John Gray: The Truth About Evil:
Blair made this observation in November 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq, when he invited six experts to Downing Street to brief him on the likely consequences of the war. The experts warned that Iraq was a complicated place, riven by deep communal enmities, which Saddam had dominated for over 35 years. Destroying the regime would leave a vacuum; the country could be shaken by Sunni rebellion and might well descend into civil war. These dangers left the prime minster unmoved. What mattered was Saddam’s moral iniquity. The divided society over which he ruled was irrelevant. Get rid of the tyrant and his regime, and the forces of good would prevail. If Saddam was uniquely evil 12 years ago, we have it on the authority of our leaders that Isis is uniquely evil today. Until it swept into Iraq a few months ago, the jihadist group was just one of several that had benefited from the campaign being waged by western governments and their authoritarian allies in the Gulf in support of the Syrian opposition’s struggle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. Since then Isis has been denounced continuously and with increasing intensity; but there has been no change in the ruthless ferocity of the group, which has always practised what a radical Islamist theorist writing under the name Abu Bakr Naji described in an internet handbook in 2006 as “the management of savagery”.[more inside]
The political economy of a universal basic income: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable given the demographics of ideology... UBI — defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable and politically achievable among policies that might effectively address problems of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
- Welfare economics: an introduction
- The perils of Potential Pareto
- Inequality, production, and technology
- Welfare theorems, distribution priority, and market clearing
- Normative is performative, not positive
Not everyone agrees on the best methods for raising kids. That becomes apparent when you examine the results from the 2010-2014 World Values Survey — 82,000 adults across 54 countries were surveyed to gain a better understanding of what they consider most important when raising a child, whether or not they were parents themselves. PBS NewsHour has an interactive quiz you can take to show which country has values closest to yours as well as a widget to compare the values of any two countries. You can see all the data in this google docs spreadsheet.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
Today the government of the Canadian province of Quebec released its proposed charter of Quebec values. “The minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drainville, announced … that if the charter were adopted by the legislature, the wearing of kippas, turbans, burkas, hijabs and "large" crosses would be banned for civil servants while they are on the job.” (Images of acceptable and unacceptable religious symbols) The Canadian federal government indicated that it would “challenge any law that [it] deem[s] unconstitutional.”
So, what's the problem with champagne socialism? Are well-off advocates of left-wing positions hypocrites? How does one square egalitarian convictions with personal affluence?
Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Start Your Own Currency - "In the Catalonia region of Spain, a restaurant and a community garden are part of an experiment in alternative cash--they are accepting a home-grown currency called the Eco as well as the Euro." [viz. gated article (Google link), cf. The Wörgl Experiment]
In Praise of Leisure - "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via) [more inside]
What do American "values voters" actually value? The American Values Project gathers answers.
BR Myers thinks foodies are obsessed with food at the expense of morals. Rancher and writer thinks it's a shallow and warped attack on people trying to make the food system better.. [more inside]
Life after Capitalism - Beyond capitalism, it seems, stretches a vista of... capitalism: [more inside]
Douglas Rushkoff was mugged on Christmas Eve. After posting about the incident on a neighborhood message board, the response was not concern about crime or his safety but about the negative effect this might have on property values. Rushkoff writes in a new book (and discusses on BloggingHeads) the corporatization of our culture and the need to deal in currencies which are local and carry innate value. Previously.
"Web professionals are often expected to be “always on”—always working, absorbing information, and honing new skills. Unless our work and personal lives are carefully balanced, however, the physical and mental effects of an "always on" life can be debilitating." Burnout: Running On Empty [more inside]
"Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all." CBS News said, let's give Oscar the Grim Reaper Cat 349% more ink than FBI Director Mueller contradicting Attorney General Gonzales's testimony. Media Matters asks, "There are very real and very serious questions about whether the United States is currently a fully functional republic.... Isn't it time news organizations devote more resources to exploring these issues -- even if it means fewer stories about cats and cleavage?" Has Stupor Killed the Fourth Estate? Was James Fallows that the Media Undermine[s] American Democracy?
...the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth ...
Faith In America asks a simple question: Is using religious teachings to deny equal rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people any less wrong than using religious teaching to discriminate against people of color, against equality for women or against people of different cultures wanting to marry? (check their ad campaign too--some great ones) Meanwhile, clueless elected officials like Barack Obama continue to buy into the GOP lies that all people with faith are conservatives/Republicans, and that Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs.
the most maritally challenged crop of presidential hopefuls in American political history --meet 3 leading GOP candidates for 08. We've already read about Hillary's sexlife (or lack thereof), but will the double standard hold? ...if the top three Democratic presidential hopefuls each had extra-marital affairs in their backgrounds, it stands to reason that Republicans would have something to say about it--and if the past is any guide, those concerns would find their way into the papers. Will the same happen when it's about the "party of family values and morality"?
Loving v. Missouri: In February, Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit because they have three children and are not married. "This ordinance is outdated. We are a family," says Shelltrack, 31. "There's a mom, there's a dad, there's three children. We are a family." Whether Shelltrack, a stay-at-home mom, and Loving, 33, who works for a payroll-administration company, are married "should not be anybody's business, if I pay my taxes, if I'm able to buy the house," she says.
The first bear kill of the Maryland hunting season was made by an 8-year-old girl, notes Joel Achenbach's blog. It's quite an interesting news story that makes one wonder what values many of us are teaching our kids these days. Just as interesting, however, are the comments, which at least in one case deals with gender stereotyping: I think that it is important for our kids and especially our girls to experience life and if part of life is killing game, then so be it. After all, if our girls just sit in their little bubble wearing pretty dresses and playing Bach on the piano, we may just end up with lots of Condi Rice's (re: Eugene Robinson's Op Ed). The blog got lots of comments -- many more than my measly entry will.
A Spokane woman trying to divorce her estranged husband two years after he was jailed for beating her has been told by a judge she can't get out of the marriage while she's pregnant. Is this another example at an attempt at "moral values?"
We already knew that frequent masturbation might cut prostate cancer risk. But it turns out that this is not a message fit for American families. The details of the Lewinsky episode splattered across front pages of the US and abroad come to mind, but also Nancy Reagan pleading for stem research.
Here is an excellent article on Rationality versus Values. Personally though, I'd rather be free of more mundane risks such as traffic accidents than say, extraordinary risks such as being held hostage in a theatre... but that's just my opinion.