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Let Us All Do Our Part to Promote Equal Opportunity

Social mobility is quickly becoming an American myth. Let us all do our part in helping disadvantaged kids receive a proper education. 

Journalists and political pundits often perpetuate the narrative of a polarized America trapped in a state of inevitable decline. The symptoms of our nation’s malaise are many— lackluster economic growth, increasing wealth inequality, inept political leaders, waning influence abroad, and an electorate that has become both jaded and divided. While these challenges are daunting, presenting them as evidence of our nation’s unavoidable decline as the media often does is counterproductive. Doing so only perpetuates a sense of national victimhood while absolving both the speaker and the audience from any responsibility. As young leaders and innovators, the Future Forum‘s readers and contributors have a responsibility to take action. By recognizing our personal agency and reinvigorating our sense of civic duty, we can make a real, measurable difference in some of our nation’s most intractable problems. Read more

VC: Threats on the Horizon

This is the third part in a series on the state of the venture capital industry. Read the past posts “Self-Disrupt: Venture Capital’s Lost Decade & the Path to Redemption” and “VC: The Lost Decade.”

The venture capital model has been a disappointing asset class over the last ten years despite its double-digit return success throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Venture capitalists turned the tides by consolidating excessive capital commitments into the hands of a select few firms and overinvesting in web-based, seed-stage startups. In turn, startups in the most capital-intensive sectors have been squeezed out of the critical growth capital market. Unfortunately, shifts in market forces and the development of startup communities over this same period challenge the validity of the venture capital model and threaten its ability to raise future funds on sustainable terms.

The growth of crowdfunding and startup support communities provide entrepreneurs with growth capital and connective tissue which have long been the value propositions of VCs. Further, the potential passage of carried interest tax reform may increase taxes for general partners, decrease operating profits and alter asset management compensation terms with limited partners. Read more

All that Glitters is Never Gold: India’s Food Security Bill Raises More Questions than Solutions

Pradyut Hande is The Future Forum’s Program Director for India and an award-winning youth leader and writer. He has over 250 publications in leading national and international dailies to his credit. This is the first in a three part series aimed at addressing critical aspects of the global water scarcity problem.

In a landmark development, President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the ordinance on the highly contentious Food Security Bill, paving the path for multi-lateral political ramifications and a potentially game-changing legislation in the long run. The timing of President Mukherjee’s decision has taken many quarters by surprise considering his outlook towards the concerned issue thus far. Also the fact that he chose to clear the ordinance in its current form; even in the face of mounting criticism from the BJP, Left and other major national parties; has raised a few eyebrows. Read more

As Student Interest Rates Double, Young People Must Double Our Efforts

Written by: Aaron Kinnari, Founder of The Future Forum.

This fall, student loan rates will double for young Americans across the country. For the average student taking out Stafford loans each year to pay for college, this means the price of college just went up about $4,000. That’s a lot of money, especially considering that so many of our peers are finding themselves unemployed or underemployed in the current economy.

This is truly devastating. At a time when our students are already struggling to pay their share of more than $1 trillion in student loan debt, and one in 10 loans are in default, to raise the cost of higher education will have real, negative consequences on this generation. Read more

Thinking Beyond Intervention: A Limited Transatlantic Policy Towards Syria

A version of this post originally appeared on Atlantic-community.org. Atlantic-community.org is the world’s first online foreign policy think tank, and aims to provide a voice for a new generation of thinkers and young leaders on issues impacting the transatlantic community.

Memo 45: Arming the opposition, creating a no-fly zone, and intervening in Syria are not feasible options despite currently dominating the headlines. Instead, Western governments should focus on creating political dialogue, inclusive of Assad’s government, that leads to the country’s federalization. They should also secure Syria’s chemical weapons, including through diplomacy with Russia. Lastly, the transatlantic partners should send military and technological support to Turkey’s southern border.

Atlantic-community.org members generally agree that arming rebels will escalate the conflict in Syria, a no-fly zone is too risky and cost-inefficient, and that intervention is politically unlikely. Instead, the three goals they should pursue, as outlined below, are: (1) support political dialogue that includes the regime and leads to federalization in Syria; (2) secure Syria’s chemical weapons, including by partnering with Russia; (3) reinforce the security of Turkey’s southern border to reduce the spread of violence and to help Turkey to better serve its citizens and refugees.  Read more

The New Geo-Graphics iPad Mini Index Should Calm Talk of Currency Wars

A version of this post originally appeared on Geo-Graphics, a Council on Foreign Relations blog by the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

View a larger version of this Geo-Graphic here.

The “law of one price” holds that identical goods should trade for the same price in an efficient market.  To what extent does it hold internationally?

The Economist magazine’s famous Big Mac Index uses the price of McDonalds’ burgers around the world, expressed in a common currency (U.S. dollars), to estimate the extent to which various currencies are over- or under-valued.  The Big Mac is a global product, identical across borders, which makes it an interesting one for this purpose.  Yet it travels badly – cross-border flows of burgers won’t align their prices internationally. Read more

Embracing Brazil: Transatlantic Cooperation to Confront Global Challenges

A version of this post originally appeared on Atlantic-community.org. Atlantic-community.org is the world’s first online foreign policy think tank, and aims to provide a voice for a new generation of thinkers and young leaders on issues impacting the transatlantic community.

Memo 44: Atlantic Community members generally agree that embracing Brazil as a transatlantic partner should be a key goal for the US and Europe. While initiatives already exist to facilitate this process, they are not being employed to their full potential. The transatlantic partners must build on these initiatives and, in doing so, acknowledge Brazil as a valuable ally in combating global challenges.

Greater cooperation with Brazil would allow the transatlantic community to better address some of the biggest problems facing the world today, including development issues, climate change, energy policy, and global trade. As the policy recommendations below make clear, greater cooperation with Brazil must occur on three levels: institutionalizing existing dialogue to better address global development needs; supporting Brazil’s development of global energy policy; and encouraging Brazil to take on greater responsibility in international institutions.   Read more

The Thirsty Planet – Part I: An Insight into the Growing Global Water Scarcity Problem

Pradyut Hande is The Future Forum’s Program Director for India and an award-winning youth leader and writer. He has over 250 publications in leading national and international dailies to his credit. This is the first in a three part series aimed at addressing critical aspects of the global water scarcity problem.

Water is truly the essence of life – a natural resource that has been and continues to be critical to our very evolution and existence. However, over the years, our well chronicled profligacy coupled with gross mismanagement fuelled by detrimental developmental activities has resulted in an alarming depletion in the precious resource that is freshwater. Add to that; an ever burgeoning global population, dangerous climate change disruptions and the absence of a clear action plan; have exacerbated the global water scarcity problem.

Let’s look at the basic statistics to begin with. 86% of the total freshwater reserves on the planet are used for agricultural purposes and food production. A further 9% is employed in industrial activities. That leaves a paltry 5% for domestic consumption. Just 5% to support a population of 7 billion inhabitants. Thus, the water scarcity issue today is a twofold conundrum – one of fundamental resource inadequacy and inequity, i.e., not only is water an increasingly scarce natural resource, but the distribution or lack thereof, of the available resources further compounds the acuity of an already dire situation. Read more

The Thin Red Line: Mounting Tensions in the Korean Peninsula and Why North Korea Must Soon Come to its Senses

Pradyut Hande is The Future Forum’s Program Director for India and an award-winning youth leader and writer. He has over 250 publications in leading national and international dailies to his credit.

The Korean Peninsula has borne witness to a heightened sense of fractured stability and intensified military tension over the last few weeks. For a region characterised by a perennial state of volatility, recent developments have highlighted the stark reality of uncertainty that presently shrouds the situation. With North Korea adopting an overtly abrasive and belligerent standpoint, ever since the UN censured the “rogue state” with further sanctions in light of its widely condemned recent nuclear test, matters appear to have snowballed into a state of hyperactivity and have consequently, become a cause for concern for multiple stakeholders. Read more