Greek Crisis: Why all the bitter accusations from the North?

Greek crisis - Our money - multiple sources

Seven reasons why Northern and Eastern Europe are not supporting the Greek cause.

Forgetting the Germans (not that this is ever possible of course) and the more prissy lipped representatives of European institutions, why might we reasonably ask ourselves are there so many angry accusations coming in from Eastern and Northern Europe?  It’s a bit complicated, so let us consider this in several stages.

First and most reassuring to those of us who care about the economy and democracy, these are not universally shared positions in those countries.  And this is what you are not hearing from the media, as much as anything else because the real message is so complicated: namely that there are substantial portions of the populations and political alliances in each of these countries who are in fact NOT AT ALL IN AGREEMENT with the orchestrated media pronouncements of certain government representatives, including national delegations to the various European institutions.  For those of us who are concerned not only with matters of the well working of the economy but also that of democracy, this multiplicity of views is reassuring news.

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Greek Crisis: Last night I dreamt I wandered the stacks . . .

thinking about economy - fb top page - versailles treaty

Signing of Versailles Treaty imposing ruinous economic sanctions on the defeated Germany

Last night I dreamt I was wandering the stacks of the great Butler Library at Columbia, in a search to see if I could identify a certain number of what I would like to call “leading political economists” who have through their work and contributions over the last several centuries helped to shape our understanding of the relationship between economy, efficiency, democracy and governance. In particular I was looking for indications in their work that would allow me to make an educated guess as to what their position might have been in the case of the Sunday Referendum in Greece.

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Greek Crisis. Jeffrey Sachs: Let Greece Default

Jeffrey Sachs Bloomberg

Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University, talks about Greece’s debt crisis and the nation’s future in the euro.

Some quick quotes from his interview:

This is really a very sad mess. The sort of situation which never should have been allowed to come about in the first place.

It shows very poor economic management from the European side.

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From Nantes: Three Little Words to Shape the Future of Cycling

Philippe Crist - with bike but no nameWe are pleased to be able to share with you the speaking notes prepared by a friend of many years and emerging pillar on the international transport policy scene, Philippe Crist of the International Transportation Forum for his opening keynote address to this year’s Velo-City conference in Nantes.

Philippe, who for years has spent more than an hour each day peddling through Paris traffic to work at the OECD,  takes a few steps back from the immediate concerns of the many workshops and events, and invites us to contemplate the big picture and hopefully in the process remember three words that he has chosen for the core of his presentation, three words that he proposes can help us understand, shape and support the future of cycling in our cites, smaller towns and rural communities around the world. The words are: Serendipity (stumbling on something important by keen eye and happy chance); the concept of Resilience; and the initially puzzling neologism “Supernormal”. To put this presentation to work, we invite you to review it in parallel enjoying the illustrated 12 minute video of his address which you will find at the Opening Plenary Part 3 at  http://livestream.com/lacitenantes/Velocity2015/videos/89111933 (start viewing at 36:30).

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The Encyclical Dialogue: What happens next on World Streets?

Pop Francis listening critically

World Streets accepts this wise invitation of open discussion of these critical matters with grateful thanks to the Pope and the Vatican, and a genuine desire to participate usefully.

Pope Francis has invited us all, invited the world in all its varieties and contradictions, to read, ponder and comment on the carefully crafted forty thousand words of his Encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home. In the opening lines of the long, varied and challenging document he addresses us in these words.

In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home. . . I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.

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Encyclical Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home

pope francis in crowd

Photo: Massimo Pinca/AP

Pope Francis’s just-promulgated encyclical “Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home”, is without a doubt the most important single document to be published, initiative  to be taken, since the phrase sustainable development was invented three long and patently unsuccessful decades ago. This extraordinary document of less than one hundred pages aims to inform and to rally the forces of responsible  behavior and responsible governance to the cause and the plight of our planet and to the role of active democracy.  Beautifully written (the English language version at least), clearly presented and cogently argued in clear day to day language.    It is an excellent and inspiring read. However it is not a recipe, it has its shortcomings — it is a challenge, and thus requires that we read it carefully and do our own sorting out of the issues and the counsel it offers. Hardly an effortless process.

One of the more disheartening passages includes his listing of all the promising international agreements that have failed for lack of support from the leaders who signed them.

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Extra-urban Mobility Revolution Coming to your Doorstep

If I live outside of a city — say, in a classic spread suburb, rural area, commuter town or other hard to serve low density area — and if I happen not own a car, or on days when my car is not available, I am going to have an extremely hard time getting to work or wherever it is I need to go this morning.

rural carshare cowIn principle I have a few choices, for example: (a)  Get down on my knees and beg for a ride from family or neighbors. (b)  Try to find (and somehow get to) a bus or local pubic transport (in a period of ever-decreasing public services and budget cuts, so good luck!). (c) Search out a taxi if you can find one, call, wait for it eventually to show up and then pay a hefty amount. (d) For work trips, and if I am lucky, there may be a ride-sharing scheme.  Or, for many less comfortable but still possible, (e) the  hitchhiking option. (f) Or do like an increasing number of my fellow commuters and buy a cheap motorcycle. And perhaps most likely of all (g) be obliged to reschedule or forget the trip. But at the end of the day, and all things considered, I am forced to conclude that the reality of life in suburbia and rural areas today is: no car = no mobility. Harsh!

But stuff changes.We are entering a new and very different age of technology, communications and mobility, and as American writer Josh Stephens reminds us in the following article, things are starting to look up.

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