Smart Links 02 August 2012

Commentary on Charles Dickens, Much Ado About Nothing in Victoria, bankrupting students, Bill Gross warns about the risk of inflation in our future, and China in a global hunt for energy assets.

Recently I saw a movie of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby (circa 2002)  and while the tight coincidences that the author uses to move the plot along and bring conclusion to all the parallel dramas does stretch belief, still the colour of the characters is wonderful.

A review of some recent bios about Dickens.

The Mystery of Charles Dickens
Is Dickens the greatest of English novelists?

I also had the chance to see the Victoria Shakespeare Society’s staging of Much Ado About Nothing

Like Nickleby the play has so many bits flying around that tidying them up at the end is a bit difficult to accept such as when Margaret is let off the hook for her part in the framing of Hero. However, Benedict and Beatrice’s amazement in overhearing that the other loves them truly is one of the great moments in English theatre. The play is brisk, well done, takes advantage of the outdoor setting and offers a very inexpensive introduction to Shakespeare. They are also staging As You Like It that I hope to see later this week.

The terrible bankrupting of students.

New York Times -- False Promises
It has long been clear that an oily subgroup of for-profit schools were doing very well for themselves by recruiting students who had no real chance of graduating, pocketing their federal financial aid and leaving the students with valueless credentials — or none at all — and crippling debt.

Inflate your troubles away.

PIMCO – Cult Figures
The cult of equity is dying.


National Post -- Price Hikes Expected At Tim Horton's

Not only in Canada, eh.

Economist -- Canucks, meet CNOOC
China wants expertise even more than oil.


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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.