The world my children inhabit looks superficially like the world I grew up in during the 1970s. The house they live in, the clothes they wear and the food they eat – none of these would be very strange to the kids of a generation ago (although even here there are notable differences.) But the way they spend their time is completely different to anything I dreamed of doing.
Posted in Life, Politics, Technology
Tagged Computers, Creativity, Economic growth, Economics, Equality, Free trade, Industrial Revolution, Internet, Money, Politics, Poverty, Prediction, Technology, Wealth, Work
So the people of the United Kingdom have voted to leave the European Union. The margin was small (51.9% Leave vs 48.1% Remain) but a win is a win, and so Britain will now begin negotiations to leave – a process that might take years to complete. Already the markets have fallen, the currency has crashed, and the Prime Minister has resigned. But the crowds cheer, regardless. Continue reading
On June 23, 2016, the people of Britain will vote in a referendum. The question we will be asked is: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
I have already cast my vote by post, and I voted to remain, although I can see both sides of the argument. Here’s my take on what’s at stake. Continue reading
I’ve been having an interesting chat with my blog friend, Wyrd Smythe about the discovery of fire, and other game-changing advances in human civilization. We both agree that trade is of fundamental importance, but where we have differing views is whether trade is natural or whether it counts as an invention, like the wheel.
I’m going to argue here that trade isn’t at all natural or obvious, and should be considered one of humankind’s greatest inventions, on a par with writing, farming, and computers. Continue reading
Anyone interested in politics should take a good look at the Political Compass website. Here you can read about Left vs Right (economics) and Authoritarianism vs Libertarianism (social attitudes) and see how you fit into the big picture. There’s a relatively simple test to take, and here are my results, shown with the positions of the various UK political parties in the 2015 general election. It seems like I’m a political outsider, although not an extremist. Continue reading
We are moving from a world in which resources are scarce towards a world of abundance. Many things that were once scarce are already abundant in developed countries and will soon be abundant everywhere, if trends continue.
There’s a strong counter-narrative telling us the opposite – that the world’s resources are almost used up, that population levels are unsustainable and that we must cut back now or face disaster. But Malthus said the same two hundred years ago, and so have countless others. Each has been proved wrong. Continue reading
Despite many commentators’ predictions of a hung parliament, the outcome of the UK’s general election was a clear majority for David Cameron’s Conservative Party. It seems that on the whole, the people of England and Wales rejected the parties of the left, and embraced the party that promised to help “hard-working families.” Continue reading
Give unlimited resources to a caveman and he will chop down trees and burn them as firewood.
Give unlimited resources to a Victorian and he will burn coal to power a steam engine. Continue reading
Posted in Politics, Technology
Tagged Creativity, Economic growth, Economics, Environment, Equality, Free trade, Human rights, Industrial Revolution, Money, Politics, Poverty, Technology
I’m a huge fan of the French actor Gerard Depardieu. Jean de Florette is one of my all-time favourite films. But the recent wealth tax introduced in France has led Depardieu to leave the country and hand back his French passport.
If I had to pay 75% of my income in tax for the privilege of living in France, I’d probably think twice too. Continue reading
Posted in Politics
Tagged Belief, Democracy, Economics, Equality, Free trade, Freedom, Human rights, Money, Politics, Tax, Work
In this series of articles, I’m exploring the psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s core moral foundations and in particular how they relate to our political beliefs.
Loyalty is the third moral foundation, and Haidt defines it like this:
Loyalty/Betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.“
Tricky definition. On one hand, loyalty is a virtue. Self-sacrifice for the group is as virtuous as it gets. And the opposite (betrayal) is clearly a negative quality.
And yet, self-sacrifice for the group is the attitude of a suicide bomber. It’s what drives young men to kill for their country. It pits “us” against “them.” Is this really a virtue? Continue reading