The Economist 14Mar2020

(Ann) #1

12 The EconomistMarch 14th 2020


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Feeling the Bern
“It will surprise nobody”, you
said, “that we disagree with a
self-described democratic
socialist over economics”
(“America’s nightmare”, Febru-
ary 29th). But, as a 40-year
subscriber to The Economist, I
was indeed surprised by your
leader on Bernie Sanders. I
have always valued your com-
mitment to free trade and to
socially liberal policies:
universal education, efficient
and affordable health care,
legalisation and control of
drugs, workplace equality,
broad immigration and
integration, and so on.
Many of these social
policies have been disrupted
around the world by
nationalist sentiments, driven
by economic insecurity over
rising financial inequality,
which in turn is a result of
corporate giveaways, trickle-
down (or voodoo) economics,
and outright corruption.
There are two ways of im-
proving the situation. One is to
ask corporations to share their
wealth more widely with their
employees and to do more for
society. This doesn’t work
because the benefits are spread
unevenly, and it puts the civic-
minded corporation at a com-
petitive disadvantage to its less
generous competitors.
The other approach is to
allow corporations to go ahead
and make their money, and for
the government to tax them
sufficiently to provide univer-
sal education and health care
and other services. This was
the norm under Franklin
Roosevelt, Harry Truman and
Dwight Eisenhower, underpins
the democratic socialism of
Scandinavia and other happy
places, and is what Mr Sanders
advocates. I fail to understand
your hostility to it.
robin helweg-larsen
Governor’s Harbour, Bahamas

Starting with his campaign in
2016 Mr Sanders brought some
much-needed civility to politi-
cal discourse. He inspired
many by talking about actual
issues rather than the trash talk
we have got used to over the
past five years. He veers away

frominaneplatitudeslike
“HopeandChange”and“Make
AmericaGreatAgain”.Does
yournewspaperreallythink
thatAmericancapitalismisso
desperateandfragilethatit
cannothandlea seriousdebate
ontheproblemsthatconfront
thecountrytoday?
davidwarren
Berkeley,California

MrSandersisindeed
“convincedthatheismorally
right”.YetI recallthatbackin
November2012,MrSanders
wasoneofonlyfoursenators
tovoteagainsttheMagnitsky
Act,whichimposessanctions
oncertainhuman-rights
offendersinRussia.Notwith-
standinghispositionsagainst
frackingandprivatehealth
insurance,orhissympathy
withautocraticregimes,his
voteagainsttheMagnitskyAct
aloneisproofenoughthatheis
farfrombeingmorallyright.
stevenhong
NorthVancouver,Canada

How to spend it
Besides the political and tech-
nological, there are plenty of
other ways for Jeff Bezos to
spend $10bn philanthropically
on solving climate change
(“The great Bezos giveaway”,
February 22nd). You have
reported, for instance, on the
Methanesatproject, which
will police and shut down
methane leaks from oil and gas
operations globally, emissions
which represent several per
cent of the total climate warm-
ing effect (“The methane hunt-
ers”, February 1st). Perhaps the
largest problem and thus
biggest opportunity of all is the
scale and cost of investment in
solar, wind and energy storage
projects, which must be con-
structed in emerging econo-
mies. Around $20trn must be
invested in poorer areas of the
world over the next ten years.
Poor countries have spotty
track records of respecting the
rights of foreign investors,
have weaker currencies and
other challenges. Innovation
in financing solar, wind and
energy-storage projects in the
form of “blended finance” is
desperately needed to make

these infrastructure invest-
ments more affordable for
those who have, paradoxically,
the highest cost of money
today. The scale of the problem
requires government interven-
tion, but philanthropy on the
$10bn scale can lead the way.
ion yadigaroglu
New York

Mexico’s government
In response to Bello’s column
on Mexico’s government,
(February 29th), this adminis-
tration is fighting crime on
many fronts. The newly
created National Guard has
curbed the rise in the number
of murders. Kidnappings in
December 2019 were down by
31% year over year; car thefts
have fallen by 12%.
On the economic front, the
progress made in ratifying the
new trade deal with Canada
and the United States will
promote investment. In 2019
foreign direct investment grew
by 4.2%. The Mexican govern-
ment has also invested heavily
in our southern states to boost
growth and address economic
inequalities. Meanwhile, it has
kept inflation low, even while
raising the minimum wage.
The administration has a
clear strategy. It is committed
to eliminating inequality and
violence by ending the war on
drugs, strengthening the rule
of law, ending impunity, and
promoting inclusive devel-
opment. The use of force is no
longer the first option. For the
first time since 2010, attacks by
criminal groups on federal
forces have resulted in more
arrests than deaths. At the
same time, more than 9.2m
people have benefited from
social programmes or uncon-
ditional cash transfers to vul-
nerable groups. The results are
clear: a fifth of our poorest
citizens have seen their in-
comes rise by 24%. The chal-
lenges that our country faces
are vast, but the statecraft
Mexico urgently needed is at
last being delivered.
roberto velasco álvarez
Director-general of public
affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mexico City

The new masters
The history of Chinese
management education starts
earlier than 1994 (“mbas with
Chinese characteristics”, Feb-
ruary 15th). After diplomatic
relations were established,
Jimmy Carter’s science adviser
in 1980 urged China to start the
first management education
programme at Dalian, a sea-
port. The costs for a new build-
ing and American faculty were
shared equally by the two
countries. Lectures were held
in summer and autumn be-
cause of the poor heating. The
audience was composed of
nationally selected mid-level
managers, economics and
management professors (uni-
versities were closed during
the Cultural Revolution) and
Chinese government officials.
The attendees’ level of English
was quite low, so lectures were
prepared in advance and trans-
lation was sequential. Some
resulted in books which had as
many as five printings.
To learn that now China has
its own executive programmes
abroad in countries like Swit-
zerland, teaching economics
and management with capi-
talistic characteristics, reflects
the miraculous changes which
have occurred over 40 years.
bertrand horwitz
Asheville, North Carolina

Keeping your chin up
At last, proof that facial expres-
sions are not an accurate guide
to how someone feels (“Face
blind”, February 22nd). I tend
to have a downturned mouth,
more so with age, yet life is
wonderful. Even more so now,
since I have cut out your arti-
cle, and intend to wave it at
every builder or scaffolder who
has the temerity to yell out,
“Cheer up love, it might never
happen.”
lucy beresford
London
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