Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues…

Opinions: Cambodian Aid; Tobin Tax; Japan Recovery; Inflation, Infectious Disease In Asia

Time For Donors To Stand Up To Cambodian Government

In a Washington Post opinion piece, Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University who authored a book about Cambodia, writes about a donor-pledge meeting in Cambodia scheduled for Wednesday and discusses a potential law that would require NGOs to register with the government. “This is a government that stands by and watches as 75 percent of its citizens contract dysentery each year, and 10,000 die – largely because only 16 percent of Cambodians have access to a toilet. … You wouldn’t know any of that from the donors’ behavior. You see, for foreigners Phnom Penh is a relatively pleasant place to live. Rents are cheap and household help is even cheaper. Espresso bars and stylish restaurants dot the river front – primarily for diplomats and aid workers,” according to Brinkley. “Isn’t it time, then, for all those donors to make a statement? On Wednesday stand up and tell the government: I am withholding my aid,” he concludes (4/17).

Poking Holes In the Arguments Of Those Opposed To Tobin Tax

An editorial in The Observer offers arguments to counter the “two main objections” voiced to the Tobin tax, a financial transaction tax of up to 0.05 percent to raise money for development projects in developing countries. The notion that such a tax is too complicated “is nonsense. Share transactions are already taxed,” the editorial notes. Similarly, the argument that such a tax would result in “[t]rading … mov[ing] to jurisdictions that do not have the new tax, thereby depriving the jurisdictions that do of valuable economic activity … also evaporates under scrutiny,” the editorial states. “As long as agreement can be secured between the world’s major financial centres – London, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Paris, New York – there will be nowhere for trading to go.” The editorial concludes, “The question G20 finance ministers must consider is not whether a financial transactions tax should be implemented, but how quickly it can be put in place” (4/17). 

Japanese Prime Minister Thanks International Community 

In a Washington Post opinion piece, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan discusses the international response to Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami and outlines the country’s reconstruction process. “I take very seriously, and deeply regret, the nuclear accidents we have had at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Bringing the situation under control at the earliest possible date is my top priority,” he writes. “I believe that the best way for Japan to reciprocate the strong kizuna and cordial friendship extended to us is to continue our contribution to the development of the international community. To that end, I will work to the best of my ability to realize a forward-looking reconstruction that gives people bright hopes for the future,” he writes (4/15).

Concerns About Inflation, Infectious Disease In Asia

“At the crossroads of Asian commerce today, there seem to be two deep worries,” Forbes editor Tim Ferguson writes on the magazine’s “Oceans Away” blog. “The first is inflation, coursing through some economies at close to double-digit percentages. It’s coming from still-hot demand, from shortages in food, fuel and other natural resources, and from the liquidity being pumped into the world supply by central banks in the sluggish West,” he writes. The second is the threat of infectious disease, he notes, before describing the recent warnings about the presence of bacteria containing the NDM-1 gene in the water supply in New Delhi. “[T]hough crowded areas of Asia are especially vulnerable to such outbreaks (or viral ones), the wider global population has no basis for complacency,” Ferguson writes.

Ferguson concludes, “[A]lthough Asia mostly has been spared the blight of war for nearly a generation, it is on the front lines of other threats to prosperity and the pursuit of happiness” (4/15).

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270

www.kff.org | Email Alerts: kff.org/email | facebook.com/KaiserFamilyFoundation | twitter.com/KaiserFamFound

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.