Showing posts from June 5, 2016

How Economists Killed Your Conscience

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[Cultivating conscience: how game theory and good laws can make good people. *RON*]
By Lynn Stout, posted in Evonomics from the Brookings Institution.

What’s the best way to get people to behave themselves? Legal and policy experts often assume people are basically selfish creatures who respond only to punishments and rewards, and who can’t be trusted to do a good job or refrain from lying, cheating and stealing unless given the right “incentives.” Are CEOs neglecting their firms? Tie their pay to share price with stock grants and options. Are America’s children failing to learn their ABCs? Give teachers bonus pay if they raise test scores, and fire them if they don’t. Are Medicare expenses increasing too quickly? Use “pay for performance” schemes that give doctors and hospitals a direct financial motive for keeping health care costs down.

This emphasis on “incentives” and “accountability” relies on a homo economicus model of purely selfish human b…

The outsiders

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[Has evolution programmed us to shun and turn our backs on refugees – even when they might die without our help? On the use of racial imagery in the media, the problem of "Us versus Them" and human evolution. *RON*]
by Avan Judd Stallard, Aeon, 1 June 2016
Wednesday, 2 September 2015. In whatever way one got news – Facebook, email, Twitter, newspaper or traditional broadcast bulletin – it was there. An indelible image that made millions stop and look in a way they never had.

A little boy lay belly-down in the sand. Gentle waves lapped his face. The beach was dour and overcast, whereas the boy was a patchwork of colour – his shirt bright red, his long shorts deep blue, his skin perfect vanilla. With arms by his side and palms facing the sky, it looked as if he had fallen and could not get up. If one kept looking, they soon noticed that his shoes seemed unusually small, and his head unusually big – too big for his body. The truth is, he lo…

Death of 17-year-old Highlights Struggle to End Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt

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[Not many of these thousands of deaths make headlines. Often the girls' bodies of are buried without a word being said about the actual cause of death. Note that no relevant cause of death was declared in this case either. Only cultural prejudice and ignorance keeps this practice alive. *RON*]
By Lucy Westcott, Newsweek, 2 June 2016

The death of a 17-year-old Egyptian girl has sparked an international outcry over female genital mutilation (FGM) in a country that has among the world’s highest prevalence rates of the practice.

Mayar Mohamed Mousa, whose twin sister underwent the procedure shortly before she did, died earlier this week after being operated on at the private El Canal hospital in Suez province, around 90 miles east of Cairo. The exact cause of her death remains unknown.

FGM has been banned in Egypt since 2008, but it remains a widespread practice, with doctors and other health care professionals performing the majority of FGM pro…

EU dilutes proposal to halve air pollution deaths after UK lobbying

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[Mortality and the corporatocracy. If implemented, weakened proposal means 14,000 people could die prematurely across Europe each year from 2030. Is the EU giving into this because of fears of Brexit? It's a terrible mistake. *RON*]
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 3 June 2016
EU states have agreed to water down a proposed law aimed at halving the number of deaths from air pollution within 15 years, after intense lobbying from the UK that cross-party MEPs have condemned as “appalling”.

Some 14,000 people will die prematurely every year across Europe from 2030 as a result, if the weakened proposal is implemented, according to figures cited by the environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella.

The revised proposal is likely to be rejected by the European parliament next week, setting the scene for a public row on 20 June, when Europe’s environment ministers meet to thrash out a compromise.

But EU diplomats said that the UK had been a key player in crafting …

The Surging Cost of Basic Needs

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[Low-income families spend more than 80 percent of their budget on things like housing, food, and health care—that’s a lot more than 30 years ago. Worse, they are decreasing their expenditures on food to cover the growing cost of housing and medical care. *RON*]
Bourree Lam, The Atlantic, 2 June 2016 
For low-income households, it’s no surprise that a large proportion of their spending goes to basic needs, such as housing and food, while high-income households have traditionally had more discretionary spending. But how do families cope when the cost of housing goes up, or the cost of transportation goes down? And how have their budgets adjusted in light of these changes in order to pay for everything?

A new report from The Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution looks at how the composition of household spending across income levels has changed over the past 30 years. Analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, …

Austerity Imposed Under Greek Bailouts Violated Rights, Independent UN Expert Finds

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[In the past we believed that international organizations existed to push individual nations to recognize fundamental human rights. Now, the UN is pushed aside, and our major influential international organizations are the IMF and World Bank, forcefully imposing the Wall Street agenda. But the worm will eventually turn: Spain's anti-austerity parties pass Socialists ahead of election. *RON*]
By A. Makris, Greek Reporter, 4 June 2016

There has been “large-scale violation of rights” in Greece as a result of the austerity programmes imposed by its international lenders, independent UN expert on human rights Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky said in a press conference here on Friday.

According to Bohoslavsky, an independent expert of the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of states on the full enjoyment of human rights, it was “obvious” that Greece needs a “mi…