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TL(PM) DIGEST: You don't have to live like a refugee
Plus potential new EU funding for Ukraine, Biden's failson cops to tax charges, and the Panama Canal confronts its worst drought in a century
1. People worldwide support the principle of refuge—but not for economic purposes
What happened? New Ipsos polling in 29 countries finds that on average 74 percent of people across all these nations agree “in principle that people should be able to take refuge in other countries, including their own, to escape war or persecution.”
Why does it matter? People worldwide strongly support fundamental rights to political asylum for those fleeing wars or other persecution. Ipsos finds the highest levels of support in “New Zealand (87 percent), Spain (85 percent) and Great Britain, Sweden and Canada (all 84 percent) and the lowest in South Korea (55 percent), Singapore (55 percent) and Turkey (61 percent).” Three-quarters of Americans also agree with this basic principle of refuge.
However, nearly six in 10 people worldwide also say: “Most foreigners who want to get into my country as a refugee really aren’t refugees. They just want to come here for economic reasons, or to take advantage of our welfare services.”
TLP’s take: National governments across the developed world need to better understand what their voters are telling them on immigration. Genuine political asylum should be respected and offered to all those truly facing hardships from war or other targeted persecution—but national governments need to have stricter regulations and clear legal processes to allow other people into their countries based on core national needs, not a de facto open borders policy.
2. EU seeks multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine
What happened? The European Commission recommended the EU provide just under $55 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine over the next four years, meaning Kyiv would have roughly $13.75 billion in annual assistance to 2027. EU member states still need to approve the package, which will in turn require the EU to issue debt to fund it.
Why does it matter? If it receives full EU approval, the proposed package would lend critical economic support to Ukraine no matter who wins the 2024 presidential election in the United States—no small insurance against potential disaster, even if it doesn’t meet all of Kyiv’s financial needs. At very least, it’d represent a substantial EU investment in Ukraine’s future, and a potent political and diplomatic signal that it intends to back Kyiv for the long haul.
TLP’s take: While Europe rightly receives criticism for its failure to invest adequately in defense in recent years and decades, it will deserve credit for supporting Ukraine’s finances if this package goes through. Euros aren’t an adequate substitute for hard power in all cases, but they can still make an enormous difference.
3. The president’s son cops to tax evasion and gets off on gun charges
What happened? The New York Times reports that Hunter Biden “will plead guilty to misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes on time and agree to probation” in a deal worked out over several months between his legal team and federal prosecutors.
Why does it matter? The president’s troubled son is expected to plead guilty to the two misdemeanor tax charges in the next few days; the full deal with the Justice Department allows him to avoid federal charges connected to lying about his drug use before purchasing a gun in 2018. "The deal would be contingent on Mr. Biden remaining drug free for 24 months and agreeing never to own a firearm again,” the NYT reports.
TLP’s take: Don’t do drugs, lie to the government, and try to cheat on your taxes—particularly if your dad might one day become president.
4. Historic drought chokes Panama Canal traffic
What happened? The Wall Street Journal reports that the Panama Canal faces the worst drought in over a century, with the potential to once again snarl global supply chains that finally seem to have recovered from their pandemic-era tangles. Already, the Panamanian government agency that runs the canal has “implemented travel restrictions in May to avoid ships running aground, and since then some large vessels have had to reduce container loads by roughly one-quarter.”
Why does it matter? The Panama Canal remains one of the world’s most important transit chokepoints, and a lasting drought that either shuts down the canal entirely or imposes significant restrictions on ships transiting it would be a decidedly unwelcome shock to an unsteady global economy. Even a temporary shutdown could cost the world billions of dollars a day, as the week-long blockage of the Suez Canal in March 2021 did. As the WSJ details:
Disruptions in the canal’s operations would hurt Southern Hemisphere exporters and importers in the north. Brazilian meat, Chilean wines and bananas from Ecuador are routinely shipped across the canal, along with copper from Chile and liquefied natural gas from the U.S. Gulf Coast. The isthmus connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and handles about one-third of Asia-to-Americas seaborne trade.
TLP’s take: It’s hard to attribute any single extreme weather event to climate change, whether an exceptionally violent hurricane or the drought currently afflicting the Panama Canal. Still, efforts to build resilience against such unpredictable shocks should be welcomed regardless of their origin.
Just one more thing…
The U.S. Coast Guard is leading the search for a missing deep-sea submersible carrying five people on what was supposed to have been a two-and-a-half hour dive to the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic. Many details of the private sight-seeing expedition remain unclear, but it seems improbable that the submersible will be located and retrieved from two miles below the ocean’s surface before its air runs out in less than forty hours.