If the Democratic Alliance Ran South Africa

Picture credit: Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille courtesy Democratic Alliance/flickr.

Glenn Ashton - The Democratic Alliance in power and Zille as President. What would South Africa be like? There are lessons to be learned from Cape Town and the Western Cape that have been under DA control since 2006 and 2009 respectively. The City of Cape Town is dominated by white males. Would a DA run national government be much different? Unlikely: 34 of the 67 present MPs are pale males, 15 are white women. Clearly 73% white is not representative of our national demographic. How does the DA hope to persuade black voters that it is not an apartheid relic?


China and the Coming Reforms

Picture credit: Shanghai Skyline courtesy Don-kun/Wikimedia Commons Saliem Fakir - The Chinese are obsessive savers, but the next decade or so marks a new journey in policy reform for China aimed at boosting domestic consumption, as Western export markets decline. But China's rebalancing act is not just economic. This realignment is also finding its way into the political and cultural domain with a growing interest and receptivity towards the revival of humanistic religious practices that are closely aligned with the idea of a harmonious society and Chinese Confucianism. Meanwhile China's new five-year plan talks of building an ecological civilization. One already sees evidence of this in numerous low carbon pilot cities.

Why the Poor Vote for the ANC

Picture credit: Kids Britannica Mohamed Motala - The ANC is set to receive about 60% of the vote nationally largely from voters living below the poverty line. For middle class South Africans it is a perplexing contradiction that the ANC continues to stay in power. The party goes on at Nkandla with its swimming pool, underground bunker, cattle kraal and chicken coops to celebrate, feast and protect President Jacob Zuma. There is even a plan to build an entirely new town in the president's home village. How is the ANC able to do all this in full view of the desperately poor and still get large numbers of poor South Africans to vote for it?

Vote No

Picture credit: Ronnie Kasrils, Former Minister of Intelligence Services in South Africa Richard Pithouse - Alistair Sparks, , has opined that the 'Vukani Sidikwe' or 'Vote No' campaign led by Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge will not make an "iota of difference" and that the "ANC will not be shaken at all." He's right in so far as the campaign is unlikely to make an iota of difference to who wins the election and by how much. But the often cartoonish vitriol directed at Kasrils in particular, as well as the 'Vote No' campaign in general, shows that Sparks is entirely wrong about the ANC being left unshaken by the campaign.

Misrepresenting the Causes of Unemployment

Picture credit: Betakit John Treat and Enver Motala - While finding solutions to South Africa's high rate of unemployment continues to occupy a leading place in national debate, on-going strikes over wages and working conditions are still met with threats of job cuts from employers. At the same time, mainstream discussions of unemployment are dominated by voices allied to the corporate sector that unfortunately also fail to recognise the structural nature of unemployment under the prevailing economic system. This has profound implications for the interventions that are considered when addressing the problem of joblessness. It is time to alter the discourse. We need a more honest engagement with the structural causes of unemployment in our public debates.

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What the One Percent Don't Want You to Know

Picture credit: Bill Moyers & Company Video Watch - Both mainstream and leftist economists are heaping praises on French economist, Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In his review of the book, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues, "The big idea of (the book) is that we haven't just gone back to 19th-century levels of income inequality, we're also on a path back to "patrimonial capitalism," in which the commanding heights of the economy are controlled…by family dynasties...This is a book that will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics." In this interview Krugman talks about the book to Bill Moyers.

The Flower-shaped Starshade that Might Help Us Detect Earth-like Planets in a Decade

Picture credit: TED Video Watch - The Universe is teeming with planets. Astronomers now believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet and they speculate that up to one fifth of them might be able to harbour life. Only we haven't seen any of them - yet. At Princeton's High Contrast Imaging Laboratory, Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" that allows a telescope to photograph planets from 50,000 kilometers away. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science" and it could help us find another Earth-like planet in a decade.

Chavez's Legacy: The Successes and Failures of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela

Picture credit: Left Foot Forward Video Watch - Prof. Edgardo Lander Of Universidad Central De Venezuela argues that a major success of President Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution was that social policies led to a very significant reduction of poverty and inequality making Venezuela the least unequal country in Latin America. More importantly there was a significant transformation of popular political culture. For many Venezuelans, the political system wasn't responding to their needs. But that changed dramatically under Chavez. People now feel that they can organise to bring about change. On the negative side however the entire Venezuelan economy has become exceedingly dependent on the production of oil. Efforts to diversify the economy have been weak.

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