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Common Threads – September 2013

  • So true – the status-quo is not values-neutral. ‘Anti-nudgers bemoan what they see as the nanny state; they think government should stay neutral on things such as diet and exercise. The problem is that staying neutral is trickier than it sounds. All else being equal, a government that decides not to influence fizzy-drink consumption (or whatever) isn’t staying neutral, leaving consumers free of pressure. It’s making an active choice to let the soft drink industry’s persuasive efforts – ads, sponsorship – go unopposed. You might feel the anti-nudgers are in the right here: after all, governments get to enforce their wishes using the law and police, so we should be hyper-wary when they stick their noses in. What you’re not entitled to claim, though, is that being anti-nudge is “staying neutral”. You have to pick a side. You don’t have the option of rising above the fray.’
  • Skirts are a leading cause of rape. Because men have eyes’ – A powerful (and hilarious) challenge to the way in which a male-dominated political arena frames rape. There are a lot of power dynamics reflected in the frames we are exposed to. Watch it!
  • Framing hits mainstream UK politics – Progressives ‘“won’t achieve meaningful change until [they] stops buying into the conservative “frames” – austerity, scarcity, threat; “transactional ideas” conveyed by phrases such as “something for nothing” and “culture of entitlement”. And, critically, the “taxpayer” frame, implicitly divisive because it separates the nation into taxpayers and non-taxpayers.”’ And as mentioned in the article, Tom Crompton takes a critical look at the rhetoric of the Labour leader in this fascinating essay [pdf].
  • As if a job title and a salary were the sole measure of a person’s worth – This cartoon version of a Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbs) speech is AMAZING.
  • Rising child poverty – what role does philanthropy play? – The inspirational Edge Fund ask whether “philanthropy just exists to protect a system which makes some people very rich?” Includes this excellent, really values-y quote from Crisis, who “recently said we live under an ‘anti-human system’ that ‘treats people as commodities, to be exploited and abused and thrown away and trashed if no profit can be made out of it.'”
  • Keeping your feet on the ground in positions of power! On the subject of philanthropy, this is a genuinely excellent article about the lived experience of being in a position of power as a funder, and the impact that has on a person’s values and responses. How can we address inequality while operating in unequal ways?
  • The Money Shredding Alarm Clock is the perfect metaphor for capitalism – Nothing is sacred. Valuing money takes over the realm of sleep. “In a consumer society, the official point of life is to make money, then use it to buy things. Lazing in bed sets you back in this interminable rat race. The Money Shredding Alarm Clock simply makes all that more literal: you snooze, you lose.”
Richard HawkinsCommon Threads – September 2013