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Sick of this market-driven world? You should be

Sick of this market-driven world? You should be
To be at peace with a troubled world: this is not a reasonable aim. It can be achieved only through a disavowal of what surrounds you. To be at peace with yourself within a troubled world: that, by contrast, is an honourable aspiration. This column is for those who feel at odds with life. It calls on you not to be ashamed. I was prompted to write it by a remarkable book, just published in English, by a Belgian professor of psychoanalysis, Paul Verhaeghe. We are social animals, Verhaeghe argues, and our identities are shaped by the norms and values we absorb from other people. Today the dominant narrative is that of market fundamentalism, widely known in Europe as neoliberalism. Verhaeghe points out that neoliberalism draws on the ancient Greek idea that our ethics are innate (and governed by a state of nature it calls the market) and on the Christian idea that humankind is inherently selfish and acquisitive. At the heart of this story is the notion of merit. Related:  our fundamental notions & understandingthe big picture

Followership Followership refers to a role held by certain individuals in an organization, team, or group. Specifically, it is the capacity of an individual to actively follow a leader.[1] Followership is the reciprocal social process of leadership.[2] The study of followership (part of the emerging study of Leadership psychology) is integral to a better understanding of leadership, as the success and failure of groups, organizations, and teams is not only dependent on how well a leader can lead, but also on how well the followers can follow.[3] Specifically, followers play an active role in organization, group, and team successes and failures.[4] Effective followers are individuals who are considered to be enthusiastic, intelligent, ambitious, and self-reliant.[1] The emergence of the field of followership has been attributed to the scholar Robert Kelley.[4] Kelley[3] described four main qualities of effective followers, which include: Followership Patterns (Types)[edit] References[edit]

It Matters How Rich the Rich Are John Aziz at The Week argues that it does not matter how rich the rich are. I believe he is wrong for a number of reasons. The Impoverished Do Suffer Because the Rich Are Rich Aziz opts for the Econ 101 move to take on the idea that we should want to know how rich the rich are (not unlike the old "grow the pie" saw): Focusing on how immeasurably rich the rich may be is putting the cart before the horse. This is a clever bit of rhetoric, but nothing more than that. Aziz's point is that we don't need to change the distribution in order to improve the plight of the poor because new wealth can be created that can do so. Even if you assumed that increasing production would automatically uplift the poor (which is wrong), it is pure ideology to say that means "the impoverished do not suffer because the rich are rich." In that scenario, we would have to say that the suffering of the impoverished could be lessened by 1) increasing production, or 2) changing the distribution.

Scientists: Rich People, Poor People May Have Shared Common Ancestor ITHACA, NY—According to a study released this week by geneticists at Cornell University, substantial evidence indicates that rich people and poor people—disparate populations long thought to be entirely unrelated—may have once shared a single common ancestor. “After conducting careful DNA analysis, our research team was taken aback to discover that the wealthy and the working class actually have a considerable number of genetic similarities,” said study co-author Kenneth Chang, adding that despite the disparity between the modern-day affluent and low earners in terms of behavior, appearance, and lifestyle, numerous genetic markers revealed that their predecessors may have once lived beside one another without any noticeable differences. “Side by side, poor people and rich people look almost nothing alike, of course.

The evils of meritocracy © Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP/Press Association Images One of the few ambitions shared by politicians across the political spectrum is that of creating a fully meritocratic society, that is, a society in which all those who make it to the top do so only because of their own talents and abilities (rather than thanks to unfair privilege: upper-class parents, a friendship with the boss etc.). Throughout the Western world, all governments have (in theory!) the common goal of trying to create a hierarchy based on actual ability, replacing posh, chinless halfwits with the meritorious, wherever they may be found and whatever age, colour or gender they might be. © PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images This meritocratic ideal has brought opportunity to millions. © REX/Moviestore © Getty There has turned out to be no shortage of people willing to answer the question on behalf of the poor. It was the sociologist Michael Young who first explored the downside of a belief in a supposedly just social system.

The Danger of Financial Jargon The most important mystery of ancient Egypt concerned the annual inundation of the Nile floodplain. The calendar was divided into three seasons linked to the river and the agricultural cycle it determined: akhet, or the inundation; peret, the growing season; and shemu, the harvest. The size of the harvest depended on the size of the flood: too little water, and there would be famine; too much, and there would be catastrophe; just the right amount, and the whole country would bloom and prosper. Every detail of Egyptian life was shaped by the flood. But the priests were cheating, because they had something else, too: Nilometers. The world is full of priesthoods. It’s the same when you hear money people talk about the effect of QE2 on M3, or the supply-side impact of some policy or other, or the effects of bond-yield retardation or of a scandal involving forward-settling E.T.F.s, or M.B.S.s, or subprime loans and REITs and C.D.O.s and C.D.S.s. The language of money works like that, too.

The Great Philosophers 8: Theodor Adorno © Getty Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was born in Frankfurt in 1903 into a wealthy and cultured family. His father, a wine merchant, was of Jewish origin but had converted to Protestantism at university. Teddy (as his closest friends called him) was an extremely fine pianist from a young age. Until his twenties, he planned for a career as a composer, but eventually focused on philosophy. In 1934, he was barred, on racial grounds, from teaching in Germany. Adorno believed that intellectuals should band together to change society, and he was closely connected with the pioneering Institute of Social Research, which had been founded and funded by his friend Felix Weil (whose father was a hugely successful commodities trader). Adorno drew attention to three significant ways in which capitalism corrupts and degrades us: 1. Adorno had a highly ambitious view of what leisure time should be for. © Time & Life Pictures/Getty 2. 3. © UIG/Getty Conclusion

Why do we value gold? Image copyright British Museum Mankind's attitude to gold is bizarre. Chemically, it is uninteresting - it barely reacts with any other element. Yet, of all the 118 elements in the periodic table, gold is the one we humans have always tended to choose to use as currency. Why? Why not osmium or chromium, or helium, say - or maybe seaborgium? I'm not the first to ask the question, but I like to think I'm asking it in one of the most compelling locations possible - the extraordinary exhibition of pre-Columbian gold artefacts at the British Museum? That's where I meet Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, beside an exquisite breastplate of pure beaten gold. He pulls out a copy of the periodic table. Image copyright Thinkstock "Some elements are pretty easy to dismiss," he tells me, gesturing to the right-hand side of the table. "Here you've got the noble gases and the halogens. "And then there's the fact that they are colourless. Take iron. So, what's left?

Middle class Americans: Not so wealthy by global standards - Jun. 11, 2014 NEW YORK (CNNMoney) The numbers seem to back it up. Americans' average wealth tops $301,000 per adult, enough to rank us fourth on the latest Credit Suisse Global Wealth report. But that figure doesn't tell you how the middle class American is doing. Americans' median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult -- half have more, half have less. "Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries," said Edward Wolff, a New York University economics professor who studies net worth. Why is there such a big difference between the two measures? Super rich Americans skew average wealth upwards. Related: Where in the world are the super rich? This schism secures us the top rank in one net worth measure -- wealth inequality. There's one main reason why the average Spaniard or Italian has more to his name than the typical American: real estate. Related: Rich, really rich, and ultra rich

Why You Should Bribe Your Kids: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast [MUSIC: Pearl Django, “La Rive Gauche” (from Under Paris Skies)] Stephen J. DUBNER: Hello, John List? John LIST: Stephen Dubner, how are you doing, man? DUBNER: I’m great! LIST: Great! DUBNER: John List is an economist at the University of Chicago. DUBNER: Now… do you… do you ever have to bribe any of your kids? LIST: Every now and then I have to incentivize them. DUBNER: And how’d that work out? LIST: Three of the five kids it worked for. DUBNER: How much did they get from you? LIST: I better talk about that off air. DUBNER: So three of them at least played you pretty well, though. LIST: Well, I don’t know about played me. DUBNER: But your incentive in giving them that big cash bounty was not just to get them to eat it for the week, presumably. LIST: Absolutely. ANNOUNCER: From WNYC: This is FREAKONOMICS RADIO, the podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. [MUSIC: Teddy Presberg, “Thanks Maw” (from Outcries From A Sea Of Red)] DUBNER: That’s Samek. DUBNER: Wishful thinking.

THE FINANCIAL PHILOSOPHER: Foundations vs 'Castles in the Air' "I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden Humans are curious beings. Consider some examples of foundation-building: Building a foundation is the "responsible" thing to do.

The Economy: Under New Ownership by Marjorie Kelly How cooperatives are leading the way to empowered workers and healthy communities. posted Feb 19, 2013 Employees at Equal Exchange, the oldest and largest fair-trade coffee company in the nation. Pushing my grocery cart down the aisle, I spot on the fruit counter a dozen plastic bags of bananas labeled “Organic, Equal Exchange.” I happen to know a bit more than the average shopper about Equal Exchange, because I count myself lucky to be one of its few investors who are not worker-owners. Maneuvering my cart toward the dairy case, I search out butter made by Cabot Creamery, and pick up some Cabot cheddar cheese. At the checkout, I hand over my Visa card from Summit Credit Union, a depositor-owned bank in Madison, Wis., where I lived years ago. On my way home, I pull up to the drive-through at Beverly Cooperative Bank to make a withdrawal. Something is dying in our time. Author Marjorie Kelly: It’s no accident that the deep redesign of our economy isn’t beginning in Washington, D.C.

Why You Hate Work Photo THE way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep. Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives. Our company, The Energy Project, works with organizations and their leaders to improve employee engagement and more sustainable performance. Continue reading the main story Regular time for creative or strategic thinking Ability to focus on one thing at a time Opportunities to do what is most enjoyed Level of meaning and significance Connection to your company’s mission A sense of community Mr. Mr. Mr.

Capital in the Twenty-first Century by Thomas Piketty – review This is a VIB – very important book. Nearly everyone agrees about that. But the reasons for its importance have changed in the months since it was published. At first it was important because it was a big book on a big subject: a book of grand ambition about inequality, written not by the latest "thinker" but a respected academic economist with real numbers to go with his theory. We hadn't had anything like that in ages. Writing a bestselling economics book is usually a good way to make other economists hate you. At this point you didn't need to read it to have an opinion about it. There are many claims in the 700-odd pages, but let me highlight some of the important ones, before moving on to whether – and why – any of this matters. Claim one is that income inequality has increased sharply since the late 1970s, with a particularly dramatic rise in the share of total income going to the very highest earners. These are remarkable numbers.

Inequality Is Not Inevitable AN insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality? One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration. This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Javier Jaén Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism. If it is not the inexorable laws of economics that have led to America’s great divide, what is it?