Thursday, February 26, 2009

Linking the changes in the United States to global issues

I've been blogging a lot on issues that seem specific to the United States lately. I've always tried to maintain a global focus in the blog, but because I am in the U.S., I tend to get my news from American sources.

However, many of the issues that President Obama is trying to act on will have global consequences.

The US is the most egregious carbon emitter, both per capita and in absolute terms. Countries have no excuse for not acting on their own, no matter how much or how little they contribute to the problem. But American inaction will lead to world inaction. China will not act to contain its emissions if the US does not, and they will soon surpass the US in terms of absolute emissions, with India likely not too far behind. Now, if the US acts, it could easily be that China, India, or both will refuse to do so - but at least then they'll really have no excuse.

Reforming US health care seems at first glance to be a problem only for Americans. However, American drug and medial device companies sell to a global marketplace. Profligate practice patterns in the US have implications for the future of health care spending in other countries. Not all of the new drugs or shiny new gadgets that are developed are necessarily a cost-effective solution to increase health. In fact, most improvements in lifespan in the last century have come from simple public health initiatives like sanitation and vaccinations, rather than drugs and medical devices.

Reforming human rights violations like Guantanamo, and ceasing an aggressive, imperialistic foreign policy are obviously global issues.

I believe that a multipolar world is good. America will become arrogant, xenophobic and complacent if it isn't exposed to competition. However, the fact remains that changes in America have effects elsewhere. I hope, pray and believe that this administration has what it takes to bring change to America - good change.

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