“Disciplining cultural minorities: 1960s housing guidelines for Inuit families”

After reading this post, I’ve decided that the Canadian definition of “crowded housing” seems pretty arbitrary: it forces minimum room requirements on the dwellings of people with more/older kids. Apparently, “a two bedroom house is suitable for up to two couples with one baby each” but if any of the children are 12 or older, the same house is considered overcrowded. The post talks about adult education programs for Inuits, and there’s an illustration from the 1960’s “Eskimo Rental Housing” pamphlet. Cultural norms and forced assimilation aside, that policy is all kinds of problematic for low income families. Finding a bigger apartment is expensive (so families will probably downgrade in neighbourhood quality), time consuming (you can only take so many days off when you live paycheck-to-paycheck), and would hurt kids a lot more than this so-called overcrowding would. Thoughts?


” Older Americans Are Actually OPTIMISTIC About The Future”

According to this article older Americans are not worried about their future – they believe they can maintain their health and live independently as they get older. That’s the intended message.  Interestingly enough, the article then lists off some stats about financial security (1/3rd of those surveyed say they won’t be able to afford long-term care) and health (72% of those with an income below $30,000 live with a chronic illness) which paints a picture of uncertainty and insecurity. The message from their stats seems to be: older Americans are actually optimistic about being taken care of.

Optimism is good, but is it realistic? “More than 25% of the people in their 60’s were not confident there would be resources and facilities in their communities to allow them to live independently”. Sure, let’s forget about caretaking responsibilities of the family for a second, there’s still the problem of funding for such community organizations. The seniors’ expectations to be cared for are not met with equal political or financial support for facilities that provide such care, especially for low income seniors. What are the consequences? Political support for more subsidized public services? Staying in the labour force later to afford to ‘buy better care’? Or the most likely long term outcome – overcrowded, understaffed nursing homes for those who can’t afford private care?

Canada’s well established healthcare system, multicultural makeup (encouraging familialist norms and mixed generation households), and more government subsidized community organizations targeting seniors makes us better off than our southern neighbours. We’ll still feel the growing pains, but we’re ready for them.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Kuhn’s insistence that a paradigm shift was a mélange of sociology, enthusiasm and scientific promise, but not a logically determinate procedure, caused an uproar in reaction to his work. Kuhn addressed concerns in the 1969 postscript to the second edition. For some commentators it introduced a realistic humanism into the core of science while for others the nobility of science was tarnished by Kuhn’s introduction of an irrational element into the heart of its greatest achievements.

Decentralized currency of the internet: the Bitcoin

The Bitcoin protocol is based on a fundamental critique of the world’s monetary system: that it demands undeserved amounts of trust from us. Nakamoto thought that it would be better to place trust outside the monetary system itself and back into social life
Bitcoin Digital Currency (quoted from The Stream, starting @ 24m00s)

The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust. Banks must be trusted to hold our money and transfer it electronically, but they lend it out in waves of credit bubbles with barely a fraction in reserve. We have to trust them with our privacy, trust them not to let identity thieves drain our accounts. Their massive overhead costs make micropayments impossible.”

(Source: aljazeera.com)

Entrepreneurism just got more expensive

This article from The Economist talks about the perils of mandatory licensing in classically mom-and-pop industries, for example second hand bookselling and haircutting. They are right to point out the social divisions created by these regulations:

The burden of regulations falls most heavily on ethnic minorities (who
are less likely to have educational qualifications) and on women (who
might want to return to work after raising their children). States that
demand that funeral directors must also qualify as embalmers, for
example, have 24% fewer female funeral directors than those that don’t.

These laws benefit primarily those who can afford to put down the large upfront costs for these licenses. The same people who have enough (resources to obtain) political influence to successfully lobby for the establishment of such regulations. It’s probably unlikely that international training would be recognized, another hurdle for immigrants trying to enter the the service industry. Administrative costs, supervisory costs, inspections and legal fees for this thing are unnecessarily high without any kind of benefit to society at large. Another great example of the small print under the American Dream.