Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, March 25, 2019

Today the Weekend Reader brings you The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West by Charles Kenny, a former senior economist at the World Bank, a fellow at the Center for Global Development and a columnist for both Bloomberg Businessweek and Foreign Policy magazine. With the American economy still in recovery, many fear that the U.S. is slipping as a global superpower. Kenny argues that America’s supremacy isn’t as important as we may think, and discusses the idea that the success of other economies is actually what the U.S. can benefit from most.

You can purchase the full book here.

Imagine you were about to be born. And somehow, you got the choice as to where you’d be born. Would you choose Asia, or Africa, or Europe, or the Americas? If you had any sense, you’d be likely to choose one of the countries of North America or Europe—or another safely developed country, like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or Singapore—not least because your chance of surviving the first years of life would be higher there than anywhere else. When you reached an age to appreciate such things, you’d probably also be richer, better educated, safer, and more secure in your rights. You’d be more likely to have an interesting job and a long and enjoyable retirement. All in all, by whatever measure, your quality of life would almost certainly be higher.

Of course, you might draw the short straw—poverty in the West can be soul-crushing and life-shortening just as wealth in India or Africa can afford all the luxuries the world has to offer. But on average, the advantages of being born in the West are clear.

Buy From Amazon.com

Now imagine that the choice you are given is not where to be born, but when—anytime between the dawn of Homo sapiens and today. Again, your choice would be clear—in fact, it would be even more specific. Today is the time to be born, whether your priority is a long, healthy life, or opportunities to learn, or options in what to do and consume, or freedom to live as you choose. Whether you will live in Africa or Asia or Europe or the Americas, no time has been as good a time to be alive as now.

There remain, again, millions of horrible exceptions—lives cut short by disease, poverty, violence, or neglect. But those exceptions are rarer today than ever.

Put those two choices together. Being born today in the West is like winning the birth lottery for the human species. And nothing that has happened over the last few years—the global recession, tensions between the United States and Iran or North Korea—has changed that.

There are fears, however, that the quality of life in the West has reached a peak. That China or India will soon overtake Europe and America, leaving them in decline. Or that global progress will be reversed by shortages—of oil, or copper, or water, or cooler air. This book addresses those fears. It suggests that the only thing better than being born today in America or Europe will be the chance to be born tomorrow in those very same places. And it suggests that the rise of “the Rest” is one big reason why that is true.

  • Share this on Google+0
  • Share this on Linkedin0
  • Share this on Reddit0
  • Print this page
  • 17

9 responses to “Weekend Reader: ‘The Upside Of Down: Why The Rise Of The Rest Is Good For The West’”

  1. Oarboar says:

    “But the reason predictions about the future of humans are necessarily imperfect is that we can change that future.”

    THIS. Most of the right seems to be completely ignorant of that fact, as well as regrettably too many on the left.

  2. RobertCHastings says:

    We have already seen some of the effects of a weakening American economy and a strengthening Chinese economy. Jobs that a decade ago were sent to China (and elsewhere)because of cheap labor and lax regulations are returning to the US because of a middle class in China that numbers 300 million and is demanding more.

  3. atc333 says:

    Economic growth does not mean jobs, or benefits for all. of the Nation. We have had “economic growth” prior to, ans subsequent to the Bush II Economic Meltdown, but it has only been for a select few. made even worse by the House and Senate’s fixation on political agendas over the best interests of the Nation. Where are the real attempts to rebuild our economy,? Where is a concentrated effort to to rebuild and expand our infrastructures, roads, bridges,mass high speed transportation, developing newer, cleaner, more efficient forms of energy, wind, solar, water, and tidal? Where is investment in space exploration, the results of which created our technological explosion, which our fine industrialists and politicians then exported to China, along with our manufacturing plants, and technologies, which allowed the Chinese and others to bootstrap themselves up into an industrialized nation? Why do US companies get tax benefits and credits for continuing to export jobs overseas?

    Yes there is massive growth, but unfortunately, the rosy picture painted is for only a small segment of our population. We have so many solutions for our problems, but unfortunately, political parties and self interests of our “elected” officials, who now can draw upon unlimited funding from Corporate America for reelection so long as they tow the line for insuring the most advantageous legislation for future corporate welfare, beginning with the fossil fuel industry, uncontrolled fracking destroying and polluting water supplies, and of course failure to properly maintain existing facilities, all to insure maximized profits.for the shareholders,

    • daniel bostdorf says:

      Interesting post and appreciated. It prompted me to think about the real underpinnings of our economy since the Great Depression of 1929….I posted comete thought above….nice post…

  4. daniel bostdorf says:

    The course re-correction on how American economy is based is happening. And that is what this article eludes to.

    The underpinning of this is HOW we based our economy after WW2 and the Great Depression.

    Roosevelt correctly went into massive social welfare programs and jobs creation AFTER the Wall Street greed hit back in 1929.

    The economy was based upon a PEACE TIME economy of growth of the American middle class, and rebuilding America into the social democracy experiment envisioned by Roosevelt…

    We shifted, however, and correctly, to a WAR TIME military industrial complex model because of the attack at Peal Harbor and subsequent world war.

    Roosevelt HAD TO shift to a war based economy. There was no choice.

    This shift create the 70 year economic model based upon military and war.
    Not peace as it should be today.

    All industries were geared up for this, and after the war, with the need to employ veterans, we continued this model. Korea, Vietnam and a whole host of war based strategies were employed.

    We attempted to bring back a peace based social democracy, but the extereme entrenched ecconomics based in war were and are too large to completely overcome.

    Remember what Eisenhower warned us about this economic war based economy? The military industrial complex?? here:

    “A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

    And shorty thereafter, Eisenhower stated this:
    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

    I fro one welcome the American economy shifting from a war based one to a peace based one.

    The road will be lonthe g, and in 2014, tired old white extreme right wing men in power of government and industries are scared. Scared of change.

    The people need peace and no more war.

    We need to rebuild America as Roosevelt did after the robber barons of Wall Street today, nearly destroyed our way of life.

    Based upon peace and social democratic reforms for jobs, healthcare, immigration reform and a host of other principles.

    I welcome the “rise of the rest” because it gives the USA a time to retool and rethink its economic model it is based upon.

  5. paulyz says:

    Leave it to the Liberals to “spin” 5 straight years of a rotten economy, and made worse by Obamacare, rammed through without anyone reading it. Now we all know why! And Liberals also want to give “another” Amnesty & increase guest workers while there are 25 MILLION American Citizens & LEGAL Immigrants un-employed?? You have got to be kidding!

  6. Angel Perea says:

    KEEPING IT THOUGHTFULLY HONEST: Yes, there is much factual truth that “the American economic still is in slow recovery”. So after six years, middle class Americans are waking up to the fact that one of the main factors is due to the Obstructionism by the tea party clowns in the House of Representatives that have prevented or killed every Job Creation legislation effort by this President! The achievements include closing down our
    govt. services (that wasted $24 billion tax dollars, voting against abortion or
    women rights or providing no alternative for availability of affordable health
    care for millions of uninsured American families, because of their hypocriticalexpressed concerned for govt. spending debt which many of these same clowns supported to create during the 2000-2008 rule of republican policies. So unless, we remove most of these clowns, the fear exist that our country will slip as the global superpower. FACT CHECK IT, if you disagree! The truth will set you free!

  7. daniel bostdorf says:

    The course re-correction on how American economy is based is happening. And that is what this article eludes to.

    The underpinning of this is HOW we based our economy after WW2 and the Great Depression.

    Roosevelt correctly went into massive social welfare programs and jobs creation AFTER the Wall Street greed hit back in 1929.

    The economy was based upon a PEACE TIME economy of growth of the American middle class, and rebuilding America into the social democracy experiment envisioned by Roosevelt…

    We shifted, however, and correctly, to a WAR TIME military industrial complex model because of the attack at Peal Harbor and subsequent world war.

    Roosevelt HAD TO shift to a war based economy. There was no choice.

    This shift create the 70 year economic model based upon military and war.
    Not peace as it should be today.

    All industries were geared up for this, and after the war, with the need to employ veterans, we continued this model. Korea, Vietnam and a whole host of war based strategies were employed.

    We have attempted to bring back a peace based social democracy, but the extreme well entrenched economics based in war were and are too large to completely overcome.

    Remember what Eisenhower warned us about this war based economy? The military industrial complex?? here:

    “A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

    And shorty thereafter, Eisenhower stated this:

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

    I for one welcome the American economy shifting from a war based one to a peace based one.

    The road will be long, and in 2014, tired old white extreme right wing men in power of government and industries are scared. Scared of change. Scared of peace because there is no profit in it for them and their business models. The oligarchy and its plutarchs are running scared of the 3% finally being exposed for the unethical and immoral consuming of wealth at the expense of this planet.

    The people need peace and no more war. We need 97% of the people in middle class and the 3% plutarchs reduced to a footnote in history of how NOT to create a world…

    We need to rebuild America as Roosevelt did after the robber barons of Wall Street crashed on economy in 1929…and today, those decendands of Wall Street greed nearly destroyed our way of life in the decade from 2000 until now…

    We need an economy based upon peace and social democratic reforms for jobs, healthcare, immigration reform and a host of other principles. And we must include the entire global community in this growth. A true United Nations of this planet.

    I welcome the “rise of the rest” because it gives the USA a time to retool and rethink its economic model it is based upon.

    Example of the shift coming:
    Rolls-Royce Decade-Long Growth to Stall as Defense Cuts Bite

    read here:
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-13/rolls-royce-puts-brakes-on-growth-as-defense-cuts-weigh-on-civil.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.