Thursday, May 15, 2003

What role for a modest participation income? It is possible to build upon existing parental, study or care leave schemes and integrate them, jointly with tax credits for the employed, into a universal basic income subjected to a very broad condition of social contribution, as proposed for example by Anthony Atkinson (1993a, 1993b, 1996, 1998) under the label "participation income". "In order to secure political support", Atkinson (1993a) argues, "it may be necessary for the proponents of basic income to compromise. To compromise not on the principle that there is no means test, nor on the principle of independence [i.e., the idea that no one should be directly dependent on any particular person or group], but on the unconditional payment". A participation income would be a non-means-tested allowance paid to every person who actively participates in economic activity, whether paid or unpaid. Persons who care for young or elderly persons, undertake approved voluntary work or training, or are disabled due to sickness or handicap, would also be eligible for it. After a while, one may well realise that paying controllers to try to catch the few really work-shy would cost more, and create more resentment all over than just giving this modest floor income to all, no questions asked. But in the meanwhile the participation income will have politically bootstrapped a universal basic income into position. Compared to the income-tax-reform approach and the social-assistance-
Why Spirituality is Essential to Progressive Politics
the Left tends to pursue its spiritual goals through means that undermine their goodness. In advocating for the oppressed, the Left too often tries to debase the oppressors by showing everyone how evil and inhuman they are—as if derision will change the primary social patterns that drive them to unkindness. This scapegoating lets the system off easy as we shift attention away from the underlying conditions that cause people to act in unloving ways and put all the blame on those who do. It is a war model of social change rather than a spiritual one, taking sides against a perceived enemy, and even when we invoke this model in the name of justice and peace, antagonisms continue and violence escalates. And we wonder why.

Computer science researchers at Stanford University have developed several new techniques that together may make it possible to calculate Web page rankings as used in the Google search engine up to five times faster. The speed-ups to Google's method may make it realistic to calculate page rankings personalized for an individual’s interests or customized to a particular topic.

Via David Farber's Interesting People. BTW, I'm organising some meetings with Dave when he visits Australia in September. If you are interested get in touch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

NEWS.com.au | Double dissolution 'more likely' (May 14, 2003)
THE Budget had raised the chances of the Federal Government calling a double-dissolution election, Greens leader Bob Brown said.

Senator Brown todaysaid the Budget should have been used to fund more services instead of small tax cuts.
"It's a political hoax. It may raise the chances of a double dissolution, but it's really not going to help the average person get the services they want," Senator Brown told Sky News.
"I think Australians would have preferred that money to go straight into hospitals, into affordable doctors, and to an education system that's open to everybody," he said.

The Australian: Greens will block education changes [May 13, 2003]
The Australian Greens would block the federal government's higher education package in the Senate, Senator Kerry Nettle said tonight.

She said the Greens specifically opposed higher HECS fees, more full-fee places for domestic students, performance-based research funding and requiring academics to take up individual workplace agreements.
"The Greens will seek to block any changes to the Higher Education Funding Act or other legislation that shifts costs from government to the student and their families," Senator Nettle said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

UpMyStreet The real-life guide to your neighbourhood
Conversations is a new kind of online forum that puts you in touch with people who live near you. Every conversation you see was started in a specific location, and can be seen by people nearby. And you can roam around the country simply by typing in a new postcode.

Outbreak Gave China's Hu an Opening (washingtonpost.com)
What forced Hu's hand? According to dozens of people interviewed for this article, the new Chinese leadership faced immense pressures from abroad and inside the country. The World Health Organization and the foreign media clamored for accountability. A whistleblower exposed lies about the outbreak. China's people began demanding basic rights to information. In the hospitals, the virus crept into the ranks of the Communist Party. And, unlike in times past, the drama was chronicled in real time on the Internet.

Bush administration officials confirmed today that Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who is the top civil administrator in Iraq, would leave here within a week or two and that other senior officials here will also be replaced.

Gen. Garner dumped -- what a pleasant surprise.

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