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How we live and what we leave behind matter

Today is International Labour Day; and in the 80s, Barbara and I used to have a stand of leaflets and Trading Partners’ products on May 1 to advertise and raise money for development education in Queensland. Three weeks ago, I received a very sad news about Barbara, and I will surely miss her.

I go Down Under whenever I can to be with family and friends and celebrate special occasions. Amid Barbara's hectic schedule caring for her sick son and other commitments, she came to my 50th birthday party in my sister’s house in Brisbane, and we had a memorable time.

Even if I had known, I would not been able to attend her funeral because of my work and family situation in France. I’m writing this not only to appease my deep sorrow of losing someone who did a lot for many socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and families, but because she was an exceptional person – a role model and an inspiration, especially to those involved in local and international charities and aid agencies.

The Sydney Morning Herald has published an article about Barbara’s many humanitarian endeavours, particularly as the first national president of the Save the Children Fund and past chairperson of the Refugee Council of Australia.

Inequality in Germany by Michael Hartmann

(a blog post written by my German friend Guido)

Professor Hartmann

Michael Hartmann is an emeritus professor of Technical University Darmstadt

Summary

Social and economic inequality is increasing in Germany faster than in all other developed countries (EU. US, JP, AU, CA, etc.)

Real income (not gross income) has not increased for the average German since the end of the 1990s, and today it has even fallen back to the level of beginning of the 1990s. Most alarming is the increase of income disparity caused by extreme concentration of wealth:

  • +17% for the top 10%,
  • -14 % for the bottom 10%
  • Total: +30% difference in 20 years.

(Continue to read...)

Clear, concise and unpretentious writing

Happy Easter to all of you!

I thought today's the 31st of March. I have just come back from a 4-hour chess tournament and am waiting for dinner. It's nearly 9 in the evening, and I have little mental energy left to do my first day-of-the month's blog. Thus, I decided to tell you about my soon-to-be-published book instead.

Foreword

The first article I wrote was published in my university newsletter 40 years ago. It was about my 24-hour travel by boat and bus from home to my alma mater. I felt disappointed seeing some words changed and several sentences reconstructed by the newsletter editor. I soon realised that at 16 years old I was just starting to learn how to write.

Ten years later, when my first journal article took a dozen drafts and tough comments from academic reviewers, I just grinned. I even considered it a victory because, at least, it was not an outright rejection and it eventually got published in the Australian Journal of Criminology. Writing is an art and a skill. Some people are gifted by nature and need no or little help to become good writers. Most of us, however, must spend time and energy to harness our writing skills.

Though the evolution of culture and society impacts how we use language, the essentials in writing have remained fairly constant, particularly in formal communication: grammar, verb tenses, punctuation, paragraphing, sentence structure, capitalisation, and tone.

Nowadays, English is spoken widely in countries that have national languages (e.g. India, Singapore, and The Philippines) and not only in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA. Nevertheless, standard American and British English varieties remain the main global business and academic references (lingua francas).

残念なアベノミクスの成果

残念なアベノミクスの成果

アイム・ソーリ、髭ソーリとおちゃらけたのは、たしか忌野清志郎でした。それにならって、アイム・ソーリ、アベ・ソーリ。ソーリ・アベノミクス。

そうです。インタビューで甘利さんたちが「トリクル・ダウン、トリクル・ダウン」(*)とあまりにも繰りかえすので、トリクル・ダウンという言葉のトリックに皆さんはひっかかったのでしょうか。経済成長の恩恵がそのうち庶民にもまわってくるだろう、そのためには、まず大企業と富裕層を儲けさせなくちゃ、トリクル・ダウン効果は起こらないとでも、思ったのでしょうか。ですが実はトリクル・ダウンの逆で「アベノミクスの効果が、大企業や富裕層のみに及び、それ以外の国民には及んでいない」(**)のが事実です。

「できるだけ多くの角度から論点を明らかに」(**) せよということですので、そのように検証しました。そうですね。悪魔/神は細部に宿るといいますものね。ぜひ私たちの記事に目を通していただきたい。

スティグリッツやケイパビリティの理論家たちがまとめた、国連のストックホルム声明書があります。アマルティア・センの理論の影響が、色濃く見られる声明書です。そこには「経済成長は目的ではなく、健康・教育・雇用・安全保障・消費の改善など社会目標を達成するために必要な資源を創出する手段にすぎない」と書かれています。本末転倒のアベノミクスは目的達成をできず、手段の段階で終わっています。

。。。下につづく

ピケティの「世界不平等報告書」の概要 一部・邦訳掲載

昨年のお正月。トニー・アトキンソンが亡くなったニュースを耳にした。

「世界不平等報告書」の概要

ある学会会場への帰り道、バスの座席に1人ですわる彼を見かけ声をかけたことがあった。それからホテルの会場まで Luxembourg Income Study や OECDの調査について話しながら、歩いて帰ったのを思いだす。翌朝も、席につくと目の前に彼がいた。なんとも謙虚で気さくな紳士が病気を患っていたことを知り、とても悲しかった。

今年になって「世界不平等報告書」を読んだ。彼の残した仕事を、同僚・友人であるピケティと世界の仲間である100人以上の専門家たちが受けつぎ、強化を図っていた。アトキンソン(アマルティア・センもアダム・スミスも)は、経済学の根幹をささえるのは倫理だと、くり返していた。

300頁にわたる報告書を訳すのはムリなので(経済の専門家たちがもっと上手に訳されるでしょうが)。特に興味をもった2ページを訳(意訳)してみた。グラフを見ると、われわれの共通財産である「公」の富が「私」へと移動していることがわかる。現在、公の富が私物化された、国有地の格安払いさげたという問題が取りざたされている。その諸問題の背後で、種子法は廃止され(みんなの種が、誰かさんの種になり)、TPP 協定はすすみ、アベノミクスと株価バブルで大企業と富裕層はさらにうるおう一方、公的債務は蓄積し、公ひとりひとりの教育や福祉への投資は減り、公的年金も減り、政府は人々の負託にこたえられず、国力が衰えていくという日本のすがたを映す鏡のようである。

。。。下につづく

Movies, news and society

February 2018 was a cinema month for me. I watched thought-provoking and inspiring films based on true stories: “The Post, ” The Darkest Hour,” and “15.17 to Paris.”

“The Post” stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, and it is about the Washington Post’s decision to publish government secrets found in the Pentagon Papers. My favourite line in this movie is “The Way They Lied, Those Days Have to Be Over.”

“People need to be led and not misled. Those who never change their minds, never change anything” – these are just two of the many words of wisdom in “The Darkest Hour.” It is in the 1940’s and Adolf Hitler has risen to power. The European nations, including Belgium and France, are in turmoil; and Dunkirk is in danger including the lives of 300,000 British soldiers.

“15.17 to Paris” is about three Americans (Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler) on their European backpacking tour in 2015. While on the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris on August 21, they tackled a heavily armed jihadist terrorist saving many lives. (There were 554 passengers. The gunman had AKM assault rifle, nine magazines and 270 rounds of ammunition, a pistol, a knife and a bottle of petrol. Imagine what could have happened if these brave men didn’t intervene).

The reasons I went to see “15.17 to Paris” were: its director, Clint Eastwood, is an icon in the movie industry; it’s based on a true story; and the three actual guys played themselves (and not Bradley cooper, Chris Pine, Anthony Mackie, or other members of Hollywood’s A list). Hat’s off to these three guys not only to their courage but to their acting as well.

Unlike me, critics are not over the moon with this film. The Guardian (seen 11-02-18) even stated “the real meat of the film is that mind-bendingly boring holiday: endless beers, endless coffees, endless selfies. No tension between the guys. No real connection either.”

Predicting and Forecasting

January has always been an intellectually exciting month for me. My students are eager and thrilled with whatever subject I present for discussion. Perhaps being the first month of the year, which is associated with resolution and starting afresh, they are motivated with most things, including learning or improving their English.

In January 2018, one of the topics that interested them most was predicting and forecasting — two words which are often confused by many native and non-native English speakers.

For me, predicting is a subjective telling of the future based on intuition and personal judgement, which can be biased (sometimes it is entertaining or disconcerting). Whereas, forecasting is done by analysing the past. I predicted that my Aussie nephew would have a wedding in a tropical island where the weather forecast is favourable for outdoor ceremony, reception and party.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘to predict’ (verb – /prɪˈdɪkt/) as “to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience: It’s still not possible to predict accurately the occurrence of earthquakes. [ + that ] Who could have predicted that within ten years he’d be in charge of the whole company? [ + to infinitive ] The hurricane is predicted to reach the coast tomorrow morning. [ + question word ] No one can predict when the disease will strike again” (see ''predict'' in the Cambridge Online Dictionary).

Mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker have made the following predictions for this year (read ''Predictions: Psychic and Astrology World Predictions for 2018''): “A trade embargo with North Korea will fail, the US will strike at railway line and bridge to disrupt imports. Massive Bitcoin fraud uncovered and thwarted that funds terrorism and war. Terrorists make an airborne chemical weapon gas attack by multiple drones on a European capital city.”

Would you like to try your predicting skill? Who will win the football/soccer World Cup in Russia in June? Who among the world’s celebrities will fall from grace?

100年前からの連続性

clinic

スペインはアンダルシア。

昨年のクリスマス・イヴに、Blanco y Negroという雑誌(1891年に創刊)を蚤の市で見つけた。主に芸術や文学を扱う週刊誌で、現在も発行されているようだ。

1915年9月26日、1.271号のページをめくると、ベルギーやオーストリアの女性参政権についての記事があり、その中にこの風刺画がある。画家の名は、Pedro Antonio Villahermosa y Borao で通称Sileno。ページ数は見あたらず、文の内容と挿絵とはそぐわないが、一枚の画が多くを物語っている。

アンクル・サムのアメリカの足元には、(紛争・戦争の当事国が債務に苦しむのは重々わかっているから)現金決済という札とともに武器がずらりとならび、背景に潤う軍事産業が見える。戦闘狂なるものの軌跡。米国の軍事産業の言いなりに防衛力を整備していると、日本の富もドルの嗜好品として煙となり消えていくという図説ですね。

同時に、日本の歴史についても考えさせられる。以前、加藤周一氏(NHK「歴史としての20世紀を語る」)がドイツや日本の戦争責任を問いながら、水面下にいるナチの残党について言及していた。ハーケンクロイツの旗を振っていた人たちはどこへ行った。戦争が終わったからといって、急に消えるはずはない。「南京で子供を殺したおじさんはどこ行ったの。それは我々の隣に住んでいるとても良いおじさんなわけじゃない。親切で・・・」みたいなことを言っていた。

。。。下につづく

Bonne Année 2018! Vill Gléck am Neie Joer!(謹賀新年)

大晦日の夜。夫とレストランをでて、友人宅の玄関先にシャンパンのボトルを置き、駅前の歩道橋をのぼったところで年が明けました。四方の夜空に花火がはじけ、道々、通りすがりの人たちとボン・アネーと言いかわしながら帰ってきました。

新年のご挨拶をした人の中には、たぶん陽気なドラッグ・ディーラーもいたように思う。この包摂性が当地の醍醐味。町のあちこちに、楽観的な気配のただよう(アムステルダムでも感じましたが)雨天のルクセンブルグです。

前述の善友は、元日午前12時15分がバースデーで、まさか旅先から帰った私たちが立ち寄るとは思いもせず。ドルビーサラウンドの大音響で、子供たちと映画を見ていたという笑い話です。

クリスマスを南スペインで過ごし、ジブラルタルで30キロほど離れたアフリカ大陸を眺めました。エル・カミニート・デル・レイ(Youtube)を歩きながら、人生のチャンスは何度でも巡ってくるのだなあと考えていました。普段、それとは気づかずにやり過ごしているだけかもしれません。

今年の日本にも、チャンスはあると思います。たくさんあると思う。チャンスを探訪すれば、きっと良くなっていくと思う。皆さんにとって、実りの多い2018年でありますように。日本の社会が良くなりますように。

。。。下につづく

Happy New Year -- no resolution, yes motivation

It’s still the holiday season and being on staycation, I’ve time to read. One of the articles I’ve recently come across is on the science of success and motivation (read on Forbes, ''The Science Behind Success And Motivation'', seen 26/12/17). Mr Eric Barker, writer of the Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog, stated that “If you’re tired and unmotivated, it almost doesn’t matter what other strengths you have. People who do nothing tend to achieve nothing. So knowing what motivates you can be critical to success.” I agree with him.

Quoting Prof Teresa Amabile’s research finding that the feeling of progress in your efforts is the most motivating factor in life, Barker advises us to focus on “small wins.” I share his view on this: it is better to work gradually and a step at a time toward meeting our main challenge than to deal with massive issues head on then feel like we’re not getting closer to our goals and are failing.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, i.e. yourself. Individuals are motivated because they want to be accepted, honoured, independent, loved, powerful, respected, or wanted.

Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside, and the most often mentioned motivating factor for working hard is money. However, many studies have shown that money is not the main source of happiness. If I were one of the respondents, I would have definitely revealed the same thing.

Apologies go a long way

Two weeks ago, commuting by bus, a woman in her late 60s placed her two heavy-looking bags on the seat in front of me and remained standing. I moved to the window seat and motioned her to the one I just vacated. She declined thankfully and explained politely that her back hurt and couldn't sit down.

The next 25 minutes were like being in a cinema watching a terrible community drama. With full of emotion, she narrated how her daughter’s motorcycle accident caused their family un-describable pain and hardship. Her daughter was only 17 years old (this was nearly 20 years ago) and went for a motorcycle ride with a male friend of her age in the countryside not far from their home. The driver took off leaving her on the ground bleeding and bruised. She got home by crawling and limping, and stayed in the hospital for several months. This devoted mum said with watery eyes "If that coward didn’t leave her alone and she had medical attention right away, she would have recovered earlier and better."

I asked her what happened to that “male friend”. "He now has a good job and in a relationship, but my daughter lives with me because she can’t look after herself. I wish I had brought them to court; but at that time, I was just glad she’s alive. I did admonish him saying that if she had died, I’d have killed him."

Did he apologise? No… "Of course not."

Why didn't he? How about his parents? Why didn't they apologise or talk him into doing it?

嘘で、あかるい未来はつくれない

吉村洋文(大阪市長)‏Verified account @hiroyoshimura この件に関して、僕は政党会派を超えて自民、維新関係なく、正当な行動をとるべきだと思います。先祖、子孫の名誉にも関わります・・・」

ヨーロッパで、たえず私は失敗をしてます。「失敗」とか「失礼・無礼」とは思いもよらず、周りに指摘されて気づくことも多々あります。でも「失敗は成功のもと」と思い、年をとってきました。

60年続いた姉妹提携の件で、大阪市長に気づいてほしい。市長には広い世界の怖さをわきまえ、考察のゆきとどいた温容な判断をしてもらいたいたかった。

欧米の親日家が考えそうな然るべき「正当な行動」について、関西弁で書いてみますね。「事実でないことって?性奴隷のこと、知らんの?ホンマに知らんの?知らんふりしてンだけ、ちゃうのん?そりゃ日本の歴史で恥ずかしいこと、あったで。証拠もごっつう、あるし。でもあんたらがしたことと、ちゃうやん。なァ、昔の恥を認めたくないんやろ。それを認めへんあんたが、今、めっちゃ恥ずかしんやんか。わかるか。ひゃあ、知らんという認識もでけんもんらしい。そーか。そらあかんわ。ほな、教えてあげまほか。おんなじスカタン、繰りかえんさんよぉに。按配したげるでぇ(ここで無残に記念碑がたつ)」「市長。つっぱってんと、あんじょう謝りや~」まァこんな感じかな。

。。。下につづく

これからの社会保障-ケイパビリティの視点から

clinic

ブリュッセルからルクセンブルグへの帰り道。列車内は混みあっているが、本が読めないほどうるさくはない。隣の4人がけの座席には、こども連れの老婦人がいた。

彼女の両脇には、孫のロイック(7歳)とジャック(3歳)。やさしく声をおとしたおばあちゃんの読み聞かせに、たのしげな笑い声がたえまなくひびいて、彼らの幸福感が通路をへだてた私にまで振動して伝わってくる。いつまでも聞いていたいような小気味よい笑いの音曲に、体がほぐれていく気がした。ふと耳にはいる会話をたどるうちに、彼女の忍耐強い養育態度にひき寄せられた。

聞いたところでは、フランスからブリュッセルへ孫をむかえにきたらしい。一週間(万聖節の休み)、彼らをあずかるという。絵本の読み方からも、教養のある女性であることがわかる。7歳のロイックはフラマン語もイタリア語もわかる。そこに彼女が、英語で説明をくわえる。私も調子に乗って、ルクセンブルグ語では、日本語ではこういうのよと言いそえた。経済的にはもちろんのこと、文化的にもなんと恵まれた家庭だろう。彼らは、次世代のリーダーとして育っていくのだろう。

隣席で私が読んでいたのは、阿部彩さんの「子供の貧困II」(岩波新書、2014年)である。日本には、100まで数えられない高校生がいるという。なんということだろう。財務省のお偉い方々がいったという。「『阿部さん、わかりました。では、何をすればよいのですか。具体的に、どのような政策を打てば子供の貧困は解決するのですか。それがわかれば、私たちだってお金をつけますよ』その時、言葉が出なかった。それが今でも悔しくてたまらない」(page. iv)。

。。。下につづく

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