citizens.

The argument by some politicians and some economists that we need not force the up-front collections of all money to be spent by government through forced taxation is ludicrous. A trillion dollars paid out in interest money in President Reagan’s years to expand and maintenance this pool of idle dollars is morally and economically criminal. Another trillion dollars in interest was paid out in the first President Bush’s term. And even more in President Clinton’s term; and still more in the terms of Bush-2. If we cannot pay our bills in relative good times, we shall not survive as a nation in the worst of times.

Yet the political buffoons will increase Social Security taxes every year, (which is not only paid by each laborer but is matched dollar for dollar by the employer), spending a significant portion of these dollars off-budget to help finance government. All the while telling us that they are investing the surplus Social Security taxes for our future. How could dollars spent for today’s consumption be considered an investment that can be refunded to pay for future consumption? That money is gone forever. This process is just another worthless IOU from us to us.

Government can never be a good investment in a capitalist economy. The whole principle of democracy and its relationship to an economy is that the government would tax, spend, and regulate both personal and corporate productivity to provide for our common needs, to promote our continued prosperity, and to always maintain a net asset wealth of infrastructure owned by all and free of debt. Government takes what we need; it cannot ethically borrow in the sense of mortgaging our future. Workers are paid weekly, BI-weekly, or monthly, and corporations calculate their profits monthly and quarterly. So there is no reason why government cannot establish monthly tax payments from labor and business to pay its monthly bills. If necessary, the government could establish different fiscal years for different workers and corporations to smooth over seasonal and other income aberrations. There is no reason why government should not have 100 to 200 billion dollars available to cover for any natural disasters until taxes can be adjusted to pay any new expenses. But there should never be a deficit or national debt or interest due on any taxes collected by government.

Nine trillion dollars invested by private citizens and foreigners, in government spending needs, show where the trickle-down economies got sidetracked. When President Reagan lowered taxes to promote investment in business and entrepreneurship, he should also have lowered interest rates that the government would pay for private money, to ensure that the reduced taxes on the wealthy would cause them to invest their surplus into expanding the private economy. Instead, government had to raise interest rates, to compete with private enterprise, to borrow the money needed to fund government, since spending was increased after taxes were reduced. For many years government has been a safe and profitable investment for the very dollars it should have taken to pay for government spending. It is impossible for government to be a wealth-producing investment, unless it is also a poverty-producing indenture. We are one people; therefore, if some can increase their wealth by mortgaging our common needs, then many others must increase their poverty to pay that mortgage.

The portion of these deposits in the government that is owned by retirement funds, insurance companies, states and municipalities, demonstrates a collective belief that you can give yourself an IOU. If government takes or accepts money contributed by these above named groups, giving them the IOU promise, then government will be obligated at some point in the future to persuade if not coerce these groups to contribute those moneys a second time. The interest paid to these groups to keep them in the scam is approaching the character of a Ponzi scheme, (using new investment money to pay previous investors dividends, to attract more investment until the operator of the scheme takes as much as he can and disappears before it all collapses). When government runs out of legitimate investors, it will begin using the electronic printing press to pay the profits expected by earlier depositors, because it cannot just disappear like an ordinary con-artist. And finally, the portion of these deposits invested by foreign individuals and foreign governments demonstrates some gross errors in commerce, when the most powerful, most productive, and largest economy in the world, cannot conduct international trade for a net surplus of dollars. It is instead forced or persuaded to conduct trade in such a manner that the profits made by foreign companies and governments come back as investments in our domestic spending requirements; either for want of a more lucrative investment or for political power to maintain the unfortunate circumstances which have created and which sustain these exported profits. The amount of money loaned to our government annually, by foreigners, is roughly equal to the interest that is paid on this so-called debt annually. If the persuasion taxes had been taken as forced taxes there would be no interest due and no foreign investment in our internal affairs.

We are failing as a community to deal fairly with each other. Those who store their wealth in pieces of paper, issued by governments, should know that labor is bartered for labor, and those who harvest a bumper crop today cannot set it aside for the future in pieces of paper. People will not always be property and laborers will not always submit to being enslaved; those who wish to own the future will find that their paper wealth will be abrogated. If we are going to continue to tax the lower class with lack of opportunity, the middle class by force, and the upper class by persuasion, giving the persuaded first feeding at the communal trough, then we are a short way from self destruction. Bad taxation policies should not make good investments for surplus dollars. Posterity has the right of self-determination and cannot be sold into slavery for today’s folly. Since it is doubtful that our children will accept this debt as theirs, and also doubtful that the debt will be forgiven, we have only social strife and the threat of revolution to dog us, until we are captives of its violent processes.

Eventually, foreigners investing in our economy and our government debt will need their money to support their own economies. We will either destroy our currency if we print those dollars for them, or we will destroy our economy if we are forced to tax ourselves to raise the capital necessary to repay such bonds; or we will sell our resources to them and become economically dominated like South America and Africa.

The Earth is free, when honored; sufficient, when shared; abundant, when sacrificed for. Let those who fence off the Earth’s resources, and control the opportunities for labor, be aware, the laborers who are being farmed for profit by the world’s capitalist aristocracy, and saddled with unnecessary public debt in virtually all countries, will not be morally or legally obligated to pay this bondage.

Government cannot be in debt, nor can it have deficits in the budget process. We are one people, and we pay our bills with tax dollars collected by ourselves. Whether we choose to tax and spend or borrow and spend, we are paying those bills with dollars collected by the Treasury Department, and if the Treasury wants to switch the country from forced taxation to one of persuasion taxation, so be it. Wealth and political power are often inseparable, and this marriage is just as often unavoidable. I call upon the persons of wealth and influence to bring their considerable powers to bear upon the federal government to either reduce expenditures to the level of tax income immediately, or to bring their considerable powers to bear upon their wealth, and force the government to take from them, without obligation to refund, those moneys which were idly invested in treasury notes, to balance the federal budget. If you do not help the nation voluntarily to the benefit and preservation of all, the working class (and unemployed working class) will help themselves later, to your specific detriment. You are fiscally irresponsible to disregard the consequences, in your pursuit of personal gain, just as the lower classes are irresponsible in demanding expenditures of borrowed funds, without regard to those same consequences. Let’s not be GIP’ed out of our future.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2097822

Challenges of Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh

1. Ideas and practices of local government:

Most people consider public representatives as local guardians who work with them, and with whom they can share all sorts of personal, social, religious and political thoughts and beliefs. With the increase in power and volume of activities of the government, the responsibility and duty of the local government has also been increased by several times. Around the world most challenges people face are local. So, the best way to solve them is through local initiatives and local leadership by awakening and mobilizing people. Authorities closest to the citizen or rather citizens themselves by getting directly involved can greatly contribute in solving public problems. This is how the local government takes its shape. Local government brings decision-making closer to the people. A strong local government system can ensure good governance through transparency, accountability, effective participation and equal opportunities for all. Most importantly, this system can ensure development at the grassroots level. Strong local government institutions strengthen democracy, ensure good governance, and at the same time quicken the pace of political and socioeconomic development of the country.

1.1. New view of local government:

Local government is based on community governance, and focused on citizen-centered local governance. It is the primary agent for the citizens and leader and gatekeeper for shared rule, is responsive and accountable to local voters. It is purchaser of local services, and facilitator of network mechanisms of local governance, coordinator of government providers and entities beyond government, mediator of conflicts, and developer of social capital. It is externally focused and competitive; ardent practitioner of alternative service delivery framework; open, quick, and flexible, innovative. It is risk taker within limits, autonomous in taxing, spending, regulatory, and administrative decisions. It has managerial flexibility and accountability for results. It is participatory; and works to strengthen citizen voice and exit options through direct democracy provisions, citizens’ charters, and performance budgeting. It is focused on earning trust, creating space for civic dialogue, serving the citizens, and improving social outcomes. It is fiscally prudent; works better and costs less, inclusive and participatory. It overcomes market and government failures. Local government is connected in a globalized and localized world

1.2. Citizen-centered local governance:

Reforming the institutions of local governance requires agreement on basic principles. Three basic principles are advanced to initiate such a discussion:

* Responsive governance: This principle aims for governments to do the right things-that is, to deliver services consistent with citizen preferences.
* Responsible governance: The government should also do it right-that is, manage its fiscal resources prudently. It should earn the trust of residents by working better and costing less and by managing fiscal and social risks for the community. It should strive to improve the quality and quantity of and access to public services. To do so, it needs to benchmark its performance with the best-performing local government.
* Accountable governance: A local government should be accountable to its electorate. It should adhere to appropriate safeguards to ensure that it serves the public interest with integrity. Legal and institutional reforms may be needed to enable local governments to deal with accountability between elections-reforms such as a citizen’s charter and a provision for recall of public officials.

The distinguishing features of citizen-centered governance are the following:

* Citizen empowerment through a rights-based approach (direct democracy provisions, citizens’ charter);
* Bottom-up accountability for results;
* Evaluation of government performance as the facilitator of a network of providers by citizens as governors, taxpayers, and consumers of public services.

1.3. Local government as an institution to advance self-interest: The public choice approach:

The approach has conceptualized four models of local government:

* A local government that assumes it knows best and acts to maximize the welfare of its residents conforms to the benevolent despot model.
* A local government that provides services consistent with local residents’ willingness to pay conforms to the fiscal exchange model.
* A local government that focuses on public service provision to advance social objectives conforms to the fiscal transfer model.
* A local government that is captured by self-interested bureaucrats and politicians conforms to the leviathan model, which is consistent with the public choice perspectives.

1.4. Local government as an independent facilitator of creating public value: new public management (NPM) perspectives:

Two interrelated criteria have emerged from the NPM literature in recent years determining, first, what local governments should do and, second, how they should do it better. In discussing the first criterion, the literature assumes that citizens are the principals but have multiple roles as governors (owner-authorizers, voters, taxpayers, community members); activist-producers (providers of services, co-producers, self-helpers obliging others to act); and consumers (clients and beneficiaries). In this context, significant emphasis is placed on the government as an agent of the people to serve public interest and create public value. This concept is directly relevant to local and municipal services, for which it is feasible to measure such improvements and have some sense of attribution. The concept is useful in evaluating conflicting and perplexing choices in the use of local resources. The concept is also helpful in defining the role of government, especially local governments. It frames the debate between those who argue that the public sector crowds out private sector investments and those who argue that the public sector creates an enabling environment for the private sector to succeed, in addition to providing basic municipal and social services.

2. History of Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh:

Bangladesh shares its history with the undivided Indian subcontinent. The British in India in fact gave local government a legal shape with municipal administration system for the first time in 1793. But, prior to that, an identical system of local village society did exist in India, where Gram Panchayet (local government village tier) had a significant role. In the gradual development of the system, the Bengal Act 1842 and Municipal Act 1850 were introduced. The local government system got a stronger foundation when 118 Municipal Boards were formed in Bengal in 1947 after inclusion of provisions relating to a newer system of social arbitrations, conservancy activities and appointment of choukidars (guards) for maintaining security in villages and towns. In 1972, the local government system got a newer magnitude in independent Bangladesh.

After independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the Constitution of Bangladesh emphasizes the need for establishing local government with a representative character (Chapter 3, Article 59). Article 59 mandates the creation of elected local bodies at each administrative unit- District, Upazila (sub-district) and Union (currently lowest tier of local government). To put it simply, these bodies are for the management of local affairs by locally elected persons. Local government, by definition, is democratic self-governance and so accountable to the people.

There are two types of local government settings in Bangladesh, rural and urban. At the rural level the existing system provides a three-tier structure, which is Zila (district) Parishad (office), Upazila Parishad, and Union Parishad (UP). At the urban level the six largest cities have City Corporation status, while the rest are known as Pourashavas or Municipalities. These bodies are entrusted with a large number of functions and responsibilities relating to civic and community welfare as well as local development.

The UP is responsible for executing 48 duties. Among them 38 are optional and 10 mandatory. These responsibilities are divided into four categories. These are civic duties (building roads, bridges etc), tax collection, maintaining law and order, and lastly development work. In spite of the importance and potential of local government institutions, they remain weak in Bangladesh. The past few years show they have become even weaker.

3. Challenges of Local Government Institutions in Bangladesh:

3.1. Attitude of public administrators toward local governments:

Bureaucracies resist changes out of the fear of alteration or disturbance of the status quo and their resistance primarily grows out of fear of disrupting organizational communication. According to Henry Frank Goodnow says, bureaucracy is a two-edged sword, which can be a force for good or for evil. It may prompt democracy or totalitarianism. It may be feared or respected or merely accepted. Joseph La Palomba comments, the presence of a strong bureaucracy in many of the new states tends to inhibit the growth of strong executives, political parties, legislatures, voluntary associations and other political institutions essential to viable democratic government.

Warren Bennis summarizes some of the deficiencies in bureaucracies, which adequately suit the characteristics of bureaucracies in Bangladesh as well:

* Bureaucracy does not adequately allow for personal growth and the development of mature personalities.
* It does not take into account the “informal organization” and the emergent unanticipated problems.
* Its systems of control and authority are hopelessly outdated.
* It has no judicial process.
* It does not possess adequate means for resolving difference and conflicts between ranks, and most particularly, between functional groups.
* Communication (and innovative ideas) are thwarted or distorted due to hierarchical decisions.
* The full human resources of bureaucracy are not being utilized due to mistrust, fear or reprisals, etc.
* It cannot assimilate the influx of new technology or scientists entering the organization.

3.2. Participation by the people:

The Constitution of Bangladesh implies direct participation of the people in forming the local bodies and in managing the affairs of such bodies. There are different levels of participation, participation in decision-making, participation in implementation, participation in benefits, and participation in evaluation.

But in reality, the spirit of people’s participation in local bodies has not always been adequately maintained. The society of Bangladesh is basically a hierarchic system based on a person’s social position, caste, status, educational background, seniority, and gender. The principle of hierarchy in interpersonal relationship, is, and for hundreds of years has been accepted as necessary and morally right in rural Bangladesh, even among the Muslims. In a hierarchic system, roles and duties in relation to others are defined in details. If these are not followed, chaos and conflict are expected to result.

A patron-client relationship binds group members with specific norms and values. These norms determine role definition and role expectation, i.e., the role of a patron and a client. The concept of obedience and deference to patrons by a client is an important value in a hierarchic society like Bangladesh. Patterns of rights and duties maintain both order and balance in our society. Superiors in the society are supposed to give orders and advice to those with a lower status. People having low ranks are treated as children and they enjoy little opportunities. The patron-client or parent-child relationship developed over centuries has taught the superiors to be harsh and commanding towards the subordinates, and has taught the subordinates to be respectful to afraid of the superiors of the society. Due to power distance in the society, the subordinates seek direction and guidance from the superiors. Subordinates or those with lower rank in the society feel dejected when they don’t receive favor from the superiors. In practice, the people being loyal to the superiors are bestowed with favors (even undue), and those who do not are distanced and discriminated.

This dynamics of social belief and behavior inhibits the common mass in participating in decision making process of the local government institutions, or holding them accountable for their activities.

3.3. Structural defects:

Decentralization of political and administrative authority at the local government level that has the potential to de-concentrate decision-making and bring people closer to public governance have the merit of weakening abuse of power, strengthening accountability and combating corruption convincingly. This is revealed through a recent UN survey that demonstrates that introduction of elaborate audit systems, corruption commissions etc. without due regard to the rule of law, independence of judiciary, civil liberties, economic and political decentralization make little or no impact on corruption. Corruption resells in loss of confidence in local government among the people. Funds for projects like Food for Work or disaster relief are all too often misused by local leaders; even VGF (Vulnerable Group Feeding) cards go to their relatives and friends rather than those who really need it.

The extent and quality of people’s participation have been variable. The most direct participation is the opportunity of casting votes during the election to local bodies. But elections are not held at regular intervals. Since Independence in 1971, successive governments have tried to use the local government system for their own political interests. The party or regime in power wanted to make the local government representatives their power base and manipulated the system to this end.

Regarding the structural or constitutional defects in local government, it can be said that the country is being governed through a constitutional, democratic system, while local government is being run through a presidential system. In local government all the powers centre around one person. This unchallenged power of an individual is giving rise to corruption and autocracy in local government bodies, where a chairman of a UP or municipality, or the mayor of a city corporation, enjoys all the power. Members of a UP and the ward commissioners of municipalities or city corporations hardly have any role in the implementation of any development project or program in the locality.

They fear local administrations might be rendered ineffective and law makers might end up lording over Upazila Parishads, running the risk of letting corruption creep into the system, if MPs (Members of Parliament) are allowed to have their previous controlling authority over the elected local governments.

Recently National Institute of Local Government (NILG) and Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Bangladesh jointly conducted a study titled “Exploring the challenges and potentials of UP standing committees”, which was intended to explore the role of standing committees in the decision making process at the UPs. The study report published on 6 May 2009 says that 60% of the committees are not functioning, and it identifies some major reasons for non-functioning of the standing committees, such as, apathy of UP chairmen, ignorance of members and lack of resources and proper monitoring system. The report says the UP chairmen dominate while taking decisions and do not think that the committees are very important in this regard.

3.4. lack of fund and influence in fund utilization:

UP receives a major portion of the funds from the Annual Development Programme (ADP). This funding system is full of loopholes creating serious setbacks in development activities. Funding by ADP is paid in installments, which are called block grants. This block grant does not flow to the UP directly; rather it is channeled through the Upazila. At the Upazila level interference from the administration usually slows down the flow and hampers the development plan. The criteria for allocation include on population, size of an area and the level of backwardness. As the administration controls the distribution process, it tends to be biased.

The allocation is also prone to political interference. The interference by MPs in the UP affairs, particularly in development activities, has weakened the UPs’ independence. The MPs often dictate the development activities to be undertaken, most of the times without consulting with the local elected representatives or assessing actual needs. Ruling party MPs tend to intrude more in the UPs’ development planning. Even if there is no ruling party MP in the area the local leaders of the ruling party meddle in the process.

Moreover, the UP authorities usually have no idea how much money they are about to receive, which makes planning for future development work impractical. The development projects get stalled if the installments do not arrive on time, which is often the case. Most UPs receive the installments when the fiscal year is about to end.

ADP allocation to UP is less than 2 per cent of the annual budget. For development activities, this amount is considered inadequate. The maximum amount in implementing a development project is only Tk 50,000 which is also insufficient. Furthermore, this fund is not released unless bribes are paid, as local UP members claimed.

3.5. Political government’s willful stance on local government institutions:

The new Upazila Pashishad Act passed by the current Awami League government provides that the Members of Parliament would be advisers to the Upazila Parishads. According to the law, no development plans can be taken or no programs can be implemented by the Upazila Parishads without the advice of the concerned MPs, and even any communication between Upazilas and the government must be informed to the MPs. This act explicitly contradicts the notion of modern government with its three branches – legislative, executive and judiciary – being mutually interdependent. While the voice gets stronger for separation of powers among its branches in order to ensure checks and balances, the government rather tends to merge the branches into one. In principle, the legislators are supposed to enact laws, make budgetary allocations, debate policy issues, approve foreign treaties, and most importantly exercise parliamentary oversight over the executive actions through standing committees. This act is in contradiction with Article 59 of the Constitution, which empowers the locally elected persons to run local affairs. In the name of advice, the MPs will obviously exert their authority to control the affairs of the local bodies, which denounces the democratic spirit of representative local bodies.

A judgment in 2008 by Justices ABM Khairul Haque and ATM Fazle Kabir states that “The Local Government Bodies in every administrative units of the Republic are charged with the functions relating to administration and the work of public officers in the local area, the maintenance of local order and other nation-building development activities there. Neither the Ministers nor the members of Parliament can abdicate the functions of the elected members of the Local Government Bodies in respect of their functions in the concerned administrative units.” It further says, “While the Executive Government under chapter-II would run the administration, development and other ancillary matters for the entire country as a whole, but at the same time the people at the grass-root level should also be made responsible for the development of their own respective areas, on the formation of local government bodies, in order to bring the development and also administration to their door steps so that they can be responsible as well as self-reliant and also become part of the over-all nation building process.”

In another judgment in 1992, the Supreme Court holds that “Parliament is not free to legislate on local government ignoring Articles 59 and 60.” It further states about the functions of local government bodies… “local elections, procedure for public accountability, independent and substantial sources of income, clear areas of independent action and certainty of powers and duties and the conditions under which they would be exercised.”

As per the law, at least theoretically, the Upazila Parishads have lost their characteristics of local government bodies, since in the name of advice, the MPs are authorized to control the activities of the bodies.

Squeezing the hope for effective local government:

As a matter of fact, what one has come to expect in Bangladesh is that after a party is overwhelmingly voted into power, they try and monopolize as much power as they can get, appoint loyal people to important posts and then seemingly do everything possible to tarnish their names. The current government has respected its own election pledges to strengthen local government, and has abused its mandate as well. There was a hope that the current government would provide further authority to the Upazila chairmen by changing the previous Upazila ordinances, but practically the government has abolished the local government commission.

The current law has already given rise to a row among Upazila chairmen and MPs, and it is likely that this discord will affect the chain of the party leadership, which will further destabilize the political arena of the country. The Parishads will face serious difficulties if the MPs are provided with offices in Upazila Parishad complexes, and it might also disrupt local development. Interference of MPs with the functioning of the local government has been blatant, they said alleging that lawmakers want to get involved in Upazila level development because an enormous amount of money is circulated through the local development circuit.

A group of newly elected representatives of Upazila Parishad in a view-exchange meeting at Jatiya (national) Press Club threatened to declare lawmakers persona-non-grata in Upazila Parishd complex areas if the Upazila Parishad Act 2009 is not cancelled immediately. They also formed a forum titled “Bangladesh Upazila Chairmen Forum”. Around 250 UP representatives attended the meeting that decided to hold a council of the forum within three months. The chairmen at the meeting also threatened to launch a tough movement to realize their demand for scrapping the Upazila Parishad Act 2009 and ensure the democratic rights of UP representatives. They feared that taking advantage of the act’s provisions, lawmakers might misuse their power and indulge in corruption. This act will create obstacles for local administrations to conducting development works freely, they added.

3.6. Election of honest and qualified people in a free and fair environment:

It is an important task for us to elect honest and competent people in the next election for the progress of the society. We have noticed how black money and muscle power have dominated in the elections in the last 15 years. What can we expect from those who are going to power through such a system? It is useless to expect anything good from them. Use of money was commonly seen in the local government elections to buy votes to go to power. Culture of accumulation of wealthy and influential members, irrespective of their criminal records, and creation of private army by providing illegal facilities and protection is predominantly existent in the society. That provides the look in a political structure of wealth and physical strength and carries more weight as regards its effectiveness in election and other political operations in the present day social context. Due to hierarchical social system and taboos, absence of equality, social justice and strict laws, and presence of muscle power and black money, and due to political pressure from above, we see time and again almost the same people, or people with same negative or not positive characters, being elected in local government institutions.

3.7. Intervention by central government:

Local government leadership and representation is now only equated with getting elected, with no meaningful mechanisms of representation or functionality. The local government bodies have virtually no power to plan and execute development actions or to formulate their budgets independently. The UP chair and members who are accountable to the voters soon realize the fact that they have practically no power to serve the people and work for local development. Vital services like education, health, and social welfare are centralized at the Upazila level. The leaders have almost no management role in these matters, rather the administration at the Upazila level control these services.

Here are few observations regarding local government by prominent people:

* The local government cannot be strong enough in a country where the local government ministry is too strong and intends to control it. – Dr Mahabbat Khan, Professor of Dhaka University (DU)
* It seems that the local government institutions act like a front organization of the ruling party. They should be independent and a local government commission, not any ministry, should control them. – Prof Dr Salahuddin M. Alimuzzaman, DU
* According to the constitution, the government should encourage the local government institutions, not control them. But some local government institutions are run by administrative officials, which is a violation of the constitution. Although laws allow the local government institutions to realize holding taxes, we cannot do it because of executive orders. – Advocate Azmatullah Khan, president of Municipality Association of Bangladesh
* “The people of Bangladesh were very shocked when the government increased the control of lawmakers over the local government against its pledge of strengthening the local government.” – Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno
* The government does not want to keep the local government anymore as it wants to run the lower tier of the government with the lawmakers and own people. – Matiur Rahman Tapan, chairman of a UP, said in a roundtable
* It is not a struggle between the MPs and local representatives rather it is basically a problem of political culture. – Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Organizing Secretary of Awami League

3.8. Some core issues revealed by Prof Aminuzzaman:

* lack of comprehensive planning for decentralization;
* absence of wider consultation with people before devising decentralization strategies;
* lack of mobilization of popular support in the reform process;
* over-emphasis on deconcentration in the decentralization plans;
* bureaucratic expansion in the name of decentralization;
* bureaucratic dominance remained intact even after decentralization;
* inadequate power and authority to people’s representatives;

The tendency to cry out for decentralization in public and suffocating the sincere efforts in practice is still the order of the day in Bangladesh and most other developing countries. Though the perennial bureaucratic resistance is the principal culprit in this scam, collusive and docile political leaders cannot deny their share.

Professor Dr. Tofael Ahmed (Professor, Chittagong University) and Professor Dr. Niaz Ahmed Khan, DU in Banglapedia (www.banglapedia.org) say, decentralization scenario in Bangladesh is little encouraging. In their words, evolution of decentralization in Bangladesh is characterized by: (a) domination by and complete dependence on central/national government; (b) unrepresentative character; (c) grossly inadequate mobilization of local resources; (d) limited or lack of participation of the rural poor in the decentralized bodies; (e) successive regimes’ marginal and superficial commitment to devolution or decentralization in practice.

Prof Aminuzzaman further said, it seems that the local government institutions act like a front organization of the ruling party. They should be independent and a local government commission, not any ministry, should control them.

It is utterly unfortunate that Upazilla level of Bangladesh local government, which has the makings of being a strong local government body, is not being put into operation only because of resistance from the elected lawmakers afraid of losing their supremacy in their respective constituencies.

3.9. Power distance as an obstacle to local government:

Most importantly, and somewhat paradoxically, a culture of accountability springs from an interaction between civil society and appropriate institutions, which generally have to be created by a strong central political force. However, the evidence from Bangladesh is more ambiguous on this point, suggesting that while decentralization was a significant catalyst for associational activity, the prevailing servant-master relationships between villagers and bureaucrats and council representatives did not easily support the making of complaints about bad behavior or lack of accountability.

4. Ways Out:

* For strengthening local government bodies, the hegemony of MPs, particularly imposed by the recent Act, must be curtailed.
* To make the local government institutions more functional, we need a decentralization policy in the light of our Constitutions.
* The political governments should not enact any laws, which undermine the spirit of the Constitution, or violates any articles.
* For increasing income of the local government bodies, land transfer fees can be increased, the local government bodies can be authorized to use jetties, water bodies and khaslands (state owned lands) and impose tax on electric poles, mobile phone towers and bill boards, will significantly increase the income of the local government bodies.
* Strengthening local government is the primary objective of the upazila system. Thus, agriculture, land administration, health and family planning, primary education, rural electrification, poultry, fisheries, live stocks, horticulture, social forestry, milk production, cooperatives marketing, etc. should be transferred to the Upazila Parishad. There should be, in fact, more devolution of power and delegation of authority to the Upazila Parishad.
* Large allocation from the ADP can be given for meeting financial needs of the local government institutions, which will build their capacity and will ensure grassroots development.
* The UPs can be authorized to construct roads, culverts and bridges in their respective areas.
* Honorarium of elected chairmen and members need to be enhanced, and an environment can be created so that honest and competent people could be elected.
* The current Upazila Act should be amended immediately.
* Activation of the UP standing committees can be done through joint monitoring and supervision by both public agencies and civil society bodies.

5. Conclusion:

Experiences in other parts of the world show that the closer the authorities and resources are to the people, the greater the benefits they bring for society. In Bangladesh, local government structures remain weak, posing as a major obstacle in achieving the goal of poverty alleviation programs. Local government as a political institution to ensure development and public participation in development activities is far from being an efficient tool of governance in Bangladesh. Being mostly poor and illiterate, particularly at the grassroots, the people hardly go to bureaucrats with their problems because they are afraid to approach them. As such, they approach the local public representatives, whom they consider as local guardians well aware of their needs and feelings. But, no step was ever made to train them up. Elected local bodies in the administrative units in fact ensure effective participation of the people in decisions that affect them, and this participation is a prerequisite for creating a democratic polity at all levels, which will deepen its roots. If people’s voices are heard, and their opportunities of participation are upheld, democracy can be strengthened. If local government bodies are not strong and well functioning, development at the grassroots level cannot be ensured. To materialize the dream of building a democratic Bangladesh free from poverty, building a strong local government is a must. As such, bringing about reforms in the local government is now the demand of the time. The Charter of Change or Vision 2021, to turn Bangladesh into a respectable nation with the transformation of political culture and making the society corruption free, will be difficult to achieve unless a strong, honest and dedicated local level governance system emerges to support the central government.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6159844

Impacts and implications of a Trump presidency

Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump emerged victorious in the US presidential election, the result was always going to be a second-best outcome for global economies and markets with both candidates being widely regarded as weak.
Given the skew in polling data towards a Clinton victory, the results of the 8 November presidential election came as significant surprise to many voters, with many political experts believing that the race was “Clinton’s to lose”.

Impacts and implications of a Trump presidency
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On the morning of 9 November, as the prospect of a Trump victory emerged, markets panicked: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index slumped 5,4% and the US dollar moved sharply weaker. A little later the FTSE 100 dropped by 146,8 points – or just over 2% – at the opening, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average futures at one point slumped by more than 800 points or 4,2%. These market moves captured the immediate nervousness borne out of Trump’s divisive and erratic campaign. Where Clinton promised a continuation of the same, Trump’s electioneering consisted of sweeping statements, bold – often aggressive – proposals and very little in terms of practical, implementable policy.

From campaigner to statesman in a moment

Then came Trump’s victory speech where he appeared to have transformed from a demagogue to a statesman. As the president-elect spoke, a sense of calm returned to capital markets, with sentiment improving. Markets shifted from scathing to forgiving in the space of Trump’s 15-minute speech. After a campaign marked by threats to build physical and metaphorical walls and create a more isolated US, the conciliatory speech served to elevate Trump to a more presidential status.

It will, however, take time for the full impact of a Trump presidency to emerge. The immediate expectation is for capital markets to be faced with greater uncertainty. Nevertheless, the statesman that emerged on 9 November was constructive and in some regards, even impressive. Trump promised to “double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world”. Of course, the economic consequences of this election result will be far less dramatic than imagined and they will depend not only on the extent to which Trump tempers his stance and the policy decisions he takes, but also on the administration that he installs and the moderating effects of the institutions around him. It is worth bearing in mind that Trump’s presidency is attached to a Republican Congress with the GOP holding a clean sweep of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Financial markets may also have started to digest a moderated outcome. By the end of 9 November, the DJIA had added 256 points to the previous day’s close, making for a gain of 1,4% and just 0,3% off its August record high and it went on to close at a record high on 10 November.

But where’s the beef?

A shift in domestic policy will probably favour looser monetary policy and bolder fiscal policy. This could provide a strong short-term stimulus to the US economy and may also have spill-over effects which bolster global demand. For South Africa, stronger world economic growth would boost commodity prices which would aid growth in our economy and strengthen the rand.

Early evidence of domestic policy direction could come in the form of the December Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) interest rate announcement. Trump favours lower interest rates which could be positive for the real economy in the near-term by sustaining consumer spending and boosting parts of industry. However, this would lead to higher consumer price inflation and compromised longer-term growth of the US economy.

Stimulus is also likely to come from fiscal policy in the form of government infrastructure spending. Sectors such as steel, engineering, building and construction are likely to be boosted, but a question mark hangs over the funding plans.

Trump has proposed tax cuts of $3trn over 10 years – equivalent to 1,6% of GDP – leaving the suggested higher spending unfunded. Not only does this point to a larger budget deficit, but it could bring into question the country’s sovereign credit rating. The proposals on the table would put US government debt on course to exceed 100% of GDP in just a few years, placing the US economy in a precarious fiscal position.

Trumpeting Mexican walls and protectionism against China

Trump’s protectionist rhetoric regarding relationships with Mexico and China could translate into friction with European countries, too. South Korea and Japan will also have to step up defence spending, which Trump has threatened to reallocate, which could place stresses on foreign relations among old allies.

There is also potential for a reduction in tensions between the US and Russia under a Trump presidency which could have some constructive geo-political outcomes, including a possible ending of the civil war in Syria. However, the obvious negative effects cannot be overlooked.

Uncertainty also surrounds existing trade agreements and it remains to be seen which direction Trump will take. Higher tariffs on international trade are a way the Trump government could afford some protection to the domestic economy, especially manufacturing. However, this could well be negative for global trade and world economic growth.

A move towards greater protectionism could also represent a specific risk for SA as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which has seen US become of SA’s most important trade partners, comprising $13bn (R176bn) last year alone. AGOA is believed to have created more than 50,000 SA jobs in the last 15 years in labour-intensive industries.

All of that said, in his victory speech Trump indicated that he would promote cooperation among nations, saying: “While we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

This last point is perhaps the most critical of all. Borders that have been relatively open to immigrants have been a key factor in promoting US economic growth in modern times. In 1970, the US population comprised 9,6m immigrants, or 4,7% of the population. Today, the immigrant population stands at about 45m people or 13,3%. Based on the experiences of other countries, putting up walls and ejecting migrants would have a net negative impact on capital flows, skills migration, demographic dividend and job creation – all of which are associated with slower economic growth and falling competitiveness.

Investing: never based on forecasts

In considering market reaction to the shock Trump election, it might be helpful to recall what happened in the aftermath of the UK’s Brexit vote. After initially recoiling in horror, markets stabilised as the implications were digested. However, Trump has a mercurial nature, and even if a sense of calm returns – as it did after Brexit – there is a resident risk of Trump flare-outs creating greater political uncertainty.

Trump’s policies are likely to be marginally negative for the US dollar. However, the near-term outlook for equities is good as fiscal and monetary policies promoted under Trump will help US consumer spending, infrastructural spending and corporate profitability. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that this could ultimately translate into higher productivity, improved competitiveness and faster economic growth, which could more than offset the concerns noted regarding unfunded fiscal spending.

This election result is a reminder that making investments should never be based on predictions, but rather that we should construct our investment portfolios to survive a world of uncertainty and, oftentimes, unknowability. The events since 8 November underscore the permanent importance of a sound investment philosophy and policy, along with the pivotal roles of process, discipline and perspective in investment decision making.

A new era for African media

The advent of digital media has turned the media landscape upside down. The news cycle moves at lightning speed, thanks to live tweeting, blogging and citizen journalism, all unknown just a few years ago.
Image by 123RF
Image by 123RF
Fibre optics have revolutionised the telecommunications industry, the internet is getting cheaper and faster and more communities are logging on, even in remote areas in Africa. More people use their smartphones to receive digital content than ever before.

To remain accessible, conventional media practitioners in Africa are adapting to a new media world that is time-sensitive and more interactive. Advocacy journalism, in particular, is growing exponentially—bloggers and citizen journalists are mobilising for various causes, including good governance.

Although a lot has changed in media technology and operations over the last 15 years, society still looks to the media to play its traditional role—to inform, educate and entertain.

In Africa the media plays an even more critical role, that of deepening and institutionalising democracy. Citizens need to be informed as nations take on new responsibilities in a globalised world.

“Media plays an important role in building an informed society. Citizens need credible information from a media that can skillfully moderate debate and provoke meaningful conversations that can lead to transforming Africa,” says Eric Chinje, chief executive officer of the African Media Initiative (AMI), a Nairobi-based pan-African organisation that seeks to strengthen the continent’s media.

To play its role effectively, according to Chinje, the media must see itself as instrumental to ensuring and improving the quality of life in society.

“Journalists see themselves as watchdogs. Instead, I see the media as a leader. Watchdogs just sit down and watch, but a leader stands up and leads. You have to walk and work,” Chinje said in an interview with Africa Renewal.

Development of society

Africa needs journalism that innovates and supports innovation in a modernising continent, he says, one that not only grows, but promotes growth and the development of society. It needs journalism that not only generates the ideas that are the engine of social transformation, but also moderates the debates that emerge from these societal changes.

This year, the link between media freedom and sustainable development was emphasised during World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by world leaders.

“The importance of free and independent media to inform the citizens of the world is crucial to the achievement of the SDGs,” said Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO, adding that at this time of turbulence and change across the world, including new challenges that require global cooperation and action, people need readable, reliable and independent information.

“Free and independent media… is very instrumental in cleaning up corruption and enhancing bureaucratic accountability,” says John Mukum Mbaku, a senior fellow at the US-based Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative — a group that conducts policy research and analysis to help achieve sustainable economic development in Africa.

“Investigative reports about corruption not only inform the public about venality in the public sector but can also force the government to take action to improve efficiency in the public sector and enhance economic growth and development,” Mbaku told Africa Renewal.

In Nigeria, for example, during the 2015 presidential election, the media helped the opposition carry its message to the people and stepped up in forcing government accountability. In Ghana, an investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has broken dozens of stories of corruption and organised crime.

The increase in investigative stories exposing corruption in many other countries across the continent, even those with authoritarian regimes, has helped put governments on their toes. In Kenya, North Africa, and South Africa, the media have been notably vocal in keeping the citizens informed and exposing ills facing society.

Still, Chinje thinks a lot more needs to be done: “We see a few cases, far between, of the right stuff. Once in a while, one can spot one or two good stories, but that is not enough to light up the profession.”

The media itself needs to engage in capacity building, he says, which the AMI is trying to bring to the continent through training.

“Media technology has changed, but the thinking among the editors has not changed. Politically, socially, the populations, everything around us has changed, but the media has not rethought its purpose in a changing Africa,” says Chinje. He proposes greater debate and awareness among the media themselves so they can “rediscover” their informational role in society.

While few dispute media’s importance in society, the numerous challenges they face in Africa threaten to reverse the gains made so far.

Digital media were welcomed across the continent, but technological adaptation to new media technology continues to pose a major challenge in many media houses. Unreliable internet connectivity and outdated equipment mean that journalists have no access to the critical tools of their trade, or must make do with inadequate systems in a digital world, which may hinder their work.

However, according to Chinje, the biggest challenge for journalists in Africa is a lack of capacity to do their work effectively. “You cannot inform if you are not informed,” he says, adding that many of them lack training in interpreting complex information, including data that needs skilled interpretation.

Media organisations across the continent, lacking an independent funding source, have historically struggled with financing shortfalls. This is partly because the majority depends on capricious government advertising to stay afloat. Any small criticism could result in the cancellation of adverts worth thousands of dollars. In many countries the government or its agencies are the biggest advertisers.

While governments seek favourable media coverage, often sending out self-serving press releases that tout the good job they are doing in governing the country, journalists are obliged to look for the cracks and contradictions in these messages.

Traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) in Africa and worldwide are also losing revenue streams as readers and listeners shift toward free digital content. As audiences migrate to other news venues, traditional media’s influence and, by extension, advertising revenues diminish.

As a result of media’s newfound courageous voice and anticorruption exposés, press freedom is in jeopardy in Africa, with the media being increasingly targeted for restraint or even shut down in some countries.

Nigeria, for example, tried unsuccessfully this year to enact a vaguely worded social media bill that suggested draconian punishments for saying the wrong things online. Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Uganda blocked social media during elections, and the move was contemplated even in such professed democratic countries as Ghana.

In Liberia, the government this year shut down the privately owned Voice FM. In 2015, journalists were killed on the job in five countries—the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan. Whether from government, armed groups or terrorists, threats and attacks on journalists make it risky for them to do their work.

As the digital media world expands, new challenges have emerged. Without editorial oversight, information is unchecked and rumours gain credence over truth. Tales of corruption and other gaffs by public officials spread like wildfire on the internet, making governments even more reluctant to give press interviews than they ever were.

Apart from government censorship, which makes it difficult for various African media outlets to perform their jobs effectively, Mbaku says that they grapple with poor or non-existent infrastructure for printing and distributing newspapers, poor internet connectivity and inadequate preparation of media workers.

Way forward

To build better strategies and survive the turbulence, media providers need to adapt to the demands of their society.

The most crucial survival strategy for Africa’s media is to migrate to cellphones and the internet, and to generate content in local languages so it is accessible to a majority of citizens. Except for a few media outlets in North Africa that publish in Arabic and a few around East Africa that publish in Swahili, most media in Africa use English, French, Spanish or Portuguese—all European languages. This means news content may not easily be accessible to the majority of citizens, who are not literate in these languages.

The media and government in many African countries may be at loggerheads, yet the media is considered the “fourth estate” after the three arms of government—the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. “Government and media are two sides of the same coin. If they fight they destroy the coin,” remarks Chinje. “The government brings policy and the media should bring information about those policies to enrich the ideas and improve their implementation for the good of society.”

African governments need to enable the media to function effectively as an instrument of development and peaceful coexistence. This, according to Mbaku, can be accomplished by constitutionally guaranteeing press freedom and removing many of the bottlenecks, such as government censorship, that have constrained the ability of the press to carry out its mission effectively and unhindered.

Considering the technical readiness of South Africa to support the shale gas industry

The discovery and exploitation of very large shale gas reserves in countries like the United States have transformed the energy market. South Africa may also possess potentially large resources of shale gas. This could have a significant positive impact on the country’s energy balance should it be decided to exploit these resources.
Considering the technical readiness of South Africa to support the shale gas industry
© bennymarty – 123RF.com
The exploitation of these key energy resources might also have a significant social, economic or environmental impact while also presenting considerable technical challenges.

Given the recent challenges the country is facing in terms of energy supply, the possibility of exploiting shale gas deposits for power generation is of current significance. Shale gas also presents other downstream opportunities. Some include providing a key resource for the production of liquid fuels and chemicals, or enabling the development of a domestic market for gas as a cleaner energy resource.

Uncertainties

South Africa’s Karoo region, in the south west of the country, is thought to have significant reserves of shale gas. Recently there has been considerable interest from the government and various companies like Shell, Falcon and Bundu to develop a shale gas industry there. Considerable uncertainties exist regarding the extent of these reserves and the geology at depths where they are typically found. These and other uncertainties and constraints include the following.

The quantum of shale gas in the Karoo is still unclear: estimates range between 20 and 400 trillion cubic feet. None of these reserves has yet been proven.
There are also constraints relating to geographical regions. For example, no fracking may take place in the vicinity of the Square Kilometre Array station project. The project consists of the largest network of radio telescopes ever built.
Ensuring that no hydraulic fracturing takes place at depths less than 1500m to protect groundwater resources will also reduce the geographical area of interest.
Shale gas exploitation requires the use of relatively large quantities of water. Given that potable groundwater should preferably not be used for any such exploitation, greater clarity is needed on the availability of deep-level saline water. This is considered to be acceptable for use in hydraulic fracturing.
Baseline studies need to be carried out to ascertain with greater certainty the environment at depths greater than 3 km underground. Such baseline studies should also ensure that there is a clear understanding of the status of the human and natural environments before any fracking commences.
South Africa has a serious shortage of the high-level skills that would be required to implement such an industry. Strategies need to be set in place to develop skills to ensure sustainable development of the shale gas industry.
International experience has highlighted the critical need to have all the necessary legislative and regulatory structures in place. But also, a sufficient number of regulators with the required skills before a shale gas industry is launched.
The implementation of a shale gas industry in an area like the Karoo may have a significant socio-economic impact on the local population. Similar concerns have been expressed in studies especially from Canada and Australia. So it is important to ensure that there is a full understanding of the potential impact. Plans must be developed to manage them.

Resolution of these uncertainties requires extensive and ongoing consultation with all relevant parties. As such government has an important role to play as an honest broker of key information.

Risk and challenges

These uncertainties point to specific risks and challenges associated with the establishment of a shale gas industry in South Africa. This will require government to create an enabling environment to encourage investment in the industry while also ensuring that the state and local communities benefit. It is also critical that there is clarity regarding the pricing structures that may prevail. This is crucial when the industry begins to exploit the shale gas reserves, and obviously requires a clearer understanding of the potential quantum of the known reserves.

Establishing a shale gas industry presents complex technical and economic challenges, and implementation will require a whole-of-government approach.

A structure at government level to facilitate and coordinate all the activities relating to the industry is recommended. This could coordinate the awarding of licences by various government departments and would have oversight of the activities of the regulators.

Awarding a production licence should proceed after satisfactory completion of terms associated with an exploration licence. This would require operators to demonstrate compliance of processes with legislation.

It is evident that before a shale gas industry in South Africa is implemented, important baseline studies need to be done. This will determine both the exact status quo prior to the commencement of a shale gas industry and the technical, social and economic consequences of such a development.

RBIDZ drives radical economic transformation through skills and training

The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone looks set to become a motor-force of change and take a central role in the radical transformation of the economy of the province. The entity is deliberately focussing on the training of emerging contractors as part of efforts aimed at fast-tracking their entry into the mainstream economy. These are the sentiments of the RBIDZ CEO, Mr Pumi Motsoahae, after an intensive training of twelve emerging contractors representing different sectors of the economy.
Amongst those who were present in the Certificates Award Ceremony held recently at the RBIDZ offices was Chief Financial Officer Mr Mzamo Khuzwayo who stressed out that “investing in skills development is similar to investing in the future and prosperity of this country.”

Excitement was written in the faces of recipients who expressed their appreciation to the entity for “changing their lives for the better”. The contractors were carefully chosen and they ranged from youth- and women-owned small businesses operating at the bottom of the pyramid.

RBIDZ drives radical economic transformation through skills and training RBIDZ drives radical economic transformation through skills and training

“We are cognisant of the fact that we have to implement the programme of action as articulated by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala,” RBIDZ CEO Mr Motsoahae remarked. He stressed that it was important for the entity to move with speed in assisting MEC Zikalala to achieve targets on job creation as contained in the provincial growth and development strategy.

“Mr Zikalala in his capacity as Leader of Government Business and Chair of the Economic Cluster has singled out SMMEs as deserving attention. Working with various government departments, entities, financial institutions including other stakeholders, we want to invest in training and mentorship of SMMEs,” the CEO said.

Mr Motsoahae, further emphasised that when the provincial government started this term of office in 2014, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs set aside R25.6 million for training of SMMEs. Importantly, over the years, the provincial government has attempted to ensure that state resources are used to drive the new developmental programmes of poverty alleviation through the development of the SMMEs.

Us Government Business Grants For Women

Every year there are a number of people who start up their own business and from them are nearly 500,000 women. Almost two out of every three business that come up are actually started by women and they have also proven to be more flourishing than men. They have nearly a 75 percent sure chance in any business ownership and for this main reason the United States Federal Local and State Government is offering hundreds of programs which offer financial help including information and help to women who need to start or expand their business.

Why are Women’s Business Grants Offered?

The business grants for women are well known. There are nearly 9 million businesses owned by women and yet they receive the smallest amount of financial help from traditional sources like venture capital firms and banks. Most women usually own smaller businesses which do not require financial help of $250,000 and therefore there are limited financial options and the business grants are also hard to come by. Most of the businesses usually are founded using loans that require a good collateral and credit score which is hard for women to acquire. However there are now business grants easily available for women who need to start their own business and require financial help. This business grant is offered by the US government and can be availed from any of the local government offices.

Types of Business Grants Available

The US government is offering business grants for women which can be either for existing business or to start a new business. If you need to start a new business then the business grants for this purpose would range anywhere between $100 to $5000 and even higher if you have a larger business to start. However you can also avail government business grants for your existing business and these grants also have the same range which can also be in the same amount range. Whether you need financial help to develop or launch a new product or just need to expand into a new market or even to buy new equipments for your business the business grants available for women can help you increase your reach.

Applying for Women’s Business Grants

In order to apply for a business grant you should be a women who resides at any state in United States and should be above the age of 18 years. Apart from this it also required that you make a donation of at least $15 as the application fee to the financial office or the women’s government office in your state. You should remember that every business grant for women is offered or awarded on the quality standards of the business plan including the application materials. As these grants are not offered to be repaid anytime in the future, there is no check for your credit history. You should make sure that you approach the right government financial office for your women’s business grants as not all of them offer you such grants and have this facility.