Posts by miriamlyons

Ideas junkie. Practical idealist. #sustainableeconomy #citizenservices #upgradingdemocracy

After Luck

Should we welcome the end of the mining boom? 

I’ll be posting references and links for my Festival of Dangerous Ideas talk here shortly.

In the meantime, check out Gadrian Hoosan & Nancy McDinny’s petition on the McArthur river mine at

Amanda Cahill from the Centre for Social Change in Brisbane can be found here:

And the whole ‘Under the Dome’ documentary is on youtube with English subtitles – well worth a watch!

On another note, I strongly endorse my fellow FODI speakers’ critique of Australia’s refugee policy and of the views of the St James Ethics Centre board member Andrew James Molan. See 


What motivates us at work? Hint: more than money

Obvious, right? And yet these basic insights are absent in so many debates, from the (downright dumb) idea of introducing performance pay for teachers to the impacts of increasing income taxes at the top…

“When we think about how people work, the naïve intuition we have is that people are like rats in a maze,” says behavioral economist Dan Ariely (TED Talk: What makes us feel good about our work?) “We really have this incredibly simplistic view of why people work and what the labor market looks like.”

Instead, when you look carefully at the way people work, he says, you find out there’s a lot more at play — and at stake — than money. Ariely provides evidence that we are also driven by the meaningfulness of our work, by others’ acknowledgement — and by the amount of effort we’ve put in: the harder the task is, the prouder we are.

“When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning…

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Here’s What Keeps Asia’s Richest Man Awake at Night

Inequality has reached the point where even billionaires are worried about it…


Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing disclosed to graduating students at China’s Shantou University the chief reason for his insomnia: wealth inequality.

“So why am I sleepless in Hong Kong?” Li, the world’s 15th richest man, posed in his commencement address. “I fear that widening inequality in wealth and opportunities, if left unaddressed could fast become ‘the new normal.'”

Indeed, in Hong Kong (and worldwide) the rich have become richer, the poor only poorer. The city-state has the highest growth of millionaires, yet nearly one-fifth of its population lives in poverty. Li’s net worth, now $34.5 billion, has increased nearly 50% since 2010, while the average household income of Hong Kong’s poorest 10% in 2011 fell by 16% since 2001.

Aside from Li’s sleeplessness, wealth inequality is also fueling Hong Kong’s annual Occupy Central movement, scheduled for July, in which demonstrators are blaming Chinese politicians —…

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Our new project…

In the NY Review of Books (thanks Ben for the link), Tony Judt laments the fact that modern political life not only fails to deliver solutions to our most important problems, it fails to even consider that it could:

‘We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them.’

That’s as good an explanation as any of the thinking behind CPD’s latest project, ‘More than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now’, which I’m very excited to be co-editing with Mark Davis. See for more

What’s happening to politics?

The tragically popular political art of beating up on asylum seekers has got me thinking again about what parliament would look like with more Peter Andrens in it.

Geraldine Doogue: I’m curious to find out why people to go into public life and whether It is a worthwhile aspiration?

Peter Andren: Well I’m afraid that too many go in power hungry. They go in wanting to be a minister.

Geraldine Doogue: Is that a bad thing?

Peter Andren:
Well perhaps not, perhaps not. But I think on the way you could lose sight of some important matters. And I think you have to compromise, I mean I can’t put myself in the head of a party politician because I’ve never been one and never wanted to be one. But I know so often, they’ve said to me I wish I had the freedom to speak up on that matter, but I can’t.”
Peter Andren:
It was definitely a sense that we were overturning everything I thought Australia stood for. A fair go society, one that should and could handle even hundreds of refugees at a time to at least process them humanely. It was about dignity of the individual. And to so see this opportunity. I could see it as a political opportunity that was being grasped, to turn the direction of public opinion and the agenda for the upcoming poll. And I said at the conclusion of that that if this is the way to win government in this country then it’s a poison chalice.

Continue reading →

1773: No taxation without representation. 2009: No taxation without…er…anyway, no taxation

Jim Sleeper’s history lesson on the original meaning of the Tea Party

“the original Tea Party was a rebellion not just against a tax but against government favoritism for a global corporation it considered too big to fail.

With 17 million pounds of unsold tea languishing in the East India Company’s warehouses as other merchants’ teas glutted the market, there were rumors that the British government might even revoke the company’s charter and take over its management.

Instead, Parliament granted the company an exclusive license to sell tea; removed all duties; forfeited an annual payment the company had made to the government; and advanced a large loan.

Sound familiar?”

via Tea Party history: it was anti big-business | openDemocracy.

& while we’re uncovering the origins of one US day of note, don’t miss the Onion on the true meaning of Halloween:

Parliament of Australia: House of Representatives:

“I believe that ideas are important. Ideas shape behaviour—the behaviour of governments, of bureaucracies, of business, of unions, of the media and of individuals. As Keynes wrote in his General Theory:

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.”

Debate, therefore, about fundamental ideas, particularly ideas about the proper role of the state in the economy and society, is critical to an informed discussion about policy. For nearly a decade now it has become fashionable to accept the death of ideology, the triumph of neoclassical economics, the politics of convergence and the rise of managerialism. Put crudely, it is the view that, because parties of the traditional Right and traditional Left have now moved to some mythical place called the `Centre’, all that is left is an essentially technocratic decision between one team of managers against another, both operating within a common, or at least similar, mission statement. Politics on this argument becomes little more than theatre—a public performance necessary to convince the shareholders at the AGM that the company needs new management.”

Guess who? No, seriously, guess. No cheating.