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Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, November 25th, 2012 - 14 comments
Categories: climate change, economy, equality, interweb, politicans, tax, us politics - Tags:

My regular Sunday piece of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: politicians, economies, elections, feminism and climate change – not much then…

Last weekend seemed a little busy, so I held off.  But I had found very interesting this article on politicians, and how the real scandal is that we expect them to be perfect.  Politicians are normal folk, who muck-up just like the rest of us.  They get sick, confused, knackered and especially sleep-deprived.  No wonder they get things wrong.

Most MPs offices are closer to overstretched small businesses than anything else, and no one’s surprised if a small business goes under, whether from incompetence, honest mistakes, or someone’s hand in the till.

To take the most basic example, the total income of the [UK] Labour party is smaller than that of every Premier League football club, and by some margin. Alex Ferguson is planning on winning the league with an income of £331m. Ed Miliband must convince half the country he can turn Britain around on roughly a tenth of that, and he has to do it with Paxman, not Lineker providing the late-night commentary. This lack of resources, need to impress and constant attention can make scrutiny a little terrifying.

And there’s a whole heap less money in politics in Aotearoa than the UK…

Last weekend we’d also just had major political transitions in the US and China.  Martin Jacques asked if China was more legitimate than the West, in this excellent series on the BBC website. Meanwhile Ellis Cose asks how Obama secures his legacy.

On the economy, Martin Kettle tells us austerity is here to stay – that particular economic solution may not be working, but even if we change we’ve probably hit the end of consistent western growth. Mary Beard looks at why the rich look down on the poor – with evidence from Roman times that attitudes just don’t change… At the Guardian there’s articles on Co-ops bringing the economy back to the people, the importance of statistics (or how Ghana went from a poor to middle income country overnight) and Do Nothing Day (yesterday).

In other news, the BBC reveals Apple pays 2% corporation tax worldwide (after revelations that Starbucks pay no tax, and Amazon, facebook and Google pay nearly nothing). And the “noted tree-hugging hippies at the World Bank” urge action to stop the 4C warming that we’re headed to by 2100.

4 more:

– Kate Sheppard asks: 19% of Congress is female, why not half?

– Neda Soltani talks about being mixed up with the woman who was killed during the 2009 Tehran protests – and how the media ruined her life, forcing her into asylum.

– Jame Buchanan Duke – the inventor of the modern cigarette and modern marketing techniques, and to blame for hundreds of millions of deaths?

What does modern war sound like?

14 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. Dr Terry 1

    I think we do have to accept that politicians (especially Party leaders) are but human, with all associated frailties, like the rest of us. Sometimes I know that I expect too much of them. Nevertheless, they wanted the job, and they are well rewarded for performing their tasks. They must take what goes with it. Hopefully, most politicians are not overly “thin-skinned”! Hopefully too, they have the skills and desire to listen and to hear the voice of the people (whether pro or anti).

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    From austerity is here to stay

    In China, a nation where annual growth in the last 20 years has never been less than twice that of Europe, even when Europe was thriving, a new leadership is seamlessly introduced for another 10-year span.

    In Europe, by contrast, a series of weak leaders, vulnerable to democratic rejection of a sort with which Xi Jinping will not need to concern himself, struggle to assert some degree of control over a floundering currency and unification project. Meanwhile in the US, a re-elected but domestically weak president faces a series of defining political battles over spending and taxes, with only limited chance of achieving radical outcomes, even if that is what he wants.

    See, that’s a disturbing passage as it implies that democracy is the problem and that the solution is actually more authoritarian actions by the government. Pretty sure that the right wing parties like National will like it though as they tend to authoritarian modes of government – just look to Canterbury and the implementation of the Auckland Supercity.

    Actually, that entire article seems to be in favour of the rich ruling everyone else.

    • Populuxe1 2.1

      Economic growth is hardly an adequate measure of standard of living.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Yep. Especially when 95% of the benefits of that growth get channeled to the top 5%.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        Agreed, economic growth is used to hide the fact that only a few people benefit from our economy while everyone else is promised more if growth continues. Personally, I’m in favour of “economic”* contraction. IMO, we can significantly reduce our use of resources while maintaining a good living standard.

        * What passes for economics these days isn’t even close to it. Economics is about the use of scarce resources while the “economists” go on about money.

  3. Rogue Trooper 3

    Well, U know what i think by now :)

  4. McFlock 4

    really interesting links, thanks :)

  5. Jenny 5

    World Bank urge action to stop the 4C warming

    Thanks for this Bunji

    It seems clear that climate change in a 4°C world could seriously undermine poverty alleviation in many regions. This is supported by past observations of the negative effects of climate change on economic growth in developing countries. While developed countries have been and are projected to be adversely affected by impacts resulting from climate change, adaptive capacities in developing regions are weaker. The burden of climate change in the future will very likely be borne differentially by those in regions already highly vulnerable to climate change and variability. Given that it remains uncertain whether adaptation and further progress toward development goals will be possible at this level of climate change, the projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur—the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.

    World Bank

    As leader of the UN development programme for developing countries, this explains why Helen Clark made discussion of climate change such a big part of her recent lectures in Wellington and Dunedin leading up to the Labour Party Conference. It also explains why Shearer very pointedly stayed away.

    Least developed countries and small island developing states have done the least to cause climate change, and can least afford the costs of adaptation and mitigation to it, but they are most at risk from increased climate volatility…..

    “It would be a tragedy for future generations if today’s leaders and decision-makers prove incapable of taking the bold decisions which are necessary to stop catastrophic and irreversible change to the world’s climate.”

    Helen Clark From speech delivered at Victoria University, Nov. 13, 2012

    Dealing with climate change needed urgent, radical transformation because climate change exacerbated inequalities

    Helen Clark From speech delivered in Dunedin’s Mayfair theatre, Nov. 14, 2012

    Helen Clark, head of the UN development programme, argues that “climate change undermines gains in the developing world, threatening their lives, their livelihoods, and their countries’ prospects”. She adds that the “international community needs to make the transition to green and inclusive economies that tackle inequality, advance development and stop the ongoing assault on our ecosystem”.

    Helen Clark The Guardian, Nov. 23, 2012

    At the end of her speech at Wellington’s Victoria University Clark went to up to parliament to see David Shearer who had chosen not to attend her lecture. As she reports it, Shearer to meet her was sitting in his beehive office strumming his guitar. The almost studied insult conveyed by Shearer’s body language, whether conscious or unconscious, couldn’t have been clearer. I am not that busy and could have attended your lecture, but chose not to. I do not have enough respect for you or your views to extend you any sort of formal greeting.

    Clark has refused to divulge anything of her conversation with Shearer. But you can bet that Shearer would not have taken much notice of Clark’s message on climate change and the need to take the bold decisions necessary to combat it.

    • Populuxe1 5.1

      I’m not quite sure I grasp how climate change exacerbates inequalities excep that the “haves” find it easier to move away from drought-affected or flooded areas than the “have nots”.

      • kiwi_prometheus 5.1.1

        Because it is poor nations that are taking the brunt of the climate change disaster, pushing them further down the socioeconomic development ladder – while it is mostly advanced industrial countries who have brought about climate change with 150yrs or so of economic development.

  6. Rogue Trooper 6

    To little miss can’t be wrong,
    (not you Jenny)

    Dear Sam, a Telegram
    a blue Tale 😉

    “Based on the television series of the same name, John Bradshaw focuses on the dynamics of the family
    how the rules and attitudes learned while growing up become encoded within each family Member”
    (mirror in the bathroom) “As 96% of all families are to some degree emotionally impaired” (Go West)
    “the unhealthy rules we are now living by are handed down from generation to generation”
    -this generation shall not see it ” and ultimately to society at large. Our society is sick
    because our families are sick. And our families are sick because we are living inherited rules
    we never wrote”
    Bradshaw on The Family: A Revolutionary Way (well Popular Culture really) of Self-Discovery

    The funniest track I have seen lately was a cat backing out of the box three times.larf? ^^

    Love, RocketMan,
    “I’m not the man they think I am at home…….”

    but you hang there in your Jesus Christ Pose

  7. kiwi_prometheus 7

    ” 19% of Congress is female, why not half?”

    The conclusion of the article that women just need more encouragement is kind of lame.

    Why does the author refuse to consider the possibility that female aversion to a political career is genetic?

    After all I don’t see the Race, Gender and Culture Warriors of the Left asking why only 0.000000000001% of remote exploration drillers offsiders or concreters in the Pilbara WA are female instead of 50%?

    • lprent 7.1

      …why only 0.000000000001% of… in the Pilbara WA are female instead of 50%?

      Since that would imply a population in Pilbara WA that exceeds the world population by many orders of magnitude (I didn’t bother counting zeros), then I suspect that many if not most of your readers would consider that your argument is most likely 100% crap.

      If you are going to use figures to support an argument, then don’t be a complete fuckwit on how you use them. Without even looking at anything else, I looked at the number you used, the geographic area you described, and relegated your demographic argument (and you) to the ignorant bullshitter fringe.

    • Ben Clark 7.2

      the possibility that female aversion to a political career is genetic?
      I see you’re channeling Tony Abbott.

      More likely is that our political system is inherently sexist, from old school ties to the adverserial nature of parliamentary proceedings, and that’s somewhat off-putting to a large number of potential female candidates…

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