A Bad Feeling
in Your Stomach:
Unsolved Global Issues
Think about the last ten years or so: if you were a rich country resident, while your national politicians worried about university fees, whether or not to adopt the euro, school prayer, limiting the workweek to a certain number of hours, family planning, election financing, and the level of interest rates, did you not at times get that bad feeling in your stomach—that some bigger planetary issues were being left unattended ? Haven't you been wondering here and there about the clash between the short electoral cycles and territorial allegiance that serve as most politicians' reference system, and the longer-term and cross-border nature of the most serious issues we face on this planet?
If you've lived during that period in a developing country, you must have had similar feelings, except that the big unattended issues may have been even more vividly clear to you. Their effects were probably all around you: environmental stresses, poverty, ethnic conflict, contagious diseases, and many others. On top of that you may have felt a sense of despair, not just at the short-term horizon of politicians but also at the weakness or corruption of the political system: ever-changing governments, kleptocratic elites, ministers who boast when things go well but readily blame external aid agencies when hard choices have to be made, and other confusing behavior by those in power.