Smart Links 28 May 2012

Commentary on putting human good at the centre of study, governance and capitalism, Tibetans and self-immolation, and punishment.

New Republic -- The Trouble with Scientism
Why history and the humanities are also a form of knowledge.

Quote worth quoting.

“Healthy relationships between the sciences and the humanities should aspire to the condition of the best marriages—to a partnership in which different strengths and styles are acknowledged and appreciated, in which a fruitful division of labor constantly evolves, in which constructive criticism is given and received, in which neither party can ever make a plausible claim to absolute authority, and in which the ultimate goal is nothing less than the furtherance of the human good.”

Useful lecture on the current crisis in capitalism and its critics.

youtube -- Crisis of Capitalism, Crisis of Governance: Re-reading Karl Polanyi in the 21st Century
Prof Nancy Fraser, Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science and Department Chair at the New School for Social Research in New York, delivers her keynote speech titled 'Crisis of Capitalism, Crisis of Governance: Re-reading of Karl Polanyi in the 21st Century' at the University of Warwick's Critical Governance conference.

Quote worth quoting.

“Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.”

Tibet in crisis. Thanks to Tony of Victoria. -- Gwynne Dyer: Tibetans in flames
The number of Tibetans burning themselves to death in protests against Chinese policy has grown very fast recently: the first self-immolation was in 2009, but 22 of the 30 incidents happened in the past year.

Related. Thank to David of Victoria.

New York Times -- After Barreling Ahead in Recession, China Finally Slows
A nationwide real estate downturn, stalling exports and declining consumer confidence have produced what a Chinese cabinet adviser, quoted on the official government Web site on Thursday, characterized as a “sharp slowdown in the economy.”

Punish the guilty!

Globe and Mail -- Hurt the criminal or hurt the crime?
If a neighbourhood kid grabs you on the street, slashes you with a knife and steals your wallet, once you get over the pain, the rage, the fear and the police bureaucracy, you’ll probably want him sent to prison.


Response to The New Economics and Canada, Speech for the Green Party of BC: “I think humane poverty programs should also be realistic.  Some people won't work.  Allow them a minimal income that no ambitious person would be satisfied with, and write them off.   Help the people that need to be helped, accept some moochers (which would probably reduce crime), and incentivize the rest.” – Thanks to Andrew of Singapore

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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.