March 25, 2019

2018's Woeful World Leaders

“The dictionaries have decided on their 2018 words of the year. Oxford picked “toxic”. Merriam-Webster went for “justice”. Collins chose “single-use”. I’d zero in on “misgovernment”. Surely, 2018 saw a staggering number of countries woefully misruled by the worst crop of world leaders in recent memory.

The most egregious examples are in the news every day. US President Donald Trump tops the chart as he runs out of straws to clutch in trying to convince Americans that his election has been good for them. The stock market bump of which he was so proud is disappearing. The fiscal deficit is the highest since 2012. Trade wars notwithstanding, the trade deficit is at a 10-year high.

The turnover on the presidential staff has reached catastrophic levels: 65 per cent of Trump’s “A Team” had been replaced since his election as of December 14, according to the Brookings Institution, and that doesn’t even include cabinet members (12 of the 24 officials in the cabinet have been replaced and now a 13th, Defense Secretary James Mattis, is leaving).

Trump is having trouble filling once-coveted positions, and the officials he fired and those who have resigned are sometimes unconstrained in criticising him – a situation that, were it to occur in a corporation, would have tanked its stock.

All this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Trump has done. The damage he has wreaked on the US role in the world is only beginning to manifest itself. Almost everywhere (with a few exceptions such as Israel and South Korea) favourable views of the US are declining, and people are becoming convinced that the US doesn’t care about other countries’ interests. Alliances are loosening and the multilateral world order is creaking.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"China’s Hydrogen economy Is coming: The world’s electric-vehicle king is seeking leadership in fuel cells, too. Investors are probably right to be excited."

"It would be the height of naivete to believe the book is closed. Democrats on Capitol Hill are not just going to take the attorney general's conclusions and move on to new things."

"Netanyahu has brazenly allied himself with Trump’s Administration and his family (including the cryptic peace negotiator, Jared Kushner, whose family he has known for years), as well as with the Republican Party and Republican funders..."

"Us is stranger than Get Out, with deeper philosophical undercurrents flowing through it. The rabbit that greets you at the movie’s start is an invitation. Will you follow, like Alice in her Wonderland?"

"Democrats and Republicans seem to have irreconcilable views on economics, but on one point they agree: Small business is better than big."

"Sanctuary, a digital astrology start-up backed by $1.5 million in venture capital, made the considered decision to launch its service on Wednesday — the dawn of the new astrological year, when Pisces gives way to Aries in the astral cycle."

"It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good..."

"Apartment Therapy posted a photo to Instagram of a bookshelf with the spines facing inward, and the dramatic response — dozens of users denouncing the trend as anti-intellectual, even comparing it to book-burning ..."

"Perhaps it is time to add parenting to the growing list of “replacement religions” competing for our attention and currency these days, a list that already includes workism and politics."

"Only a fraction of the world’s yeast species have been discovered. The ones still out there could revolutionize health care, green energy, and beer."

"We’ve recently fixated on expunging “fake news” but the medical world also has its charlatans. The snake-oil salespeople, masquerading as health professionals, are naturopaths."

"...should we continue to teach thinkers like Kant, Voltaire and Hume without mention of the harmful prejudices they helped legitimize?"