Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Mega foundations trying to buy media for pro UN coverage

original article: Foundations plan to pay news media to cover radical UN agenda
May 23, 2015 by George Russell

The United Nations Foundation created by billionaire Ted Turner, along with a branch of media giant Thomson Reuters, is starting to train a squadron of journalists and subsidize media content in 33 countries—including the U.S. and Britain–in a planned $6 million effort to popularize the bulky and sweeping U.N.-sponsored Sustainable Development Goals, prior to a global U.N. summit this September. where U.N. organizers hope they will be endorsed by world leaders.

The unprecedented media push is formally intended to start on May 25 but is already underway. It is intended to help breathe some new life into a sprawling U.N. effort–supported by, among others, the Obama administration–to create a global social and environmental agenda for the next 15 years.

It is taking place in parallel with an equally strong but unrelated media cheerleading push by supporters of strong climate change action to help set in stone a new global greenhouse gas emissions treaty at a Paris summit in December.

A junior partner in the U.N. Foundation media training and subsidy effort is a not-for-profit organization known as the Jynwel Charitable Foundation Limited, whose co-director is a flamboyant Malaysian financial named Jho Low. Jynwel, a Low family creation, also recently plunked down $25 million to take over a sputtering U.N. humanitarian news agency known as IRIN and sharpen its message.

The training and subsidy effort “comes at a time when people want to know what it will take to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle the big questions related to sustainability,” Kathy Calvin, CEO of the U.N. Foundation, told Fox News. “If our work helps encourage the media to dive deeper into these issues, we are achieving something that is core to our mission but also a public good worthy of 2015’s moment in history.”

“This is an important year or a robust decision on what the world and the U.N. will do in the next 15 years,” added Aaron Sherinian, the Foundation’s chief communications and marketing officer. “We thought we would do well to connect as many people to the conversation as possible.”

In fact, the media-training-and-subsidy blitz could also be described as extraordinary bid to pump up public interest and editorial support for a vast and wobbly U.N. campaign to create a new social and environmental agenda that is too nebulous to criticize and too ponderous to implement with any coherent effect. Nonetheless, that agenda is intended to drive national social, economic and environmental agendas for the next 15 years.

The new goals, known as the SDGs, have been under formal discussion in various U.N. fora for the past year. They consist of 17 major goals and 169 related targets and amount to a broad-based socialist and/or progressive agenda that by 2030 promises to end poverty and all forms of malnutrition everywhere, “attain healthy lives for all,” “reduce income equality within and between countries,” and “promote sustainable production and consumption,” among many other things.

The subtargets cover everything from “create and diversify seed and plant banks,” to “end preventable newborn, infant and under-five deaths,” to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and persons with disabilities,” along with much, much more.

The goals are the centerpiece of what the U.N. calls the “post-2015 development process” They are a grab-bag of environmental and social development measures that are too sprawling in scope and too open-ended to be effective, or apparently even to be widely understood.

So far as the new training and subsidy initiative is concerned, however, the problem is seen less in terms of problematic content and more in terms of popularizing the message by refocusing and re-educating the media—as well as helping to pay some of them for delivering the new intellectual freight.

“Very often the problem of the UN is that the speeches long, full of acronyms, and the jargon is difficult to understand,” Monique Villa, head of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, told Fox News. “Making the jargon of the U.N. understandable is quite important.”

Under the plan, Villa’s foundation, Thomson Reuters’ non-profit arm, will carry out the training under contract from U.N. Foundation. (The Thomson Reuters Foundation, according to its website, also carries on for-profit training sessions.)

Journalists from Australia to Peru, and from Britain to Zimbabwe will be given five-day training programs by instructors drawn largely from the ranks of former Reuters journalists. The material will include encompass among other things how to better understand and explain U.N. opaque concepts of sustainability, with at least one section devoted to “financial and economic concepts,” Villa said.

Training sessions for the journalists—whose parent organizations are as yet unnamed—are slated to run through August.

U.S. training sessions will take place in New York and Los Angeles, although who will be given instruction—and whose editorial platforms will be subsidized—has not yet announced. Overall subsidies are expected to range between $25,000 and $100,000, with 15 recipients named by the end of May and another 15 by the end of June.

“Depending on financing we might be able to add a few more outlets to the list” a U.N. Foundation spokesperson told Fox News.” She emphasized that the subsidies are “grants designed to enhance the capacity of media organizations to partner on these issues. Full editorial control of content remains with the media outlet.”

Individual media outlets would announce their participation “once partnership details are finalized,” she said.

The subsidy approach, U.N. Foundation’s Sherinian said, was “not dissimilar” to the funding that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided for sveral years to the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian, to publish what amounts to sponsored news about economic development issues, including the Foundation’s campaign to extirpate AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“We are asking the media to do what they do well,” Sherinian added. “If a media organization has the ability to do what it has done well, and if it could do more innovative work,” then “we are asking them to engage on the issue.”

The effort would also include “putting them in touch with people on the ground doing implementation work”–in other words, those who are actually going to put the goals into practice.

Not all of the funding for the effort has yet been raised, he added. “We are in both implementing and fundraising mode.”

At the same time as the U.N.-supporting foundations are boosting coverage of the “post-2015 development agenda,” an even bigger media coalition has just announced it will start lumping content for collective use in support of a new U.N.-sponsored treaty on greenhouse gases, which is supposed to be agreed upon at a summit meeting in December in Paris.

The so-called Climate Publishers Network, a 25-member group that includes The Guardian as well as such high-profile newspaper as Le Monde in France and El Pais in Spain, as well as the China Daily, have agreed to drop their mutual licensing fees to allow all network members to share their coverage on the climate change issue prior to the December 11 summit.

The network arrangement is slated to disband immediately afterward.

The U.N. Foundation’s Sherinian said that the two programs “were not formally affiliated in a specific way,” and said he could not confirm “if or how the outlets involved in the Climate Publishers Network coincide with those involved in our program to date.”

But like the Climate Publishers with their self-imposed shut-off date, he said the U.N. Foundation would not commit to maintaining the SDG subsidy effort beyond this year—it was, he said, “too early to say.”

The same could be said of the success of either full-court effort to help build a media groundswell for the expansive and expensive U.N.-supported objectives.

bias, charity, foreign affairs, indoctrination, left wing, news media, pandering, political correctness, propaganda, relativism

Filed under: bias, charity, foreign affairs, indoctrination, left wing, news media, pandering, political correctness, propaganda, relativism

You can’t event practice compassion without government approval anymore

original article: Pastor Charged with Criminal Penalty for Feeding the Homeless
November 6, 2014 by Jordan Richardson

Should a 90-year-old pastor face sixty days in jail and a $500 fine for simply giving food to homeless people? The authorities in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. seem to think so.

Arnold Abbott runs a non-profit charity called Love Thy Neighbor, Inc., which seeks to care for the homeless population in the Fort Lauderdale area. Abbott is a World War II veteran, who was awarded two Purple Hearts as an infantryman. He dedicates his charity in memory of his late wife, Maureen.

“She tried to help as many poor and homeless people as she could. When I lost her, I decided the best tribute to her would be a full-time program in her name,” Abbott explained.

But Abbott’s mission to care for the homeless met an obstacle after the city government of Fort Lauderdale passed an ordinance which placed restrictions on feeding the homeless.

According to NBC News, this is the fourth such ordinance Fort Lauderdale has passed related to the problem of homelessness, and the latest additionrestricts how these individuals are fed:

The ordinance requires groups handing out food to homeless to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties. It limits feeding sites for homeless to one in any given city block, and prevent feeding sites from being within 500 feet of each other.

Abbott was certainly aware of the new law and made an affirmative decision to ignore it and continue his work to feed the homeless anyway, so in that sense Abbott is different from many other victims of overcriminalization. Two days after the ordinance took effect, Abbott was charged along with two other pastors with willful violation of a city ordinance. If convicted, the punishment for this violation is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Threats of imprisonment did not hold Abbott back from continuing his charity. “I know that I will be arrested again, and I am prepared for that. I am my brother’s keeper, and what they are doing is just heartless,” he stated.

Fort Lauderdale Police Detective DeAnna Greenlaw defended the ordinance:

The ordinance allows for legal, clean and safe distribution of food to the homeless. For example, if a minister, priest or member of clergy wishes to provide food to the homeless at their establishment (i.e., community hall, church or gathering place) they can do so if the proper facilities, as listed in the ordinance, are in place.

While there could be a rational basis for this city government to restrict the place and manner of feeding homeless people (such as overcrowding in public spaces, sanitary concerns or security considerations), the punishment for violating the ordinance goes way too far.

There is no question that Abbott is aware of the consequences of what he is doing; nonetheless, imposing criminal penalties on acts of charity is a disturbing. Instead of addressing violations of such an ordinance through civil fines, the Fort Lauderdale government has unwisely chosen to treat charity as a criminal activity.

Arnold Abbott instead seeks to live out the mission by which his non-profit is named, to love thy neighbor. “I don’t do things to purposefully aggravate the situation,” he said. “I’m trying to work with the city. Any human has the right to help his fellow man.”

Given the harsh penalties Abbott faces for giving food to the hungry, one may ask whether Jesus would have been arrested for handing out loaves of bread and fish to those who were hungry.

There’s More to the Story About the 90-Year-Old Charged With Feeding the Homeless

abuse, bureaucracy, charity, extremism, government, ideology, nanny state, public policy, regulation

Filed under: abuse, bureaucracy, charity, extremism, government, ideology, nanny state, public policy, regulation

government aid and World Bank projects are not enough to spur lasting recovery

August 21, 2014 by Amity Shlaes

New Orleans is growing, but is New Orleans back?

Not entirely.

That’s the exchange we’ll all be hearing in the coming weeks as the city marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Interesting new businesses have sprung up. Many schools are better than they used to be. New Orleans has more bicycle paths. But the city can’t claim the population it had in July 2005. And poverty rates have increased from their level in the first hopeful years after the storm.

This outcome disappoints, and it also challenges received wisdom. Americans nurse their own very private and personal storm of emoto-thoughts when it comes to natural disasters. We want to do something, so we look for theories that support action. One such theory is that restoring old structures or hurricane and flood spending can so stimulate economic activity at a disaster site that the place will emerge better than it would have been prior to the misfortune. Our officials routinely buttress this thesis.

In addition to such arguments for government or private spending, we see a second theory: disaster as a kind of natural selection of businesses. There’s yet a third theory, which is related: that disaster spaces can benefit from a specific version of Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction.” In this view, the same disaster environment that is hostile to humans is especially hospitable to innovators. Technological innovators flock in and drive out old backward technology, yielding productivity gains that also render New Orleans, or any other such unfortunate locale, superior to its old self.

This optimism speaks well of our national character, but not necessarily of our logic. For a systematic and global sweep of the evidence suggests that New Orleans is no exception: We often tend to overrate the quality of post-disaster intervention. Economists Solomon Hsiang and Amir S. Jina recently studied economies of nations that had endured the prototypical natural disaster, the cyclone. Studying 6,700 cyclones that took place around the world between 1950 and 2008, the pair published a National Bureau of Economic Research paper supplying strong evidence that national economies decline compared with their pre-disaster trend and “do not recover.” Wrote the authors: “The data reject hypotheses that disasters stimulate growth or that short-run losses disappear.” The conclusion: Cyclone-hit countries, rich or poor, experience such losses. Places where very big cyclones hit lose 3.7 years of development over the following two decades. This blow compares to a tax increase of 1 percent of gross domestic product, or a currency crisis.

“There is no creative destruction,” Jina told me, repeating what he had said to writers at The Atlantic.

Three findings of the Hsiang-Jina report stand out. The first is that their study includes the contributions of international disaster aid. Since international aid money usually, if not always, buys something at the disaster site, this suggests that our faith in spending might be too strong. “We can’t test whether aid and government spending is good or bad, but we can just say it is not doing what some people claim it is,” says Jina.

The second finding is that repeat disasters further burden the economies they hit, resulting “in an accumulation of income losses over time.” In other words, what is true once is also true the second time, with even greater impact. Perhaps those New Orleans families who have chosen to settle somewhere else have made the correct choice.

But the third point is perhaps the subtlest and most interesting. Economies do experience a jolt of growth when governments or private companies, not to mention international nonprofits and agencies, dump cash and rock concerts in the rush that follows tragedy. That jolt may include food, bottled water, and blankets that save lives. But economically, a jolt is just a jolt. The growth is not sustained. The true economic picture, and a negative one, comes clear over the long term, the 10- or twenty-year period. The only reason we have not noticed this, as the authors point out, is that “the gradual nature of these losses renders them inconspicuous to the casual observer.” Politicians think in election cycles, and so do voters, which explains why we may heretofore have found it expedient to ignore any evidence of long-term weakness that came before us.

The authors’ first big takeaway relates to global warming, which, even by conservative estimates, is likely to provoke more cyclones. The authors estimate that to sustain traditional growth patterns, the world’s nations will need to find, one way or another, $10 trillion more than they had planned to.

But the greater value of this study is in how it might help sort out what part of the disaster response results from fallacy. Now the evidence is there: Government spending alone simply does not do the trick. Big aid might not do the trick, either. And what about “creative destruction”?

Here one might reach a conclusion that differs from Jina’s. The “creative destruction” of which he spoke, and of which the development community speaks, is innovation catalyzed by disaster. The error here might be in believing that disasters foster extensive extra creative destruction. Perhaps the broader force of creative destruction, for which there is plenty of evidence, is not prompted by disaster: E-mail killed the fax without the necessity of any hurricane.

The work of Hsiang and Jina suggests that a fruitful research topic would be whether wars, so similar to disaster, actually foster the level of innovation traditionally assumed. The cyclone study also raises the question of whether authorities ought to focus on delivering humanitarian support exclusively, and abandon aid. After all, many of us, most notably Simeon Djankov, have found evidence of an aid curse.”

The perspicacious Joe Carter at Acton Institute writes that this study brought to mind the famous “broken window” thesis of the French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat, who sets forth this scenario: Suppose a window breaks at a shop. The bystanders invariably comment consolingly that at least some good will come of it all, for a glazier will get business, and, they ask, “What would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?” But this “seen” benefit obscures the unseen loss: that the cash spent to repair the window might have been invested more profitably by the shopkeeper, creating benefit elsewhere. Hsiang and Jina vindicate Bastiat. But they also undermine John Maynard Keynes.

In any case, “The Causal Effect of Environmental Catastrophe on Long-Run Economic Growth,” this paper’s formal title, provokes more thought than a dozen other scholarly tracts. Any one of its ideas is worth considering, and preferably before the next hurricane.

original article: Emotional Storms Are No Response for Disasters

bureaucracy, charity, crisis, economics, economy, funding, government, hurricanes, ideology, innovation, nanny state, spending, stimulus, study

Filed under: bureaucracy, charity, crisis, economics, economy, funding, government, hurricanes, ideology, innovation, nanny state, spending, stimulus, study

IMF study: Government spending doesn’t make poor countries rich

August 12, 2014 by James Pethokoukis

New research from the International Monetary Fund undercuts the idea that “big push” infrastructure and other public investment projects can create accelerating economic growth and higher productivity in low-income countries:

This paper has examined whether major public investment drives in the past have served to promote or accelerate national economic growth. It is not about whether in theory public investment drives could accelerate growth, but rather whether in practice, with real governments deciding how to spend the funds and implementing investments, they have in fact accelerated growth.

The answer appears to be “probably very little”. This conclusion pertains to the drives – the big increases in public capital  spending – not necessarily to routine levels of public investment. And furthermore the evidence here  is not about whether public capital can promote growth by averting the emergence of bottlenecks. Major public investment campaigns continue to be advocated in several countries as a major trigger for economic growth, and on this issue, whether they have in fact triggered growth, the evidence for a positive effect of public capital on GDP or GDP growth is weak. … It is difficult to find a clear-cut example that fits the oft-repeated narrative of a public investment boom followed by acceleration in GDP growth. If anything the cases of clear-cut booms illustrate the opposite – major drives in the past have been followed by slumps rather than booms.

The FT’s Matthew Klein has an excellent write-up of the report. But as it so happens, the FT also features a commentary by Deirdre McCloskey outlining a different path to prosperity:

“Making men and women all equal. That I take to be the gist of our political theory.” This rejoinder to rightwingers who delight in rank and privilege is spoken by Lady Glencora Palliser, the free-spirited Liberal heroine of Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn. It encapsulates the cardinal error of much of the left.

Joshua Monk, one of the novel’s Radicals, sees through it. “Equality is an ugly word . . . and frightens,” he says. The aim of the true Liberal should not be equality but “lifting up those below him”. It is to be achieved not by redistribution but by free trade, compulsory education and women’s rights.

And so it came to pass. In the UK since 1800, or Italy since 1900, or Hong Kong since 1950, real income per head has increased by a factor of anywhere from 15 to 100, depending on how one allows for the improved quality of steel girders and plate glass, medicine and economics. …

All the foreign aid to Africa or South and Central America, for example, is dwarfed by the amount that nations in these areas would gain if the rich world abandoned tariffs and other protections for their agriculture industries. There are ways to help the poor – let the Great Enrichment proceed, as it has in China and India – but charity or expropriation are not the ways.

The Great Enrichment came from innovation, not from accumulating capital or exploiting the working classes or lording it over the colonies. Capital had little to do with it, despite the unhappy fact that we call the system “capitalism”. Capital is necessary. But so are water, labour, oxygen and pencils. The path to prosperity involves betterment, not piling brick on brick.

original article: IMF study: Government spending doesn’t make poor countries rich

bureaucracy, capitalism, charity, economics, fairness doctrine, foreign affairs, freedom, funding, government, liberalism, marxism, nanny state, philosophy, politics, poverty, public policy, socialism, spending, study, unintended consequences, welfare

Filed under: bureaucracy, capitalism, charity, economics, fairness doctrine, foreign affairs, freedom, funding, government, liberalism, marxism, nanny state, philosophy, politics, poverty, public policy, socialism, spending, study, unintended consequences, welfare

Conservatives give higher percentage of income to charity than liberals

One common argument for higher taxes on the rich is that poor people pay a higher percentage of their income on basic necessities, such as food. Thus, somehow, this justifies raising taxes on the more wealthy, in the attempt to even things out and spread the struggle. If “percentage of income” is the standard, how about measuring charitable giving based on percentage of income?

Paul Begala Extols Liberal Generosity on Thanksgiving Despite Conservatives Giving Far More to Charity
November 25, 2010 Noel Sheppard

The hypocrisy of liberal media members knows no bounds – even on Thanksgiving.

On Thursday, CNN contributor Paul Begala wrote a piece for the Huffington Post extolling the “quintessentially liberal virtue” of generosity despite conservatives giving far more to charity:

As the Catalogue for Philanthropy consistently finds, red states regularly top the “generosity index” meaning that they give more as a percentage of income than blue states.

With this in mind, Begala’s contention that generosity is quintessentially a liberal virtue is quintessentially nonsense, for if all Americans gave as sparingly as liberals, charities would have far less money, and those in need would be having a far less happy Thanksgiving.

Generosity Index 2005 (2003 data)

bias, charity, culture, economy, false, greed, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, news media, pandering, philosophy, propaganda, relativism, wealthy

Filed under: bias, charity, culture, economy, false, greed, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, news media, pandering, philosophy, propaganda, relativism, wealthy

Obama says there are no corporate investments for the public good

I don’t want government any more than is necessary, but there’s some things that Bob or any CEO can’t invest in. Bob’s not going to build the roads to get to Celgard. No company is going to make investments for a public good.

So says President Barack Obama, at a Charlotte, NC battery parts company called Celgard. Had the president been susceptible to common sense he would not have spoken so stupidly. For example:

Hospitals provide health care
Pharmaceutical companies create medicines
Chemical companies produce innumerable goods we use everyday
Automotive, train, sea and airline companies provide means of transportation
Energy companies provide the fuel for using transportation
Manufacturing companies create the machines necessary for building almost everything we use
Media companies provide entertainment and news
Communications companies provide the ability to communicate around the world in real time
Communications companies also provide internet access, which many people consider a necessity
Computer companies provide computers, software and support for innumerable tasks we perform everyday
Food companies produce food for billions of people around the world
Grocery stores provide immediate access to food
Restaurants provide near-immediate access to food you don’t have to cook
Construction companies build structures for living and working
Music companies provide entertainment
Financial companies will help you with taxes, investments and provide funds to help you get stuff done
Apparel manufacturers clothe the world
Retail stores provide food, clothes, gadgets, entertainment, medicine, tools, toiletries, and more for the world
Mining companies acquire the raw resources needed for creating everything we use, from jewelry to medicine
Law firms provide legal advice and services
Repair companies fix all sorts of things

There are even private businesses designed to offer services traditionally provided by the government, such as shipping, roads, education, energy, consumer protection and more.

No one claims any of these things or the companies who provide them are perfect; that’s one reason we have laws. But in providing these goods and services companies also provide jobs. Many of these companies also donate to charities and noble causes of all sorts.

Why would anyone go through the effort and expense and regulatory hassle of doing these things? Because the businesses providing these goods and services make profit doing so. That’s how capitalism works: businesses survive and thrive only by offering what the public wants or needs. If you don’t like the product or service, or the customer service of a business you can go to their competition. For some reason, many people think these investments in the public good don’t count if someone makes money from them. And government’s supposedly beneficent provision doesn’t have to generate wealth to accomplish anything; government simply has to confiscate wealth from those who create it.

But if you don’t like your job what is stopping you from finding another or creating your own? It may take a while, and it will likely be difficult, but if you really want to find or create a different job for yourself there is no good reason to believe it can’t be done; at least, not in a capitalist society. Has America become so sanitized and dependent on big brother that a goal is considered impossible simply because it might be difficult? And do we now believe nothing can be accomplished without the government involved, telling us how to live our lives?

capitalism, charity, culture, government, ideology, nanny state, philosophy

Filed under: capitalism, charity, culture, government, ideology, nanny state, philosophy

Joe Biden and American Charity
politics, charity, giving, Democrats, liberalism, hypocrisy, greed, elections, campaign

September 15, 2008, by Byron York

It has become a common practice, when a presidential candidate releases his or her tax returns, for reporters and pundits to examine how much the candidate gave to charity. In September 1992, for example, when the Washington Post reported that Al Gore, then the Democratic candidate for vice president, had released his tax returns, the second paragraph in the story noted that out of income of $183,558, Gore “donated $1,727 — less than 1 percent — to charity.” Other stories about other candidates routinely included figures on charitable giving.

Last Friday, Sen. Joseph Biden, the Democratic candidate for vice president, released his tax returns for the years 1998 to 2007. The returns revealed that in one year, 1999, Biden and his wife Jill gave $120 to charity out of an adjusted gross income of $210,979. In 2005, out of an adjusted gross income of $321,379, the Bidens gave $380. In nine out of the ten years for which tax returns were released, the Bidens gave less than $400 to charity….

Filed under: campaign, charity, Democrats, elections, giving, greed, hypocrisy, liberalism, politics

Rush Limbaugh, top 10 most generous celebrities
politics, charity, Republicans

September, 2008

Filed under: charity, politics, Republicans

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