Can redistributing dollars work?
The past several years have seen an uptick in books warning that growing economic disparity in rich countries is a major and immediate concern. From Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats and, especially, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century to Bernie Sanders’s It’s OK to Be Angry about Capitalism, such books argue that rising income gaps and wealth concentration among an increasingly small super-elite are…
How the Sistine Chapel won her over
A few years ago, depressed by COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s presidency, I called an old friend. He is the most optimistic person I know, and I needed cheering up. Unfortunately, he was as despairing as I was. Everything, we agreed, seemed to be falling apart or becoming fodder for bitter partisan fights.
Was there anything, we…
Those loudest voices among us
January | February 2023
With apologies to Steven Pinker, who (correctly) keeps telling us that this is the best time to be alive: it sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes, at least not when we scan the bleak social and political landscape of the past year. But hope we must. In that spirit, the recent mid-term elections in the United States may be a source of some optimism for the…
Our evolving relationship with China
Last December, in an end-of-year interview with Global News, Justin Trudeau said that China has been “very cleverly playing” democratic countries against each other and that the time has come for the West to “do a better job of working together and standing strong so that China can’t . . . play the angles and divide us.”
The prime minister was referring mainly to trade…
Whose social responsibility is it anyway?
It has become next to impossible to speak about business in North America today without talking about corporate social impact. It’s also sometimes called corporate social responsibility; shared value; corporate purpose; environmental, social, and corporate governance; or the triple bottom line. Despite some differences between terms, the basic premise of them all is the same: companies must serve more than their…
Down at the dog park
During the last few months of her long life, we’d still take Scout to the park, where she’d meet up with her friends — Molly, Archie, King, Cooper, Pepper, Auden, Moose, and the rest of the canine crew. By this time, as the old lady of the dog run, she was given a lot of space, whether out of respect…
Maybe the problem with Facebook is us
Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas — only I don’t exactly know what they are!— Lewis Carroll
Is Facebook killing our democratic way of life? If you believe the headlines, it sure is. The Guardian calls the social media giant a “Digital Gangster Destroying Democracy.” The New Yorker…
Reckoning with an empire state of mind
July | August 2020
Let’s start with a hypothetical: It’s early 2022. Countries around the world are beginning to recover from nearly two years of social distancing, illness, and a shocking amount of death. Mass vaccination for COVID‑19 has been under way globally for several months and — gradually, carefully — people are emerging from their isolation to resume a more normal rhythm to their…
It’s adapt or die in the new digital economy
In the fall of 2014, just after UberX launched in Toronto, I asked a cab driver what he thought of the on-demand ride-sharing service. Mishearing “Uber” he asked: “Super? What’s that?”
Fast forward to March 2016, and a different cab but the same question. This time, there was no mistaking Uber for anything else and my driver had plenty to say about it and why the city’s mayor was not stopping the company from destroying his livelihood: “John Tory’s wife owns shares in…