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“America faces decades of red ink”

The nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth is a government program.”
- President Ronald Reagan

I wonder why Americans politicians are not listening to their Comptroller General. Following are excerpts from a recent speech David Walker gave World Future Society conference (emphasis mine);

“But, first, I think it’s important to understand how myopia or shortsightedness can undermine a nation’s willingness and ability to act. In the case of the United States, strong economic growth, modest inflation levels, relatively low interest rates, and our current superpower status have given many policymakers and the American public a false sense of security about our nation’s current position and future prospects. Even though we know a demographic tsunami is building silently offshore—I’m referring to the impending retirement of our baby boom generation—America continues to party on and pile up record levels of debt….

In this spirit and in an effort to lead by example, GAO has published an unprecedented report called “21st Century Challenges” that asks a series of probing, sometimes provocative, questions about current government policies, programs, and operational practices. The report brings home how much of the U.S. government reflects organizational models, labor markets, life expectancies, transportation systems, security strategies, and other conditions that are rooted in the past…

The same goes for many tax policies. For example, just this summer, the U.S. government announced it will stop collecting a 3-percent tax on long-distance telephone calls. This doesn’t seem particularly startling until you realize that the tax had been introduced in 1898 to help pay for the Spanish-American War—a war that lasted only a few months!..

Child genius Sirena Huang

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Sirena Huang

On TED Blog.

(Note -- KB: Apologies to TED for not using the standard code to run the video, but it doesn't work on T&B.)

The Future of Aid


The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” - Fredrick Hayek, 1988

Some highlights from Gordon Brown’s speech at Islamic Finance and Trade Conference, London;

“Already, Britain is the largest European trader with many Islamic countries - the largest European investor in Oman, the largest non-Arab investor in Egypt, and second largest global investor in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia;

Second, the foundation for making Britain the gateway to Islamic trade, is to make Britain the global centre for Islamic finance.

Today British banks are pioneering Islamic banking - London now has more banks supplying services under Islamic principles than any other Western financial centre.

And I want to thank also the Muslim Council of Britain and the many of you here who have worked with the Government through our tax and regulatory reform to support the development of Shari’a compliant finance:

- first, three years ago, for mortgages, enabling the expansion of the Islamic mortgage market to over half a billion pounds - growing by almost 50 per cent in the last year alone;
- then last year, for savings and borrowing and providing proper consumer protection for Ijara products;
- this year, for business finance, with last week Parliament approving measures in the Finance Bill for diminishing musharaka and wakala;
- and now, working with us, to look at international finance, Islamic securitisation and sukuk - and I am pleased that London was the financial centre chosen recently to advise on one of the largest sukuk deals ever done.

All of us are facing up to the challenges of globalisation, to the rise of Asia – one million manufacturing jobs lost from America, Europe and Japan, one quarter of a million jobs offshored, oil prices rising not least because Asia now takes up 30 per cent of demand.

To secure a world trade deal, heads of government should stand ready to use all the resources of leadership and statesmanship. The prize is a 50 per cent increase in world trade - and specifically the World Bank estimates a deal could bring $14 billion increased prosperity to the Middle East and North Africa and a further $2 billion to Indonesia alone.

I am aware of the importance Islam places on education, through the hadith such as: "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave" and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets."

I was shocked to learn that while Muslims constitute 22 per cent of the world's population, almost 40 per cent of the world's out-of-school children are Muslims. In Pakistan alone there are nearly 8 million children not in school, in Bangladesh nearly 4 million, and over one million in Mali, a total of more than 40 million Muslim children who do not go to school


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