Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The greater metropolitan area of Jakarta is also known as Jabodetabek. This megacity is home to over 30 million people, and combines Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. The city was established in the fourth century. The Kingdom of Sunda (669 -1579) grew with the engine of this important trading port. Later it was the de facto capital of the Dutch East Indies. Like the British East India Company, European colonisation started out as a competitive, nationalistic, commercial endeavour (Mercantilism). Japan's World War II occupation (1942) dismantled much of the colonial state, and after Japan's defeat, Indonesian independence was declared in 1945. As an economic magnate, Jakarta attracts migrants with a 1961 census showing only 51% of the population born in the city. The Betawi people (native Jakartans) are a creole group formed by the various immigrant groups (Indonesian, Chinese, Arab, European) and make up just over a quarter of the population.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) is both a city, and a union territory of India. Almost 17 million people live there, and the urban area which extends beyond the NCT is home to over 26 million people. Delhi is home to an estimated 23,000 US$ millionaires, but half of the population live in slum areas with inadequate provision of basic services. Reading that reminds me of the challenges facing Cape Town. I love the idea of 'sister cities'. At city level - politics becomes less abstract given the obvious contrasts, and real world implementation challenges. Delhi is sister city to New York, London, Moscow, Ulaanbataar, Chicago, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul and Fukuoka. The bigger things get, the more abstract they get. When it comes down to conversation, and listening, we can start to taste the common ingredients.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Loose Tap

I was pretty awful at banter as a little chap. I took myself, and life, very seriously. It is not that I didn't have a sense of humour. I just wasn't comfortable with it being directed at me. I also happened to have a 'loose tap' in an environment that looked down on boys crying. If I stood back, perhaps it would have been fine. But. The final ingredient was an over-endowment of righteous indignation. This made for an easy target. It was easy to rattle me. I often ended up in the bathroom, splashing water on my face, trying to calm down. Being able to laugh at yourself, and at others' crazy opinions and actions, is an important part of truth seeking. This too shall pass. We'll look back and laugh one day.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Dhaka is one of the world's most populated (17 million in Greater Dhaka area), and most densely populated (28,410 per square kilometre), cities. Once its nickname was the 'Venice of the East' because it was home to so many Eurasian merchant groups. The British East India Company took control of the city from the Nawab of Bengal. Under the system of Mercantilism trade was seen as a form of National warfare with winners and losers. Dhaka got plugged into Britain's imperial networks. The colonial tax, and restriction on trade in the interest of British manufacturers, led to the city's decline. By 1824, Dhaka was described as 'the city of magnificent ruins'. After the city mutinied in 1857, rule was passed from the company to the British government. In 1971, it became the capital of an independent Bangladesh.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


I am in favour of Constitutional Democracy. Not majority rules. I like the kind of rules that can be agreed upon as a 'way to play'... but not rules that impose control on individuals and communities. Partisan Democracy is a zero-sum game that flip flops between sides undoing each others work, and throwing stones. Instead of imposing on each other, in a liberal democracy, you should be able to largely crack on with whatever projects you want to do together. More than 65.8 million people voted for Hillary Clinton in the US election. If those people believe taxes should be 10% higher, that could probably (thumb suck) fund a single payer health system. They don't need permission. They could do it. Voluntary Associations and Community Building don't need votes. They need people willing to do. Perhaps it isn't fair if the burden isn't shared, but is that more important to you then the cause you are voting for? If it matters to you, and you can do it, do it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Give Later, Give Forever

Procrastination comes naturally. It is easy to set your alarm for the morning. It is difficult to actually get up when it goes off. Delegating to our future selves. This insight led to the 'save later' concept. It is easier to save a chunk of your future increases, than to cut back on your current expenses. The same concept could be used to fund a Community Wealth Fund. If people who can afford to fund their own Universal Basic Income donate it to the community when they no longer need it. So you are giving up nothing now. Money, well managed, can live forever. If instead of seeing yourself as the owner of your wealth, privilege and talents, you can be a custodian. Zero impact on your current lifestyle. Infinite impact on the empowerment of future generations.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Pressure Valve

I spent almost 12 years of school, and 3 years of pre-school, with a small group of guys. There was no escape hatch. There was no pressure valve. Since leaving, there have been few places with that intensity of shared experience. Perhaps my residence at university, but by that stage you chose who you spent time with. I come from a community. Warts and all, seeing these guys is like seeing family. They are part of my origin story. We understand things from the perspective that we see them. In context. We like to talk in politics of 'the people' speaking. The only certainty I have found about family struggles is that everyone has them. 'My people' and I didn't always agree. There were great, and there were difficult, times. In a global world, we get to choose our community. A downside is that we don't always work through difficulties. We move on. A real community starts when that option disappears. It starts locally.

Pressure Release

Monday, May 15, 2017

Conspicious Hoarding

I am far more concerned about consumption inequality, and absolute poverty, than I am about wealth or income inequality. Defining goals in relative terms may be how we think, and feel, but it is a moving target. Even consumption inequality only bothers me because it is deeply problematic when people don't have the basics, and others have plenty to waste. Conspicuous consumption is a stupidity tax. A lot of things are expensive because they are rare, not because they are valuable. There is a difference. The harder problem is conspicuous hoarding. Having assets in abundance that are needed that could be shared, that are just kept in case. I don't have a problem with investment in productive assets. Mostly the 'owners' have given control over to managers who will be punished by clients if they don't do a good job. Until everyone has enough to participate, then I think we should feel uncomfortable. We should do something.
Don't confuse value and rarity