China Thinks Different, Immigrant Outcomes, US Divide, Butterflies, Defending Yourself, Spanish Inquisition, Middle East Rumble

We stumbled on a very important TED talk on China (ed’s note: 25 minutes) that we strongly recommend to anyone interested in the direction the global political economy is likely to head in the next 25 years.

The case made is that China’s ‘civilisation state’ not the West’s idea of the ‘nation state’ provides a fundamentally different way to think about the relationship between the state and society.

The most important political value is unity.

The state and society relationship is different – authority of the state does not come from democracy, it comes from maintaining the integrity of Chinese civilisation, this is the concept of ‘mandate from heaven’ that we have referred to many times before.

Whither a single idea of human rights?

The speaker also makes the vital point that China and other key Asian countries have studied the West and understand it, while the West, arrogantly, insists on using its own way of thinking about the individual, society and the state blinding itself to what it can learn and for the most part has not taken the time to study these societies.

A wonderful 25 minute video is essential to understanding China and how it is different.

TED --  When China Rules the World

Speaking at a TED Salon in London, economist Martin Jacques asks: How do we in the West make sense of China and its phenomenal rise? The author of "When China Rules the World," he examines why the West often puzzles over the growing power of the Chinese economy, and offers three building blocks for understanding what China is and will become.

Very related.

Financial Times -- Asia has had enough of excusing the west
Most crises are known by their origin, from the Mexican peso crisis of 1994/5 to the Asian crisis of 1997/8. Given there is no doubt who caused our world’s latest troubles, it should adopt its logical name: the western financial crisis.

Quote worth quoting.

“Most fundamentally, we need an end to the pretence that the US and EU are masters of the universe. Both must learn to share power. This means specific reforms, for instance on voting rights at the International Monetary Fund. We also need altered attitudes that accept Asians as equals.”

(ed’s note: long out of print but a wonderful statement of this thesis is John K. Fairbank, The United States and China first published in 1948).   

Good news about immigration in Canada.

The Province -- Child immigrants likelier than Canadian-born to get degree
Immigrants who arrived in Canada as children are more likely than their Canadian-born counterparts to earn university degrees and that education gap has widened over time, according to new Statistics Canada research that’s the first to track child immigrants based on arrival date.

Obama’s state of the union speech opens the door to a real conversation about the role of the state, the question is whether it is possible without a crisis forced by capital markets or something more sinister.

Financial Times -- A speech to bridge the great US spending divide
In US domestic policy, two large and intertwined disagreements divide the political parties — the role of government and the appropriate scope of public spending. In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama did little to bridge the former but opened the door to narrowing the latter.


The revenge of the cradle. Why it will be impossible to cut benefits to the over 65 cohort in the US. (ed’s note: of course with smart tax policies and education most people who are 65 should have accumulated enough wealth to take of themselves leaving society’s resources to invest in the 0 to 20 age group).

Economist – Cut Benefits or Raise Taxes?
INEQUALITY fosters resentment, but so can redistribution.

Quote worth quoting.

“It’s extraordinary that so many Americans only prefer tax increases to benefit cuts when it comes to old-age entitlements. That may be because, unlike welfare mothers or public-sector union members, most people expect to be old at some point.”

Author of Lolita was also an expert on lepidoptera who used observation and speculation to make great discoveries.

New York Times -- Nabokov Butterfly Theory Is Vindicated
Vladimir Nabokov may be known to most people as the author of classic novels like “Lolita” and “Pale Fire.” But even as he was writing those books, Nabokov had a parallel existence as a self-taught expert on butterflies.

While most will be tugged by the emotional appeal of this article the fact is that even the act of defending yourself belongs under the scrutiny of the law. Thanks to David of London for sending this in.

National Post -- Matt Gurney: Protecting the lawful citizen
Shoplifters. Burglars. Home invaders. All too often, they are deemed “victims” of the very people they attack: peaceful law-abiding citizens, many quite literally minding their own business.

Still worried after all these years. The IMF warns on the risks that remain in the world’s financial markets.

Pdf below -- IMF Global Stability Still at Risk

Spain hopes a little will be enough.

Telegraph -- Spain tempts fate with minimalist bank rescue
Finance minister Elena Salgado said capital injections into the cajas would “in no way exceed €20bn [£17bn]”, with a large part coming from the private sector. Spanish banks will have to boost their core Tier 1 capital ratio to 8pc, even stricter than the Basel III rules.


Optimistic view of the political support of globalisation.

Project Syndicate -- Globalization Marches On
In a recent symposium in the Financial Times on globalization’s prospects in 2011, the columnist Gideon Rachman observed that, “When Barack Obama visited India recently, the US President warned his hosts that the debate about globalization has reopened in the West,” and that “a backlash…is forming…and growing in advanced economies.”

The lightning bolt across the Middle East. A wildly written first hand account by an old hand, Robert Fisk.

Independent -- Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world
The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian "Authority" – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the "right of return" of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a "state" that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.

The inflation debate, the risk of pegged currencies in emerging markets.

Modeled Behavior – The Global Inflation Debate
Tim Duy and Paul Krugman both note the tale of two inflationary regimes. Slow growth and careful monetary policy in the industrialized countries is contributing to low core rates of inflation, while rapid growth and loose money in the developing world is contributing high rates of inflation and pressure on international commodity prices.

Faint praise.

National Post -- John Ivison: Ignatieff evolving into a politician
It’s hard to overstate how bad Michael Ignatieff was at firing up a room when he entered politics. At his first nomination meeting in Toronto, and even at the Liberal leadership finale in Montreal, it was easy to believe that this finger-wagging, just-visiting former professor was only in it for himself.

Stormy UK weather.

Independent -- Sean O'Grady: The real pain of the financial crisis is only just beginning
Well, what would you do if you were George Osborne? What would you do if you were Mervyn King? For both men, the dilemmas are exquisitely difficult.

This is the World Service of the BBC. Haven’t they heard of soft power?

The Guardian -- Don't cut the BBC's World Service
This week a national and international love object will feel the chill of the government's need to cut the deficit.

IMF Global Stability Still at Risk.pdf354.61 KB
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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.