Latest Developments, June 11

In the latest news and analysis…

Dangerous business
The UN News Centre reports that World Health Organization head Margaret Chan has singled out “big business” as a top threat to the fight against non-communicable diseases:

“ ‘It is not just Big Tobacco anymore. Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. All of these industries fear regulation, and protect themselves by using the same tactics.’
She said these tactics include front groups, lobbies, promises of self-regulation, lawsuits, and industry-funded research that ‘confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt.’
They also include gifts, grants, and contributions to worthy causes that cast these industries as respectable corporate citizens in the eyes of politicians and the public, she added. They include arguments that place the responsibility for harm to health on individuals, and portray Government actions as interference in personal liberties and free choice.

‘Let me remind you. Not one single country has managed to turn around its obesity epidemic in all age groups. This is not a failure of individual will-power. This is a failure of political will to take on big business.’ ”

IP enforcement
The Guardian reports that a new draft agreement gives the world’s poorest countries an eight-year “grace period” instead of the exemption from international intellectual property laws that they had sought:

“ ‘They should have gotten more,’ says Sangeeta Shashikant, of the Third World Network, an NGO with offices in Geneva. ‘Eight years is nothing, really. The conditions in [least developed countries] aren’t really going to change in eight years.’
A handful of rich countries – led by the US and the EU – were reportedly adamant in their opposition to the LDCs’ proposal, which would have allowed the countries to maintain their exemption from the intellectual property rules for as long as they remained officially classified as LDCs.

If LDCs were to lose their exemption, any of the countries that failed to comply with the Trips agreement would be open to lawsuits under the WTO’s dispute settlement system. While it would be unlikely for a developed country to challenge an LDC in that forum, rich nations could use LDCs’ non-compliance to pressure them in other ways, such as by withholding aid money.”

Lethal aid
Reuters reports that the US could decide as early as this week to help arm Syria’s rebels:

“U.S. officials are adamant that Washington will not put ‘boots on the ground,’ which means deploying troops.
Fredrick Hof, a former senior U.S. official who worked on Syria policy, said the administration might decide to take charge of the distribution of weapons to the rebels, but not necessarily to provide U.S. arms.”

Boundless Informant
The Guardian reports that the National Security Agency’s newly revealed surveillance program extends well beyond monitoring communications within the US:

“A snapshot of the Boundless Informant data, contained in a top secret NSA ‘global heat map’ seen by the Guardian, shows that in March 2013 the agency collected 97bn pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide.
Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered, with more than 14bn reports in that period, followed by 13.5bn from Pakistan. Jordan, one of America’s closest Arab allies, came third with 12.7bn, Egypt fourth with 7.6bn and India fifth with 6.3bn.”

Thinking ahead
The Blue Planet Project’s Meera Karunananthan writes that events in El Salavador, where a ban on metal mining is being considered, show how difficult it can be for a “developing” country to protect its fresh water:

“Meanwhile, both [US-based] Commerce Group and [Canadian-based] Pacific Rim are using a World Bank trade tribunal to circumvent community consent and state regulation. They are suing the Salvadoran government for more than $400m through the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID), whose mandate is to protect investment rights.

As scientists and world leaders deliberate on how to fix the global water crisis, there should be greater international support for communities and countries attempting to forge new paths away from water-destructive economies. If El Salvador overcomes the odds and becomes the first country in the world to ban metal mining, it could serve as a model for a world grappling with the threat of an imminent water crisis.”

State secrets
CBS News reports on documents suggesting the US State Department covered up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its staff:

“In such cases, [Diplomatic Security Service] agents told the Inspector General’s investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that [former Inspector General investigator Aurelia] Fedenisn says is ‘very’ upsetting.
‘We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing,’ she said.
In one specific and striking cover-up, State Department agents told the Inspector General they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.”

BG Group v. Argentina
Bloomberg reports that the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which a British oil and gas company is trying to obtain a $185 million award from Argentina’s government for capping natural gas prices in 2002:

“BG says the price freeze caused the bankruptcy of Metrogas SA, an Argentine gas distributor it previously controlled. BG says that, had it filed suit, it would have been punished under Argentine law and excluded from negotiations designed to mitigate the effects of the price cap.
The Obama administration urged the high court to reject the BG appeal, saying the appeals court reached the right decision.”

Let them eat cake
Oxfam’s Mohga Kamal-Yanni writes that the IMF, which may soon agree to lend millions to Egypt, does not seem to share Egyptians’ primary concerns, which she lists as “bread, freedom, social justice”:

“Instead, [the IMF] narrowly focuses on three economic measures: removing fuel subsidies, increasing the General Sales Tax (GST), and floating the pound, despite the clear signs of unrest among ordinary Egyptians as they have already started to suffer the impact of the fuel crisis.

And other ways to improve the fiscal and economic situation are not being taken seriously by either the government or the IMF. Civil society and academics have proposed measures such as progressive taxation, taxing the stock exchange, or removing fuel subsidies for rich people and energy-intensive industry. The IMF’s typical answer is that these measures would take time and not raise sufficient revenue.”

Latest Developments, April 22

In the latest news and analysis…

Double Standard
Guardian columnist Michael Cohen asks why the US reacts so strongly to “terror” and so meekly to far deadlier threats, such as gun violence and diabetes:

“So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks).

It’s not just firearms that produce such legislative inaction. Last week, a fertiliser plant in West, Texas, which hasn’t been inspected by federal regulators since 1985, exploded, killing 14 people and injuring countless others. Yet many Republicans want to cut further the funding for the [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] that is responsible for such reviews. The vast majority of Americans die from one of four ailments – cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease – and yet Republicans have held three dozen votes to repeal Obamacare, which expands healthcare coverage to 30 million Americans.”

Multilateral smokescreen
The UN News Centre reports that a number of international experts have called on the World Bank to ensure its investments do not contribute to human rights violations:

“[Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina] said it was no longer acceptable to use the excuse that the World Bank is precluded by its Articles of Agreement from taking human rights into consideration in the design and implementation of its policies and projects.
‘The Articles allow, and in some circumstances, enjoin the Bank to recognize the human rights implications of its development policies and activities,’ Mr. Lumina said. ‘We should not forget that States must also adhere to their international law obligations when they act through international organizations. The World Bank is no exception.’ ”

Rough trade
David McLaren argues that Canada’s push to sign bilateral trade agreements “may make things worse” in terms of human rights and the environment in partner countries:

“Since elected in 2006, his government has entered into negotiations for more than 50 free trade agreements and foreign investment protection and promotion agreements (FIPAs for short).

Our new trade partners include Mali, Tanzania, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and a whole lot of others who have no serious investments in Canada. But our mining companies have billions invested in them.

There are no provisions in these agreements for prior consultation with groups most affected. Clauses prohibiting expropriation of any kind and protecting investment so favour corporations that it is very difficult for a Third World country to buck the wishes of a Canadian-owned mining company, even if its government wanted to.”

Growing protest
The Independent reports that over half the inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison are now on hunger strike:

“The number of prisoners on hunger strike has risen to 84, an increase of 32 since last Wednesday, with 16 now receiving ‘enteral feedings,’ a process involving being force-fed via tubes.

It has been four years since President Obama pledged that the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, repeatedly criticised by human rights organisations, as well as prominent American public figures, would be closed down. Instead, his administration is now considering a $200 million renovation project, which will include the construction of a new prison building for so-called ‘high-value’ prisoners.”

Trail blazing
ECONorthwest’s Ann Hollingshead describes as “stunning” the latest European efforts to promote automatic tax information exchange and rein in tax evasion:

“Yet if these systems and agreements exist only between developed nations and tax havens—and until developing countries participate in a similar system or agreements of their own—the progress we’ve made will have little effect on economic development and acute poverty.
But this is not a note of pessimism or caveat. The news this week on automatic tax information exchange is unequivocally good. The world needs the United States and Europe to blaze this path because, in all honesty, those are the only nations with the political power necessary to turn the tide on this.”

Tax challenged
Reuters reports that the UK government has launched a legal challenge against a financial transaction tax in the euro zone:

“Britain was concerned that the planned tax would affect transactions carried out beyond the borders of countries that sign up for it, Chancellor George Osborne said on Friday.
‘We’re not against financial transaction taxes in principle … but we are concerned about the extra-territorial aspects of the (European) Commission’s proposal,’ he said on the sidelines of meetings of finance leaders at the International Monetary Fund.

A pan-EU proposal for the tax failed due to opposition from Britain, home to the City of London and Europe’s largest financial services industry, as well as other member states including Sweden.”

Foodopoly
Food & Water Watch’s Wenonah Hauter decries the “financialization of nature”:

“This summer, President Obama will attempt to fast-track two trade deals — the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement —which are permanent power grabs by corporations and their financers. For Americans this means increased gas exports and increased imported foods, an undermining of our domestic laws and increasing corporate ownership of our natural resources. They will forever enshrine the very economic system that has lead to an ever greater imbalance in income and wealth, and increasingly frequent economic crises. And it will all be enforced by new international tribunals akin to the WTO.”

Evolution of xenophobia
Ian Birrell condemns the UK public’s “fear-fuelled contempt” of Muslims:

Indeed, it is worth pointing out that in the eight years after 9/11, the number of jihadist attacks in Europe represented less than 1% of total terrorist incidents on the continent.

We have been here before, of course. Each new wave of immigration provokes the same fears before newcomers are assimilated into evolving nations. After Irish immigration rose and Fenian bombs started going off in Victorian Britain, there were claims the country’s stability was at risk from adherents of an alien religion who owed loyalty to an authoritarian figure in Rome.

Latest Developments, November 22

In the latest news and analysis…

More is less
The Wall Street Journal reports that NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes the deployment of Patriot missiles to the Turkey-Syria border would “contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis”:

“Turkey has formally asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to deploy Patriot missiles to protect its long border with Syria, the military alliance said on Wednesday, raising the prospect of a further militarization of the neighbors’ tense frontier amid heightened concerns the civil war is spilling onto Turkish territory.

Only the U.S., the Netherlands and Germany have the appropriate system available.”

By-product baggage
ABC Radio Australia reports on the controversy over what an Australian mining company plans to do with the radioactive waste it will generate at a rare earth refinery in Malaysia:

“Lynas chief executive Nick Curtis says the company made the application to [the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency] in the hope of shipping the by-product back and on-selling it to be recycled, but that is no longer the company’s plan.
‘We ceased looking for contracts in Australia because we think shipping to Thailand or Indonesia is cheaper.’
Mr Curtis says the company has permits to store the waste in Malaysia for the short and long term but are looking at opportunities to recycle the product in-country for industrial use.

Last week a Malaysian court dismissed an application to suspend the company’s temporary operating licences.
The protesters have lodged an appeal to the decision.”

Mining on trial
The Dominion reports on a group of Guatemalan plaintiffs preparing to go to Canada to testify against Hudbay Minerals, whom they accuse of “negligent management” leading to shootings that left one man dead and another paralyzed:

“Toronto’s Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, is representing the plaintiffs, whose claims against the Guatemala operations of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals are serious.
‘The evidence that both sides are collecting right now (including the November cross-examinations) will be used at a March hearing which will determine whether the lawsuit should be heard in Canada or in Guatemala,’ Cory Wanless, a lawyer at Klippensteins, told The Dominion via email from Toronto. ‘This is obviously a very important question with potentially very significant ramifications for the rest of the Canadian mining industry.’ “

WHO denial
Intellectual Property Watch reports that the head of the World Health Organization has denied that contributions from “producers of junk food and soda” are influencing the UN agency’s fight against non-communicable diseases:

“However, [WHO Director General Margaret] Chan acknowledged that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has taken money from the food and beverage industries for its NCD work. PAHO ‘is unique among WHO’s Regional Offices because it contains two separate legal entities – the WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO) and the health agency of the Organization of the American States,’ the statement said. ‘In some areas the two entities may have variations in policy. For example, as mentioned in the media reports, in its capacity as PAHO, food and beverage manufacturers have contributed financially as part of a multi-sector forum to address NCDs.’ ”

Less than peanuts
Radio France Internationale interviews Ali Idrissa, head of the Niger chapter of Publish What You Pay, about uranium mining and his country’s relationship with French nuclear giant Areva:

“Today, it’s a very unequal partnership that we, as civil society actors, have long denounced. What Areva pays to the state accounts for less than 5.8% of the national budget. Peanuts, livestock and other exported products exported by Niger generate more income for the country than uranium does.” [Translated from the French.]

Plantation tensions
Greenpeace calls for an end to the large-scale deforestation being carried out in southwestern Cameroon by a subsidiary of US-based Herakles Farms:

“The deforestation is taking place despite the fact SGSOC is operating via a 99-year land lease that has not yet been approved by Presidential Decree and is therefore questionable under Cameroonian Law.
If it is not stopped, the planned 730km2 concession will eventually be almost half the size of the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, or 10 times the size of Manhattan. It would destroy a densely forested area in a biodiversity hotspot, resulting in severe consequences for the livelihoods of thousands of residents and for the global climate.”

Poor numbers
Simon Fraser University’s Morten Jerven criticizes the development industry’s obsession with “the measure of the production and consumption of goods and services”:

“For a number of years now I have been trying to answer the question: How good are these numbers? The short answer is that the numbers are poor. This is just not a matter of technical accuracy – the arbitrariness of the quantification process produces observations with very large errors and levels of uncertainty. This ‘numbers game’ has taken on a dangerously misleading air of accuracy, and the resulting figures are used to make critical decisions that allocate scarce resources. International development actors are making judgments based on erroneous statistics. Governments are not able to make informed decisions because existing data are too weak or the data they need do not exist.”

Lords on drones
TheyWorkForYou.com transcribes a series of questions asked in the UK House of Lords about the use of armed drones:

“I thank my noble friend for that reply. She will be aware that international human rights law permits the intentional use of lethal force only when necessary to protect against a threat to life and where there are no other means, such as capture, available. Targeted killings are not lawful as the action has to be strictly necessary and proportionate. Given that the use of armed drones engages four major UN conventions as well as Article 51 of the UN charter, will she tell the House what measures the UK is taking to abide by international law and to encourage allies, such as the United States, to do the same?” [Question asked by the Liberal Democrats’ Baroness Falkner of Margravine]

“My Lords, in the light of the unknown number of civilian casualties as a result of drone attacks in Pakistan, when no armed conflict has been declared and the United States is not at war, does [Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs] agree that such attacks are illegal under international humanitarian law and that there is now a need for an enhanced arms limitation treaty?”  [Question asked by the Bishop of Bath and Wells]

Latest Developments, March 9

In the latest news and analysis…

Bad food
The Guardian reports that a UN food expert has said what people eat, in both rich and poor countries, is leading to a “public health disaster” that requires action from the world’s governments.
“The solutions offered by agribusiness of more hi-tech or fortified foods cannot solve the problems, which are systemic, according to [UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier] De Schutter.
But since this view is in effect an attack on the major economic interests of the west, the question is how the rapporteur thinks change can be brought about. For De Schutter, the UN agencies that have influence over policy in the area of food and health are where they were with tobacco in the 1980s. At the UN high-level summit on non-communicable disease in New York last September, the US blocked tougher wording on goals to combat the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in order to protect their agrifood companies.”

Growing hate
Reuters reports that a new Southern Poverty Law Center study has found “hate groups” are on the rise in the US.
“The center counted 1,018 hate groups in the United States last year, up from 1,002 in 2010. The number of groups have been increasing since 2000, when the center counted 602.
[The center’s Mark] Potok said it was hard to gauge how many Americans are members of hate groups, but estimated the number was between 200,000 and 300,000 people.

The law center also found the number of groups specifically targeting gays and lesbians rose to 27 in 2011 from 17 in 2010, and the number of anti-Muslim groups jumped to 30 from 10.
But the number of so-called “nativist extremist” groups who harass people they suspect of being illegal immigrants appeared to be in decline. The number of those groups dropped to 184 in 2011 from 319 the year before.”

Odious contracts
The Center for Global Development’s Kimberly Ann Elliott makes the case for “preemptive contract sanctions” as a new way for policy makers to apply additional pressure on “illegitimate” regimes.
“The informal group of Western and Arab states known as ‘Friends of Syria’ should declare that the Assad regime is illegitimate and that contracts signed after the date of the declaration would be unenforceable in the courts of those countries. The broader the group, the more legitimate and politically credible the declaration would be, but the U.S. and UK are the critical players because of the role that the international financial centers in New York and London play in world commerce.”

World Bank, USA
The Wall Street Journal reports the next World Bank president will be a 12th consecutive American, but it will not be Columbia University’s Jeffrey Sachs who recently launched a public campaign for the position.
“Since World Bank President Robert Zoellick confirmed his departure three weeks ago, no serious people have doubted that the U.S. would maintain its hold on the job – even if they wished for a truly merit-based process that cast aside nationality. Created after World War II, the World Bank has always had an American as president while a European has led the IMF. The combined shares of U.S. and European nations in each organization make it nearly impossible for a candidate from another background to break the unwritten, informal agreement.”

Women making laws
There is “little correlation” between the number of women in a country’s parliament and that country’s performance on other traditional development indicators, according to Manuela Picq who has just wrapped up a stint as visiting professor and research fellow at Amherst College.
“Women’s presence in politics signifies neither a cultural pattern unique to Europe nor is it a monopoly of a presumably more civilised West. Many non-European societies do as well or better, proving the universality of women participation in politics as well as the inadequacy of claims to export women agency.
Politically powerful countries are not leading global trends when it comes to women presence in politics. In fact, indicators show that it is often quite the contrary, meaning that the US and Europe cannot invoke women’s rights when attempting to justify political, economic or military interventions.”

Free-trade blinders
Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik warns against “fetishizing globalization simply because it expands the economic pie.”
“To pass judgment on redistributive outcomes, we need to know about the circumstances that cause them.

If we do not condone redistribution that violates widely shared moral codes at home, why should we accept it just because it involves transactions across political borders?”

Respecting plants
The University of the Basque Country’s Michael Marder argues that public indifference to a “seismic change” in the field of botany is symptomatic of humanity’s unthinking domination of plants, as well as the further entrenching of English as an “imperial language.”
“Just as, up to and including the age of Descartes and Spinoza, no one took philosophy and other fields of inquiry seriously unless the treatises were written in Latin, so the contemporary production of what counts as credible (or, at the very least, effective) knowledge adheres to the gold standard of English and translation into English.
This is not to say that we should be nostalgic for arcane Latin locutions that carried with them a different set of hegemonic traits superimposed, for instance, onto plants. Rather, we ought to realise that rethinking human relation to plants is not only a matter of ethics, but also of survival, for all species, kingdoms and the planet as a whole.”

Good intentions
The New York Times’ Eduardo Porter writes that Western campaigns to end child labour in poor countries can have unfortunate unintended consequences.
“In Sialkot, Pakistan, a 1997 program to stop children from stitching soccer balls misfired even though the program replaced some of families’ lost income and helped children enter school. Moving stitching from homes to centers that could be easily monitored made it more difficult for the mostly female work force to work. One report said family incomes dropped by 20 percent.”

Latest Developments, November 23

In the latest news and analysis…

A disturbing precedent
The UN News Centre reports three top officials have issued a statement calling on member states not to adopt a protocol they say would weaken the current ban on cluster munitions.
“‘The protocol that is being discussed will lower the standard set by the [Convention on Cluster Munitions] and fail to address the well-documented humanitarian and development threats posed by cluster munitions,’ [UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay] stated.
‘If adopted, it will allow the indefinite use of cluster munitions produced after 1 January 1980 that meet certain technical requirements and that are prohibited by the CCM because of the unacceptable harm they pose to civilians.’
The adoption of this protocol would set ‘a disturbing precedent’ in international humanitarian law, creating – for the first time – a new global treaty that is actually weaker than existing international humanitarian law, they added.”

Tahrir ammo
Tree Huging Hoolah provides a “round-up” of weapons and ammunition allegedly being used against protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“There seem to be a growing number people in and around the Square angry at being fired on by weapons supplied from countries making nice noises about democracy and restraint in Egypt, and are starting to document markings and specifications of what’s being used. It won’t help stop any violence, but I’m generally in favour of causing a modicum of embarrassment to those governments and companies which continue to supply tools of repression, usually for profit, to those who they well know will use them to violate human rights and repress their own citizens.”

Putting the “lethal” in “non-leathal”
Al Jazeera asks how dangerous the so-called non-lethal weapons being used against protesters around the world really are.
“With over 36 killed in Egypt since November 19, and medical sources citing ‘suffocation after inhaling tear gas’ as the cause of many of the deaths, the non-lethality of the weapons employed – as well as how they were imported – has come under serious question.
Khalid Abdala, an Egyptian actor and activist, told Al Jazeera from Tahrir that he held international governments ‘complicit in everything that is happening here’.
‘International governments have replenished the stocks of bullets that have been shot at people right now, and the tear gas that is clinging to my lungs,’ he said.”

E-waste exports
A new makeITfair report calls on the European Union to ensure revisions to its legislation on e-waste put an end to the export of such hazardous materials to poor countries.
“Electronics waste in industrialized countries is growing three times faster than regular waste – the result of the fast pace of technological innovation and the consequent short life of many electronic products. Up to 50 million tonnes of e-waste containing hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium and mercury are generated worldwide every year. A vast amount of the European e-waste is exported to developing countries such as Ghana, a major hub for European e-waste. This causes pollution and health problems because the country has no adequate infrastructure to deal with the hazardous waste.”

Let them eat processed food
The Guardian reports global food and drink companies are increasingly targeting the world’s poor whom they view as the primary “vehicle for growth” for processed products that increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
“As diets and lifestyles in developing countries change, their patterns of disease are following those seen in industrialised countries in the north equally rapidly. But for poor countries there is a double whammy: they have started suffering from high rates of [non-communicable diseases] before they have managed to deal with hunger and malnutrition. The double burden is devastating both their economic growth and their health budgets.”

Free trade impacts
Embassy Magazine reports an environmental assessment of a possible Canada-India free trade agreement will not examine Canadian exports of asbestos to the South Asian giant.
“Canada exported $40.3 million worth of asbestos-related products to India in 2010, according to Industry Canada, and the World Health Organization says asbestos causes an estimated 8,000 deaths each year in India—a phenomenon described in a recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary as an ‘epidemic.’”

Enabling corruption
Global Witness’s Anthea Lawson argues banks in wealthy countries must stop playing an integral part in the corruption that is devastating poor countries.
“Three entrenched, repressive and corrupt regimes fell this year largely because the people they ruled were fed up with epic levels of corruption.
That kind of corruption cannot happen without a bank. Dictators cannot steal millions of dollars from the state, nor accept massive bribes, if the money has to be kept under the bed.
Payments for natural resources like oil and gas do not arrive in dollar bills, they are paid by bank transfer; increasingly, bribes and rake-offs from commercial deals are too. Plus it’s safer to keep money out of the country — away from opponents, and accessible if you’re ousted from power.”

Accounting advice
York University economist Fred Lazar suggests many governments could make their perceived financial difficulties disappear simply by reporting their finances in the same way as corporations currently do.
“For example, many government expenditures are investments – capital expenditures. Expenditures on infrastructure clearly are in this category. Some of the expenditures on training, healthcare, education, R&D (e.g. NASA and the Departments of Defense and Energy in the US), and the judiciary also should be classified as investments, for all of them contribute to enhancing the productive capacity of the economy.
Such expenditures should be excluded in the calculation of the budget balance – the equivalent of a company’s income statement – and instead be included in the government’s cash flow statement, as is the case with investment expenditures by companies. If these expenditures were treated in this manner, most government deficits would disappear immediately, replaced with budget surpluses.”