Day: October 1, 2008

Welcome Online Editors

Last week, 7 Online Editors were named to the LBJ Journal of Public Affairs. Please join me in welcoming our new staff: Akram Al-Turk Erin Boeke Burke Beth Casey Garrett Groves Emily Joiner Dianna Long Sameen Siddiqi Together we hope to bring the Online Edition of the LBJ Journal to new heights during the 2008-2009 long...

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The Dry Seed of Democracy in Pakistan

“My mother always said democracy is the best revenge,” remarked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after reading his mother’s will, which declared him Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Like her son, Benazir Bhutto was also appointed chairman of the PPP without elections. It is somehow ironic that these strong advocates of “democracy” were not themselves elected. Democracy is not a tree that can be transplanted in new soil. It needs to grow from a seed planted within that soil. While much has been written about the importance of democracy in Pakistan, not much has been said about the preconditions required for this system to work. For too long, it has been easy to blame the system without regarding what is wrong with the underlying societal factors. Political participation is low for different groups in Pakistani society for many reasons, but with two underlying themes—the first being mistrust and the second lack of hope. The root of these themes can be traced to the lies and neglect people have been subjected to for so long from their leaders. The poor are willing to sell their votes and their futures to gain a little food or money as they have no hope for long-term benefits, while the majority of the middle class refuses even to participate due to the lack of trust they have in their leadership. A brief view of...

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Main Street Blues

Politicians and others in recent weeks have been liberal in invoking the image of a suffering main street when considering the so-called Wall Street bailout plan and its potential effects on the average American. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama each used variations of the term twice during Friday’s debate, and traditional media and bloggers have adopted the imagery with equal zeal. In fact, though the idea may be fast approaching cliché status, main street’s pain does deserve more than just lip service. The effects of financial turmoil are already beginning to be felt on main street, or at least outside of the financial services industry, and the early effects close to home are almost scary enough to warrant the cliché. According to a Sept. 27 piece in the Austin-American Statesman, Central Texas public agencies are experiencing trickle-down effects. Some agencies have been hit with higher interest rates on variable rate bonds and short-term debt called commercial paper. Last week’s volatility in financial markets forced investors to pull their investments out, resulting in higher interest rates. Rising interest rates for commercial paper cost the City of Austin about $85,000 in interest just in the last week or so. Treasurer Art Alfaro told the Statesman that Austin Energy and the Austin Water Utility will switch to paying for capital projects with cash, rather than short-term debt, until investors return to...

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