Archive for the ‘#society’ Tag

Sweden’s lagom: The single word that sums up the Swedish psyche.   Leave a comment

Can we learn something from the Swedes psyche ? :

Sweden’s lagom: The single word that sums up the Swedish psyche..

….”I had heard of this unspoken custom before moving to Sweden a couple of years ago. This untranslatable ethos is called lagom (pronounced: law-gum) and it permeates all facets of the Swedish psyche. Often misconstrued as indifference, or the stereotypical Scandinavian “coldness,” lagom is loosely translated from Swedish as “just the right amount,” “in moderation,” “appropriate,” and other such synonyms……

The word lagom itself comes from a shortening of the phrase “laget om,” which literally means “around the team” and dates back to the Viking era between the eighth and 11th centuries. Communal horns filled with mjöd (fermented honey wine) would be passed around and everyone had to sip their own share and not a bit more. Sweden today might be known for cutting-edge design and fierce modernism, yet this Viking code of conduct remains ingrained in their mindset.”…..

 

Posted October 5, 2013 by arnoneumann in Culture, Society, Sweden

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Pesek: Krugman Take on $12 Trillion Question Rings True – Bloomberg   Leave a comment

A fiery debate has broken out over an issue many thought had long been settled: Japan (JGDPAGDP)’s economy is sliding toward irrelevance.

The freshest evidence, reported earlier this week, is the first annual trade deficit in 31 years. It means, at the very least, that the huge pool of domestic savings that Japan uses to finance its staggering national debt might instead start going to support a trade deficit, an ominous sign.

Not necessarily a problem, says Eamonn Fingleton, a long- time observer who recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Myth of Japan’s Failure.” His argument that Japan is a model worth emulating generated a huge buzz. So much, in fact, that it prompted a rebuttal from Nobel laureate and Times columnist Paul Krugman, who’s considerably less enamored with Asia’s No. 2 economy. Fingleton then rebutted the rebuttal.

Who’s right? I’m more in Krugman’s camp than Fingleton’s. Japan’s toxic mix of too much debt, too little growth, too many old people and too few babies will end badly if Tokyo doesn’t get its act together.

It’s important, though, to highlight where Fingleton is right. Japan is pretty close to a model society. It is an incredibly safe, clean, efficient, predictable and consistently quirky place for an expatriate to reside. Japan is reasonably egalitarian, its people have one of the highest standards of living and enjoy the longest life spans, and its cities feature the best infrastructure anywhere. On a more superficial level, Japanese cuisine arguably blows away all others.

Japanization Myth

It’s worth noting that, in some ways, the U.S. only wishes it could become Japan someday. All the chatter about “Japanization” takes on apocalyptic tones: lost decades, debilitating debt levels, zero interest rates forever, financial chaos and existential despair. Although those worries are valid, Japan never unraveled the way skeptics expected.

Crime didn’t skyrocket, homelessness didn’t explode, Arab Spring-like social instability never materialized. Workers and companies merely adjusted, living off their savings. Japan brought a whole new meaning to the concept of muddling through.

Could the U.S. pull off what Japan has? I doubt it. The key to Japan’s ability to withstand 20 years of stagnation is roughly $15 trillion of household savings. Many Americans couldn’t live two months without a paycheck. Japan, by contrast, is anything but a basket case.

Yet here is where Fingleton’s argument falls apart. In 1995, he published “Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000.” Today, the real blindside among Japan bulls is thinking that what worked for Japan yesterday will work tomorrow.

Since its asset bubble burst more than 20 years ago, policy makers have worked frantically to keep the postwar boom alive. For years, pundits fretted about Japan’s zombie companies. The real zombie is Japan’s economic playbook.

The only reason Japan has any growth can be traced to its growing public debt, the world’s largest relative to the size of the economy, and the free money provided by the central bank. The economic equivalent of steroids is what holds Japan Inc. together, Krugman argues, not its organic vitality. To flourish, Japan needs to ease regulations, tap its female workforce and liberalize immigration. Lawmakers are doing none of the above.

There’s still a powerful aversion to change, and herein lies the nation’s Achilles’ heel. The Olympus Corp. (7733) scandal showed how corporate cronyism safeguarded an insular old-boys club. The radiation leaking from Tokyo Electric Power Co. reactors in Fukushima was a reminder of how dangerously top-down Japan is in a bottom-up economic world.

via Pesek: Krugman Take on $12 Trillion Question Rings True – Bloomberg.

Posted January 27, 2012 by arnoneumann in Economic, Japan

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For Some With Autism, Jobs to Match Their Talents – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

What a thrilling story of real import and impact. “Sonne calls it the “dandelion philosophy.” Depending on your point of view, a dandelion is either a valuable herb — a source of iron and vitamin A, with many medicinal qualities — or a weed that invades your garden. “A weed is a beautiful plant in an unwanted place,” he says. “An herb is the same plant where it is wanted. Who decides if something is a weed or an herb? Society does.” “

“Specialisterne was founded by Thorkil Sonne. Eleven years ago, Sonne was a successful executive at TDC when his youngest child, Lars, then 3, was diagnosed with autism. “I had the perfect career and the perfect family,” he recalled. “It was so shocking to realize that one of our family members had a lifelong disability. As parents we wanted to make the best possible future for all of our children, not just the two who were non-disabled. So we had to come up with a new plan for our family’s future.”

“Sonne and his wife thought about what would be best for their son. “What will make Lars a happy man when we are not there anymore?” they asked themselves. “We thought,” Sonne said, “If others could appreciate his skills and respect his special personality in a meaningful and productive job, then we could go to the grave with a good conscience.”

With Specialisterne, Sonne has created something that has gone beyond giving a helping hand to his son. To date, the company has hired 35 people with autism to work as consultants for other companies, and is now training 46 others. Perhaps more important, its model is gaining momentum. Sonne has been contacted by people from 60 countries who want to adapt the work locally. He has expanded to Iceland and Scotland and is planning to spread to a half dozen additional countries within the next few years, including Poland, Germany, Ireland and the United States. Specialisterne has also inspired a similar Chicago-based non-profit called Aspiritech.” ”

 

via For Some With Autism, Jobs to Match Their Talents – NYTimes.com.

RAND, Cold Warriors and the Failure of ‘Rational Choice Philosophy’ – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

You may have to read the complete article several times to understand the full impact of its tenets . Rational choice  theory and rational choice philosophy , its origins and manifestations  can help us to discern elements in the approach that our Governments and Countries are making in economic and societal governance fronts….even the thrust for democracy in the ” Arab Spring ” Middle East.

 

“But the real significance of rational choice philosophy lay in ethics. Rational choice theory, being a branch of economics, does not question people’s preferences; it simply studies how they seek to maximize them. Rational choice philosophy seems to maintain this ethical neutrality (see Hans Reichenbach’s 1951 “The Rise of Scientific Philosophy,” an unwitting masterpiece of the genre); but it does not. Whatever my preferences are, I have a better chance of realizing them if I possess wealth and power. Rational choice philosophy thus promulgates a clear and compelling moral imperative: increase your wealth and power!

Today, institutions which help individuals do that (corporations, lobbyists) are flourishing; the others (public hospitals, schools) are basically left to rot. Business and law schools prosper; philosophy departments are threatened with closure.”

via RAND, Cold Warriors and the Failure of ‘Rational Choice Philosophy’ – NYTimes.com.

Posted June 19, 2011 by arnoneumann in Middle East, Philosophy, Society

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