Thursday, July 28

Architecture that makes a difference

Architecture can have a much more profound effect on our disposition that we generally realise. Seeing something beautiful and well designed not only raises out sprits but contributes to our well being in a practical  sense to achieve much better social outcomes . For instance prisons which are smaller and more open have vastly superior outcomes for rehabilitation than the impersonal mega structures  prone to violence and alienation we continue to build..A city that has laneways converted to restaurants for pedestrians and designated common areas to congregate  will exude a certain welcoming air of goodwill.    

The ancient Greek philosophers understood this very well and in particular Aristotle.  Scholar  Andrew Murray presented  this interesting paper at a conference I attended.  Click here should it be of interest.

What it highlights is the need for all vocations to include at least one elective in philosophy whose rich history in thinking throughout the ages adds to ones collective ideas of the many novel ways of meeting social demands.         

Saturday, July 23

Honeywell's quest for cleaner more sustainable outcomes

If you would like to read about Honeywell’s quest to be innovative and secure a cleaner, healthier  and more friendly environment click here.

Of course companies should always be encouraged to adopt socially environmental  responsible practices. In fact this should always have been the case. It as an indictment of our civilised sate to think otherwise.
My preference is for descriptive provisions or guiding principles as otherwise we are in danger of thinking ethics and environmental sustainability rests only be in the hands of highly trained people.
Honeywell's approach gives one considerable encouragement that enhanced corporate social responsibility goes hand in hand with a superior brand recognition to benefit both  shareholders and the environment. This is part of a quiet revolution not widely reported in the popular press that has ben going on for decades.

But a lot of the benefits have been lost in the growth in populations and because of rampant consumerism. Recent trends suggest  however that the rate of growth has reduced steadily from the 1970's, mainly due to a slowing in fertility rates. In the meantime as the global population continues to increase, albeit at slower rate, many more enlightened corporates are finding new ways to reduce our energy and material footprint.     

Friday, July 8

Beware simplistic protectionism

My letter was published today in the AFR.

In "Vehement defence of populism" (Letters, July 6), David Havyatt points to a growing inequality amongst voters tired of waiting for trickle-down benefits and suggests business should reject neoliberal rhetoric if it wants to assist in much-needed reform to Australian politics.

Populism is being fuelled by politicians watering down their "social demand" responsibilities to provide basic services and employment opportunities as existed in the past during less prosperous but more stable times. The risk is if we continue down this track, we will see a return to simplistic protectionism solutions that are gathering pace abroad.

Unless governments, in consultation with business, provide a much-needed boost to confidence with an industry-by-industry plan supported by policy measures, the angst against incumbent political parties is set to continue. Trade agreements, for instance, can enhance national outcomes, so long as any fallout from misplaced workers is matched with funded retraining opportunities. Otherwise you risk undermining confidence to the extent the benefits may fail to materialise.

But, to have a comprehensive industry policy across all major industries will require a bipartisan political approach, as suggested recently by former Reserve Bank governor Warwick McKibbin. There is nothing innovative or exciting about losing one's livelihood or having to accept substantially lower working conditions or services whilst observing a growing level of inequality.  

Friday, July 1

Brexit according to a technicrat

According to All Tech considered if you judge a country's interests only by prevalent Google searches, it was after the polls closed when British voters started to think seriously about the implications of their choice.
Of course this headline is somewhat tongue in cheek. But I do think there was a paucity of objective debate with a propensity instead to gravitate to the more extreme views on both sides of the fence. As they say never let the facts get in the way of good story.
Another view according to a leading economist is few people were really concerned about the EU (especially in view of the fact England was never part of the Euro currency) until some of the Tories started to blame everything on the EU and stirred up the anti establishment movement which is gaining traction globally. Tribalism reaches across all social classes, evident in the upper levels of the legal fraternity fearing legal business was migrating to EU courts. Of course one would be a fool to ignore a growing frustration amongst voters but all too often we see a gravitation to attribute blame to an external party when problems need to be sheeted home to the government in the first instance.

Central banks, including the EU, would not need to have such loose monetary policy given better management of their respective economies by their politicians. So its easy to form uninformed conspiracy theories when politicians have abrogated their "social  demand"  responsibilities (by social demand I mean governance in terms of full employment and provision of services etc etc )to the extent reasonable social demands are not being met. This has been a growing trend and differs to the degree "social demand" was taken far more seriously in the immediate post war period of almost full employment when we were less prosperous in aggregate than now but there was less inequality. But doubtless to say there will be many opinions from both sides of the divide with some claiming the exit frees England of the influence of a right wing EU.
But the opinion I would countenance is it was a non event until such time as it become a furious party debate and Cameron wanted to end the animosity but subsequently misjudged the outcome. Interestingly enough what this also reveals I think is a growing number of young people are not so inclined to tribalism as the old brigade which gives me a sense of optimism about the future.