Friday, 30 September 2016

Poem for Friday: A Decision

by Ellen Latham




Should I turn left or right?
And then left or right again,
Or have I just done a loop?
How should I know which way to go
When every path is lit by bright garish lights
That beg for your attention, like the bright
Signs of a cinema, beckoning you in.
But which will lead me to the best show?

How will I pick the right one?
The perfect one.
Will I even know if I do pick the perfect one?
They say the Devil you know is better than the one you don't,
But what if you know no Devil, but instead a chorus of angels
Each one as tempting as the last.
How do make a decision that could have such wonderful consequences
Or such terrible successes? 

Why must I take a risk?
A risk is a risk for a reason; the outcome is unknown.
But what does it mean to make a safe decision,
To sign away the rest of your life without the danger of change?
Without the hope that something bigger and better will
Come along and sweep you off your feet.
Without that shiver down your spine
Or gleam in your eye at the first smell of adventure.

Or am I just making this up?
Maybe the decision is jumping up and down, waving its arms
And screaming my name around the next corner and I am
Simply oblivious.
Or maybe it's not that simple.
And I will have to turn left and right.
Or right and left.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Secret History of Cheddar Cheese

by Michaela Clancy


You may find yourself with some time to procrastinate this week and if so you could top up your knowledge on the beloved Cheddar Cheese!

We all have a mystery milkmaid to thank for the glorious substance we call cheddar, as she accidently left a pail of milk in the Cheddar Gorge caves until she discovered it a few months later and liked the taste. Many of the other villagers liked the tanginess of the cheese and set about making their own. The humble cheddar was born.

The cave remains at a constant 7 degrees which is the optimum temperature for maturing cheese and to this day this is still how Cheddar cheese is made. Below are some quick facts spanning throughout the centuries:

·         1170- King Henry II purchased 10,240lbs of cheese and paid the equivalent of $16.21 per lb!!
·         When King Charles I was in reign (1625-1649) the demand for cheddar outweighed the supply which meant that the only way to purchase cheese was through the King’s Court and even then there was a waiting list.
·         President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) served a 1,400lb block of cheddar at an open house party in the White House
·         A 1,000lb cheddar wheel was served to Queen Victorian for her wedding in 1840. The average wheel of cheese weights 60-75lbs

How Blue Cheese Can Change Your Life

by Hermione Barrick

Blue cheese has much potential to improve your health, I would say the most valuable, suggested by many, is the idea that it helps to prevent cardio vascular disease, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is suggested that regular consumption of Roquefort and Camembert is the answer to the french paradox of why the french have the lowest mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the developed world, as wine alone cannot be the answer.

Blue cheese's anti-inflammatory properties, are also well known for being an effective agent for treating Arthritis, a very common health issue that is experienced at the later phases of our lives, it helps by aiding in reducing joint inflammation.

Some of blue cheese's other most life changing benefits are its; low fat content which in turn helps weight loss, and ability to reduce cholesterol, a heightened case of which could block arteries and veins which is directly linked to strokes (ischemia disorder).

If you consume blue cheese regularly it can prevent hypersensitive reactions such as a runny nose, due to the high content of lactobacillus bacteria. Blue cheese is also rich in vital macronutrients such as phosphorus, which along with  performing other important functions in body, is necessary for healthy teeth and bones.

Blue cheese also has great ability to maintain oral health with its high level of calcium also allowing for strong teeth and bones which in turn leads to good oral health as the integrity of the tooth is most important in reducing cases of cavities, a lack of these is also due to the blue cheese's acidity neutralising properties. Osteoporosis, a very common medical condition, that is experienced mostly by women of elderly age than their male counterparts, can also be helped by blue cheese's calcium reserve as it helps to prevent deterioration of bone health.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Why Pride Still Matters

by Jasmine Nash


Picture this: your typical Friday evening out with your loved one at a standard fancy restaurant, the lights are dimly lit inside and you're enjoying a few generous sips of the house red while glaring over the menu but more importantly you’re admiring your partner and holding their hand to close the space between you and them. You're ready to order and the waiter approaches your table.

This all seems pretty normal right?

Now the waiter's looking at your entwined hands and becoming distressed and distracted when you're telling him what you want to eat. He then turns away with no explanation and, soon after, a different waiter is taking your order. You're probably asking yourself why would he not be able to serve two people holding hands; it's normal and it's date night.

Now read that scenario again and imagine it is a same sex couple, does it make more sense to you? Although this scenario is rare and wouldn't happen as often as it used to in the UK and other big cities, this form of homophobia is still happening all around us.

Since 1969's Stonewall Riots in New York, the LGBT community have come an extremely long way. For example, the supreme court legalising same sex marriage in all 50 states in the US in June 2015. The question, 'Why do we need Pride, if homophobia is basically over?' has been on my mind and I came to a conclusion about why Pride still matters. The definition of Pride is: ‘a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of one's close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired’ - and so since 1969 the LGBT community have been working for their own human rights, 50 years later and have come so far.


Why isn't there a straight pride? Because straight people have privileges that LGBT don't: they are able to walk down the street hand in hand with their partner everyday and any day they want without being verbally assaulted or even physically, they can go to the cinema and watch a film with a straight couple portraying romance as the main role without controversy and in a positive light, they never have to 'come out' to their families for being straight, they have the right to marry their partner in any state union and country they want, they are able to talk about their partner without being accused of shoving their sexuality in someone’s face. That’s just a few straight privileges but we don't need straight pride because everyday, on every TV show, on every street, there's a straight pride parade called life.

After Allardyce - What Next?

by Henry Percival

(source: Independent)

With Sam Allardyce’s England tenure coming to a swift end, who is the right man to take the Three Lions forward?

One of the bookies' favourites to take the job is current Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. Howe, 38 is one of the youngest managers in Premier League history, but he is not right for the job! The sole reason being his greatest achievement, in football, to date is finishing 16th in the Premier League. Albeit he has done an absolutely spectacular job managing Bournemouth he is not the right choice for the vacancy.

Another name regularly thrown into the mix when there is an England vacancy is Harry Redknapp. Many people who I have talked to about this subject have all said that they would love to see Harry as England manager. Personally, as a Portsmouth fan, I would very much like to see Redknapp in the England dugout, simply due to the success he led us (Pompey) to. What the England players need is someone who has good man management. And Redknapp possesses this quality.

Another name thrown into the mixer is Alan Pardew. Pardew is fiery character. He tends to do a good job with teams who don’t have a very high expectation. Again he is a good man manager and a good manager overall. Newcastle’s thundering decline since he left them shows us that he is indeed a very good option. The downside to appointing Pardew would be that his teams tend to drift away towards the end of the season. And seeing as all the international tournaments take place at the end of the season, the time when Pardew’s teams struggle, he may not be the best choice.

A controversial choice for the manager would be Glenn Hoddle. Hoddle has been England manager before but resigned due to some offensive comments he made. Hoddle’s key strengths are that he can read the game extremely well and he has a continental approach to the game. He has the backing of Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer to take the job.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Is Economic Inequality Necessarily a Political Problem?

by Charlotte Phillips



So distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough” - William Shakespeare

Economic inequality is the accumulation of individual differences in economic resources across an entire country2. There is an apparent paradox when it comes to economic inequality in capitalist democracies: the majority should have the political power via their equally valued votes to reform a political system into one that treats them more equitably. Totalitarian states such as North Korea contrast this. Their political system leads to a situation whereby political inequality directly causes economic inequality, and there is no mechanism to redress this. Theoretically, democracies should have significantly lower economic inequality levels. In many cases they do. Why, then, is economic inequality so prevalent across the Western democratized world? And why does it constitute a political problem? The destructive cycle of economic inequality has been treated with relative indifference by governments across the world, despite overwhelming evidence to suggest that not only is inequality a political problem, but that there are political solutions.

But what constitutes a political problem? The word “problem” naturally implies negativity, so perhaps to fulfil the rubric of “political problem”, economic inequality needs to be having a negative effect on politics. But this demands an answer to the much less temporal question of what, exactly, is politics? This essay will focus on three of the main components of ‘politics’ as a concept: the political ideology and setup, the politicians and policy makers who run this setup, and the population whom it affects. A discussion of the ramifications of economic inequality will aim to demonstrate that economic inequality is truly a political issue, that has significant effects on each of those components.

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned that democracy is “in peril” due to economic inequality3. It is easy to cast aside inequality as an occurrence limited to developing countries that are rife with corruption and poverty. Yet in industrial democracies, even those considered liberal, severe economic disproportion is damaging the political systems that we uphold as the fundamentally fairest form of polity.

One of the most basic demonstrations of this is the direct negative correlation between inequality and a population’s democratic engagement. Abstention levels of poorer American citizens during elections are significantly high2. The United States has the highest levels of income inequality of all the advanced, industrial states, with the bottom 40% of the population earning just 0.3% of national income. At the other end of the spectrum, the richest 0.1% (some 16000 households) earn 5% of national income4. This stratification sharply divides Americans into distinct socioeconomic groups, which are far less fluid than many politicians of the day would like to admit. The concentration of power and influence over political decisions often lies with the wealthy, because money can be used to influence the media, politicians themselves, and a host of other factors affecting the political process3. Where rich individuals are especially rich in comparison to poor individuals, the poorer citizens have comparatively less power, influence and therefore interest in their political system. Indeed, a cross-national research study found that “those in the highest income quintile are 68% more likely to participate [in elections] than the lowest-income individuals”4. Furthermore, countries with a lower Gini coefficient have far lower abstention levels. The Gini coefficient is the standard numeric measure of economic inequality in a country, calculated so that if 10% of the population earn 10% of the national income, and 20% earn 20% of the income, and so on, the Gini coefficient is 0- perfectly equal. A Gini coefficient of 1 would apply in a hypothetical situation whereby one individual earns the entirety of a nation’s income5.

‘One person one vote’ seems to be making an unhindered transition to ‘one dollar one vote’. This is not an issue limited to the United States. Across the democratized world, the preeminence of the wealthy voter against the disadvantaged voter reduces the incentive for poorer voters to use their enfranchisement. The unfortunate irony is that for many poorer citizens, or even ‘middle-class’ citizens, a more liberal or left-wing government could reverse some of these barriers and increase efficacy, through implementation of increasingly progressive taxes and policies that typically benefit those on lower incomes. But if these voters don’t vote, a government that could benefit them cannot get into power. Without sustained efforts at reducing economic inequality and reigniting political interest, one side of the political spectrum will hold an intrinsic advantage over the other. This clearly contests the elemental democratic values that are so prized by advocates of democracy.

Although disillusionment, with the consequence of unenforced disenfranchisement, is a significant issue, an alternative outlet for dissatisfaction with economic inequality is a gravitation towards the alluring promises of populist politicians. Those who are seemingly fed up with ‘the establishment’- the precise definition of which seems to be perpetually ambiguous- can be attracted towards the “unrealistic promises of change” offered by political demagogues3. The proof of this can be seen with the unexpected switch of many Labour voters and would-be Labour voters to UKIP in the United Kingdom’s 2015 general election6, the unprecedented rise of Donald Trump, and the increasing popularity of France’s answer to Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen7. As with all politicians, but more intensely with this kind of politician, there is a huge difference between what is pledged and what can actually be delivered. Hence the people can only be disappointed, and the system can only be damaged by those who exaggerate in a ploy for power. The unlikely event of populist rule would almost inevitably lead to increases in economic inequality, after regressive policies further the immiseration of lower-income classes.

The breakdown of democratic process due to economic inequality is not limited to disempowerment and discontent amongst voters. In 2010, following the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the American Supreme Court approved unlimited corporate campaign spending, allowing companies and businesses to support political candidates in elections. Individuals are allowed to use their own funds to this end (which also raises concerns about the undue influence of the very rich), but corporations, especially American multinational corporations, have overwhelmingly more resources than the ordinary American3. Millions, if not billions of dollars have been and will be spent taking advantage of this new law. The people who run these corporations will not be making decisions based not on what is best for the majority of Americans, but on which candidates will support policies that benefit their company. There is clear potential for a forging of a profit-motivated, highly influential elite who play politicians like puppets with their generous, or not so generous, campaign donations. This will only create further social divisions, and heighten the issue of the magnitude of a few people’s preferences far outweighing the efficacy that these preferences should have.

Making an informed political decision is highly valued amongst the democratized states of the world. A key tool for this is the media. Although it must be clear to all that there is hardly such a thing as unbiased media, the sources of these biases have serious implications in terms of economic inequality. Those members of society who are extremely rich have resources with which they can control a variety of media outlets, whether through buying them or bribing those who own them3. The heavy political biases of newspapers, for example, trickle down from the people who run and own them at the top level. If these rich and powerful people choose to spread a pro-Conservative message, or a pro-Republican message, the information that the majority of the public receive is skewed amongst spin and subliminal messages. Of course, bias in the favour of more liberal politics is present too. When we consider the influence of the rich, for example Rupert Murdoch, amongst a variety of mediums- television, social media, outright advertising campaigns9- it is clear that the views are neither accurate or representative of the majority of the public. Informed decision making is a cornerstone of our democracies: the worse economic inequality gets, the less informed our decisions will become. The result is less democratic societies.

The public perception of economic inequality itself also has important meanings for how it plays out as a political problem. Politicians have great power over this; whether or not they draw attention to inequality in election campaigns and policy making, for example, and the statements that they give out about the subject to the media. In America, we can see two contrasting politicians releasing contrasting opinions regarding inequality. Mitt Romney, runner for the Republican presidential candidacy (twice), once said that “inequality is the kind of thing that should be discussed quietly and privately”10. This is in stark contradiction to the words of Barack Obama, who said that “rising inequality and declining mobility are bad for our democracy”11. Statements such as these have significant influence over how much pressure governments are under to try and reduce economic inequalities, an action that will benefit those globally who are less well off.

The psychological concept of equilibrium fictions is relevant here. This proposes that “individuals process information that is consistent with their prior beliefs differently from how they process information that is inconsistent”12. In this context, this means that political views and information that are in line with pre-existing beliefs are less likely to be ignored and more likely to be reinforced as true. Therefore, the skewed perceptions that exist regarding income inequality in America pose a real problem for the politicians that aim to do something to abate the issue. Research reveals Americans believe that the bottom two income quintiles (40% of the population) earn 10% of the total national income. In reality, that figure is just 0.3%13. Perceptions of economic mobility are also highly inaccurate. Americans believe that they live in a far more economically mobile society than they actually reside in: they estimate a 43% likelihood of a person born into the lowest quintile moving up into the top three quintiles, when the true figure is much lower, at 30%14. In America, it is the Democrat party that are more likely to want to reduce inequality and raise it as an issue; Obama’s comments are a case in point. But if the public perceive this issue to be far less serious than it actually is, the message of the Republican party (a general feeling that economic mobility and inequality are low and that the ‘American Dream’ is alive and kicking)15 will be reinforced as the truth in the electorate’s minds, because of the preconceptions that they already have and the effects of equilibrium fictions. The illusion that anything is possible reigns, but of course for every rags-to-riches story there are millions of rags-to-rags-to-rags-again stories that aren’t publicised. Hence, again, one side of the political spectrum is at an inherent advantage to the other.
Furthermore, there is the inevitable problem of a lack of understanding about the extent of income inequality leading to a lack of drive to sort out the problem, which in turn causes inequality to carry on slipping towards, in extreme cases, third-world levels. America is the most economically unequal industrialized society2, and without serious intervention, this could worsen to a situation whereby America is known for being as economically unequal and immobile as many of the most corrupt developing countries in the world. If nothing else provides sufficient incentive to take action, the threat of losing a reputation as a free and democratic society with equal opportunity for all should be enough for any country to want to lessen economic inequality.

High levels of income and economic inequality within a country correlate with high levels of political violence. The precise nature of political violence is subject to a significant lack of consensus amongst those studying it, generally because of the ambiguities suggested by the term- is it a positive or negative occurrence? What counts as violent? Indeed, what counts as political?16 For the purposes of the analysis of the economic inequality/political violence nexus, political violence can be described as violence outside of state control that is politically motivated. This includes revolutions, civil war, riots and strikes but excludes crime and warfare17. Although a myriad of other factors means that “uncomfortable ambiguity prevails with regard to the relationship between income inequality and political violence”18, the link seems to have been steadfast for centuries. Whether we take the succession of European revolutions that occurred throughout the late 1840s as our example, or the more recent Arab Spring uprisings throughout the Middle East, it seems that less egalitarian societies are far more susceptible to political upheaval by the citizens. This is a hypothesis that has been theorized and developed greatly by political philosophers and scientists, which is arguably a reason in itself to consider the link substantial and relevant19.

Relative deprivation theory is a sociological view of social movement, in which people take action for social change with the aim of acquiring something- wealth, status, opportunity- that others have and that they believe they should also acquire. The theory proposes that it is people’s evaluations of what others have, and what they believe they should possess, that stimulates them to join social movements20. Advocates of relative deprivation argue that “relative deprivation is considered to be the necessary precondition for civil strife of any kind”21. Economic inequality almost guarantees relative deprivation. Citizens may take a “utilitarian justification” approach to taking violent action, in which they feel economic inequality is severe enough to justify violence and that this is the only effective way of achieving emancipation from economic and political restrictions18. Hence, if this relative deprivation leads to civil strife in the form of political violence, we have an undeniably political issue that has stemmed directly from the unequal allocation of income and resources.

The Marxist theory of rebellion also argues that economic inequality is prerequisite for revolution. Marx maintained that economic exploitation (“the expropriation of surplus value by capitalists from workers”) leads to immiseration of the proletariat class, which in turn increases the likelihood that impoverished workers will violently challenge the state22. Class polarization in more developed countries has receded since Marx’s time; but this does not render the theory completely obsolete. Although macroeconomic policies that attempt to redistribute incomes and the introduction of the welfare state has reduced the chances of those on lower incomes staging a form of revolution3, the principal can be demonstrated through the example of civil service and public sector cuts. When the UK government implemented austerity cuts leading to pension cutbacks and pay changes amongst NHS staff and teachers from 2010, it led to a series of strikes and demonstrations that illustrated the discontent felt by those affected23, 24.Whether or not the policies were justified is irrelevant here: what is clear to see is that those who felt they were being underpaid, had received a worsening of conditions, or were worried about their economic situation, carried out action to show these concerns. We can see here perhaps a combination of relative deprivation and the Marxist theory of rebellion, admittedly watered-down and not carried out by the capitalists who were the anathema of Marx.

In a democratic and relatively peaceful country such as the UK, strikes and peaceful protests are generally the parameters of potential political action. In more economically unequal countries, political violence can take a more damaging and extreme form. Coups, terrorism and other methods of showing political aggravation can be highly impacting for both governments and those who are governed. Political instability goes hand in hand with economic instability: a government struggling at the hands of political violence cannot effectively control an economy25. Here, then, we have another of the numerous vicious circles that apply when discussing economic inequality: the element of inequality leads to political instability and violence, which intensifies and aggravates the economy of that country, leading inexorably to a worsening of the situation of economic inequality. A worsening of the economy is not the only result of political violence. A diminished role on the world stage is inevitable: if a state cannot maintain peace within its own borders, it is unreasonable to expect it to be able to assist in maintaining and promoting international peace.

There are some counter-arguments to the proposal that economic inequality is the driving force behind political violence. It has been hypothesized, for example, that political conflict is inevitable because the factors that contribute to it are inherent in all societies26. However, this can be countered with the idea that if political conflict happens in all societies, this simply means we are yet to find a societal model that does not lead to unacceptably high levels of economic inequality. If poverty exists, the society is too unequal- we shouldn’t accept economic inequality leading to political violence as something inherent, but learn and develop each system we live in to find a better solution. Democracies are generally considered the fairest format for the running of a state. But they are by no means perfect, and the future will mean a development and refinement of the way we carry out politics27. Hopefully this evolution of society will create global systems that promote the reduction of economic inequality.

Politics, politicians and policies are the only way, globally and domestically, we can tackle rising levels of inequality that are damaging prosperity and political processes. Reducing inequality not only reduces political problems, it can bring huge political benefits. Politicians are the people with the potential to develop individual countries, and the world as a whole, to become a fairer and more economically equal community.

The favoured argument against economic inequality being a problem, trickle-down economics, is deeply flawed- it is an illusion. Trickle-down economics proposes that when those at the top of the economic pile have more wealth and income, this ‘trickles down’ to those in lower income quintiles through the creation of new jobs and the general expansion of the economy28. At least in America, despite fairly consistent positive economic growth over the past few decades, income increases have almost only benefited the top 1%. Incomes of the middle and lower earners have fallen whilst the incomes of those at the very top have risen hugely29. This is not the fault of those workers who are in the middle and the bottom. Low earners, especially those at the very lowest income quintile, are often stigmatised for not working hard enough or not trying harder to find a superior job. Economists and psychologists have worked together to show that “living under scarcity often leads to choices that exacerbate the conditions of scarcity...The stress of not having enough money...impair[s] the ability to take decisions that would help alleviate the situation”3. An example would be the decision not to vote; an action that could potentially help “alleviate” the situation of deprivation. This highlights the crucial role of social welfare and progressive, redistributive taxes in our societies.

Progressive taxation is a form of tax in which, as income rises, a higher proportion of that income is taxed5. The advocates of minimising progressive taxation argue it has a disincentive effect on workers, by discouraging them from wanting to become more productive and earn more. However, when the data is analysed, this viewpoint fails to hold credibility. Under American President Carter, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. This fell to just 28% under the Reagan administration30. Reagan justified this by claiming that tax revenues would increase as there would be higher incentive to increase income. In reality, tax revenues fell drastically and the budget deficit increased3. Progressive taxation correlates with stable levels of economic growth, showing that decreasing economic inequality through redistribution, and having an expanding economy, are not incompatible31. Brazil has been striving to reduce economic inequality through both progressive taxation and increased welfare programs to lower hunger and poverty. Brazil’s economy has grown exponentially, and although it is still a highly unequal society, it proves that concerted efforts by government can make an effective change without jeopardising economic growth32. In fact, lower inequality will mean a more productive workforce, more capable of providing the economic growth coveted by governments and economies. Poorer workers who are able to afford health care due to lower taxes will be able to spend more time at work, because they are not ill. This could partially explain why the United Kingdom hasn’t fallen quite as far into the trap of inequality as America has: the National Health Service provides free health care treatment for all, meaning that poorer citizens do not have to worry financially about falling ill or injuring themselves. Easier access to healthcare achieved through a more egalitarian society will lead to a healthier and happier population. This in turn could have a positive effect on the aforementioned problem of political disillusionment, illiteracy and disinterest. Healthier, happier, more fairly paid people are more likely to want to participate in elections and campaigns.

Progressive taxation and a rigorous system of social security are key policies that need to be implemented to tackle economic inequality. But other efficacious measures can also be taken by governments. The use of GDP- Gross Domestic Product- as a key indicator of economic strength is a decision that could be changed politically. GDP measures the total output of an economy: all goods and services produced and bought5. Although using GDP has its strengths, the weaknesses are many, notably that GDP misrepresents economic inequality. GDP could be increasing, yet the vast majority of a country’s citizens could not be experiencing any benefits- they could even be worse off3. Other disparities are also not reflected in GDP; for example, levels of education, how pleasant the environment is, and the level of healthcare provision in a country. GDP figures allow politicians and people to ignore inequality. Therefore, inequality will continue and worsen if GDP continues to be the primary measure of economic success, because it contributes to the aforementioned skewed perceptions of economic inequality that are so harmful for attempts at reducing it. Perhaps an international move towards using the Gini coefficient of a country to rate economic prosperity would trigger global stimulation to reduce inequality. Although this is unlikely in a market-driven, globalised world, it is not an idea completely incompatible with current political and economic setup. It would certainly ensure a more humanitarian attitude across international politics; an attitude that few could deny would be welcome.

Ensuring thorough anti-discrimination acts, on all bases- gender, race, class, sexuality and so on- will help to promote a culture of equality and this will help to publicly support the reduction in economic inequality that is so needed. It is against the democratic values of equality of opportunity to discriminate on any grounds, including economically. Some may argue that it is flawed morals that leads to economic inequality- people should just be more charitable. They should, but creating a global culture whereby this is the norm rather than the exception is a truly political task.

Politics is about organising an effective community. ‘Effective’ is subject to interpretation, but the belief that this means equal opportunity, democratic values, and above all social mobility is key. Some degree of wealth inequality is both inevitable and not a significant political problem. To some extent, it can act as a stimulus for mobility. But high levels of economic inequality bring huge problems to countries globally: the breakdown of political systems, political violence, and discontent amongst significant proportions of the population. The corollary here is that significant economic inequality is incompatible with running an effective community, in which all have an equal opportunity to prosper. Politics both suffers the symptoms and can provide the cure; we just need to cultivate the drive and ambition necessary to reduce economic inequality and channel it into political strategies. Economic inequality is an inextricably political issue with inextricably political approaches, as the titular message of political scientist Harold Lasswell’s book so eloquently summarises- Politics: Who Gets What, When, How33.


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Lasswell, H. (1936). Politics: Who Gets What, When, How. New York: Cleveland.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Stop Setting Your Power Fantasies in World War One

by Robert Merriam




Two months ago the first trailer for  next year’s ‘Wonder Woman’ film came out and it looks alright. I’m all for a ‘Wonder Woman’ movie because as a character she’s much less of a blank slate than many other superheroes; many may champion the film as a feminist work simply because it contains a female protagonist but feminism is woven deep into Wonder Woman’s DNA. Her creator: William Moulton Marston invented Wonder Woman in 1940  right after was done inventing the lie detector (no really). Marston was vocal about his belief in the potential of comic books and as a result was given the opportunity to create his own superhero by DC comics.

Marston, through intensive study of all female communities (because why not), concluded that women were the superior gender but that due to the time and effort required for child rearing and domestic work they were held back from their true potential. His two wives agreed. He claimed however that, given the advance of technology, women would soon be free of this burden and would rise to their rightful place as rulers of humaity. Just so we’re clear this was in the 1920s, white women had just received the vote in the USA so it’s safe to say Marston and Wonder Woman were both way ahead of their time. Wonder Woman herself is akin to Captain America in the way she so clearly resembles an ideology, just as Captain America is an embodiment of ‘greatest generation’ America, Wonder Woman is basically radical-cultural feminism incarnate. This gives stories containing her almost limitless potential to explore some really interesting themes.

It’s all the more unfortunate then that I currently have absolutely no interest in paying to see the new Wonder Woman film. The fact is I don’t want to see a superhero film set in the First World War. This might seem like an odd stance to take but I think it’s well founded. I believe the filmakers have made a serious (perhaps very American) mistake with regards to the interchangeability of the First and Second World Wars. World War Two has occupied a massive space in pop-culture ever since it began, countless films, TV shows, books, video games and comic books (including Wonder Woman’s first) have been created as propaganda, as Historical accounts and often as entertainment.

The suitibility of any tragedy for adaptation into an entertainment medium is debatable but European Theatre World War Two tends to be deemed more acceptable than others on the basis of who the enemy was at the time. It’s pretty hard to argue that the Nazi regime was anything but evil which is probably why most people don’t have any trouble witholding empathy when Brad Pitt scalps one of it’s members in ‘Inglorious Basterds’ or Indiana Jones melts their faces off. It’s questionable whether or not this kind of demonisation is healthy for our society but that’s a topic for another day.

What Went Wrong and What’s Next for Hampshire Cricket?

by Oliver Wright



Hampshire CC has been relegated from County Championship Division One after suffering a 6-wicket loss against Durham. This failure, accompanied with their not qualifying for the latter stages in the limited overs competitions, capped off a fairly dismal all-round season for Hampshire. However, Director of Cricket Giles White has stated that he believes his team can battle back next season in Division Two, and that there are still a number of positives to look forward to.

The defeat to Durham ended their slim hopes of survival, which were slightly encouraged by Warwickshire’s beating of Lancashire at Edgbaston. Hampshire had left themselves in a strong position on the final day, and with a win being the only result that would preserve the hosts’ tenure in the top tier, they declared in the morning session, setting the strong Durham unit a target of 296 to be chased down in a minimum of 78 overs. Unfortunately, a second-wicket stand of 162 between Mark Stoneman (137) and Scott Borthwick (88) cemented Hampshire’s fate, leaving the squad to contemplate a season that yielded only two wins in the longer format.

This disheartening campaign could in part be blamed on a plague of injuries and absences that have affected the county. Opening batsman Michael Carberry being diagnosed with cancer and Coach Dale Benkenstein having to leave the club due to family reasons were just some of the problems Hampshire faced in 2016. Furthermore, Captain James Vince and all-rounder Liam Dawson were away on international duty at different points over the summer, and, although it is brilliant to see our young players progress to play at higher standards, the absence of these key members of the team was felt, with White commenting that when a league is as competitive as the County Championship was this season, ‘the amount of injuries we’ve had would stretch us, whatever squad size we might have.’

However, every team in the Division has to cope with situations like this on a yearly basis, with injuries just being a by-product of a busy schedule. In all, you could argue that Hampshire simply did not have enough strength in depth for the top division, as this was the second consecutive season they had needed a win off the final day to survive. In 2015 they managed to pull off an improbable escape, and although they battled hard to repeat these heroics this year, the urgency came to their performances far too late. It was almost like they did not realise the danger until it was virtually inescapable, as the better of their performances came in the latter part of the season.

PGS Open Morning: The Big Bang!

by Tony Hicks



Saturday, 24 September 2016

England’s Resurgence In ODI Cricket

by Monideep Ghosh

Traditionally, English cricket has predominantly been dominated by success in the longer format in the form of test cricket; producing greats such as Graham Gooch, Alastair Cook and Alec Stewart. However, ODI cricket has always presented constant failure with no World Cup ever won despite hosted four of them and only a sole twenty twenty victory which was primarily due to an Australian side plagued with injuries hence resulting in a lacklustre performance. Despite this abysmal history, in the last twelve months after the disastrous World Cup campaign in Australia/New Zealand, England have proved themselves as the team to beat in this format after scripting phenomenal performances consistently against top nations in a variety of tough conditions thus suggesting to many that this possibly the greatest one day team England have fielding their history. The sudden change is due to a variety of reasons from the development of attacking mindsets to the introduction of individual superstars.

Joe Root. In the main, England's spectacular upturn has been built on a batting line-up that is as destructive, dynamic and boundary-hungry as any other on the planet. But, the rock coming in at the crucial number 3 is Root who has amassed 796 runs in 2016 alone at a very impressive average of 61.23 coupled with an equally sensational strike rate of 91. Due to the aggressive style of the openers Root has often had to come in early on in the innings and rarely disappoints by preserving his wicket while rotating the strike effectively and hitting the big boundaries towards the latter stages of the innings. The twenty five year old also chases magnificently as well as consolidating innings to allow the big hitters later on in the innings to express themselves and hence propelling England to an above par score. That being said, Root does also have a very vast attacking game with many different innovation which was purely demonstrated in his match winning innings of 83 of 44 balls which included 6 fours and 4 sixes and aided England to a world record chase of South Africa’s 229 in the recently concluded ICC Wt20 in India. An England side without Joe Root would struggle against world class bowling lineups and batting on difficult pitches- his value to this England ODI team is incomprehensible.

Jos Buttler has been in scintillating form in the last calendar year which has resulted in him brutally finishing off innings with a flurry of boundaries enabling England to score unreachable totals as well as chasing scores that would've been out of reach years ago. England have in the past lacked a middle order batsman that could really go through the gears and finish an innings off on a regular basis and with Buttler they have found a genuine ODI finisher as well as an excellent wicket keeper which only builds on his outstanding contribution to the team. In terms of statistics, in the last year the twenty six year old has bludgeoned 605 runs at 67.22 at a swashbuckling strike rate of 139.40. In the MS Dhoni mould, the Somerset born wicketkeeper has transformed how English cricket is viewed by his repertoire of shots as he can play 360 degrees round the wicket which is completely unheard of when associating shot selection with England.