Human Development in Turkey

More sad news for Turkey. The United Nations Development Programme released its latest global report last week, placing Turkey 71st out of 188 countries on its Human Development Index. “71st! How bad is that!” I thought.

But then I looked a little closer. The first thing I noticed was that Turkey had actually moved up one place from the previous year. In fact, from 1990 to 2015, the country’s HDI value had increased by more than 33%.

The UN uses three factors to determine its HDI value: Life expectancy at birth; expected years of schooling and mean (average) years of schooling; and per capita Gross National Product. Over that period since 1990, life expectancy had increased by 11.2 years. Average years of schooling had increased by 3.7 years. Per capita GNP increased by 78.2%.

slaves_of_dubia_coverIt is also important to recognise that, as a country moves higher up the rankings, it becomes increasingly difficult to overtake those ahead on the list. The top five countries are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. The USA ranks 11th, and the United Kingdom, 16th; Japan is in 17th place, and Finland, 23rd. Even if Turkey’s standards improve markedly, how is it possible to overtake countries that have such a head start? Turkey is, however, well placed in the second category of countries, labelled as having “High Human Development”, its HDI index placing it in the upper half of this group.

Then there are other countries ahead of Turkey on the list whose high rankings are open to question. How does Greece, for example, with its economy in tatters, manage to slot in at number 29? Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have healthy rankings of 39 and 42 respectively, yet many of their residents are poorly-paid migrant workers, without the benefits of citizenship and, one assumes, not counted for statistical purposes.

Kazakhstan (57), Cuba (68) and Iran (69) all have higher rankings than Turkey – which makes me wonder how much credence I can give to the UN report.

I suspect that few people will actually read the report’s 288 pages. Most likely, those in countries at the higher end of the list will wallow in unjustified complacency. One point the report writers make is that average figures can hide wide discrepancies in internal standards. This is a concern in developed countries,” they say, “where poverty and exclusion are also a challenge, with over 300 million people – including more than one-third of all children – living in relative poverty.” This is undoubtedly true in New Zealand, despite its HDI ranking of 13.

one+percent_vectorized“Legal and political institutions can be used and abused to perpetuate group divisions,” the report says. It cites the LGBTI demographic as an example – but what about the broader situation in the United States, where Wall Street financiers buy political influence with professional lobbyists, and 45% of eligible voters do not even bother to participate in presidential elections?

“The top 1 percent of the global wealth distribution holds 46 percent of the world’s wealth.” Well, we knew that. So what does that mean in reality? Those Western First World countries may have high per capita GNPs, but clearly the average figure is distorted by a small number of multi-billionaires. Far more than half of their population exists well below that per capita average GNP.

The report goes on to make a number of recommendations which, sad to say, are unlikely to receive much serious consideration in the corridors of global power:

“Measures are needed to strengthen strategies that protect the rights of and promote the opportunities for migrants, to establish a global mechanism to coordinate economic (voluntary) migration and to facilitate guaranteed asylum for forcibly displaced people.” Can you see the Saudi royals or those United Arab emirs taking much interest in rights and opportunities for those indentured labourers from Asia and Africa who do most of the unskilled work? As for rich countries in Europe “facilitating guaranteed asylum for forcibly displaced people” from Syria, for example – Dream on!

“Accountability is central to ensuring that human development reaches everyone, especially in protecting the rights of those excluded. One major instrument for ensuring accountability of social institutions is the right to information.” The people at Wikileaks are doing their best here – but it’s also clear that Western governments have little interest in transparency, and deal harshly with whistleblowers who challenge their right to withhold information.

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Work harder, and you too can have one of these 😉

Sustainable development activities at the national level must be complemented with global actions. Curbing global warming is possible. Continuing advocacy and communication on the need to address climate change and protect the environment are essential.” It may be possible – but to me it seems that the forces of conservative capitalism are working to undo most of the progress that had been made in protecting the fragile ecosystem of Planet Earth.

“Reforms should focus on regulating currency transactions and capital flows and coordinating macroeconomic policies and regulations. One option is a multilateral tax on cross-border transactions; another is the use of capital controls by individual countries. To move towards a fairer global system, the agenda for global institutional reforms should focus on global markets and their regulation, on the governance of multilateral institutions and on the strengthening of global civil society.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for Wall Street and the puppeteers of global finance to “regulate currency transactions and capital flows” and “move towards a fairer global system”.

Once again we see the need to view all published statistics with a healthy measure of scepticism.

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Of Tennis, Politics and Freedom of the Press

I’m a tennis fan, though I don’t write much about it. I don’t watch a lot of TV either, but I do enjoy a match between top-level players. For some years now my favourite player has been Spain’s Rafael Nadal – and not merely because he’s left-handed. I was impressed from the moment he burst on the scene at the French Open as an 18 year-old in a sleeveless shirt and long bermuda shorts.

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Rafa hugs Uncle Toni after winning Wimbledon, 2012

I appreciate his gentlemanly conduct on and off court – his magnanimity in victory, and more recently, his graciousness in defeat. I admire the way he works on his weaknesses: learning English good enough to deal with even the most inane questions of the press gallery; and coming back with a more powerful service after realising his game needed it. After a lengthy period of illness and injury where Nadal saw his world ranking drop from 1st to 8th, he appears to have come back to his winning ways. In an age where mega-rich tennis stars pay for an army of coaches and support staff, and change them regularly, Rafa has stuck with his Uncle Toni through thick and thin.

So I am totally on his side as he brings a defamation lawsuit against former French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot who apparently accused the Spanish star of covering up a failed drug test.

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Who can know? But he looks honest to me

Nadal was quoted as saying, “Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career.”

“I also wish to prevent any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation.”

And isn’t he right? Mme Bachelot is apparently now a television show host, so I guess the question of press freedom arises here.

Well, I want you to know that I am a firm supporter of freedom in all its forms. The fact that I occasionally express contentious opinions on this blog must be evidence of this. However, it seems to me there must be limits to freedom of speech – and of course there are. All civilized countries have laws of libel and defamation. Clearly the issue of doping is crucial to a sportsperson’s ability to pursue his or her career. No one has the right to jeopardise that without indisputable evidence to support their accusation.

Surely the same is true for political leaders. I may think that the prime minister of my country is corrupt, a liar and a murderer; but if I come out in public and accuse him or her of these crimes – or bestiality and paedophilia, I’d better be prepared to front up in court and substantiate my claims, or face the consequences.

And no anonymous bunch of pseudo-leftist puppets calling themselves ‘Reporters Without Borders’ will convince me otherwise.

A Modest Proposal – With an acknowledgement to Jonathan Swift

I just came across this fascinating news item in The Guardian:

Child survivors of Nepal earthquake ‘being sold’ in the UK

Theresa May urges police investigation after the Sun reports that Nepalese and Indian children are being sold to British families as domestic slaves

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Nepalese children en route to a better life in Europe

The home secretary Theresa May has urged police to investigate claims that child survivors of the Nepal earthquake and other vulnerable children are being sold to British families to work as domestic slaves.

An investigation by the Sun newspaper suggests that boys and girls as young as 10 are being sold for just £5,300 by black market gangs operating in India’s state of Punjab.

The paper says the gangs are preying on the children of Nepalese refugees, as well as destitute Indian families.

May called child trafficking a “truly abhorrent crime” and urged the National Crime Agency to investigate the newspaper’s findings. She said the paper should “share its disturbing findings” with the agency, “so that appropriate action can be taken against the vile criminals who profit from this trade”.

According to the Sun’s report, which appears on the front of Monday’s print edition, the desperate children are being sold to wealthy British families to be used as unpaid domestic servants.

It reports that a trader it names as Makkhan Singh lined up children for its undercover reporter to pick from and said: “We have supplied lads who have gone on to the UK.

“Most of the ones who are taken to England are Nepalese.

“For the supply of a boy, minimum 500,000 rupees [£5,300]. Then you will have other costs associated with taking him to the UK, but that’s your responsibility extra to what you pay us.

“Take a Nepalese to England. They are good people. They are good at doing all the housework and they’re very good cooks. No one is going to come after you.”

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April last year, killing almost 9,000 people and leaving millions in need of aid.

In the light of this report, it may be that Turkey is going about dealing with its refugee crisis in entirely the wrong way. Clearly appealing to the better nature of Europeans is not working. The fact is, they are not interested in sharing their wealth with displaced persons from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. In fact European Union authorities have begun sending back to Turkey asylum-seekers who had already managed to reach Greece.

It does seem, however, that there is a ready demand in wealthy European homes for unpaid servants to do work that their own citizens expect a living wage for. And they are prepared to pay at least £5,000 per head.

Well, Turkey is currently suffering economically on a number of fronts, and prospects are not good, with another tourist season approaching. On the other hand, there are now reportedly 2.6 million Syrian refugees severely stretching the country’s resources.

Obviously they would need to be careful not to flood the market, which would have a depressing effect on prices – but a government-sponsored programme to provide a regulated flow of Syrian servants to the United Kingdom’s moneyed classes could be just what Turkey needs to make up a shortfall in its current account deficit. 200 Syrians at £5,000 each means an income of £1,000,000 – not to be sneezed at! And who’s to say that wealthy Germans, Scandinavians, Luxemburgians and whatnot wouldn’t follow the English lead?

I expect President Erdoğan will be looking into it as soon as he gets back from his American trip.

What’s Wrong with the World? Let me remind you!

Browsing around the online news today, I came across this headline:

These three people created more wealth than 99% of the world

Well, that’s great, I thought. I wonder who these altruistic magicians are that are actually creating wealth. No doubt it’ll make the world a better place, as it trickles down to the rest of us.

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So, where do you fit in?

Turned out, however, that it was just the usual three guys – and they’re not actually creating wealth – just hogging vast mega-tankerloads of the world’s limited supply for themselves and their families:

“Warren Buffett is the third richest person in the world and is valued at over 72 billion dollars. Buffett is now worth billions and is a testament to the concept that anyone could be rich if they put their mind to it.

Carlos Slim Helu is worth over 77 billion dollars and shares most of that wealth with his family. Slim is a very private man though is rumored to be very kind. He shares his wealth and net worth with his family and makes meaningful uses of it all. Slim is a testament to the importance of keeping trustworthy family values in tow and remembering that it doesn’t matter where you come from. If you’re savvy enough – you can be a billionaire.

Bill Gates is currently the richest man in the world and is valued at 79.2 billion dollars.

These men show the rest of us that even with limited resources, we have what it takes to be billionaires. So go out there and take chances!”

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And guess who’s got ten times as many as the rest of the world put together?

Yep, go ahead, do it, and see where it gets you. The headline might have more truthfully read: These three graspers control more wealth than 99% of the world

Anyway, while on the subject, I thought I’d check around and see if I could confirm just how enormous the wealth gap is. Howstuffworks.com told me this:

“According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans control 35.6 percent of the total wealth of the country. Even more incredible is that the richest 10 percent of Americans control 75 percent of the wealth, leaving only 25 percent to the other 90 percent of Americans.”

And that’s just Americans. Factor in the rest of the world and see how it pans out!

In addition to that, Inequality.org presented this nice little bunch of stats:

  • The 400 wealthiest individuals on the Forbes 400 list have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans.
  • In 2010, 25 of the 100 largest U.S. companies paid their CEO more than they paid in U.S. taxes. This is largely because corporations in the global 1 percent use off shore tax havens to dodge their U.S. taxes.
  • Between 1983 and 2009, over 40 percent of all wealth gains flowed to the 1 percent and 82 percent of wealth gains went to the top 5 percent. The bottom 60 percent lost wealth over this same period.
  • The world’s 1 percent, almost entirely billionaires, own $42.7 trillion dollars, more than the bottom 3 billion residents of earth.
  • Between 2001 and 2010, the United States borrowed over $1 trillion to give wealthy taxpayers with incomes over $250,000 substantial tax breaks, including the 2001 Bush era tax cuts.
  • The 99 percent has seen their national share of income decline from 91 percent in 1976 to 79 percent in 2010. The share of wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent declined from 19.1 percent in 1962 to 12.8 percent in 2009.
  • The median net worth of white households in 2009 was $113,149, over 20 times the median net worth of African American households ($5,677) and 18 times that of Hispanic households ($6,325).
  • In 2010, average CEO pay for an S&P 500 company was $10.8 million, a 27 percent increase over 2009. The gap between CEO and average U.S. worker pay is 325 to 1, up from 42 to 1 in 1980.
  • The corporate 1 percent dominates the lobbying for federal and state policies. In the last 30 years, the ranks of official lobbyists have exploded. In 1970, there were 5 registered lobbyists for every one of the 535 members of Congress. Today there are 22 lobbyists for every member.”

The UK’s Guardian, as you might expect, had a more global outlook:

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Be patient, folks – it’s trickling down

“Global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population, according to a new report by Credit Suisse.

383 million adults – 8% of the population – have wealth of more than $100,000. This number includes about 34 million US dollar millionaires. About 123,800 individuals of these have more than $50 million, and nearly 45,000 have more than $100 million.

The Credit Suisse report said: “Wealth inequality has continued to increase since 2008, with the top percentile of wealth holders now owning 50.4% of all household wealth.”

At the start of 2015, Oxfam had warned that 1% of the world’s population would own more wealth than the other 99% by next year. Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said: “The fact it has happened a year early – just weeks after world leaders agreed a global goal to reduce inequality – shows just how urgently world leaders need to tackle this problem.”

The only consolation I got from all this was that page about the three “wealth-creators” was full of ads for prostitutes and treatments for “penile dysfunction” – so it seems those guys still have their problems.

The Grass is Always Greener

I get a little tired of hearing middle class Turks complaining about democracy in their country – and reading all the negative stuff published in international media. I came across this little piece in The Guardian over the weekend.

Well, you could argue, I suppose, that the Italian justice system obviates the need for wife-beating . . . but I dunno . . . .

ITALY BERLUSCONI'S WIFE

 

‘An Italian woman could face up to six years in jail after her husband accused her of not doing enough cooking and cleaning.

‘Her husband made a complaint to the paramilitary Carabinieri police, saying his wife was slovenly, failed to put meals on the table and left their home in a dreadful mess.

‘Judicial authorities sent the matter to trial. The 42-year-old wife faces 
up to six years in prison if found guilty of “mistreatment within the


family”. The crime, article 572 in the Italian penal code, “punishes whoever mistreats a person in their family or a person entrusted to them for education, care or custody”.’

2015 in review

Wishing you a Happy New Year for 2016 – with perhaps just a little more peace and goodwill amongst men. Anyway, we know it’s the men who are causing most of the problems 😉

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The 161 Bankers Who Run the World

Well, it’s not directly about Turkey – but it does concern all of us everywhere, because not much happens anywhere in the world that isn’t more or less influenced by these characters.

The Most Revolutionary Act

In following video, Peter Phillips from Project Censored lays out exactly how the richest one-thousandth of 1% maintain iron control over all world governments.

He cites a study Project Censored published in their Top 25 Censored Stories of 2012-2013 edition of the world’s most “integrated”* corporations and those with the largest financial asset concentration.

Unsurprisingly, there’s considerable overlap between the two groups.

The 161 board members of the top 13 companies control $28 trillion of wealth. They also help the 1% hide another $30 trillion offshore so it can’t be taxed.

They’re 88% white (and nearly all male) and 63% come from the US or Europe.

They work with secret (and not so secret) groups, such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, the Bohemian Grove, the World Economic Forum, the G7, the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to ensure that…

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