Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Reading List

by Viva Avasthi

By the end of this holiday, despite the huge pile of revision I need to get through, here's what I plan to have read:

The Economist: Special Reports

I'll put a tick (✔) next to each text after I have finished reading it. Links have been provided to all of these texts so that if you're interested you can read them too. The books need to be bought or loaned if you wish to read those, but the other texts can be read free of charge by following the links. Enjoy!

Shrinking economy; Increasing waistlines

By Krupa Popat

Britain’s economy is shrinking but  its health problems are certainly not.

With 25.1% of women obese and 32.3% of women overweight, 24% of men obese and a staggering 42% of men overweight, weight problems are amongst the highest costs for the government to fund through the NHS.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, statistics show that between the years of 2006 – 2010 (during some of the hardest times due to the onset of the recession), the most obese were those who had the lowest income. This could be linked to the fact that unemployment was on the rise. As Marx’s theory said, “the reserve army of labour fight amongst themselves for scarce jobs at lower and lower wages”.  Inflation increasing didn't help, as people who are on job seekers allowance or have low disposable income cannot afford the rocket prices of food, which is inelastic. Many people are sacrificing being healthy because they can only eat what they can afford, which is more fatty foods.

 “Obesity is associated with a range of health problems including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The resulting NHS costs attributable to overweight and obesity are projected to reach £9.7 billion by 2050, with wider costs to society estimated to reach £49.9 billion per year (Foresight 2007). These factors combine to make the prevention of obesity a major public health challenge.”

As the government is cutting back on spending to save money, it seems like they’re spending just as much because of it…

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Should Charities Replace the Welfare State?

by David Rovick
Ayn Rand
The Russian philopsopher, Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was a Russian Philosopher born in 1905. She is probably most famous for writing the novel ‘When Atlas Shrugged’ and developing a philosophy called Objectivism, a philosophy supposedly based on reason, self-esteem or selfishness, and fundamental human rights among other things. I am a huge fan of Ayn Rand and her ideas, but enough about her for now at least.

I will first attempt to answer the question: should charities replace the welfare state, using objectivist reasoning. First of all I will derive the answer to why welfare states are morally wrong almost all of the time.

To do this I will derive a philosophy using nothing but reason and logic, starting with a ‘clean slate’ of thought, and first ask what the purpose of philosophy, or moral code, or morality (I will use the terms interchangeably) should fulfil. I think we can all agree that the purpose of a human being should be to further and maintain human life, and therefore human life is the highest moral standard. Animals do it in nature, acting consistently in a way that will sustain and further life, indeed it is necessary for their survival, for their life. In the same way, a human’s morality must be what allows him to further and sustain his own life, so that he can live as joyful and fulfilling a life as possible and this is to be the purpose of our morality. What’s more, man’s morality must fulfil its purpose when applied consistently, for what good is a morality if it can only achieve its purpose when inconsistently applied, or even worse (and more commonly unfortunately when not applied at all?

Next I will make the observation that we are each observable individuals; that is we own our bodies, our minds and ourselves insofar as we are the ultimate deciders of our own thoughts and actions. This is evident in the fact that humans have free will, which is the ability to act and think independently, thusly the ability to use reason if we choose too in acting and thinking independently. And because we have given ourselves the purpose of using reason in order to further and sustain human life, it is morally right to use it, and morally wrong to not.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Are Human Rights Under Fire...Literally?

by Eyrie Clark
A Reaper Drone
Credit to The Guardian

A 16-year-old boy was murdered. He never did anything wrong. He never even saw his death coming. The crime was his father's, and he was executed because of association even after his father had been killed. Do you think this is wrong? It's already happened.

As technology progresses, humans find more and more ways to use such technology to satisfy their agenda - which usually means someone has to die.

And, sadly, that is the case now, as the public has recently found out about a secret government program, that was apparently so top-secret that former White House Press Secretary Gibbs was ordered to deny its existence.

This alone is obviously VERY alarming. Any program the government tries so hard to keep a secret obviously spells bad news.What is so bad that they're afraid of their own citizens knowing of its existence?

Well, that program is the 'Drone' program. It is a billion-dollar program to create and pilot unmanned, armed drones to use as scouts and, when needed, the middleman who carries out the sentence for the executioner. Someone in Florida could press a button and and blow up a wedding in the middle-east, all in real time.