OECD brain eaten by environmental memes

The OECD has joined The Movement. In a new report it’s saying that plastic recycling isn’t working. So we’ve got to make it work. Fair enough. PerhapsImage result for friendly crazy clown we should. But you’d think that reading their material on it, there might be some discussion as to whether this was the most economic way to address environmental objectives, or at least the most environmentally sound way to do so. I mean recycling plastic involves a lot of pollution – with trucks running round collecting stuff, toxins being difficult to remove from the plastic on recycling. So you’d be interested to hear how it all stacks up.

And when we hear that plastic waste is converted via incineration to energy and that this emits greenhouse gas, you’d want to know what the counterfactual was wouldn’t you? You’d want some reassurance that more recycling would lower plastics in the oceans – since, though it’s referenced as an important issue in the report, it seems to be a littering, rather than a recycling problem. And when you hear about the benefits of ‘extended producer responsibility’ you’re also waiting to hear about the very substantial costs and how the benefits and costs – economic and environmental – compare. But I had a quick read of the executive summary, and I was still waiting.

Posted in Economics and public policy, Environment | 7 Comments

Citizens’ juries as activism: holding political elites to their constitutional role

For some time now we’ve been ‘proving up’ citizens’ juries as a means of consulting the people, but generally within the context of governments being in charge. As a result they’ve been mostly relatively innocuous. For instance the first two in South Australia were focused on making Adelaide’s nightlife safe and vibrant and getting motorists and cyclists to share the road more safely. They’re pretty anodyne and boutique issues for politicians so it’s pretty low risk. They might generate some answers they’re happy with, help get community buy-in to tricky issues. And if they don’t work out as hoped for, governments can walk away without too much angst.

Having tried exercises with a degree of difficulty of about 3 out of ten, the then Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill had a rush of blood to the head and tried the citizens’ jury with pike and triple twist – rated in the diagnostic and statistical manual of democracy at 10. Should South Australia start a nuclear waste storage industry? The answer was … no, which wasn’t much fun for anyone. Elsewhere in Melbourne a citizens’ jury worked on a ten year budget plan which was certainly well received at the time. The plan is now a few years old and I’m not sure how well it’s stood the test of time.

In the UK, a consortium of academic and other interests held a citizens’ jury on Brexit but, in the angst ridden atmosphere of Brexit Means Brexit Britain, they were at great pains not to antagonise the politicians who were planning on spending the next four years masterminding what the overwhelming majority of them understood to be the disaster of Brexit (you know, the way Australia’s politicians did abolishing carbon pricing against the better judgement of around 80 percent of them – it’s costing the budget over $10 billion a year since you asked.)

Thus, as the organisers collateral put it dutifully, “The UK’s voters have decided to leave the EU. The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit is not reopening this question. This decision has already been made.” 1 However I can’t think of any big change that came about from people playing by the rules of the existing system and asking nicely. And the fact is that sortition has roots going deep into our history and culture – in fact back two and a half millennia to Athens, the birthplace of democratic politics, but also back more than 800 years to Magna Carta in our legal system in the form of juries. As public trust plummets for so many institutions, it’s trust in juries is alive and well and while ‘vertical’ trust – the trust of people in large and powerful institutions – has been falling, horizontal trust – in people’s peers and People Like Them has not fallen and may have risen.

And, not being able to recall any form of political activism that brought about major change except by asserting its own legitimacy in competition with the legitimacy of the existing system, I want to find ways of confronting the existing system in its weakest places with the legitimacy of citizens’ juries and sortition where they are strongest. This is the way I put it in a recent interview: Continue reading

  1. Likewise Kate Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston maintained party discipline:

    It’s a great pity that we didn’t have a citizens’ assembly before the referendum took place, on what is actually the biggest political, economic and constitutional decision of my adult lifetime. I think we have an opportunity now to use the outcome of the Assembly to inform decision-making as we leave the EU.

Posted in Democracy, Political theory, Politics - international, Sortition and citizens’ juries | 17 Comments

Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles (Deutschland films that is)

Beginning tomorrow.

Top Picks

Trailer Icon 03 The Silent Revolution (Opening Night)
It’s 1956 and during a visit to West Berlin, high school students Theo and Kurt witness dramatic footage of the Budapest uprising. Back at in Stalinstadt, they spontaneously hold a two minute silence during class in solidarity with the victims of the Hungarian struggle against Soviet oppression. But the gesture causes much bigger ripples than expected. The People’s Education Minister condemns the action as a counterrevolutionary act and demands that the ringleader be named, forcing the students to choose between standing together or not.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming

Trailer Icon 03 Mademoiselle Paradis (Special Event)
The film tells the true story of Maria Theresia von Paradis, a gifted piano player in Rococo Vienna, who lost her eye-sight as a child. Desperate to cure their daughter, the Paradis family entrust Maria to Dr. Mesmer, a forward-thinking-physician. Under his care, Maria slowly recovers her sight. But this miracle comes at a price as she progressively starts to lose her gift for music. Faced with a heavy dilemma, Mademoiselle Paradis will have to choose: an ordinary life in the light or an extraordinary life in darkness.
☆☆☆☆ BriefTake
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

When biology student Jule finds out she is pregnant, she sets out for Portugal to find her boyfriend Alex. Traveling in a rusty Mercedes “303” campervan, she picks up hitchhiker Jan at a gas station outside Berlin. While on the road, they have impassioned and deep conversations about capitalism, human nature, love and the meaning of life. Their trip becomes an emotional roller coaster, which finds them desperately trying not to fall in love with each other.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

The chance meeting of two people at the darkest moments of their lives leads to a bright new beginning in this bleakly humorous comedy. Terminally ill Arthur travels to Amsterdam seeking to end his life, though his planned last opulent trip is constantly disrupted: on the plane a child knocks over his glass of sparkling and on the eve of his scheduled death, he hears loud noises from the hotel room next door. There he finds Claire, a young Dutch woman who wants to commit suicide. He manages to stop her, and she takes him into the night life of Amsterdam, each with the intention of changing the other’s mind within the last few hours allotted to them.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

After Sophie and Jessica witnessed a brutal crime when they were kids, Jessica promised her younger sister to always protect her. As they grow older, this promise becomes an obsession. Now, Jessica suffers from paranoia and sees threats to her and her sister everywhere. But Sophie just wants to live a normal life without fear, without her sister; she wants to become a pianist and to fall in love. When the perpetrators are released from prison after 20 years, Jessica is shocked and wants to confront them. But an accident changes everything. Jessica’s promise turns into a life-threatening nightmare.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

When Eduard’s wife dies, his daughter wants to put him in a home. Instead, the 92-year-old former German World War II officer decides to board a train to the Ukraine, followed by his granddaughter, to find the only woman he ever loved – just as a new war breaks out in the former Soviet Union in Spring, 2014.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

What was meant to be a restful vacation in the mountains becomes a struggle for survival in this white-knuckle exploration of fatherhood and family power dynamics. Eager to strengthen his bond with his girlfriend Lea’s distant eight-year-old son Tristan, Aaron invites the two on a log-cabin holiday in the Italian Dolomites. When Aaron’s efforts to get closer to Tristan appear increasingly in vain, he takes the boy on a solo hiking trip – where it all comes to a head.
☆☆☆☆ CineVue
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Documentarian Jakob Preuss follows one migrant’s passionate and inexhaustible flight to freedom as he makes the journey from Cameroon to Berlin. Paul Nkamani is a migrant from Cameroon. He has made his way across the Sahara to the Moroccan coast where he now lives in a forest waiting for the right moment to cross the Mediterranean Sea. This is where he meets and befriends Jakob, a filmmaker from Berlin. After Paul manages to cross over to Spain on a rubber boat, he decides to continue on to Germany, forcing Jakob to decide: will he become an active part of Paul’s pursuit of a better life? A fascinating look at the relationship between filmmaker and subject set amidst the ongoing humanitarian refugee crisis.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Trailer Icon 03 Fack Ju Göhte (Part Of A Trilogy To Be Screened)
Zeki Müller was in jail for 13 months, just long enough for Goethe High to construct a new gym on the exact spot where Zeki’s friend buried his loot from a robbery. In order to get regular access to the school’s basement, from where he hopes to drill a tunnel to his stolen money, Zeki takes on a job as a substitute teacher at the school. But will his elaborate plan work, or only lead him back behind bars?
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Trailer Icon 03 Wings Of Desire (Closing Night)
Visible only to those like them and to children, Damiel and Cassiel are two angels, who have existed since long before humankind. Along with several other angels, they wander around West Berlin, observing and preserving life, sometimes trying to provide comfort to the troubled. When Damiel falls in love with a trapeze artist called Marion he decides to become human, even though that means giving up immortality. Peter Falk, playing himself as a former angel, has already taken that fateful step and urges Damiel to leave eternity behind too.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

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Orations, orations orations … out they go

I happened upon this post in ‘drafts’ without my having drafted anything. Events now make that unnecessary.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Neutering the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

This article is a follow-up to my recent long piece titled Northern Territory development, debt and deficit – the long and winding road.

Urban development ideas are invariably bedevilled by community dissension, much of it uninformed and anything but constructive.  However, part of the cause is failure by governments to adopt clear collaborative and consultative processes. Protesters with NIMBY motivations and instinctive Nabobs of Negativism often achieve levels of community fear and concern that their arguments and motives don’t merit, because governments have failed to make proposals and their underlying rationale clear and failed to build a consensus in favour of them before formally announcing them.

The proposed but now abandoned Myilly Point Indigenous and Multicultural Museum, which was to form part of the long-awaited Darwin City Deal with the federal government, is a classic recent example. Darwin badly needs an attraction that will honour our rich Indigenous and multicultural history and make it more accessible both to tourists and local residents. There’s no doubt in my mind that a well-conceived museum/cultural centre would have been really exciting and a big success. But the concept was never explained or “sold” clearly by the Gunner government either to the public or stakeholders. As a result, widespread misunderstanding and ignorant opposition were inflamed and the Chief Minister felt compelled to abandon the whole idea on pragmatic political grounds.

There are other projects that arouse community opposition on somewhat more rational grounds.

Continue reading

Posted in Economics and public policy, Law, Politics - Northern Territory | 1 Comment

Shared Value

I’d like to write up some thoughts regarding Shared Value some time, but I’ve not had the time and there’s a fair few things in front of it in the queue. 

So in case anyone’s interested here’s quite a good panel session on the subject with

Pru Bennett / Managing Director and Head of Investment Stewardship, Asia Pacific, BlackRock

Elizabeth Bryan AM / Chairman, IAG

Ken Henry AC / Chair, NAB

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RICHARD GREEN: Sakura, 5 years later

I saw this post by previous Troppo regular Richard 塚正, the Troppo author previously known as Richard Green and tweeted a suggestion that he republish it here. To which I got the reply: “I long since lost my password and was too lazy to try and recover it. You can repost yourself if you want tho”. I tried to recover his password and send it to him, but couldn’t figure it out. So over the fold is his post.  Continue reading

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