Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Stephen Hawking discusses the crucial distinction between seeing money as a means of pursuing worthy ends versus treating it a goal in and of itself - and notes that we should be wary of political choices based on the latter view:
Money is also important because it is liberating for individuals. I have spoken in the past about my concern that government spending cuts in the UK will diminish support for disabled students, support that helped me during my career. In my case, of course, money has helped not only make my career possible but has also literally kept me alive.
So I would be the last person to decry the significance of money. However, although wealth has played an important practical role in my life, I have of course had a different relationship with it to most people. Paying for my care as a severely disabled man, and my work, is crucial; the acquisition of possessions is not. I don’t know what I would do with a racehorse, or indeed a Ferrari, even if I could afford one. So I have come to see money as a facilitator, as a means to an end – whether it is for ideas, or health, or security – but never as an end in itself.
I hope and believe that people will embrace more of this cathedral thinking for the future, as they have done in the past, because we are in perilous times. Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious – climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Such pressing issues will require us to collaborate, all of us, with a shared vision and cooperative endeavour to ensure that humanity can survive. We will need to adapt, rethink, refocus and change some of our fundamental assumptions about what we mean by wealth, by possessions, by mine and yours. Just like children, we will have to learn to share.

If we fail then the forces that contributed to Brexit, the envy and isolationism not just in the UK but around the world that spring from not sharing, of cultures driven by a narrow definition of wealth and a failure to divide it more fairly, both within nations and across national borders, will strengthen. If that were to happen, I would not be optimistic about the long-term outlook for our species.

But we can and will succeed. Humans are endlessly resourceful, optimistic and adaptable. We must broaden our definition of wealth to include knowledge, natural resources, and human capacity, and at the same time learn to share each of those more fairly. If we do this, then there is no limit to what humans can achieve together.
- Linda McQuaig sees Bernie Sanders' progressive populist movement as a crucial force in pushing back against rule by the .01%. And Branko Milanovic offers some theories as to how our economic system should change to better account for public well-being, rather than merely focusing on corporate demands.

- Lola Okolosie notes the connection between the decline of social mobility and school systems designed to preserve and exacerbate inequality.

- Nancy Macdonald examines the woeful exclusion of indigenous people from Saskatchewan's governing institutions (among other indicators of the desperate need to close the opportunity gap).

- Finally, Charlie Smith reports on the Trudeau Libs' choice to ram through Christy Clark's Site C dam with no regard for affected First Nations. And Matthew Behrens discusses how the Libs are continuing the Cons' attacks on human rights.

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