Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
As important as yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling was to the future of healthcare policy in the United States, it probably won’t have much, if any, impact on the November election.
Each side can make a decent case for why the verdict is a political winner (Republicans: Now the only recourse for voters who want to get rid of the law is to vote for Romney; Democrats: It’s a high-profile validation of the law that will lessen the fears of swing voters), so it probably won’t lead to a big boost for either candidate. More important is the likelihood that healthcare itself just won’t be a major factor in swing voters’ minds this fall.
But the state of the economy will, which makes a surprise overnight development from thousands of miles away potentially more significant to the Obama-Romney race than what happened in Washington.
Meeting in Brussels, European leaders reached two tentative agreements that could provide crucial aid to some of the continent’s most debt-ridden countries. One involves using Europe’s bailout fund to directly recapitalize banks – as opposed to forcing national governments to act as middlemen and subjecting them to harsh terms and conditions. Spain and Italy had been pushing for this provision, though there was little expectation they would prevail when the summit convened.
The other agreement calls for countries to be given access to rescue funds to shore up their bond markets without being subjected to the sorts of austerity demands that, for instance, Ireland and Greece were burdened with.
It’s still possible that both agreements could blow up. The direct aid to banks, for instance, will only come about if and when a new oversight panel is established by the European Central Bank, something that will take months. And there would still be conditions placed on nations receiving aid for their bond markets – they just won’t be as severe as before. Still, both agreements represent surprise concessions by Germany, which has been resistant to taking new steps to aid its beleaguered EU counterparts.
From the standpoint of domestic U.S. politics, the significance of this is obvious: It makes stability in Europe more likely and decreases the immediate prospects of a new wave of economic catastrophe on the continent, something that could have a devastating spillover effect on the American economy.
That’s why, at least potentially, this is such good news for Obama. There are still no signs that the economy will roar to life between now and November. After dropping in the late months of 2011 and the early months of this year, the jobless rate has stalled at just over 8 percent, and isn’t expected to fall significantly in the months ahead. This might be enough to cost Obama a second term, but it’s not impossible he could overcome it; there’s some solid evidence that he’s actually performing better than he should be given the current economic conditions and that some swing voters are giving him the benefit of the doubt because they remember what he inherited.
What he’d have more trouble overcoming is a sudden and serious dip in the economy in the next few months, something that fresh turmoil in Europe could set off. What happened in Brussels overnight hardly solves Europe’s problems, but it makes it less likely that Obama will end up losing his job because of events playing out on another continent.
Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornackiMore Steve Kornacki.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.
Alex Pareene surveys the burgeoning and bloated world of political news and opinion and explains the day's most essential story in Opening Shot, posted by 8:30 a.m. each weekday. Bookmark this page; follow @pareene on Twitter.