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Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, December 2nd, 2012 - 7 comments
Categories: Media, poverty, uk 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: Child poverty, malnutrition, austerity, Israel in the media and stoicism.

Seventy years ago yesterday a report was released in Britain which proved the foundation of their welfare state.  It was very well received, particularly by the UK Labour party, who won election at the end of World War II on the back of supporting it.  The question is, if we had a report like Liberal MP Sir William Beveridge’s today, would we be so open to it?

Back then there were the ‘deserving poor’, now too often we see them as scroungers – even though there’s no evidence that the poor have got lazy.  The UK think-tank Demos went through all the groups that make up the 30% on low-incomes (“hardly a hidden underclass”) and found none of them to be ripping off the system.  The Tories want to redefine poverty from simply not having enough money to a moral dimension – “dadlessness” and drug use etc according to their think-tank Centre for Social Justice.  The UK’s Child Poverty Action Group points out though that:

“A child is much more likely to be in poverty because they have a dad who is a security worker or a mum who is a carer than because they have a dad who is a gambler or a mum who is a drug addict.”

On causes of Child Poverty the question is asked: why the elite insist on austerity – in short because all the options look bad, so they’ll go for the option that’s worked best for them in the past.

On outcomes of Child Poverty: 40% of the world’s children suffer malnutrition, even though we could eradicate it in 20 years if we wanted.  Causes aren’t just lack of food to eat; they are also dirty water causing diarrhoea; and, sadly, a lack of attention by carers.

A big story this week was the UK’s Leveson Report on their media – Harold Evans (like karol) feels the biggest point has been missed: Media Ownership.

The New York Times’ Jerusalem Chief got in a measure of trouble on Twitter and facebook for making such comments from her trip to Gaza: “they have such limited lives tha[t] in many ways they have less to lose.” And “when I talk to people who just lost a relative, or who are gathering belongings from a bombed-out house, they seem a bit ho-hum.” To her credit she had gone to Gaza, and she also engaged with the angry response. But the New York Times isn’t taking such risks in future – the Jerusalem Chief’s future social media posts will be edited to reduce risk of reader engagement.

Finally it’s been Stoic week, so learn about true stoicism.

7 comments on “Sunday Reading ”

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recession_of_1937%E2%80%931938
    Economists disagree about the causes of this downturn. Keynesian economists assign blame to cuts in federal spending and increases in taxes at the insistence of the US Treasury,[4] while monetarists, such as Milton Friedman, assign blame to the Federal Reserve’s tightening of the money supply in 1936 and 1937.[5] Austrian school economist Johnathan Catalan assigns blame to the relatively large expansion of the money supply from 1933 to 1937. He also notes that the money supply did not tighten until after the recession began.[6]

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      The debt fuelled, highly leveraged, asset bubble behaviour in the proceeding years is not in doubt however. The “Roaring Twenties”.

      • kiwicommie 1.1.1

        Wages and spending
        [..]Keynes rejected the idea that cutting wages would cure recessions. He examined the explanations for this idea and found them all faulty. He also considered the most likely consequences of cutting wages in recessions, under various different circumstances. He concluded that such wage cutting would be more likely to make recessions worse rather than better.[9]

        Further, if wages and prices were falling, people would start to expect them to fall. This could make the economy spiral downward as those who had money would simply wait as falling prices made it more valuable—rather than spending. As Irving Fisher argued in 1933, in his Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions, deflation (falling prices) can make a depression deeper as falling prices and wages made pre-existing nominal debts more valuable in real terms.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics#Wages_and_spending
        ^What is happening in New Zealand right now.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    Beyond Beveridge (PDF)

    A new social settlement must take a broader view of how human society flourishes and the underlying causes of well-being. It must take a longer view of how today’s plans and actions affect the life chances of future generations. It must take fresh view of the economy, by tearing up the neo-liberal rule book, which is stifling political imagination and undermining the prospect of building a good society and a sustainable future.

  3. Draco T Bastard 4

    Milton Friedman’s Distortions

    In general I’ve noticed that makes repeated vague references to ‘all of history,’* for which he never provides specifics, and which are actually completely at odds with the evidence. I can only conclude that what he says is based not on history but on armchair analysis of what must have happened, based on his own logic. But there is strong reason to doubt this logic – as I have discussed in my previous posts A Brief Anti-Economist History and How Natural is Capitalism, Exactly?, Western Capitalism did not just spring out of nowhere due to the magic of the market.

  4. Jaybob 5

    Dont worry that Poms thrashed the blacks. It was written in the stars. Boots yeh. Heads, no.

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