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Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?  January 7, 2017

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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When I was a child, I often had nightmares that ended in a blinding nuclear flash. I became an evangelist for building basement fallout shelters and actually convinced one neighbor to build and stock one.
We have been lulled back into a false-sense of security. Our aging minuteman missiles, which still run on floppy discs, are our biggest risk for an accidental annihilation of civilization, as we know it. The Russians have no early warning satellites left in orbit, so their paranoid that we could launch an ICBM leadership-decapitating sneak attack,has been to develop a six thousand-mile range remote-controlled thermonuclear torpedo, which could destroy a coastal city. Russia still openly discusses using tactical nuclear weapons in regional conflicts, without apparently appreciating the resulting inevitable escalation.

Hbomb-detonation-colorized

The mechanics of building a crude nuclear device are easily within the reach of well-educated and well-funded militants. The crate would arrive at Dulles International Airport, disguised as agricultural freight. The truck bomb that detonates on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol instantly kills the president, vice president, House speaker, and 80,000 others.Where exactly is your office? Your house? And then, as Perry spins it forward, how credible would you find the warnings, soon delivered to news networks, that five more bombs are set to explode in unnamed U.S. cities, once a week for the next month, unless all U.S. military personnel overseas are withdrawn immediately?If this particular scenario does not resonate with you, Perry can easily rattle off a long roster of others—a regional war that escalates into a nuclear exchange, a miscalculation between Moscow and Washington, a computer glitch at the exact wrong moment. They are all ilks of the same theme—the dimly understood threat that the science of the 20th century is set to collide with the destructive passions of the 21st.“We’re going back to the kind of dangers we had during the Cold War,” Perry said. “I really thought in 1990, 1991, 1992, that we left those behind us. We’re starting to re-invent them. We and the Russians and others don’t understand that what we’re doing is re-creating those dangers—or maybe they don’t remember the dangers. For younger people, they didn’t live through those dangers. But when you live through a Cuban Missile Crisis up close and you live through a false alarm up close, you do understand how dangerous it is, and you believe you should do everything you could possibly do to [avoid] going back.”

Source: Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? – POLITICO Magazine

If you want to read further on this risk http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/world-war-three-by-mistake

A Brave New World Order December 18, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics.
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ChinaUSAPuzzleJapan had the first world leader to meet with President-elect Trump. For the first time in eleven years, Putin just visited Japan for two days of talks. Trump’s proposed Secretary of State was awarded a Friendship medal by Vladimir Putin. What if anything do these have in common? Maybe nothing, but I can’t help but consider the implications for a Grand Alliance  between Japan, Russia and the United States to contain China’s expansionist tendencies

Until recently, only Mao and Deng Xiaoping have achieved the title of “Core Leader”.  Deng wanted the Communist Party to become a consensus-based system with rotating leadership and he would be the last Core leader. Current Premier Xi has put the end to that with his recent appointment as Core leader. We will have to see if this turns out to be an over-reach or the start of Emperor Xi’s dynasty.

China has always been a difficult country to rule. There are five distinct regions and multiple languages. There have only been a few times where a dynasty has been able to rule them all. Revolutions start, not when things are at their worst, but when rising expectations are dashed. Xi can see the demographic wall they are about slam into, as a result of the one-child policy lasting too long. He also knows that there will be economic dislocations, as they try to change from an Export-driven to a Consumer Society.

His biggest threat internally may not come from the aging establishment’s backlash, but from a youthful burgeoning left-wing Maoist movement. That is why the charismatic populist Bo Xilai was the victim of one of the first Stalin-like Show Trails. Xilai’s popular message was that Mao’s revolution has been hijacked by the corrupt Princelings – a group that Xi was fortunate enough to be born into.

China doesn’t it view itself as a Rising Power, but a a Returning Power. After all, with just 250 years under their belt, these Americans are only upstarts.  While Kissinger was secretly meeting with Deng for Nixon’s Machiavellian opening to China, he asked Deng what he though about the French Revolution. After a pause, he said “We’ll have to see how it turns out”.  China takes the long view of history and their future.

Embattled leaders will often use external threats to distract a restless populace. Xi knows the end of China’s economic miracle will bring unrest. Xi’s expansionist foreign policy has unnerved its neighbors, the most powerful of which are Russia and Japan. They could be open to a Grand Alliance with the United States to counter China’s rise. After all the US joined with Stalin to defeat what we thought was the greater foe – Hitler.

There is no love lost between Russia and China. They fought a seven month undeclared border war in 1969.  China is financially taking over Mongolia and expects its other neighbors to eventually become vassal states also.

Russia had always been torn. It’s either a European or an Asian power. The construction of St. Petersburg was supposed to tilt Russia to the West. Putin rose to power from there. He has revived the Russian orthodox church. Putin’s Russia feels more comfortable with the West than the East. Russia is a declining power, who is afraid of the dragon’s growing power on it’s western borders. Japan is afraid too. Fear of a common enemy can make for strange bedfellows. Trump’s unconstrained collection of  no-nonsense generals and plutocratic deal makers could think far enough outside the box to try and pull off such a Grand Bargain.

The Developing World Thinks Hitler Is Underrated November 27, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Geopolitics, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/10/05/the-developing-world-thinks-hitler-is-underrated-duterte-world-war-ii-nazi-politics/

(COL) *20.04.1889-30.04.1945+ Politiker, NSDAP, D Lagebesprechung im Hauptquartier der Heeresgruppe S¸d in Saporoshje (Ukraine); Hitler mit der Generalit‰t am Kartentisch (v.l.): Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, Generalfeldmarschall Ewald von Kleist - 19.02.1943 Foto: Walter Frentz "english_caption" Hitler and the generals look at maps during a briefing at the headquarters of 'Heeresgruppe Sued' (Army Squad South) at Saporoshje (Ukraine). From left: General Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, General Field Marshal Ewald von Kleist - 02.19.1943 Picture: Walter Frentz "english_e


– 19.02.1943
Foto: Walter Frentz
“english_caption” Hitler and the generals look at maps during a briefing at the headquarters of ‘Heeresgruppe Sued’ (Army Squad South) at Saporoshje (Ukraine). From left: General Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, General Field Marshal Ewald von Kleist
– 02.19.1943
Picture: Walter Frentz “english_e

Yet in much of the developing world, where ignorance regarding the Holocaust and Hitler’s fantasies of world domination is rife, he is perceived less as a mass murderer and ideologue of global conquest than as a stern disciplinarian who addressed social ills in a briskly efficient manner. His is a legacy of “law and order,” not of horrific chaos and collapsed cities. Additionally, and crucially, in the non-Western world the name Hitler can connote “anti-imperialist rebel” due to the German leader’s nationalistic struggle against “Anglo-French-American-Zionist domination.”

(more…)

The Religion of Politics June 18, 2016

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Liberals Are Simple-Minded – Reason.com January 18, 2016

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It is almost a truism among psychological researchers that conservatives are simple-minded and dogmatic. Liberals, meanwhile, are supposed to be more complex and open-minded thinkers. But a new paper is calling those conclusions into question.

The more interesting and telling results were found when comparing the liberal and conservative results derived from the environmentalism and religion dogmatism scales. The researchers report, “Conservatives are indeed more dogmatic on the religious domain; but liberals are more dogmatic on the environmental domain.” In fact, they note that “the highest score for simplicity was for liberals” (emphasis theirs).

They note that liberals scored high for dogmatism in response to these three items:

9. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are for the truth that the planet is warming and those who are against that obvious truth.

3. When it comes to stopping global warming, it is better to be a dead hero than a live coward.

10. A person who thinks primarily of his/her own happiness, and in so doing disregards the health of the environment (for example, trees and other animals), is beneath contempt.

The researchers point out, “Those are not just statements about having an environmental position: They are explicitly and overwhelmingly dogmatic statements. And liberals are more likely to agree with such sentiments—for an environmental domain.” The liberal respondents are not just asserting “‘I am an environmentalist’ but rather ‘all people who disagree with me are fools.'”

Ultimately, the researchers report that both liberals and conservatives are almost equally simple-minded when it comes to topics about which they feel strongly

Source: Liberals Are Simple-Minded – Reason.com

And we may be born with a proclivity for being Conservative or Liberal.

Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? – The Atlantic September 30, 2015

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ChinaUSAPuzzleWar, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

The Appeal of Dictators June 2, 2015

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MaoCollection0242 Two-thirds of the world’s citizens live under a dictatorship, and two billion people suffer from an oppressive rule. Freedom House says 106 dictatorships or partial dictatorships persist today, accounting for 54% of the world’s nations.

Contrary to popular Western belief, however, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for all places and people. Not all dictatorships end in misery, and not everyone wants to live in a democracy. “A bad democracy might be worse than a humane dictatorship,” Pinker points out.

There is no proof that the desire for freedom and democracy is an innate part of human nature, Ezrow says. As long as quality of life remains high and people are allowed to live their lives as they wish, citizens can be completely happy under a dictatorship.  “Some cultures may just prefer security and stability over freedom.”

via BBC – Future – Will dictators disappear?.

Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods March 10, 2015

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I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere). 

JoanArc17-eIt’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.

How would the German public living in the Third Reich have reacted to ISIS-like, slickly produced films showing the scenes inside a death camp gas chamber while people were dying? Even in a nation brainwashed by state-fostered anti-Semitism, it’s hard to imagine the reaction being anything the Nazi regime would have considered positive.

The fact that the Islamic State’s marketing gurus feel otherwise is interesting. Perhaps its more evidence bolstering the idea that ISIS seeks to return to the values of an earlier, much more harsh historical era. If so,we might be seeing a visual and visceral example of what our ancestors might have done with a good TV studio.

If online video existed in the Middle Ages, does the burning of Joan of Arc go viral? Would it go viral today?

via Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods.

Why Science is so Hard to Believe March 5, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, philosophy & politics, Science & Technology.
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We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning.

Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. They, too, are vulnerable to confirmation bias — the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them. Once the results are published, if they’re important enough, other scientists will try to reproduce them — and, being congenitally skeptical and competitive, will be very happy to announce that they don’t hold up. Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or an absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge.

Featured imageThat provisional quality of science is another thing a lot of people have trouble with. To some climate-change skeptics, for example, the fact that a few scientists in the 1970s were worried (quite reasonably, it seemed at the time) about the possibility of a coming ice age is enough to discredit what is now the consensus of the world’s scientists:

Americans fall into two basic camps.  Those with a more “egalitarian” and “communitarian” mind-set are generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change. In contrast, people with a “hierarchical” and “individualistic” mind-set respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings about climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to — some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.

via Why science is so hard to believe – The Washington Post.

Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 from Stratfor March 4, 2015

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The United States continues to make up more than 22 percent of the world’s economy. It continues to dominate the world’s oceans and has the only significant intercontinental military force. Since 1880, it has been on an uninterrupted expansion of economy and power. Even the Great Depression, in retrospect, is a minor blip. This expansion of power is at the center of the international system, and our forecast is that it will continue unabated.

The greatest advantage the United States has is its insularity. It exports only 9 percent of its GDP, and about 40 percent of that goes to Canada and Mexico. Only about 5 percent of its GDP is exposed to the vagaries of global consumption. Thus, as the uncertainties of Europe, Russia and China mount, even if the United States lost half its exports — an extraordinary amount — it would not be an unmanageable problem.

Featured imageThe United States is also insulated from import constraints. Unlike in 1973, when the Arab oil embargo massively disrupted the U.S. economy, the United States has emerged as a significant energy producer. Although it must import some minerals from outside NAFTA, and it prefers to import some industrial products, it can readily manage without these. This is particularly true as industrial production is increasing in the United States and in Mexico in response to the increasing costs in China and elsewhere.

The Americans also have benefited from global crises. The United States is a haven for global capital, and as capital flight has taken hold of China, Europe and Russia, that money has flowed into the United States, reducing interest rates and buoying equity markets. Therefore, though there is exposure to the banking crisis in Europe, it is nowhere near as substantial as it might have been a decade ago, and capital inflows counterbalance that exposure. As for the perennial fear that China will withdraw its money from American markets, that will happen slowly anyway as China’s growth slows and internal investment increases. But a sudden withdrawal is impossible. There is nowhere else to invest money. Certainly the next decade will see fluctuations in U.S. economic growth and markets, but the United Stares remains the stable heart of the international system. While I subscribe to Strafor’s Intelligence service, they have chosen to make this intriguing report, on possible future geopolitical trends, available to the public via the link below.

via Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 | Stratfor.

Great Power Conflict: Will It Return? February 25, 2015

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we are witnessing four changes in international affairs that will lead to renewed great power conflict.

The first change is the slow disengagement of the United States from the dominating role it has played after World War II, marked most notably by a lowering of its defense spending and commitments. America has retreated from its role of protector of the world order, but the current occupant of the White House clearly ranks foreign affairs as an annoyance compared to an ambitious domestic agenda and has telegraphed his desire for America to have either a light or non-existent footprint across much of the globe.

The slow American withdrawal coincides with the second change, in which four of the current great powers (Russia, China, India, and Japan) are revaluating, amplifying, or changing aspects of their grand strategy in a way that resembles a similar reshuffling that took place late in the nineteenth century.

Third, there are ominous parallels between the cauldron that created the conflict of the Great War and those simmering today. China, playing the role of nineteenth-century Germany, seems determined to upset the economic and military stability created by the United States and Japan, especially in the area of naval power and power projection. Japan is playing the role of the United Kingdom, an old power clinging to its power base by mobilizing nationalism and militarism. Russia, attempting to resurrect its glory by aggressive action, reminds us of a turn-of-the-century France. India, coming on the world stage for the first time, yet not quite ready for a big role, is reminiscent of the newly unified Italian peninsula of 1861.

via Great Power Conflict: Will It Return? | World Affairs Journal.

Does Globalization Cause War?  January 29, 2015

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The argument that globalization does not necessarily lead to peace is a pretty easy one to make, the usual example being that German-British trade was going brilliantly right up to World War I. Arguing that globalization leads to war is an altogether different enterprise. In his new book, When Globalization Fails: The End of Pax Americana, James Macdonald comes daringly close to showing that globalization, as a system of interdependence among major states, is an inherently unstable system that breeds insecurity among great powers. The interdependence feeds the insecurity.

Asian Currency WarIf our multipolar world is going the way of Macdonald’s analysis, we would expect to see greater regionalization under the direction of one or another regional hegemon — and that does appear to be the case, despite important countervailing trends such as improving U.S.-India relations, which have rescued the World Trade Organization. In Central Asia, Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s New Silk Road confront each other as opposing regional power plays. Asia’s export-led economies are also becoming more regional: Asian exports are increasingly purchased within Asia itself as demand from advanced economies remains weak. And regardless of the degree to which “re-shoring” exists, the desirability of siting production in closer physical proximity has captured Western political imaginations. Meanwhile all the major powers are focused on strengthening regional security arrangements, and all the major emerging powers are building their defenses, including the blue-water navies, whose major “defensive” purpose is to defend raw-material supply routes.

There are huge differences between today and earlier eras when the dynamics of globalization led to large-scale conflict. Nuclear weaponry is one; the lack of demographic-growth pressures in advanced economies is another. But we are nonetheless entering dangerous times.

via Does Globalization Cause War? | Scott Malcomson.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War September 15, 2014

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The U.S. has so far been prepared to act as the guarantor of international stability, but may not be willing—or able—to do so indefinitely.

Though the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far off and quaint, it is similar in many ways—often unsettlingly so—to ours, as a look below the surface reveals. The decades leading up to 1914 were, like our own time, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. The use of electricity to light streets and homes had become widespread; Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet communism were taking hold.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedGlobalization—which we tend to think of as a modern phenomenon, created by the spread of international businesses and investment, the growth of the Internet, and the widespread migration of peoples—was also characteristic of that era. Globalization can also have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in the comfort of small, like-minded groups. One of the unexpected results of the Internet, for example, is how it can narrow horizons so that users seek out only those whose views echo their own and avoid websites that might challenge their assumptions.

While history does not repeat itself precisely, the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then.
It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety.
Like the world of 1914, we are living through changes in the nature of war whose significance we are only starting to grasp.

Read on at http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2013/rhyme-of-history

The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy September 15, 2014

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mrmoneybagsAs recently as 50 years ago, 72% of the top 50 U.S. companies by market capitalization still owed their positions to the control and exploitation of natural resources.

By 2013 more than half the top 50 companies were talent-based, including three of the four biggest: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. (The other was ExxonMobil.) Only 10 owed their position on the list to the ownership of resources. Over the past 50 years the U.S. economy has shifted decisively from financing the exploitation of natural resources to making the most of human talent.

Over the past 13 years the list’s number of hedge fund managers, by far the fastest-growing category, has skyrocketed from four to 31, second only to computer hardware and software entrepreneurs (39) in possessing the greatest fortunes in America.

The Republican Party seems foursquare behind hedge funds, which it sees as embodying capital—even though hedge fund managers are in fact talent, a breakaway branch of labor (their overcharged customers are the real representatives of capital). The Democratic Party, traditionally supportive of organized labor, has increasingly transferred its allegiance to capital, largely because pension funds have become the most important form of capital and their beneficiaries represent the traditional Democratic power base. Neither party represents labor directly.

via The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy – Harvard Business Review.

Can Innovation Save Our Future? May 3, 2014

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A Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this “niche construction”—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature’s bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.

Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter’s tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can’t seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.

That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called “markets” or “prices” to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.

If I could have one wish for the Earth’s environment, it would be to bring together the two tribes—to convene a grand powwow of ecologists and economists. I would pose them this simple question and not let them leave the room until they had answered it: How can innovation improve the environment?

via The World’s Resources Aren’t Running Out – WSJ.com.

coalplugThe technological optimists crowd writing, in the current issue of Wired magazine, visits huge Chinese projects to sequester the Co2 from burning coal. An interesting read

The Clash of Systems April 27, 2014

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Writing recently on the independent Russian website Grani.ru, dissident writer and left-wing activist Alexander Skobov noted that today’s conflict between Russia and the West was not so much a clash of civilizations as a “clash of systems”: “The essential difference between them lies in who has ‘primacy’: the individual or the state, society or the ‘elite’? The conflict over this issue is not between civilizations but within each of them. Every state seeks to dominate the individual; every elite seeks to dominate society. But some countries have succeeded at developing a set of institutions that limit the power of the state and the elite over the individual and society, while others have not.”

Obviously, these institutions don’t always work. Yet, while the United States and the other capitalist liberal democracies may be very far from either the libertarian ideal of freedom or the progressive ideal of social justice, the unvarnished truth is that it’s only within this loosely knit global community — the “global liberal hegemony” deplored by far-left and far-right radicals — that these ideals have any chance to survive and develop. A world in which these values are on the ascendancy rather than in retreat is very much a part of our national interest.

via The Problem With the New Isolationism | TIME.com.

What world can teach U.S. about entitlements April 27, 2014

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Entitlement Lessons From Abroad A new report, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes that many countries have recently enacted reforms that have trimmed benefit formulas, raised retirement ages, and put in place new funded pension systems that supplement or partially substitute for pay-as-you-go government systems.

Several countries – including Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden – have gone further and introduced “automatic stabilizers” into their public pension systems that, directly or indirectly, index benefits to the growth in the payroll tax base. These stabilizers may differ in design, but they have two crucial characteristics in common. First, they are all expressly designed to offset the full impact of demographically driven cost growth. And second, they are all self-adjusting. In effect, they put entitlements on a new kind of autopilot – one that is preprogrammed for cost constraint rather than for cost growth.

ChangeInEntitlementBenefits 2010to2040It’s ironic that other developed countries, most of which have faster-aging populations and more expansive welfare states than the United States, are leading the way on entitlement reform.  Part of the explanation may be that, until recently, America’s age wave still loomed over the horizon, while in Europe and Japan aging populations have been burdening public budgets, forcing up payroll tax rates, and slowing economic growth for decades.

Part of the answer may also lie in America’s peculiar entitlement ethos.  In Europe, government benefit programs may be fiercely defended, with the opponents of reform manning the barricades and calling general strikes. But in the end, everyone understands that they are part of a social contract that is subject to renegotiation and revision.  In the United States, much of the public views Social Security and Medicare as quasi-contractual arrangements between individuals and the state.  This mindset, which is encouraged by the misleading insurance metaphors in which the programs are cloaked, may make old-age benefits more difficult to reform in the United States than in Europe’s large welfare states.

via What world can teach U.S. about entitlements – Global Public Square – CNN.com Blogs.

Why CBS Chose Colbert April 17, 2014

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The ideal television viewer is now in his twenties or thirties, lives in a city, has plenty of disposable income and is highly active on social media so that his or her brand choices influence their peers. He bought a new smartphone in the last 12 months and the next gaming console, he goes to bars and night clubs, spends $400 on video games and $300 on music. He is more likely to do these things than to become a parent, invest in stocks or buy a home.

Colbert_and_sons_by_David_Shankbone

CBS’s Hawaii Five-O may be highly rated, but it skews to older audiences, which is why it costs $58,000 to advertise on it, while Grimm, which has a smaller audience, charged $82,000. Both shows are about even in the demo,  but Grimm’s viewers are valued more. Blue Bloods may have fantastic ratings, but its audience is old, so it’s also down at the $58,000 level.

via CBS, Colbert and Contempt for America | FrontPage Magazine.

The End of the World as We Know It – Pax Americana December 15, 2013

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Drawing compelling parallels with today from the over-looked period after Rome fell and before the Middle Ages, known as “Late Antiquity”; highly-respected strategic thinker Robert Kaplan predicts a global return to tribalism and religiosity, as America retreats into isolationism.

Fall of RomeThe Pax Romana was a period of relative peace and stability throughout the Greater Mediterranean. By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim.

Today, tribes with four-wheel-drive vehicles, satellite phones, plastic explosives, and shoulder-fired missiles help close the distance between Late Antiquity and the early 21st century.
We are at the dawn of a new epoch that may well be as chaotic as that one and that may come upon us more quickly because of the way the electronic and communications revolutions, combined with a population boom, have compressed history.

By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim. – See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/03/augustine_s_world_what_antiquity_tells_us_about_syria#sthash.coL1EJCF.dpuf
By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim. – See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/03/augustine_s_world_what_antiquity_tells_us_about_syria#sthash.coL1EJCF.dpuf
By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim. – See more at: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/12/03/augustine_s_world_what_antiquity_tells_us_about_syria#sthash.coL1EJCF.dpuf

via Augustine’s World. (more…)

Good Riddance to Brotherhood’s Fake Democrats July 5, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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The saving grace in Egypt, King Abdulla of Jordan said, was that Mursi seemed too unsophisticated to successfully pull off his vision. “There’s no depth to the guy,” he said of Mursi. The king compared him unfavorably to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist prime minister of Turkey. Like Mursi, the king asserted, Erdogan was also a false democrat, but one with patience. “Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride,” Abdullah said. “Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.”

Unlike Mursi, however, Erdogan was masterful at manipulating a system that didn’t trust him, the king said. “Instead of the Turkish model, taking six or seven years — being an Erdogan — Mursi wanted to do it overnight.” Recent events in Turkey, including the government’s miscalculated response to mass protests, have shown that perhaps even Erdogan isn’t an Erdogan anymore.

Political IslamHad the military not intervened, though, the Muslim Brotherhood may have tried, over time, to make sure that Egypt’s first free and fair election was also its last. A number of Egyptian friends have written me in the past day, arguing that what the Egyptian people did — or, more to the point, what the Egyptian army, responding to the will of the people, did — was to forestall the rise of a new Hitler. If the Germans, who chose Adolf Hitler in a democratic election, had turned on him a year later, well, you know the rest. The analogy is overdone for so many reasons, but it is absolutely true that the Muslim Brotherhood is a totalitarian cult, not a democratic party.

via Good Riddance to Brotherhood’s Fake Democrats – Bloomberg.

Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan? June 21, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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As of this writing, Pakistan is by volume the world leader for Google searches of the terms “shemale sex,” “teen anal sex,” and “man fucking man,” according to Google Trends. Pakistan also ranks second in the world (after similarly gay-intolerant Kenya) for volume of searches for the search term “gay sex pics.”

In its report, Pew noted that countries exhibiting the highest levels of gay tolerance are largely secular, whereas nations where religion is central to public lifesuch as Egypt, Nigeria, and Pakistantend to reject homosexuality. But in Pakistan, what’s even more peculiar is that the highest number of hits for some of these terms, including “shemale sex,” come not from Pakistan’s cosmopolitan centers, but from Peshawar, a bastion of conservative Islam, lately known in the West as a counterterrorism frontline.

Farahnaz Ispahbikini_burkhaani, an expert in Pakistani minorities at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former member of Pakistan’s parliament, says that homosexuality is a taboo subject throughout the country. In major cities such as Lahore and Karachi, gays can develop a network of allies outside their tribe or family, but in conservative Peshawar, gay identity is more complicated. Part of the popularity of gay porn could stem from the fact that even highly observant Muslim males often have physical relationships with men without considering themselves gay, she says.

“The real love they can have that most of us find with a partner, they find with men,” Ispahani says. “They mostly see their wives as the mother of their children.”

Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan? | Mother Jones.

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? January 12, 2013

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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At a time when there’s a spotlight on America’s richest 1%, a look at the country’s 310 Indian reservations–where many of America’s poorest 1% live–can be more enlightening. To explain the poverty of the reservations, people usually point to alcoholism, corruption or school-dropout rates, not to mention the long distances to jobs and the dusty undeveloped land that doesn’t seem good for growing much. But those are just symptoms. Prosperity is built on property rights, and reservations often have neither. They’re a demonstration of what happens when property rights are weak or non-existent.

The vast majority of land on reservations is held communally. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits, one reason for the abundance of mobile homes on reservations. This makes it hard for Native Americans to establish credit and borrow money to improve their homes because they can’t use the land as collateral–and investing in something you don’t own makes little sense, anyway.

This leads to what economists call the tragedy of the commons: If everyone owns the land, no one does. So the result is substandard housing and the barren, rundown look that comes from a lack of investment, overuse and environmental degradation. It’s a look that’s common worldwide, wherever secure property rights are lacking—much of Africa and South America, inner city housing projects and rent-controlled apartment buildings in the U.S., Indian reservations.

via Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor? A Look At The Bottom 1% – Forbes.

Balancing the 3 Types of Innovation November 25, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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efficiency innovations are liberating capital, and in the United States this capital is being reinvested into still more efficiency innovations. In contrast, America is generating many fewer empowering innovations than in the past. We need to reset the balance between empowering and efficiency innovations.

America today is in a macroeconomic paradox that we might call the capitalist’s dilemma. Executives, investors and analysts are doing what is right, from their perspective and according to what they’ve been taught. Those doctrines were appropriate to the circumstances when first articulated — when capital was scarce. But we’ve never taught our apprentices that when capital is abundant and certain new skills are scarce, the same rules are the wrong rules.

It’s as if our leaders in Washington, all highly credentialed, are standing on a beach holding their fire hoses full open, pouring more capital into an ocean of capital. We are trying to solve the wrong problem. The author presents solutions at the end of the article

via A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins the Election – NYTimes.com.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else October 14, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish.

Several recent studies have shown that in America today it is harder to escape the social class of your birth than it is in Europe. Educational attainment, which created the American middle class, is no longer rising.

Economists point out that the woes of the middle class are in large part a consequence of globalization and technological change. Culture may also play a role. In his recent book on the white working class, the libertarian writer Charles Murray blames the hollowed-out middle for straying from the traditional family values and old-fashioned work ethic that he says prevail among the rich (whom he castigates, but only for allowing cultural relativism to prevail).

The crony capitalism of today’s oligarchs is far subtler than Venice’s. It works in two main ways.

The first is to channel the state’s scarce resources in their own direction. This is the absurdity of Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent” who are “dependent upon government.” The reality is that it is those at the top, particularly the tippy-top, of the economic pyramid who have been most effective at capturing government support — and at getting others to pay for it.

Exhibit A is the bipartisan, $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008. Exhibit B is the crony recovery. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that 93 percent of the income gains from the 2009-10 recovery went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The top 0.01 percent captured 37 percent of these additional earnings, gaining an average of $4.2 million per household.

via The Self-Destruction of the 1 Percent – NYTimes.com.

Europe Most Generous, Asia Stingiest For Paid Days Off October 14, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Business, Lifestyle, philosophy & politics.
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  • Workers in UK and Poland have most generous statutory employee holiday entitlements
  • Employees in the USA, Canada, Philippines, China and Thailand have the least generous
  • Colombia has greatest number of public holidays; Mexico the least
  • UK employees have access to a highest amount of potential holiday (36 days per year) but in reality fare worse than other European employees

According to Mercer Consulting, holiday entitlement is often more complex since actual holiday provisions often depends on company contracts and the number and treatment of public holidays. In the UK, for example, employees are entitled to 28 days holiday. With the UK also holding 8 public holidays each year, this suggests that employees in the UK could be on holiday for 36 days, or 10%, of each year. This would be one of the highest entitlements of all 62 countries. The reality is that companies are allowed to include the 8 public holidays as part of the 28 day entitlement so UK employees actually have fewer days’ holidays than their peers in the rest of Europe where, in general, the practice is for European employees to take public holidays in addition to their statutory entitlement. Employees in the Asia-Pac region have comparatively low levels of statutory entitlement but public holidays are taken in addition to this rather than as part of it. However, the levels of holiday entitlement in Asia-Pac are still below those of Western Europe.     Employee holiday entitlements around the world.

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