In the UK’s upcoming 2015 general election, many people seem tempted to vote for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (an anti-Europe, anti-immigration party), seeing it as a fresh change from the tired old politics of the main parties. Here are some rather quick, but no less damning thoughts as to why that’s a terrible idea. Read the rest of this entry
In a previous post I argued that Western culture needs to make a dramatic shift away from devoting so many hours towards paid employment. This has become something of a hot topic in the USA right now, partly because some implications of the Affordable Care Act apparently involve forcing some employees to reduce their hours (why such a rich country must interfere with all employers just to ensure that sick children born to poor parents aren’t simply left to die is beyond me and thankfully also besides the point here), but mainly because The Partially Examined Life covered the topic of work in their most recent podcast. In the following guest post, my friend Joey Jones -in a section from his Philosophy MA thesis- takes a rather different view on work both to myself in that aforementioned post, and to the traditional socialist position represented by Karl Marx, whose views I have also written on.
Governments always want to increase the amount of work being performed via employment levels, but is this a goal we should be seeking? This depends on whether doing so is in peoples’ best interests. Read the rest of this entry
From my friend Benjamin Thomas, today with some socialist sense rather than liberal rubbish. Click through to his site to read the whole article. // I support affirmative action. Societal issues of justice must be viewed on a historical basis rather than just in the present tense.
So many problems in the world are caused or exacerbated by the way we’ve programmed men (who are the ones running things, in the main) to make decisions. We tell them from when they are children that conflict is good, that winning is everything, that talking and reasoning out our differences are for girls, that co-operation is only for the weak, that negotiation is tantamount to surrender, and that strength is the ultimate form of power. As a result, we have complex international issues such as the Syrian crisis reduced to pathetic dick-waving, as countless commentators, politicians, and voters peddle the ridiculous idea that anything other than BOMB THE BASTARDS is tantamount to appeasement. The same problems can be seen in our marketplace, where co-operation, long-term thinking, and sustainable methods are run over by short-term, high-risk, competitiveness. Our democratic process is shambles, with complex issues and problems reduced to macho…
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A most superlatively excellent post about the welfare/economic policy concept of ‘Unconditional Basic Income’ (UBI) (popularised in Anglophone philosophy by the non-Anglophone-sounding Philip Van Parijs), click through to the site to view properly. //
Just this evening I contributed to a friend’s discussion on Facebook over whether universal benefits were preferable to means tested ones because the latter lead to claimants being disrespected with stigma and suspicion. I wrote an essay on this for my degree which I plan to adapt for this blog some time, and my view tonight is the same as it was there: that the positives of means testing outweigh the negatives of the disrespect, since claimants are going to have to deal with that from other sources anyway, and they should just learn to put up with it as one of the less serious disadvantages of being poor. This position, however, is dependent upon there being a welfare state similar to the one we have now, whereas my top preference is for a radically different establishment in which we have UBI instead. //
Funnily enough, I also mentioned this in the aforementioned university essay and the reason I haven’t posted it is that I want to split up the topic of progressive approaches to social justice from that of means testing’s disrespect. But I didn’t make the link that the author of the Simulacrum article I’m blogging does, that UBI solves the respect dilemma by apparently making means testing redundant (-probably why I didn’t get a 1st class grade for that one…). Heading in the same direction as my post on Working Less, he says: “If we stop stigmatizing the non-employed, we can stop pushing people into jobs that offer little collective benefit.” //
This is also apt because I am about to welcome a second guest blogger in the form of Joey Jones (like Toby Coe and myself a University of Reading graduate) to share his philosophical ruminations on work, and The Partially Examined Life are about to podcast on work too.
The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first. For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution. But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:
Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on. The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.
You get the basic income whether or not…
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NB readers only interested in video games should skip to the last section.
Intro to Philosotips
I’m very happy presently as I’ve just managed to access this site for the first time in many weeks (WordPress.com tell me they’ve got ongoing technical problems here in the UK). So I’m going to celebrate the best way I know how: dreaming up a whole new series of posts instead of carrying on with other series that are still only in their early stages.
These ‘Philosotips’ are short and simple hints for understanding key ideas in philosophy and related subjects. Inspired by my (hopefully) immanent enrollment on postgraduate degree in teaching, these tips are aimed primarily at teachers and their students, but will be accessible to all. At the outset I have 3 main aims: 1) correcting prevalent misunderstandings, 2) suggesting engaging analogies and other useful techniques for conveying the ideas, and 3) pointing out my favourite points among details that aren’t usually covered.
As I know even less about economics than I do law you’ll be happy to know this isn’t an opinion piece but a summary of the documentary series. With thanks to Robert Peston ©BBC, December 2011.
The 2008 Crash will likely lead to the worst decline in the real standard of living since the Great Depression. There have been a variety of documentary treatments of the Crash ranging from Charles Ferguson’s award-winning Inside Job to Michael Moore’s lighthearted yet heartbreaking Capitalism: A Love Story. All such treatments are necessarily inadequate due to the complexity of the events (especially my personal favourite, Adam Curtis’ All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – since that tried to cover the Crash in a couple of minutes!). While I would like to compare their perspectives for you, I really am far too ignorant of how money works to do so (both the books I’ve bought on the financial crisis appear resolute in their determination to remain unread). Perhaps Peston (the BBC News economics editor) will enlighten me? Read the rest of this entry