Saturday, May 28, 2011

A quiz on your political label for yourself

How does your way of thinking about important issues compare with the views of the rest of the American public? You can get a rough idea by taking a quiz on political typology just published by the Pew Research Center.
The quiz has 20 pairs of opposing policy positions, from which you declare yours. One pair, for example, states:

-- “The government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means going deeper into debt” or
-- “The government today can’t do much more to help the needy.”
You then are asked to check your political party attachment, age group, and gender, and, voila, Pew identifies you as belonging to one of eight politically engaged groups or a ninth group of less engaged “Bystanders.” From my responses, the Pew test concluded that I am “solidly liberal, along with 14% of the American public.” Solid liberals, I learn, are one of the “most secular groups: 59% of them say that religion is not that important to them.

So, on this issue, I don’t quite fit the model, since for the quiz's’s two pairs on religion I checked both “Religion is a very important part of my life, “ and “It is not necessary to believe in God and have good values.”

Taking the Pew quiz can satisfy your personal curiosity about the political label you apply to yourself. More important, the whole study, “Beyond Red vs. Blue: the Political Typology,” is an enlightening report on the labels now in wide but seldom defined use. Some familiarity with those loosely applied labels could make the nightly news and talk shows somewhat more comprehensible.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

How can trade and finance work for people?

“Making Trade and Finance Work for People and the Planet” is the subject of a public symposium to be held in Geneva June 22-24 by UNCTAD (the UN Conference on Trade and

Governmental and non-governmental leaders will discuss the subject from various aspects in two round tables and eight break-out sessions, with emphasis on interactive debate. Simultaneous translations will be provided in the six official UNCTAD languages.

The International Trade Union Confederation will lead a breakout session on the proposed financial transaction tax.

For more information contact UNCTAD at Deadline for registration, which is mandatory, is June 10.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Investment in U.S Infrastructure Shrinking

Lulled by a policy of “out of sight, out of mind,” the United States has long neglected to maintain its bridges, sewers, and transportation facilities. In fact, according to a report released this week, infrastructure investments this year are falling further behind under pressures to cut government spending.

Meanwhile, “in most of the developing world and in many of the emerging markets, countries have committed to fulfilling infrastructure objectives as essential for sustaining or enhancing living standards in an increasingly competitive global marketplace,” says the report of the Urban Land Institute.

So far, neither the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse nor Hurricane Katrina served as a wake-up call, the report, “Infrastructure 2011: a Strategic Priority,” points out.

America’s 15.000,000 unemployed need jobs. The nation needs to repair its infrastructure. “Why is it so hard for lawmakers to connect the two?” the Institute asks. Read more!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bishops told: speak clearly on Budget issues

“Bishops have shown no reluctance to speak authoritatively on issues of abortion and same-sex marriages. Bishops and the whole Catholic community must speak with the same clarity and vigor about the budget and the direction it sets for the country.”
In such clear words of its own, a leading Catholic weekly, America magazine, has alerted Catholics of the many grave issues involved in what may become “one of the most important legislative debates of the new century” – the battle over the 2012 budget.

Recalling President Obama’s recent pledge to reject a budget that continues Bush-era tax cuts “that contributed so grievously to the current fiscal crisis,” the magazine urged the church to stake out this position as its own.

When the final decisions are made, the magazine wondered, who will speak for the poor? “The U.S. bishops have been among the few consistent voices in defense of the needs of the most vulnerable,” and now those voices need to be heard loud and persistently against ideas like “Representative Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare and Medicaid into yet another free-market enterprise.”

“This would amount to federal welfare for the shareholders and chief executives of the nation’s for-profit insurance companies.”

America wrote that the budget struggle “will be a matter of life and death,” one that should show clearly what side the Bishops and all sectors of the church are on.

For more details on America’s case, see its editorial and a separate column by John J. Dilulio Jr. in the May 9 issue at

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