Monday, September 29, 2014

Confusion on the term "liberalism"

What is liberalism? Is it about economic freedom, democracy, or social insurance? I found the term being used in all three possible meanings but the policies pursuing these different goals can actually contradict each other.

More economic freedom can mean less social protection. Democracy can cut either way: a democratically elected conservative government, in the British sense, can work to tear down social insurance programs.

So what is liberalism? and who is liberal?

Timeline of human evolution

6 million years ago, start to stand upright.
2.6 million years ago, use of tools becomes common.
1.8 million years ago, longer legs and wider strides.
500 thousand years ago, brain size increases rapidly.
250 thousand years ago, symbol communication.
160 thousand years ago, longer childhood and adolescence.
10 thousand years ago, domestication of plants and farming.

The progress of humanity

Life is a lot safer and more comfortable today than 300 years ago. Modernization is achieved by progress in science, technology, and method of production. Better infrastructure, public health, machinery and tools, quality of food, all contribute to the extension of life expectancy.

Before 1750 even the rich has a short and tough life. Most people have a short life and infant mortality is very high. People are very religious because death is a constant threat and plays an important role in their planning of life. Short and unpredictable life expectancy influenced people's attitude toward marriage, one of the most important institutions for the survival of the species. The political views were also conservative and societies were evolving very slowly.

Resilience

Resilient individuals show hardiness - the ability to create a meaningful purpose for one's own life. They can delay gratification while striving for future goals because of their belief systems.

They believe that you can shape your own life as you wish, and they understand that you learn from both positive and negative experience.

Personal resilience is associated with such characteristics as optimism, confidence, and ego control.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reuters: China turns up heat on ex-security chief with crash probe

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/12/us-china-corruption-specialreport-idUSKBN0H700820140912

comment: "rule by law" and "rule of law" are completely different concepts.

The story reminds me of the story of power struggle in the Qing Dynasty court.

The decline in the government's debt is one of the major economic stories underway.

Eleven months into the government's fiscal year the government's fiscal debt is down a sizable 22.0 percent, at $589.2 billion vs $755.3 billion this time last year. The improvement includes a 14.3 percent rise in corporate tax receipts, to $247.2 billion, and a 4.9 percent rise in individual tax receipts, to $1.23 trillion. The spending side of the ledger shows a 5.1 percent decline for defense spending, to $555.4 billion, and a 1.6 percent decline for Medicare, to $467.4 billion. For August separately, the government's deficit was in line with expectations at $128.7 billion.

Survey of Consumer Finance by FRB

http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/scf/scfindex.htm