Smart Links 03 July 2012

Commentary on the reasons countries fall apart, Conrad on the United Nation’s bungled mission, in praise of immigration, running out of growth lubricant, strange times in Myanmar, a new economic strategy for Japan, and for some Canada’s greatest achievement is a publically funded health care system.

10 sad stories.

Foreign Policy -- 10 Reasons Countries Fall Apart
States don't fail overnight. The seeds of their destruction are sown deep within their political institutions.

Conrad takes aim at the UN. Thanks to David of London.

National Post -- The end of Canada’s love affair with the UN
It is disappointing that the recent outrageous criticism of Quebec by the United Nations Human Rights Council has not led to a serious debate in Canada about the country’s almost slavish veneration of the United Nations.


Globe and Mail -- Blue helmets cast aside, Canada keeps the peace no more
Once pre-eminent among peacekeeping nations with thousands of “blue berets” deployed around the world, Canada now ranks 53 – between Paraguay and Slovakia – on the United Nations contributors’ list with less than a schoolbus-load of Canadian soldiers serving on UN missions overseas.

How immigration has and is changing London.

Economist -- Hello, world
Growth has brought foreigners, and foreigners have brought growth.

Have governments run out of ammo?

Charlie Fell – Convergence
The global economy began to stabilise following the most severe downturn since the 1930s during the summer of 2009. 

Out from the shadows.

New York Review of Books -- Burmese Days
In January, Min Ko Naing, one of Burma’s leading dissidents, walked out of prison.

Japan the resource exporter.

Japan Times -- Liberating Japan's resources
Japan has long been characterized as a nation with virtually no natural resources like oil, natural gas, coal, iron and copper. More than 125 million people live on land area ranking only 61st in the world in terms of size.

Oh please.

Globe and Mail -- Medicare is part of us
July 1, the birthdate of our great nation, is also the birthdate of Canada’s emblematic health-care system.






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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.