Thursday 29 December, 2022

England’s green and pleasant land…

Millfield under snow

… under snow.

Quote of the Day

”He who hesitates is sometimes saved.”

  • James Thurber

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Norah Jones | Come Away With Me


Long Read of the Day

Who Broke American Democracy?

An insightful essay by Angus Deaton on Project Syndicate which widens the perennial focus from the usual suspects (polarisation, the GOP and social media) onto the way the country’s political and electoral systems have catered to the interests of elites and the well-off at the expense of those without a college degree. Obvious, really, but it takes a Nobel laureate to point it out.

The current mainstream narrative in the United States holds that democracy is under threat from MAGA zealots, election deniers, and Republicans who are threatening to ignore unfavorable results (as well as recruiting loyalists to oversee elections and police polling places).

That narrative is true, but only up to a point. There is another, longer-running story with a different set of malefactors. It’s a story in which, for more than 50 years, Americans without college degrees have seen their lives deteriorate over a range of material, health, and social outcomes.

Although two-thirds of the adult US population does not have a four-year college degree, the political system rarely responds to their needs and has frequently enacted policies that harm them in favor of corporate interests and better-educated Americans. What has been “stolen” from them is not an election, but the right to participate in political decision-making – a right that is supposedly guaranteed by democracy. Viewed in this light, their efforts to seize control of the voting system are not so much a repudiation of fair elections as an attempt to make elections deliver some of what they want…

Read on. It’s good.

Books, etc.

Two interesting books coming in 2023.

  1. Martin Wolf’s The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism. Democracy and capitalism have always been uneasy bedfellows, but to date they have managed to find ways of getting along. But there’s a real crunch coming and Martin Wolf is someone who has been thinking about this for a long time. It’s out in February.

  2. Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington have an interesting book on the stocks — The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies. For decades I’ve been amazed by the global consulting racket and the way that firms like PwC, KPMG, Bain, the Boston Group, McKinsey et. al. get away with it. I enjoyed Duff McDonald’s revealing profile of that last outfit, btw, so not surprisingly, Mazzucato’s and Collington’s book is on my list.

My commonplace booklet

Emma Thompson’s tribute to Alan Rickman.

Truly wonderful short video. Do watch it.

My New Year’s Resolution: read his diaries.

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