Category Archives: Uncategorized

The respect deficit

BOOK REVIEW

Dream Hoarders, Authors: Richard V Reeves.
Equality of What? Author: Amartya Sen.
One Another’s Equals, Author: Jeremy Waldron.
If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? Author: Gerald Cohen.
A Theory of Justice, Author: John Rawls.
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Author: Sheryll Cashin.
The Wealth of Nations, Author: Adam Smith.
The Rise of the Meritocracy, Author: Michael Young.
Player Piano, Author: Kurt Vonnegut.
Hillbilly Elegy, Author: J D Vance.

By Richard V Reeves – Contemporary concerns over inequality are typically framed in economic terms. Income and wealth provide convenient gauges of the growing distance between the affluent and the rest. But there is a much deeper kind of inequality, caused not by a lack of resources, but by a lack of respect. You might be much richer or poorer than I am. But if we treat each other with mutual respect, we are, relationally speaking, equal.

Societies that are equal in terms of relations are those in which there is mutual respect, where – as the philosopher Philip Pettit put it in 2010, alluding to a line by John Milton – ‘free persons … can speak their minds, walk tall among their fellows, and look each other squarely in the eye’.

Look each other squarely in the eye. That’s the heart of it. If I lower my eyes out of deference, I render myself your inferior. Black slaves who dared look their owners in the eye could be whipped for ‘insolence’. If we consider ourselves morally worthier than someone else, we are said to ‘look down’ on them; and they likely notice. If we simply fail to look a person in the eye – my bus driver perhaps – the danger is we miss their basic humanity, their essential moral sameness, the basic equality that exists between us. And then I might throw an insult, or something much worse, at them. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Why corporate social responsibility can backfire
By Alina Dizik – As CSR has become ingrained in the workplace and even in some brands, researchers are finding drawbacks to how employees react to these initiatives.

More than 90 percent of the 250 largest global companies by revenue now publish detailed annual reports of their corporate-responsibility practices, according to KPMG’s 2017 survey of corporate-responsibility reporting.

So what are the problems?

For one thing, participating in a company’s CSR initiatives can lead to what researchers call moral self-licensing, where a positive action is offset by harmful behavior later on. In cases of moral licensing, company-sponsored social initiatives can trigger poor employee performance because doing good deeds in one area encourages the employee to behave unethically in another, according to research by List and University of Chicago postdoctoral scholar Fatemeh Momeni. more>

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Global pollution kills 9m a year and threatens ‘survival of human societies’

By Damian Carrington – Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world, the landmark report found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants are poorly understood. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Rich nations still have work to do to tackle pollution: the US and Japan are in the top 10 for deaths from “modern” forms of pollution, ie fossil fuel-related air pollution and chemical pollution. But the scientists said that the big improvements that have been made in developed nations in recent decades show that beating pollution is a winnable battle if there is the political will.

“The current figure of nine million is almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million.”

This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease. Furthermore, lack of data on many toxic metals and chemicals could not be included in the new analysis. more> https://goo.gl/N4hXpe

The Record Surge In Our National Debt Is An Urgent Wake-Up Call For American Families

By John Kasich – The wake-up message is this: by exceeding the previous statutory debt limit and for the first time surpassing an unfathomable $20,000,000,000,000.

It’s the most alarming sign yet that our federal government is letting spending and debt put our ability to grow the economy at risk. As we’ve so often seen around the world, countries with the highest levels of government debt, in proportion to their economic output, struggle with weak growth and stagnant wages.

How is it that the federal government, unlike most other states and cities, any private business or – for that matter – any law-abiding citizen can get away with spending far, far more money than it takes in? That’s because our U.S. Constitution, for all its virtues, fails to put any restrictions on what the government spends. It’s like designing a high-speed sports car, but failing to install any brakes.

Today, as Washington fails to lead toward balancing the federal budget, states and their governors have a way to take control of the problem themselves. The U.S. Constitution offers an opportunity for grassroots action, empowering the states to trigger needed change.

Through this procedure, if 34 states call for a convention to pass an amendment to require a balanced federal budget, and that amendment is then approved by 38 states, we can finally bring fiscal accountability to the federal level. more> https://goo.gl/MpmznF

How We Can Bring Back the American Dream

BOOK REVIEW

Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It, Author: Richard Reeves.

By Dwyer Gunn – The U.S., in other words, had fallen prey to the very thing it rebelled against in the first place: an immutable aristocracy.

Reeves explores the divide between the top 20 percent of Americans—who have benefited from a modern economy that rewards education and human capital—and everyone else. Upper-middle-class families, he writes, aren’t just distinguished by their high incomes; they’re also distinguished by higher levels of education, lower rates of non-marital childbearing, more stable family structures, and more intensive parenting practices.

These factors all add up to provide enormous advantages to these families, particularly the children. And while many of these practices, far from being unethical, are precisely the kinds of behaviors policymakers should encourage all parents to exhibit, Reeves highlights three specific ways in which he believes that upper-middle-class families are unethically and unfairly “rigging the market” in favor of their own progeny:

  1. exclusionary zoning practices,
  2. unfair practices around college admissions (including legacy policies), and
  3. an internship process that rewards well-connected children.

Reeves’ book proposes a number of reforms that could return America to a country of equal opportunity. more> https://goo.gl/dXyzeC

Murphy’s Law is totally misunderstood and is in fact a call to excellence

By Corinne Purtill – You have likely at some point heard the saying known as Murphy’s Law: Everything that can go wrong will.

Murphy’s Law originated at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, the same place where Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947. Around that time, a team of Edwards engineers was working on Project MX981, a mission to determine the amount of force a human body could sustain in a crash.

In the late 1940s, the team received a visit from an Air Force captain and reliability engineer named Edward A. Murphy, Jr. The details of the story vary. The best and most comprehensive history of Murphy’s Law comes from documentarian Nick T. Spark, who interviewed the surviving witnesses more than 50 years after the fact. more> https://goo.gl/CwNE5e

Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us

By Kate Raworth – In the 1870s, a handful of aspiring economists hoped to make economics a science as reputable as physics. Awed by Newton’s insights on the physical laws of motion – laws that so elegantly describe the trajectory of falling apples and orbiting moons – they sought to create an economic theory that matched his legacy. And so pioneering economists such as William Stanley Jevons and Léon Walras drew their diagrams in clear imitation of Newton’s style and, inspired by the way that gravity pulls a falling object to rest, wrote enthusiastically of the role played by market forces and mechanisms in pulling an economy into equilibrium.

Their mechanical metaphor sounds authoritative, but it was ill-chosen from the start – a fact that has been widely acknowledged since the astonishing fragility and contagion of global financial markets was exposed by the 2008 crash.

The most pernicious legacy of this fake physics has been to entice generations of economists into a misguided search for economic laws of motion that dictate the path of development. People and money are not as obedient as gravity, so no such laws exist. Yet their false discoveries have been used to justify growth-first policymaking. more> https://goo.gl/hbL9yx

Updates from Autodesk

Check Vehicle Turning Paths in 3 Steps
Nothing to install. Just the vehicles and tools you need to analyze swept paths in seconds – all in your browser.

Evaluate the tightest turns at low speeds and determine if the vehicle can make the maneuver safely. AutoTURN Online can be used to simulate scenarios such as many cases like:

  • Reversing an recreational vehicle
  • Docking a trailer
  • Navigating a roundabout
  • Parking in a tight spot

A quick analysis performed directly on an aerial image can be very useful at the feasibility stage. Visualize the swept path for the vehicle body envelope, tire tracks, and safety clearances. more> autoturnonline.com

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Trump’s Two-Step Strategy To Take Over The Truth

By Robert Reich – Donald Trump is such a consummate liar that in coming days and years our democracy will depend more than ever on the independent press – finding the truth, reporting it, and holding Trump accountable for his lies.

It is the two-step strategy of despots. And it’s already started. It was officially launched the first full day of the Trump administration.

  • Step 1: Disparage the press and lie about them
  • Step 2: Threaten to circumvent the press and take the “truth” directly to the people

Trump and his advisors – Steven Bannon, formerly of “Breitbart News” as well as Sean Spicer and others – understand that if a significant portion of the public trusts Trump’s own words more than they do the media’s, Trump can get away with saying – and doing – whatever he wants. When that happens, our democracy ends. more> https://goo.gl/NZ8D7w

Economists versus the Economy

By Robert Skidelsky – Since the collapse of theology, no field of study has aimed to understand the human condition as a whole. But no branch of human inquiry has cut itself off from the whole – and from the other social sciences – more than economics.

This is not because of its subject matter. On the contrary, the business of earning a living still fills the greater part of our lives and thoughts. Economics – how markets works, why they sometimes break down, how to estimate the costs of a project properly – ought to be of interest to most people. In fact, the field repels all but connoisseurs of fanciful formal models.

The real trouble is that economics is cut off from the common understanding of how things work, or should work. Economists claim to make precise what is vague, and are convinced that economics is superior to all other disciplines, because the objectivity of money enables it to measure historical forces exactly, rather than approximately.

What unites the great economists, and many other good ones, is a broad education and outlook. Today’s professional economists, by contrast, have studied almost nothing but economics. They don’t even read the classics of their own discipline. more> https://goo.gl/HVu5WG

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