It is interesting to see the consequences of globalization taking place all around the world today. People so often in the 90’s talked about how globalization would improve people’s lives across the globe. To be fair to some degree that has happened in places like China where several hundred million people have been lifted out of poverty by moving from the countryside to the urban manufacturing centers of China. Other nations like Germany have also benefited greatly from globalization in the form of the EU. With the barriers to trade removed from the internal European market German companies have proceeded to destroy their fellow European competition and reap the rewards. Unfortunately these two examples of countries benefiting from globalization have also cast a dark shadow across many other countries who have suffered while China and Germany have benefited. In China’s case many of the jobs in manufacturing that now power the Chinese economy were once based in America. The fallout from this in America has been significant because many of the jobs lost to China were some of the best paying jobs a non skilled worker could find in America. Recently in the last several years there has been a small glimmer of hope in the American manufacturing sector where instead of losing jobs they have actually begun adding some. It remains to be seen if this is just part of the economy coming back from the lows of the economic meltdown in 2008 or if this is part of a new trend of increased American industrial production over the long term.
The situation in Europe seems more straight forward where there is little doubt that the Euro has made life much more difficult for countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain to compete with Germany since they can no longer devalue their own currency to become more competitive. The result has been that much of southern Europe chose to use debt to fuel economic growth (much like America has done) instead of trying to make their economies more competitive. The consequences of this have been tragic for those countries with some like Greece in what can only be described as a economci depression. One thing is for certain, you don’t seem to hear nearly as many world leaders talking up the benefits of globalization because the real long term consequences have now manifested themselves and it is not a very pretty picture.
In somewhat of a surprise outcome to many the US got both more gold and the most medals overall beating out China. The US got 46 gold medals compared to 38 for China. For total medals the US came away with 104 to China’s 87. As I said the result was somewhat of a surprise to many including people in the US. I remember at one point during NBC’s olympic coverage they were discussing the medal tally and a commentator remarked that although the US had passed China for the most medals at one point that people should expect the Chinese to eventually take the lead for good. I do think it is interesting the US ended up winning because the fact that China has so many more people and the government sponsors many athletes. Throw in the fact that most athletes are literally hand picked by scouts at very young ages and then shipped off to sports academies to train full time away from their families. To me having 4 times the population, state sponsorship of athletes, sports academies developing talent from young ages should seem like it would be a system that consistently produced more medals than the US.
Which then raises the question of why China did not beat the US this time? Obviously China had the home field advantage last olympics because they were the host nation so everyone knew they weren’t going to do as good this time. Also the US deserves credit for having a great olympic games, especially the US women athletes who ended up winning more medals than the men. Some Chinese bloggers have speculated that the system China has used to produce olympic athletes may be to blame because the enormous pressure put on the athletes to succeed eventually becomes too much for some. One Chinese blogger actually went so far as to say that Chinese system produces athletes that are one-dimensional and unprepared for life when he wrote
“The budding young talents are shut up in closed training
schools from a young age and apart from their own events, almost
have no other life skills.”
My personal opinion is that it was a great olympics for Team USA but it will be hard to consistently out do China in the future because of all the previously mentioned advantages China has. Although some of those advantages like the government backing and extreme dedication come at a heavy price for the individual athletes. Could you imagine being sent away to one of those sports academies at 5 years old, train for years only to find out you’re not good enough. Or what if you got injured and could no longer compete and you spent your whole life preparing for something you will never have the chance to do and oh by the way you are totally unprepared on how to handle the rest of your life. To me that is a price to steep to pay, I almost feel sorry for Chinese athletes.
There has been a lot of noise this week from the Romney campaign about the Obama campaign’s attack ads and how they are beneath the dignity of the office and so forth. Unfortunately a look back at presidential campaigns of the last 20 plus years prove a different conclusion which is that the side that embraces negative campaigning the most wins. We can start by looking back at the now infamous Willie Horton ad from the 1988 presidential campaign ran by Bush 41’s campaign team. The ad blasted Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis for letting convicted murderer Willie Horton out on a furlough on which he then proceeded to go on a crime spree which included rape and robbery. The Clinton administration used similar tactics during the 98 congressional election when the Clinton administration put out a press release saying that African-Americans were being turned away at polling stations because of their color in obvious attempt to motivate their base of supporters to get out and vote. Bush 43 has the dubious distinction of providing multiple examples of shady campaigning. First, the way he savaged John McCain during the 2000 Republican Primary by saying that McCain had fathered a black child out of wed lock during the hotly contested battle for South Carolina. Bush went on to discredit Vietnam vet John Kerry during the 2004 campaign with the Swift boat ads that called into question Kerry’s service during Vietnam.
So to me the only logical conclusion to this brief history lesson is that the campaign that makes the most effective use of attack ads will more than likely end up winning the election. This is not to say that other factors are not important but the ability to frame the debate and cast your opponent in negative fashion seems to almost certainly lead to election night victory. This leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that because of the evidence already mentioned and the fact that the Obama campaign seems to be far better at doing this will ultimately lead to a Obama victory in November unless Romney can somehow manage to not only defend himself better against these attacks but also effectively take the fight to Obama. So far that has not happened.
In 2014 the Panama Canal will open a new 3rd lane to accommodate ships that are wider, deeper, and longer than were previously able to pass through the older lanes.
“[T]he Panama Canal was always constrained by the size of its locks, permitting no vessel longer than 965 feet, wider than 106 feet and with a draft greater than 39 feet to pass through. Ships suitable for the canal became known as Panamax vessels and could carry nearly 5,000 20-foot shipping containers.
When the third lane opens in late 2014, the canal’s capacity will more than double. Ships as long as 1,200 feet and up to 160 feet wide, with drafts as deep as 50 feet, will be able to transit. The largest vessels will carry as many as 13,200 containers, or at least double the dry weight of bulk cargo that can pass through today.
Panamax vessels are long, slim and require a lot of water ballast to maintain balance. New mega-ships will be wider, more stable and will consume up to 16 percent less fuel – meaning a smaller environmental footprint and lower costs for their operators. Shipyards are seeing a surge in orders for what are called post-Panamax vessels.”
It also remains to be seen how the greater capacity will influence global trade once the new lane becomes operational. Ports in the US have been told by the US government to prepare accordingly by expanding capacity to meet what seems to be coming. Beyond the assumed increase in trade there also are questions that need to be answered about how this will change trade relationships? It now might become more economically feasible to ship certain items to new destinations. The original story mentioned that coal from Columbia could now be shipped to China, which is just one example how this will impact global trade relationships. It will be interesting to see what else comes about. Oddly enough I did not hear any mention on whether or not the largest US Navy ships would now be able to use the canal.
This picture illustrates the dramatic impact the new lane will have on shipping.
Since we are at roughly the half way mark of the 2012 London Olympics I thought it might be interesting to see who would win the battle for olympic supremacy. There are only two countries that can win China or America. As of August 4 the Chinese held a slight lead in overall medals with 48 to 46 for the US, although the US had the most gold medals with 23. The olympics is now shifting to track and field now that the swimming and other events are wrapping up today. Although the US is not nearly as dominant in track as it once was with the recent emergence of Jamaica as a sprinting superpower, it should be able to win more medals than China. The question will be will it be enough to pass China for the total medal count? With the recent emergence of China as a sporting superpower it does raise some questions that should be addressed. First, is it realistic for America to think that we can beat China when they have roughly four times the population as the US. Coupled with the fact that in China the state sponsors athletes while in the US athletes are left to either fend for themselves or be sponsored by private organizations? Second, is the US in decline as a sporting nation? The US no longer dominates track and field like it used to and the trend looks to continue this olympics with the best sprinters coming once again from Jamaica. It’s not just in track and field where the US no longer dominates. Since olympic boxing went through scoring changes that now make it different from professional boxing the US has gone from the nation who had won the most boxing medals to only being able to bring back one bronze medal in Beijing. Should China win the most medals at the London Olympics there should be no doubt that their government will use it as further proof to help legitimize their authoritarian rule.