what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The wider context of Rule of Law

Those interested in the latest developments of the serious Romanian crisis now unfolding (with the President now out of office until a referendum on 27 July decides his fate) are best briefed here. And it's good to see Der Spiegel producing a good article on how the situation is being viewed in Germany.
All I know is that none of the hot air being expended makes a damn bit of difference to the people who live in villages such as mine here in Brasov County. Everyone still has their couple of cows, pigs and a dozen hens - and ensures that the hay is collected. True I have water from the municipal system - but most of my old neighbours draw their water from a natural source they themselves tapped 40 years ago - and need the state system only for the delivery of their mail; the small primary school and a badly maintained road.
And the EC has been a disaster here - trying to kill the systems on which they live and subsidising the disastrous carbuncle of a guest house being completed on the hill opposite - an eyesore which will simply take money from the older people who offer charming b and b (cazare) experiences in their old houses.

Those who think that such declines in political systems are to be found only in the East should read the latest UK Democratic Audit.

And those who want a wider view of trends in Rule of Law might listen to the latest UK Reith Lectures which, this year, are being delivered by the globally-renowned, right-wing historian Niall Ferguson - supposedly on this theme. I've listened to the first and a bit of the second but, so far, can't find much about rule of law. It seems rather to be about
  • the extent to which governments have  broken with the contract (I didn't know we had) with future generations
  • the scale of indebtedness (Japan and UK in particular)
  • the importance of institutions 
I'm hoping it sparks a debate. I’m no fan of Niall Ferguson  but he did make an important point when he suggested that there should be an additional criterion used in policy impact assessments – effect on future generations. This was part of his larger argument about how governments have in the past decade shoved a lot of debt on future generations – the British Private Finance Initiative (PFI) is just the most visible example (with 300 billion pounds being the latest estimate of what the final bill will be. Talk about a Faustian pact!

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