Guest Opinion: Major problems call for across the board answers

The tools for fixing this mess can only come from a bipartisan tool kit.

Andrew Hook.jpg
Andrew Hook

While China and the United States have very different political systems and histories, they are each facing the challenges of a technological onslaught: in terms of economics, technology, politics, security and stability. Over the last 10 or 20 years China has been catching up with the United States, and has greatly closed the gap between the two economies. It has done so by borrowing — some might use another term but the idea is the same — an open approach to markets and to technology. This has allowed huge accumulations of market power (non-political power) in China, which Xi Jinping has recently clamped down, as threatening the Communist party’s power.

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In our country, a few companies have also accumulated huge amounts of power, and this has aroused great concern in some circles. The complexity of the impact of the online world, social media, the ever-increasing penetration of private sector messaging, is challenging to say the least. One reaction has been to fight back, quickly, and in terms of yesterday’s world and technology. But, the United States is no longer the hegemon. It faces some real competition, and not only from China. Can we afford to close our eyes to the unintended consequences of knee jerk responses to the world transformed by the technology giants?

As recently noted in a national newspaper, trying to address widespread, systemic risks and challenges through a piece meal, partisan approach is doomed to failure. The U.S. has struggled with Obamacare for years, because it was rammed through. Now, again, another attempt to end run the other party risks undermining any chance of success the U.S. has in its contest with China. The only satisfactory solution to these society-wide problems is a bipartisan one: our country must have solid support for the new measures in order to deal with the risks and dangers. Another end run will only damage our country.

A country-wide large scale problem requires an appropriate response. The tools for fixing this mess can only come from a bipartisan tool kit and the sooner we realize this, the better off we will all be!


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Dr. Andrew Hook is an economist who started his career as a senior international economist in 1977 at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In 1991 he moved to the International Monetary Fund, where he provided technical assistance to the former Soviet Union countries and other developing countries. From the mid 1990s he worked for different international and national organizations doing international consulting work. In his last assignments he was living and working in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2012. Hook is also a member of the Brainerd Dispatch Advisory Board.
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