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THE most striking thing about the founders of modern democracy such as James Madison and John Stuart Mill is how hard-headed they were. They regarded democracy as a powerful but imperfect mechanism: something that needed to be designed carefully, in order to harness human creativity but also to check human perversity, and then kept in good working order, constantly oiled, adjusted and worked upon. The need for hard-headedness is particularly pressing when establishing a nascent democracy. Robust constitutions not only promote long-term stability, reducing the likelihood that disgruntled minorities will take against the regime. Foreign leaders should be more willing to speak out when rulers engage in such illiberal behaviour, even if a majority supports it. Video Democracy: A view from Cairo Even those lucky enough to live in mature democracies need to pay close attention to the architecture of their political systems. But reformers need to be much more ambitious. Related:  New Economic system/trends and new paradigmsDemocracy & Freedom of Speech

Amsterdam embraces sharing economy The City of Amsterdam has made an important step towards the emerging sharing economy. Alderperson Ossel officialy announced the city will continue to allow residents renting out their own property to city visitors through platforms like Airbnb. With this resolution, Amsterdam is simultaneously moving further towards being a ‘Sharing City.’ ‘Occasional rental of privately-owned property as an additional form of accommodation dovetails with a hospitable Amsterdam’, Alderperson Ossel states. Not only is this a significant gesture to tourists visiting the city. It’s a clear sign that Amsterdam actively embraces the rapidly rising sharing economy. ‘We would like to congratulate Amsterdam with this promising decision’, says Harmen van Sprang, co-founder of shareNL. Will this news put Amsterdam on the map as a global forerunner of the sharing economy? ‘We are pleasantly surprised by all the attention for the sharing economy in the Netherlands’, Harmen says. About shareNL

PETER HITCHENS: The sinister, screeching mob who want to kill free speech (And no, I DON'T mean the Islamist terrorists in our midst)  By Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday Published: 00:02 GMT, 11 January 2015 | Updated: 01:34 GMT, 11 January 2015 Global shock: Memorials have sprung up around the world to the Paris massacre victims Once again we are ruled by a Dictatorship of Grief. Ever since the death of Princess Diana, we have been subject to these periodic spasms when everyone is supposed to think and say the same thing, or else. We were told on Friday that ‘politicians from all sides’ had lined up to attack Ukip’s Nigel Farage for supposedly ‘exploiting’ the Paris massacre. Mr Farage had (quite reasonably) pointed out that the presence of Islamist fanatics in our midst might have something to do with, a) uncontrolled mass migration from the Muslim world, and b) decades of multicultural refusal to integrate them into our laws and customs. Rather than disputing this with facts and logic (admittedly this would be hard), the three ‘mainstream’ parties joined in screeching condemnation. Why ever not? Why?

Capitalism 4.0 & Neuroplasticity of the Collective Brain | Otto Scharmer I have just returned from an interesting experience in Washington. D.C.: a panel discussion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The event was sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a leading neo-conservative think tank responsible for much of the intellectual core and agenda of the Bush-Cheney administration. So why would I go to a place that co-engineered much of the thinking that led us into the disaster of the Iraq War and the financial crisis of 2008, costing us trillions of dollars, and causing massive waves of human suffering across cultures? Three reasons. One, I was invited by my friends at the Mind and Life Institute, which hosted one of the panels at the event. That being said, I don't agree with many of the official AEI talking points. But what's missing? So my first takeaway is this: Traditional right-left polarization keeps the political discourse locked into false dichotomies of the past. Searching for Capitalism 4.0 Neuroplasticity of the Collective Brain

The King David You Never Knew Thomas Piketty and his ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ are white hot, but he’s no ‘Tocqueville for Today’—and he and his fan club have Tocqueville all wrong. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a new Frenchman in town. Armed with progressives’ two favorite things—statistics and a European accent—the celebrity economist Thomas Piketty has hit American shores in support of his new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Sadly for Piketty, his explanatory socialism is a nonstarter for every American except a handful of media, academic, and policy elites. In an ominous example of just how out of touch those elites have become, two of them have produced a wildly mistaken assessment of Piketty’s work—and haven’t raised so much as a peep of objection. The review in question is “A Tocqueville for Today,” written by Jacob S. Hacker and Pierson are respected scholars in their field. Tocqueville, not Piketty, is our best guide to the problem of inequality in America. So far, so good. No.

The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it | David Graeber Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn't know how banking really works, because if they did, "there'd be a revolution before tomorrow morning". Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. To get a sense of how radical the Bank's new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. It's this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say "there's just not enough money" to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending "crowding out" the private sector. In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it's backwards. Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? But politically, this is taking an enormous risk.

Orwell Explains How Socialists Alter Language to Alter History George Orwell wrote that through alterating the past, and by portraying any remembered history as evil, socialist regimes could render classic texts such as the U.S. Declaration of Independence incomprehensible in their original context. People then would be incapable of understanding the original intentions behind them. And as if to demonstrate how close today’s society has come to what Orwell warned of, the Declaration of Independence has been framed just like this today. To demonstrate the full scale of irony, let’s look at what Orwell predicted in his novel “1984”: “In practice this meant that no book written before approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Orwell then quotes the passage: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Subverting Totalitarianism Orwell saw this coming. Newspeak BlackWhite DoubleThink

A Relentless Widening of Disparity in Wealth What if inequality were to continue growing years or decades into the future? Say the richest 1 percent of the population amassed a quarter of the nation’s income, up from about a fifth today. What about half? To believe Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, this future is not just possible. In his bracing “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which hit bookstores on Monday, Professor Piketty provides a fresh and sweeping analysis of the world’s economic history that puts into question many of our core beliefs about the organization of market economies. His most startling news is that the belief that inequality will eventually stabilize and subside on its own, a long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong. It is possible to slow, or even reverse, the trend, if political leaders like President Obama, who proposed that income inequality was the “defining challenge of our time,” really push. Painstakingly assembling data from tax returns, Mr. Mr. Mr. It didn’t.

‘Thoughtcrime’ Is Becoming a Reality In several Western countries, people are receiving visits from the police to question them about their political views, and some have been arrested. Cases in the UK and New Zealand have involved people who made comments against mass migration and Islamism. In a May 4 viral video posted on Facebook, a New Zealand man is questioned by police for his alleged posts about the mosque shooting in Christchurch. Of course, the real issue isn’t about religious “intolerance.” It’s publicly accepted for people, including public leaders, to openly condemn religions such as Christianity. Condemning state policies has become synonymous with a double standard on “intolerance,” which is punishable by the state. Even in the United States, similar practices are now in place, only they’re being enforced by large corporations. British writer George Orwell warned about such systems with his depiction of a fictional “thought police” in his book “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” ‘Doublethink’ ‘Repressive Tolerance’

To Touch Eternity | Eruditio Abstract Has humanity’s progress been hijacked by a pervasive scientific rationalism that trades spirituality and communality for cold efficiency? If so, does this cultural meme promise anything more than sterile technological miracles that, while solving past problems, ambush our ability to imagine how we might avoid civilized society descending into the barbaric once again? Have we permitted economic growth, wealth creation and the financialisation of almost everything we cherish to become an all consuming obsession, superseding any higher moral purpose? This essay puts a case for curbing our sanctification of industrial economism by reinstating more compelling and empathic narratives as a keystone strategy for the future advancement and survival of the human family. As old age beckons, many things become clear. Solitude comes too – mostly unpredictably, yet always welcome. But serene empathy can also bring dissonance. “We have nobody to blame but ourselves. This was not the plan. 1.

John Cassidy: Is Surging Inequality Endemic to Capitalism? In the stately world of academic presses, it isn’t often that advance orders and publicity for a book prompt a publisher to push forward its publication date. But that’s what Belknap, an imprint of Harvard University Press, did for “Capital in the Twenty-first Century,” a sweeping account of rising inequality by the French economist Thomas Piketty. Reviewing the French edition of Piketty’s book, which came out last year, Branko Milanovic, a former senior economist at the World Bank, called it “one of the watershed books in economic thinking.” The Economist said that it could change the way we think about the past two centuries of economic history. Certainly, no economics book in recent years has received this sort of attention. Months before its American publication date, which was switched from April to March, it was already the subject of lively online discussion among economists and other commentators. Part of Piketty’s motivation in returning home was cultural.

Toward a circular economy: Philips CEO Frans van Houten Two years ago, we decided to embed circular-economy thinking in our strategic vision and mission, both as a competitive necessity and with the conviction that companies solving the problem of resource constraints will have an advantage. We believe that customers will increasingly consider natural resources in their buying decisions and will give preference to companies that show responsible behavior—something we are already seeing. Designing products and services for a circular economy can also bring savings to a company. The first impression people always have is that it adds costs, but that’s not true. In our lighting business, for example, rapidly changing technology and the economic crisis made business and municipal customers reluctant to make big investments, because they felt uncertain. For business customers, we therefore now sell lighting as a service: customers only pay us for the light, and we take care of the technology risk and the investment. Changing minds at Philips

Remaking the industrial economy Visualize, for a moment, the industrial economy as a massive system of conveyor belts—one that directs materials and energy from resource-rich countries to manufacturing powerhouses, such as China, and then spirits the resulting products onward to the United States, Europe, and other destinations, where they are used, discarded, and replaced. While this image is an exaggeration, it does capture the essence of the linear, one-way production model that has dominated global manufacturing since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Increasingly, however, the linear approach to industrialization has come under strain. Some three billion consumers from the developing world will enter the middle class by 2030. The unprecedented size and impact of this shift is squeezing companies between rising and less predictable commodity prices, on the one hand, and blistering competition and unpredictable demand, on the other. Exhibit 1 Enlarge Circular thinking Exhibit 2 1. 2. 3. 4. Squaring the circle

Bitcoin price in dollars will soon be irrelevant (it should be now) | Metaquestions I am very keen on Bitcoin, I was not in the beginning as I thought it had shortfalls. I was right about that, it does, I was dead wrong about these being an issue though. The bitcoin community is growing fast, the need for systems like this are beyond question now. I constantly hear, ‘how much is it worth now?’ and read about speculation and buy/sell advice, it’s at the same time exhilarating and annoying. Bitcoin is a trading mechanism that allows people to transfer a service or goods across the world, without borders. We are entering a new world now, not one that requires regulation to bend it back into the shape of the old world (the one with the collapsed financial system). This won’t stop, just as people became educated after the Gutenberg press, so they have as the Internet grows. When I say bitcoin, I don’t mean cyber currencies, I actually mean bitcoin (the protocol). Edit, I have posted the update to this now. Like this: Like Loading...