Smart Links 21 February 2013

Commentary on the top 50 disruptive companies, dangerous business, the return of a bad idea, Simpson-Bowles 2.0, and the equality journey.

Shaking it up.

MIT Technology Review – 50 Disruptive Companies 2013
It might be easier to explain the 50 Disruptive Companies project by starting with what it is not.


The 50 Companies

The problem with banks is that the lending business is risky when you are under-capitalised.

New Yorker -- The Real Problem with the Big Banks
Ask what’s wrong with America’s banks, and you’re likely to hear that they’re just too complicated, too opaque.

Ultimately it doesn’t belong to you.

Telegraph -- A wealth tax would be ethically wrong and economically destructive
It was John Maynard Keynes who put it best. “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist,” he wrote.


“Taxing already acquired property drastically alters the relationship between citizen and state: we become leaseholders, rather than freeholders, with accumulated taxes over long periods of time eventually “returning” our wealth to the state.”

A new centre in Washington, more one to the right.

Bloomberg -- Simpson-Bowles 2.0 Trades Credibility for Influence
For years, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson pulled off a very unusual and very difficult trick: They managed to position themselves firmly in the political center even as their budget proposal was far beyond the boundaries of what either party was proposing.

Equal before the law is no easy journey.

Independent -- Equal Marriage: A reminder of historic sacrifices could not calm frothing critics
Parliamentarians on the side of progress made a passionate case against prejudice.

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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.