Smart Links 04 April 2012

Commentary on Israel, the economic principle that underlies the individual mandate, Nutraloaf and life in an American prison, Canada and Russia, James Grant on the Fed, a guide to spring cleaning, and Bob Rae takes the gloves off.

So it goes.

New York Review of Books -- The Middle East Conflict Comes to France
The terrorist shootings in Toulouse and Montauban in France last week were, among other things, another episode in the war that for nearly a half century has been going on between Zionism and the Palestinians, in which Western Europe and the United States have suffered much collateral damage.

Why broccoli and health care are different, and why it matters a great deal.

Brookings -- Why Health Care Isn’t Broccoli—Some Basic Economics
It isn't often that the course of history turns on principles taught in freshman economics. But the fate of the health reform legislation is now in jeopardy in part because some Supreme Court justices have so far failed to grasp such principles.

Slice of Nutraloaf anyone?

Time -- Can Food Be Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
If you've never heard of Nutraloaf, consider yourself lucky. It's a prison meal that just might violate the 8th amendment.


Chicago Magazine -- Dining Critic Tries Nutraloaf, the Prison Food for Misbehaving Inmates
Inmates at Cook County Jail are allowed three privileges: television, books, and food.

Thoughtful article on the changes in Russia and a plea for Canadian engagement. Thanks to Hillary of Victoria.

Pdf below -- Russia's Long Journey on the Road to Democracy

Religion and science in the Prime Minister’s world view. Thanks to Tony of Victoria.

Tyee -- Understanding Harper's Evangelical Mission
Signs mount that Canada's government is beholden to a religious agenda averse to science and rational debate.

James Grant walks through his Fed issues.

Pdf below -- Piece of my Mind


The Atlantic -- The Villian

10 spring cleaning tips. (ed’s note – just do it).

Globe and Mail -- 10 tips to conquer the clutter
The boxes of new toys vying for space. The mail piled up by the door. And the holiday decorations that have cross-pollinated with your belongings. It’s no wonder decluttering is now a top New Year’s resolution, right up there with dieting and exercising.

Bob Rae speaks to Liberals

Russia's Long Journey on the Road to Democracy.pdf130.84 KB
James Grant Piece of my Mind.pdf363.9 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.