United States of America

report 2012

Wanted: a new economy and a new social contract

The multiple crises facing the United States and the world are rooted in the prioritization of economic growth over human well-being. The consensus that current economic priorities and unsustainable consumption patterns are deeply flawed, unjust and compromise the human rights and well-being of future generations in the United States and globally is growing. The Occupy Wall Street movement has given voice to the growing number of Americans demanding a new social contract and a completely different approach to the economy.

BCI & GEI 2011

A move towards increased transparency and accountability in the private sector should not only apply to extraterritorial obligations, but also be used to fulfill economic and social rights (ESR) domestically. This could very well be done via the Dodd-Frank Act, which sets forth mechanisms that serve not only to fulfill and protect certain rights, but that also provide the legislative framework for third party accountability. These rights include the right to housing, credit, and an adequate standard of living, among others.

Gustave Assah.

The participants in the civil society strategy meeting on monitoring and accountability organized by Social Watch last february in Montevideo were asked about how they personally work and relate with the huge task of making the powerful accountable. Here is what they said:

Aldo Caliari. (Photo:
Center of Concern)

An innovative proposal being considered by San Bernardino County authorities, in the state of California, to respond to the ongoing mortgage market crisis “could dramatically change the outlook for the US economy… if only it was implemented in a wider scale,”, according to Aldo Caliari, director of Rethinking Bretton Woods, a project of the Center of Concern.

In terms of gender equity United States is far behind its neighbour Canada, and ranks also in a worse position than half a hundred nations, among them the majority of the European countries, seven Latin American countries an many of others of the developing South.

Occupy Wall Street marks a new
trend in US society. (Photo:
David Shankbone/Good Magazine
/Flickr/Creative Commons)

A growing number of US citizens raise their voices “demanding a new social contract” as the multiple world crises are increasing “poverty and income inequality at historic levels.” This unprecedented movement nurtures hope in a change of policies and behaviors “geared toward the well-being of Americans and the rest of the human race,” according to the US national contribution to the Social Watch Report 2012, launched last week.

Mounted NYPD at Occupy Wall
(Photo: Thimoty Krause/Flicrk)

Tens of thousands people took the streets of New York, Vancouver, Madrid, Rome and dozens of other cities in North America, Europe and other regions this weekend, to protest against corporate greed and the steps taken by the governments to put an end to the economic and financial crisis. This movement “is taking off all over the world,” said Armine Yainizyan, expert with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, one of the focal points of Social Watch in that country.

Launch of the Open Government
Partnership in New York
(Photo: Inesc)

Sources: Transparency InternationalFinancial Task ForceHumanRights.govInesc

A group of government and civil society organizations from all over the planet, among them the Instituto de Estudos Socioeconômicos (Inesc, focal point of Social Watch in Brazil), launched this Wednesday in New York the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative that aims to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability and empower citizens.

Photo: dsb nola/
Creative Commons

Source: Pew Research Center.

Wealth gaps between ethnic communities have risen to record highs in the United States. The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black ones and 18 times that of Hispanic families, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

Source: The Star of Malaysia

Two rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor, warned they might downgrade United States debt from its AAA status if the political impasse over a possible default continues, wrote Martin Khor, Executive Director of South Centre, in his most recent column for The Star, one of the leading Malaysian newspapers. There are several reasons why the world, and especially the developing countries, should be alarmed at this situation.

Originally published in YES! Magazine
by Tanya Dawkins
Ajamu Baraka is the executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, a coalition of more than 250 human rights and social justice organizations working to hold the United States accountable to international human rights standards. YES! Magazine board member Tanya Dawkins talked to him about housing, direct action, and why human rights are relevant during the recession.

Genaro C. Armas

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (AP)- The number of Americans living in poverty and without health insurance rose for the third straight year in 2003, the Census Bureau reported Thursday in a pair of reports that delivered a double dose of bad economic news for the Bush administration.