Learning Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, 6860 Readings

Archive for October 12th, 2011

Occupy Together Meetups Everywhere

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This is OCCUPY TOGETHER’s hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. See what’s going on in your community or get something started!

Welcome to OCCUPY TOGETHER, an unofficial hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. As we have followed the news on facebook, twitter, and the various live feeds across the internet, we felt compelled to build a site that would help spread the word as more protests organize across the world. We hope to provide people with information about events that are organizing, ongoing, and building across the U.S. as we, the 99%, take action against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm

OECD Better Life Initiative

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Your Better Life Index is designed to let you visualise and compare some of the key factors – like education, housing, environment, and so on – that contribute to well-being in OECD countries. It’s an interactive tool that allows you to see how countries perform according to the importance you give to each of 11 topics that make for a better life.

There’s been a lot of debate lately on measuring the well-being of societies – is wealth all that matters, or should we be looking at other things, like the balance between work and the rest of our lives? The Index aims to involve citizens in this debate, and to empower them to become more informed and engaged in the policy-making process that shapes all our lives.

The 11 topics of well-being used in the Index have been chosen in accordance with theory, practice and consultation on the issue of how to best measure well-being from a comparative perspective. Read about this in greater detail in our Compendium of Well-being Indicators. From a statistical point of view, the Index relies on best practices for building composite indicators. The Index is robust to various methodological assumptions.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Posted in Wellbeing

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Capitalism and Poverty

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A serious commitment to end poverty and its costly social effects requires us to face that capitalism has always reproduced widespread poverty as the other side of profits for a relative few.  No wonder such a system has provoked Occupy Wall Street and so many of its signature slogans and demands.

Poverty is one result of this capitalist type of enterprise organization.  For example, corporate decisions generally aim to lower the number of workers or their wages or both.  They automate, export (outsource) jobs, and replace higher-paid workers by recruiting domestic and foreign substitutes willing to work for less.  These normal corporate actions generate rising poverty as the other side of rising profits.  When poverty and its miseries “remain always with us,” workers tend to accept what employers dish out to avoid losing jobs and falling into poverty.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Poverty

Tagged with ,

Swarm Wall Street: why an anti-political movement is the most important force on the planet

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OWS – ‘We should remember that there are many voices in this movement and as much diversity among the protesters as there is in 99% of our population. These different backgrounds, philosophies, and affiliations can and should come together under a single cause: to end the corporate greed, corruption, and interference that has affected all of us’.

Last week, the movement crossed a threshold. A localized set of swarm events evolved into a distributed swarm network. Swarms can (and usually do) set extrinsic goals. Their primary goal, however, is to sustain the critical mass that holds the network together. As a result, movement activity is focused more on the intrinsic goal of empowering the swarm than any extrinsic goal the movement might hope to achieve. This can make swarms look unfocused from an external point of view. But within the movement, conditions tend to be highly conducive for participation. Swarm movements are intrinsically empowering and thus intrinsically rewarding for participants. Ultimately, participants do not need to look beyond the act of participation for a reason to join the swarm. Swarming is its own reward; the payoff is the empowerment that comes from swarming. Swarms are based in a common sense of potential. What catalyzes a swarm movement is the sense that here, today, a new way of working and living together is possible. Swarms are transformative movements. Insofar as members acknowledge a common sense of  identity, it is a transformative identity, a sense of being part of a movement that is changing the world. A swarm movement comes into being as a swarm when a mass collective grasps what it is capable of achieving en masse. Swarms transform our shared sense of the possible. This is what draws people to these movements. It is the key to their unique political power. Swarm movements do not expend their energies by contesting the status quo. They reinvent it. The protesters in Liberty Square and across the US are engaged in a more serious business than contesting dominant institutions. They are knitting together new cognitive maps based on peer-to-peer strategies and open source ethics and reworking politics from below.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 10:23 pm

The Iceland Constitutional Council on a Participatory Constitution

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The bill starts with a prologue and contains a total of 114 articles in 9 chapters. The bill’s prologue starts with the following words: „We, who inhabit Iceland, want to create a fair society, where everyone is equal. Our different origins enriches all of us as a whole and together we have the responsibility for the legacy of the generations, land and history, nature, language and culture.“

The main themes which the Constitutional Council has observed during its work have been these three: Distribution of power, transparency and responsibility. The Council has strived to increase the distribution of power with a clearer division between the three branches of power. Furthermore it provides for an increased public participation in decision-making, also leading to further distribution of power. The Council put much emphasis on a clear and intelligible presentation of the constitution, regarding the wording and overall structure, as well as making it clear who has power according to the constitution and as a consquence responsibility.

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Read also: Mob rule: Iceland crowdsources its next constitution

Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Participation

Tagged with ,

Capitalism Collapse? – “Cash grab system cannot survive storm’”

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There is barely a corner of the globe that has not been touched by the current financial meltdown. But a senior sociology scholar at Yale University thinks the crisis is far wider than the economic crash – it is capitalism itself which is collapsing. ­Immanuel Wallerstein explained his theory.

Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Crises

Tagged with ,

Student-Loan Debt Among Top Occupy Wall Street Concerns

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Student-loan debt has continued to grow despite a financial crisis that constrained credit elsewhere, and the increasing burden amid high unemployment is driving at least part of the protests among the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Last year, Americans began to owe more on their student loans then their credit cards, with student debt reaching the $1 trillion mark. Many have flocked to higher education during the down economy, only to find themselves still unemployed or underemployed.

In general, college graduates have held up better in this recession than those with only a high school degree. But the cost of education was at the root of many of the Occupy attendees’ complaints.

Some borrowers at the park took issue with the repayment terms of student loans, which may balloon when deferred or defaulted and may not be forgiven in cases where the borrower dies.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Review: Winner-Take-All Politics

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This is a transformative book. It’s the best book on American politics that I’ve read since Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others’ work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don’t have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.

The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political – the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public.

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Read also: Here’s What’s the Matter With Kansas

Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 12, 2011 at 8:54 am

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