Compete, target and reform
The priority should be a Rooseveltian attack on monopolies and vested interests, be they state-owned enterprises in China or big banks on Wall Street. The emerging world, in particular, needs to introduce greater transparency in government contracts and effective anti-trust law. It is no coincidence that the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, made his money in Mexican telecoms, an industry where competitive pressures were low and prices were sky-high. In the rich world there is also plenty of opening up to do. Only a fraction of the European Union’s economy is a genuine single market. School reform and introducing choice is crucial: no Wall Street financier has done as much damage to American social mobility as the teachers’ unions have. Getting rid of distortions, such as labour laws in Europe or the remnants of China’s hukou system of household registration, would also make a huge difference.
Next, target government spending on the poor and the young. In the emerging world too much cash goes to universal fuel subsidies that disproportionately favour the wealthy (in Asia) and unaffordable pensions that favour the relatively affluent (in Latin America). But the biggest target for reform is the welfare states of the rich world. Given their ageing societies, governments cannot hope to spend less on the elderly, but they can reduce the pace of increase—for instance, by raising retirement ages more dramatically and means-testing the goodies on offer. Some of the cash could go into education. The first Progressive era led to the introduction of publicly financed secondary schools; this time round the target should be pre-school education, as well as more retraining for the jobless.
Last, reform taxes: not to punish the rich but to raise money more efficiently and progressively. In poorer economies, where tax avoidance is rife, the focus should be on lower rates and better enforcement. In rich ones the main gains should come from eliminating deductions that particularly benefit the wealthy (such as America’s mortgage-interest deduction); narrowing the gap between tax rates on wages and capital income; and relying more on efficient taxes that are paid disproportionately by the rich, such as some property taxes.
The Economist: “True Progressivism”
“A new form of radical centrist politics is needed to tackle inequality without hurting economic growth”
I never was one for ready-made politics, but this is really good.
Today, too many of our digital services projects do not work well, are delivered late, or are over budget. To increase the success rate of these projects, the U.S. Government needs a new approach. We created a playbook of 13 key “plays” drawn from successful best practices from the private sector and government that, if followed together, will help government build effective digital services.
U.S. Digital Services Playbook
Three of the plays—1, 6, and 7—focus on people alone. Solid advice for any project.
Somehow, some way, the quadrennial whispers about a potential Boston Olympics have finally taken hold. The city is now one of four finalists for the 2024 US bid for the games, along with Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Supporters insist that a carefully crafted plan could lead to massive infrastructure improvements, an explosion in tourism, and venues that can later convert into civic centers in their own right.
Boston.com: Nobody Else Wants to Host the Olympics. Why Does Boston?
Pretty much for the same reasons as any other city, but in this case, “maybe” equals “highly unlikely” when talking about the impact of the Olympics. London got lucky essentially zeroing out on the balance between tourist dollars and getting upgrades to transit systems.
I will admit, however, that if the Olympics were to come to Boston, that I would likely get tickets for the family. I went to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and I have never forgotten it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and to have it in the town just an hour away from where I live is too good a deal to pass up. But I would also try to see go if its in New York or D.C.
Boston doesn’t need it, and I easily imagine a lot of people not wanting it. To borrow from the article, explosions are not the long, slow burns needed to sustain economies and, as the article points out, Boston already gets massive tourist dollars. Compounding Boston summer tourism with the summer Olympics would be the very definition of a shit show.
Now any restaurant that serves a home-made dish can indicate it on the menu with it new logo – in the shape of a saucepan with a roof-like lid. From next January it will be compulsory for all menus to carry the logo – so if you don’t see it, the food is not fait maison.
I find it interesting that it’s the restaurants that make a particular dish entirely on-site are the ones who have to follow the law regarding a new logo. I think that if something similar were passed in the United States (yeah, right), then it would be the other way around: those restaurants that use non-homemade foods would have to place a logo on their menu, and the one’s making homemade dishes wouldn’t have to change a thing. Then we would see that logo everywhere.
But, this makes sense to me because everyone wins. Even if they don’t see the logo, people will still go to those restaurants that prepare non-homemade foods, but those restaurants that show their food is homemade would, ostensibly, get more business. If the law were reversed, then those restaurants having to advertise the use of non-homemade foods could lose business.
Too many of us continue to live by the durable myth that one less hour of sleep gives us one more hour of productivity. In reality, each hour less of sleep not only leaves us feeling more fatigued, but also takes a pernicious toll on our cognitive capacity. The more consecutive hours we are awake and the fewer we sleep at night, the less alert, focused and efficient we become, and the lower the quality of our work.
The research is overwhelming that the vast majority of us require seven to eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested, and only a small percentage require less than seven. The problem is that we kid ourselves. “Like a drunk,” the Harvard sleep expert Charles A. Czeisler wrote, “a person who is sleep deprived has no idea how functionally impaired he or she truly is. Most of us have forgotten what it really feels like to be awake.”
NY Times: Sleep as a Competitive Advantage
For me, nothing beats a twenty minute nap in the afternoon, maybe thirty minutes. Anything more than that is of little to no benefit. But that twenty minutes can make all the difference in the world for the rest of my day.
I think sleep is really only part of the solution to good productivity, and that exercise and a reasonable diet are needed as well for sleep to be its most effective. I say, “reasonable diet” in that there only a relative few out there that eat truly good all the time; some foods aren’t good for the waistline, but they are good for soul and are therefore irresistible.
I have been working on my health for the past several weeks by working through an exercise regimen from Nerd Fitness. I work out five days a week on average, for an average thirty minutes a day. It’s a well packed thirty minutes prioritizing intensity over time, and within only a couple weeks I found benefits in regards to how I feel overall. Even those nights where I only could get five to six hours of sleep I felt better than before I started working out.