The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

Goodbye to rugged American individualism?

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

Shock!! Horror!! The United States is becoming more like Europe! The rugged individualism that makes up part of the country's self-image may be doomed. Paternalism threatens to throttle enterprise and initiative.

That has been the reaction of Republican leaders to the $787 billion stimulus package President Barack Obama signed this week after a contentious debate that echoed arguments made more than 80 years ago on the eve of the Great Depression.

"We were challenged with the choice of the American system of rugged individualism or the choice of a European system of diametrically opposed doctrines - doctrines of paternalism and state socialism," Herbert Hoover said in his closing campaign speech for the 1928 presidential elections he won comfortably. The European ideas, he said, undermined the initiative and enterprise that propelled Americans to "unparalleled greatness."

Fast forward to February 2009 and listen to an updated version of conservative philosophy, expressed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate's minority leader: "This (stimulus package) paints a picture of the Europeanization of America ... and if we take all these measures, we will have made a dramatic move in the direction of turning America into Western Europe."

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Obama’s foreign policy challenges

Willis Sparks-- Willis Sparks is a Global Macro analyst at the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group. The views expressed are his own. --

Few things in life amused my dad more than a good karate movie. I once asked what he found so funny about Bruce Lee’s jaw-dropping display of poise and power. “Nice of the bad guys to attack him one at a time,” he said. In the real world, threats don’t arrive single-file, like jets lining up for takeoff.

from The Great Debate:

The case for a broadband bailout

ericauchard1- Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

By Eric Auchard

LONDON (Reuters) - With world economies fast running out of steam, it may seem an unlikely time for cash-strapped governments to discover universal broadband access as an urgent national funding priority.

Yet in this financial plague year, the Great Broadband Bailout of 2009 is rocketing up the political agenda as the global economic crisis deepens further.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: The next steps in the Middle East

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell in the Oval Office of the White House.

President Barack Obama inherits a distinctly gloomy outlook for progress in settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Is change really possible?

Reuters asked Oliver McTernan, the director a UK charity called Forward Thinking and two experts from the Brookings Institution in Washington -- former Ambassador to Israel Martin S. Indyk and Kenneth Pollack -- what steps the Obama administration should take next in the Middle East.

from The Great Debate:

Clean up Washington: mission impossible?

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

Can any U.S. administration avoid the fate spelled out in the following 12 words? "We were elected to change Washington and we let Washington change us."

from The Great Debate:

Goodbye bonuses, hello hedge funds

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The argument about bank bonus payments is as sterile as it is backward looking; compensation at government insured institutions is going nowhere but down.

The real action will be at those places like hedge funds, private equity houses and boutiques, which will try and trade less insurance for more autonomy and which will capture more market share, take on more risk and offer more reward. The question is how will they be regulated, how will they fund themselves and how will the rest of us be protected from the systemic risk they could easily represent.

from The Great Debate:

Executive pay caps: “stealth nationalization” or “political grandstanding”?

obama-geithner President Barack Obama set a $500,000 annual pay cap on Wednesday for executives at companies getting taxpayer bailouts as part of a wider process to clamp down on excessive corporate pay.

The new rules would require banks and other companies that get government funds in the future to abide by the new cap going forward, with any additional compensation being limited to restricted stock that does not vest until government funds are paid back.

from The Great Debate:

America’s long, long Afghan war

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate--Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own--

Twenty years ago this month, the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan after a disastrous war that lasted nine years, seven weeks and three days. Barring military and political miracles, the United States will stay longer in Afghanistan than the Soviets did. Considerably longer.

Present U.S. plans to reinforce troops fighting a war that is, by most accounts, going badly, provide for up to 30,000 additional soldiers to be deployed over the next 12 to 18 months. By that time, the U.S. presence will almost have matched the Soviets' stay and will exceed it by the end of 2010.

from The Great Debate:

Play by the rules, close failing banks

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Why not just play by the existing rules and rescue the economy, rather than the banks and their foolish shareholders and counterparties?

The choice for the Obama administration comes down to this: pay a subsidy to weak banks and reward failure and self-dealing or shut them down and start over again.

from For the Record:

After the warm glow, telling the cold, hard truths

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

The president was inaugurated in front of adoring crowds and positive reviews in the media. As the unpopular incumbent sat on the platform with him, the new Democratic chief executive took office as the nation faced a crippling economic crisis. The incoming president was a charismatic figure who had run a brilliant campaign and had handled the press with aplomb. The media were ready to give him a break.

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