The centre holds – for now

A guest post from my friend and colleague Sandra Gordon. Sandra is a respected financial market economist and we increasingly present work as a team in what is often called “a dog and pony show” … although in our case there is some disagreement over who will be the dog and who will be theContinue reading “The centre holds – for now”

Cosatu’s plans for full employment

Cosatu has released its long awaited document in which it provides the facts (as it sees them) and theoretical underpinnings for “A Growth Path Towards Full Employment” – and in doing so attempts to align its views with those emanating from Minister Ebrahim Patel’s Department of Economic Planning (the Two Year Strategic Plan) as wellContinue reading “Cosatu’s plans for full employment”

Sink or swim

Here is the summary of South Africa’s performance in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010 – 2011. The highlights are mine and the seriousness of the problems is obvious.. While we quite rightly bemoan health, education and labour market failures it is interesting to note we were top ranked – in the whole world! – inContinue reading “Sink or swim”

Strike – not as easy as it looks

The news media is full of toyi-toying fat people in red T-shirts blockading hospital gates interspersed with pictures of dead and dying babies. Alternatively the coverage is of other fat people in red T-shirts clutching sticks and whips trundling around, with their fat bottoms swaying, looking for pupils (bravely trying to uplift themselves by continuingContinue reading “Strike – not as easy as it looks”

The new songsheet of the Left

A quick run through documents and press statement emanating from the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party reveals the existence of a new ‘song sheet’ our crimson brethren have devised to help them sing in tune with each other. This is something more than a coordinated set of slogansContinue reading “The new songsheet of the Left”

The State of the Nation nutshell note

I have whipped through the State of the Nation address while Jacob Zuma is just getting started. My initial impression is good, maybe even very good …. but maybe there has just been so much bad news and poor performance that any detailed and thoughtful stuff from government is likely to impress me … HereContinue reading “The State of the Nation nutshell note”

Pirates of Polokwane* Shaik their Booty

That was going to be my headline for the story I was going to write about the appointment of Mo Shaik to head the secret service. I decided not to write about it. I simply can’t. I was going to point out that the South African Secret Service is responsible for all non-military foreign intelligenceContinue reading “Pirates of Polokwane* Shaik their Booty”

Unhappy trends

Bad indicators in the direction of  trends in South African education and health  last week. Very briefly: Two recent studies reveal a low and/or deteriorating quality of matriculant entering university.   The national benchmarking test (NBT) tested 13000 first years at major SA universities and found only 43% proficient in academic literacy, 25% in quantitative literacy and, astonishingly, only 8% in maths.Continue reading “Unhappy trends”

Government versus the private sector

Paul Krugman tilts at the USA citizen’s default hostility to government. He argues that on health care policy and on banking regulation it is more government, not less, that is needed. Does the same apply in the South African case? I think the issues are significantly different, with the first task in South Africa being toContinue reading “Government versus the private sector”

An Unhealthy Debate

Is wealth the cause of poverty? Is everything in development a zero sum game? Listening to how the ANC and the SACP motivate their proposed national health insurance scheme gives a disconcerting inkling of how they think about development. Their proposal is for a compulsory national health insurance (NHI) to be the main solution to a number of  problems that besetContinue reading “An Unhealthy Debate”