I’m not a technical geek – so it was a bit of a surprise when I realised a couple of months ago that the information and references I receive when I google are in fact personalised to me on the basis of a personal profile the google machine has built on me from my internet activity. New York Review of Books has just published an interesting, wider review of the role of Google.
In this part of the world, an individual citizen is remarkably free from the sort of social controls on development we are used to in northern europe. Houses spring up without any sort of municipal approval; and of, course, two factors make it difficult to develop such a system here. First the municipal officials simply don’t exist to make it work; and, initially at any rate, any attempt to develop a planning system would be totally corrupt. People would simply buy the required permissions. The British planning system can, of course, sometimes go too far, with even minor adjustments to one’s home requiring protracted negotiation. But noone, as far as I am aware, has even suggested abolishing the system. Most citizens accept that the protection of the "greenbelt”; public parks; historical features; some element of aesthetic propriety are worth a little bit of bureacracy. I was appalled to learn that all of this could be thrown away by the coalition government in Britain.
The recent coverage of the Murdoch family and empire has focussed on the minutiai of who knew what. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is an empire which has successfully controlled government agendas and made a mockery of democracy.
And a good "take” on the current US crisis – and, again, how it has exposed the lack of any democracy in that country can be found on Real Economics.