Month: May 2011

Lighting Up a Dark Continent

  Take a look at a satellite photo of Africa at night.  Apart from a few specks of light over the largest cities, the continent is dark. Millions of rural Africans live without any electrical power at all, and the U.N. Development Program estimates that on a yearly basis the 19.5 million people of New York State consume more residential electricity than the 791 million people of sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa. Now, the United States and Europe give a lot of aid to Africa – well over a trillion dollars over the past 50 years – and there is an argument about whether this is or is not enough.  The problem many see is that a substantial amount of this money at best vanishes due to inefficiency, but at worst ends up as a Mercedes Benz in the garage of a gleeful government minister. Beneath this economic debate, however, lies the fact that aid processes in Africa can be made more efficient and therefore more helpful to some of the poorest people in the world.  These people need many things, but one of their most basic and easily addressed needs is energy. How can Africa approach this problem?  The answer may lie in the work of organizations like the DESERTEC Foundation, a non-profit that seeks to promote the concept of “clean power from deserts” around the world.  It...

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Reducing the Deficit with Drugs

  Our national debt is $14.2 trillion, which is more than our gross domestic product. Currently we borrow 43 cents of every dollar that we spend. Both Republicans and Democrats are concerned about our growing debt, yet both parties have exacerbated the problem. President Bush Jr. more than doubled military spending during his presidency, from $300 billion in 2000 to $650 billion by the time he left office. President Obama has continued that trend and we are now spending over $700 billion annually on defense. Worst of all, our current debt projections do not take into account future obligations, such as Social Security and Medicare. When those future obligations are taken into consideration, our national debt isn’t $14.2 trillion, but somewhere between $70 trillion and $140 trillion. With such a massive debt hanging over our heads, we can all agree that something drastic must be done. We have two choices: decrease spending, or increase revenue. An ideal solution will do both. Legalizing marijuana will stimulate economic growth, reduce crime, reduce the need for welfare, increase revenue and cut government spending. There are many legitimate concerns regarding legalizing marijuana: 1: It’s a gateway drug and will lead people to harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. 2: We already have a drug problem in this country and we shouldn’t make it worse by legalizing another drug. 3: Legalizing marijuana will make marijuana more...

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