UK

Paul Summerville • March 14, 2010

When everything is fine human beings tend to bring their future spending into the present. Longer vacations at a better hotel, bigger houses with new furniture, an appetizer and a dessert at the restaurant. When things aren't fine human beings tend to restrict their spending. Staycations, downsizing, dinner in, rented DVDs and not the theatre.

Paul Summerville • March 10, 2010

What role should the state play in creating the conditions for economic growth? A question of excellent futures surely. A report commissioned by the Conservative Party headed by David Cameron is framed by the expectation that the 'government is responsible for change'. Maybe that's the problem.

March 9, 2009 the Great Recession bottom, March 10, 2000 the peak of the dotcom bubble. What have we learned from these two anniversaries?

Paul Summerville • March 8, 2010

As my good friend David from London (the small one) is fond of saying, in Canada when the government announces that the rate of growth in spending is going from 5% to 3% it is presented (and usually reported) as a cut in spending by 2%. Nonsense. The Conservatives ought to have their feet held to the fire for their scandalous mismanagement of the country's federal finances and the press ought to do their jobs by pointing out that programme spending is forecast to rise in nominal terms by 10% over the next 5 years.

Paul Summerville • March 4, 2010

Spent 90 minutes yesterday with Professor Tim Kemp's International Management class http://www.bus.camosun.bc.ca/~kemp/ at Camosun College in Victoria. Great discussion about the risks of too much market and too much state. Paul Krugman touches on this today in his blog, and Big Picture makes the case for a strong consumer protection agency in the US. What function do movies about war play particularly since Saving Private Ryan they are so 'realistic'.

Paul Summerville • March 2, 2010

The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile provide a convenient metaphor for the financial and economic crisis's that many countries are trying to manage. How strong is the foundation of the economy to withstand shocks? Greece and by implication Europe is in the middle of a full blown crisis, the United Kingdom seems on the verge, Canada and Japan on the legacy of crisis. Iran and its nuclear capability is coming into view again swiftly, what will Russia and China do?

Paul Summerville • February 28, 2010

Now back to reality. However distracting the Olympics have been ('we did own the podium we did!') the global economy is a mess. Poorly regulated financial services industry, unbalanced economies, people borrowing and consuming well beyond their means, and governments being forced to pursue extreme measures just to keep the whole system from collapsing. Every country, company, household and individual should imagine themselves trying to navigate a schoolyard full of bullies without an ounce of sympathy.

Steel yourself, the worst is yet to come.

Paul Summerville • February 27, 2010

Mark Steyn of Maclean's shines a very harsh light on Canadian political correctness. With the federal budget coming soon thoughts on the difficulty of cutting, health care, and the high cost of aging. The only way to cut spending is to identify and cut programmes not touchy feely 2% across the board nostrums. Health care costs are best contained in the current system by prevention and health education.

Paul Summerville • February 25, 2010

Clara Hughes, global athlete-sportsperson extraordinaire, delivered an invisible punch to the 'own the podium' campaign in her Olympic career capping interview with Brian Williams last night. Show this to your kids particularly if they are girls.

Without using a cliche it is after all the journey not the destination that matters most a lesson she has obviously lived her life by and one that Toyota forgot to its great regret.

Paul Summerville • February 23, 2010

Picking up on yesterday's theme of boomer-bust. The issue of assisted-death is staring the boomer generation square in the face. A couple of wonderful irreverent British takes on the opportunity of turning bleak death into joyful release. Advances in medical technology and active aging strategies (active friendships, frequent exercise, good diet, beloved hobbies) while having the advantage of extending life expectancies nevertheless make adding a few years at the end highly unpalatable if they are going to be full of pain, drug induced comas or the withering away of the mind.

Paul Summerville • February 22, 2010

Just like the waiter in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life tempting Mr. Creosote to take that last little nibble, so economists will dangle different tasty looking stimulating economic morsels like inflation and debt. Even better for politicians if it can appeal to voters like the big Creosote-like blob of self-absorbed boomer voters just waiting to be counted. The results sadly for our economic and social well being will be, comme Monsieur Creosote, nauseating and, well explosive.

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.