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NYU Wagner students were treated to a fascinating account of Aruba's efforts to link economic growth and social development in sustainable ways -- a presentation delivered at NYU Wagner by none other than the island's Prime Minister, Mike Eman.
Prime Minister Eman, who is serving his second term, noted that Aruba, with a population of 100,000, began to develop its structural reforms even before the worldwide financial bubble burst in 2007-'08. In the prior two decades, Aruba had struggled with socio-economic stressors of its own despite the tremendous growth of its tourism industry.
To address this striking disconnect, Mr. Eman and his political party initiated Social Dialogues to encourage greater public involvement across communities and sectors in government planning. These and other efforts brought about the reshaping of the streetscape, the refurbishment of older buildings, and renewed emphasis on strengthening schools, healthcare, and conditions for the elderly. Overall, the work-in-progress contributes to the island's general welfare and "happiness," even drawing praise from environmentalists Al Gore, Richard Branson, and many others. Mr. Eman went from his Wagner visit of March 26 to an engineering society gathering in Manhattan where he accepted an award on behalf of the new battery-fueled trolley system in Aruba -- a notable advance in clean, safe urban transit.
"In 2008, the world was surprised when in so many cases greed had taken over and the public interest was not taken into account," said Mr. Eman. However, he said, Aruba's experiences suggest that while economic growth is critical, it cannot be de-coupled from democratic values, the environment, and social development -- or the result will be a city, a country, or indeed a world which is neither truly happy nor sustainable.
Peter Orszag, Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), talked about the enormous U.S. budget deficit, its primary causes, and its potential implications for health care, higher education, and the career prospects of younger people in an address November 3rd at New York University sponsored by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Orszag was introduced by John Sexton, NYU's President, and Ellen Schall, the Dean of NYU Wagner, who served as the event's moderator and in her opening remarks noted that Orszag was the youngest member of President Barack Obama's cabinet.
Last year, Orszag told the audience of more than 400 people at NYU's Kimmel Center, the federal deficit was $1.4 trillion ,and a comparable budget gap is projected for the present fiscal year. Over the next decade, he said, the federal government is projected to generate additional red ink of $9 trillion. "Deficits of this size are serious and ultimately unsustainable," Orszag said.
The event was broadcast live by Fox Business while generating a significant amount of public interest and media coverage. To read an official text of the speech or view the NYU webcast, click on the links below.