The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
This essay is excerpted from Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, published this week by Viking.
How do we make sure we don’t fall victim to overly confident thinking, thinking that forgets to challenge itself on a regular basis? No method is foolproof. In fact, thinking it foolproof is the very thing that might trip us up.
Because our habits have become invisible to us, because we are no longer learning actively and it doesn’t seem nearly as hard to think well as it once did, we tend to forget how difficult the process once was. We take for granted the very thing we should value. We think we’ve got it all under control, that our habits are still mindful, our brains still active, our minds still constantly learning and challenged—especially since we’ve worked so hard to get there—but we have instead replaced one, albeit far better, set of habits with another. In doing so we run the risk of falling prey to those two great slayers of success: complacency and overconfidence.
These are powerful enemies indeed. Even to someone like Sherlock Holmes. Consider for a moment “The Yellow Face,” one of the rare cases where Holmes’s theories turn out to be completely wrong. In the story, a man named Grant Munro approaches Holmes to uncover the cause of his wife’s bizarre behavior. A cottage on the Munros’ property has recently acquired new tenants, and strange ones at that. Mr. Munro glimpses one of its occupants and remarks that “there was something unnatural and inhuman about the face.” The very sight of it chills him.
Following the Autumn Statement last week, pressure remains on Chancellor George Osborne to tackle the continuing fall in living standards and the growing divide between the UK’s highest and lowest earners.
While battles rage about the nature of the Government’s welfare reforms, it was refreshing to see a growing number of commentators acknowledge that it is not just those out of work that are struggling to get by. Indeed those in work will feel the greatest impact from the Government’s upcoming benefits cap, as tax credits, maternity pay and other in-work benefits are affected.
from The Great Debate:
President Barack Obama may have believed he had at least until his inauguration next month to renew efforts to forge a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but events since he won re-election have put fresh demands on the president.
Since the U.S. election, we have witnessed another mini-war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza; the upgrading of the status of the Palestinians to a non-member state at the United Nations General Assembly; and most recently a series of retaliatory moves by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These included a decision to build thousands of housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and holding back some tax receipts that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
from The Great Debate:
The conventional wisdom in Washington these days is that a newly empowered president, freed from the political constraints of reelection, will have more discretion, drive and determination to take on the Middle East’s most intractable problems.
Don’t believe it. This looks a lot more compelling on paper than in practice. Should President Barack Obama be tempted to embrace it, he may well find himself on the short end of the legacy stick.
The Autumn budget is one of two scheduled statements the Chancellor gives each year to inform the public about tax and spend plans and provide the latest growth forecasts. These budget statements are useful not only for the public, but also for investors in our debt, rating agencies and global businesses. Hence they are a big deal, and it is important that they are accurate.
However, the latest statement delivered by George Osborne didn’t quite ring true. Let’s look at growth forecasts first. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), who creates this forecast, revised down 2012 GDP for the second time to -0.1% from the original forecast of 0.8%. So rather than grow at a modest, but positive, rate the economy is now expected to contract this year. If you invested in the UK partly based on this data, you could be forgiven for being rather cheesed off that your investment had yet to bear fruit.
If you ask a lawyer what to do, he’ll recommend a legal remedy – what do you expect? In the same way, many of our politicians have a background as lawyers, so no wonder we have such a proliferation of unnecessary laws. Besides, it does provide plenty of work for old pals…
The Leveson Report fits the pattern. From the welter of reaction to it, I am amazed at how rarely the word “whitewash” seems to crop up, because that is what it is. It not only appears to be totally relaxed about the close, not to say intimate relationships between press and politicians we have seen exposed in recent months but, even worse, it is apparently unconcerned about the role played by the police – which is the most disturbing aspect of the whole sorry tale.
–Simon Cook is CEO if DFJ Esprit. The opinions expressed are his own.–
With George Osborne’s Autumn Statement due to be announced on Wednesday, vehicles to boost the British economy have once again been thrust into the spotlight. Venture capital, much discussed and essential to the government’s innovation-led recovery, is uniquely designed to grow companies from small concerns into large multi-national organisations, and the government could be doing far more to support development of these high growth gazelles by learning from Silicon Valley’s emphasis on venture backing.
By Hugo Dixon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own
Boris Johnson's intervention in the European debate reduces the chance of a British exit from the European Union - or Brexit. The Mayor of London, a popular Conservative politician, says he will campaign to keep Britain in the EU provided it can negotiate a pared-down relationship based on the single market.
Breakneck economic growth alongside staggering (and rising) inequality, much of it attributable to blatant corruption, seems like an explosive mixture, but until very recently, I would have said that there was at least a 50-50 chance that China could stay on track for another generation (albeit with some slowing in its growth rate). In recent months, however, I have noticed one or two straws in the wind to suggest that the odds may have tilted against the maintenance of the status quo.
For the masses, the bottom billion, the Party’s original promise of an end to famine, the iron rice-bowl, has turned into something like a-chicken-in-every-pot, which the Party seems well capable of delivering for the foreseeable future, so I can’t see a problem there.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
When Mark Carney, the respected head of Canada’s central bank, was appointed on Monday to the even more august position of governor of the Bank of England, Britain’s reaction was a characteristic blend of self-deprecation and smugness.
The self-deprecation was publicly expressed by an Opposition MP, Barry Sheerman: “Isn’t it a little surprising that the leading banking nation on earth could not find a British candidate for the job?” This feeling of mild embarrassment seemed to be quietly shared by many Britons in addition to the distinguished domestic candidates who were passed over.