MOUNT VERNON — A look at “Trade and Politics” will be the topic of the next monthly Knox County Great Decisions Community Discussion Group on Monday, at 6:30 p.m., at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, 201 N. Mulberry St., Mount Vernon.
The U.S. political mood toward trade has gone sour. One need look no further than the 2016 presidential contest for the popular narrative: Trade means that China wins, at America’s expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? This discussion will take a look at the metrics used to gauge economic strength — Gross Domestic Product and balance of trade — have not kept up with the realities of modern manufacturing. Obtaining an accurate picture of U.S. economic stature requires a critique of those numbers. Only then can the U.S. develop appropriate policy solutions for the challenges at hand.
The Knox County Great Decisions group was formed last year and hosts monthly community discussions on foreign policy topics from April through November. The project is led by a volunteer community advisory group. Developed by the Foreign Policy Association (a national, independent, nonpartisan, non-governmental and nonprofit educational organization), the Great Decisions Discussion Program, formed in 1954, is the oldest and largest grass-roots world affairs educational program of its kind in the United States.
The program brings millions of Americans together in study groups to discuss, debate, and learn about foreign policy issues. Each year FPA publishes “Great Decisions,” a Briefing Book and a related DVD with PBS programs on eight foreign policy issues as the basis for these discussions.
A Great Decisions discussion group is composed of interested individuals who want an opportunity to learn about and participate in the foreign policy decision-making process. Participants consider discussion groups a “safe environment” because they provide everyone the opportunity to speak. Each participant’s point of view carries equal weight and everyone is encouraged to share opinions and ideas. Consensus is not a goal. The focus of the Great Decisions discussion group is the critical examination of all issues and opinions; each recognized as equally valid.
Participants can fill out an online or printed ballot after each program. The ballots are sent to FPA, where they are tabulated, analyzed and published in the National Opinion Ballot Report. The report is presented to the White House, members of Congress, the departments of State and Defense, the national media and participants in the Great Decisions Discussion Program. It is a valuable way to share the informed opinions of citizens with the people who shape U.S. foreign policy.
The monthly discussion program is free to attend and open to the public. Copies of the 2017 Great Decisions workbook are available for checkout at the main library circulation desk prior to the program. Additional copies of the workbook will be available for purchase at the discussion. Refreshments will be served.