Today's News & Commentary – July 21

Published July 21st, 2014 -  - 07.21.14


In an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses why teachers’ unions are so opposed to change.  As a former union leader and a lifelong Democrat who supports collective bargaining, the author admits to being “deeply troubled by the rhetoric and strategy” at recent national teachers’ union conventions. Villaraigosa writes: “Teachers should be better paid and the best should be recognized for their excellence. Schools should be well-funded. But none of these issues is an excuse to delay accountability. Children have only one chance for an education and every year in which that education falls short is another impediment to their success.”

The New York Times Editorial Board writes that “crisis of young migrants at the Texas border is a test of American values.”  Citing to measures to halt the housing and education of the 57,000 children that have recently crossed the border, the New York Times believes that as “the crisis emboldens demagogues in Washington, Mr. Obama has the obligation to act the grown-up . . . It would be good to see Mr. Obama join other Democrats and Republicans in making the moral and legal case for compassionate action, to lead a backlash against the nativist backlash.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire column asks “can policy levers raise the share of Americans who work?”  The article reports that the White House Council of Economic Advisers discussed one of the “abiding mysteries of this grinding post-recession recovery” in a report last week: With the unemployment rate going down and more Americans finding jobs, why does the overall rate of Americans who are working continue to fall?  The report found that “Around half the fall in labor participation since the end of 2007, when the recession hit, came from the upswing in retirements as baby boomers slip out of the workforce.”  Meanwhile, “White House and other economists agree that a wholesale immigration overhaul would deliver the biggest single boost to the workforce: adding as many as six million people over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

In international news, the New York Times reports that “across sub-Saharan Africa, consumer demand is fueling the continent’s economies in new ways.”  The article cites economic successes in international capital markets, such as “in spite of recent terrorist attacks, Kenya sold $2 billion worth of bonds to international investors last month, which will be used in part to pay for infrastructure projects; two months earlier, it was Zambia with a $1 billion offer.”  John Simpson, director of the Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing at the University of Cape Town, said ““There’s just this amazing determination to get places.  It’s a relentless desire to make more, to get better, to have a better lifestyle.”

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