Views from the Edge

The Good Society--Evidence Based Decision-Making

Fundamental to the good society is the ability of elected officials and their civil servants to make decisions and policies grounded on evidence and sound scientific advice. This is also key to ensuring that the power of elites, and vested interests for maintaining the status quo do not dominate the political agenda of the day, and are kept in balance with the democratic principles of social justice, fairness, equity and sustainable development.

Patterns of our Footsteps - Rethinking Growth and Prosperity

June 25th, 2012

As the population of Canada doubles in size, one would expect the gross total household consumption of goods and services to increase accordingly.  To be specific, Canada’s population has increased in the last 50 years from approximately 18 million to 34 million; thus, arithmetically speaking, households collectively should be expected to consume 1.89 (i.e., 34 divided by 18) more now as they did as in the 1960s.  However, this is not the case. 

The Good Society--Spatial Justice

What does inequality do to a community? Ironically, there is no relationship whatsoever between key social indicators and gross national product (GNP). Bigger income gaps lead to deteriorations in health (drug abuse, infant mortality, life expectancy, mental illness, obesity), human capital (child well-being, high school drop outs, math and literacy scores, social mobility, teenage births, and social relations (child conflict, homicide, imprisonment, social capital, trust).

The Good Society--Managing Natural Resources

Humanity is now using nature’s services 52 percent faster than what Earth can renew, according to the Global Footprint Network’s 2012 data.

The Good Society--Screw business as usual

Richard Branson is using his purchase of British bank Northern Rock to offer small loans to the poor and urged Wall Street bankers to use their bonuses to help repair the economic damage they caused. His book, Screw Business as Usual, urges companies to not only focus on profit, but also on doing good for the world. "Microcredit has worked in Africa and India, maybe it could even work in somewhere like the United Kingdom". Microfinance traditionally targets women and, anlaysts say, has default rates of just a few per cent.

The Good Society--The Need for Conversation

A very thoughtful reflection on our use of technology, which some believe may be taking us to places we may not want to go. Technology is changing relationships, redefining the meaning of a ‘friend’, how we relate to one another, and most critically, our capacity for reflection. Technology creates the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Are we sacrificing conversation for connection?

The Good Society--Gathering the Evidence

Governance in the good society is grounded in integrated and evidence-based decision-making based on the science and research circulating widely in society. This carbon map is an example of such evidence, as over 95% of the world's scientists now concur that we are indeed changing the climate as a result of human impacts. We need to think carefully about our own perceptions of what our governments say they are doing on our behalf and what decisions are actually being made. Governments are only as accountable as we make them.

The Good Society--Connectivity

In my last post, I talked about the importance of walkability to individual and community vitality. The good society is also about places that have space to meet, run into one another and connect in diverse ways. Culture is dependent upon the informal interactions we have the opportunity to make with one another, and I would argue, with other species. Density also matters, “which is why cities matter [in the production of culture].

The Good Society--Individual Leadership

Somebody has to do something, it is just incredibly pathetic it has to be us. (Gerry Garcia)