Partha Dasgupta on the Value of Nature missing in GNP| Alexander Skarsgard narrates video.  – The New York Times

Nathan Grossman, Tom Mustill and 

Mr. Grossman, Mr. Mustill and Ms. Nessen are filmmakers.

Partha Dasgupta is a Cambridge University economist who in 2021 prepared a more than 600-page report for the British government about the financial value of nature.

Not your average bedtime reading.

But believe us when we say his report, the culmination of decades of scholarship, is incredibly important. Or at least believe the United Nations, which awarded him the title Champion of the Earth for his work. Or King Charles III, who this year made Mr. Dasgupta a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire — an extremely rare honor — for his services to economics and the natural environment.

Mr. Dasgupta’s voluminous study is so important, that we decided to publish a short film about it, the Opinion video above. To make his complex review digestible, the film employs old-timey cartoons, some cursing, a clip of Boris Johnson in a hard hat while dangling from a cable, a very apt soccer metaphor, a bit of Strauss and a title that could be viewed as an exaggeration.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

Wonderful video, thank you Grossman, Mustill and Nessen. I quibble with the headline: “The Most Important Person You’ve Never Heard of Has the Answer to Everything” The video title is even worse: Alexander Skarsgård Explains the Answer to Everything. (It Involves Doing Some Math.). I reposted this piece to my blog, with a different headline: Partha Dasgupta on the Value of Nature missing in GNP! Alexander Skarsgard narrates video. – The New York Times David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

How Big Law and Black Brooklyn Fueled Hakeem Jeffries’s Rise – The New York Times

11 MIN READ

“The campus at Binghamton University was in uproar. Whispers of outside agitators swirled among the mostly white student body. Security was heightened.

The source of the friction was the planned appearance of a polarizing Black studies professor who had referred to white people as “ice people” and accused “rich Jews” of financing the slave trade. Outraged Jewish students demanded the event be canceled; their Black peers were incensed over the potential censorship.

And wedged hard in the middle was Hakeem Jeffries.

As the political representative for the Black student group that invited the professor to the upstate New York campus, Mr. Jeffries, a 21-year-old college senior with a flattop and a dashiki, had the delicate task of cooling tensions while holding firm on the invitation. There was also another complication: The speaker, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, was his uncle.

The episode, in February 1992, was an early precursor of both the culture-war disputes now flashing across the country and the battles that Mr. Jeffries faces as the new leader of House Democrats. Republicans have begun resurfacing it to try to tie their new foil to his uncle’s more incendiary views, which he says he does not share.”

Nicholas Kristof | Human Trafficking May be Strong, but a Mother’s Love Is Stronger – The New York Times

KOLKATA, India — This is a story of human trafficking, but mostly it’s a story of a mother’s love, the adoring son she raised and the highest-return investment in the world today.

Nearly two decades ago, I interviewed a woman named Maya Gayen who had been trafficked at the age of 12 to a brothel here. She had not yet reached puberty then, but a man bought her virginity. She wept and pleaded, but the man raped her.

For the next few years, Maya was locked inside the brothel, beaten with sticks, threatened with death if she tried to escape, and raped constantly. She had her first period only after eight months of these rapes.

This went on for years, but one of Maya’s regular customers was a taxi driver who felt badly for her when she wept. One day he helped her escape the brothel. “It may not have been love, but he was sympathetic,” she related.

Or perhaps it was love, for he married her even though his family despised her background and disowned him. The couple rented a one-room hovel in the Kalighat red-light district, and Maya reluctantly sold sex, but as her own boss, while her husband drove for a taxi company.

Image

Maya at her old house in the red-light area of Kalighat in Kolkata.
Maya wears a pink sari with colorful stripes and stands in a doorway in front of a room. The walls are green, and clothes hang from the ceiling.

I will never forget their shack. It was the size of a walk-in closet on the bank of a sewage-laden river that periodically flooded their home. A bed took up most of the room, and Maya had nowhere else to take customers — so her four sons would try to sleep under the bed while she conducted her business.

I was impressed by her oldest son, Avijit, then a scrawny, shy boy of 12 who attended school through an outstanding local nonprofit called New Light. On subsequent trips to Kolkata over the years, I visited Maya and Avijit and witnessed their struggles. Maya always displayed a beatific smile and said she was just happy that she was no longer enslaved in the brothel.

I lost track of Maya and her family, and then on a visit to the Kalighat slum this month I was startled to be greeted by a strapping 29-year-old man who introduced himself in fluent English as Avijit.”

PEPFAR | In This Story, George W. Bush Is the Hero – The New York Times

“When President George W. Bush invaded Iraq 20 years ago this week, I was in the middle of the smoke and chaos of that cataclysmic war that became his best-known legacy. I wrote countless columns opposing an invasion, then I was scathing as I covered the war, and I still see it as a practical and moral catastrophe.

But wait — what if there’s something Bush did that was even more consequential than the invasion of Iraq? And what if it was something astonishingly good?

This is awkward, but I have to acknowledge that Bush deserves credit for the single best policy of any president in my lifetime. It’s called PEPFAR and if you haven’t heard of it, that’s part of the problem.”

“What is PEPFAR? The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, enabled by strong bipartisan support across ten U.S. congresses and four presidential administrations, and through the American people’s generosity.” According to the video, it has saved 25 million lives.

HIV.gov

https://www.hiv.gov › federal-response › pepfar

Mathew Desmond | America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own (allowing poverty) – The New York Times

“The United States has a poverty problem.

A third of the country’s people live in households making less than $55,000. Many are not officially counted among the poor, but there is plenty of economic hardship above the poverty line. And plenty far below it as well. According to the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for government aid and living expenses, more than one in 25 people in America 65 or older lived in deep poverty in 2021, meaning that they’d have to at minimum double their incomes just to reach the poverty line.

Programs like housing assistance and food stamps are effective and essential, protecting millions of families from hunger and homelessness each year. But the United States devotes far fewer resources to these programs, as a share of its gross domestic product, than other rich democracies, which places America in a disgraced class of its own on the world stage.

On the eve of the pandemic, in 2019, our child poverty rate was roughly double that of several peer nations, including Canada, South Korea and Germany. Anyone who has visited these countries can plainly see the difference, can experience what it might be like to live in a country without widespread public decay. When abroad, I have on several occasions heard Europeans use the phrase “American-style deprivation.” “

Opinion | Michelle Yeoh: After Oscars, Let’s Focus on Women and Disaster Relief – The New York Times

“. . . . Disasters of such magnitude cause irreparable damage to the lives of those who already have so little. I witnessed this when I returned to Nepal to help with relief efforts three weeks after the earthquake and then again a year later, when I returned as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.

I thought again of Nepal when I watched the coverage of the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria last month. Even before the earthquake struck, the socioeconomic conditions in Syria were dire, with approximately 90 percent of the population living in poverty and millions in need of humanitarian assistance. Many are now homeless and lack the means to rebuild their lives or keep their families safe.

Crises aren’t just moments of catastrophe: They expose deep existing inequalities. Those living in poverty, especially women and girls, bear the brunt. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, lack of sanitation, health facilities and safety disproportionately affect women. In my time as a goodwill ambassador, I have seen up close how women and girls are often the last to go back to school and the last to get basic services like clean water, vaccines, identity cards and counseling. They are typically the last to get jobs and loans.  . . . . “

James Pogue | To Small but Growing Group, This Congressional Backbencher Is a Cult Hero – The New York Times

Mr. Pogue is a reporter who covers politics and land issues.

14 MIN READ

“The self-proclaimed “greenest member” of Congress is a Republican from rural Kentucky. He lives in an off-the-grid home he built himself, using timbers cut and rock quarried from his family cattle farm. He pipes in water from a nearby pond, and powers the home with solar panels and a battery from a wrecked Tesla that he salvaged and retrofitted.

But while he lives on, and even makes part of his living from, the land, very few people would call him an environmentalist. The car he drives back and forth from Washington has a license plate advertising his support for coal. He likes to lean on his experience as a robotics engineer to argue against precipitously switching over to renewable energy, claiming that rapid changes could crash America’s power grids. And he once mocked John Kerry, who has a degree in political science, in a congressional hearing on climate threats: “I think it’s somewhat appropriate that someone with a pseudoscience degree,” he said, “is here pushing pseudoscience.”

Mr. Kerry stumbled, visibly surprised and angry. “Are you serious? I mean, this is really seriously happening here?” “

David Firestone | A New Voice for Winning Back Lost Democratic Voters – The New York Times

Mr. Firestone is a member of the editorial board.

6 MIN READ

“Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez chose her guest for last month’s State of the Union address in order to make one of her favorite points. She invited Cory Torppa, who teaches construction and manufacturing at Kalama High School in her district in southwest Washington State, and also directs the school district’s career and technical education program. President Biden did briefly mention career training that night in his very long list of plans; still, Ms. Gluesenkamp Perez wasn’t thrilled with the speech.

“I went back and looked at the transcript,” she said, “and he only said the word ‘rural’ once.” “

Jennifer Finney Boylan | Jimmy Carter Made Me a Better American – The New York Times

Ms. Finney Boylan is a professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University and a 2022-23 fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

“When the Carter presidency began I was an 18-year-old Rockefeller Republican. By the time it ended, I was so liberal my own grandmother called me a Communist.

My transformation may have been the inevitable result of eating the brownies at Wesleyan University, but I think it is more likely that it was Jimmy Carter’s time in the White House — with its remarkable mash-up of triumphs and failures — that helped me better understand my country and myself.

As the former president enters the final stages of his senescence, I have been thinking a lot about who I was when I first encountered him, and how the country got where it is today. I am still grateful to Mr. Carter for demonstrating that it is possible to govern with morality, honesty and grace. It would be nice if those values didn’t seem so strangely old-fashioned.”

Paul Krugman | Guns, Ships and Chips: On Economic Inflexibility – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“What do shipping containers and artillery shells have in common? This isn’t a trick question. The answer is that both have been in very short supply at some point over the past three years. And these shortages tell us something disturbing about modern economies: They aren’t nearly as flexible as many people, myself included, had thought.

About those artillery shells: Like many people, I’ve been closely following the war in Ukraine. Everyone knows the broad outlines of the story so far: Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded in February of last year, expecting a quick victory over Ukraine’s much weaker army, but the Ukrainians, astonishingly, defeated the would-be blitzkrieg and the war has turned instead into a brutal slugging match.

No matter how valorous, Ukrainians on their own would have no chance in such a match. But they have received crucial aid from Western nations that see Ukraine — as do I — as a crucial front in the defense of democracy.”

“. . . .   That is, in contrast to the story told by Samuelson’s curve, it may be very hard to produce more guns in the short run even if you’re willing to give up a lot of butter.

The revelation that economies aren’t as flexible as we thought has many implications for policy. Supply-chain constraints weren’t the sole reason inflation took off in 2021, but they were clearly an important part of the story, with implications for future monetary policy. And in general, economic inflexibility suggests that we should be taking more precautions against the possibility of future disruptions, especially for strategic goods, but possibly more widely.

But all of that demands a much longer discussion. The main point for now is that it turns out that the Rolling Stones may have had it backward: Modern economies generally do a very good job of getting people what they want, but sometimes you just can’t get what you need.”