Archive for the ‘Political Economy’ Category

Political Economy

January 15th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Journalism, Political Economy

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

At some point, like many young journalists, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent. Not enough to actually do it, but I studied political science, economics, history, philosophy, and sociology so I’d know more about how politics and economics worked.

My favorite classes were on media and society, and I had two hard-nosed political reporting professors from which I learned the art and science of political and economics reporting. From J. Herbert Altschull at Indiana University, I learned about analytical reporting in the style of the New York Times magazine. From Steve Weinburg at the University of Missouri, I learned about detailed reporting and, in particular, clear writing.

The following articles represent my most politically and economically informed articles. Some focus on political process and others on larger economic questions.

As a student of Prof. Altschull, I wrote a long article on the Polish revolution of 1981. A portion of that article was published in The Bloomington Free Ryder, the then “underground” publication in Bloomington, Indiana, as Money Can’t Buy Me Love: A Report on Poland’s Economy.

My editor at The Ryder, Paul Sturm, signed me up to write political and economic articles. Next, we published “The Ailing Past of the New Federalism,” which covered the history of the term and ongoing tension between the federal and state governments, brought to the fore by the Reagan Administration. In our time of private and public organizations looking to the federal government for solutions (or bail outs), those questions seem almost quaint.

Paul also published my article “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,”which originated as a paper from a class with Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, a physicist who in the late 1960s conducted controversial research on the ill effects of low-level radiation. I was fortunate to have the chance to conduct a demographic study in one of his classes similar to those in his book SECRET FALLOUT: Low-Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.

In the summer of 1982, I worked as an internship at The Hammond Times, now The Northwest Indiana Times. My editor loved my music reviews and gave me a dream project: to write an article on the business of rock and roll in the Chicago area. I interviewed musicians, recording studio owners, and record executives for “The Business of Rock” and “Rock music a morass.”

Working with Steve Weinberg on an independent study project, I wrote my most complete examination of economic development and the political forces that help and hinder it. In “Ebb Tide for a Shipping Dream,” I looked at the present and the past of the Missouri River, which was called “one of the most underutilized rivers in the U.S.”

The piece looks at how transportation promotes economic development and how neglect of basic infrastructure can hinder it. The arguments for river transportation are strikingly similar to what you hear at an Federal Communications Commission hearing on broadband development, as are the questions today about nuclear power similar to those in the 1980s.

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Shadow Spending

January 14th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Political Economy

Three economists gave their forecasts at the  Executives’ Club of Chicago today, and the U.S. consumer, both as a spender and a worker, played a critical part in the predictions for 2010.

Read my take on and Craigslist Economy and “Shadow Spending” in the Canright Communications “Onlines” blog.

Chicago 2016

October 23rd, 2009 by Collin Canright | 1 Comment | Filed in Political Economy

I’m still upset that Chicago lost the 2016 Olympics to Rio. My wife Christina and I spent that dreary, rainy Friday three weeks ago in a hotel ballroom full of building subcontractors, preparing to celebrate winning the bid. We had it in the bag.

That arrogance no doubt had something to do with Chicago losing in the first round to a city known for its crime (Rio) and a city known for its congestion (Tokyo); nothing negative immediately comes to mind for Madrid. I knew when I saw the pictures of the public support from the beach-goers in Rio that we had nothing like that kind of public support.

Business leaders supported the bid, as did the building subcontractors we were with. But not an overwhelming majority of Chicagoans I talk to. Too much congestion. Too much corruption. Too much of a hassle. Shortsighted, I’d think, or say depending on how well I knew the person.

I felt somewhat comforted that the Washington Post said “Chicago Gets Gold Medal for Design.” It also helped a lot to hear former U.S. Olympic Committee chair and general sports marketing legend Peter Uberroth commented, in effect, that Chicago didn’t lose the bid as much as Rio won it. He also disabused some notions that provided a little more comfort, namely that the U.S. Olympic Committee is in disarray and didn’t do its job with the International Olympic Committee, with which it feuds.

Yet arrogance, lack of support, and political disfavor do not get to the heart of the matter. I don’t exactly buy the corruption argument many local opponents put forth. I like Mayor Daley and what he’s done for the city, and, a few mistakes aside, how he ran the bid. I have voted for him every time he’s run, and if he runs again he’ll likely get my vote again.

Even so, it occurred to me that I live in a city still known worldwide for the gangsters of the 20s and machine government, and I live in a state in which an inordinate number of former governors are indicted or end up in the federal pen. (Really, isn’t just one too many?)

What would take to transform government in the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago? What would it take to transform so that we live as the progressive place with the green reputation befitting the City in a Garden, with an efficient and effective transportation system, a government that supports citizens to learn and use their talents to their fullest, with the stellar reputation we are on the brink of gaining, as when Fast Company magazine named Chicago U.S. City of the Year in 2008, home to one of the most go-for-it and exciting U.S. presidents in a long time.

It would take a concerted, intentional effort to change the fabric of state and, by extension, city government. Corruption is rooted in the reputation of our state, and whatever realities lie behind the reputation are systematized, standard operation procedure, and status quo–in a word, invisible. I voted for Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, too, and I’m sure I had good reasons at the time. I’ll bet there’s more to those stories of individual corruption than you read in the papers and see on TV.

New thinking is needed. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on the steering committee of the event I’m about to suggest as a start, the Transformational Leadership Symposium–Staying Ahead of the Curve in Transformational Times, where we’ll consider new thinking on leadership and new ways to instill change, especially in an economy that’s forcing growth through innovation. New thinking on leadership is why I’ll attend, why I’m a doctoral student at the Wright Graduate Institute for Human Potential, and why I’ll do as much as I can to transform my own thinking about leadership and understanding of how to change systems of thought and, by extension, institutions of action.

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November 24th, 2008 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Political Economy

As I followed the election and the selection of President-elect Obama’s economic team and its intersection with and relationship to the financial crisis, I decided to re-read William Greider‘s book, The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans. The original article in The Atlantic caused a stir as a result of Stockman’s candor in interviews with Greider, an editor at The Washington Post at the time.

Perhaps the economic stagnation of the late 70s and the recession of the early 1980s, during the debut of the Reagan presidency known as Reaganonomics, would provide some enlightening parallels for today’s financial mess. A few came to mind as I read, not the least of which are Obama’s selection of Paul Volcker as part of his economic team and his need to start his administration with an immediate economic policy.

Stockman’s feeling “dramatic political action would somehow alter the marketplace expectations” recalls recent headlines and market swings. Stockman’s own headline-making confession when markets didn’t cooperate as he expected went like this, “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”

The deeper question behind the confession contains a warning for today. As Greider wrote:

These “internal mysteries” of the budget process were not dwelt upon by either side, for there was no point in confusing the clear lines of political debate with a much deeper and unanswerable question: Does anyone truly understand much less control the dynamics of the federal budget intertwined with the mysteries of the national economy?

Immediate political action and victory itself is not enough, as Stockman learned when the fiscal mathematics changed during the trade-offs Congressional of action. He ended up sounding bitter. “Whenever there are great changes or strains in the economic system, it tends to generate crackpot theories, which then find their ways into the legislative channels.”

Let’s hope not. Given Obama’s picks for his economic team, I’m optimistic.

For more, here’s a review of The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans.

Economist Brad DeLong’s blog includes a couple posts on Stockman and Greider and quotes from the book.

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