3. Reasons for Hope

Dec-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Howard Zinn said it beautifully (thanks to Gabe for the quote), “Human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.  What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.  If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.” 

* Default to Kindness   Ian Welsh

In policy terms, the kind thing to do is usually the right thing to do.  I’d go so far as to say, almost always.

Treating prisoners with kindness nets Finland half the recidivism rate the US, with its punitive prisons gets.  That is, only half as many prisoners, once released, commit a crime in Finland.

Single payer or comprehensive universal healthcare has costs about a third less than the US system, and produces better results.

Not committing war crimes makes people much less interested in killing you.  Not torturing enemies means they are far less likely to torture your people.

* The Real Winners and Losers of Globalization The Global List

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the global financial crisis, global income distribution has changed in some remarkable ways in just two decades. We have probably witnessed the most profound global reshuffling of people’s economic positions since the Industrial Revolution.

Broadly speaking, the most significant consequences of this reshuffling are:

The bottom third, with the exception of the very poorest, became significantly better-off, and many people there escaped absolute poverty.

The middle third (or more) became much richer, seeing its incomes rise, in real terms, by approximately 3% per capita annually.

The most interesting development, though, happened among the top quartile. While the top 1%, and somewhat less so the top 5%, gained significantly, the next 20% in the global income distribution either gained very little or faced stagnant real incomes.The question of who has won and who has lost because of globalization has preoccupied economists for two decades. Now, with the help of a new data set compiled by the World Bank, we can begin to answer this vital question. Branko Milanovic explains how globalization has changed global income dynamics.

* George Lucas to donate $4.05B from Lucasfilm sale to Education Huffington Post

George Lucas is ensuring that the force may be with young Jedis everywhere. The “Star Wars” director will donate the $4.05 billion he will receive from the sale of Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney to a foundation focused on education, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

* Marching in Solidarity: A Guest Post by Hallie Rosen Shalom Rav

Like almost every Jew, I too have a complicated relationship with Israel.

…I expected to see protest posters and I braced myself for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiments.  From my ADL days, I knew that these kinds of protests can easily become an opportunity for fringe elements to chant anti-Semitic slogans.  But that didn’t happen.  All of the messages were strong, but on target. As the group of about 700 people walked peaceably through the Loop during rush hour, there was chanting  but also simple non-political conversations among the marches – about shopping, uncomfortable shoes, upcoming holidays, etc. …We gathered once again after the walk to listen to speakers. Everyone was on message, asking for sanctions from the US, end of violence and settlement building, requesting a just peace, etc. When Brant spoke, he received a strong enthusiastic reception from the crowd – particularly when he was introduced as a rabbi.

…I also became aware of how important it is to step outside of one’s own comfort zone and find common cause with those whom you’ve previously assumed to be your enemy. In the end, marching for justice was for me an affirmation of our common humanity.



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