21st Century Women, Gold, UK’s Bumpy Ride, Dribbling, Saudi Combustible, In the Line of Fire, The Sun

The bright and young mostly female cashiers at our local food store Peppers are a useful touchstone for the odd question as they price the goods, pack the grocery bag, and take my money.

Over the past few days, I found it interesting that none had heard of Germaine Greer, the Women’s Room, or that once upon a time that their great grandmothers could not write a cheque in their own name or borrow money.

International Women’s Day, the 100th anniversary was this week, reminds us that educated, healthy, safe and economically engaged women are the litmus test for excellent tomorrows.

Articles also on the relative price of gold and housing, the United Kingdom’s tax and economic challenges, America’s strange education priorities, Saudi stories and the danger journalists face, and thinking about the Sun.

Excellent futures begin with female reproductive rights, full access to education opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and could even be brighter in a high income country like Canada, with child care strategies that acknowledge the different role women play in our society because of biological realities and the impact that leaving the work force to raise children has on female financial security.

Brookings – International Women’s Day: Celebrating Quality and Equality
March 8th marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. This year’s theme centers on equal access to education, training and science and technology. Access to a quality education that prepares girls and young women to enter the labor market with critical skills and valuable knowledge is essential – it is also a luxury.


The Journal of Cultural Conversation – Writing for Social Change: Empowering Women

Gold is expensive, houses aren’t.

Britain’s high tax regime has consequences. Thanks to David of London for sending this in.

Spectator – High Tax Britain
The government says that the forthcoming budget is going to be all about growth.


FT -- Don’t fall for the growth confidence trick
Revised growth figures for the final quarter of last year show Britain’s economy was, at best, flat.

How come college basketball coaches get paid millions of dollars a year but public school teachers are the focus of deficit cutting hysteria?

FT –  A Slam Duck in the Face of Education
March Madness begins this weekend, and will be even nuttier this year than normal

Quote worth quoting.

“What does it say about a country when it decides that it is too poor to give teachers what they need, but wealthy enough to give basketball coaches whatever they want?”

Related, on the other hand.

Atlantic – Why Fire Teachers?
Ed Kain has been blogging a lot about teacher firings, and makes what I think is one of the better cases for the tenure/civil service/union protections from firing that teachers now enjoy.

In the summer of 1991 I was on a Jardine Fleming business trip to the Middle East. Our regional head Frank Gardner was stationed in Bahrain where I started the trip to recover from jet lag. He was an expert on the Arab world, and a fluent Arabic speaker.

The day after I arrived Frank said that he had a little walk through the city planned for us that I would probably find culturally fascinating. It soon became apparent that he was knowingly walking us through cultural festivities of mostly young, bearded men self-flagellating their backs with sticks that left behind the most appalling streaks of blood.

“Just keep walking and don’t look at anyone in the eye,” Frank schooled me.

This was the final day of the annual Shiite Ashura Festival. Happy as my visit began in the most modern country in the region …

(ed’s note: Frank went on to be a correspondent for the BBC in 1995. In June 2004 Frank was shot six times in Saudi Arabia and left for dead (his cameraman Simon Cumbers was murdered). He recovered but was left partly paralysed in his legs, and requires a wheelchair. He is now based in London security correspondent for the BBC. His book Blood and Sand on the shooting and how it impacted his life is quite moving . 

A helpful analysis of what may be in store for Saudi Arabia (and Bahrain).

FT – Middle East: Gas Leak in the House
The Riyadh International Book Fair, which closes on Friday, has become a symbol of subtle social change in Saudi Arabia, a show of openness to foreign cultures where men and women – unusually for the kingdom – mingle in the same space as they browse newly published works.



CIA – World Fact Book – Saudi Arabia


Qaddafi’s lies. Thanks to Ken of Tokyo/Hong Kong for sending this in.

The truth about Zawiyah, Libya: Interview with Alex Crawford
The city of Zawiyah has been completely under siege for a week now. Nothing is allowed in or out while the city is attacked by tanks & heavily armed Gaddafi forces from all sides.

A magnificent picture the earth’s furnace.

Discovery Magazine – Seriously Jaw Dropping Picture of the Sun
Holy wow!




Simon Schama’s Van Gogh

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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.