Smart Picks 10 February 2013

Commentary on declining fertility rates in the Muslim world, tired and huddled masses, cap and trade in New England, less living on $1.25 a day, the female board member European bottom line, the revenge of the deer, and what does fewer fires mean for firefighters.

Poor and old.

Real Clear Politics -- A Sea Change in the Muslim World
Something startling is happening in the Muslim world -- and no, I don't mean the Arab Spring or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

On immigration.

New York Times -- Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor and Your Economists, Too
ALL the recent talk in Washington about reforming immigration policy brings to mind Pat Paulsen, the comedian who, every four years, conducted faux campaigns for president.

How is the experiment doing?

Washington Post -- Cap-and-trade is still alive in New England. Is it working?
Remember cap-and-trade?

Absolute poverty declining. (ed’s note – is that $1.25 adjusted for inflation?)

Globe and Mail – The End of Absolute Poverty is Closer Than You Think
While the world’s rich countries have been wallowing in stagnation and growing inequality over the past few years, the good news is that the poor countries have been experiencing economic growth – and making incredibly rapid progress in the fight against absolute poverty.

Where are those binders? (ed’s note – every publically listed company should be legally required to have a minimum of 40% men and women).

Spiegel -- Women in the Boardroom: German Firms Scramble to Meet Quotas
An EU quota passed in November has German companies scrambling to find women to sit on their supervisory boards.


Wildlife comeback. (ed’s note – I like the small herd of deer on our Victoria property but the price is that we can’t grow any flowers with colour and none of the trees can reproduce)

New York Review of Books – Visitors
Glancing out the kitchen window one sunny afternoon not long ago, I was startled to see two beautiful red foxes copulating in the garden.

Balancing hazard.

National Post -- The thin red line: Increasingly idle fire stations a tempting target for cash-strapped cities
Last month, city council in Kitchener, Ont., voted soundly to axe half a million dollars from the city’s fire department budget after noting that its staff costs had leaped an incredible 22% in only five years.


“In 1977, when Canada only had 23.7 million people, the country reported 74,043 fires — about one every 7 minutes. [In 2003], twenty-five years later, there were eight million more Canadians and 21,000 fewer fires.”

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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.