“But the gap where the economic rationale for privatising council houses should be becomes a window through which it becomes possible to see beyond the individual privatisations to the meta-privatisation, and its one indisputable success: that it put more money into the hands of a small number of the very wealthiest people, at the expense of the elderly, the sick, the jobless and the working poor.” In an article that should be regarded as compulsory reading for citizens everywhere, James Meek looks back at 35 years of privatising UK industries.
“Shrouded in secrecy, our world leaders are currently negotiating a deal that will let multinational corporations wield power over national governments; lower environmental and safety standards across the EU; bring workers’ rights down to appalling US levels; and threaten the NHS as we know it.” Jim Sheridan expresses his concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its implications for the United Kingdom. Similar anxieties exist in Germany. Is Europe about to be sold down the river?
“In contrast to the easy cross-border flow of capital, commodities and profits, the Commission notes the lack of freedom for ordinary people to migrate in pursuit of a safe and secure life, and it deplores the plight of undocumented migrants who are denied essential health care in spite of international treaties that are supposed to guarantee universal rights and entitlements.” After correctly identifying the undemocratic and unequal distribution of power as an underlying cause of health inequities, David McCoy sees The Lancet-UiO Commission on Global Governance For Health Commissioners falling disappointingly short in its recommendations.
“Einerseits steige die Verfügbarkeit von digitalisierbaren Dingen und Diensten dramatisch, bei immer weiter sinkenden Preisen. Andererseits kämen die Erträge der neuen Produktionsweisen nur wenigen zugute, was in einer potenziell extremen Polarisierung von Einkommen und Entfaltungschancen resultiere.” Henrik Müller sieht uns einem verarmenden Produktivitätswachstum ausgeliefert.
“But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?” After reviewing Capital in the Twenty-First Century by french professor Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman reflects on why this particular book is reshaping the debate on wealth and inequality.
“I think there is an equally diffuse malaise today—waiting for a new kind of journalism to bring it into focus. Like with McClure’s it won’t be just a catalogue of shocking facts—it will be an imaginative leap that pulls all the scandals together and shows how they are part of some new system of power that we don’t fully comprehend.” Adam Curtis attempts to define the point at which journalism fails and modern power begins.
“What country needs an incentive to take care of its people?”
“Britain has been finding it difficult to recover from the financial crisis not just because of its austerity policy but also because of its eroding ability to engage in high-productivity activities.” Ha-Joon Chang is convinced that the United Kingdom urgently needs to develop a long-term productive strategy.
“We all have the capacity to be quite bad—under the right circumstances.”
“So the austerity drive in Britain isn’t really about debt and deficits at all; it’s about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs.” Paul Krugman is convinced that ulterior motives determine current policies in the UK and elsewhere.
“Spending billions to force the terrorists to alter their plans in one particular way does not make us safer. It is far more cost-effective to concentrate our defences in ways that work regardless of tactic and target: intelligence, investigation and emergency response.” Bruce Schneier debates the former head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, on airport security. This is from the first of Schneier’s three statements on the topic.
www.economist.com 20 March, 23 March, 28 March
“When the ants and the grasshoppers are distributed across the division separating surplus from deficit nations within a badly designed monetary union, the stage is set for a depression that sets all against all in a vicious spiral from which only losers can emerge.” Yanis Varoufakis explains why he thinks that countries in the euro zone can neither bail out nor be bailed out of the current crisis.
“Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up—at who invented them and why—you discover they are not quite what they seem.” Adam Curtis looks at the history of the Think Tank in the UK and asks why modern politics, for all its Think Tanks, seems so paradoxically short of new ideas.
“New research in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine this week shows the UK is among the most efficient health services in the world, in lives saved per pound spent.” Polly Toynbee further questions imminent public service reforms targeting the NHS.
“There’s been a lot of academic research suggesting that men think they know what they’re doing, even when they really don’t know what they’re doing.” Tim Adams reports on why a sufficiently high percentage of women in decision-making positions might have prevented the 2008 financial crash.
“Evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals.” Financial crisis ongoing, Matt Taibbi’s article should be of interest to anyone.
“Cameron’s government can be voted out but it will be virtually impossible to return services to a public realm that no longer exists. Ownership of the contracts and companies moves on, and the public sector loses any capacity to take them back.” Polly Toynbee casts doubt on public service reforms in the UK.
“It is the intersection of several underlying trends that have brought us to this point, not a breakdown in any specific part of the financial sector.” Michael Flynn looks at the underlying reasons for the current Wall Street crisis.
“Western capitalism will be able to cope with instability in the markets. But at what price in terms of economic and social stagnation? The danger is that our wider aspirations and horizons are falling further while we remain fixated with the ups and downs of share and property prices”, writes Mike Hume.
“Enron proves that in an age of increasing financial complexity the idea that the more a company tells us about its business, the better off we are, has become an anachronism.” Malcolm Gladwell on why Woodward and Bernstein would never have broken the Enron story.