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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: January 3, 2020
Posted: January 3, 2020 at 7:46 am
The beginning of a new year is a time to take stock in ourselves, to revise our goals and plans for the future, and to hope against hope the coming year will be better than the last. Frankly, there are lots of reasons for optimism. The economy is humming. The United States is as close to full employment as it is ever likely to get and, now that Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell has concluded things arent overheating and theres no need for a hike in interest rates to cool things off, growth and expansion should continue.
The beginning of a new decade, as this also is, presents an opportunity to take stock in the kind of nation we are and want to be in the future. Thats healthy, even as the rhetoric flies, reckless, hot, fast and furious out of our televisions and across our computer screens and smartphones. Theres a lot at stake. America is still, as Lincoln put it succinctly in his 1862 State of the Union message, the last, best hope of earth. We have to decide, all 300 million-plus of us, what kind of nation we want to be.
In that regard, there are warning signs many of us want to break significantly with the past. America was established as a place where the right of conscience was not only respected but protected, and not just in some ambiguous, amorphous way derived from traditions going back centuries as in England. Here, the founders took steps to ensure the right of conscience was enshrined in written law so that no man or woman could be forced to think as the government dictated.
That concept grew beyond the government to become a dominant theme in our common culture. As a nation, we are rightfully proud of what some call our free speech culture in which ordinary people can, as it was popularly put not all that long ago, speak truth to power without fear or reprisal.
That appears to be changing. The concept of victimization as embraced by the American left as a political organizing tool and path to power is an inherent assault on our individual right of conscience. All ideas are still said to be equal, as George Orwell might observe if he were writing today, but some ideas have become more equal than others. At Americas colleges and universities, there are countless examples of groupthink where debates over political, moral, and social issues have run freedom of expressed thought to ground, in many cases with the active assistance of university leaders.
Some might call that tyranny and, if it indeed is, be warned that it is spreading to all aspects of American life. Where no less a person than Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted during her husbands presidency that dissent was patriotic, thoughts deviating from so-called cultural norms expressed by the major and social media are now considered dangerous.
It is fair to ask now as we begin the decade in which the sester- or semiquincentennial of the American experiment will be celebrated what kind of a nation we want to be in the future. Do we still want the right of conscience to occupy its position of prominence atop the list of enumerated rights we enjoy? Do we expect or even want free men and women to still be able to think for themselves? Or are those intent on remaking the American system have it in mind to impose some kind of official or quasi-official standard against which the acceptability of thoughts expressed shall be measured? There are hints abundant that they do.
These questions matter as we debate seemingly mundane things like the responsibility of social media platforms for user-posted content and the requirement of non-for-profit groups engaged in issue advocacy to disclose their funding sources to the government. For most of its history, America has been a place where we have many times accepted that people have an intrinsic right to be wrong. There are a few notable exceptions none of us should forget that add fire to the arguments of those who would disagree with that premise. Yet we know from experience the government cannot make people virtuous. As people as varied as Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand have observed, a government powerful enough to make people believe something is one with enough power to force people to believe, contrary to their personal knowledge and better judgment, that A is B.
We saw plenty of that in the last century. It always ended badly. Let us now, as we move into the future, be boundless in our optimism and continue to respect our traditions of decent respect for the various opinions of man and womankind. The right to be wrong may someday turn out to be the most important right we have.
Posted: at 7:45 am
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the tireless ex-Muslim cartoonist and author Bosch Fawstin. If youre unfamiliar with Boschs work, this is a great place to start, but be sure to check out my 2015 TOS interview with him, Joshua Lipanas review of the first chapter of his graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman, and Nicholas Provenzos review of his latest book. If youd like to support Boschs efforts to educate people about the true nature of Islam and to defend free speech, consider becoming a patron of his work through Patreon. Craig Biddle
Craig Biddle: Great to chat with you again, Bosch. Its been a while since we last spoke, and I look forward to catching up and hearing about your recent work and future projects.
To begin, because some of our readers may not know much about you, say a few words about yourself and your work. Who is Bosch Fawstin? What does he do? And why does he do it?
Bosch Fawstin: Thanks for reaching out again, Craig. I always enjoy speaking with you.
Im a cartoonist. I write and draw single cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels. I also write essays to accompany my cartoons on topics such as free speech, Islam, jihad, and the left.
Im the winner of the first Mohammad cartoon contest, and I was announced as the winner at a Mohammad art exhibition in Garland, Texas. Two jihadists who came to murder the attendees got their heads blown off by a cop, as a security guard there put it, and my life has not been the same since.
Although I have no regrets, and I will defend free speech to the death, the path Ive chosen comes with loss, in a number of ways, and it has made my life more difficult. But I cant imagine doing anything else.
Biddle: I know I speak for many people when I say: Thank you for being such a stalwart defender of free speech. You are the only person who does what you do. Your work comes with death threats and murder attempts. It also helps to defend everyone else against such mayhem by addressing and discrediting the mysticism that underlies and gives rise to it.
Tell me about your view of Islam, your history in the religion, and why and how you got out of it.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you putting it that way. Its a far cry from how Im usually described, and not just by my enemies but even by those who should know better.
Islam is an evil ideology, a political religion that has retarded the humanity of everyone under its thrall. Just look at the countries who live by its ethics and youll understand that it should be in the dustbin of history. Yet it persists. And it destroys human lives. It destroys the lives of those who try to live by it. And, by motivating some of them to commit atrocities, it results in the destruction of many more lives.
If you want to see Islam in practice on a day-to-day basis, I direct you to the website TheReligionOfPeace.com, which posts about the deaths and injuries caused by Islams true believers every single day. When I post a screenshot of the websites weekly and monthly tallies, I get a good number of shocked emojis in response. And these reactions come from people who follow my work and are thus familiar with the horrors caused by Islam. Even they are shocked to see the relentless carnage. Most Western media ignore these events.
I just checked the site today, and from the week of November 2 through 8 , 151 people were murdered and 167 injured in 26 attacks in 13 countries. But the media dont report this, nor do they ever identify the true nature of Islam, and so the vast majority of people remain ignorant of it all.
As for my history with Islam, I was born to Albanian Muslim parents in the Bronx, New York, and I was raised Muslim. Ive said this before, but its worth repeating: Although many people today would describe my parents and my larger Muslim family as moderate Muslims, there was nothing moderate about the hatred for Jews or the abuse of women in my family. In Islam, Jews are regarded as descendants of apes and pigs and fit to be slaughtered, and women are considered a necessary evil, to be used for sex and to bring male Muslim heirs into the world.
The thing that made me question it all was the sharp contrast between my life at home and my life at school and with my friends. After learning about the Holocaust in school, I began to recoil every time a relative praised Hitler, whom I now refer to as Islams favorite infidel. And seeing my friends treat all people as people made me challenge the Islamic view that some are not. So in my mid-teens I quietly left Islam. There was no hard break, no one thing that did it, just the fact that it was ugly and that people involved in it lied about so much. That led me to see there was nothing there for me, nothing good.
In time, I came to love superhero comic books and to understand that fighting evil, including evil ideas, is important, and that only the good can fight evil. The only place I saw this happening was in superhero stories and, later, in novels. A few years later, I discovered Ayn Rands work, which I loved. I saw her fiction as the peak of the heroic fiction genre, her nonfiction as clearly correct, and both as powerfully uplifting. Nothing has come close since.
Biddle: Id say that when you speak of Islam, you know of what you speak. And you are in a tiny minority of people who have left Islam in search of rational ideas and a good lifeand then found and adopted Ayn Rands philosophy. Tell me more about how Rands ideas have affected your thinkingboth in general and with regard to your understanding of the nature of religion as such and of Islam in particular.
Fawstin: Youre right, I am rare in leaving Islam and adopting Ayn Rands philosophy of Objectivism. Its worth noting that the ex-Muslims I know are atheists or humanists or Christians. Come to think of it, I dont know of any ex-Muslims whove become Jews, which I guess just goes to show that Islam has so thoroughly poisoned the well on Jews and Judaism that even ex-Muslims think that adopting Judaism is a bridge too far.
Rands ideas have affected my thinking in countless ways. I was a smart kid, and I was honest, but I didnt have a life-serving system of philosophy to guide my choices and my growth. Rands work challenged me to think, to rethink, to see things in a new way, to see things as they are. Im not one of those people who says that Rand merely wrote what I always thought. She did far more than that. She created a revolutionary philosophya monumental feat by an extraordinary mind.
I love the truth, and here was a woman who wrote the truth and nothing but the truth, in a way that no one else ever has. I found her deeply philosophical fiction and heroes exhilarating. There are fictional heroes, there are superheroes, and then there are Ayn Rands heroes, who make nearly all others pale by comparison. Here was a thinker who took ideas seriouslydeadly seriouslyand wrote as if her life depended on it.
As for how her philosophy affected my thinking regarding Islam, I would say that my concern for truth led me out of Islam, my continued pursuit of truth led me to Objectivism, and Objectivism has enhanced my ability to understand and champion truth and to identify and reject its antitheses. Islam is squarely in that latter category.
Objectivism helped me to see that all religions are irrational; all require faith from their adherents, and all religious prophets are liars. But the particularly violent nature of Mohammad, as compared to the other prophets, is an important difference to take note of, especially during this era of global jihad. The fact that Mohammadwho is regarded by Muslims as the perfect model of a manspread Islam by the sword explains why Muslims are more violent than other religionists. And this violence is demanded by the religionnot by any perversion of the religion, but by the clear meaning of its scriptures. The problem is Islamnot Islamism or extremist Islam or some hijacked version of the religion. Just Islam.
By the way, I wrote an essay in 2010 dealing with this dangerous name game were playing with Islam, titled Calling Islam Islam, which I recommend to anyone who is under the impression that Islam is not the ideology of jihadists.
Many people conflate religion with morality and so argue that because Islam advocates immoral acts, it is not a religion. I wrote another essay recently, published in my second volume of My Mohammad Cartoons, which deals with this claim. I discuss why Islam is a religion, and why denying this is self-defeating and only helps the Islamic enemy.
At the top of my cartoon accompanying that essay, I wrote: If this war comes down to Islam versus Christianity, then Kill the infidels wherever you find them versus Love thy Enemy/Turn the other cheek is a war between a homicidal religion and a suicidal religiona war that guarantees the Wests defeat. The essay delves into post-9/11 politics. Leftists and conservatives are essentially indistinguishable in their appeasing, altruistic foreign policies, and their defense of Islam (i.e., the religion of peace) is absolute whereas their defense of America is conditional and tepid at best. These policies give our enemies hope that they can win. Its not Islam that makes the enemy believe they can win, its our weakness, our refusal even to name Islam as the essence of the problemnever mind attack it.
Biddle: What are your top three recommendations for people who want to help fight Islam, expose its true nature, and get adherents to drop it?
Fawstin: The first thing is to study Islam before discussing it, so you wont confuse yourself or others about exactly what it is were dealing with. The reason we have yet to respond to the Islamic enemy in a rational way in this war, and why it remains undefeated, is because many fail to acknowledge or face the actual nature of the Islamic threat.
The second thing is to tell the truth, by whatever means you can, in whatever medium you can. Say what this thing is. That is the single most powerful way to put a crack of doubt in peoples minds and get them to question their beliefs about Islam. So many in the West, especially intellectuals and journalists, have been lying to Muslims, saying that their religion is fine and that its only the so-called extremists who are the problem. Thats dangerous nonsense. When I hear this, I remember my own experience as a young Muslim, doubting its moral standing. I can only imagine how confusing it is for Muslims who grasp that something is wrong with their religion, with their way of life, but who hear it praised by outsiders as a religion of peace and the like.
Muslims need to confront Islams true nature and what it calls for. Many who attain more than a superficial understanding of the Koran end up abandoning Islam. So one of the most effective things advocates of reason can do is get a clear, firsthand understanding of the nature of Islam, and then communicate that far and wide.
The third most important thing is to repeat the truth, again and again and again. Resistance to the truth surrounding this issue is huge and is fed by leftist intellectuals, co-religionists (Christians and Jews), and the media. Ive learned during these past dozen years that Ive been active in writing and drawing against Islam and jihad that I constantly have to restate the truth as if I have never spoken it or written it before. Breaking through the resistance requires repeating the truth in various ways and from various angles until people get it. Some never will. Some are closed to the truth. But even those who are open to it often need to hear it over and over to break through the resistance to moral absolutism and moral judgment that Western culture has fostered for so long.
Biddle: Know the truth, speak the truth, repeat the truth. Amen. I sure would like to see more of thaton this subject and so many others.
Reading and sharing your books are effective means toward those ends, so please say a few words about the books youve written or illustrated as well as any current or future projects you can mention.
Fawstin: I released my first book in 2004, which was a graphic novel titled Table for One, a story that takes place in one night in an Italian restaurant. It was nominated for an Eisner Award, which are commonly called the Oscars of Comics.
I then began working on my second graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman, which takes on Islam, Jihad, and political correctness. As I worked on the story, I created images of the main characters in it for my blog, which I then ended up collecting in my second book, ProPiganda: Drawing the Line Against Jihad, published in 2009, along with a number of essays Id written on the Islamic threat. I then released the first chapter of The Infidel in 2011 in comic book form. It will end up being about seven chapters. Once theyre finished, I intend to compile all of the volumes in a pigskin-leather bound hardcover book.
In April 2018, I released my third book, My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 1, and My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 2 followed in April 2019. All of my collections include essays Ive written on related topics, such as free speech and particular aspects of the Islamic threat.
In early 2019, I released the first volume of my series Peaceful Death Threats, and Ill release volume two soon. I have enough death threats for at least four volumes, and these are only the best death threats of the thousands that Ive gotten. I title them Peaceful Death Threats because a good number of the Muslims who threaten me with death over my Mohammad cartoons also feel the need to mention how peaceful they and Islam are, which is as Islamic as it gets. I think publishing the actual death threats, along with the names and faces of the Muslims making the threats, is a good way to show that the problem is Islamic culture at large, not just the so-called extremists. And because I received the threats for publishing Mohammad cartoons, I thought it was only fitting to create new Mohammad cartoons to publish alongside the threats in these books.
Im currently working on three other books. Islam Bitches is about Islamophiles. I draw politicians and celebrities dressed in Islamic garb along with their particularly dishonest quotes about Islam. To further show these Islamophiles the kind of respect they deserve, I have Mohammad dressed as their pimp, introducing each of them by name.
Theres also Illustwriter: The Art of Bosch Fawstin, my biggest book yet, which collects thousands of pieces spanning a dozen years, including cartoons, book covers, and unpublished art.
Finallyand I think this might be the first time that Ive ever discussed this publiclyIm illustrating a childrens Koran. Im told by the writer, Kre Bluitgen, that the title will likely be The Shady Garden, and that it will be about two hundred pages.
Kre Bluitgen is the Danish writer who had been searching for an artist to illustrate his book since at least 2005. Flemming Rose attempted to help him find Danish artists who were willing to draw Mohammad, which led to the Mohammad cartoon crisis. I learned recently that Bluitgen was still searching for an artist, so I contacted him, and Im doing it.
The truth about Islam condemns Islam, and I think this book is a good way to show that truth in visual form, where I draw Mohammad, his child bride Aisha, Allah, Islamic hell, and so forth, in ways not seen beforeall of which is considered blasphemous in Islam. I dont know exactly when it will be released, but I will be providing updates on my blog.
Its come full circle for me. I never set out to draw Mohammad until the Danish Mohammad cartoonists were threatened with death for doing so. Then I drew Mohammad in support of them and of free speech. Then I drew Mohammad after Molly Norris went into hiding, after announcing her Everybody Draw Mohammad Day, and again after Charlie Hebdos offices were firebombed in 2011, and again after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. All told, Ive drawn Mohammad over three hundred times. And Ill continue doing so.
If you want to fully understand why I do this and why I think others should as well, I recommend reading what has been described by a reader as my manifesto: The Draw Mohammad Challenge.
Biddle: Thanks, well link to all of these items in the online version of this article. Where can people follow your work and support your efforts?
Fawstin: I have a blog, Bosch Fawstin, IllustWriter, and a store, The Bosch Fawstin Store. Im now down to one social media platform, Facebook. In addition to my comic books and books, I also sell t-shirts, Mohammad trading cards and playing cards, prints, and my original art. Anyone interested in helping me continue my work can become a patron at Patreon.
Biddle: Thank you for your time and for all that you do, Bosch. Freedom of speech is the last leg of a free society, and you are on the front lineliterally putting your life on the lineto defend it. My hat is off to you.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and to promote my work with your audience. You are a rare breed of publisher today. If only we had more like you in the world. Thanks again, Craig.
See the article here:
Posted: at 7:45 am
This years original reviews provide unique insight into the literary world through a distinctly progressive lens, including two National Arts & Entertainment Journalism award-winning pieces by Truthdig contributor Allen Barra and Foreign Editor Natasha Hakimi Zapata. Read the full reviews by clicking on the hyperlinked titles below.
The Trickster King and the Erudite LiteralistBy ALLEN BARRA
Approaching Vladimir Nabokovs 120th birthday, Truthdig looks at his friendship and falling-out with another literary giant, Edmund Wilson.
When the Voiceless SpeakByALEXIS CAMINS
Filipino American author Alex Tizon spent his life raising up the lives of those rendered invisible by society.
Putting Trump to Shame Without Ever Saying His Name
By NATASHA HAKIMI ZAPATA
Written after the 45th president was inaugurated, Terrance Hayes sonnets have an urgency that will leave readers heads spinning.
The Future of MeatBy CARYN HARTGLASSAs people become aware of the effects of eating animals on climate change and human health, a new book asks whether we will see an end to it.
Reclaiming DifferenceByPAUL VON BLUMA new anthology shines light on differently abled artists, including Sandie Yi, born with two digits on each hand and foot, whose art forces viewers to reconsider beauty.
Country, Smoothed Over
By TIM RILEY
Ken Burns documentary Country Music and its book tie-in present country music with a naive affection that misses key American tensions.
Who Is Ayn Rand?
By LOUISE RUBACKY
A new book argues weakly for the influence of Ayn Rand on our cultureafter all, the dominant classes in America were greedy and selfish from the get-go.
The Madness Driving Climate CatastropheByH. PATRICIA HYNES
A new book examines how corporate capitalism, through fossil fuel-based technology, has led the world to the point of destruction.
Civilizing Perpetual ForeignersBy ELAINE MARGOLIN
In a time rife with anti-immigrant invective, Truthdig reviews a book that explores a historic episode involving missionaries and migrant Chinese women.
Need more recommendations? Check out all of Truthdigs book reviewshere.
Eunice Wong is the book review editor of Truthdig, as well as editor of Truthdigs Countering Violence Against Women series. She has written for Truthdig's arts and culture section, reviewing theater, film,
Read the original here:
Posted: at 7:45 am
The world you desire can be won. It exists it is real it is possible it is yours! (Ayn Rand).
Last week, our mindfulness class celebrated the end of the semester by making vision boards.
If you stumbled in, it may not have looked like anything special, but there was a distinct knowingness in the air as we discovered new things about each other something very relaxing about being in the hum of individual purpose and mutual intention at the intersection of what is real and what has yet to become!
This inescapable reality was the crux of our semester. We were investigating ourselves learning how to navigate the inter-relational, creative cooperative called being human flexing the process that responds to the question:
We did this by training our attentional lens to identify and adapt to the patterns of the universal laws of attraction, relativity and causality testing out the power of clarity in theright here right now experiencesofour lives. Time and time again, our findings returned with the same results:
Attention expands what we believe, and what we believe we become!
So, we sifted through magazines snipping away any doubt or fear or need of any certainty trusting the vibe of a playlist that spanned over 50 years, plugged into some shared but infinitely shifting heart song!
A quiet, simple hymn emerges when intention meets attention: time and space conspire!
Heart and mind intersect and cause our voices to be heard, our hands to create, our vision to emerge to snip and tear and write and point!
In one fell swoop, we relax we let go of the content of who we believe we are, and like a raindrop returning to the ocean, we expand into the bigness of who we are infinitely becoming!
No struggle, no angst, no suffering. No junky, negative-back-talk-identity from old wounds or cloudy memories.
When attention is lit, we see clearly we recognize purpose knocking at the door. And, the positive action of choosing the images and words that extend our vision, empowers desire to open that door from the inside to extend, to effect, to wake up. We realign our trajectory and rediscover a shared destiny!
His is a story of spiritual awakening. As a man, he couldnt escape the causality of a conditioned world. Only when he let go ofthe belief that this time identity (the mind/body content that defined his idea of forsaken) was who he was completely, could he be freed from suffering.
He had to trace his way back home: in order to tap into the infinite possibility of spirit, he had to recognize the power of belief, and to recognize the power of belief he had to experience suffering through belief.
A contemporary existential crisis would look no different!
Suffering is knocking on the door from the inside. (Rumi) Acceptance is open door! Awareness is no door!
Take the polarized state of our nation. The system/process that funnels our collective energy is faulty inefficiently distributing currency (door infinitely open), and/or with bias (door infinitely closed). The defect/effect responds both ways. Open or closed, the belief that a door exists between us rather than for us, stresses the system which causes spiritual disequilibrium indifference, isolation, disconnection and a general lack of purpose.
The action of mutual responsibility of architect and resident is what allows the door to open freely, and how we can use it make a better world!
When we are standing in right or wrong, were way too close to the door; we cant see our beliefs have created a very real world thats keeping us apart.
Fear arrives to conquer attention and reactivity divides intention.
When equal opportunity to access that idea is not equally shared, we feel betrayed crucified in a state of moral crisis. This is the discomfort the constriction the visceral injustice as we move farther away from our shared Father our homeland our center-point.
Apart, its easy to become discontent, to feel at the mercy of some idea. Reaction causes us to miss opportunities to respond in ways that speak to a shared inter-dependence; and fear disallows us the inner-wisdom to own our sh*t to claim the answer to the longing,How do we move forward?through the question,How did we get here?
Only the qualities of humility, courage and a sincere desire to see clearly bring about the correction atonement and relief; and, only through a longing to be whole holy forgiven can we find our way home.
Being human is a deeply visceral experience! Theres absolutely a part of me that wants to be seen enjoys being seen knows that I am expressed when I am seen!
Indeed!This life shines brightest through and with this body, this mind, this heart and this consciousness!
This human being is more!
Its not a belief that i am more, that would be another belief disguised as more. Rather, its a clarity and an honesty that supports the spirit of this idea of I am to contribute to our shared potential our response, our work, our purpose and whatever meaningfully supports the vision of a safe world!
Now is the time to be alive to imagine the world that you desire .. to tear, snip, paste!
Its the reason you are here who you have always been: expansive and sacred at the intersection of time and space.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King talks climate, economy and highs and lows in Part 2 of his year-end interview with The Guardian – The Journal Pioneer
Posted: at 7:41 am
One issue that was on the minds of Island residents this year, as well as a hot topic around the world in 2019, is climate change.
And the most notable climate story in P.E.I. was the effects of post-tropical storm Dorian.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King told The Guardians political reporter Stu Neatby in a year-end interview that the storm provided a learning opportunity for the new government.
Part 1 of the interview appeared online and in the Dec. 30 edition of The Guardian. The following is Part 2, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Guardian: Looking at the impacts on the Island, what lessons did we learn in terms of how to manage emergencies, climate storms like that?
Dennis King: This was a big one. It impacted a broader area than we had first anticipated.
On Sunday, Monday morning (after the storm) we thought, "oh, well we seem like we've missed the brunt of this." But if you've ventured outside the city of Charlottetown and you drove all the way to Tignish, to Souris and you knew the impact of the Trees.
The one thing I would say I hope we learned from this is, as much as you possibly can be, you have to be extremely flexible in this. You have to be able to pivot quickly. But you also have to keep the Islanders informed to the best extent that you can because we live in an age where everything is immediate.
But I do think we did an amazing job as a province with the first responders getting done what we needed to get done in a short time. It was a horrible mess. Luckily, we didn't have any lives lost, we didn't have any major infrastructure or buildings that fell down. We'll just learn from it and try to take from it what we need to and prepare for the next storm, which we know is coming.
TG: You're likely to start negotiations on carbon pricing with the federal government in 2020. Do you imagine Prince Edward Island will see a similar backstop from what you've seen for provinces like Ontario or Manitoba or will we continue on with a drop in excise taxes?
DK: The agreement we inherited from the previous government was probably an ease into the process of the carbon levy and how that will be applied going forward. I would probably suggest that we will evolve a little bit from that current one.
I would like us to continue to make investments to incentivize Islanders to make sure that we work to become more environmentally friendly on carbon reduction. But I think Islanders are in a better position to be open to accepting a greater responsibility when it comes to carbon reduction.
But also, I think there's a greater opportunity for Prince Edward Island to find the economic opportunities connected to the changing environment. Probably early in the new year I will be wanting to put together some kind of a task force to be a little more aggressive when it comes to finding the new economic opportunities wrapped within the environment.
All of that, I think, will be included in that carbon discussion going forward. I think there is probably a fair expectation from the federal government that we be a little more open to carrying more of that burden going forward.
TG: The economy is humming, job growth is up, but still people feel there's a disconnect. Why do you think some people feel they've been left behind by the strong economic performance of P.E.I.?
DK: I think it's a phenomenon that you see on the national scene as well.
But if you spend time, as I do, walking around, talking to people, there's a sense and a feeling that people at the upper middle part of that are doing very well. But there's a sense that there's people under that who don't feel that they're getting as big a piece of it.
You'll probably see in the weeks ahead that we'll do some more sharing of some of the revenues with some people at the lower end and social services. You're going to see another increase in the minimum wage.
I do think we have to find a way to make sure that more of our economy is shared.
TG: It almost sounds like you're talking yourself into a scheme like a basic income guarantee. Do you think that's the sort of thing we need to address some of the challenges out there?
DK: I've been very impressed in the premise of a basic income guarantee. I've been doing a lot of studying on papers from the U.S. about a job guarantee. Is there a hybrid model for P.E.I. that we can follow or chart the course for? I don't know.
I would like to find a made-in-P.E.I. way to do this. I think we're small enough to be able to do that. There is a flicker of interest at the federal level to be open to seeing what we could do. I'm hoping to exploit that a little further in the new year.
TG: Recently, your minister of agriculture introduced changes to the Land Protection Act. There will be more transparency around shareholders, an increase in fines for people who violate the provisions of the LPA. Do you think these changes were enough to close what some people have called the loopholes in the LPA?
DK: I think they're a positive first start. I think we've been committed since the beginning that this is an issue that successive governments have kicked down the road for a long time. So, I think these are important first steps that we're taking to close some of the most glaring loopholes, if that's what we want to call them. But there's much more to be done.
Look, agriculture's our biggest economic contributor. It's a huge, huge boost to the tax purse. That's how we're able to fund social programs, all the things that we've been doing. So, we have to be very careful in how we proceed with this. But it is evident to me and it has been for a long time that Islanders want to see some changes here.
TG: In 2019, you became premier, you became head of your political party. What's been the highs and lows?
DK: At my very root I'm a political junky as well. That I went to the lieutenant-governor and she asked me to form a government, that was pretty exciting for me. I would have never thought a year before that was even possible.
In terms of lows, the pace at which government works makes it difficult to do things quickly. There's lots of things I'd like to do more quickly, but I'm finding (with) a bureaucracy of thousands of people spread out across P.E.I., it's difficult.
But I love the fact that we have a minority government. I think it's the greatest gift I've been given. I love the way we're operating. I'm very, very proud of that and I'm really excited to see what it brings.
It's (a) minority, so I don't know if we'll be here in a year or if you'll be with somebody else. I have no idea. But I'm going to just take every day as it comes and just try to do the very best I can for Prince Edward Islanders and to make their lives a little bit better.
Due to technical issues, the online portion of Stu Neatby's interview with Premier Dennis King will not be available until later in January. Watch The Guardian for confirmation of the date.
RELATED:Dennis King reflects on year one of P.E.I.'s 'grand experiment'
Posted: at 7:41 am
By John Richards and Shahidul Islam
Canada is back, the Liberals told the world on returning to office in 2015. Henceforth, Canada would play a meaningful role in world affairs, including providing effective development aid. Gender equity headlined the press releases but not much attention was paid to the best means of creating equity, namely quality schools accessible to both boys and girls. In 2016-17 Canada spent nearly $400 million on development aid to education, most of it in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Was it effective? It did allow for the building of schools, buying of textbooks and training of teachers. But whether more children learned to read and do basic arithmetic no one knows because, to our knowledge, Canada undertook no learning assessments on any projects.
Coincidentally, 2015 marked the end date of the UNs campaign to improve social outcomes in the developing world. The first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG1) was to eradicate extreme poverty. The second (MDG2) was universal primary education. Good quality primary education is arguably the most important prerequisite for a low-income country aspiring to get to middle income. After completing the primary cycle, most children should be able to read and write the common language and do basic arithmetic though this will happen only if the education system is of reasonable quality.
In the case of the health MDGs, aids effectiveness can be evaluated unambiguously. For instance, measuring the success of MDG4 a two-third reduction from 1990 to 2015 in a countrys under-five mortality rate is relatively easy. Measuring outcomes in education is more complex. Realizing this, many governments in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the regions with the worlds weakest school systems, gamed MDG2. For instance, in 2009, in India, the national government enacted a right to education act. The result has been higher enrolment, higher completion rates, fewer dropouts and worse outcomes.
In South Asia, government spending on primary schools is typically too low. But there is no guarantee a donors cheque to a national education ministry improves outcomes. In four of the five major South Asian countries Sri Lanka is an honourable exception ethically dubious interest group politics poses a major obstacle to quality education. It is common in much of South Asia for politicians and bureaucrats to oblige applicants for a government teaching position to pay the equivalent of US$10,000 for the job. In exchange, supervision is lax and teachers frequently offer their students private tutoring for a fee. Applicants who get the jobs typically receive little training and are unlikely to be those most devoted to teaching children.
In India, the most widely accepted measures of quality in basic reading and numeracy are random in-home surveys conducted bi-annually for over a decade by Pratham, a large NGO. In the 2018 survey, 400,000 children ages six to 16 were assessed on reading and arithmetic items from the Grade 2 curriculum. Only 50 per cent of the national sample of Grade 5 students could read a short story while only 28 per cent could solve subtraction and division problems. Those results are, respectively, six points and nine points lower than in 2008. Its no surprise that the decline occurred in the years immediately following the 2009 legislation, as state-level governments increased enrolment with little concern for school quality.
Further evidence of quality problems is that families with modest incomes are abandoning government schools. One-third of Indian children now attend low fee private schools while others attend NGO or faith-based schools. Some of these schools have worse outcomes than government schools but, on average, outcomes are superior at these non-government schools.
Atishi Marlena, a prominent Indian education reformer, has boiled down the essentials for a good public school system to three imperatives: provide quality school infrastructure; ensure a system to identify and hire motivated teachers; and focus on objectively measured learning outcomes and minimum levels of learning for all children. Perhaps the key determinant of improving the persistently low quality of education in government schools, she concludes, is political will. Until political elites decide education outcomes matter, South Asias next generation both boys and girls will remain poor relative to East and Southeast Asia.
If Canada wants its $400 million of education aid to be effective, it should be insisting on independent assessment of what children actually learn in aid-supported projects.
John Richards teaches in Simon Fraser Universitys School of Public Policy and works extensively in Bangladesh. Shahidul Islam served in USAID missions in Bangladesh and Afghanistan and is currently a graduate student at the University of Toronto.
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