Smart Links 01 May 2012

Commentary on the dangers of being a female poet (in Afghanistan), a Nixon aid dies, Europe’s centre starts to fall away, why RORO rules and rescuing Canada’s railways.

Death sentence.

New York Times -- Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry
In a private house in a quiet university neighborhood of Kabul, Ogai Amail waited for the phone to ring.


“You won’t allow me to go to school.
I won’t become a doctor.
Remember this:
One day you will be sick.”

Remembering Chuck Colson a Nixon political operative.

Economist -- Chuck Colson
Charles Colson, political operative and prison reformer, died on April 21st, aged 80.

The centre crumbles.

Telegraph -- Nightmare week for Angela Merkel as austerity bloc crumbles
Europe's political centre is starting to crumble, replicating the pattern of the early 1930s as the crisis ground into its third year under a similar mix of fiscal and monetary contraction.


Financial Times -- How to pull Britain back from the brink
The job as chancellor is a lonely one.

The Prudent Bear explains why investing is just RORO (risk on risk off).

Prudent Bear -- The Many Facets of Roro
Markets are broken. Accepted investment wisdom has been overturned and the basic tenets of value and diversification no longer work. The financial crisis put the market into a volatile ‘risk on, risk off’ – or Roro – mode for which there is no cure.

Choo Choo.

National Post -- A recent spike: Canada’s abandoned railway lines given second life by search for cheaper transport
One hundred and 26 years after Sir John A. Macdonald drove its last spike, Vancouver Island is bringing the E&N Railway back from the dead.





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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.