Smart Picks 04 October 2014

Can the developed world break out of the Japan trap? 

Telegraph -- Is it time for central bankers to unwind their policies?

Savers have been penalised by very low potential returns. This can't be allowed to continue.

Editor’s note – but if those savers put their money into the equity market their money has more than doubled since March 2009.

What I’m listening to.  Bach: Missa Brevis BWV 236  

Meanwhile in Europe. 

Telegraph -- Hans-Werner Sinn: eurozone doomed to 'decade of crises'

Hans-Werner Sinn, the president of the respected Ifo think-tank, says France could put the future of the single currency at risk and warns that the Ukrainian crisis threatens to trigger a "triple-dip depression" in parts of the bloc.

Big countries usually get away with what they want. 

New York Times -- An Inconvenient Protest for Both China and the U.S.

President Obama is scheduled to visit China next month, and with tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong, human rights could force itself onto the agenda between the United States and the Chinese in a way not seen in many years.

Tick, tick, tick … 

Financial Times -- Hong Kong: Playing with fire

Beijing has limited control over the territory but how long will it be before the leadership acts?

Just one more. 

New York Times -- More Older Adults Are Struggling With Substance Abuse

BEFORE her drinking spiraled out of control, Sylvia Dobrow “drank like a lady,” as she put it, matching her wine to her sandwiches: “Tuna and chardonnay, roast beef and rosé.” But soon she was “drinking around the clock,” downing glasses of vodka and skim milk.

Not just trade. 

New York Times -- Our Misplaced Faith in Free Trade

Trade is one of the few areas on which mainstream economists firmly agree: More is better. But as the Obama administration pursues two huge new trade deals — one with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the other with the European Union — Americans are skeptical.

Hispanic voters, Republicans, and Texas, all three or just two out of three? 

Washington Post -- Can a Republican win the Hispanic vote in Texas?

Ruben Villarreal knew he was different, and it had nothing to do with his curlicue mustache. The Latino tire-shop owner with the ten-gallon hat had been mayor of this border town for several years before he dared to discuss his political affiliation. He felt like a “cactus around balloons.”

Tracking down and ending Ebola. 

Financial Times -- Peter Piot: out to stop the Ebola virus he found

A pioneering virologist has learnt the virtues of patience, diplomacy – and action.


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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.