Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. 2006.”Global Inequality Fades as the Global Economy Grows.” 2007 Index of Economic Freedom.

The report of 13th annual Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 2007 was cited in the January 23, 2007 online version of The Economist under Business This Week. Economic Freedom of 161 countries is measured and ranked from 0 to 100 with 0 demarcating countries with the least freedom. The index designed for public policymakers and investors uses ten variables, such as tax rates, ability to do business, property rights, corruption, labour freedom and property rights. Some countries such as Iraq were excluded from the survey. Using a new formula this year liberty worldwide is on the rise compared to the entire period investigated (c.1995-2006) although slightly less in 2006(60.6%) as compared to 2005 figures. What is problematic about this index is the way in which market liberalism is confounded with a more inclusive concept of liberty.
This annual index cites Adam Smith‘s The Wealth of Nations in 1776 as its foundational theoretical framework and measures ten variables, such as the ability to do business, property rights, corruption and labour freedom. The average score (0 equals repressed, 100 equals free) was 60.6%, down slightly from last year but the second-highest since the survey began. North Korea remained rooted at the bottom (several countries, including Iraq, were not ranked).

According to Index of Economic Freedom 2007 Hong Kong, United States, Britain, Chile, Japan, Germany, Israel and Thailand are the best countries in the world to do business. North Korea, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Italy are the worst places for free market trade.

Since the 18th century Smith’s theories have been used to explain capitalism asa means of promulgating peace since war interrupts trade between nations. In a recent article (2006) in Le monde diplomatique,sociologist Professor Alain Bihr, reveals how this concept of capitalism and freedom of the market as generator of peace, embedded in concepts of classical liberal economy, forgets the nature of production (Bihr 2006 citing Smith 1904 [1776]). Smith’s theories continue to inform investigations of the study of liberal thought and the history of capitalism, such as the Index of Economic Freedom.

Adam Smith’s arguments are used as a rebuttal to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (1999) which decries the widening gap between the poorest and richest countries. In 1997 the upper quintile controlled 74 times the income of the lowest quintile, whereas in 1960 the figure was 30 times the income. (The extremes of wealth and poverty in Canada are discussed in )

What is too often ignored in liberal market theories is Adam Smith’s final concluding chapter in which he clearly indicates what must be done with surplus wealth in order to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. There is a responsibility on the part of the super rich to not simply accumulate their wealth as is the case of the ultra rich but to redistribute their wealth with an eye to hospitality.

When neither commerce nor manufactures furnish anything for which the owner can exchange the greater part of those materials which are over and above his own consumption, he can do nothing with the surplus but feed and clothe nearly as many people as it will feed and clothe. A hospitality in which there is no luxury, and a liberality in which there is no ostentation, occasion, in this situation of things, the principal expences of the rich and the great. But these, I have likewise endeavoured to show in the same book, are expences by which people are not very apt to ruin themselves. There is not, perhaps, any selfish pleasure so frivolous of which the pursuit has not sometimes ruined even sensible men. A passion for cock-fighting has ruined many. But the instances, I believe, are not very numerous of people who have been ruined by a hospitality or liberality of this kind, though the hospitality of luxury and the liberality of ostentation have ruined many (Smith 1902 [1776]: V.3.1).

In a future world individuals may well be entrusted with doing this voluntarily. But we are far from this state of equilibrium where the market balances itself. The Index of Economic Freedom cannot therefore be relied upon as a stand-alone tool measuring freedom. Concepts of hospitality and liberty need to be measured with the more sophisticated critical tools of the 21st century not with limited readings of brilliant texts of the 17the century.

In 2001 Peter Robinson invited Bruce Bartlett, Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis and Peter Orszag, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution to debate questions concerning income inequality such as:

“How much does the gap between rich and poor matter? In 1979, for every dollar the poorest fifth of the American population earned, the richest fifth earned nine. By 1997, that gap had increased to fifteen to one. Is this growing income inequality a serious problem? Is the size of the gap between rich and poor less important than the poor’s absolute level of income? In other words, should we focus on reducing the income gap or on fighting poverty?” See the transcript or listen to the multimedia of Robinson, Peter. 2001. “Rich Man, Poor Man: Income Inequality.” Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed July 18, 2001 hosted by the Hoover Institution and funded by John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation, all pro-business think tanks.

Footnotes

While Canada now has a $4.8 trillion net worth, the lower quintile of the population have seen their net worth diminish while the net worth of the Ultra rich has increased.

Selected webliography

Bihr, Alain. 2006.“Aux origines du capitalisme: L’erreur fondamentale d’Adam Smith.” Le monde diplomatique online.November.
Flynn-Burhoe. 2007. “Rich Man Poor Man: Hospitality, Liberty and Measuring the Measurements.” Google Docs and Spreadsheets. January 24, 2007.

Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 2007.

Robinson, Peter. 2001. “Rich Man, Poor Man: Income Inequality.” Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed July 18, 2001 hosted by the Hoover Institution.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. 2006.”Global Inequality Fades as the Global Economy Grows.” 2007 Index of Economic Freedom.

Smith, Adam. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: Methuen and Co., Ltd., ed. Edwin Cannan,1904. Fifth edition. complete online version

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The extremes of wealth and poverty threaten globalisation. North American companies lose jobs to the Chinese Special Economic Zone (SEZ) where factories often employ rural women to work in 19th century conditions to keep their costs low. Meanwhile the total pay of top managers in North America has increased from 1986 through 2006 to roughly 40 times the average and from 1966 to 110 times the average.

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Globalization “refers to the current transformation of the world economy the reduction of national barriers to trade and investment, the expansion of telecommunications and information systems, the growth of off-shore financial markets, the increasing role of multinational enterprises, the explosion of mergers and acquisitions, global inter-firm networking arrangements and alliances, regional economic integration and the development of a single unified global market. The phenomenon of globalization is accompanied by increasing international mobility,  the migration of workers, the growth of tourism and the increasing ease of international travel (Leary 1998:265).”

Selected Bibliography and Webliography

Leary, Virginia A. 1998. “Globalization and Human Rights.” In Symonides, Janusz (Ed.) Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challenges: Manual on Human Rights. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd. / UNESCO Publishing. pp. 265-276.

2007. “Rich man, poor man.” The Economist. Jan 18th 2007. Accessed January 18, 2007.

The Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods in Europe coincide with the period of colonization in what was called the New World. When we admire artistic creations from these periods how can be also remember colonial activities and their implications for everyday life in 2007.

Freeman (2000a 127) describes one of the distant relatives of the 17th century as a fur trader, interpreter and man of public affairs whose influence increased in 1643 with the formation of the United Colonies of New England (Plymouth, Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Haven). His name was connected with almost every Indian transaction on record.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Freeman, Victoria. 2000. Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Freeman, Victoria. 2000a. “Ambassador to the Indians.”Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. pp.127-147.


Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Tag clouds with shaft of light: Playing tag with the Fraser Institute.”.
You may copy and use this image and text by following the Creative Commons License 2.5 BY-NC-SA guidelines.
Tag clouds with shaft of light over the Canadian topography, or playing tag with the Fraser Institute.

This tag cloud was merged with a Google Earth view from West Coast mountains towards Ottawa and Washington in the East. The beam of light in the background is the Enron tower.

In the Adobe Photoshop toolbar under Filter > Liquify > I maximized the brush to create powerful wind patterns effects in the clouds hovering over the Canadian topology.

I studied the Fraser Institute’s on-line annual reports and web pages to piece together the following categories, tags or folksonomies to introduce mass media users to one of the most highly cited think tanks which emerged in 1974 at the height of Thatcherism. These are the tags in the cloud:

Economic Freedom, Milton Freeman, Education, Environment and Risk, Privatizing Correctional Services (1998), Alan Greenspan, Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg, Fiscal Policy, Sally Pipes, T. Patrick Boyle, MacMillan Bloedel, Governance, Csaba Hajd, Ralph Klein, Private vs. Public Health, Can the Market Save Our Schools? (2000), Law and Markets, Caring For Profit: Economic Dimensions of Canada’s Health Care Industry (1987), Non-profit Studies, Adam Smith, Atlas Foundation, Sir Antony Fisher, Regulatory, Pharmaceutical Policy, The Illusion of Wage and Price Controls, Preston Manning, Entrepreneurship and Markets, Michael Walker, IEA, Alan Campney, Social Affairs, School Report Cards, Thatcher, economic conscience, Bill Emmott, George Shultz, John Raybould, Trade and Globalization, Schumpeter, The Economist, Cato Institute- Washington, Rent Control: A Popular Paradox

See also Think Tanks: Corporate Director Board Interlocks: Fraser Institute

A tiny community prevented an even greater tragedy by rescuing Queen of the North ferry survivors (March 22, 2006) in their own boats. Months later the hamlet has only met with broken promises. The new search and rescue vessel turns out to be a lifeboat with a putt-putt motor, the upwelling of the 200,000 litres of oil threaten their waters.

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Poincare, Perelman, Hamilton, Yau

“It’s just the way it is,” isn’t anymore. As I read the Nasar and Grubermanifold New Yorker article (2006) I was deeply moved by the life story of Gregory Perelman who can live on a $100 a month and who managed to wipe out an entire branch of pure mathematics in a few years by working alone, even isolated in the slow world. He is described as an idealist, an ascetic, a Russian Jew who lives with his mother in a gray neighbourhood of gray apartment buildings. But in this article he shines brilliantly. He may be part of the answer to my own puzzle, the ethical dilemma of being an academic in the 21st century.

Henri Poincaré created a True Knowledge Gap in mathematics, giving rise to an entire branch in his discipline when he slipped in an offhand question that became the legendary problem of the 20th century (Nasar and Grubermanifold 2006).

By the nineteen-sixties, topology had become one of the most productive areas of mathematics, and young topologists were launching regular attacks on the Poincaré. To the astonishment of most mathematicians, it turned out that manifolds of the fourth, fifth, and higher dimensions were more tractable than those of the third dimension. By 1982, Poincaré’s conjecture had been proved in all dimensions except the third. In 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute, a private foundation that promotes mathematical research, named the Poincaré one of the seven most important outstanding problems in mathematics and offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove it.

In 1992 when Gregory Perelman (b. 1968) posted his solution to the problem on the Internet on a site used by mathematicians working with advanced concepts, he supplied enough information for the handful of minds capable of understanding to know that he had cracked it.

It took me a few days to feel I had understood enough of their article to appreciate it. I used my new Firefox add-on Gnosis.[1]

Why then did this story continue to unfold on some very messy battle Fields? Politics, power and control. To understand more fully, I worked out some of the ideas at Tim’s and in an easy chair playing with pictures. I also had to map out a brief timeline and the biographies of the main characters: Perelman, Hamilton, Yau, Tian, Zhu, Cao, Ball and Thurston. I played with the concepts of Knowledge Collisions in the Battle Fields of Mathematics but this was not about knowledge collisions on a level playing field.

Poincaré’s bagel, coffee mug handle, soccer ball and noose knot were great for starters. The table itself was easily transformed into a topology of Battle Fields. Cigars and necks protruded on the topological landscape like stalagmites. I laid a silk cloth over it all so it could drape over the edge of the table. I left a space on the table edge for a dented fender. The True Gap gaped like a crevice in an otherwise relatively level playing field. The coffee mug with its insignia of Stephen Hawkings casts a long shadow and the handle represented the branch of mathematics called topology. Since we are looking at a cross section of topological field the branch that has disappeared over the edge represents a small sorrow [2]

I didn’t know where to put Gregory Perelman my new hero, so I put a spoon in the coffee mug which he of course had stirred up. Then I balanced a swing at the top of it giving him a higher vantage point from which he can quietly survey the field. He swings slowly back and forth without those below noticing. All they can see is the spoon and the bottom of his swing. I turned him into a pearl and remembered a quote, “Not every sea has pearls . . .”

My early experiences in academia were entirely positive. It was only when I was in my fifth year of graduate studies, my second in my PhD that I began to realize the hidden power and politics behind the scenes in the ivory towers as one professor after another sought to gain control over academic and/or grant capital at any cost. I caught myself transforming campus towers into Freudian phallic symbols as I watched with dismay my PhD slipping away from me. I was disgusted mainly with my own naïvity, my lack of campus street-smarts but by then it was too late. It seems my university students in their twenties had figured it out long before I did. No wonder we all make fun of Ph.D.s!

So here I am typing away in my living room office with my old PC perched on this great glass-topped Business Depot computer desk, reflecting Mount Tzuhalem with the fire crackling off to my left and our family sound asleep. I’m emptying my PC into a dozen or more free Web 2.0 sites.

I’m not a Perelman but he is my hero. If you can only learn to live on $100 a month, keep access to the Internet, connect one’s PC’s memory to the free Web 2.0 you can sit back in the slow world and quietly watch a lifetime of experience upload to this strange virtual space we call the Internet.

Perelman’s copyright took the risk of losing his intellectual capital. For some Yau and his students really did deserve the Fields Award he received from Ball.

But for me I would rather face the perils of a Perelman Risk, tie my intellectual capital to my Creative Commons stake and at least let people share some of the amazing experiences I was privileged to have before the Fawlty Towers crumbled around me.

Footnotes


[1] See the article on ClearForest. I had to select a chunk of the article at a time for Gnosis to do its magic but undeniable it makes digesting lengthy, complex articles less cumbersome. At the most elemental level it is similar to the Google generated highlighted key words in .pdf files found in response to a user’s Google search inquiry. Gnosis uses a number of colour codes to highlight a number of themes which I am just trying to work out now.

[2] Its a bit like the death of a meteorite in a fiery explosion would be to the person who had named and followed the passage of the meteorite for decades.
[I have even heard on academic hearsay which is as reliable as Frank I suppose, so I should not repeat this but . . . this is not a journal it is a blog . . . an archaeologist explained to his First Nations guide (who later whispered this to me) that he would not reveal their findings in the field since it would be so hotly contested by his colleagues in his branch it would consume his entire career to defend it. Academic hearsay. Fireworks, not a meteor. Take away 5 credibility, legitimacy points from this author immediately!]

For more reading on science on Web 2.0 see yanfeng.org

Selected webliography

Swaminathan, Nikhil. 2006. peer_review_is_sooooo_old_school
Scientific American Blog. December 22, 2006.

Nasar, Sylvia , Grubermanifold, David. 2006.”Manifest Destiny.” The New Yorker: Fact. Annals of Mathematics. A legendary problem and the battle over who solved it. Issue of 2006-08-28; Posted 2006-08-21; accessed December 22, 2006.