March 7, 2012

British Broadcasting Corporation

Green Army: Communications

Small girl looking at a New Home New Life book in Afghanistan

Edmund Burke:
One of the first and most leading principles on which the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated is, lest the temporary possessors … unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors or of what is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the entire masters …
[That] they should not think it among their rights to … commit waste on the inheritance by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society, hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin instead of an habitation …
(Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790)

Yo Hayek:
Legend has it that, at her first cabinet meeting as Prime Minister in 1979, Margaret Thatcher thumped a copy of Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty on the table declaring:
This is what we believe!

Alistair Cooke (1908–2004)

I myself think I recognize [in America] several of the symptoms that Edward Gibbon saw so acutely in the decline of Rome …
  • a love of show and luxury;
  • a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor;
  • the exercise of military might remote from the centers of power;
  • an obsession with sex;
  • freakishness in the Arts masquerading as originality and enthusiasm pretending to creativeness; and
  • a general desire to live off the state: whether it's a junkie on welfare; or a government subsidized airline. …

[In 1972, I] made the point that, in the welfare state, too many of us expect a handout, a government subsidy, big daddy will provide.
But I didn't think, so soon, we would elect a president in protest against this liberal system that we've come to take for granted. …

I have tried to show that the original institutions of this country still have great vitality.
[That much] of the turmoil here springs from the energy of people who are trying to apply those institutions to forgotten minorities.

[As] for our rage to believe that we've found the secret of liberty in general permissiveness from the cradle on, I can only recall the saying of a wise Frenchman:
Liberty is the luxury of self-discipline.
And, historically, those peoples that did not discipline themselves had it thrust on them from outside …

As I see it, in this country, … the race is on between
  • its decadence, and
  • its vitality …

I believe that Monroes' solution, shipping negros back to Africa to form their own nations, might have been wise in 1820; but it's a century and a half too late.
I do not know what the realistic solution is. …
I do know … that nothing is more mischievous to good government than splendid rhetoric that doesn't pay off.

Now look what's being asked:
  • the rehousing of the population,
  • the chance of free education through college,
  • the strangling of the drug traffic at the roots, and
  • the radical overhauling of the prisons, the jury system, the courts.
Now this is going to call for … a massive subsidy of taxes, white taxes, beyond our experience.

As an historian, I'm not sure and integrated society will work.
As an old reporter, I suspect the blacks will not get more than Lincoln's "the mass of whites", who live here in the ratio of nine to one, is willing to give them.
[Perhaps the] only sensible hope is that the mass of whites have greatly changed since Lincoln's day (or will change) so that the blacks … can become an equal race, separately respected. …

[Since 1972, the] black revolution has achieved less and more than it promised. …
I would never have dreamed
  • that by today most of the big cities of America would have black mayors — Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington; or
  • that there would be black generals in the armed forces; or
  • that my bank manager would be a young black woman. …

(David Heycock, The More Abundant Life, America, Episode 13, 1972)

Shandi, an Indian Matilda

There was a young girl in [the Indian radio drama] Taru called Shandi [who] goes to her mother and says:
"Hey Mom, can I have a birthday like my little brother?"
And her mother explains:
"In our caste, in our society, girls don't have birthdays."
… Shandi is a very precocious, persistent young girl [so] she goes to her grandmother and says,
Grandmother, can I please have a birthday like my little brother?
Grandmother goes:
No, we don't do that.
[Finally Shandi] meets Taru [who] has come back to village [to work] in the health care sector …
[She's] from a different caste, she's a little bit more educated, and she [gives] Shandi the answer she wants to hear:
"Yes Shandi, let's make you a birthday party."
Over the next 10 episodes, the 250 million people of Bihar, hear something they've never heard before.
They hear about a girl choosing what cake she wants.
They hear about invitations going out.
They hear about presents.
And finally … Shandi has her birthday party. …

[A] month later, two months later, across Bihar, little girls are having birthday parties.
No just one, but you have whole villages, that are committing, and signing up for,
"We will treat our boys and our girls equally."
[Shandi] showed people the power of a persistent young girl; and, through Taru [they] learnt the power of being able to change. …



A History of the World in 100 Objects

A History of Ideas


Costing the Earth


In Our Time

Mind Changers

Reith Lectures

The Infinite Monkey Cage

The Report

Thinking Allowed




World Service




Your World



A History of the World in 100 Objects

  • 100 Solar-powered lamp and charger, 22 October 2010.

    Thomas Edison:
    I'd put my money on the Sun and solar energy.
    What a source of power!
    I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

A History of Ideas

Costing the Earth


Mind Changers

Claudia Hammond

Reith Lectures

  • Mistaken Identities.
    Kwame Anthony Appiah: Professor of Philosophy and Law, New York University.

  • The Rule of Law and its Enemies.
    Niall Ferguson: Professor of History, Harvard University.
    • The Human Hive, 19 June 2012.

      [The] biggest challenge facing mature democracies is how to restore the social contract between the generations. …

      It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees.
      If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party. …

      A second problem is that … politicians who argue for cutting expenditures … run into the well-organised opposition [from the] recipients of public sector pay and [the] recipients of government benefits. …

      There’s no question that any serious system of public financial accounting, and indeed private financial accounting, needs to take into account the kinds of depreciation that are associated with environmental degradation.
      The really obvious point which you will have dealt with but people here probably haven’t thought so much about is that if a country has really large-scale natural resources, the simple act of mining them and selling them essentially takes away the future wealth of the country.
      It’s a finite resource.
      So what you’ve got to do there if you’re serious about future generations is to do what say Norway has done and have a meaningful sovereign wealth fund rather than a non-meaningful sovereign wealth fund, which I think is what Australia has. …

      [If] young people are mobilised politically, they are much more likely to be mobilised on the Left and they’re very likely to be [manipulated by] the people who are screwing them like public sector trade unions. …

      [Unsustainable public] debt is just a symptom of a chronic inability [of representative democracies] to take difficult decisions in the present when it is so much easier to pass the cheque to a future generation that isn’t represented.
      [The] young aren’t represented and the unborn for sure aren’t represented. …

      [One] of the defining characteristics of [revolutionaries is that they think that Man] can be made virtuous. …
      Man is not going to be made virtuous by any revolution or any code of laws …
      [Not] being terribly virtuous [is] fine if the institutional framework within which you’re being … not virtuous is good.
      [The] word ‘virtue’ scarcely figures in the thinking of people in Scottish Enlightenment [like Adam Smith] because they take men and women as they found them — flawed, prone to sin [etc] — and they ask …
      How can we design institutions for these real human beings with all their frailties?
      How can we incentivise them to behave in a responsible way[?]

    • Civil and Uncivil Societies, 10 July 2012.

      Harlem [Success Academy] does not have a host of managerialist middle class bloodsuckers trying to game the system. …

      [But my argument is not to simply roll] out more charter schools and academies …
      My argument is for biodiversity.

  • Securing Freedom.
    Eliza Manningham-Buller: Former Director General, British Security Service (MI5).
    • Security, 13 September 2011.

      Torture is illegal in our national law and in international law.
      It is wrong and never justified.
      It is a sadness and worse that the previous government of our great ally, the United States, chose to water-board some detainees.
      The argument that lifesaving intelligence was thereby obtained, and I accept it was, still does not justify it.
      Torture should be utterly rejected even when it may offer the prospect of saving lives.

      I am proud my Service refused to turn to the torture of high-level German prisoners in the Second World War, when, in the early years, we stood alone and there was a high risk of our being invaded and becoming a Nazi province.
      So if not then, why should it be justified now?
      I believe that the acquisition of short-term gain through water-boarding and other forms of mistreatment was a profound mistake and lost the United States moral authority and some of the widespread sympathy it had enjoyed as a result of 9/11.
      And I am confident that I know the answer to the question of whether torture has made the world a safer place.
      It hasn't.

    • Freedom, 20 September 2011.

      The gradual move from terrorism into government is a long-established pattern. …
      Intelligence plays an important part and is of most value if working as part of a wider dialogue involving politics, diplomacy and economic process.
      My most relevant experience of this is the complex and prolonged talks in Northern Ireland.
      There are plenty of other examples, talking to Hezbollah, to Hamas.
      Talking doesn't mean approval.
      It means an attempt to reduce the threat by addressing, if possible, its causes.
      It is a way of exploring peaceful options, of probing possibilities, of identifying whether there is room to maneuver, and what compromises, if any, may be reached, what political grievances can be acknowledged or even, in rare cases, accommodated.

  • A New Citizenship.
    Michael Sandel: Anne T and Robert M Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University.

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Brian Cox & Robyn Ince

The Report

Thinking Allowed

Laurie Taylor



  • Energy storage paves way for electricity independence, 30 March 2015.
    Richard Anderson.

    Research by Barclays has estimated that 20% of US electricity consumers will be able to use power from solar and storage for the same price as they get it from the grid by as early as 2018. …
    We believe that solar plus storage could reconfigure the organisation and regulation of the electric power business over the coming decade.
    As a result, the bank downgraded its credit rating on all US electricity utilities.

    … Citibank has estimated that "in their current form" utilities in developed economies could see the size of their market shrink by more than 50%. …

    At the end of [2014,] German energy giant E.On announced [it] was spinning off its fossil fuel and nuclear business to focus on renewables …

  • The Wealth Gap — Inequality in Numbers, 17 January 2012.
    Michael Robinson.

    Over the 28 years covered by the [Congressional Business Office] study, US incomes had increased overall by 62% [with the incomes of]
    • [the] lowest paid fifth of Americans [growing by] 18% …
    • [middle] income households [increasing by] 37%. …
    • [And those of the] top 1% of US households [rising by] 275%. …

    In Britain, [after the end of World War I in 1918,] the share of national income going to the richest 1% [fell] for more than half a century …
    [Inequality] is now on course to return to what it was in 1918. …
    [The] richest thousand individuals … saw their wealth increase on average in 2010 alone by £60m.
    That was a 20% gain, following 25% the previous year.

    In November, [it was reported that the pay] enjoyed by the chief executives of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange … had risen by 49% during the previous year … compared with average increases of less than 3% for their employees.
    [The] average pay of £4.2m … was 145 times the average pay of their employees and 162 times the British average wage.

    [Prime Minister David Cameron] promised government moves against undeserved high pay awards.

    In 1997, the entire bottom 90% had average income of just over £10,500.
    The top 1% had incomes 18 times bigger.
    [The income of the] top 10th of one percent … was more than 60 times the average of the bottom 90%. …

    By 2007 the average income of the bottom 90% was just under £12,500 a year …
    [The] income of the top tenth of a percent was now 95 times as large, averaging well over £1m a year. …

    Some now argue that … as the international super-rich shift their wealth around the world [this increases the] volatility in the price of gold, equities, government debt or basic commodities such as copper and grain.

    Would you like to know more?



The Documentary


Your World

  • Real America

  • Soap Operas — Art Imitating Life
    • Episode 1, 21 April 2012.
      Sean Southey: Executive Director, PCI Media Impact.
      Katie Elmore: Vice President, Communications and Programming, Population Media Center.
      Gordan Adam: Producer.

      A team of economists credits Brazilian TV "novelas" for helping to dramatically lower a fertility rate that in the 60's was above six births per woman. …

      [In Indian villages] where people consume more TV and radio [women have] more autonomy and more of a role in household financial matters [and their] daughters are … more likely to be enrolled in school.

      In 1969, a South American TV soup opera provided the template for an entertainment education revolution.
      Simplemente Maria, was a Cinderella story of a household domestic employee, who becomes rich and famous through her proficiency with a Singer sewing machine. …
      [Throughout Latin America,] Maria inspired a rapid increase in both the sale of Singer sewing machines and people enrolling in sewing classes and in adult literacy classes, just as Maria had done. …

      Sean Southey:
      [Education] entertainment [today generally follows] the Miguel Sabido methodology …
      [There is] a positive character, a negative character and transitional characters … [The] transitional characters [are] either be rewarded or punished based on their interactions with the good and bad characters. …
      [Follow-up polls then check for changes in audience behaviour.]
      [It] works, not from the story, but from the characters.
      [First] you design [the] characters, and then [develop] the story. …

      [It's] about embodying a set of values.
      So in those 6 or 8 characters you found in Hum Log, you had a set of new Indian values.
      What could new India look like?
      Dowry free, different approach to caste, eliminating the concept of untouchables.
      This was a bold and beautiful vision for what India could be, as manifested in a few key characters, who role modelled those values for the rest of India. …
      Hum Log was a remarkable success. …
      To this day, the actors who played roles in Hum Log are famous in India, 27 years later. …

      Katie Elmore:
      Sabido [embedded] a storyline about … a grandfather, who decides to go back to school …
      [Eventually,] in a very emotional and tearful ending, when he graduates from school, is able to read one of the letters from his granddaughter. …
      The year before, they had registered about 99,000 people for adult literacy classes.
      [When] the program aired, another 300,000 called the next day. …
      [Over[ the next year, nearly 900,000 people registered …

      Gordan Adam:
      There was a strong pro-women agenda to New Home, New Life, at a time when the Taliban were in power.
      [The] women's right to work … to education, and so on …
      And hard-liner's within the Taliban were concerned and upset about this, and discussed banning … the program. …
      But they had a debate about it in Kandahar, and it was solidly defeated, because so many of the Talib's … were listening to the program.

      A lot of civilian's were being killed by land mines.
      [Research showed] that in areas of high incidence of mine's injuries and deaths, you were only the half as likely to be injured or killed if you were a regular listener to New Home, New Life, than if you weren't. …

      Katie Elmore:
      We've dealt with the issue of female genital mutilation extensively in Ethiopia … Mali and Sudan. …
      [In the Ethiopia you] saw the agony of one girl who underwent female genital mutilation, and the problems that it caused for her in her life.
      [Those] are the types of things that these programs can introduce in a safe environment, also not judging or condemning the people who have practised it but just drawing attention to the fact that it can create harm for people they care about.

      After [the] first program went to air, we [surveyed] more than 48 health centers throughout Ethiopia [and found that] 26% of all new reproductive health clients cited [the program] as the main motivating factor for seeking services. …

      [In Ethiopia the workers] adopted a whole society strategy … working with community, [religious and] youth leaders, producing books, doing radio talk show programs, leaflets, posters [creating a] campaign that [tries] to effect change at every layer of the society.

      Would you like to know more?

    • Episode 2, 28 April 2012.

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