Archive for the 'Social Capital' Category


The IK economy, trust, and integrating institutions designed for community safety

The 7:30 report conveyed a story (found here) about incorporating traditional methods of dispute resolution for the purpose of mediating a dispute between residents of a community and Police.  I participated in a similiar program some years back (designed for leadership/youth purposes) and was struck by its potential.  It led me to consider the importance of the IK economy and the nature of social capital.

It appears that the program reported in the story has been successful in building the stocks of trust between residents and the Police force.  More research/analysis would be needed to prove this point, but there is little doubt that this particular program was an option leading to this aim in circumstances where alternative options are limited.

More over the fold.

Continue reading ‘The IK economy, trust, and integrating institutions designed for community safety’


An educational fund negotiated from land rights

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has proposed a new way of conducting land rights negotiations:

If the landowners [north-west of the Territory] are prepared to establish an educational trust fund, which benefits children across the region and allocate at least 90 per cent of the projected benefits into the fund, the Australian Government will match them dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $10 million.

I posted a comment about this policy in November last year, located here.

During its first year of governance if the new Federal government can demonstrate a policy paradigm shift in this direction then it will be an important achievement. 

The potential benefits include: 

  • It can reduce the need for dependance of governments.  Funds and trusts have the capacity to generate new wealth where the interest gained is put towards opportunity (as opposed to regular deducations from the taxation pool);
  • by reducing dependence of governments the policy can influence political capital.  Reducing dependence of government expenditure helps diffuse a sense of division that results from over-stretching affirmative action and positive discrimination programs.  The proposed fund is a result of land rights negotiations.  Australians are generally comfortable with the fact that indigenous peoples have distinct rights to land but there is division as to the application of government-sponsored policies that divide on the basis of race.  This policy helps placate that division.  Electors also want to see more positive outcomes resulting from land rights negotiations.

This policy binds the nominal left’s ideals of positive value of identity, the emphasis of education and the nominal right’s ideals of economic responsibility and contemporary notions of equality.


Pearson, Steele & Obama

In December last year I posted here in reference to a review of Shelby Steele’s book, A Bound Man

Noel Pearson’s essay in the Monthly offers an intriguing analysis of Steele’s insight into contemporary race relations in America.  There are several compelling paragraphs that refer to responsibility, opportunity, and how uplift occurs in dominant-minority populations.  After reading the essay I was disappointed at what I saw as deficiencies in Pearson’s core argument.

Pearson argues that Obama has not pursued strongly enough the radical centre that integrates core notions (or a contemporary understanding) of responsibility.  Pearson contends that Obama should ‘radically revise’ his account of such issues at the Democratic National Convention in August.   

Obama is being misrepresented.  My observations are that he has pursued the radical centre by offering a style of politics that is untested at the national level in the United States.  This necessarily involves merging notions of opportunity (that inevitably give rise to questions of race and equality) and responsibility.  Promoting notions of ‘black responsibility’ (as Pearson refers) is why Obama has been able to attract such strong support amongst the African-American Democratic base, many independents and a number of Republicans (this strategy is more difficult to pursuit for a non-African-American candidate). 

Pearson holds that ‘the main shortcoming of Obama’s philosophy is that he does not recognise, as Steele has, that the nature of black Americans struggle changed fundamentally after the civil rights victories of the ‘60s’.  A reading of a number of Obama’s work, whether it is his original Dreams of my Father or The Audacity of Hope, or a number of speeches would reveal that he does.   

Pearson goes on to say:

Shelby Steele writes in A Bound Man: ‘despite the fact that Obama clearly seems to accept the importance of individual responsibility in social reform…he offers no thinking on how to build incentives to responsibility into actual social policy.’  There is time enough for Obama to correct his analysis and to move beyond the critical shortcomings of his Philadelphia speech. 

Obama’s work contradicts this assertion.  In The Audacity of Hope, Obama explains that affirmative action policies post 1960s have not displaced the primacy of responsibility amongst the uplifting black middle class.  He notes the true feelings of resentment felt by those excluded from affirmative action.  Obama argues that because it is the responsibility-uplifting paradigm (combined with the removal of institutional racism) that has served to enlarge the black middle class it is the failed complimentary policy, affirmative action, which has compounded the dilemma. 

Continued over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Pearson, Steele & Obama’


Alice Springs hospital presentations resulting from stab wounds

The PM program (found here) has reported a significant drop in stab-wound related presentations to Alice Springs hospital.  The comments from Dr Jacob Ollapallil, head of surgery, are remarkable.  The cost benefits must be significant, not to mention the emotional and other health related problems that have been diverted. 

Because of the extent of reform across a broad range of policy areas it would be difficult to ascertain the direct source of this reduction.  The assertion that it is attributed more or less to alcohol restrictions is a difficult claim to substantiate.  Other reforms such as welfare quarantining and the response at the bonding social capital level as a result of the intervention are other crucial factors.  With the impending review those measures that will be seen to be successful should be strengthened.  On the information before me I’m yet to be convinced that furthering alcohol restrictions is effective in the present policy circumstance.   

Having said that the report from the PM program is cause to be optimistic.  They are preliminary results but what has been demonstrated is that a significant and positive shift can occur within the space of a relatively short period of time (at least in the policy sense).


A current of vibrant and healthy debate

The Australian Parliament consists of 76 Senators and 150 House of Representative members.  Aboriginal people comprise 2.6% of the overall population.  If this figure was translated to our Parliament it would account for 2 Senators and 4 MHRs. 

The recent election resulted in 0 Aboriginal Parliamentarians in both houses.

My views over the fold.

Continue reading ‘A current of vibrant and healthy debate’


Three foundations of development

Recently I posted in reference to a speech by the Secretary to the Treasurer, Dr Ken Henry. 

Dr Henry states that development is underpinned by three foundations: (1) positive incentives; (2) human capital; and (3) engagement of local people to the design of policy.  These are three seperate but inter-dependent foundations.

My views are over the fold.

Continue reading ‘Three foundations of development’


Economists and the social signals of productivity

The Cape York Institute has made available online a collection of papers presented at the recent ‘Strong Foundations’ conference. 

The Secretary to the Treasurer, Dr Ken Henry, gave an interesting speech, located here.  Reading the speech I’ve noticed how economists have played a more influential role in the last decade in relation to formulating development policy, at least in the international context.  Despite this there appears to be a substantial gap in how they might otherwise assist.        

  Continue reading ‘Economists and the social signals of productivity’

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