As I write these words at my home in a small Irish town, the shop down the street from me is offering Easter eggs for sale at the price of €2.99, or about twenty minutes work at the legal minimum wage. These milk chocolate eggs are presented in a glossy printed cardboard box, and the egg itself is wrapped in brightly coloured tinfoil. Inside the hollow shell of the egg is even more chocolate, this time in a bar wrapped with colourful paper and more bright tinfoil. The chocolate bar itself contains a sweet, creamy centre that melts delightfully on the tongue.
It’s far too easy to take such a product for granted. Within a mile of my house dozens of shops offer a wide variety of similar chocolate eggs at similar prices, and by Easter there will be few homes in the town where at least one of them hasn’t been eaten. These spring treats are simply the background to the changing seasons, along with the bluebells and the lengthening evenings. Yet each one of them is a miracle. Continue reading “An Easter Market Miracle”
You don’t get more middle class than the median income. That’s the income at which half the country makes more and half make less. Median income is a better reflection of the lives of most people than average income, with which it is often confused. This is because the average income is skewed by the spectacular earnings of those at the very top, which forces it higher. Most people don’t make near the average income, but the median income is right in the middle. 50% of people make more than the median income and 50% make less. You can’t get any nearer to the middle. Continue reading “Meet the Median Family”
It’s an interesting time to be a political and economic news junkie, but also a frightening and confusing time. As I write these words it looks like the arrogant, opportunistic, narcissist and unpredictable Donald Trump is going to be the GOP candidate for President of the United States. His Democratic Party opponent will probably be the most unpopular and distrusted woman in American politics, Hillary Clinton, although she is being strongly challenged by the proud and popular socialist Bernie Sanders – a moderate social democrat from a European perspective, but a left-wing radical in the United States.
This political upheaval isn’t confined to America. In the United Kingdom the traditional, soft-spoken and surprise winner of the Labour Party’s leadership election, staunch socialist Jeremy Corbyn, faces a Tory government across the aisle that is collapsing from internal contradictions. In France Marine Le Pen is rising, in Spain Podemos, in Ireland Sinn Fein, and on and on it goes around Europe. In Canada the fresh and radical Justin Trudeau becomes Prime Minister, in Greece Syriza enter government. Everywhere in the western world every election throws up a surprise, as if the political landscape itself were altering. Electoral surprises happen so frequently they are no longer surprises. It’s as if the rules of the political game are changing. Continue reading “Equitable Capitalism”