Here are a few of the links I’ve been clicking over the past few days:
When is economic growth good for the poor? At Consider the Evidence Lane Kenworthy reveals the awful truth — governments can make poor people better off by giving them money.
Money and happiness. When people in rich countries get a lot richer, they get a little bit happier too. A nifty chart from the Economist.
A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web. Thanks to Google, pissing off customers can be good for business. The New York Times article everyone’s linking to (I heard about it from Ezra Klein).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer returns — but without Joss Whedon. And stranger still, high school student Buffy Summers, will not be played by 33 year old actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. "This is a sad, sad reflection on our times," says Whedon, "when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself."
Actually, Glenn Beck Is Not Father Coughlin. Despite the comparisons, it turns out that tea party darling Glenn Beck is not in the same league as the notorious anti-Semitic radio broadcaster of the 1930s — but that’s mostly because Coughlin was far worse than most people realise.
Orpheus and Eurydice by Carlo Cignani (1628-1719)
O everlasting gods! I see your lovely eyes and
your beautiful face, and yet I cannot believe my
These are the sentiments of Orpheus on being reunited with Eurydice in Hades, but they are also the standard reaction to a Pinchgut Opera performance. Or, more precisely: I cannot believe my ears that something so sublimely beautiful could be extracted from that neglected material.
L’anima del Filosofo, Joseph Haydn’s version of Orpheus and Eurydice, is their ninth production, and since all the others have been brilliant I have no hesitation in recommending it without yet having seen it.
Pinchgut is an opera company that stages a baroque opera once a year, for four performances in Sydney’s City Recital Hall in the first week of December.
Rather than produce tried and tasted repertoire, Pinchgut usually resurrect forgotten masterpieces, rarely (or never) performed. When these are pieces by first-rank composers like Vivaldi (Juditha Triumphans, 2007) or Charpentier (Jonathan and David, 2008), the question is ‘How on earth did this get lost?’; when they are by obscure people like Francesco Cavalli (L’Ormindo, 2009), it becomes ‘Why on earth isn’t this guy better known?’. Continue reading
The publication of an edited version of my Troppo post about abolition of mandatory universal detention of asylum seekers at the ABC Unleashed site has certainly been an interesting experience. Fairly predictably it attracted the sort of polarised “howling into the darkness” comment thread that used to characterise Troppo years ago before we decided that smaller, more civil conversations were more congenial and useful.
About the only advantage of that sort of forum is that it at least provides a chance to respond to the standard knee-jerk canards of the Great Unwashed in the hope that more thoughtful and open-minded readers, who might otherwise be swayed by ignorant “pub” wisdom, will be provoked into thinking a little more deeply about the subject.
I was instantly labelled a “bleeding heart” “ivory tower” “leftie” academic whose thoughts should on that account be just as instantly dismissed.11. KP: OTO Saint Julian Burnside praised it as a “great article”, which may or may not be a compensating factor depending on one’s viewpoint [↩] As frequent Troppo readers will be aware, those labels just don’t fit. In fact I was even a cautious supporter of Howard’s “Pacific Solution” some years ago, until it became apparent that it simply didn’t work and achieved little except to inflict additional and pointless suffering on asylum seekers who in the majority of cases were genuine refugees fleeing persecution.
Of course, rejecting mandatory universal detention and offshore processing because they don’t actually work does not make one a “bleeding heart”. It does however impose some sort of intellectual obligation to propose alternative policies if you expect to be taken seriously.
I’m looking for a good web designer who can integrate a web presence with Facebook and Twitter and who also has a working familiarity with higher education learning management systems and in particular Blackboard. Can someone point me towards a suitable candidate?
RBA governor Glenn Stevens always goes to the big issues. His latest speech notes that we are becoming more dependent on China and India buying our resources, and adds that these countries will probably have their ups and downs over the next quarter-century. So then he asks: how might Australia best respond if our terms of trade become more variable?
One answer, he suggests, is a sovereign wealth fund.
The speech is here. No point paraphrasing, as he puts the argument with such (cautious) precision:
We could simply accept higher variability, if that comes, as the price of higher average income growth … Another approach would be to reflect the higher income variability in our saving and portfolio behaviour rather than our spending behaviour. We could seek to smooth our consumption – responding less to rises or falls in income with changes in spending and allowing the effects to be reflected in fluctuations in saving. In the most ambitious version of this approach, we could seek to hold those savings in assets that provided some sort of natural hedge against the variability of trading partners, or whose returns were at least were uncorrelated with them. Of course, such assets might be hard to find – the international choice of quality assets with reasonable returns these days is a good deal more limited than it used to be.
It is possible that this behaviour might be managed through the decisions of private savers. There might also be a case for some of it occurring through the public finances. That would mean accepting considerably larger cyclical variation in the budget position, and especially considerably larger surpluses in the upswings of future cycles, than those to which we have been accustomed in the past. There would also be issues of governance and management of any net asset positions accumulated by the government as part of such an approach, including whether it should be, as some have suggested, in a stabilisation fund of some sort.
Reading between the lines, Stevens is well aware just how challenging it would be for politicians to implement this symmetrical Keynesianism.
Great last line too:
It is sometimes said that Australia manages adversity well but prosperity badly. There will never be a better opportunity than now to show otherwise.