Smart Picks -- Tightwad Tories, Making Room, Changes, Stay In School, Making Cars, The Future
As my good friend David from London (the small one) is fond of saying, in Canada when the government announces that the rate of growth in spending is going from 5% to 3% it is presented (and usually reported) as a cut in spending by 2%. Nonsense. The Conservatives ought to have their feet held to the fire for their scandalous mismanagement of the country's federal finances and the press ought to do their jobs by pointing out that programme spending is forecast to rise in nominal terms by 10% over the next 5 years.
The Liberal Party has a great opportunity to make the case that in any spending budget that is about 17% of Canadian GDP there must be many, emphasis on the word many, programmes that are exclusive, unaffordable and immeasurable and pledge to remove them so federal money can be focused on programmes that in combination will contribute to rising education, health, community and economic outcomes.
A few articles that span the spectrum of analysis of the Conservative budget from the good, Andrew Cohen's withering look at the Conservatives failure to do anything substantial, to the bad, Chantel Hebert and Shawn McCarthy respectively of the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail who seem to have taken a phone call from the same person working in Stockwell Day's office.
The 100th anniversary of Women's Day and a few thoughts about where we've been and where we could (actually must) go. Articles about the Middle East, Japan and the United Kingdom on change. A chart on America's unemployment nightmare. An article on making cars and leading edge technologies.
Andrew Coyne points out that the charts didn't change.
My fellow pundits seem greatly impressed by the budget’s “austerity,” to judge by the headlines and commentary that appeared afterward. Here, then, in graphic form, is just how austere it was. http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/03/06/those-budget-cuts-in-full-2/
Shawn McCarthy on the tough Tories to come.
The Harper government will launch a campaign this week to freeze-and-squeeze the public service, but Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says he is looking to avoid a major battle with front-line federal workers who will be most affected. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-to-unveil-public-service-efficiency-plan/article1493083/
Chantel Herbert singing from the same playbook. Same source perhaps?
The first piece in Stephen Harper's budget puzzle was put in place weeks ago when Stockwell Day was shuffled out of international trade and put in charge of the Treasury Board. In the midst of the prorogation furore, Harper's otherwise minor shuffle was largely dismissed as a diversion. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/776444--h-eacute-bert-budget-reflects-tories-vision
So what are the Liberals worried about? First, the Conservatives are fiscally irresponsible, and second, they have no framework for thinking about what a federal government in Canada should be doing. Just say it.
Many things about last week's federal budget worry the Liberals. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/federalbudget/article/775841--persichilli-tory-budget-confirms-seismic-political-shift
First equality under the law. Second access to birth control technologies. Third a cultural shift where excellence in the sciences by women was expected. The result one hundred years later? Women in positions of academic achievement, power, responsibility, wealth, and visiability that only the most optimistic could have imagined.
But imagine much more. The next step is a measureable rise in positions on boards of directors, in Parliament, wage equality, and more middle class single income households where the women earns the income. A first four years' strategy is one part of the puzzle to give women and men better child care choices.
More to do.
It was in a dingy socialist meeting hall a century ago in Copenhagen that women from 17 countries gathered and launched the idea of a day which would champion the rights of women. All over the world this weekend women are marching, celebrating and protesting, not least in London where last night thousands of people thronged Trafalgar Square to mark the 100th International Women's Day. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/the-rights-of-woman-how-far-have-they-advanced-1917579.html
The sad report card.
Poverty, poor health, sexual violence and degradation remain endemic around the world in spite of closer equality between the sexes. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/a-progress-report-six-tales-reveal-how-much-still-remains-to-be-done-1917580.html
Let out your ponytail.
The Marines in a recent “cultural awareness” class scribbled careful notes as the instructor coached them on do’s and don’ts when talking to villagers in Afghanistan: Don’t start by firing off questions, do break the ice by playing with the children, don’t let your interpreter hijack the conversation. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/world/middleeast/07women.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a1
Women of the United Nations police and peacekeeping forces that entered Liberia after the civil war have inspired a new generation of Liberian women to don uniforms. http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/03/05/world/africa/1247467273884/securing-the-peace-in-liberia.html?tham=&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a3
President Obama's rhetoric at his Cairo speech last year raised many Middle East hopes. They have not been met.
Much as he would like to disentangle himself from his Middle East inheritance, President Obama is having a rough time doing so. The obvious legacy is an unwanted war in Iraq and a bankrupt Israeli-Arab peace process.
But equally constraining is a popular way of conceiving of the region -- divided, schematically, between militants beholden to Iran and moderates sympathetic to the United States. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030503247.html?wprss=rss_opinions
The Democratic Party of Japan is fighting the great national bureaucracy of Japan. Some wins some losses. Not much progress for Japan.
YOSUKE KONDO, 44, is one of those Young Turks in Japan’s five-month-old government who took office eager to rein in Tokyo’s illustriously educated cadre of senior civil servants. What distinguishes Mr Kondo, however, is that he seems poised to succeed in this goal. So far the rest of the government has seemed more inclined to work with the bureaucracy than against it. http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15579893
In the United Kingdom some churches show that change -- real change -- is possible. Their salvation perhaps? While others can't break free.
In the House of Lords on Tuesday there was a landmark decision, allowing Civil Partnerships between gay couples to take place in religious buildings. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7385701/Lord-Alli-A-victory-for-religious-freedom.html
Stay in school. America's cruel unemployment picture. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/20100305.gif
While everyone piles on Toyota a reminder of how hard it is to make cars.
I won't lie to you: I was not a good engineering student. That's one of the reasons I went into journalism. But I managed to acquire a bachelor of sciences in mechanical engineering, and the recent Toyota hearings on Capitol Hill brought back a lot of memories. Specifically, memories about how engineers figure out why mechanical things fail. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/06/AR2010030602448_pf.html
And conclusions from a 7-day technology conference. More robots that's for sure.
We are in an era of accelerating change, moving toward a future that will be profoundly different from the past we grew up in. But what will the nature of that change be?
What will the future look like?
For the last 7 days I have been in an executive program designed by Singularity University (www.singularityu.org) to give some insight into that complex question.
We looked at a number of technological fields, lectured by experts assembled to give us some idea as to where current research is and to where it is going. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/03/welcome-to-the-future/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBigPicture+%28The+Big+Picture%29
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