Smart Links 06 February 2013

Commentary on failing fertility policies, the needle free syringe, urbanisation quickens, Greece slides away from democracy, rising per capital GDP increases happiness, and a change of mind.

Why Germany’s attempt to raise its total fertility rate is failing.

Spiegel -- A 200-Billion-Euro Waste: Why Germany Is Failing to Boost Its Birth Rate
Germany spends more on families than most European countries, but its birth rate is falling.


“The central question of family policy is whether the government should invest in education and preschool facilities or simply give families cash.”

No more tears.

Financial Times -- Needle-free syringe passes test on mice
The fear of syringes and needles could become a thing of the past after British scientists successfully tested the use of metal-free microneedles to inject an experimental vaccine into animals.

Big cities keep getting bigger.

New Geography -- Dispersion in the World's Largest Urban Areas
No decade in history has experienced such an increase in urban population as the last.

The state as a beast.

New Statesman -- Selective zero-tolerance: is Greece really a democracy anymore?
The abuse suffered by four young anarchists, arrested for a bank robbery, at the hands of the police proves it’s time to call Greece’s coalition government what it is – a far-right authoritarian group.

Go for growth.

Telegraph – The fact is, the richer you are, the happier you are
We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness, don’t we?


National Post -- Canada’s environmental protection must keep pace with economic development
If two weeks in China teaches you anything, it is the perils of growth-at-all-cost.

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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.