Worried About Nothing?

[Cartoon]: ‘AI may not be bad news for workers’ (The Economist, 2018).

“How can you function without me, dammit? I built you. I control you. Please sto…..”You cannot control it, you cannot stop it, but we can talk about it I guess.

The rise of intelligent machinery, termed Artificial Intelligence (AI), can learn from experience and perform tasks similar to us mere mortals. Unemployment maybe under threat, or so we may think. Industrial advancement through automation will ‘create a demand for labour’ (Vermulen, et al, 2018). There will be an increase in the demand for the components needed to create and repair automated machines, which will add another dimension to the market economy with product differentiation. If you are still worried about the rate at which human centred jobs will decrease, only ‘1% of jobs will disappear’ (Liberman, 2018), according to a PWC study on international jobs analysing 29 countries, which is a far cry from anything substantially devastating to the existing market economy. We would mostly be eradicating those irritating service jobs. The UN with its trusted legion of experts such as Ekkehard Ernest, Chief of Macroeconomic policies at the UN International Labour Organisation, believes jobs in the service sector will be the hardest hit – as already expressed. He cites ‘jobs will be transformed and employees in those sectors will add new tasks in their profile’ (McCourtie, 2018) aided by the new technology. Again, much to worry about? No, of course not. I, for one, would rather have a three day work week than suffer the arduous task of pretending to care about the latest complaint from a consistently cantankerous creep. But then emerges the issue of wages.

The market economy would need to adapt to the replacement of human labour with AI systems. For some companies a catch 22 arises: wage rigidity. ‘If it were not for wage rigidities, the economy would work the way that classical economics predicted’ (Stiglitz, 2013). Not too dissimilar to the Keynesian view of economics, eh. In one sense it can be looked at as a good thing for companies who employ individuals to forego burdensome tasks; but with the onset of automation and artificial intelligence, companies can essentially offset employees on high wages and replace them with so-called ‘smart technology’. Unemployment will increase in many areas, which many predict will happen within the next 10 – 15 years. ‘Predictions range from optimistic to devastating’ (Winick, 2018). You don’t say, mate! The table below is just a snapshot of the various predictions organisations have on the reduction of human employment due to automation.

Table: Predicted Job Automation (Winick, 2018).

If job automation is so bad and perhaps the progenitor to the end of our useful human existence, the issue of Universal Basic Income (UBI) comes to mind. Redundancy as a result of technological advancement is hardly the fault of the individual worker. If they could, yes, perhaps they would destroy all robots! But it isn’t that simple. Redundancy creates less money, which in turn creates less freedom, which then produces less money being reinvested into the economy, which…..you get the point. ‘Basic security is the essence of real freedom’ (Standing, 2005). Quite the liberal. Where would that money come from, though? The government? The companies who install the automated machines? Or maybe the tech companies who constructed the AI in the first place and tout it as the solution to societies muddle with labour and employment? Who knows. What we should realise is that individuals’ fear of unemployment through technophobia ‘cannot be written off as either trivial or symptomatic of some other disorder’ (McClure, 2017). Quite fitting.

The future of AI and automation is unknown; but I think it is safe to say mass unemployment as a result is far off.

Meshach PhilipM00494739

Bibliography

  1. Liberman, M. (2018) Why The Real AI Jobs Issue Isn’t Unemployment. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/02/14/why-the-real-ai-jobs-issue-isnt-unemployment/#47d992b93253 (27 November 2018).
  2. McClure, P. (2017) ‘”You’re Fired,” Says the Robot: The Rise of Automation in the Workplace, Technophobes and Fears of Unemployment, Social Science Computer Review, 36(2), pp. 139-156. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0894439317698637.
  3. McCourtie, S. (2018) With AI, jobs are changing but no mass unemployment expected – UN labour experts. Available at: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/09/1018292. (Accessed: 28 November 2018).
  4. Standing, G. (2005) ‘WHY BASIC INCOME IS NEEDED FOR A RIGHT TO WORK’, Rutgers Journal of Law & Urban Policy, 2(1), pp. 91-102. Available at: https://rutgerspolicyjournal.org/sites/jlpp/files/vol2issue1GuyStanding.pdf (Accessed: 27 November 2018).
  5. Stligitz, J. (2013) ‘The global crisis, social protection and jobs’, International Labour Review, 152, pp. 93-106. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1564-913X.2013.00165.x
  6. The Economist. (2018) ‘AI may not be bad news for workers’. [Cartoon] Available at: https://www.economist.com/business/2018/09/13/ai-may-not-be-bad-news-for-workers. (Accessed: 28 November 2018).
  7. Vermulen, B., Kesselhut, J., Pyka, A., and Saviotti, P, (2018) ‘The Impact of Automation on Employment: Just the Usual Structural Change?’, Sustainability 2018, 10(5), pp. 2. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051661.
  8. Winick, E. (2018) Every study we could find on what automation will do to jobs, in one chart. Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610005/every-study-we-could-find-on-what-automation-will-do-to-jobs-in-one-chart/.
  9. Winick, E. (2018) Predicted Jobs Automation Will Create and Destroy. Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610005/every-study-we-could-find-on-what-automation-will-do-to-jobs-in-one-chart/.

My body, my choice

Polish-women-on-strike

Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet. These rights include the right to live free from violence and discrimination, to be educated, to own property, to vote etc. Despite international womens rights movment over many years around the world are still sex slavery, trafficked into forced labor, violance, rape etc. Some womens are refused access to political participation or education.

On Monday 3 October 2016 thousands of women in Poland selected a piece of black clothing and took to the streets. But, of course, this begs the question, what was the reason? It was the Czarny Protest, a day of strike against proposal for near-total ban on abortion that all terminations would be criminalised with women punishable with up to five years in prison. Moreover Poland has some of the most restricitve abortion laws in Europe. It means that terminations legally permitted only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, and when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The Independence says that, „The legislation advocated prison sentences of up to five years for women who had abortions, as well as legal implications for doctors who assisted with terminations.”. What is more intresting? People travels to have an abortion abroad, which is an issue because every year, thousands of Polish women travel abroad to access safe and legal abortion.

All across country people dressed in black clothes filled the streets shouting for example „My body, my choice”, „the country that hates women”, „No women, no country”, „Freedom of choice rather than terror”, „If I can think I can decide”, „Never again”, „Womens strike”, „Let me decide” and more. People have prepared posters with these slogans. In my opionion it was amazing act of solidarity. Despite the rain, work, any other plans or inconveniences, people took to the streets with hope to change goverments minds and ideas. Womens wanted to show that they want to decide for thier future and no one else can decide for them, especially when it is related to their bodies, pregnant, they have human rights as well. Unfortunetly, this very big issue that is still far from being resolved. The national strike was against cruel proposal for abortion law and shows that political issues can unite the people. On the other hand, thousands of people from all over the world supported by inserting photos on social media with motivation slogans.

The „Dziewuchy dziewuchom” is a facebook group founded in opposition to the anti-abortion laws. The groupers are people who think that in the matter of termination of pregnancy, every woman has the right to choose. Dziewuchy’s story began on April 1, 2016, when the Polish media reported a draft law restricting the right to terminate pregnancy. They would like to inform about any attempts to change regulations in the field of reproductive rights. They closely follow events in the country, support actions to respects women’s rights. What is more intresting? Fact, that the wealthy can travel abroad for an abortion.

There is important question, why womens still have to lead the strikes for their rights?
In my opinion women’s rights as a human rights should be respected and in our modern world we should have choice.

Patrycja Kosińska M00689360

references:

The guardian (March, 2018) „Mass protests in Poland against tightening of abortion law”

Ravenhill, J. (2017). Global political economy, Gender Chapter

Independent (2018) „Poland abortion ban: Thousands of women take to streets across country to demand reproductive rights”

The guardian (January, 2018) „Polish MPs back even tougher restrictions on abortion”

The guardian (2017) „How Poland’s far-right government is pushing abortion underground”

Human rights in global politics (1999) edited by Timothy Dunne, Nicholas Wheeler

The New York Times (2018) Polish Women Protest Proposed Abortion Ban (Again)

Greece’s Crisis and its Effect on Women

Throughout history every country has suffered through some sort of financial crisis, such as the 2008 Crisis. Although countries have gone through economic turbulence, which is normal and expected, many have been able to pick up the pieces the damage and either get back to they were or even thrive better than ever. However, some countries have found difficulties in improving financially. One of the countries that has struggled the most in the last couple of years is Greece. Greece has suffered from major unemployment, The Telegraph touched on in an article that in 2014 73.5% of were unemployed in Greece which is a 6.4% increase from the year prior when the unemployment rate was 67.1%. These aren’t just people who may have been unemployed for a short period of time, these are people who were unemployed for over a year. The severity of unemployment did not only affect the adult workforce, but also the youth workforce. Greece had the highest youth unemployment for the years 2013 and 2014 as stated in The Telegraph article. Although when checking the Eurostat’s information on Greece’s unemployment in 2018 it shows that unemployment much lower, at 19%. However, it is still the country with the highest unemployment in European Union.  Although the whole country has suffered because of this crisis there is a group of people that may have been more than the other and that is women.

Many would say that men are the most affected gender in the crisis and although that holds true in the start of the crisis, as time progresses women are being affected more harshly than men. As stated in the International Alliance of Women article, in 2013 the unemployment rate was 27.6%, of that 31.9% were women while men were 24.6%. The remaining were the youth at 64.3% and of that the statistic for female was double that of male. These are just some statistics on the unemployment. However, the effects of the unemployment, and other factors, have made living as a woman in Greece difficult. Another factor that has made it strenuous to progress is the financial cuts made to public education which mean poor quality education. This on top of an already difficult workforce can make students give up and drop out which is shown in the increase of school dropout rate. This affects women because with the difficulty of entering or maintaining a job in their desired field, or any field in that matter, women seek another alternative which to some is having a baby. Some women decide to become full-time caregivers, but as you may guess it isn’t that easy because then at times they have to take on both duties of being a full-time caregiver and the breadwinner of the family. At times when these women realize that being a caregiver isn’t a solution and they aren’t able to provide for their children some women are faced with making a difficult decision: whether it would be best to keep or give up their child. In the Article by The Guardian it was stated that this has increased the number by double in 2012 of orphaned children in the country. Out of the cases of orphaned children 20% of those cases were of single mothers. This increases cost for the government who now have to care for more orphans than ever before.This may be difficult enough hardships to face, but there is another effect of the crisis: spousal violence.

A brief overview of how Greece handles spousal violence is the law created in 2006. As mentioned in The Directorate-General for Internal Policies on The Policy on Gender Equality in Greece in 2006 a law called 3005/2006 was created which charges spousal rape as a felony, prohibits spousal rape (including rape in a free union), prohibits corporal punishment of children, and provides for ex relatione prosecution (prosecution by force of law). Although this sounds like a great addition and a way of improving the lives of domestic-violence victims, that isn’t necessarily the case. The GGI claimed that police discourage women from pressing charges and instead encourage them to make amends with their partner which makes it more difficult for women to come forward again if anything else happens, especially when only about 6-10% of domestic violence victims contact the police. Not only that, but services like the Violence Against Women (VAW) having their funding cut by 31% in 2010 which lessens the potential of receiving proper help nearly impossible. To tie this to the crisis A study by the Hellenic Society for the Human Sexuality and the Andrology Institute of Athens analyzed 1,000 telephone interviews. Out of all men who behaved violently, 44% were unemployed, whereas the main characteristics of the offenders were increased financial obligations, job stress and low sexual activity.

There are many other factors that could contribute to the increase or decrease in the topics mentioned in this article. However, it cannot be denied that the economic crisis of Greece has affected everyone in some negative way and some people might suffer more such as mothers and wife. Whether it be because she is expected to be another breadwinner but also take care of the children or because a husband’s frustration can go too far. Women in this country need help. In what way can we do that I don’t know, but awareness is a good start and sharing this knowledge can be a first step in the journey to progress.

Vanessa Panora, M00688718

Bibliography 

Chan, Szu Ping. “Why There’s Little Hope for Greece’s Unemployed.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 9 July 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11554873/Why-theres-little-hope-for-Greeces-unemployed.html.

Davaki, Konstantina. The Policy on Gender Equality in Greece. Publications Office, 2013.

Davies, Lizzy. “Greek Crisis Hits Women Especially Hard.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 15 June 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/greek-election-blog-2012/2012/jun/15/greek-crisis-women-especially-hard.

Manganara, Joanna. “ The Effects of the Economic Crisis on Women in Europe.” International Alliance of Women, Marie-Claude Julsaint Https://Womenalliance.org/Wp-Content/Uploads/2018/09/Iaw-More-gold2.Png, 4 Dec. 2014, womenalliance.org/the-effects-of-the-economic-crisis-on-women-in-europe.

The Effect of Trumps Action: Immigration

Ever since his inauguration as President people have been anxiously watching Trump’s moves. With one of his main promises being that he would build a wall to keep Mexicans out it was expected that Trump would make immigration reforms. However, no one would have thought that Trump would start separating families. Parents and children have been sent to different centers while waiting for deportation. Not only that, Trump stated that for undocumented immigrants that were already residing in the country he would only deport those who have had major criminal charges, not those with minor. However, from my own account I have seen that even parents with low or no criminal records are being detained by immigration when they go pick up their children from school. Trump believes that these deportations are what is best for the country and although it is currently rising economically the reality is that success is temporary. The long-term consequences are yet to come.

 

Trump has made life difficult for immigrants with all of his actions, even for those trying to go to the United States legally. According to the National Foundation for American Policy brief, the denial rate for L-1B petitions has had approximately a one-third increase between the 1st and 4th quarter of the year 2017. There has also been an increase of denials and requests for more evidence for people who apply for the H-1B visa. The L-1B visa allow companies to bring over workers from their overseas locations over to the United States. The H-1B visa allows people with specialized skills to apply for jobs in the United States. Both the L-1B and the H-1B are visas that apply to workers with specialized or important skills which companies who feel they need these specialized workers can hire them. However, these companies are not going to suffer because of these increases in denials. As stated in an article from The New York Times prominent chief executives from companies such as Apple, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, PepsiCo., and many more have shown their serious concern by delivering a jointly signed letter that details their worries. This does not only affect those bigger companies. There is also a shortage of workers in a lot of the jobs that require more manual labor. In the Midwest the shortage of workers is pretty bad. The severity is shown in the fact that as mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, even if every unemployed person in the Midwest was placed into an open job, there would still be more than 180,000 unfilled positions, according to the most recent Labor Department data. These numbers reflect the shortage of necessary workers in the United State. Necessary workers that Trump and his team are kicking out or making it difficult to enter legally, to take on these jobs. At this rate Trump’s fantasy of having all jobs “returned” to Americans will meet the harsh reality that immigrants are necessary to the United States economy. Eventually if this continues to progress there is going to be an unbalance level of consumer and manufacturing which will hurt the economy which can happen when there is more demand for a product but not enough production because why? There aren’t enough workers to be able to finish production in time. Trump will have to then increase the acceptance of legal workers at the very least. Just as in a similar situation that he created for the Dreamers, which are immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have permission to work in United States. They also have deferred actions of deportations with their documents. Trump had said that they wouldn’t be able to renew their documents and that he would deport all the Dreamer. However, from my own knowledge having been told by friends of mine who are Dreamers, the Dreamers have been able to renew their papers. Which is something that the Republican party had been working on getting rid off entirely. The wrath of Trump seems strong, but the reality is that the things he set out to do all at some point will end up hurting the economy even more than it will help it because what many people fail to realize or acknowledge that these immigrants are some of the only people willing to do certain jobs, such as picking the fruits and vegetables that we buy every day, for a fraction of the pay.

 

As much as the current President continues to push the agenda of making American great again through mass deportation and decreasing the likelihood of necessary workers visas being accepted, people will continue to fight to not only do what is right as humans, but also to do what is best for the country. The country was built by immigrants, for immigrants and no matter what it will remain that way.

Vanessa Panora, M00688718

Bibliography

Lohr, Steve. “Top C.E.O.s Denounce Trump Immigration Policy as Threat to U.S. Economy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Aug. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/business/trump-immigration-business-leaders-economy.html.

 NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN POLICY – Nfap.com. nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/H-1B-Denial-and-RFE-Increase.NFAP-Policy-Brief.July-2018.pdf.

Raice, Shayndi, and Eric Morath. “Iowa’s Employment Problem: Too Many Jobs, Not Enough People.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 1 Apr. 2018, http://www.wsj.com/articles/iowas-employment-problem-too-many-jobs-not-enough-people-1522580400.

Will Ethiopia become a hub for development in Africa?

The outlook of the development phase looks promising

Ethiopian-Road-Autority1 Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) finalizes roads connecting Adama-expressway with Addis AbabaExpressway from Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa to Adama,(Nov 16, 2013)

For many years Ethiopia was blighted by drought and famine which unfortunately led to many people being scattered across the country. Majority of Sub Saharan countries were suffering due to living standards and economies languishing due to insufficient growth in the market. During the late 90s, the economic growth of the country had risen more than those MEDC due to the market opening for the first after the civil war. “Development and policy community are advocating a ‘big push’ to help the region escape poverty and regain the lost ground with the rest of the developing world” (Sachs 2004, Collier 2006). Infrastructure development services have been valued as a key instrument for economic development. Throughout the sub-Saharan economies, the goal is to enhance the influential role of infrastructure development for the region’s development. Most importantly we must consider that landlocked countries such as Ethiopia need their access to the red sea geographical speaking since Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, and Kenya are all geographical found by the coastal parts of the Horn of Africa surrounding Ethiopia. This is a disadvantage because Ethiopia will have to negotiate we the other nations in relation to trade and economic development, since their access to the sea was blocked but now peace has prevailed between Ethiopia and Eritrea which both had long-standing issues due to the border demarcation which had led to war which lasted for almost 20 years. landlocked countries tend to grow more slowly than the rest. “These geographic disadvantages do not pose an insurmountable obstacle to development”. (Behar and Manners (2008). At the same time, in recent years the Ethiopian economy has become one of the fastest growing in the world.

The country has registered a double-digit economic growth rate over the period from 2005 till 2010, having grown at just over 6% per annum”. (Ethiopian Economics Association,2011). By 2006 the government had realized that globalisation was a gateway to capital mobility and economic prosperity involving competition between various producers and motivating multinational companies to come and invest.

Chinese communication construction, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia development,(2016)

In terms of the agricultural extension which will help stimulate smallholder agricultural productivity, thereby generate agricultural growth and reducing poverty and to ensure economic survival. The government emphasizes that this strategy is useful to increase the productivity of smallholder agriculture and not a replacement for it such as privatization of land since the local economy needs to survive of its revenue. The new government in Ethiopia has the ambition to develop an inclusive agricultural plan that will contribute to the country’s economy, attention will be given to industries and agricultural services. Many other private businesses have made a huge contribution to the economy which captured the attention of different competitors for market share. Furthermore, these businesses will help tackle some of the ongoing challenges that the government face such as unemployment, unskilled labor workforce and covering costs of transportation for its employees. “USAID Trade and Investment Hubs are designed to reinforce regional and bilateral efforts to strengthen Africa’s economic competitiveness and assist countries to take greater advantage of the trade opportunities” (East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, US AID)
The NGO in Ethiopia who focus on the economic/trade framework of the country work with producers and suppliers to develop the private sector. They engage actively in promoting a stable financial system that would help competitiveness. On top of that, it’s important not marginalise small and medium enterprises so that they can develop and reap the benefits. “Given the current prospects, there is a strong likelihood that Africa will surpass Asia in growth in the next decade” (Boateng, 2013; UNECA, 2012). African nations are making great strides to develop their economy for the coming generations so that they can continue working towards a brighter future in terms of their economic prosperity. The BRICS emerging economies is an influential actor of the development to Africa aid and economy. But for years there has been a rivalry between the US and China in Africa. Some African political analysts and thinkers calling it ‘Neo-Colonialism’ way of approach. “China had created 1,673 non-investment projects in transportation, energy, and infrastructure worth $75.4 billion in 50 African nations including Ethiopia”. (UN integrated regional information networks, 2013).
Even though China is investing in Ethiopia economy it has been criticised by African nations over the years, since low prices for Chinese contractors which will make African companies non-competitive and low wages for those local workers. Chinese companies tend to bring their own workers from China instead of employing local workers. However, the Ethiopian and Chinese government are taking the necessary steps to work with the local community and offer training programmes. Furthermore, the implementation of the government’s industrialization plan. Industrialization has been the priority, notably through the development of industrial parks such as the 656 km Addis Ababa–Djibouti electric railway, to ease the cost of doing business. Investing in energy, such as the 6,450 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is an important project for the country since it will help improve exports and gain foreign currency.
Ethiopia’s is slowly sustaining its economic growth at levels predicted by the (IMF). In terms of its growth, Ethiopia is expected to remain around 8%, which is sustained by expansion in exports and investment. Finally, the research paper suggests Ethiopia can be the new China since it has been improving its infrastructure on road and light-rail connection across the country. African analysts suggest within the next decade Ethiopia will become a middle-income country.

Baptist Haile, M00615432

Bibliography/Links

 Gray.A, Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy, World economic forum (online article) Availaible at:https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/05/ethiopia-africa-fastest-growing-economy/ Accessed at (5th November 2018)

By: Calderón.C and Servén.L, (September 12th, 2008), Infrastructure and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, Policy Research Working Paper, The World Bank Development Research Group Macroeconomics, and Growth Team

Available at: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/6988/WPS4712.pd

(Accessed at: (November,10th 2018)

 Ethiopia Economic Outlook,(June,7th 2016) Online Article

Available at; https://www.afdb.org/en/countries/east-africa/ethiopia/ethiopia-economic-outlook/ Accessed at: (November 16th, 2018)

Batte.E.S &Wondifraw.A. Z, (2018), African Economic Outlook

Online Article

Available at:https://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Generic-Documents/country_notes/Ethiopia_country_note.pdf, (Accessed at November 13th,2018)

Berhanu .K & Poulton .C, Policy in Ethiopia, Economic Growth and Political Control

 Available at:https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/dpr.12082  (Accessed at November 8th, 2018)  

 Larionovo .M & Kirton .J, (2015), Brics and Global Governance

Available at:https://books.google.co.uk/books?n hl=en&lr=&id=qOFLDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT183&dq=ethiopia+sustainable+develoment+progress&ots=EBXKdiAJ0q&sig=1xzT82Zj6CgHCoro4KTeNToV71w#v=onepage&q&f=false (Accessed at December 1st,2018)

US AID, (November 5th, 2018), ECONOMIC GROWTH AND TRADE ETHIOPIA

Available at: https://www.usaid.gov/ethiopia/economic-growth-and-trade

Accessed( 3rd December 2018)

Ukrainian church gets new power!

Ukrainian church gets new power!

FILE PHOTO: Protesters in Kiev – source: Sputnik

What triggered the recent changes in relations in the Orthodox world? The decision of the chief patriarch Bartholomew of Istanbul to issue a proclamation on the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reduced the political and the religious influence of Russia in Ukraine.[The New York Times, 2018] However, was it a strictly canonical i.e. religious move or a hidden political decision? Were there participants who indirectly influenced Istanbul and this decision? This decision may have consequences on international relations and the global economic situation.

This event is unprecedented in the Orthodox world, has resulted in a diplomatic earthquake and how media reported it’s greater than that which occurred in 1054 after the breakup between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.[Vox,2018] The decision made this October by Patriarch Bartholomew, the first among equals, who is otherwise close to American influence, provoked a strong reaction from the Russian Church. [UNIAN, 2018] The Russian church’s reaction was to say that they would not recognize the authority of the Istanbul patriarchate. This will potentially represent the biggest rupture since the Great Schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism in 1054. [Vox, 2018]

Bartholomew considered his decision to be just. Russian sources report he made the decision because of his views about the crises that occurred in the 20th century and the crisis around the Crimea from 2014, justifying it as in line with decisions by his predecessors. In summary, the most important influence on the Ukrainian Church should be the main patriarchate in Istanbul. [Russia Today, 2018]

However, the Russians claim that behind this decision lies a purely political decision that has nothing to do with religious canons. Their claim was that, as a consequence, the Russian Church will have lost all influence in Ukraine, and so many churches and lands belonging to the Russian Church would fall under the influence of the Ukrainian church. As well as Russian concerns, looking from the outside, it actually leads to the possibility of a re-ignition of the conflict over the Crimea [RT, 2018]. Conspiracy theory believers would say this is a tactic from the West to encourage Russia to focus on the Crimea and reduce its focus on supporting the Assad regime in Syria.

In the media space, we can see that the media report and look this event in different ways in different parts of the world. Of course, the Russian media were highly critical and saw it as one of the huge catastrophes for the Orthodox world, and for solving the crisis in Crimea. [RT, 2018] By contrast, the Ukrainian media welcomed this decision with pleasure. They also reported in full the statement by President Poroshenko. He said that this is another victory and contribution to full independence from Russian influence, and part of the emergence of a new independent Ukraine.[Ukrinform, 2018] As for the Western media, commentators noted that Istanbul’s decision could lead to new tensions, turmoil and instability, more widely in Eastern Europe. They noted that other Orthodox churches, such as the Greeks and Serbians, have already support the Russians. The consequences could be political instability in the Orthodox world, and others effects beyond that. [BBC, 2018]

For example, the Financial Times believes that this crisis will not have a good effect, in a wider context of the weakness in the Russian economy. It just adds more fuel to the fire and so contributes to the risk of the Kremlin intervening again in the Crimea to gain domestic support. This could end up leading to greater sanctions against Russia and be counter-productive for the international economy as a whole.[Financial Times, 2018]

The view of economists like Joseph Stiglitz [The Gardian,2017] is that international trade grows economies, even if he is critical of how it has been managed in the past. He opposes protectionism and subsidies. In this case Nationalism leading in this case potentially to sanctions, could as the FT warn, likewise only damage international trade, the world economies and consequentially the money in peoples’ pockets.

My own view? it’s all going terribly wrong. This is the last thing the Russian Orthodox church and the wider world needed after a previous damaging war in the Crimea – priests falling out with each other is never good. It’s political and not motivated by any religious beliefs. The church needs to focus on bringing people together with religious belief in god, not fighting. And the politicians need to focus on growing their countries economies as the est way to remain popular, not diversionary foreign wars.

References
1. The New York Times (October 2018) The Orthodox Schism and the Spiritual Limits of Politics, Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/19/opinion/konstandaras-orthodox-church-russia-ukraine.html
2. Vox,(October 2018) The Eastern Orthodox Churches may split. It’s the biggest crisis for these churches in centuries, Available at: https://www.vox.com/2018/10/17/17983566/russia-constantinople-ukraine-eastern-orthodox-schism-autocephaly
3. Russia Today, (November 2018) Kiev’s push to split from Russian Orthodox Church will boost ‘nationalism’ & ‘chaos’ in Ukraine, Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/444143-ukraine-church-autocephaly-chaos/
4. Ukrinform, (November 2018) Poll shows over half of Ukrainians support autocephaly of Orthodox Church, Available at: https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/ukrinform-poll-shows-over-half-of-ukrainians-support-autocephaly-of-orthodox-church.html
5. UNIAN (November 2018) OSINT group elaborates on Russia’s “active measures” in Ukraine, Available at: https://www.unian.info/society/10341156-osint-group-elaborates-on-russia-s-active-measures-in-ukraine.html
6. Financial Times (October 2018) Ukraine’s church independence increases Russia’s isolation, Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/a2ad7b08-ce41-11e8-9fe5-24ad351828ab
7. BBC (October 2018) Orthodox Church split: Five reasons why it matters, Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45877584
8. Stiglitz, J. [5 December 2017, The Guardian] Globalisation: time to look at the past, and [2009, International Lavour Review]The global crisis, social protection and jobs, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/05/globalisation-time-look-at-past-plot-the-future-joseph-stiglitz

Sofija Pantic
M00690323

What Message is Saudis Modernistic Crown Prince Sending ?

Mohammed bin Salman, Saudis modernistic crown prince was believed to bring new reforms. It was said that his reforms are shaking up the nation for the better. After more than a year in power how much of what is said in the media is true?

Humanitarian advocates in the west have been advocating for new reforms to protect Human rights and most importantly women’s write in the Kingdom. People hoped that the new crown prince will be the guy to bring new reforms. 

Mohamed bin Salman did exactly that. He introduced new reforms that most advocates wanted. Women are now able to drive in Saudi, as stupid as it may sound, women before that where band from driving. Cinemas was also recently introduced to the public and started to popup around Saudi because before Mohamed bin Salmans referendums even cinemas and concerts where band.


it wasn’t all sun shine and rainbows for Saudis


Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 14.06.19
Cartoon is by hureyaksa.

After taking the role of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman started an anti-corruption campaign and started a wave of arrests. The wave of arrests included government ministers, intellectuals, princes and religious leaders. The arrests was justified as arresting those who are believed to be corrupted. However that was the biggest lie, it arrested any person who would speak their mind of and express their opinions that are conflicting with the countries leadership.


Canada and Saudi had a diplomatic feud over a tweet


Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 11.24.26Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 13.55.55

Chrystia Freeland Canadas foreign minster tweeted about the arrest of Samar Badawi a Saudi activist. That one tweet sparked anignorant and childish response by the Saudi government. The saudi foreign minster responded by tweeting that   Canada was making “entirely false claim.”. The feud did not end here. The reason i said it was ignorant and childish was because the same day the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted they have also announced  to cut all trade and investment transactions between the two country and have given the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country.

This was all because of one tweet that Saudi believes that Canada interfered in the internal affairs of the Kingdom and that it broke “most basic international norms” of diplomacy. To me the statement was just ironic. The reason i say this because just few months ago Lebanons prime minister Saad al-Hariri was kidnapped until Macron, Frances president convinced Mohammed bin Salman to let Hariri free.

Saudis new idiotic way of ruling the country did not end here. In less then a week a Saudi journalist  that writes columns in the Washington Post disappeared, while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Jamal Khashoggi, was last seen entering the embassy and there has been no sign of him leaving the Consulate. The Turkish CCTV cameras captured Khashoggi entering but no photos of him leaving. 


“Turkish  authorities believe that prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared four days ago after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, was killed inside the consulate, two Turkish sources said on Saturday” (Reuters)


Ever since the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, theories emerged describing how he may have been killed or that he has been kidnapped and taken back to Saudi, just because he was a journalist in self-exile. It is Unreal for most of us to believe that he could be killed inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey. This is brutal and an inhuman act that could never be justified diplomatically or humanly for sure.

The uncertainty and series of aggressive foreign policy moves from Saudis young and modernistic crown prince has created a shaky economy for Saudi. The list of investors and executives who are pulling out of a high-profile investment conference in Riyadh is growing. The uncertainty behind the new crown prince’s way of ruling has scared investors. The Saudi stock market plunged last Sunday according to CNN Business “Stocks have dropped as much as 9% since Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The losses wiped out all the market’s gains in 2018,”. Trump has said that he would “punish” Saudi Arabia if it were found responsible for killing Jamal ( BBC,2018). On the other hand Saudi responded with another aggressive move. The kingdom said it rejected any threats of economic sanctions or political pressure and would retaliate accordingly. Saudi plays a powerful role in the global economical market and that cant be denied. Especially with amount of oil production they produce to the world.


Saudi’s New Threat to The World 


Turki Aldhakhil, an official Saudi news channel manager, showcased an editorial of what may happen if Trump tried to threaten Saudi with economic sanctions. According to Turki Aldhakhil Saudi could threaten by cutting down oil production. This may seem like a stupid move to us because it will hurt both sides the importer and exporter and in this case, it is the United States and Saudi. This may be a harsh move by Saudi, but we are talking about Saudis modernistic crown prince. He’s known now for his aggressive foreign policy moves so yes he could threaten the world without a doubt. 

The cut in oil production will have a profound consequence on the world. If an embargo is placed on Saudis oil production. The world’s energy markets are going to be unstable and will slow down the economic growth, and it may also trigger a recession. “Not just because motorists would pay more at the petrol pump, but because it would force up the cost of all goods that travel.”( The Guardian, 2018)

The question here is why? What message is Saudis new regime trying to send to the world? Saudis new Monarch is lacking foreign policy and any rule of law. The way they are acting towards countries and their people is just insane, and the act of the government cannot be justified. 

 

References

Reuters (2018) ‘Turkish police believe Saudi journalist was killed at consulate: sources’, 8th of October. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-politics-dissident-turkey/turkish-police-believe-saudi-journalist-was-killed-at-consulate-sources-idUSKCN1MG0TI

Tarabzouni (2018) ‘Mohammed bin Salman is bringing Silicon Valley-style disruption to Saudi Arabia’, 27 March. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/27/mohammed-bin-salmans-reforms-disrupting-saudi-arabia-status-quo-ex-google-exec.html

Baker (2018) ‘The full timeline of Canada and Saudi Arabia’s feud over jailed human rights activists’ 24th August. Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/timeline-of-canada-saudi-arabia-diplomatic-feud-over-human-rights-2018-8?r=US&IR=T/#august-1-human-rights-organization-amnesty-international-announced-that-the-saudi-government-had-arrested-several-female-activists-lynn-maalouf-its-middle-east-research-director-said-it-was-a-draconian-crackdown-1

TIMSIT (2017) ‘The Strange Case of Lebanon, France, and a Prime Minister’s Unresignation’, 5th December. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/macron-hariri-france-iran-saudi-arabia/547391/

 Freeland, (2018). Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi. [Twitter]. 2 August. Available at: https://twitter.com/cafreeland/status/1025030172624515072?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1025030172624515072&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fuk.businessinsider.com%2Ftimeline-of-canada-saudi-arabia-diplomatic-feud-over-human-rights-2018-8

hureyaksa. (2017) ‘من سنن الله في خلقه: أن كل ظالم يسلّط الله عليه ظالما آخر’ [Cartoon]. Twitter, 2017 Available at:  https://twitter.com/hureyaksa/status/927571277455310849

 

Huda Al-Thani

M00640819

‘I alone can fix it’

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Cartoon: Populism Has Not ‘Peaked’ in Europe. The Fight Continues. (Nytimes.com, 2018)

Populism. The first question that raises when thinking about populism is if it is a good or a bad thing. Well, first off, populism is not something that can be just considered as good or bad like characters in a superhero movie. There is no right, left or even centre to this, which means it can come up in any political party (Bloomberg, 2017). Populist politicians like to unite the population against one common enemy and claim they alone can represent the interests of the population, as an example for this we have a speech Mr Trump gave at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, about the rigged system of U.S. politics where he says ‘I alone can fix this’ (CNN, 2016). As well as this, populist leaders opt to use scandalous language in order to shock the establishment (Bloomberg, 2017).

One of the big problems with populist parties in our current time is that most of them are quite found of protectionist measures and are too nationalist (The Atlantic, 2017). This brings a big problem to globalisation since right now a lot of countries are opting for these populist politicians, due to the economic crisis and the fear of living in bad conditions in the future.

One big example of populism is Mr Donald Trump, the president of the US, which is enforcing a lot of these protectionist measures such as implementing tariffs on certain products, for example the tariffs that were implemented on steel and aluminium in early march this year as seen in the BBC News article “Trade wars, Trump tariffs and protectionism explained” (BBC News, 2018). Another example of these measures is having more barriers for emigration, for example slowing the visas process in which the challenges were increased and there are more requests for evidence (Amanda Holpuch, 2017). Finally, the US president started trade wars, as we can see between the US and China specially (BBC News, 2018). All of this is happening in order to protect the American economy, however, this is at the expense of the other countries’ economies and at the expense of globalism.

The big problem is that there is not only one country doing this. More and more countries are starting to opt for protectionist measures which is damaging all the connections and ties that existed before. This is a big step back of what had been attempted to be achieved before with globalisation: a unified world where people and products move around freely accordingly to everyone’s needs.

Nevertheless, it is logic that people vote for these kind of politicians. Usually these leaders go into power due to the promises these make against the system. These promises usually include a solution to whatever problem the country is going through at the time. For example, president Duterte in the Philippines addresses personal safety and drug wars, president Xi in China focus on the greater national pride and on having a national presence on a global scale and president Erdogan from Turkey wants to rebuild turkey’s place as a regional power (Business insider, 2016).

There are two ways scholars go about why people are convinced to vote in this populist politicians. Some scholars would say that the citizens ignorance about politics make them make decisions that were not in reality made by themselves but made by the media or the political parties that persuade them to vote blindly. Other scholars, would take a more positive approach on this, which is that even though citizens are uninformed about politics, they use information shortcuts that argue that they can help citizens form their own opinions. Most of these shortcuts are endorsements and that’s what usually politicians seek from well-known people (Boudreau, 2016).

So, even though they promise it, can these populist politicians really fix it alone?

Inês Alves M00630775

Bibliography:

  1. Bloomberg (2017) What’s Behind the Global Rise in Populism? Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPM-x9DoPVE
  2. CNN (2016) Donald Trump’s entire Republican convention speech. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs0pZ_GrTy8
  3. The Atlantic (2017) Is Trump a Populist Authoritarian? Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02aXvBUMHkM
  4. BBC News (2018) ‘Trade wars, Trump tariffs and protectionism explained’ BBC,26 July. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-43512098
  5. Amanda Holpuch (2017) ‘The invisible wall: how Trump is slowing immigration without laying a brick’ The Guardian, 23 December. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/23/donald-trump-mexico-border-wall-invisible-immigration
  6. Business insider (2016) Trump’s Populist Mindset Is Prevalent Around The World. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58EN0nEnw0E
  7. Bodreau C. (2016) ‘The Persuasion Effects of Political Endorsements’, Political Persuasion Conference. Laguna Beach, CA, 9-10 January, pp. 1-3. Available at: https://www.democracy.uci.edu/newsevents/events/conference_files/boudreau_2016_politicalendorsements.pdf
  8. Nytimes.com. (2018). Opinion | Populism Has Not ‘Peaked’ in Europe. The Fight Continues. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/opinion/populism-has-not-peaked-in-europe-the-fight-continues.html [Accessed 14 Dec. 2018].

Could climate change cost us more than preventing it?

Could climate change affect our lives more than making the earth a little warmer? Global warming and climate change have a great impact on the weather patterns today and that affects many natural disasters, too. One of the changes we see today is the change in hurricane patterns. These destructive cyclones start as a storm above the ocean. As global warming warms up the oceans, the warm air above them rises into the storm, forming an area of low pressure underneath which causes more cool air to rush in, warm up and collect moisture. The warm, moist air then rises, forms clouds and thunderstorms and cools down again and as this procedure repeats, the wind gets stronger and stronger. Once the speed crosses 74 mph, the storm is considered a hurricane. Hurricanes get stronger and last longer the warmer the planet gets. (Berwyn, 2018). The rise in the temperature causes the hurricanes to hold more moisture, too, which leads to more rainfall. For each 1⁰C of warming there is 7% more moisture. That leaves us with 10% more moisture today. Hurricanes’ movement towards and above the land is slowing down as well. That, the amount of rainfall and the rise of sea level by one foot since 1800, caused by erosion and melting of the icebergs from the rise of temperatures, cause even bigger flood threats than ever before. (Mann, 2018) 7 tropical storms and 8 hurricanes hit the US coast only this year (Berwyn, 2018), causing problems to the US economy. Does this signify the end of our planet and the species or is it just a natural occurrence of our big, blue planet’s weather patterns?

‘Hurricane Isaac and Katrina’ (Granlund, 2012)

Even though the data available to us today does not go further than 200 years, the number of hurricanes in the US are steadily on the rise. The table below shows the increase in hurricanes from the past two centuries. 14 out of 20 most costly hurricanes between 1900-2017 happened after 2000. The increasing cost of the weather events in the U.S. went up to $306.2 billion in 2017 (National Hurricane Center, 2018). Recent natural disasters have shown that major disasters continue to have serious effect on society even in the most developed countries in the 21st century.

National Hurricane Center (2011)

The issue of cost is a whole different question. The most obvious impact is on life loss and infrastructure, but it does not end there. Damaged infrastructure contributes to the closure of small business due to not being able to cover the damage from the hurricane. Natural disasters cause unemployment, customers don’t spend, demand drops, but the commodities’ prices in exported goods often rise because of the loss in production. Large businesses also suffer. For example, U.S. oil refineries, which were not able to continue production during the storm as employees couldn’t get to work. Production is also affected as well as the GDP of poorer countries (Hall, 2018). For a long time, hurricane Katrina was considered the most expensive hurricane with damage totalling between 70 to 125 billion dollars and death tolls of 1400. (Baade, Baumann and Matheson, 2007) However, this year’s hurricane Florence (August 28th) and hurricane Michael (October 3rd) can exceed these numbers as both reached the 4th category and hurricane Michael was marked as the strongest hurricane to make landfall since 1993 with hurricane Andrew. The cost to prevent further climate change is estimated to cost about $230-400 billion a year until 2030, which is far less than the cost of natural disasters every year. (Ritchie,2017)

Climate change does greatly affect our lives and the planet, whether it is hurricanes, wildfires, extreme weather or any other natural disaster which lead to further problems in the economy. Hurricanes themselves cost the US billions almost every year and that is only one type of natural disaster affected by climate change.  If nothing is done with the climate change and hurricanes continue to intensify, it could cost the governments significantly more in repairs than trying to prevent natural disasters from getting worse. Traditional economic approaches historically never paid attention to the environmental issues (O’Brian, Williams, 2013) but it is obviously a problem and it is time to act now.

Markéta Ilavská M00646385

References

Baade, R., Baumann, R. and Matheson, V. (2007). Estimating the Economic Impact of Natural and Social Disasters, with an Application to Hurricane Katrina. Urban Studies, 44(11), pp.2061-2076.

Berwyn, B. (2018). Hurricane Florence’s Unusual Extremes Worsened by Climate Change. [online] InsideClimate News. Available at: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13092018/hurricane-florence-climate-change-rainfall-storm-surge-risk-attribution-forecast (Accessed 2 Nov. 2018).

Granlund, D. (2012) ‘Hurricane Isaac and Katrina’ [Cartoon]. Available at: https://politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/dave_granlund/117676/hurricane_isaac_and_katrina/ (Accessed: 5 Nov 2018).

Hall, M. (2018). The Financial Effects Of A Natural Disaster. [online] Investopedia. Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0311/the-financial-effects-of-a-natural-disaster.aspx (Accessed 3 Nov. 2018).

Mann, M. (2018). Hurricane Florence is a climate change triple threat | Michael Mann. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/14/florence-climate-change-triple-threat (Accessed 3 Nov. 2018).

National Hurricane Center (2011) The deadliest, costliest, and most intense United States tropical cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (and other frequently requested hurricane facts). Available at: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/nws-nhc-6.pdf (Accessed: 3 Nov. 2018).

National Hurricane Center (2018) Costliest U.S. tropical cyclones tables updated. Available at: (Accessed: 3 Nov. 2018).

O’Brien, R. and Williams, M. (2013). Global political economy. 4th ed. pp.242-244.

Ritchie, H. (2017). How much will it cost to mitigate climate change?. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/how-much-will-it-cost-to-mitigate-climate-change (Accessed 5 Nov. 2018).

The Problem with Social Democracy and Welfare – Replacing Redistribution of Wealth with Personal Responsibility, Limited Government, Lower Taxes and Economic Freedom

The Nordic countries that are often upheld to be some of the best countries in the world embrace the idea of redistribution of wealth. Redistribution of wealth is one of the main features of socialism, but the Nordic countries are not socialist countries, because they have free market economies and most of the property is in private ownership. They are often referred to as social democratic countries, which is a contested term, (Friedman 1962, p:1) argued that “society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom”. Many might say due to the success of the Nordic countries that this is an ideal way of running a state, and that it is the most equal way and that it will make people happier, in fact Finland was chosen as the happiest country in the world in 2017. Other economically successful countries embrace redistribution of wealth as well, but usually to a lesser extent. (Tucker 2017) argues that there are three things that are the core problem of social democracy, which are that social democratic policies are financially unsustainable, terminally inefficient and morally unconscionable.

Welfare states can suffer from exploitation. For example, In Finland, there are people who exploit the welfare system and they are labelled in the Finnish media as “Ideologically unemployed” (Yle, 2017). Ideologically unemployed refers to a person that is willingly unemployed and lives solely with welfare income, which is generated by tax revenue. The exploitation is an enormous burden on the economy, it wastes tax revenue, which can be scarce in a welfare state already without the exploitation due to the huge spending on pensions, healthcare, education and other benefits. The way these states pay for their generosity is by having huge taxes, people with high income might have to pay over half of their wage to the state. In many cases the high taxes are not enough to pay for everything, the states need to take debt, and in these countries, it is required to have a high employment rate to sustain the system.

It’s very difficult for states that have these generous welfare policies to get away from them if they need to, for example if there is huge rise in unemployment. When people get used to the generous welfare from the state, they do not want to lose it. For example, in Finland, the current government had to introduce policies that cut unemployment benefits if a person does not accept work that is given to them, this caused a big public outrage. The people argued that there are not enough jobs available and that many jobs do not have high enough wages, the low wages in a welfare society are a significant problem, because it’s not profitable for anyone to do those jobs, because they are better off if they rely on welfare.

There are several issues that haunt the Nordic countries and many other western societies, the most significant of them are aging population and mass migration. (Lindbeck 2006) argues that aging population and globalization are problems for welfare states, aging population forces states to increase taxes and that even though migration lessens the aging demographic, the fact that unemployment is high among migrants, it does not decrease the effect of aging population. (Statistics Finland 2014) In Finland 63,7 percent of people with foreign background were in employment in 2014 compared to 73,7 of people with Finnish background. The problem with these statistics is that they do not consider the nationalities of the migrants, it puts all the different migrants into the same basket. In recent years the number of refugees has risen, many of the refugees are not highly skilled migrants, so it is likely that they stay unemployed compared to European migrants for example, which burdens the economy even more than the statistics would indicate. And when we add in to all this the previously mentioned exploitation of the welfare system, it is unlikely that this will be sustainable if there are no drastic policy and societal changes although (Stiglitz, 2009 p:4) argues that “When the economy gets weaker, spending on social protection and unemployment schemes should automatically go up, helping to stabilize the economy”.

Now we come into the moral side of the argument, which is fundamental, but can be seen as biased, because morality is subjective, and it cannot be measured the same way as economic performance for example. By redistributing wealth states are trying to create equality by force and it goes against many western moral values such as having property rights. Redistribution of wealth is a politer way of saying justified theft and who justifies it, the state, which has to be big and bureaucratic due to the workload that these policies require. (Huemer 2017, p:12) “Theft can be justified, but this requires fairly serious reasons; theft is not justified, for example, merely because the thief has a somewhat better use for some property than the original owner. Similarly, taxation might be justified, but this would require fairly serious reasons, something stronger than merely that the state has a somewhat better use for the money than the taxpayers”. Why should the state take the money from a person who is more successful and give it to a person that does not contribute anything to the society? In a society, where there is economic activity, it is given that some people are more valuable to the society than others. And by this high taxation policy, the state is punishing the people that are more valuable to the society by giving handouts to the people that do not have any value economically to the society. (Hayek, 1944 p:158) “the striving for equality by means of a directed economy can only result in an officially enforced inequality-an authoritarian determination of the status of each individual in the new hierarchical order”. Having these redistributive policies gives the governments a huge amount of power over individuals, it gives the power to the government to determine, how well each individual can do financially by taking away the economic freedom from the individuals to determine it themselves.

(Picture: Turning Point USA)

A better way is to guarantee equal opportunities for everyone, but this should not be done at the expense of other people. In an ideal society poverty should not be too comfortable, because if poverty is too comfortable for the poor, why would they want to rise from it and become financially successful and independent. The idea of personal responsibility is often ignored in the field of social sciences, the blame is always on the system not the individual. Everything is about oppression, when at least in the countries that do well economically, there are possibilities to succeed even if the person is poor. It is very harmful to victimise people, by victimising people, you make people to feel entitled and you make it very hard for them to grow and to be responsible.

(Picture: Billwhittle.com)

It is important to acknowledge the counter arguments to this argument and try to answer them. A common argument against economic freedom is that it only makes the rich richer. If there is economic freedom, everyone has the chance to become rich, if a person does not manage to do it, it is not because of the rich people, it is the fault of the person themselves. Then there is the argument that if someone does not want to work or does not generally have an ambition to progress in life, the person is still a human and has a right to housing and healthcare among other things. When other people must pay for it, can it fundamentally be called a right, if it can, these rights violate other rights such as property rights. The leftists commonly think that everyone has these “rights”, because it is fair according to them. How is it fair, if someone else does all the work and half of that success from that work goes to somebody else that did nothing for that money?

Then there is the question, is taxation theft? Left-wing leaning people would say no, because it makes everyone more equal in the society. There is an argument to be made that by working person is willingly paying the tax and so it is not by force thus taxation is not theft, in other words there is a social contract between the state and the individual. What makes taxation theft is that by collecting taxes, the state is violating individual’s property rights, the government has the power to determine how to spend money that an individual has earned. In many cases not paying taxes will result in person going to prison, so there is two choices either pay the taxes or suffer the dire consequences. Taxation can still be justified even if it is acknowledged as theft, and some might argue that taxes are fundamental for the well-being of the society as a whole, but it still needs to be addressed as what it really is. Lastly, the high taxation can affect people’s drive to succeed in a society, where individuals know that they have done more hard work than many other people, but their reward is to have half of their wage taken by the state to give to people, who have earned it only by existing. (Sowell 1999, p:333) argued that “If the government punishes people for being productive by hitting them with big tax increases, and rewards people for being unproductive by giving them entitlements to the taxpayers’ money, how is that likely to lead to a more productive economy”? . Even after arguing that taxation is theft, there still needs to be some form of taxation. States need taxes to maintain their military, justice system and protecting individual rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of association and property rights, but there is an argument to be made that these could be achieved by other means without taxation, but that would be extremely unlikely.

All in all, social democracy has many flaws, but it cannot be ignored that social democratic states have been successful, but the success is based largely on morally ambiguous redistributive policies. Even if the world would move away from welfare towards a society like the one that is proposed in this blog, there should still be a safety net for people, but it should not be forced by the state. Charities and institutions like churches could play a significant part of it, this way you help people without making other people worse off. In a society like this, taxes could be significantly lowered, while giving more economic freedom to people to succeed, while encouraging success, because in a society such as this, people would know that they themselves would enjoy the profit of their success. The power of the governments would thus be reduced, and bureaucracy would diminish.

Simo-Juhani Sievanen – M00627621

Bibliography:
Friedman, M. (1962). Capitalism and Freedom. Chapter 1, pp 1-7.
Hayek, F. (1944). The Road to Serfdom. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group
Huemer, M. (2017). Is Wealth Redistribution a Rights Violation? Available at: https://philpapers.org/archive/HUEIWR.pdf
Lindbeck, A. (2006). The Welfare State – Background, Achievements, Problems. Available at: http://www.ifn.se/Wfiles/wp/wp662.pdf
Sowell, T. (1999). Barbarians inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/350348570/Barbarians-Inside-the-Gates-and-Other-Co-Thomas-Sowell
Statistics Finland. 2014. Statistics Finland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.stat.fi/tup/maahanmuutto/uth-tutkimus/yhteenveto_en.html. [Accessed 7 November 2018].

Stiglitz, J. (2009). The global crisis, social protection and jobs. International Labour Review. Vol. 148 (2009) No. 1-2

Tucker, J. (2017). Open Your Eyes: Social Democracy is Collapsing. Available at: https://fee.org/articles/open-your-eyes-social-democracy-is-collapsing/ [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
Yle (2017). Young people who don’t want to work, growing illicit employment and a break for school kids. [online] Available at: https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/mondays_papers_young_people_who_dont_want_to_work_growing_illicit_employment_and_a_break_for_school_kids/9884738 [Accessed 5 Nov. 2018].