grow the economy

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“I’ve dealt with and continue to deal with misconceptions and stereotypes about India and Indians at large… We all don’t speak like Apu from The Simpsons, and India is a thriving, growing economy that is not just about, yoga, snake charmers, and chicken tikka masala! I think the best way to counter all this is to show up and let your work and personality speak. I don’t believe in giving any credence to negative, closed minds.”

Grow Your Own: ‘Edible Yards Proliferate in Vancouver Neighbourhoods’

From The Vancouver Sun:

The landscaping installed by young entrepreneurs Katie Ralphs and Ruth Warren is a far cry from the patchy lawns and scruffy rhododendrons that are near ubiquitous in front yards across much of the city.

Lush caches of rainbow chard, peas, beans and lettuce dot Vancouver’s Riley Park neighbourhood between 18th and 29th avenues, in some places as many as two, three and even four yards on a block and a half dozen yards adjacent to a city bike lane.

Ralphs and Warren — the twentysomething proprietors of City Beet Farm — maintain 17 yard gardens all within ten blocks of each other, essential because they move themselves and their produce by bicycle.

Similar businesses — Inner City Farms, Frisch Farms, Barefoot Farms and Yummy Yards to name a few — are converting dozens of Vancouver yards into micro-farms, paying the owners vegetables as rent.

Yard farming is hitting the mainstream, at least in Vancouver, according to Jennifer van den Brink, who specializes in vegetable garden installations and garden maintenance for Yummy Yards.

“It started out that we were just doing conversions in yards that we were then going to farm, but a lot of people just wanted help starting their own vegetable garden,” she said. “So, most of what I do now is installations for people who want to grow their own food.”

Check out the rest of the article here

Related:

(Photo: Steven Godfrey)

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Read more:

And Then There Was One

Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface so-called “nail houses.” These properties, standing alone amid the ruins of other buildings, belong to owners who have stood their ground and resisted demolition. Defiant property owners say the compensation being offered is too low. Some of them have remained in their homes for years as their court cases drag on and new construction continues all around them. A few homeowners have won their fights, but most have lost. Meanwhile, these nail houses have become powerful symbols of resistance against the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Bolivia has reduced poverty and inequality more than any country in the Western Hemisphere over the last ten years by increasing the minimum wage 87%, doubling investment in schools and healthcare, and lowering the pension retirement age from 65 to 60. The government paid for these programs by increasing taxes on oil profits from 18% to 82%, which also allowed the country to eliminate its debt and amass the world’s largest surplus. Bolivia is now estimated to have the region’s fastest growing economy this year and next, according to the IMF. Share if we should follow Bolivia, Like our page US Uncut! Sources: http://bit.ly/11jrsOg http://bit.ly/1tuWVJH

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Sven Zellner: Mongolian Disco

Genghis Khan, the famed Mongolian ruler, and his many descendants once ruled over the largest contiguous empire in human history. Gifted with such large expanses of land, the Mongolian’s nomadic tendencies remained in the people’s cultural DNA for centuries. Even today, at its much reduced size, the country remains four times as large as Germany—and contains fewer than three million inhabitants. In today’s cramped and crowded world, such ample space would seem to offer the hope of continuing these long-practiced customs.

Yet a boom in the mining industry—sparked by a rush for resources like coal and gold—have radically changed the economic and cultural complexion of this once traditional country. Over the past decade, Mongolia has been transformed into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Not surprisingly, this wild material growth has come with an attendant rise in inequality and even more strikingly, an increasingly urbanized lifestyle. Whether for those at the bottom, or those few at the top, Mongolia is no longer defined by its wide open expanses but by its dangerously dirty and crowded cities.

These trends are most evident in the capital city, Ulan Bator. The city was originally founded as a movable Buddhist monastic center. It changed location some 28 times (over the course of 100+ years) before the city could settle on a permanent location. Today, it is hard to envision these humble origins amidst the booming development. In just the past decade, the number of inhabitants has almost doubled (from 700,000 to 1.2 million) and soon, half the country’s population will be packed in there. Over this time, the prevalence of cars has increased three-fold. As a result, the city experiences some of the worst recorded levels of pollution anywhere on Earth.

Again, imagine Germany. The country has 80 million people. Now cram 40 million of them into one city, Berlin, and imagine how empty the rest of the country would feel. Expand the size of Germany by four but keep everyone crammed in that one city. That is Mongolia today. Such cramped, crowded, polluted conditions hardly offer a recipe for wide-ranging nomadism. The country has fundamentally changed largely within the span of ten short years.

During the extremely harsh winter of 2010, nearly one-quarter of all farm animals died and the price of meat doubled. In the city, prices for everything are constantly on the rise. The loss of green pastures as a result of the tough winters, coupled with the shortage of water caused by mining, has forced even more nomads to migrate to the capital. Two-thirds of the population live on the outskirts in massive yurt (tent) districts, the most infamous is known as the Ger District. Countless coal-burning stoves pollute the air, representing an enormous health hazard. The gap between rich and poor continues to grow unabated. And each day, the number of homeless people increases as more people flock to the city. As a result, unemployment remains high but many recent arrivals have nowhere else to go.

In short, this is the “Mongolian Disco"—a party, a struggle and a nightmare, all at the same time.

—LensCulture

forbes.com
Spain Has No Government For 10 Months - Economy Grows, Unemployment Falls To 18.9%
We are continually told that every country must have an activist government. No economy nor society can be allowed to just bumble along by itself, the firm smack of political control is necessary for the world to continue to turn on its axis. This is not really what the empirical evidence tells us of course.
By Tim Worstall
hashilthsa.com
“We are outraged”~Grand Chief Stewart Phillip on pipeline approvals
Today, Canada approved the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, while dismissing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and committing to advance

Today, Canada approved the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, while dismissing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and committing to advance a tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, stated “We are outraged with Prime Minister Trudeau’s cavalier ‘50/50’ announcement, and with the sheer audacity of his refusal to acknowledge the serious erosion of Indigenous rights and the extreme impacts on climate change that will certainly result from approval of Kinder Morgan TMX and Line 3.  We absolutely and categorically reject his sunny assertion that approving these two pipelines is the only way to protect the environment and grow the economy.  This is simply not true and conjures up the ghost of his predecessor Stephen Harper, in making decisions that are not based in science.  Prime Minister Trudeau committed to overhaul the CEAA and NEB processes before any major decisions would be made by his government.  He lied.”

Today’s approval is in direct contradiction to Canada’s commitment to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which includes that “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”  It has been made very clear to the government that all impacted Indigenous Nations have NOT provided their free, prior and informed consent.

Grand Chief Phillip concluded, “Last week I walked with nearly 5,000 people through the streets of Vancouver in opposition to the Kinder Morgan TMX pipeline, and we pledged to do whatever it takes to stop the pipeline from going through.  Ultimately, as the Trudeau government is well aware, these projects will not succeed.  The opposition is too great, and we will remain united, strong and determined.”

By resolution, the UBCIC Chiefs Council has unanimously called for any climate change plan developed by Canada to stop the further expansion of fossil fuel production and export, and support development of alternative energy and alternative energy economies.  The UBCIC supports the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, which has more than 100 signatory Nations and Tribes throughout North America including 56 Nations in British Columbia and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the US, and is an expression of Indigenous Law prohibiting the pipelines/trains/tankers that will feed the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands.

We recovered so strongly from the 2008-2009 recession in large part due to the different choices we made. Unlike at the onset of the Great Depression, our policymakers took aggressive and rapid actions to boost aggregate demand to get our economy growing again, stabilize financial markets, and support workers who had lost their jobs. In total, the Recovery Act and a dozen subsequent measures provided $1.4 trillion in support for the economy. The dividends of this decision have been clear over the past seven years, as the economy has recovered much more rapidly than it did during the Great Depression and has also outpaced other countries that went through similar crises this time. 

The success of the recovery is clear in terms of both employment and economic output. We have just completed the best two years of job growth since the 1990s and seen the fastest two-year decline in the unemployment rate since the 1980s, all while extending the longest streak of monthly job creation on record. Meanwhile, private domestic final purchases—the sum of personal consumption and business investment, the most stable and persistent components of economic output—rose 2.7 percent over the past year, reflecting our strong domestic demand.

I, like many others, am sick of the whole concept of Africa – a resource-rich continent with unbridled potential – always being seen as diseased, infested and poverty-stricken. In fact, seven out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa. - Fuse ODG
— 

From Fuse ODG story in the Guardian "Why I had to turn Bob down"

Fuse ODG is an English musician of Ghanaian descent. He is the pioneer of the This is New Africa (Tina) movement and won Best African Act at the Mobos in 2013 and 2014 (source)

Successful Entrepreneurs Do Six Things When Their Business Is In A Rut

Starting a business can be difficult, but sustaining and growing a business is an entirely different effort. When your business is in a rut, and you begin to sense that you are losing ground and growth momentum because you are not paying close enough attention to the details, the following six actions will serve you well as an entrepreneur – and get you back on track:

1. Critically evaluate your existing products/services.

2. Apply strategic focus.

3. Market to the right clients.

4. Be a better business person.

5. Build strong strategic partners.

One more tip for entrepreneurs.

Hey everyone! I’m Cecilia Muñoz, Director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, and I’ll be taking over I Love Charts today to break down some of the current trends in our economy, and what they mean for you.

Every issue we work on affects our country’s economic growth, and just like the President, we spend every day thinking about ways we can expand opportunity for more Americans and help strengthen the middle class.

So what does that actually mean? Whether we’re promoting access to education to help more young people afford college and get a good job, or investing in clean energy like wind and solar power, we’re focused on growing our economy in ways that help YOU! And every American.

This morning we got some very good news: Our businesses added 236,000 jobs last month, and are now on pace for their strongest year of job growth since 1998. Our unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%, the lowest it’s been since July 2008. That’s a big deal, but we’ve got to keep at it so more families feel the impact of the progress we’re making.

I really do love charts, because they show policy wonks like me the real impact that our decisions have over time. But for me, it’s all about what these charts mean for my daughters’ lives. So if you love charts as much as I do, follow along over the course of the day!

Why The Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten
Why has America forgotten the three most important economic lessons we learned in the thirty years following World War II?
Before I answer that question, let me remind you what those lessons were:
First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth.
In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting raises, and had enough purchasing power to buy what expanding businesses had to offer. Strong labor unions ensured American workers got a fair share of the economy’s gains. It was a virtuous cycle.
Second, the rich do better with a smaller share of a rapidly-growing economy than they do with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.
Between 1946 and 1974, the economy grew faster than it’s grown since, on average, because the nation was creating the largest middle class in history. The overall size of the economy doubled, as did the earnings of almost everyone. CEOs rarely took home more than forty times the average worker’s wage, yet were riding high.
Third, higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments – better roads, bridges, public transportation, basic research, world-class K-12 education, and affordable higher education – improve the future productivity of America. All of us gain from these investments, including the wealthy.
In those years, the top marginal tax rate on America’s highest earners never fell below 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower the tax rate was 91 percent. Combined with tax revenues from a growing middle class, these were enough to build the Interstate Highway system, dramatically expand public higher education, and make American public education the envy of the world.
We learned, in other words, that broadly-shared prosperity isn’t just compatible with a healthy economy that benefits everyone – it’s essential to it.
But then we forgot these lessons. For the last three decades the American economy has continued to grow but most peoples’ earnings have gone nowhere. Since the start of the recovery in 2009, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent.   What happened?
For starters, too many of us bought the snake oil of “supply-side” economics, which said big corporations and the wealthy are the job creators – and if we cut their taxes the benefits will trickle down to everyone else. Of course, nothing trickled down.
Meanwhile, big corporations were allowed to bust labor unions, whose membership dropped from over a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to under 7 percent today.
Our roads, bridges, and public-transit systems were allowed to crumble under the weight of deferred maintenance. Our public schools deteriorated. And public higher education became so starved for funds that tuition rose to make up for shortfalls, making college unaffordable to many working families.
And Wall Street was deregulated – creating a casino capitalism that caused a near meltdown of the economy six years ago and continues to burden millions of homeowners. CEOs began taking home 300 times the earnings of the average worker.
Part of the reason for this extraordinary U-turn had to do with politics. As income and wealth concentrated at the top, so did political power. The captains of industry and of Wall Street knew what was happening, and some played leading roles in this transformation.
But why didn’t they remember the lessons learned in the thirty years after World War II – that widely-shared prosperity is good for everyone, including them?
Perhaps because they didn’t care to remember. They discovered that wealth is also relative: How rich they feel depends not just on how much money they have, but also how they live in comparison to most other people.
As the gap between America’s wealthy and the middle has widened, those at the top have felt even richer by comparison. Although a rising tide would lift all boats, many of America’s richest prefer a lower tide and bigger yachts.

Tanzania’s Jaki Kweka is that rare breed of gourmet chocolatier. She makes fine chocolate in Africa using local African ingredients.

Other African companies such as Ghana’s Golden Tree use local cocoa but import milk powder and sugar. Multinationals such as Nestle mass produce chocolate in South Africa for the continent’s consumers and source ingredients globally.

But few firms match Kweka’s ideal – she uses Tanzanian beans and local sugar to make organic chocolate that is 100 percent African. She packages her bars in recycled maize husks for extra authenticity.

Kweka’s Chocolate Mamas is one of a handful of East African firms carving out a niche in the chocolate world and seeking to reverse a trend that has led to the foreign domination of Africa’s growing chocolate economy.

The firm employs five people and its small size sheds light on a big issue: Africa produces more than 70 percent of the world’s cocoa but the $110 billion chocolate industry is dominated by Western companies.

Top cocoa producers Ivory Coast and Ghana lack dairy and sugar industries to compete with the main manufacturers and cocoa is traded globally so African bean growers don’t have a competitive advantage when it comes to making chocolate.

“You don’t really find large-scale chocolate manufacturing (by African companies) in sub-Saharan Africa because it’s not commercially viable. It’s expensive to produce,” said Victoria Crandall, an Ecobank analyst in Ivory Coast.

Chocolate Mamas’ dark and milk chocolate bars sell at premium prices in high-end shops and hotels in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and they have a devoted following among wealthy Tanzanians, expatriates and tourists.

The company launched in 2012 and Kweka began using cocoa from small-scale farmers in southwestern Tanzania after seeing the price of importing baking chocolate from Europe. It took nine months of trial and error to perfect recipes.