FairPhone June 11, 2013Posted by Tomboktu in Community, Economics, Employment Rights, Environment, Ethics, Human Rights, Technology.
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[WorldByStorm suggested today that I move this up from a comment to a full post. I've uodated it because the time reference in the original is now out of date.]
Last year, I mentioned (in passing) that when I when I first bought a mobile phone, I made a point of buying from a telecoms company that recognises their workers’ union. I did not mention then that I had also done some research to see if I could buy a model that reflected my concerns — where the minerals are from, or union recognition for the people who make the actual phone.
So, I was pleased to see fairphone.com opened their new phone to pre-purchase.
On June 5 they hit their target of 5000 orders in order to go into production, and there are two days left to order one of the first batch.
And at the weekend just gone, they were working on aspects of the design their second phone.
The ethos is summed up in the invitation to the group of designers who participated in that workshop:
FairPhone was created because most people have no idea where the component parts of their mobile phone come from, how they are manufactured, and by whom. Bas: “Mobile phones are part and parcel of a complex economic and political system. We want to make this system visible to everyone. We do that by manufacturing the FairPhone, which unravels that system step by step.”
They recongise that their product is far from perfect — the rights of the workers is not secured through union recognition — but it’s better than any other phone I know of. Worth a look, I would suggest.
This was sent to us at CLR earlier today
Take action in the legislative process of EU-Seed regulation!
There is urgent action needed to avoid damage by the upcoming new EU regulation of seed marketing. The new regulation will de facto ban old and rare varieties and farmers varieties and threaten the exchange and selling of seeds of diversity. DG SANCO (the General Direction of the EU for Sanitary and Consumer affairs) has been working on a proposal for a new regulation since years.
On Monday, the 6th of May they will present their proposal to the conference of commissioners. They could not get a consensus of the two other affected DGs, DG AGRI (agricultural affairs) and DG ENVI (environmental affairs). Both opposed the last draft of the proposal, and DG SANCO is not looking for a consensus.
The new regulation has mainly been drafted by Isabelle Clement-Nissou, an employee of GNIS, the French lobby of the Seed Industry. Madame Clement-Nissou was sent as a national expert to Brussels by the French government and is supposed to ” support ” DG SANCO. The drafts for the proposal became worse from the first to the second draft; and it is expected that the final proposal is going into the same direction. Since there is no consensus between the three DGs, the commissioners have to vote on the proposal.
If a majority of commissioners votes against the proposal, it should be stopped. If they vote in favour, it will be given to the EU Parliament and to the Council. The seed industry is pushing the legislation, because they’ve spent a lot of money to influence the seed legislation. Furthermore, they don’t want it to be postponed after the election of a new parliament in May 2014. They take the risk that the commissioners vote against it − and we think: the commissioners should do so! There is only a little chance to get a majority of commissioners to vote against the current proposal, but we still should try.
Each country of the EU has one commissioner in Brussels, so we need 14 votes against the proposal. The commissioners of DG AGRI and DG ENVI should vote against, so we need 12 more.
Please write to the commissioner of your country and convince him/her to vote ” NO ” on the proposal of DG SANCO on 6th of May.
Try to make a link from his/her department to the seed issue, and try to make clear to him/her that the proposal for a new EU seed legislation will affect the cultural and biodiversity heritage of your country and the freedom of farmers to use the seeds and the varieties they want to.
NO PROHIBITION OF SEEDS OF DIVERSITY! By the obligation to register varieties before marketing, the new regulation will be a de facto prohibition of old and rare varieties and of farmer varieties. Please write to your commissioner in Brussels no later than the 28th.
He/she has to make a statement on the proposal from 24th of April on, the sooner, the better. On the 6th of May, we must obtain at least 14 objections, otherwise this proposal will become the official proposal.
THE EMAIL ADDRESS OF THE IRISH EU COMMISSIONER MÁIRE GEOGHEGAN-QUINN IS: firstname.lastname@example.org SUGGESTED MAIL:
Dear Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, I have recently been made aware of the upcoming proposed changes to EU seed marketing law. This proposed new regulation will de facto ban old and rare varieties and farmers varieties and stop the exchange and selling of traditional seeds.
The apparent background to this is that DG SANCO (the Directorate General of the EU for Sanitary and Consumer affairs) has been working on a proposal for a new regulation driven by lobbying of the big agricultural seed companies. Apparently, however, two other EU directorates, DG AGRI (agricultural affairs) and DG ENVI (environmental affairs) both opposed the last draft of the proposal because it was so bad for agriculture and biodiversity. DG SANCO is now pushing ahead with the new law by putting it directly to the Commission this week.
I would urge you to vote against the current proposal, as it impacts everyone who cares about our seeds and our freedom to save, use, and exchange them.
Given our Irish heritage and background in agriculture and indeed the many rare and beautiful varieties unique to our country, it is vital that you understand how the proposal for a new EU seed legislation will affect the cultural and biodiversity heritage of Ireland, and the freedom of farmers and growers to use the seeds and the varieties they want to. By forcing registration of all varieties of every crop species that exists, the new law will prohibit old, rare and traditional public− domain farm varieties. This will guarantee huge profits for the seed industry but will be a terrible loss to the people of Europe as our agricultural heritage is outlawed overnight!
I would urge you SAY NO TO PROHIBITION OF SEEDS OF DIVERSITY! VOTE NO….
More info at: www.seed-sovereignty.org
“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.
Sink or swim? February 18, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Economics.
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Spotted down the Claddagh this morning.
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.
Inequality up, but no efforts to address it December 6, 2011Posted by Tomboktu in Economics, Inequality, Ireland.
On Wednesday of last week, 30 November, official Ireland presented two faces of its approach to equality.
The Central Statistics Office reported the latest findings of levels of poverty and inequality (PDF here):
There was an increase in income inequality in 2010 as shown by the income quintile share ratio and the Gini coefficient. The quintile share ratio indicated that the average income of those in the highest income quintile was 5.5 times that of those in the lowest income quintile. This ratio was 4.3 one year earlier thus signifying greater inequality in the income distribution in 2010. The Gini coefficient showed a similar pattern increasing from 29.3% in 2009 to 33.9% in 2010. A Gini coefficient of 0% corresponds to perfect equality while higher Gini coefficients indicate a more unequal distribution. The Gini coefficient and the quintile share ratio indicate that the income distribution has become more unequal between 2009 and 2010 and reverses the downward trend evident since 2005.
In fact, the statistics show more than an increase from the previous year. They show that it is the highest since the SILC study (conducted under EU law) was first produced in 2004.
Michael Taft (here) and Sinéad Pentony (here) have separately written about what the CSO’s report tells us. Indeed, a comment on Taft’s post asks a very interesting question about the validity of the modeling used by the ESRI to assess the changes in the level of inequality. The ESRI’s model says there is none. Paper referred to in the comment here – 286-page PDF)
You would think that the CSO data showing increasing inequality (“INEQUALITY UP — OFFICIAL!“, as a red-top might put it), might lead those designing the bidget to think about what they are proposing. But by coincidence, Wednesday also saw the Department of Finance, through its mouth-piece Michael Noonan, confirm that inequality is not an issue that concerns them. They were prompted by Labour TD John Lyons, who was, in turn reacting to two reports from TASC on equality lessons for the budget (PDFs here [56 pages] and here [59 pages]). Lyons asked
Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider, in the course of his consideration of budgetary measures, the request by a group (details supplied) that all such measures be subject to an equality audit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The answer was awful (emphasis added by me).
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Where budgetary matters are concerned the Government’s primary focus at present is on reducing the deficit further and returning sustainability to the public finances in the coming years. The focus of Government in this regard will be on taking decisions in a way that spreads the burden of the adjustment in as fair and equitable a manner as possible, while at the same time, seeking to minimise the negative impact on economic growth, which as we have seen is returning.
There are currently no plans to equality audit the measures in Budget 2012. However, I would point out that the Programme for Government does contain a commitment to require all public bodies to take due note of equality and human rights in carrying out their functions. I would also remind the Deputy that the State and its bodies take the provisions of equality legislation into account in the development and delivery of its policies and services.
Furthermore, the Cabinet handbook requires that Government memoranda indicate clearly, as appropriate, the impact of the proposal for, amongst other things, gender equality, persons experiencing or at risk of poverty or social exclusion and people with disabilities.
I hope John Lyons follows that up.
Steve Keen in Dublin Tue 15 & Wed 16 Nov November 4, 2011Posted by Tomboktu in Books, Economics.
Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor Dethroned is coming to Dublin
I’ve just been sent further details of my itinerary while in Dublin:
15:00-16:30 Book signing (Location TBA)
16:30-18:00 TASC Seminar
19:00 – 20:30 Feasta
23:00 – 23:40 Tonight with Vincent Browne (To Be Confirmed)
07:00-09:00 RTE Radio 1 Morning Ireland (To Be Confirmed: 5-10 minute interview)
10:00 – 10:30 RTE Radio 1 Pat Kenny (To Be Confirmed: 10-20 minute interview)
11:00 – 12:00 IIEA
12:00 – 14:00 Book signing
I’ll post more details as they come to hand.
“Goldman Sachs rules the World” September 27, 2011Posted by Tomboktu in Economics.
“I’ve been dreaming about this for three years.”
“I dream of another recession.”
“The governments don’t rule the World, Goldman Sachs rules the World.”
Sins of the Father Belfast Launch Thursday 15th September at 7pm September 14, 2011Posted by Garibaldy in Books, Economics.
Poster shamelessly stolen from Dublin Opinion. Great to see this getting launched in the north.