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robertogreco : via:anabjain   5

Waste not want not: Sweden to give tax breaks for repairs | World news | The Guardian
"Government to tackle ‘throwaway culture’ by cutting VAT on fixing everything from bicycles to washing machines"
sweden  repair  maintenance  2016  via:anabjain  jugaad  throwaayculture  mending  taxes  government  policy 
september 2016 by robertogreco
James Meek · Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity · LRB 18 February 2016
"How like the Middle Ages, if it were so. Behind the twisted rhetoric of a hardworking majority oppressed by a welfare-mad government, a modern version of the medieval world has been constructed, one where the real poor are taxed more heavily than the rich; where most of those who are not rich are burdened by an onerous roster of fees and monopolies levied by remote, unaccountable private landlords; and where many of us live out our lives shackled to an endless chain of private debt.

Since the Thatcher revolution in 1979, British governments have boasted of how they’ve lowered taxes. And they have, except for one section of society: the poorest 20 per cent. In 1977, the least well-off fifth of households paid 37 per cent of their gross income in direct taxes (like income tax) and indirect taxes (like VAT), against 38 per cent for the richest fifth. In 2014, the tax take from the poorest group had gone up to 37.8 per cent, while the taxes paid by the richest had gone down to less than 35 per cent.

Not only does this understate the extent of tax cuts for the top 1 per cent; it shows only part of the burden borne by the least well off. Piketty writes that ‘modern redistribution does not consist in transferring income from the rich to the poor, at least not in so explicit a way. It consists rather in financing public services and replacement incomes that are more or less equal for everyone, especially in the areas of health, education and pensions.’ This is a very cautious definition of the modern social state. Health, education and social security make up the lion’s share of public spending, but they’re intimately linked to a wider set of networks that includes energy, water and transport and, some would argue, should include housing. What these networks have in common is that society has decided they’re essential, and therefore should be universal – that is, we think everyone should have access to them, all the time. The significance of this is that, on the one hand, society takes on itself the obligation to give its poorest members access to these networks, which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford; and, on the other, payment to use these networks, if it isn’t funded out of general taxation, becomes in itself a tax, particularly when that network is a monopoly. In Britain, many of these universal networks, such as electricity and water, have been privatised, often twice – once to put them on the stock market, once to put them into the hands of overseas owners. Bills for these services have increased faster than inflation, and take little account of people’s ability to pay. It is the poorest, then, who as well as paying the heaviest combination of indirect and direct taxation bear the brunt of such hybrid public-private taxes as the water tax and the electricity tax.

Other universal networks, such as health and education, haven’t been privatised, but have been through another process that makes them ripe for the introduction of flat fees for usage in future. This process really got going under Labour, and it is a sign of the liberal left’s failure to recognise what it has done that there isn’t a name for it. One word to describe it might be ‘autonomisation’ – the process by which state-run bodies continue to be funded by the state but are run autonomously on a non-profit basis. So state secondary schools become academies, NHS hospitals become NHS foundation trusts, and council estates are transferred to housing associations. The British state is in a condition of rolling abdication, leaving behind a partly privatised, partly autonomised set of universal networks, increasingly run by absentee landlords in the form of global companies and overseas corporate investors, that is disproportionately funded by the poorest payers of taxes, fees and duties, many of whom are also deep in debt.

There is a cynical view which says that as long as the majority of the population feel they’re doing all right, a democratically elected government is safe to squeeze the poor and pamper the rich. But cynicism is a risky thing to rely on when a government is simultaneously cutting spending and shedding control of the universal networks on which its entire population relies. As Hobsbawm writes in Bandits, ‘concentration of power in the modern territorial state is what eventually eliminated rural banditry, endemic or epidemic. At the end of the 20th century it looks as though this situation might be coming to an end, and the consequences of this regression of state power cannot yet be foreseen.’ We’re a long way from the return of the literal outlaw to Nottinghamshire. But we need to remember the insight given our ancestors when they saw through the illusion of the Robin Hood myth, when they saw that the strongbox of silver coins wasn’t just money stolen from each of them individually, but power robbed from them collectively, and that they needed to wield that power collectively as much as they needed their money back. For sure, freedom to choose is a grand thing, and the market will try to help you exercise it. With a bit of money in the bank, a middle-class family might choose to send their child to private school, provided by the market; but that same family can’t choose to build and maintain a universal education network by itself, and the market won’t provide it. With money, you can choose to buy a car, and the market will provide it; but you can’t choose, all by yourself, to build and maintain a universal road network, and the market won’t provide it. To make and keep universal networks requires the authority of the state, an authority that has been absent; and it’s hard to see where that authority might come from if the people don’t find a way to assert their kingship."
2016  jamesmeek  capitalism  politics  policy  welfare  poor  class  rich  wealthdistribution  inequality  taxes  taxation  health  education  thomaspiketty  neoliberalism  autonomization  housing  uk  finance  davidcameron  margaretthatcher  ronaldreagan  stephenharper  us  canada  australia  marcorubio  georgeosborne  power  money  economics  labor  erichobsbawm  government  markets  universalnetworks  infrastructure  via:anabjain 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Kadak
"Kadak is a collective of South Asian women who work with graphic storytelling of different kinds. ‘Kadak’ means strong, severe, sharp - like our tea.

The women in Kadak engage with varied streams of inquiry in their art, which provides an invaluable insight into the preoccupations of a changing subcontinent. The stories and narratives move between the personal and political, question culture and examine subculture."
tumblrs  graphicdesign  design  graphics  art  culture  subcultures  gender  women  southasia  via:anabjain 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Auckland Design Manual
"Designing the world’s most liveable city together

We are all involved in the design of our city - decisions we make about our homes and places of work, shape our streets, our neighbourhoods and our city. Great design comes from people with vision, knowledge and experience.

The Auckland Design Manual (ADM) provides a resource for everyone involved in design, building and development to either share their great design stories with others, or to seek inspiration, tools and best practice advice from those who have already been successful. Auckland's planning rulebook, the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (Unitary Plan) will articulate the rules for the future growth, whilst the ADM illustrates how to achieve the quality outcomes sought by the Unitary Plan.

The transformation of Auckland is a joint responsibility, not just council alone. We need the help, support and commitment of every resident to deliver the world's most liveable city.

Why is the design of the built environment important for Auckland?
"Everyone benefits from well-designed buildings, spaces and places. The built environment contributes a great deal to our quality of life and economic success, and delivers enormous value to society. Yet we often take it for granted, without appreciating its effect on our daily lives" (CABE 2005: 3)

Indeed design is often seen as a dirty word, some frivolous addition to the budget that adds little more than some aesthetic preference of those who are paying for it. We should consider design as a verb as well as an outcome. It is a process of constant refinement working with the variables of time, cost and quality to achieve the optimum outcome. Everything within the built environment has been designed and thought about to some degree. However we all know examples where it is obvious that this thinking has stopped early on and we are left with places or buildings that don't work well, not built well or are simply an eyesore. These are generally not great investments, and often need further money spent to rectify them over the longer term.

With Auckland likely to grow substantially over the next thirty years, we need to get more of these decisions right. As your council we are already trying new approaches, for example the Elliot Street shared spaces in the central city, the Transit Oriented Development in New Lynn and the Wynyard Quarter development on the waterfront. However, it is not just the council who builds the city; you do! It is your individual and collective decisions that shape our future – from where you choose to rent to what developments you might undertake.

We want to support the people of Auckland who are interested in the design of their house, their business premises, their street, their park or neighbourhood. So we have created the Auckland Design Manual – a website resource to provide you with inspiration through sharing good examples and some of the more detailed guidance about how to achieve similar great outcomes. We have started the ball rolling, but want to hear from you about your definition of a great project and want you to send us your best examples so we can continue to develop and refine the ADM – because only by sharing the lessons already learnt can we design the world's most liveable city together."

[via: https://twitter.com/anabjain/status/684252668668166144 ]

[See also “Māori Design Whakatairanga Tikanga Māori”

"Understanding and following a Māori design practice is key to delivering design outcomes that help to deepen our sense of place and develop meaningful and durable relationships with Iwi in Tāmaki Makaurau.This hub builds on design processes based upon Te Aranga principles. The content is being developed in partnership with Ngā Aho, a network of Mā​ori design professionals, and other partners. "
http://www.aucklanddesignmanual.co.nz/design-thinking/maori-design ]
via:anabjain  aukland  design  cities  auklanddesignmanual  participatori  maori  newzealand  neighborhoods  democracy  urban  livability  builtenvironment  māori 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Which is the cleanest city in the world? | Cities | The Guardian
"Fines, public humiliation and citizen action – every city has a different way of dealing with urban cleanliness. But is it community clean-ups or strict municipal laws that have the most success in making a city spotless?"



"There are less punitive ways to be clean and tidy, however. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, seems to have achieved a clean and litter-free environment without the threat of harsh fines. Not on any of Mercer’s lists, modern Kigali isn’t exactly beautiful. It rises up on a tree-covered slope and is mainly built of concrete, but the level of upkeep is extraordinary.

Indeed, the city’s roundabouts are so well-swept and the grass so well-maintained that wedding couples sprint across the traffic to be photographed in the middle of them. Unusually, this has been achieved not through punishment, but by the principle of Umuganda. This word has many meanings relating to “community” and “payment”, and dates back before Rwanda was part of Belgium’s African empire.

In the 19th century, a number visitors recorded that Rwandans were required to work two days a week for their community leader and during Belgian rule Umuganda was encouraged as a way of bolstering civic responsibility. In the years before the 1994 genocide, President Juvénal Habyarimana emphasised it as part of his concept of “true” Rwandan identity. “True Rwandans” provided free labour for state-led projects like school building, road works, the construction of sanitation facilities and digging of anti-erosion ditches. Unfortunately Habyarimana’s true Rwandans, by extension, also belonged to the Hutu tribe, and Umuganda eventually became caught up in ideas of racial purity.

After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in each month when traffic – including airport taxis – is stopped for three hours in the morning, and the city comes together to tidy up. This can be problematic if you have a flight to catch. This day is called umunsi w’umuganda (contribution made by the community) and all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required by law to participate. The knock-on effect of such conscientious cleaning up is, of course, that people are less inclined to drop litter in the first place."



"So, if Singapore is proof that cleanliness can be achieved by legislation, Kigali and Dar es Salaam are definitely proof that motivation and communal spirit can work as well. Calgary, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. It’s also the least interesting of the three cities to visit – but that’s a whole other list.

Finally one has to ask, does it matter? Last year a Ugandan looking at Kigali told me wistfully that Kampala used to be as pristine as Kigali: “Why can’t we keep our capital clean and tidy anymore?”

So, if you live there I think it matters, very much."
cities  uban  urbanism  rwanda  umuganda  community  civics  responsibility  civicresponsibility  kigali  kampala  uganda  daressalaam  communalism  communalspirit  tanzania  singapore  via:anabjain  cleanliness  litter  calgary  zurich  adelaide  honolulu  minneapolis  kobe  tidiness  china  paulkagame 
june 2015 by robertogreco

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