Conflicts grow between authoritarianism and rules-based order
February 27, 2023 - The Nett Report
Every other week The Nett Report provides readers with thoughtful perspectives useful to navigating life in a changing world. Past issues can be found here (recent) and here (past three years).
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The Political Divide
“Our politics are broken. Our government may not be perfect, but it remains the envy of much of the world.” - Alan Murray, CEO, Fortune
Image credit: Tom Chitty/Conde Nast
Report identifies growing global conflicts between authoritarian regimes and rules-based international order
According to historian Heather Cox Richardson in her Letters from an American newsletter on February 13, 2023, the Munich Security Report 2023 has identified a growing conflict around the globe between authoritarian regimes and rules-based international order. Using the Ukraine War as an example of “an authoritarian power setting out to eliminate a democracy,” the report suggests “the main fault line in global politics today,” is “that between democracies and dictators.” Other indications of discord come from a story in The Globe and Mail on February 13, 2023, which reported that Israel is “on the brink of constitutional collapse” because of “proposed changes which would allow a simple legislative majority to overrule the Supreme Court and empower politicians to appoint judges.” In addition, the New York Times on February 22, 2023, reported that measures overhauling Mexico’s electoral agency are “part of a pattern of challenges to democratic norms across the Western Hemisphere.”
UN Resolution to end the Ukraine War – the votes
On February 23, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a non-binding resolution “calling for an end to the war and demanding that Russia leave Ukrainian territory.” According to a February 24, 2023, story In The Washington Post, 141 countries voted for the resolution. Seven countries voted against the resolution: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia, and Syria. The following 32 countries abstained: Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Togo, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
Socialism vs. capitalism – what do Americans think?
Fortune Analytics on February 16, 2023, reported on a poll they conducted with Civis Analytics to determine U.S. attitudes toward capitalism and socialism:
62% of U.S. adults say they have a positive view of capitalism.
44% have a positive view of socialism.
38% have a negative view of capitalism.
56% have a negative view of socialism.
74% say America is a "capitalist nation" (down from 84% in 2021).
26% say America is a "socialist nation" (up from 13% in 2021).
61% prefer capitalism as an economic system.
39% prefer socialism.
Image credit: The Washington Post
As Lake Powell drops to record low, investors profit by buying river water rights
Lake Powell has dropped to record levels, according to a story on February 15, 2023, on KUNC in Northern Colorado, another indication of stress on the Colorado River. Just two days later, on November 17, 2023, Summit Daily reported that hedge funds and other investors have acquired key parcels of land with Colorado River water rights. Since the early 2000s, the land with Colorado River water rights has increased from $8,000 per acre-foot to $80,000, a 1,000% increase. The river has been oversubscribed since the Colorado River Compact was finalized in 1922. Climate change has exacerbated the decline in available water, moving river management to a crisis level.
Wind and solar become Europe’s biggest electricity source, nuclear use debated
According to a February 3, 2023, story and video on the World Economic Forum, wind and solar together have overtaken gas as Europe's biggest electricity source. Together they produced 22% of production, ahead of 20% for gas. Europe increased solar capacity by 24% last year. Much of this acceleration was a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resultant limits on Russian gas. Meanwhile, a story in Reuter’s Sustainable Switch newsletter on February 21, 2023, indicated that European Union countries are quarreling over nuclear energy’s contribution to cutting carbon emissions. France and other countries want to promote nuclear’s role in cutting CO2 emissions. Germany and Spain think this would detract from the expansion of renewable energy.
Future of Work / The Economy
Inflation’s impact on consumer goods and services – a longer view
Visual Capitalist, on February 22, 2023, released a story and graphic visualizing consumer price inflation by types of consumer goods and services from 2000 to 2022, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hospital services and college tuition top the list, while cell phone services, software, toys, and televisions show significant price drops. Image credit: Visual Capitalist
Nestle CEO predicts food prices will continue to rise
Nestle, the world’s largest food company, says prices for food will continue to rise. According to a February 18, 2023, article in Axios, quoting Nestle CEO Mark Schneider, the blame falls on inflation surging to unprecedented levels, cost of living pressures intensifying, and the effects of geopolitical tensions that were felt around the world. The firm will need to increase prices on products where “input cost inflation justifies it” and to repair gross margins that were not maintained even though the firm increased prices by 8.2% in 2022.
Family strategies to maintain their standard of living
American families have relied on three strategies or coping mechanisms to maintain their standard of living, even in the face of stagnant real wages, since the start of the 1980s, according to former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich in his February 17, 2023, newsletter.
Wives and mothers have gone into paid work. For many women, this has been a blessing. Yet according to a 2021 survey, more than half of married mothers would prefer to have one parent in the home full-time with children aged 5 or younger.
Everyone has put in longer hours. On average, Americans now devote more hours to their jobs than workers in any other rich country.
Americans have gone deeply into debt. Americans held $599 billion in consumer debt in December 1985. By December 2022, it was $4.8 trillion.
Nothing new this week that you don’t already know about Covid-19. Stay safe. Stay healthy!
The Nett Light-Side
“I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned.” - Jay-Z
Moray eels - beauty that channels comedy
This image by photographer Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge makes these three beautiful geometric moray eels look less like dangerous critters and more like clowns! Image credit: Kathrin Landgraf-Kluge
Eagles take National Geographic’s Picture of the Year honors
Photographer Karthik Subramaniam captured 'Dance of the Eagles' at Alaska's Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in this photo that won National Geographic’s Picture of the Year honors. Image credit: National Geographic/Karthik Subramaniam
What do you think about the changes in baseball regulations?
Spring training has started, and it’s time to watch for the impacts of changes to baseball regulations, as reported in the February 14, 2023, issue of The Athletic. Changes include:
Eliminating the shift by requiring two infielders on each side of second base.
The size of bases will be increased from 15 inches to 18 inches to reduce injuries.
Stricter enforcement of balks.
Pitch clock violations to speed up the game, which will result in the automatic application of balls and strikes without a pitch being thrown.
Bottom line: Change is hard! Take the poll to tell us what you think.
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S.-Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people and organizations to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing ocean plastic in a new way.
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