Financial Independence and Age

by Harry on December 16, 2007

A terrific paper by Matthew Smith, Michael McPherson and Sandy Baum called “Financial Independence and Age: Distributive Justice in the Case of Adult Education” (pdf) is at the Equality Exchange. Currently, American colleges consider students over the age of 24 to be financially independent of their parents for financial aid purposes, and the paper argues that this rule has regressive consequences, showing that it unfairly favours students in advantaged circumstances. They argue for replacing the ‘age condition” with a ‘minimum income’ condition. It’s a great model of applied philosophy, demonstrating complete command of the (labyrinthine) institutional details in the US context (well, with these authors anything less would be disappointing) and making a compelling normative case for a modest, but valuable, reform.

London Tourism Advice Offered and Sought

by Harry on December 16, 2007

People regularly ask me advice on what to do when they visit London, so I thought, since a bunch of you are probably visiting in the coming year, that I’d put my advice up for general consumption. It falls into two categories; places to visit, and general “being a tourist” advice. It all assumes that people have limited budgets. If you don’t have a limited budget, stay at the Savoy, ignore most of what follows, and really enjoy yourself. Please feel free to disagree (anyone willing to defend MT?) and to add your own advice.

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A big win for the planet, and others

by John Q on December 16, 2007

The outcome of the international climate talks in Bali has been a huge win for the planet. Given the participation of the Bush Administration, we were never going to get firm short-term targets in the agreement of this round of negotiations (except as the result of a US walkout, and a deal struck by the rest of the world). But on just about every other score, the outcome has been better than anyone could reasonably have expected, including:

* Agreement in principle on a 2050 target of halving emissions
* Agreement to negotiate a binding deal in 2009, when Bush will be gone, and short-term targets back on the table
* Agreement to provide assistance to developing countries for both mitigation and adaptation
* Agreement by China to pursue emissions-cutting actions that are “measurable, reportable and verifiable.”

There are of course, some individual winners too, of whom the most notable is undoubtedly Al Gore. His intervention, correctly blaming the US Administration for the lack of progress at the talks, and putting effective pressure on its remaining allies, the governments of Canada and Japan, made it clear that the political price for a failure would be paid by the US, and that those who backed Bush now would find themselves alone in the near future.

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has also been a big winner. Until his election, Australia, as the only other significant country not to ratify Kyoto, was Bush’s most important supporter. After the switch, Australia was able to pursue a negotiating strategy which sometimes seemed to accommodating to the US, but ultimately produced an excellent outcome.

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