Smart Picks 04 September 2014

Up in smoke.

Rolling Stone -- Last Tango in Kabul

While war raged across Afghanistan, expats lived in a bubble of good times and easy money. But as the U.S. withdraws, life has taken a deadly turn.

What I’m listening too. Mozart - La Clemenza di Tito, KV 621 


New York Times -- The Three-Headed Monster Challenging Obama’s Foreign Policy

In vowing in Estonia on Wednesday to defend vulnerable NATO nations from Russia “for as long as necessary,” President Obama has now committed the United States to three major projections of its power: a “pivot” to Asia, a more muscular presence in Europe and a new battle against Islamic extremists that seems very likely to accelerate.

A swift kick in the roubles. 

Telegraph -- Russian rouble hits record low as suffocating sanctions loom

Russia's currency has dropped 25pc over the past 18 months but Vladimir Putin shows no signs of backing down over Ukraine.

The Wallace Collection (which happens to be right beside Manchester Square in which EMI building resided The Beatles recorded Please, Please Me) that also is home to one of the best tea rooms in the city, reopens. 

Guardian -- Wallace Collection reopens gallery with transformed old master display

'Greatest gallery in Europe' sheds fresh light on paintings by Hals, Velázquez, Titian and Rubens with £5m refurbishment.

Manchester Square 

Please, Please Me 

Making matters worse. 

Time -- Liberian Government’s Blunders Pile Up in the Grip of Ebola

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government was forced to lift a quarantine of one of Monrovia's worst slums last week as errors mount.

Pay up for air comfort. 

Economist -- Two innovative solutions

THE tale—covered by my colleague last week—of two United Airlines passengers whose dispute over reclining seats led to their removal from the flight has gone viral.

Keeping an eye on Hong Kong. 

China Digital Times -- Hong Kong Entering New “Era of Resistance”?

Following the decision by the National People’s Congress to only allow officially-approved candidates to stand for election for Hong Kong’s chief executive, activists have pledged to intensify their protest campaign.

More double double. 

Walrus -- Double-Doublethink

On fifty years of Tim Horton’s tyranny.



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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.