Thursday, 25 August 2011

How rich do you feel?

If there is one thing the public school system should be able to achieve, it is to produce adults capable of simple arithmetic. So why are so many of us, including so many with professional degrees and 6 digit salaries, awash with debt? We know how to add up - the costs of our consumption - and we know how to subtract that total from our income and see whether the result is positive or negative. But we just don't do it. Rather we spend according to how rich we feel.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Against lazy claims against democracy in development

The 'Africa analyst' Michelle Sieff  has recently argued in The African Lions: An Authoritarian Challenge to Development Theory* that democracy is not necessary for development. She identifies  three 'African Lions' - Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia - that are not democracies but are achieving good development results. Therefore Development Theory must be overthrown? I think not.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The welfare state requires immigration controls

Immigration controls by rich countries are mean. They close out the poor and vulnerable who only want the chance to make a better life. They are characterised by arbitrary rules whose effects can be inhumane - breaking up families, locking up children, deporting good people to uncertain futures in godforsaken countries, etc. So the left is quite comfortable blaming conservatives for the whole idea. But in reality, liberals need immigration controls for their cherished welfare state to function. They're just happy to let the conservatives take the rap.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Truth in the news

The clerisy are the 'intellectual' department of the bourgeoisie. We're the people who went to university and now work in non-manual jobs as corporate or government functionaries, subscribe to the New Yorker (or local equivalent) and read proper books (or at least book reviews). We tend to have intellectual pretensions and liberal political inclinations. We tend also to have strong enlightenment values, in particular a respect for  truth and a demand for rationality. Despite, or perhaps because of, our intellectual pride we are continually astonished to discover that the rest of the world doesn't think like us. Consider the tabloid press.