This was an exciting week for comments at TheNation.com. Our "OpinionNation: Should Jeffrey Sachs Be the Next World Bank President?" elicited responses from prominent activists, including Phyllis Bennis, David Korten and Frances Moore Lappé. We also organized our first ever real-time discussion with commenters. “This Week in Poverty” blogger Greg Kaufmann joined with Lisalyn Jacobs and Tim Casey from Legal Momentum, the oldest legal defense fund in the United States dedicated to women and girls, to take questions from our readers. Below are some of the best comments this week from OpinionNation, This Week in Poverty and a few other pieces.
As always, let us know what you think—in the comments!
JackSparrow: I don’t think anyone supports "voter fraud" but if it really is the problem people say it is, why aren’t we more transparent about substantiating the facts and focusing on improving the entire voting process? It is one thing to promote a so-called needed change, and quite another to turn a blind eye to the barriers created and/or in place for people to get a Voter ID in order to participate in the electoral process. If voting is an obligation/right and/or an entitlement I believe we should be creating an inclusionary rather than exclusionary system for ALL our citizens regardless of gender, age, ethnicity and/or race or rank or station in life. In other words, why aren’t we implementing other administrative procedures to make easier for those most directly affected by these laws like students, the poor, minorities and our seniors to get voter ID’s and vote? Why aren’t we also looking at other positive changes to make voting more inclusionary rather than exclusionary? We already have one of the lowest voting rates of any democratic country in the world. When the focus is limited to creating a requirement for Voter ID’s adversely impacting certain categories of voters, without other positive changes, it only gives rise to more suspicions and concerns about the integrity of our entire electoral process. One more point, why don’t we see an equal level of concern from so-called reformists about how voting machines are handled? Why is it that we don’t have a paper trail? What safeguards are in place to protect the sanctity of our vote using these machines? Why are we allowing our voting process to be profitized with few safeguards and little meaningful public oversight? Could it be that this offers yet another opportunity to game the system by unethical political partisans?
In response to Ari Berman’s “DOJ Blocks Discriminatory Texas Voter ID Law.” March 12, 2012
Frances Moore Lappé: I am grateful to my colleagues Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. Over a life’s work struggling to understand the roots of hunger and poverty, I’ve come to see both as symptoms of powerlessness. So I’ve been distressed by Jeffrey Sachs’ failure to acknowledge that ending poverty requires democratizing power relationships from the village level to the international arena. Reading Sachs’ comments in the recent New York Times story on the World Bank’s news that we’d achieved the Millennial Development Goal of halving the proportion of people in poverty five years early, I was struck by what he did not say. Sachs struck a happy note, saying nothing about increasing inequality throughout most of the world (where 71% of the world’s people live), nothing about the terrible burden of rising food prices (February’s FAO Food Price Index in real terms is well above its 2008 peak and close to last year’s historic high), nothing about more and more land being diverted to agrofuel and “grabbed” by outside interests from small farmers in the Global South. He also said nothing to alert readers that, in terms of the number of people escaping extreme poverty, China accounts for virtually all the gain over 27 years (1981 to 2008). Moreover, excluding China, the number of people living below $2.00 actually climbed by 29%, to over 2 billion, during this period. He says nothing to caution us, as Cavanagh and Broad do, about celebrating an escape from poverty in a totalitarian nation where the increase in cash income (lifting one out of extreme poverty) can come at the price of horrific living conditions. Finally, in defending the record of the Millennium Villages, Sachs seems unaware that significant social movements, from Brazil to India, are achieving similar results without dependency on corporate inputs.