Sunday, 26 February 2012


Following the tragic murder of Casey-Lyanne Kearny in Doncaster, Zoe Dudley, who organised a fund raising event, said it 'had been an emotional day. "People are happy to be participating in it and we can't believe how many people have come.We've all pulled together as a community."'

It does tend to be in tragic circumstances that the rewards and benefits of co-operatting come to the fore. Here, despite the sadcircumstances, Ms Dudley says "people are happy to be participating". So there motivation isn't money, and they're happy. So shouldn't these co-operative principles bee applied in normal or even happy circumstances?

Saturday, 18 February 2012


The subject of over-subscribed schools came up in conversation, followed swiftly by what makes a good school. I'm not going to spell out my entire thought process here, but just conclude what education would be like in an RBE.

At the moment good educators and good leaders of educators have an incentive to apply their skills in a comparatively small context. That incentive is of course money. In a sane world, the best educators and educational materials would be deployed as widely as possible so that the maximum number of people could benefit from them. Ted Talks and the Khan academy are two institutions that subscribe to his philosophy and act upon it, but there are many others.

If good education is channeled through a certain institution in a certain place, by certain people at a certain time, of course the availability is limited and - behold - competition for access to that education arises. In schools, admissions criteria are applied. In the state sector, the crow-flies distance from home to school is often used, causing people to try to live near the 'good' schools.

One element of a school that makes it good is its ethos. This is an abstract concept, and there should be no difficulty in school A  having the same ethos as school B. Another characteristic is leadership. To improve education generally in this attribute the leadership needs to be scaleable.

... to be continued (maybe)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Double standards?

I hear it said fairly often that women/families who can't afford to bring up children should not have them. When I hear it, I cringe. Who has made it so that these families can't afford children? How do we know what genius will not be born if this socially Darwinistic rule is followed? What kind of species limits its own growth to account for the unequal distribution of wealth among its members? Will my English teacher forgive my string of rhetorical questions?

In Lomdon's Metro free newspaper there was an article on 9 February 2012, which complained that women's career progress is hampered by the 'lack of affordable childcare'. The article did not say that these women should not have children if they can't afford them. Do they want subsidised child care? If so, how is it different for the taxpayer to pay a child carer to look after children than to pay a mother to look after her own children?

In an RBE, childen would be bought up optimally as far as possible. This surely has to mean quality time with mum and dad, even if professional carers are used. Those who care for children (or anyone vulnerable) are, I am confident, motivated by the good they are doing, not only the £ they can get.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


I have time for any world view that has the aim of ensuring that all humans' needs are met. If that is in itself socialism, then so be it. Or is a socialism just one way of trying to achieve this, alongside the free market economy? If the free market economy is not trying to reach this end, then it's pretty scary. Whose needs is it trying to meet, and am I included? Has it replaced / displaced this aim with theistic belief in competition in and of itself?

If your world view does not take into account the fact that the planet's resources are finite, then it is a pointless world view and you should change it. How you respond to the reality of finite resources, and with what aims, is another matter.

Our current system doesn't seek to make the most of finite planetary resources, it seeks to make the most money, regardless of actual resources. It heightens the need for competition that it postulates by not conserving the resources being competed for. It is as if those who can successfully compete want to have access to or control of a greater proportion of the total resources, even if that means reducing the total yield thereof. That's weird to  me; if they wanted to increase the yield of resources they would get more without having a bigger proportion, and they could still try to get a bigger proportion.

Amazon wanderings

Internet giant Amazon have been criticised for their plans to open High Street shops, having previously been criticised for putting such shops out of business. A very simple exposée of the free market capitalism system.

In an RBE there would certainly be something like shops; somewhere we can go and handle the piece of hardware we need to use: And while we were there we would presumably take away the equipment if it suited our needs. Very simple. But if you know what you want, the obvious thing to do is to order it on line - something Amazon has developed into a fine art. (i'm not saying they're impeccable, but they do set a benchmark).

The advent of e-book readers has been a major step in untethering the  text from the physical medium from which it can be read. Pople don't like it when I say (following Peter Joseph) that they have a romantic attachment to a the physical book, and maybe that's too pointed, but the text is really the most important element of a book, not the medium on which it is rendered. We moved from stone tablets and clay to scrolls, to codices, and brought in paper to replace animal skins. Why should developmenmt stop at paper? If we want to spread education by 'printed' words we should relish the fact that text can be sent round the world in seconds. If you want a tooled leather volume taking up space in your home, go ahead, but don't pretend that it isn't the words that are paramount.

The free market says competition is good, but they complain that online ordering is inimical to shops. Tey also complain that Amazon starting a shop (competing) is not a good thing. It's all so awry. If businesses employ fewer people and use less premises area, they work out cheaper. If I run my shop more efficiently than you run yours, you will fail and I will succeed.That's the free-market model, so why are proponents objecting?

In an RBE, it is easy to see how rall these contradictions fall away. An RBE is focussed on human needs. In the world as it is, we can safely focus on the very obvious needs, like nutrition, heath and shelter, though tehe more abstract needs that make us human are certainly important. Proper education is such a need, or a means to fulfilling it.

And - I'm sorry - an RBE accepts that there is a finite amount of planetarry resources. We accept that there is a finite amount of money at household level, and we try to economise our money, but at the same tie we subscribe to the idea that we need to have growth. No. We can't grow beyond the limits the planet places on us and any theory that ignores this fact must be wrong by any reasonable standard.

Money, in so far as it it/was useful, trailed value or represented it. If you start chasing the representation of something, rather than the thing itself, our problems begin. All money has to be redeemed for goods and services at some point. Those goods and services help meet human need, making it plain that meeting human need is what we are about, albeit competitively in our current model.