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2012 Ends; What Now?

  • December 30th, 2012
  • Posted by 7thmin

earth-nasa.jpgOPINION: The closing stages of 2012 showed all indications for “more of the same” in the year to come: in times of burgeoning human ingenuity, knowledge and productivity, it is a world grappling with the economics of human survival, and threats to survival of the planet itself.


“From the Iran nuclear crisis to global economic woes, the upcoming year will pose steady challenges to international bodies seized with maintaining peace and prosperity”, said the heads of four prominent agencies: the Lowy Institute for International Policy, in Australia; the Council on Foreign Relations, United States; the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies; and the Institute of Contemporary Development in Russia.

In Australia, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, declared that a sudden contraction in state revenues, late in 2012, came out of the financial crisis in Europe, setting back trade and prices on world markets; and the budget deadlock in United States, generating global uncertainty. With an economic slow-down, prices for Australian export commodities had begun to sag; while the strong Australian dollar, a secure buy in a risky world, also was setting back the export economy. He pointed a finger at radical right-wing Republicans in the US Congress, saying the so-called “Tea Party” was holding the world to ransom.


In Washington, in the closing hours of 2012, President Barack Obama was still dealing with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, looking for a deal to avoid pre-set tax rises and spending cuts — viewed around the country as a dangerous “fiscal cliff”.

The “cliff” idea was another word for “sequestration”, variously described as the expiry of a set of previous tax reductions, and a deal of large dimensions, deriving from a previous contest of wills, and intended to force the hand of negotiators in 2012 to more moderate conclusions.

Said a commentary in the Washington Post on Sunday (30.12.12):

“It was designed to be the budget cut so painful, so indiscriminate, so downright mindless that even a gridlocked Congress wouldn’t allow it to happen …

“Fiscal cliff talks remained in flux Saturday, and the details of a final deal, if there is one, remain unclear…

“The development was causing near panic among industry groups and others who have prodded Congress to cancel the cuts and have long believed elected officials who said they would do so.”


boston_tea_party_currier_colored.jpgOn the left is the commitment to “entitlement” spending, as with social security or health care. On the right is the bloc with objections, wrapped in ideology, against, to all intents and purposes, any tax.

It was a far cry from founding days, when the revolutionaries at the “Boston Tea Party” (picture; 16.12.1773), wanted to pay their taxes, though of course in freedom, to their own responsible democratic government – taxation as an investment in civilization. (They wanted also the right to bear arms to protect their families, and their beautiful Republic; would mature men and women like that ever, cruelly extend such a right, to unbalanced, marginalised nobodies – for the murder of children?)


eu-industry-scape.jpgCompeting for concern against all of this is the state of the Earth.

Richard N. Haass, President of the Council for Foreign Relations, has spoken for  many this week in his appraisal of the threat from changing climate.

He saw an impasse in the international bargaining aimed at further opening of world trade through revival of the Doha process; ongoing stress with cyber aggression across frontiers, crime on line, regulation, and over-regulation of the Internet; and then, the uphill fight to get concerted action on environment:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that efforts at mitigation are not just falling short but that the gap between what is needed and what is likely to happen is widening. Prospects for a grand bargain here look as remote as they do in the trade and cyber realms. This argues for developing a multi-pronged approach to deal with the problem (i.e., slowing deforestation, increasing reliance on nuclear power, sharing technology to promote cleaner coal, introducing a carbon tax, etc.), as well as increased international efforts to help vulnerable countries deal with the effects of climate change–that is, adaptation.”


eu-flag-movement.jpgThe European Union became a forerunner in confronting the problem of the environment, by declaring war against climate change, as the keystone of its 50th anniversary, in 2007, (see EUAustralia Online, “European Union at 50”, 27.3.07; “Calling to account on climate change”, 31.3.12).

Since the global financial crisis of 2008 it has had to concentrate main energies on managing its problems with recession and budgets, set to continue; but has held the line on climate, offering world leadership, especially in developing its emissions trading scheme, (where it is making partnerships with Australia, and even larger American states). See EUAustralia Online, “Scaled-down climate change deal at Doha …”, 10.12.12.


Michael Fullilove, Executive Director, Lowy Institute for International Policy Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations Jiemian Yang, President, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies Igor Yurgens, Chairman, Institute of Contemporary Development,  “Challenges for Global Governance in 2013”, CFR, Washington, 27.12.12., (30.12.12).

Rosalind S. Helderman, “With no ‘fiscal cliff’ deal in sight, sequestration seems all but certain”, Washington Post, Washington, 30.12.12., (30.12.12).

Reuters, London, “Australia abandons budget plans as tax take tumbles”, 20.12.12., (30.12.12).

Pictures  wikipedia, NASA