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Showing posts from February 28, 2016

What a British divorce from the EU would look like

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["While leaving the EU is Britain’s choice, the UK cannot dictate the exit terms." How any break-up is carried out will have a decisive impact on Britain for generations. *RON*]

Alex Barker, Financial Times, 26 February 2016

Just like the end of a long and fraught marriage, before the divorce comes the tricky separation.

If Britain votes to leave the EU, the closing scenes of the 40-year partnership would probably see the UK prime minister sitting in an office, waiting for answers in the dead of night.

Along the corridor of Brussels’ European Council building, the remaining 27 EU leaders would be deliberating and voting on the UK’s exit deal, a pact touching on almost every aspect of modern British life, from the price of milk to the freedom to work elsewhere in Europe. While leaving the EU is Britain’s choice, the UK cannot dictate the exit terms.

“You become very lonely at that point, once you’re out of the decision making,” said Mic…

A Basic Income For Ontario? Province Plans Pilot Project As Part Of Budget

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[The Wynne government is really taking wing after the election of Trudeau. See also Senator Art Eggleton's: It's Time For Canada To Test A Basic Income. The HuffPost primer on basic income, linked to below, is also good. *RON*]
By Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post, 27 February 2016
The government of Ontario is planning to launch a pilot project to test out a guaranteed basic income.

What that pilot project will look like, and what it will cost, is not yet known. In its budget documents, unveiled Thursday, the Liberal government of Premier Kathleen Wynne said it would “work with communities, researchers and other stakeholders in 2016 to determine how best to design and implement a Basic Income pilot.”

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the province will decide whether to make a basic income permanent on the basis of that pilot project, the Globe and Mail reported.

The idea of replacing numerous government benefits with a single cheque sent to a…

Irish Prime Minister Concedes Defeat as Voters Reject Austerity

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["Voters punished the ruling coalition that imposed harsh austerity with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams declaring a 'seismic change' in Irish politics." An extremely brief primer: the previous government was a Fine Gael (centre-right)-Labour (centre-left) coalition. Labour, in particular, was shot down in flames in this election, but Fine Gael also lost heavily. The biggest gains were made by Fianna Fáil (centre-right, an historic rival of Fine Gael and largely indistinguishable from them IMHO) and Sinn Feinn (decidedly leftist). It's uncertain whether it is possible to achieve a coalition among this lot (e.g., see Fianna Fáil rules out Fine Gael coalition as Irish election count continues) or if another election is needed. *RON*]
TeleSur, 27 February 2016

Irish prime minister Enda Kenny on Saturday conceded defeat, as early indications from the election showed support for both his Fine Gael party and its junior coalition par…

Panicking Mitch McConnell Says GOP Will Help Hillary Beat Trump If He Wins The Nomination

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[See the New York Times article referenced below if you need reassurance that this isn't a joke. *RON*]
Staff, Addicting Info, 27 February 2016

In the most surreal moment in modern American politics, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told panicking Republicans that the GOP would actively destroy Donald Trump’s election chances if it came to that. That rush of warm air you feel on your face? It’s the wave of radiation from the Republican Party’s nuclear meltdown. We’re witnessing the death of a major political party.

Things are getting truly desperate in conservative camps and the grim acceptance that this isn’t a bad dream and that Trump is almost surely going to win the nomination has begun to set in. It’s led to an odd plan. In a stunning report by the New York Times, Republican sources confirm that party leadership is planning to destroy Trump and give Hillary Clinton the win rather than let him have control of the GOP.

To rally depress…

Yes. Concentrated Wealth and Inequality Crushes Economic Growth

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[More billionaire dollars, slower growth. Full stop. I've only just run across Evonomics, and I'm quite enjoying it. So, I've posted a couple of their older stories from my first peruse. *RON*]
By Steve Roth, Evonomics, 14 December 2015.
Like it or not, if countries want to join the “rich country-club,” they need to redistribute wealth. What has not been studied much — at least partially because the data is hard to come by — is the distribution of wealth within countries, and how that relates to economic growth. Is wealth concentration a symptom of what Peter Turchin has called “elite overproduction”?

My devoted readers will undoubtedly remember my 2008 research into rich countries’ wealth inequality and economic growth. (In case you haven’t heard, wealth inequality utterly dwarfs income inequality.) Here’s the bottom line:

Correlations Between Rich Countries’ Wealth Concentration/Inequality and:
GDP per capita growth
1970 to 2005 (…

What Happens When You Believe in Ayn Rand and Modern Economic Theory

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[The reality (quantitative and qualitative failure) of unfettered self-interest. See also: Neoliberalism is being challenged. *RON*]

By Denise Cummins, Evonomics, 17 February 2016


“Ayn Rand is my hero,” yet another student tells me during office hours. “Her writings freed me. They taught me to rely on no one but myself.”
As I look at the freshly scrubbed and very young face across my desk, I find myself wondering why Rand’s popularity among the young continues to grow. Thirty years after her death, her book sales still number in the hundreds of thousands annually — having tripled since the 2008 economic meltdown. Among her devotees are highly influential celebrities, such as Brad Pitt and Eva Mendes, and politicos, such as current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

The core of Rand’s philosophy — which also constitutes the overarching theme of her novels — is that unfettered self-interest is good and a…

The War of Western Failures: Hopes for Syria Fall with Aleppo

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[An excellent analysis of the war in Syria, via my friend Harry. "The war has long since ceased being solely about Syria. The country has become Ground Zero of global geopolitics, an unholy mixture of Russia's desired return to superpower status, an increasingly authoritarian Turkey, tentative US foreign policy, the Kurdish conflict, the arch-rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Islamist terror and the inability of a divided, crisis-ridden EU to do much of anything. The war in Syria has transformed from a civil war into a world war." See also: World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit From Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees. *RON*]


Der Spiegel Staff, 17 February 2016
The siege of Aleppo is a humanitarian catastrophe on a dramatic scale -- and a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show his own geopolitical muscle. By SPIEGEL Staff

Aleppo has been a …

To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses

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[Trump the cyber-bully. Forwarded to me by my friend Harry, "Imagine him as President." *RON*]

By Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, 26 February 2016

Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticizedDonald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a “bad debater.”

But then Mr. Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Ms. Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. “We said no and she went hostile,” he wrote. “A real dummy!” Mr. Trump’s campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Mr. Trump’s Twitter followers, who number about six million, piled on. For days, they replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Ms. Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.

“Cheri is a nutc…