This is how social policy works, in baby steps and trial-and-error and tweaks, not in game changers. Leave the leaps and bounds to computing power. If a 49-cent deworming treatment really does produce a $30 increase in wages for some of the poorest people on Earth, we are assholes for not spending it.
And this is where I landed after a year of absorbing dozens of books and articles and speeches about international development: The arguments against it are myriad, and mostly logistical and technical. The argument for it is singular, moral, and, to me anyway, utterly convincing: We have so much, they have so little.
If we really want to fix development, we need to stop chasing after ideas the way we go on fad diets. Successful programs should be allowed to expand by degrees, not digits (direct cash payments, which have shown impressive results in Kenya and Uganda, are a great candidate for the kind of deliberate expansion I’m talking about). NGOs need to be free to invest in the kinds of systems and processes we’re always telling developing countries to put in place. And rich countries need to spend less time debating how to divide up the tiny sliver of our GDP we spend on development and more time figuring out how to leverage our vast economic and political power to let it happen on its own.
This applies to nearly everything in social policy.
This article, “Stop trying to save the world: Big ideas are destroying international development” by Michael Hobbes in New Republic is the most satisfying read on the topic I’ve come across in ages. It was sent to me by my father who worked for one of the biggest development ‘organisations’ in the world most of his career.
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Some I’ve mentioned before but in case you missed them..
Minister for Women
minister for putting your knickers into soak
for washing your bra in a laundry bag
for the stains that never come out
for hanging those sheets out to dry anyway
because fuck you
Dear Amanda and Debbie
the cake tin I’m using is square
and it’s supposed to be round
I think I married the wrong man
I am trying to trace it back to
the first wrong decision I made
Letter for a friend
Did you ever stand
with your hands in the sink
up to your elbows in soapy water
staring out the window
listening to the voices?
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This whole article, “A meditation on the art of not trying” in The New York Times is great but the bit about the significance of getting drunk together really stood out for me… what does this say about the massive drinking culture in Australia?
However wu wei is attained, there’s no debate about the charismatic effect it creates. It conveys an authenticity that makes you attractive, whether you’re addressing a crowd or talking to one person. The way to impress someone on a first date is to not seem too desperate to impress.
Some people, like politicians and salespeople, can get pretty good at faking spontaneity, but we’re constantly looking for ways to expose them. We put presidential candidates through marathon campaigns looking for that one spontaneous moment that reveals their “true” character.
Before signing a big deal, businesspeople often insist on getting to know potential partners at a boozy meal because alcohol makes it difficult to fake feelings. Neuroscientists have achieved the same effect in brain scanners by applying magnetic fields that suppress cognitive-control ability and in this way make it harder for people to tell convincing lies.
“Getting drunk is essentially an act of mental disarmament,” Dr. Slingerland writes. “In the same way that shaking right hands with someone assures them that you’re not holding a weapon, downing a few tequila shots is like checking your prefrontal cortex at the door. ‘See? No cognitive control. You can trust me.’ ”
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That skepticism reflects a widely held, deeply ingrained attitude reinforced by decades of warnings about poisoned Halloween candy and drink-spiking pickup artists. No wonder some of the loftier sharing-economy executives see their mission as not just building a business but fundamentally rewiring our relationships with one another. Much as the traditional Internet helped strangers meet and communicate online, they say, the modern Internet can link individuals and communities in the physical world. “The extent to which people are connected to each other is lower than what humans need,” NYU professor Arun Sundararajan says. “Part of the appeal of the sharing economy is helping to bridge that gap.” Lyft cofounder John Zimmer goes so far as to liken it to time he spent on the Oglala Sioux reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Their sense of community, of connection to each other and to their land, made me feel more happy and alive than I’ve ever felt before,” he says. “I think people are craving real human interaction—it’s like an instinct. We now have the opportunity to use technology to help us get there.”
From “How Airbnb and Lyft finally got Americans to trust each other” in Wired.
Share represented the full gamut of a true sharing economy, from the controversial Lyfts and Airbnbs to the individuals who run home businesses knitting scarves and baking pies without traditional employment safety nets or the corporate muscle of Big Sharing. While the former wields the power to get its way, defining “the sharing economy” at the expense of workers and consumers, sole proprietors and nonprofit collectives are often the ones facing real legal problems that they can’t afford to solve. The benefits big disruptive “sharing economy” players might be making for themselves are not exactly trickling down.
From “The case against sharing” in Medium.
There is no denying the seductive nature of convenience—or the cold logic of businesses that create new jobs, whatever quality they may be. But the notion that brilliant young programmers are forging a newfangled “instant gratification” economy is a falsehood. Instead, it is a rerun of the oldest sort of business: middlemen insinuating themselves between buyers and sellers.
From “The secret to the Uber economy is inequality” in Quartz.
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Posted in 10 feminist motherhood questions, ableism, arguments with your partner, child hatred bigotry, classism, economics, fatherhood, feminism, feminist motherhood, motherhood, motherhood bliss, motherhood sux, politics, preschoolers, raising daughters, raising sons, slow parenting, toddlers, work and family (im)balance on December 10, 2014 |
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My latest article is here.
Speaking of personal stories, Latham has an interesting story, too. He’s a stay-at-home father with a wife working outside the home. Having made the transition from political leadership to primary caring he might offer an insightful perspective, instead, he seems clouded by a kind of defensive masculinity. And his hostility towards feminist parenting is curious when you consider Latham’s own role reversal is exactly the kind of freedom feminists are seeking as an option to be available for more parents. But critiquing parenting has long been an underhand route for simply censuring women.
Women well know that when male commentators talk about women’s lives they are prone to holding unexamined views that run contrary to one another. So, being the primary parent has allowed Latham to see the hoax that fathers can’t be nurturing, but somehow mothering is still essentialist enough for inner-city feminists to be capable of running a secret campaign to “free themselves from nature’s way”. And further, mothers who take their experiences seriously enough to write about them are “self-absorbed”, but to not take them seriously is to be “breeding a generation of shirtless, tone-deaf, overweight, pizza-eating dummies”. Although Macdonald, apparently, manages to do both.
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Pointing out stupidity is seductive. In a rigged war economy that breaks bodies, poisons the only planet we have, and isolates us from one another in our dwellings and consumer demographics, stupidity is obvious and seemingly everywhere.
Solidarity, on the other hand, is particular. It’s a recognition that others struggle in their own specific ways. Solidarity requires listening: to stories of the structural deformation of individual lives; to the ways that popular culture makes people feel like they are living against the grain; to analyses that have not yet and may never become wholly coherent, or even depart from common sense.
Listening demands that we approach anyone fighting these battles with a presumptive generosity, even if we go on to disagree with them. Unfortunately, Crikey contrarians Bernard Keane and Helen Razer, in their new book A Short History of Stupid, take the easy path.
Oh my god, yes. This whole piece from Jason Wilson in The Guardian is great reading, “On Keane and Razer and why pointing out the stupidity of others is seductive”.
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