Douglas Berger is a columnist for the Features Section of the Daily. Douglas is a senior studying international relations and can be reached at [email protected]

Ripple Effect: How many languages are there?

Nobody knows exactly how many languages there are, and we probably never will. The best we can do is estimate. Most counts put the number somewhere between 6,500 and 7,000. It’s a bit like trying to measure a coastline — another task which seems simple at first but is in fact quite complicated. Coasts are […]

Ripple Effect: Can peace be bought?

Afghanistan appears to be on the brink of profound changes. Recent talks with the Taliban represent the best hope for peace in years. But many remain anxious about the role the Taliban would play in a post-war Afghanistan, especially as these talks have, until recently, excluded the Afghan government. Certainly, the announcement of the annual […]

Ripple Effect: The commons’ globalization

The government of Sierra Leone has banned industrial fishing in its territorial waters for the month of April. Why would one of the world’s poorest nations put a halt to one of its most important industries? Sierra Leone’s fish stocks have been dangerously depleted — not by local fishermen — but by foreign trawlers coming […]

Ripple Effect: Between a state and a hard place

What is the United States? Well, 50 states and D.C. of course, but there are also 11 unincorporated unorganized territories, four unincorporated organized territories and one incorporated unorganized territory. Of these, five are inhabited. About four million American citizens inhabit these Pacific and Caribbean islands — conquered, claimed or bought by the U.S. as it ran out […]

Ripple Effect: The enemy of my voter

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the conflict in Yemen have many questioning the United States’ relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A large plurality of Americans view Saudi Arabia as an unfriendly nation or an outright enemy, according to a YouGov poll, yet a long succession of administrations have treated the […]

Ripple Effect: Free trade for whom?

Free trade certainly has its skeptics in the world’s wealthiest economies, especially in our own. Lost in the narrative of shuttered Detroit auto shops and a booming China, though, is the fact that trade liberalization doesn’t always shift production from rich countries to poor. In fact, the opposite can happen. The story of our globalizing […]

Ripple Effect: The Charity Dilemma

International charity is borne of the noblest of intentions. But does it work as intended? Actually, quite often, it does. The pioneering work of a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in health comes first to my mind: The Carter Center’s near eradication of Guinea worm disease across tropical Asia and Africa, Doctors Without Borders’ efforts to provide care […]

Ripple Effect: Comparative advantage in bribery

Why do countries give foreign aid? Most would say to advance national interest. Clearly, however, donor countries like the U.S. don’t give purely out of generosity. They expect something in return. This idea is nothing new and is probably correct — but I don’t think it fully answers the question. National interest is a somewhat […]

Ripple Effect: Democracy and agriculture, Part 2

The act of drawing electoral districts prioritizes rural interests. For example, in the United States, the Democratic Party has a built-in disadvantage in legislative elections because most of their support is inefficiently concentrated in urban areas. There are many lopsided districts where Democratic candidates receive overwhelming support. All votes above the 50 percent mark are […]

Ripple Effect: Democracy and agriculture, Part 1

Democracy is not just about people. Knowing the etymology of the word, this may seem a bizarre statement. Democracy literally means “rule of people.” But democracy, in its most common form — the representative republic — is also spatial. Geography matters. And since many of the world’s richest and most powerful countries are representative democracies, […]