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brexit worries June 17, 2016

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I think this piece by John Harris is exactly right, and at the same time what he imagines is so, so wrong:

at the centre of where we find ourselves there is an undeniable irony, which may yet turn cold and cruel. If the revolt succeeds and Brexit wins, the party in power is likely to take a political turn that will lead us even further away from what the moment demands, while Labour will likely tumble further into division and introspection.

The EU has some problems, sure. It’s an elite, intellectual project and always was, despite years of attempting to reach out to citizens across the EU. At the same time the EU institutions have a sense of social solidarity that the UK EU-haters lack. And this story of the development of the Brexit idea by Matthew d”Ancona links it to ideas of flexible labour markets, freedom from red tape and British economic creativity that needs to be freed from EU shackles. Not a surprise. But, as Harris argues, these flexible markets free from regulation are not the sort of markets to give any hope at all to the people who seem likely to vote for Brexit.

little england rather than great britain May 11, 2015

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What we have to look forward to after the election: more austerity, more deregulation, fewer rights for the disadvantaged, the poor, the helpless (more cuts to public services, more stress for those who can least bear it, no human rights, just money rights), a reduction in Britain’s stature in the world (talk about leaving the EU, reductions in financial regulation to prevent business moving offshore): in a few years it really will no longer be possible to use the terminology of “Great Britain.”

world toilet day November 19, 2014

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According to a WHO/UNICEF Report:

The good news is that since 1990 well over 2 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water, and 116 countries have met the MDG target for water. Almost 2 billion people gained access to improved sanitation and 77 countries have met the MDG target. More than half the world’s population, almost 4 billion people, now enjoy the highest level of water access: a piped water connection at their homes.
But much remains to be done. More than 700 million people still lack ready access to improved sources of drinking water; nearly half are in sub-Saharan Africa. More than one third of the global population – some 2.5 billion people — do not use an improved sanitation facility, and of these 1 billion people still practice open defecation.

inequality and the troika March 19, 2014

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Last week the European Parliament adopted a highly critical resolution on Employment and social aspects of the role and operations of the Troika (a resolution based in part on input from people affected by the policies in question). For example the resolution regrets:

that the conditionality imposed in return for the financial assistance has threatened the EU’s social objectives for several reasons: the EU was ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the problems that arose, not least the immense sovereign debt crisis, a situation that demanded an immediate response in order to avoid bankruptcy; while the programmes are of specific duration, a number of the measures stipulated under these programmes shouldn’t have been long-term in nature; the measures are particularly burdensome, mainly because the worsening of the economic and social situation was not noticed in time, because little time was allowed to implement them, and because proper impact assessments were not made of their distributional impact on different groups of society; despite appeals by the Commission, EU funds left over from 2007-2013 framework have not been used in a prompt manner; the measures could have been accompanied by better efforts to protect vulnerable groups, such as measures to prevent high levels of poverty, deprivation and health inequalities resulting from the fact that low income groups are especially dependant on public health systems

Ironically, on the same day the IMF Survey Magazine contained an article with the title Sound Policy Design: the Efficient Way to Cut Inequality which cited the IMF’s recent staff discussion Redistribution, Inequality,
and Growth
and policy paper on Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality. This work suggests that inequality was a factor which contributed to the onset of the crisis. But, as the European Parliament points out, the IMF’s responses to the crisis have also exacerbated inequality in the “rescued” countries.

cake, anyone? October 1, 2013

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Or, rather, home-baked granary bread made from locally sourced flour (anyone can do it, and it’s better for you). And there’s more austerity to come.

more uk anti-union moves September 19, 2013

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Business good, unions bad. Deloitte wins a Big Society award. On top of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14 (latest version here), the UK Government issues a call for evidence about what is characterized as a huge waste of resources in paying trade union representatives who are teachers for time off to do union work. The actual call for evidence is drafted in relatively moderate terms but the press release states:

There is also evidence that taxpayers are funding a large number of union representatives who are paid as teachers but do not spend any of their contracted time, whether they are full or part time, teaching. This creates additional work for the very many hardworking teachers across the country. Some of these local, regional and national union representatives have therefore not taught in a school for many years. Some are nominally employed as ‘home tutors’ by their local authority, while others receive large salaries on the teachers’ scale (in some cases up to £70,000 a year) but have no teaching timetable or leadership responsibilities. This represents a significant cost to the taxpayer of many millions of pounds.