…uh-oh. Depressing to read this in Slate the day before yesterday from Phil Plait about how the Canadian National Research Council has now stated that:
they will only perform research that has “social or economic gain”.
John MacDougal, President of the NRC, literally said, “Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value”. Gary Goodyear, the Canadian Minister of State for Science and Technology, also stated “There is [sic] only two reasons why we do science and technology. First is to create knowledge … second is to use that knowledge for social and economic benefit. Unfortunately, all too often the knowledge gained is opportunity lost.”
As Plait notes, this is entirely wrong. As he puts it:
This is monumentally backwards thinking. That is not the reason we do science. Economic benefits are results of doing research, but should not be the reason we do it. Basic scientific research is a vast endeavor, and some of it will pay off economically, and some won’t. In almost every case, you cannot know in advance which will do which.
But as noted in comments under the article this is a line of thinking that can be found much closer to home… George Monbiot noted on his blog, again coincidentally the day before yesterday, that:
Two weeks ago I castigated the new [United Kingdom] chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport, for misinforming the public about risk, making unscientific and emotionally manipulative claims and indulging in scaremongering and wild exaggeration in defence of the government’s position(3). Since then I have seen his first speech in his new role, and realised that the problem runs deeper than I thought.
How much deeper?
Speaking at the Centre for Science and Policy at Cambridge University, Walport maintained that scientific advisors had five main functions, and the first of these was “ensuring that scientific knowledge translates to economic growth”. No statement could more clearly reveal what Benda called the “assimilation” of the intellectual. As if to drive the point home, the press release summarising his speech revealed that the centre is sponsored, among others, by BAE Systems, BP and Lloyd’s.
That Great British class calculator April 3, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Capitalism, Complete nonsense.
and who you know
Im boxed the lowest of wretched Proles however, while still living on >10k with no savings I effortlessly achieved social mobility by claiming to like Opera and know a Chief Executive (which could of course be my boss)
The traditional categories of working, middle and upper class are outdated, fitting 39% of people.
It found a new model of seven social classes ranging from the elite at the top to a “precariat” – the poor, precarious proletariat – at the bottom.
More than 161,000 people took part in the Great British Class Survey, the largest study of class in the UK.
Class has traditionally been defined by occupation, wealth and education. But this research argues that this is too simplistic, suggesting that class has three dimensions – economic, social and cultural.
The BBC Lab UK study measured economic capital – income, savings, house value – and social capital – the number and status of people someone knows.
The study also measured cultural capital, defined as the extent and nature of cultural interests and activities.
The ‘new’ classes are defined as:
Elite - the most privileged group in the UK, distinct from the other six classes through its wealth. This group has the highest levels of all three capitals
- Established middle class – the second wealthiest, scoring highly on all three capitals. The largest and most gregarious group, scoring second highest for cultural capital
- Technical middle class – a small, distinctive new class group which is prosperous but scores low for social and cultural capital. Distinguished by its social isolation and cultural apathy
- New affluent workers – a young class group which is socially and culturally active, with middling levels of economic capital
- Traditional working class – scores low on all forms of capital, but is not completely deprived. Its members have reasonably high house values, explained by this group having the oldest average age at 66
- Emergent service workers - a new, young, urban group which is relatively poor but has high social and cultural capital
Precariat, or precarious proletariat – the poorest, most deprived class, scoring low for social and cultural capital
and what of this?
The researchers said while the elite group had been identified before, this is the first time it had been placed within a wider analysis of the class structure,
Even on basic level of uselessness, White middle class kids have been the biggest consumers of “hip-hop/rap” for the last twenty years and what relation has it to Class at all?
So what would an Irish version look like?
Surely as useful a guide as the above effort.
For a better picture check out this week’s welfare reforms.
“Income Inequality: Evidence and Policy Implications” March 25, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in Economics, Inequality, Taxation Policy, Uncategorized.
Emmanuel Saez does not propose replacing capitalism, but within its terms, this is a useful lecture that could do with an airing here.
Economic systems December 28, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Communism, Economics.
Around the time of the Soviet collapse, the economist Peter Murrell published an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives reviewing empirical studies of efficiency in the socialist planned economies. These studies consistently failed to support the neoclassical analysis: virtually all of them found that by standard neoclassical measures of efficiency, the planned economies performed as well or better than market economies.
First he reviewed eighteen studies of technical efficiency: the degree to which a firm produces at its own maximum technological level. Matching studies of centrally planned firms with studies that examined capitalist firms using the same methodologies, he compared the results. One paper, for example, found a 90% level of technical efficiency in capitalist firms; another using the same method found a 93% level in Soviet firms. The results continued in the same way: 84% versus 86%, 87% versus 95%, and so on.
In 1989, the dissident Polish reform economists Włodzimierz Brus and Kazimierz Łaski — both convinced socialists and disciples of the distinguished Marxist-Keynesian Michał Kalecki — published a book examining the prospects for East European reform. Both had been influential proponents of democratic reforms and socialist market mechanisms since the 1950s.
Their conclusion now was that in order to have a rational market socialism, publicly-owned firms would have to be made autonomous — and this would require a socialized capital market. The authors made it clear that this would entail a fundamental reordering of the political economy of East European systems – and indeed of traditional notions of socialism. Writing on the eve of the upheavals that would bring down Communism, they set out their vision: “the role of the owner-state should be separated from the state as an authority in charge of administration….[E]nterprises…have to become separated not only from the state in its wider role but also from each other.”
Parties of the working class, acutely vulnerable to pressure from below, were in government more than 40% of the time in the postwar decades – compared to about 10% in the interwar years, and almost never before that – and “contagion from the Left” forced parties of the right into defensive acquiescence. Schooling, medical treatment, housing, retirement, leisure, child care, subsistence itself, but most importantly, wage-labor: these were to be gradually removed from the sphere of market pressure, transformed from goods requiring money, or articles bought and sold on the basis of supply and demand, into social rights and objects of democratic decision.
This, at least, was the maximal social-democratic program — and in certain times and places in the postwar era its achievements were dramatic.
But the social democratic solution is unstable — and this is where the Marxist conception comes in, with its stress on pursuit of profit as the motor of the capitalist system.
Google ‘Pays Just 0.14% Tax in 7 Years’ December 9, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism.
1 comment so far
Something useful in the Sindo, a story revealing just how little tax Google has been paying.
Hold the coffee… December 3, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Capitalism, Crime, Economy.
…after reading this...
Starbucks is cutting paid lunch breaks, sick leave and maternity benefits for thousands of British workers, sparking fresh anger over its business practices.
On the day the House of Commons’ public accounts committee branded the US coffee chain’s tax avoidance practices “immoral”, baristas arriving for work were told to sign revised employment terms, which include the removal of paid 30-minute lunch breaks and paid sick leave for the first day of illness. Some will also see pay increases frozen.
And what did Starbucks do, or rather not do?
The changes affecting about 7,000 coffee shop staff emerged as the company tried to quell public and political outrage at its use of secretive company structures that has seen it pay just £8.6m in UK tax over the past 13 years on sales of £3.1bn.
Lovely. Just lovely.
A Left-friendly email service provider? October 15, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Community, Ethics, Internet, Other Stuff, Society, Trade Unions, Workers Rights.
My main email account has been with ireland.com since the 1990s. Today they sent an email to say they are closing the service in less than a month (so the domain can be transferred to Tourism Ireland).
I could simpy transfer everything to my back-up gmail account, and may do that simply to ensure that I have the data. However, I was wondering of any readers of CLR know of a Left-friendly email service provider?
So, what would be Left-friendly? My ideal would be one run as a co-op, and I wouldn’t mind paying for that, but I’ve no notion if there are any or if any I might find thrpugh an internet search are secure or reliable. My second preference would be one run by a company that recognises unions. (When I got my first mobile phone, I checked with the CWU to see which providers recognised it and/or other unions. The initial reply gave me a list of companies where the union has members, but I did get an answer the specific question a few days later. I don’t know how often the union gets a query like that.)
Dear Account Holder,
The Irish Times and Tourism Ireland today announced a digital content cooperation agreement to promote Ireland as a tourist destination. The agreement spans a number of areas, including the sale of the ireland.com domain name to Tourism Ireland. Tourism Ireland will use the ireland.com url to attract more web traffic and enhance the promotion of Ireland overseas.
As a result, we wish to inform our @ireland.com email subscribers that the service will be discontinued from November 7th, 2012. From midnight on this date, you will no longer be able to send or receive messages. You will, however, be able to access your account until December 7th for the purpose of transferring any data (i.e. emails, tasks, documents, appointments and/or contacts) currently saved on your account. We are writing to advise you of this change and to ensure the transition to a new service provider is as seamless as possible.
To aid the transition, we have provided a step-by-step guide and FAQs on ireland.com and a helpline has been established to assist wherever possible. The helpline will operate between 8am and 8pm weekdays on telephone 1890 876 666 or 01 685 6999 or email email@example.com .
We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to our valued customers.
Head of Online, The Irish Times
Garret Keizer on Privacy and Class. September 14, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Capitalism, Class, Economy, The Left.
I’m never entirely surprised by the rage that enters into discussions of public versus private sectors, particularly from those in the latter. Having worked in that area for a large portion of my own working life the lack of autonomy in many jobs is something that – again having direct experience of same – is enraging. That that energy – understandable as it is – tends to be channelled towards attempting to pull others down (as exemplified by a comment the day before yesterday) rather that pushing everyone’s situation upwards is a depressing indictment of how orhodoxies aren’t simply economic but are broader and more constraining…
And in a context where the vehicles for shifting employments from one situation to another – the unions, are both enfeebled (or non existent) in the private sector, or can appear unconcerned with the situation of private sector workers, and add to that a suspicion of unions and the means for positive change are limited. Worse again one could argue that the best opportunity that unions had to ameliorate this in the private sector, the period of social partnership was simply blown by them. And of course it’s not just the workplace because this goes far beyond that.
Which brings me to an interesting podcast from Slate with an interview by the excellent (and Scottish) June Thomas with Garret Keizer who was discussing the issue of privacy in reference to his book on the same topic. What was telling was how explicitly Kezier positioned this in the context of class.
I just made a short check list of a whole bunch of things that people of certain classes can afford and people of other classes can’t. Not only does one’s privacy depend in some ways on ones class but one’s enjoyment of the private life that privacy protects can also depend on class. So you can talk about having the right to privacy that is protected by the Fourth Amendment that guarantees some protection against warrantless searches of your house but what if you don’t have a house, what if you’re sleeping under a bridge or what if you do have a house but you have to work three jobs just to pay for the mortgage. So you have an abstract theoretical right to privacy but your actual experience of the things that cause us to regard privacy as a value is extremely limited.
Again I think it is possible (and necessary) to draw that much wider and to reconfigure privacy as part of that broader area of autonomy’. Simply put in our societies privacy and autonomy are curtailed by economic position.
If one sees this starkly in the workplace in terms of power dynamics, it is also evident in every part of life, from the domestic space – where one lives, the nature of the accommodation (even to the issue of how much space there is from the neighbours or can one hear them through the walls>), interactions in the public sphere – and in particular with ‘services’, both public and private and so on and so forth.
The Quinn Issue August 1, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, Crime, Sinn Féin.
I was going to just stick a link to this piece from Sluggerotoole in the Open Thread, but remembered Joe’s point yesterday that if things continued the Quinn issue could do with its own thread. So here we are. Mick Fealty quotes the following from the Irish Times
Mr Quinn’s bluff and bluster attempts to convince a sceptical public that he is more sinned against than sinning have failed to impress. He has sought to cultivate a sense of victimhood in order to exonerate himself and to blame others for mistakes and misjudgments of his own making. In doing so he has managed to sound like a fool while acting like a knave.There can only be one winner in all this. And from what we have seen so far, it will not be Mr Quinn. Speaking truth to power can require moral courage.
Speaking truth to Mr Quinn is the best service that his friends who hold his best interests at heart – not least those in the GAA – can and should now provide.