1. Some-one is getting the cream
Wealth specialists New World Wealth have charted the wealth held by individuals in countries to rank the top 20:
Our wealth per person is second only to Switzerland, and our increase in the past 15 years has only been topped by Indonesia, China and Russia.
If you don’t feel 248% wealthier, too bad, but not surprising. Our the story is in the strengthening of the Australian dollar and property prices. And who owns what.
The story was written from a British point of view. Britain punches above its weight, but there too the story was the individual ownership of property, compared with Germany, where people are more likely to rent.
2. Uruguay- utopia, or social democratic heaven?
On Sunday night Indira Naidoo on ABC Nightlife interviewed a woman who had grown up in Uruguay, was educated in Sydney, lived here and in the US, now 10 years back in Uruguay. We were told that Uruguay is a state of mind, very progressive with universal health care, education and social security, and very different from it’s neighbours, Argentina and Brazil. On COVID-19 they were told what to do by the government, but nothing was mandatory. So far they have done well. They conformed without a lockdown. People tended to look out for each other, she said.
I couldn’t find a link, but found this – Uruguay quietly beats coronavirus, distinguishing itself from its South American neighbors – yet again.
People are said to have high trust in political institutions:
- The country’s expansive welfare state provides near-universal access to pensions, child care, health care, education and income support for the poor.
This Wikipedia article tells how they came through a rough patch last century, but in recent decades have broken into the sunshine:
- Uruguay is regarded as one of the most socially advanced countries in Latin America. It ranks high on global measures of personal rights, tolerance, and inclusion issues including its acceptance of LGBT people, ranking 5th in the world in the 2020 gay travel index.
It is an unusually secular country, with 41% having no religion. They have legalised the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. They appear to grow more than enough food for themselves, and get 97% of their electricity from renewable sources.
The climate looks about the same as Brisbane’s but with rainfall spread evenly throughout the year. Maybe it’s not too late to learn Spanish.
3. Here in Oz
Meanwhile here in Oz we seem to be led by a bunch who are determined to diminish our respect for governments. Having shown a brazen disrespect for law in the sports rorts, Michael Pascoe tells us the Government steps up its multibillion-dollar grants rorting:
- There is no surprise in the CDG scheme continuing to be used as a political slush fund – that is what it was specifically designed to be.
A body can only apply for a grant if the government invites it to do so.
The identification process is not left to public servants who might suffer from a lack of political bias – it is done by government members and their political appointments.
It is fundamentally corrupt.
You might remember February 2019 when parliament passed a law bill giving doctors the final say on evacuating sick asylum seekers from offshore detention. Morrison said it was a “stupid bill”:
- “I will simply ignore it and we’ll get on with business,” he told Alan Jones on Sky News on Tuesday night.
So, according to our fearless leader, governments are not bound by law. They can choose to do whatever they please.
- Acting immigration minister Alan Tudge engaged in “criminal” conduct when he ignored a tribunal decision and left an asylum seeker in detention for five days, a judge has found.
Justice Geoffrey Flick delivered the scathing decision at the Federal Court on Wednesday, saying the minister “engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal”.
This behaviour is now so common that hardly any of the media carried the story. It wasn’t news.
Speaking of lawlessness, according to the above linked article in The Atlantic, the US presidential election could be worse than anyone might imagine, apart from those who truly understand the manifold opportunities for ruthless powermongers to exploit the fragile links that hold the process of the election of POTUS together. Some are gaming the possibilities, which are terrifying.
At every stage there are weaknesses that can be exploited legally or through direct intervention. One possible outcome is that three people could turn up on inauguration day – Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Donald Trump – each with a right to be POTUS.
One point of contention is that the college electors must themselves be selected by the state parliament, and signed off by the governor who may be from the other political party. Which elector represents the will of the people could be contested in the courts all over the land, and may not be resolved by the requisite time. In 1876 four states sent rival slates of electors to Congress in the presidential race between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.
The Republican incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant:
let it be known that he was prepared to declare martial law in New York, where rumor had it that Tilden planned to be sworn in, and to back the inauguration of Hayes with uniformed troops.
In 2020 the commander-in-chief and the candidate will be the same man.
Trump made his attitude perfectly clear in 2016:
- “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make a major announcement today. I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters, and to all the people of the United States, that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election.” He paused, then made three sharp thrusts of his forefinger to punctuate the next words: “If … I … win!” Only then did he stretch his lips in a simulacrum of a smile.
He has made very clear that he will not accept postal votes as valid at all. The sheer intentionality in wrecking any semblance of due process is breathtaking.
A clear majority on election night for Biden looks like the only chance of avoiding a very ugly two or three months. Vote suppression and fear of the virus make that unlikely.
In other news Mother Jones has a story Trump Has a Half Billion in Loans Coming Due. They May Be His Biggest Conflict of Interest Yet. In the normal financial world Trump is now too toxic to do business with.
On NPR today I heard that now one in six Americans, 56 million, are struggling to put food on the plate. For blacks and hispanics it is 40%.
5. Halting drink-driving
There is a neat story in a recent New Scientist by Amie Hayley We could soon make cars stop people driving while drunk or on drugs.
She leads a team at Swinbourne University of Technology doing research on intelligent driver systems. Scanning devices can already monitor driver alertness, warning a driver if they tend to doze off. Such systems reduce collisions by around 20%. They are mandatory in Eu cars, and will be here too shortly.
Hayley is now working on scanning technology that can tell if the driver is affected by alcohol, amphetamines or benzodiazepines, prescribed for anxiety.
The world currently suffers a death from driving every five seconds. She says that people ask, “but won’t cars be driving themselves, anyway?”
Not any time soon. Self-driving cars require an alive and alert human to take over if the gadget fails. She says:
Over the next decade, these technologies could vastly reduce the number of traffic collisions. If we embrace them, we may finally be able to stop deaths linked to intoxicated driving.
I do hope she survives the brutal cuts to university research post-COVID. Most of it was funded by overseas students, now vanishingly rare, and the government entirely unsympathetic.