Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Iowa NPR Debates

NPR hosted an Iowa radio debate last night, the full two hour broadcast can be heard here. For the most part it was fairly uninformative, with candidates breaking little fresh ground in the three areas of discussion: Iran, China, and Immigration. On the issue of China, former Senator Gravel (basically a no-show in the polls), had a great statement about the competitive approach the U.S. takes toward China, a country with rampant extreme poverty.

Clearly, none of [the other candidates] are running for China — president of China — because this amount of demagoguery is shameful.
Here, the Chinese people have a problem. And when we continue this rhetoric of beggar thy neighbor, where our interests always come first, there should be the interests of human beings, the interests of human beings...because when you have a foreign policy that's beggar thy neighbor, we all become beggars. And so when they talk about the currency of China, what about the — what manipulations we do? What about the American companies that dump things abroad?

I thought Mr. Gravel raised a good quote, that perhaps was more powerful in the audio version than in the text (see ~47:00 in the audio to hear his statement). Indeed, it seems so much of American policy is based on protecting American interests alone. Certainly you rarely hear any politician talk about China's interests. Of course, a government is tasked with protecting it's countries interest's abroad, but to what extent should this be balanced with concern for all humankind? By focusing on increasing America's prosperity, at the expense of others, we will cause inevitable long term conflict. So a government that truly sought to provide long term stability and prosperity for its people would seek to help other countries achieve the same, wouldn't you think.

Except for that little bugger called scarcity.... Now I know that scarcity is often overblown by fear mongers. The world currently has all the resources required to feed, cloth, and shelter every human being, with plenty to spare. The problem is that we are not satisfied with only meeting our basic needs, thus we engage in fierce turf wars to divide the world's riches. At what point will we in the United States repent of our gross overuse of the world's resources? At what point will we require our politicians to act in ways that value all human beings, not just the ones that happen to live within our border's?

Anyway, just ranting a bit this morning. As far as the debate goes, I don't think any candidate really separated themselves on the issues. It will be interesting to read the pundit analysis over the rest of the week.