Digest: 19 May 2013

Abstract

High executive pay is caused by market forces, not board corruption, in the majority of cases;  more research needs to be done on Solar Radiation Management even if that research only reinforces our recognition of the seriousness of mitigating global warming so as to avoid the need for avoid terribly uncertain SRM approaches; unmitigated climate change will be nothing less than disastrous for the global community; incremental sequester corrections do not remove the burden from many social programs to which the fixes have not applied; the importance of strategic governance in the context of the multi-polarised and multi-lateralised world economic growth;  statistics and survey-based script-analysis offers risk-mitigation to film producers, and perhaps a threat to the creativity of scriptwriters; web-businesses exploit a peasant class, users of social media are entrapped, and that a thriving middle class is necessary to a sustainable Internet; the left-wing coalition Danish government is cutting back on early retirement plans, student stipends, the welfare rolls, and on those receiving lifetime disability checks.

Economics

In The Real Story Behind Executive Pay: The Myth of Crony Capitalism, Stephen Kaplan (for Foreign Affairs) discusses executive pay, specifically the extent to which over-compensation is the result of failure of corporate governance by boards.  He argues that in the majority of cases it is market forces, not board corruption, that causes very-high executive pay.  This can be demonstrated by comparison to other competitive fields (not subject to public-company boards for pay decisions) in which pay has similarly risen.

Environmental

In The Truth About Geoengineering: Science Fiction and Science Fact, Victor, et al., (for Foreign Affairs) discuss different approaches to dealing with the problem of global warming.  In particular they discuss “geoengineering”, which includes efforts such as carbon removal schemes and solar radiation management (SRM) – which might include tinkering with the atmosphere to deflect sunlight.  Despite all of the talk, very little research has been done on SRM – more should be done to understand it even if that research only reinforces our recognition of the seriousness of the global warming problem.

In Climate Conflict: How Global Warming Threatens Security and What To Do About It, Jeffrey Mazo (for the International Institute for Strategic Studies) discusses the historic and future geopolitical ramifications of climate change.  The book is divided into chapters on global warming and climate change, climate and history, Darfur and climate change related conflict, the climate as a factor in instability and state failure, climate change and security.  The book concludes that unmitigated climate change will be nothing less than disastrous for the global community.

Politics

In Stories of Struggle and Creativity as Sequestration Cuts Hit Home, Jonathan Weisman (for The New York Times) discusses some early results of $85 billion in federal budget cuts.  Programs around the country are responding to cuts – some are doing so with greater success than others.  Some programs have been saved from the sequester, but these incremental corrections do not remove the burden from many social programs to which the fixes have not applied.

In his Speech at the IISS-Oberoi Discussion Forum, Pascal Lamy (Director General of the WTO) discusses the importance of a return of geopolitics to world affairs.  He speaks to: the importance of economic growth as an easer of tensions within and between societies, and to the disfunction that results when growth slows; the importance of international trade for boosting economic growth and international security, particularly when policies are in place to make sure the benefits are shared; the importance of export-economy in developing out of situations of mass poverty; finally, the importance of strategic governance in the context of the incredible multi-polarised and multi-lateralised growth taking place around the world.

Social

In Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, Brooks Barnes (for The New York Times) discusses a new analytical approach being used in Hollywood to craft scripts for success.  One prominent writer has pointed out that all the model can do is say what has worked before and in this way can be considered the enemy of creativity; but as a statistical and survey-based analytical approach, it potentially offers a valuable risk-mitigation device for producers in considering a script for production.

In Fighting Words Against Big Data, Janet Maslin (for The New York Times) reviews the book “Who Owns the Future?” by Jaron Lamier.  Lamier is a “mega-wizard in futurist circles” who has taken a strongly critical position as regards big web-entities and their business models.  He argues that Web-businesses exploit a peasant class, users of social media are entrapped, and that a thriving middle class is necessary to a sustainable Internet.

In Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault, Suzanne Daley (for The New York Times) discusses the changing state of Denmark’s social services model.  Denmark has long maintained generous social services, but recently it has been convincingly shown that the generosity was being systemically abused.  Things are changing, the left-wing coalition government is cutting back on early retirement plans, student stipends, the welfare rolls, those receiving lifetime disability checks.