Tag Archives: Super regions

The European Unraveling?

By Ana Palacio – The problem for the EU is no longer the indifference that marked the worst elements of President Barack Obama’s approach to Europe. It is outright US hostility. Trump’s praise of Brexit, which emphasized the British people’s “right to self-determination,” and his belittling reference to the EU as “the Consortium” in his appearance with British Prime Minister Theresa May, underscores his hostility.

Europe is now stuck between a US and a Russia that are determined to divide it. What are we Europeans to do?

One option is to pander to Trump. That is the approach May took on her visit to Washington, DC, when she stood by silently as Trump openly declared his support for the use of torture at their joint press conference.

But, for the EU, such appeasement would be counter-productive. It is our values, not our borders, that define us. It makes little sense to abandon them, especially to ingratiate ourselves with a leader who has shown himself to be capricious and utterly untrustworthy.

The third option – and the only viable one for the EU – is self-reliance and self-determination. Only by strengthening its own international positions – increasing its leverage, in today’s jargon – can the EU cope effectively with America’s wavering fidelity to its allies and the values they share. more> https://goo.gl/FRuIrO

Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work

By Jon Messenger, Oscar Vargas Llave, Lutz Gschwind, Simon Boehmer, Greet Vermeylen and Mathijn Wilkens – New information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionized everyday work and life in the 21st century. They enable people to connect with friends and family – as well as with work colleagues and supervisors – at any point in time; however, they also facilitate the encroachment of paid work into the spaces and times normally reserved for personal life.

The uncoupling of paid work from traditional office spaces has been a crucial factor in this development. Today’s office work and, more broadly, knowledge work, is supported by the internet, and can be carried out from practically any location and at any time. This new spatial independence has transformed the role of technology in the work environment, offering both new opportunities and new challenges.

Regarding the positive effects of T/ICTM (telework/ICT-mobile work), workers report a reduction in commuting time, greater working time autonomy leading to more flexibility in terms of working time organization, better overall work–life balance, and higher productivity. Companies benefit from the improvement in work–life balance, which can lead to increased motivation and reduced turnover as well as enhanced productivity and efficiency, and from a reduction in the need for office space and associated costs.

The disadvantages of T/ICTM are the tendency to lead to longer working hours, to create an overlap between paid work and personal life (work–home interference), and to result in work intensification. Home-based teleworkers seem to report better work–life balance, while ‘high-mobile’ workers are more at risk of negative health and well-being outcomes. Partial and occasional forms of T/ICTM appear to result in a more positive balance between the benefits and drawbacks. From a gender perspective, women doing T/ICTM tend to work shorter hours than men, and women seem to achieve slightly better work–life balance effects. more> https://goo.gl/0Oc9fq

Proper fiber broadband is not a waste, but you need a little socialism to do it properly

By Chris Duckett – To overcome the lust of corporations to hit the next quarterly target by squeezing the very last dollar from aging assets and instead roll out more future-proof technologies, a little government encouragement is needed in the form of monetary incentives or legislation.

There is no point in running down the path of smart infrastructure and digital interactions with authorities if the rural section of the community is stuck on outmoded systems, and governments can also enforce another important aspect to dealing with broadband on a societal level: Universality.

Broadband is a paradoxical beast once baseline speeds in double digits are attained as the benefits it can provide to society become proportional to the difficulty in reaching them, and this inversely impacts profitability.

Consequently, users end up in a situation where those who need it most often have to go without, or live with poor connections because it doesn’t make economic sense to service them. Private companies will not willingly enter regional areas, because even if there is a very slim profit margin, it could take decades before the investment paid for itself. more> https://goo.gl/wZTkjB

Is greatness finite?

BOOK REVIEW

Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit, Author: Joyce E Chaplin.
Utopia, Author: Thomas More.
The Population Bomb, Author: Paul Ehrlich.

By Joyce E Chaplin – To see human nature and the rest of nature as out of sync is important – if done consciously. Today it is easy to find repudiations of neoliberalism, the doctrine, ascendant since the 1980s of Margaret Thatcher‘s UK and Ronald Reagan‘s US, that private activities produce public good and personal happiness more effectively than any public investment or oversight.

Nearly 40 years on, we finally query the wisdoms of a neoliberal society. But without knowing exactly what it got wrong, it’s impossible to do better.

The Tudor humanist Thomas More and the Regency clergyman Thomas Robert Malthus, of all people, can help us. They are experts on our moment. Together, their key works turn a spotlight on the much disparaged, pre-neoliberal 1970s, when things could have gone differently.

The 1970s represent the last serious discussion of whether and how humans can manage the rest of nature for the greater good. We need that forthright mix again, bitter Malthusian tea served, nevertheless, with a sweet lump of Utopia.

The last days of disco, the 1970s, were the glorious times before the buzz of neoliberalism. Before greed was good and environmental limits were negotiable, people worried about staying alive and danced to ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Circumstances warned against the easy acquisition of happiness, yet people sought it, indeed, preached that it should be available to all.

Now, nations, states, innovators and cultural leaders have accepted the dubious promise of neoliberalism, that to extract private wealth from everything is an excellent way of being.

The good news is that the upcoming arguments – indeed they have already begun – about what to do next can do more than repeat the nearly parodistic Adam SmithKarl Marx confrontation that has dominated for at least a generation. more> https://goo.gl/sjnI4f

What is logic?

BOOK REVIEW

Critique of Pure Reason, Author: Immanuel Kant.
A History of Formal Logic, Author: J M Bocheński.
Principles of Philosophy, Author: René Descartes.
Summa Theologica, Author: Thomas Aquinas.
Meditations on First Philosophy, Author: René Descartes.
Port-Royal Logic, Authors: Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole.
The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, Author: George Boole.
Begriffsschrift, Author: Gottlob Frege.
Principia Mathematica, Authors: Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell.

By Catarina Dutilh Novaes – The history of logic should be of interest to anyone with aspirations to thinking that is correct, or at least reasonable.

Descartes hits the nail on the head when he claims that the logic of the Schools (scholastic logic) is not really a logic of discovery. Its chief purpose is justification and exposition, which makes sense particularly against the background of dialectical practices, where interlocutors explain and debate what they themselves already know. Indeed, for much of the history of logic, both in ancient Greece and in the Latin medieval tradition, ‘dialectic’ and ‘logic’ were taken to be synonymous.

Up to Descartes’s time, the chief application of logical theories was to teach students to perform well in debates and disputations, and to theorize on the logical properties of what follows from what, insofar as this is an essential component of such argumentative practices. It’s true that not everyone conceived of logic in this way: Thomas Aquinas, for example, held that logic is about ‘second intentions’, roughly what we call second-order concepts, or concepts of concepts. But as late as in the 16th century, the Spanish theologian Domingo de Soto could write with confidence that ‘dialectic is the art or science of disputing’. more> https://goo.gl/iFCWw4

Is a peace deal possible if Israelis and Palestinians simply don’t trust each other?

By Joel Braunold and Sarah Yerkes – Secretary of State John Kerry said:

In the end, I believe the negotiations did not fail because the gaps were too wide, but because the level of trust was too low. Both sides were concerned that any concessions would not be reciprocated and would come at too great a political cost. And the deep public skepticism only made it more difficult for them to be able to take risks.

That line is important for multiple reasons. First, it underscores that the belief gap between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership today is so wide that even if they agree completely on all of the final status issues—borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security arrangements—they are incapable of making a deal.

The leaders on both sides will never take the necessary risks for an agreement without overwhelming public support. That is, while public trust and support may not be a sufficient condition for a just and lasting peace, it is a necessary one. more> https://goo.gl/bJNfc7

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Keynesian economics: is it time for the theory to rise from the dead?

By Larry Elliott – Imagine this. In late 1936, shortly after the publication of his classic General Theory, John Maynard Keynes is cryogenically frozen so he can return 80 years later.

Things were looking grim when Keynes went into cold storage. The Spanish civil war had just begun, Stalin’s purges were in full swing, and Hitler had flouted the Treaty of Versailles by militarizing the Rhineland. The recovery from the Great Depression was fragile.

The good news, Keynes hears, is that lessons were learned from the 1930s. Governments committed themselves to maintaining demand at a high enough level to secure full employment. They recycled the tax revenues that accrued from robust growth into higher spending on public infrastructure. They took steps to ensure that there was a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor.

The bad news was that the lessons were eventually forgotten. The period between FDR’s second win and Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House can be divided into two halves: the 40 years up until 1976 and the 40 years since.

Keynes discovers that governments deviate from his ideas. Instead of running budget surpluses in the good times and deficits in the bad times, they run deficits all the time. They fail to draw the proper distinction between day-to-day spending and investment. more> https://goo.gl/EyFn5m

Preventing the Next Eurozone Crisis Starts Now

By Jean Pisani-Ferry – European leaders have devoted scant attention to the future of the eurozone since July 2012, when Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank’s president, famously committed to do “whatever it takes” to save the common currency.

For more than four years, they have essentially subcontracted the eurozone’s stability and integrity to the central bankers. But, while the ECB has performed the job skillfully, this quiet, convenient arrangement is coming to an end, because no central bank can solve political or constitutional conundrums.

Europe’s heads of state and government would be wise to start over and consider options for the eurozone’s future, rather than letting circumstances decide for them.

So far, Europe’s leaders have had little appetite for such a discussion.

The eurozone still lacks a common fiscal mechanism, and Germany has flatly rejected the European Commission’s recent attempt to promote a “positive stance” in countries with room to boost spending. Of course, when the next recession hits, fiscal stability is likely to be in dangerously short supply.

Finally, the governance of the eurozone remains excessively cumbersome and technocratic. Most ministers, not to mention legislators, appear to have become lost in a procedural morass. more> https://goo.gl/CsBcAJ

Is globalization’s second wave about to break?

By Laurence Chandy and Brina Seidel – After two decades defined by growing integration, the global economy appears to be at an inflection point. This judgment has been prompted both by structural changes in the global economy, especially since the Great Recession, and political events over the past year illustrative of a backlash against past integration.

The essence of globalization is the movement of goods, money, and people across international borders.

FDI’s (foreign direct investment) rise is a defining component of globalization’s second wave and is synonymous with the growing role of international finance beyond traditional areas such as railways and extractive industries into new sectors including commerce and industry.

Based on our review, the clearest evidence we have of global capital being in retreat is limited to examples of globalization’s excesses being curbed. Elsewhere, the data suggest that the pace of global integration has slowed but not reversed. more> https://goo.gl/CiZrVD

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Sustainable Sources of Competitive Advantage

By Morgan Housel – Finding something others can’t do is nearly impossible. Intelligence is not a sustainable source of competitive advantage because the world is full of smart people, and a lot of what used to count as intelligence is now automated.

That leaves doing something others aren’t willing to do as the top source of sustainable competitive advantage.

Here are five big ones.

Having no appetite for being wrong means you’ll only attempt things with high odds of working. And those things tend to be only slight variations on what you’re already doing, which themselves are things that, in a changing world, may soon be obsolete.

Here’s Jeff Bezos again: “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness.”

The key is creating a culture that allows you to fail often without ruin. more> https://goo.gl/7Fh1uW