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UTOPIA DENIED: Finland’s Basic Income Trial Falls Flat 

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The experiment in paying a basic income to 2,000 jobless Finns will not be expanded.

Laurence Peter repots: The Finnish government has decided not to expand a limited trial in paying people a basic income, which has drawn much international interest.

Currently 2,000 unemployed Finns are receiving a flat monthly payment of €560 (£490; $685) as basic income.

“The eagerness of the government is evaporating. They rejected extra funding [for it],” said Olli Kangas, one of the experiment’s designers.

Olli Kangas wanted the two-year trial to be expanded to people in work

Olli Kangas wanted the two-year trial to be expanded to people in work

Some see basic income as a way to get unemployed people into temporary jobs.

The argument is that, if paid universally, basic income would provide a guaranteed safety net. That would help to address insecurities associated with the “gig” economy, where workers do not have staff contracts.

Euro notes, file pic

Supporters say basic income would boost mobility in the labour market as people would still have an income between jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dystopia U: Vanderbilt Women’s Center to Lecture Men on ‘Healthy Masculinities’ 

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Vanderbilt University’s Women’s Center will be hosting a week-long event dedicated to lecturing men about what it means to have “healthy masculinity.”

Ashley Rae Goldenberg reports: The “Healthy Masculinities Week” is sponsored by Vanderbilt’s Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, which claims to be devoted to “Celebrating Women” while “Empowering All.”liberal-huh

The mission of the Women’s Center is to affirm a “space for all members of the Vanderbilt community that acknowledges and actively resists sexism, racism, homophobia, and all forms of oppression while advocating for positive social change.”

The “core values” of the Women’s Center includes the idea that, “progress toward gender equality calls all of us to be champions for change” while simultaneously claiming to “celebrate the unique differences among all persons and work to build community in diversity.”

Healthy Masculinities Week” hopes to encourage men to “[e]xplore healthy masculinity through various lenses,” such as “American society, the gay and bisexual community, fraternities, and more.”

The first event as part of the “Healthy Masculinities Week” is called, “The Macho Paradox: Why some men hurt and how all men can help.” The title is a reference to a book by Jackson Katz, who is a self-proclaimed “anti-sexist activist” and the speaker for the event.

[Read the full text here, at MRCTV]

The full title for Katz’s book is, “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.” It is unclear why the word “Women” was removed from Vanderbilt’s event listing

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According to a review for Katz’s book, “Katz explores those aspects of American culture that promote violence against women, focusing separate chapters on pornography, prostitution, and other sex-related businesses as well as sexual violence in the military, the music industry, and athletics.” Read the rest of this entry »


Japan’s Anti-loneliness Cafe Goes Viral

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At Tokyo’s Moomin House Cafe, lone patrons are seated with a plush toy for company.

Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone — from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.

You can now add the “anti-loneliness” Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of “wait, what?” strokes of Japanese brilliance.

We first wrote about the Moomin House Cafe in 2012, but the cafe went viral a few weeks ago and has since been besieged with customers wanting a taste of its “anti-loneliness” magic. CNN’s Yuki Arawaka paid a visit (see gallery photos) following the cafe’s new surge in popularity. Read the rest of this entry »


What to Do About America’s Low-Skill Work Force

The U.S.’s economic future may not be as bright as its past.

Would you like fried with that?

Would you like fried with that?

Michael Barone writes: Some bad news for America, not on the political front this time, but in what corporate executives call human resources.

It’s from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report on adult skills, based on 166,000 interviews in 24 economically advanced countries in 2011 and 2012.

The verdict on the United States: “weak in literacy, very poor in numeracy, but only slightly below average in problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”

On literacy, just 12 percent of U.S. adults score at the top two levels, significantly lower than the 22 percent in largely monoethnic and culturally cohesive Japan and Finland. American average scores are below those in our Anglosphere cousins Australia, Canada, England, and Northern Ireland.

One-sixth of Americans score at the bottom two levels, compared with 5 percent in Japan and Finland.

On numeracy the United States does even worse — only 8 percent at the top levels and one-third in the lowest.

Read the rest of this entry »


Hong Kong in a Tizzy Over Newfangled Nuclear Reactors

HKNukeTe-Ping Chen writes: A set of nuclear reactors being built just 60 miles away from Hong Kong is unnerving residents, tapping into deep-seated fears about what a nuclear accident might do to the city.

The plant is currently being constructed in Taishan, a coastal region due east of Hong Kong in southern China’s Guangdong province, and will rely a French technology that has never been used in a fully operating plant before. Accordingly, green groups in Hong Kong say they are worried that its construction will put Pearl River Delta residents at serious risk, should it ever malfunction. Read the rest of this entry »


10 Countries That Spend the Most on Food, Alcohol and Tobacco

Getty Images

Getty Images

TIME.com‘s Samantha Grossman writes: Americans have the largest disposable incomes in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re the dropping the most cash on food, alcohol and tobacco. Analyzing data from the USDA and EuroMonitor International, the folks over at the Huffington Post noted that as a whole, Americans spend a smaller portion of their incomes on food than their peers in other developed nations. On a more comprehensive ranking, which factors in all money spent on food eaten at home, dining out, alcohol and tobacco, the U.S. places just nineteenth. Read the rest of this entry »