Smart Links 10 May 2012

Today's image is a Japanese rice field designed to look like Hokusai's famous wave! Thanks to Robin of Victoria.

Commentary on the geography debate, having it both ways, the prison guru dies but his terrible legacy remains, and the dangerous Tom Mulcair.

Is it about geography or something else?

Why Nations Fail – What Does Geography Explain?
The view that geographic factors such as climate, natural resources, disease burden or soil quality directly explain why some countries are poor still has many proponents.

Tight or loose?

Financial Times -- Electorates cannot have it both ways
Does the relatively calm bond market response to François Hollande’s victory in the French presidential election mean that even bond vigilantes have come round to the idea that more growth and less austerity in the eurozone might be a good thing?


Telegraph -- Crisis escalates as insurrection breaks German control of Europe
The political dam has broken in Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel no longer has enough allies in the club of EU prime ministers to impose her hairshirt agenda.

Lock’em up and throw away the key.

Boston Review -- Much to Answer For: James Q. Wilson’s Legacy
The esteemed political scientist and criminologist James Q. Wilson died in March.


Atlantic – Raising Kids
"When I met him, he was six and a half years of age. There was nothing about his appearance that identified him as the boy who had set the record."

LBJ and RJK really really hated each other.

New York Review of Books -- America’s Nastiest Blood Feud
Robert Caro’s epic biography of Lyndon Johnson—this is the fourth volume of a planned five—was originally conceived and has been largely executed as a study of power.

Is Tom Mulcair more dangerous than Stephen Harper?

Globe and Mail -- Brad Wall could tell Tories what's scary about Mulcair
Thomas Mulcair needn’t worry about the picayune Tory attacks on his caucus.



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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.