By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The United States was the world’s first middle-class nation, which was a big factor in its rapid growth. Mid-19th-century British travelers marveled at American workers’ “ductility of mind and the readiness…for a new thing” and admired how hard and willingly they labored. Abraham Lincoln attributed it the knowledge that “humblest man [had] an equal chance to get rich with everyone else.”
Unemployment, independent of any other factor, threatens to derail the economic promise that Africa deserves. It’s a time bomb with no geographical boundaries: Economists expect Africa to create 54 million new jobs by 2020, but 122 million Africans will enter the labor force during that time frame. Adding to this shortfall are tens of millions currently unemployed or underemployed, making the human and economic consequences nearly too large to imagine.
Bills have been introduced into both the House and the Senate to dismantle the federal government’s role in interstate highways and leave that massive responsibility to individual states. Tea Party adherents and other conservatives are applauding this effort. The Interstate Highway System, they argue, was largely completed in the 1980s and local communities should provide their own transportation needs.
When the American Society of Civil Engineers gave American infrastructure a D+ “report card” this year, maybe the United States should have been proud of its first improved grade in 15 years. But moving from D to D+ still means we need to take tremendous strides to make our cities “smarter.”
Five years into the global financial crisis, the U.S. and global economies remain mired in a weak-growth, low-inflation, high-unemployment environment. Debt busts such as 2008-09 are hard to exit from, and recoveries are long and painful. However, three complicating factors make the current environment even more challenging.
We’re getting beat by Estonia.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the tiny state on the Baltic Sea. But the nation that built the Hoover Dam, pioneered the Interstate Highway System and created the best aviation system in the world, is rapidly sliding toward the bottom of the list when it comes to infrastructure.
President Barack Obama asked Congress for more than $60 billion to help repair and rebuild infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. The House of Representatives finally voted Friday on a small down payment, roughly 10 percent.
By Isaac Esipisu
Although the role of political parties in Africa has changed dramatically since the sweeping reintroduction of multi-party politics in the early 1990s, Africa’s political parties remain deficient in many ways, particularly their organizational capacity, programmatic profiles and inner-party democracy.