Running Local

This Train of Thought Makes All Stops

Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

Power Springs From the Muzzle of a Hoe

Posted by Bob Kohm on January 5, 2009

An interesting read in the China Digital Times about Chinese farmers “emigrating” to Africa. China has a shortage of arable land chinese_farmer_silhouette1while Africa has a shortage of food, as the story goes.

One must wonder, however, if China, which has an excess of population, isn’t actually keeping their eye on Africa’s undeveloped land, technologically backwards regimes and militaries holding that land, and mineral wealth beneath that land. As African fertility and population rates tremendously decelerate even from the levels of thirty years ago and as AIDS continues to take its toll on the 14-40 male demographic that also comprises fighting aged men, China must sense an opportunity here. They understand that India and to a lesser extent Indonesia also see that opportunity.

China plays the long, deep game. Today’s “emigrant” farmers bring with them to Africa their Yuan, their technology, their way of life and their willingness to give Africa the pusher’s dram of those commodities; the African people, in the absence of any real ground-level diplomatic efforts from the US or EU, will become addicted to that which the Chinese can supply just as they became addicted to that which the British, French, and Belgians supplied in the 19th Century. China is pursuing the soft victory in the mid-term, which may well lead to the establishment of Chinese rule in nations that harbor these Chinese colonials in the long term.

Even George W. Bush realized that Africa will be the setting for this century’s Great Game, with America finally making some small efforts to improve our lot and standing amongst the Africans. Africa has the mineral wealth that the world so dearly craves, the water and land resources that so many nations are short of, and the effective power vacuum that makes them readily accessible to the nations that dare take them. America stands at a key decision point in Africa– do we continue to prop up failed regimes as we have so often to our strategic and humanistic detriment, or do we forge new relationships and give unstintingly of our medical, technological, commercial and mining resources not for the direct betterment of America’s bottom line but for the betterment of America’s long term standing in the world. We must emulate the Chinese by providing to and for Africa without raping their resources and populations so as to provide actual leadership.

Barack Obama faces a dilemma– it is always hardest to take care of “one’s own” when in high office. Mario Cuomo was a Queens politician who made it to the top rank of America’s governors, but during his tenure in Albany Queens got screwed on almost every count– Cuomo could not send home any bacon to Queens for fear of being shown up as self serving. There are elements of American society who would similarly pillory Obama for placing what they might see as undue interest in sub-Saharan Africa by virtue of his lineage for political gain. Hopefully we can avoid stumbling over so obvious a dodge.


Posted in Africa, China, Economy, Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Apparently These Weren’t Built in Detroit

Posted by Bob Kohm on January 3, 2009

meralogoWord from NASA that our two rovers on Mars, Spirit and Opportunity, are still functioning and doing good science at the approach of their fifth anniversaries on Mars.

My Ford Explorer didn’t make it five years in the city that funds NASA. Can we swing just a bit of bailout money, say a billion or three, to the folks who put together the ultimate r/c cars, shot them across the solar system to a frigid, dusty world, and managed to keep them running for five+ years with the nearest Jiffy Lube 120,000,000 miles away? Let them build the damned Chevy Volt, they may even get it right.

Of course, if Congress bitched about the Big Three CEOs showing up in Gulfstream jets, they may not take kindly to these guys popping over to the Hill on the Virgin Atlantic Spaceship 2

Posted in Detroit, Economy, NASA, Space | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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