Smart Links 30 March 2012

Commentary on France’s myopic narcissism, Harper's timid budget, and how the Supreme Court may overturn Obamacare.

Right sizing.

Financial Times -- France votes to shut out the world
Not so long ago François Hollande was a racing certainty to win the Elysée.


Economist -- A country in denial
By ignoring their country’s economic problems, France’s politicians are making it far harder to tackle them. 




Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, by Édouard Manet (1863).

 And now … the 2012 Canadian Federal Budget!

Pdf below – Td Economics: 2012 Federal Budget

From the right.

National Post -- Andrew Coyne on Budget 2012: This is the terminus of Tory radicalism
So now we know. If the matter was ever in any doubt, it is no longer.


From the middle.

Globe and Mail -- Penny drops, Tory government balks
What a strange budget Stephen Harper’s new majority government produced. Heralded as tough on spending, it was nothing of the kind. Primed as bold, it was cautious. Expected to be clear, it wallowed in the impenetrable.

From the left.

Centre for Policy Alternatives -- Federal budget drags Canada into unnecessary austerity
In contrast to this year’s AFB 2012, today’s federal budget is decidedly not a budget for the rest of us. 


From me (four other panelists).

The Agenda with Steve Paikin – The 2012 Federal Budget
The Agenda examines the Harper Conservatives' first majority budget and what it means for Canadian policy going forward.

The Court speaks.

Economist -- Full-court press
Barack Obama’s health-care law moves to America’s highest court, and looks to be in danger. The case could transform the power of the federal government.

Note: the mirror motif came from Japan.

The bold designs of Japanese woodblock prints, which were popular in France at the time, were another influence on the Impressionists. Their asymmetrical arrangements contrasting large areas of flat colour with patches of intricate pattern offered a compositional format that the Impressionists could use to develop their ideas about colour. Sometimes, even the most avant-garde artists need the security of knowing that the path they have chosen to follow has some roots in tradition. The compositions of the Ukiyo-e masters such as Hokusai and Hiroshige offered the Impressionists this precedent of tradition, albeit from another culture, and consequently the confidence to forge ahead with their new ideas. Arty Factory

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) -- Pere Tanguy

2012 Federal Budget.pdf719.68 KB
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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.