Showing posts from October 5, 2016

Ottawa to tighten mortgage rules, slow influx of foreign buyers' cash

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[Ottawa steps up mortgage scrutiny, closes foreign buyers' tax loophole. Apparently some foreign buyers have bought six or seven homes, claiming that all of them are their principal residence. *RON*]

Alexandra Posadzki, The Canadian Press With files from Business News Network, 4 October 2016

TORONTO -- The federal government is taking steps to ease emerging risks in the country's housing market with new measures to slow the injection of foreign cash and to tighten eligibility rules on prospective borrowers.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau's announcement Monday came amid concerns that real estate costs in the sizzling Toronto and Vancouver markets are out of reach for many Canadians. Some fear foreign investment money in these housing markets has helped drive up prices.

Put Globalization to Work for Democracies

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["We need to rescue globalization not just from populists, but also from its cheerleaders. Globalization evangelists have done great damage to their cause not just by underplaying the real fears and concerns on which the Trumps of this world thrive, but by overlooking the benefits of a more moderate form of globalization... The new model of globalization stood priorities on their head, effectively putting democracy to work for the global economy, instead of the other way around." *RON*]

By Dani Rodrik, New York Times Sunday Review, 17 September 2016

A Chinese student once described his country’s globalization strategy to me. China, he said, opened a window to the world economy, but placed a screen on it. The country got the fresh air it needed — nearly 700 million people have been lifted from extreme poverty since the early 1980s — but kept mosquitoes out.

China benefited from the flourishing of trade and investment across national borde…

The Best Ways to Deal with the Refugee Crisis

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[Commonsense proposals for dealing with refugees; an area where commonsense has precious little to do with things. *RON*]

David Miliband, New York Review of Books, 13 October 2016 ISSUE
In July 1941, Albert Einstein, ten months a US citizen, wrote Eleanor Roosevelt from his Saranac Lake retreat to register “deep concern” at the policies of her husband’s administration. A “wall of bureaucratic measures” erected by the State Department, “alleged to be necessary to protect America against subversive, dangerous elements,” had, he wrote, made “it all but impossible to give refuge in America to many worthy persons who are the victims of Fascist cruelty in Europe.”

End of nations: Is there an alternative to countries?

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[On the possibilities of a New Medievalism. Nation states cause some of our biggest problems, from civil war to climate inaction. Science suggests there are better ways to run a planet. *RON*]

By Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, 3 September 2014

Try, for a moment, to envisage a world without countries. Imagine a map not divided into neat, coloured patches, each with clear borders, governments, laws. Try to describe anything our society does – trade, travel, science, sport, maintaining peace and security – without mentioning countries. Try to describe yourself: you have a right to at least one nationality, and the right to change it, but not the right to have none.

Those coloured patches on the map may be democracies, dictatorships or too chaotic to be either, but virtually all claim to be one thing: a nation state, the sovereign territory of a “people” or nation who are entitled to self-determination within a self-governing state. So says the Un…

The right to vote should be restricted to those with knowledge

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[Should the ignorant or the misinformed many be allowed to vote? Can an epistocracy do what democracy does, only better? *RON*]

Jason Brennan, Aeon in association with Princeton University Press , 29 September 2016

Who should hold power: the few or the many? Concentrating power in the hands of a few – in monarchy, dictatorship or oligarchy – tends to result in power for personal benefit at the expense of others. Yet in spreading power among the many – as in a democracy – individual votes no longer matter, and so most voters remain ignorant, biased and misinformed.

We have a dilemma.

Republican, representative democracy tries to split the difference. Checks and balances, judicial reviews, bills of rights and elected representatives are all designed to hold leaders accountable to the people while also constraining the foolishness of the ignorant masses. Overall, these institutions work well: in general, people in democracies have the highest standard…

Saudi Arabia: Can It Really Change?

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[Interesting piece on the political and economic realities of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. *RON*]

Nicolas Pelham, The New York Review of Books, 13 October 2016 ISSUE
The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism by Toby Matthiesen. Cambridge University Press, 277 pp., $29.99 (paper)
Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt by Pascal Menoret. Cambridge University Press, 250 pp., $34.99 (paper)
Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Peril by Paul Aarts and Carolien Roelants. London: Hurst, 176 pp., £14.99 (paper)
Force and Fanaticism: Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and Beyond by Simon Ross Valentine. London: Hurst, 362 pp., £25.00
Until the Wahhabi conquest of the Arabian peninsula at the turn of the last century, the mixture of sects there was as diverse as it was anywhere in the old pluralist Middle East. In its towns there lived, among others, Sufi mystics from the Sunni branch of Islam, members of the Zaidi sect, which is linked with the Shia branch o…