Europe’s Alpha & Omega

Chancellor Angela Merkel faces three regional elections in the German states of Saxony-Anhalt, Baden-Weurttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate that are being described, by various observers, commentators and news outlets, as a ‘test of support’ for the Chancellor’s stance on the refugee crisis. ‘Test’ is one way to describe the process, I suppose. Whilst frau Merkel might wish it to be otherwise, the sudden rise of the anti-establishment and populist AfD (Alternative für Deutschland), which is presenting its regional campaigns as a national referendum on Germany’s open-door response to the crisis and which is polling well above the 7.1% of the vote it … Continue reading

Is Africa’s success story over?

The most impressive person I met in Botswana barely said a word. She was an older woman, small in stature. We were sitting next to each other at a table during lunch at a conference about Botswana’s economic model. In a quiet voice, she told me that she was a former government minister. We talked briefly about the conference, neither of us saying anything particularly memorable. Then we were both drawn away by other conversations. I learned later that Gaositwe Chiepe was the first woman to serve as a government minister in Botswana, the large but sparsely populated country just … Continue reading

Basic income: communism for capitalists

Last week, it was announced that Finland is set to introduce a citizen’s basic income. It’s said to be around €800 a month, which would be provided universally and without any conditions to all Finnish citizens. It will replace all previous benefits. This is just the latest experiment with the idea. Several Dutch cities are about to introduce the measure too. Many European countries are debating this notion. The case can be understood by anyone who has ever lived off of a student loan. A guaranteed baseline can free up individuals to pursue their own endeavours, whether they be cultural … Continue reading