Charles Kenny: The bright side of America no longer being top dog

Charles KennyFor today’s Humanosphere podcast, we talk with Charles Kenny, an expert on aid and development with the Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Center for Global Development.

Kenny, a prolific writer and entertaining poverty wonk, thinks we should be celebrating two trends that most might think are contradictory. One is that, on many fronts, the world is Getting Better – the title of one of Kenny’s popular books. The Impatient Optimist Bill Gates liked it so much he wrote the intro to the paperback edition. Given climate change, ongoing violent conflicts, rising wealth inequality globally and the proliferation of celebrity news, we ask “Sunshine” Kenny to make the case.

The second trend Kenny thinks we should celebrate is the focus of his new book, The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the Rest. In sum, Kenny is making the case in his latest book that Americans should welcome being displaced as the world’s top dog – economically (China rising) but also militarily and otherwise. As a Brit, he says Britain has never had it so good since giving up on its imperial ambitions. The U.S. should welcome the rise of China, Brazil and other countries even if all we care about is ourselves. It’s a compelling argument, and quite ambitious.

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So be happy, don’t worry. Tom Paulson, editor at Humanosphere, and I also briefly discuss some of the top stories of the week such as why the Gates Foundation is in wealthy China and the festering problem of Islamic extremism in Africa – Al Qaeda 2.0.  Have a listen!

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.