Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?

If you had to be reborn anywhere in the world as a person with average talents and income, you would want to be a Viking. The Nordics cluster at the top of league tables of everything from economic competitiveness to social health to happiness. They have avoided both southern Europe’s economic sclerosis and America’s extreme inequality. Development theorists have taken to calling successful modernisation “getting to Denmark”. Meanwhile a region that was once synonymous with do-it-yourself furniture and Abba has even become a cultural haven, home to “The Killing”, Noma and “Angry Birds” […]

Denmark and Norway allow private firms to run public hospitals. Sweden has a universal system of school vouchers, with private for-profit schools competing with public schools. Denmark also has vouchers—but ones that you can top up. When it comes to choice, Milton Friedman would be more at home in Stockholm than in Washington, DC.

All Western politicians claim to promote transparency and technology. The Nordics can do so with more justification than most. The performance of all schools and hospitals is measured. Governments are forced to operate in the harsh light of day: Sweden gives everyone access to official records. Politicians are vilified if they get off their bicycles and into official limousines. The home of Skype and Spotify is also a leader in e-government: you can pay your taxes with an SMS message. […]

The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed far-reaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum.”

The Nordic Countries: The Next Supermodel | The Economist

The south-central African nation of Zambia does everything possible to attract investors. Like the economy of any frontier market nation, Zambia needs foreign direct investment. So it offers inducements and incentives like tax holidays and easy foreign transfers.

Zambia ranks seventh of nearly 50 nations on the World Bank’s list of best African states to do business in, and it is the continent’s largest copper producer. Add to this that new investors in Africa from South Korea to India and Brazil are starting to crowd in.

Yet in a region with a history of abuse and exploitation, and with relatively recent discoveries of its mineral wealth, Zambia has also started “pushing back” on foreign investors that want to do business the old way, including firms based in China and India.

In the past, foreign businesses have taken advantage of eager African nations that offer lush incentives: The typical story is that investors would enter, sign incentive-laden contracts, then promptly ignore all responsibility. The local people often saw no benefit from their nation’s wealth.

To this end, the Zambian Ministry of Finance has started revoking licenses of local and foreign investors that abuse incentives – ranging from ignoring safety standards, disregarding labor laws, perpetuating a lack of transparency, or breaking promises to hire locals.

“It is only logical and appropriate that those who violate the provisions under which incentives were granted face sanctions, including revocation of their investment licenses,” Alexander Chikwanda, Zambian minister of finance, said last fall.

Every Hong Konger should step out with courage in the upcoming act of civil disobedience. You are the hope for the future of Hong Kong.

The protesters had staged a sit-in in the city’s business district following a rally ofhalf a million people demanding democratic elections free of China’s influence.

Hundreds of Pro-Democracy Protesters Arrested in Hong Kong After Half-a-Million-Strong March

I am always amazed at how much time and energy is spent by those of European decent discussing “Africa’s development”. Birgit Brock-Utne, an astute European educator of Norwegian origin, wrote the following in her book[1] about those who insist on preaching to Africa about development:

“… when Europeans came to Africa toward the turn of the fifteenth century, they found a prosperous civilization and enormous wealth. Agriculture and cattle rearing, iron-work, pottery, fishery, salt-mining, gold refining and ornament making, weaving, hunting, and long-distance trading were well advanced at a time and Europe was still relatively backward…From the fifteenth century on, however, the fate of the two continents reversed….Africa stagnated for over three centuries as a direct result of slavery and colonial conquests. This part of global history, for the sake of maintaining a correct historical perspective on Africa and Europe, must always be kept in mind when looking at the contemporary African situation…The bulk of the African people fought heroically against the imposition of slavery and colonialism, though there were some Africans who collaborated with the white slave-hunters and colonialists as well…”

History of post-colonial Africa is replete with shameful stories of African collaborators who worked to undermine the progress and development of their own peoples. The West’s “divide and rule” tactics resulted in intractable conflicts, destruction and devastation of Africa, leaving its people at the mercy of the neo-cons and their political and economic systems that have sustained poverty through poverty perpetuating programs.

The Structural Adjustment Programs of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are an example. So it comes as no surprise when modern day collaborators such as Mo Ibrahim, the British Sudanese entrepreneur, undermine Africa and its leadership, for no other reason than to force African leaders to submit to Western economic and political ideology.

Today, Mo Ibrahim tells us that in 2012 and 2013, there was no African leader that qualified for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

Mo Ibrahim’s views regarding Africans and their leadership is evident in this report from the BBC[2], which said:

“…Mr Ibrahim says the good governance prize is needed because many leaders of sub-Saharan African countries come from poor backgrounds and are tempted to hang on to power for fear that poverty awaits them when they leave office…”

Afraid of being poor…do European and American presidents also share that fear?

Ed’s Note: Sharing this to counterbalance all our own posts as we believe that our perspective should be balanced. Do click through and the read the whole article.

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Stop Watching Us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum. Join the movement at This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA. Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications.

Imagine for a moment a contradiction between capital and governance. Governance requires rationalization, clarity, and order. Capital, in contrast, thrives where opportunities are just emerging. The exceptional profits that allow a firm or corporate sector to get ahead are made where bureaucratic visibility is not yet firmly in place. In the deregulation zones where government is at the end of its tether, capital can operate with the hyperefficiency of theft. Capital cooperates in the spreading of governance measures that facilitate and legitimate this theft; some visibilities and rationalizations develop rapidly, while other economic standards are fluid and even purposely muddy. In the midst of contrasts between clarity and haze, discipline and free-for-all are uncannily bundled together. Obfuscation appears as a state plot, and as a people’s uprising.
—  Friction, Anna Tsing