Smart Links 11 April 2012

Commentary on our interesting times, different economies in one, thoughts on simplifying the US tax code, background to a lousy market, Macbeth banned in Thailand, are politics polarising again, and what the government has to do in Canada to restore some faith in itself.

Much to fret about.

Financial Sense – I’m Worried
In my view, our American political system is failing us. In my view, we are joining the list of declining world powers. The framework to support that argument follows.

David Brooks on the globalised and public economies.

New York Times – The Two Economies
The creative dynamism of American business is astounding and a little terrifying.


Pdf below -- Canada's Four Economies

First, let’s kill all the tax accountants.

New York Times -- How to Really Simplify the Tax Code
This week millions of Americans will be rushing to calculate and file their income taxes — and probably cursing whoever invented this confusing, complicated monstrosity.

Why David Rosenberg frets about equities.

Charlie Fell – Market Roadblocks
First, there is liquidity — this major catalyst for equities since last October looks set to subside with the Fed seemingly backing off from a QE expansion, at least over the near-term.

No playing around with King imagery in Thailand.

Asia Sentinel -- Macbeth Too Much for Thailand
Authorities ban film based on Shakespearean tragedy about a king’s murder.

A warning about political polarisation.

Global Affairs -- The Age of Authoritarian Democracy
We must find ways to prevent the political polarization that gave rise to totalitarian systems – communist and fascist – in the twentieth century.

Restoring faith.

National Post -- Pax Americana alliance at heart of Harper government’s F-35 posture
The Prime Minister’s Office probably did not set off streamers when it learned a letter from Laurie Hawn, the former parliamentary secretary to the Defence Minister, on the F-35 fighter jets had been made public.


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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.