Satire, Douglass North, Kissinger, Markets, Discrimination

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David Cameron’s Cunning Plan

Robert Shrimsley | Financial Times | 26th November 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Satirical précis of the British government's rationale for bombing Syria. "We are doing this to make Britain safer from the threat of Isis. Even though we cannot offer a single reason whatsoever to believe it will achieve that goal. Something must be done. And this is that something. We are all going to feel a lot better about ourselves. We do realise that air strikes alone cannot defeat Isis. But that's all we've got at the moment" (670 words)

Lessons From Douglass North

Andrew Batson | 27th November 2015

Douglass North, who died this week, was "a social scientist who aimed straight for the big questions". His Violence And Social Orders was subtitled "A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History" and it delivered on that extraordinary promise. North showed that the crucial difference between rich and poor countries is that rich countries have institutions which enable them to recover quickly from their mistakes (940 words)

The Key To Henry Kissinger

Graham Allison | Atlantic | 27th November 2015

Niall Ferguson's biography of Henry Kissinger correctly identifies the study of history as the basis of Kissinger's statecraft. Kissinger believed, after Thucydides, that history "teaches by analogy, not by maxims". It can "illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations”, but in reasoning from history, “each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable” (1,150 words)

The Import Of Exports

Ricardo Hausmann | Project Syndicate | 26th November 2015

"A market economy should be understood as a system in which we are supposed to earn our keep by doing things for other people; how much we earn depends on how others value what we do for them. The market economy forces us to be concerned about the needs of others, because it is their need that constitutes the source of our livelihood. Money tracks the value of the gifts we give one another" (1,046 words)

Against Immutability

Jessica Clarke | Yale Law Journal | 26th October 2015

Why is it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or sex, but not on the basis of experience or beauty? Courts used to ask whether the trait was "immutable" in a supposedly scientific sense. Now they ask whether the trait is central to a person's identity. But should we therefore allow discrimination against obese people, if they want to be thinner? Is a criminal record central to a person's identity? (30,000 words)

Video of the day: Liberty And Security

What to expect: David Frum addresses the Oxford Union (11'27")

Thought for the day

Where dreams alone are blueprints, nightmares result
Anthony Daniels

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