Smart Links 03 February 2013

Commentary on America’s baby bust, China’s worry, tipping, history lessons, times are tough, the awful legacy of Nazi treasure, and being idle no more.

America’s falling fertility rate and what it means.

Wall Street Journal -- America's Baby Bust
The nation's falling fertility rate is the root cause of many of our problems. And it's only getting worse.

What the hacking tells us about China.

Guardian -- If the Chinese dragon is so mighty, why is it trembling inside?
Beijing's alleged hacking of the New York Times is a sign of both the regime's huge power – and its fear of a Chinese spring.

Tip in cash.

Guardian -- Tips are not optional, they are how waiters get paid in America
An Applebee's diner refused to leave a tip for religious reasons. The waitress who exposed it wonders if Jesus will pay her bills.

Tough, tough, tough times.

New York Times -- In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better ... It’s Brutal
Young graduates are in debt, out of work and on their parents’ couches. People in their 30s and 40s can’t afford to buy homes or have children. Retirees are earning near-zero interest on their savings.

Those who don’t know history …

Financial Times -- The road to ruin
A history of the first Anglo-Afghan war describes the consequences of political ignorance and military folly – and the west’s failure to learn from past mistakes.

The civil war in Syria slips across the border.

Telegraph -- If Israel strikes Syria again, all bets are off
With every passing week, we see more and more evidence that Syria’s civil war is both seeping out of the country’s borders and, like a flame sucking in oxygen, is pulling regional powers in at the same time.

History’s garbage.

Spiegel -- Hitler's Wristwatch: A Nazi Legacy Hidden in German Museums
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen amassed huge amounts of valuable art, jewelry and other collectibles prior to and during World War II. It is a poisonous legacy which German museums and governments have failed to properly address. The moral disaster continues to the present day.

Get on with it.

Macleans -- The decent fix for aboriginal rights
Aboriginal peoples of Canada deserve justice  but negotiations will be complicated.

 

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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.