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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Nikkei Weekly, August 19, 2013
 

Vacations help. Of course we all should, from time to time, take a break from the hassles of the daily grind, even if many of us can only stay at home this year due to austerity. Those in public service also can gain immeasurably from a long vacation - even if the rest of us complain that we are paying them to do nothing. This is one example of how unfair we can be; many public servants will take only brief breaks and rightly return to parliamentary business, quietly and dutifully.

On vacation, our public servants can get a break from the daily cacophony from the public and the media braying at the slothfulness of politicians. We say that politicians ignore the facts in front of them. This is what I wish to talk about.

An example: A common refrain from the public is the need for more prisons (though not nearby, please) to incarcerate every and all found guilty of crimes. In many cases, the nature of the crime is inconsequential. "Three strikes and you're out" has filled U.S. prisons to overflowing, with a disproportionate representation to Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic prisoners. Though there is some debate over lesser sentences for lesser crimes, it is difficult to define a legislative boundary. And then there are even those, in places where it has been abolished, who advocate bringing back the death penalty. What they seem to ignore is that, in our time, crime rates are falling, across almost all categories.

The rates of burglaries, car thefts and even crimes against the person have all fallen in most developed nations. This is due to stronger social cohesion - in creating neighborhood watches, installing burglar alarms, or simply not displaying purses and phones in unattended cars and inviting an opportunistic theft. It is also due to better policing with more patrolling of neighborhoods done on foot, bicycle and even on Segways. Better still is the police use of big data analyses to predict where crimes might erupt and increasing officers in such areas. In some parts of the U.S., this new technique has reduced certain crimes by 90%. Other technological developments have also helped. Vehicle anti-theft and tracking devices have been effective, and the falling prices of TVs, DVDs and so on also deter theft - a few dollars' gain is not worth a criminal record it seems.

Yet, we tend to harbor great distrust toward the police, and toward politicians.

We tell ourselves that we inherently know that these authority figures do not tell us the truth - that they abuse the facts. The 2013 annual Edelman Trust Barometer showed, as it has done over several years, that most people give a negative answer to the question, "How much do you trust each institution to do what is right?"

This year, however, those surveyed were a little more positive. For government, the ratio of people who responded "trust a great deal" was 16%, up from 12% in 2012. For business, this trust was 17%, up from 14%. For media, it was 17%, up from 15%. For nongovernmental organizations, it was 22%, up from 19%. But the figures are still harsh pills for politicians to swallow. They know that many of their institutional responses need to change to reflect the whims of society - but clearly we do not trust their words.

We don't universally incarcerate all those who act differently than us. We know we ought to consider the best treatment for prisoners and to those in need of medical aid. Simply locking people up, drugging them or keeping them confined to beds is not appropriate or beneficial. Much crime is done by hot-headed youths, and after being in prison for 30 years, they have become just like most of us - middle-aged and wanting simply to have a quiet life of gardening and watching TV, not one of rampage or hurting of others. Sentencing therefore requires a review and redesign. But the public would then grow fearful, insisting that the judges and the politicians are bent on being soft on prisoners.

Hospitalization, or more accurately, the provision of a full hospital service near to one's abode, is also a difficulty for politicians to realize. As populations grow older, we find that the elderly can't be cared for in the traditional manner by their offspring, as they are often old and weak as well. Thus, the elderly take up hospital beds, occupy hospital staff and deprive younger and oftentimes more desperate people from receiving urgent treatment. Social care at home needs to be boosted, thus freeing hospital beds for their obvious task of emergency and critical care. But the public demands local beds for lifetime treatment, saying their politicians are short-changing them - after years of paying into pension funds, the bargain is that there will be a bed for them waiting. The public see home care as a cheap substitute. To some extent I agree with this. Social services need to be redesigned, and this means more cash for new support operations.

So we have a gross gap in our perceptions. The politicians and the media need to inform the public about the facts. We all need to discuss these facts and the options available, with the full costs of each explained and how it can all be paid for. Instead, during much of the year we receive misinformation, sometimes politically motivated. Sometimes after a horrendous event, imprisonment seems a reasonable outcome to impose on the perpetrators. But we must face up to changes and come to informed decisions - holidays may help to isolate the anger of the past and to generate a willingness for future discussion. I hope so, as globally all is changing.

Growth may be slowing around the world, and general austerity may be here to stay. That is not to say that we do not have, collectively, the cash to alter processes for the general betterment. But we must manage all our resources in a modern, well-informed way that will support future generations. We must learn to believe that those for whom we voted will act faithfully on our behalf - that is democracy. They, in turn, must be transparent and stop petty politicking.

 

Frank-Jurgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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