The most interesting things I’ve read recently (11/10/2015)

Dennis Healey, Pope Francis and scrapping borders.

A fighting life (The Economist)

[Denis Healey’s] relations with the hard left had never been sweet. He detested those “Toytown Trots”, and as early as 1959 had warned the Labour Party not to “teach Socialist Sunday school” but to engage with the problems of the average worker—like the man in his constituency of Leeds South East, who brought him a jar of slugs to demonstrate how damp his kitchen was. (Such episodes easily moved him to tears.) In the shadow cabinet he strenuously opposed nationalisation for the sake of it, or kneejerk opposition to NATO and the Americans. He did not mind milking the rich, gleefully anticipating the “howls of anguish”—but only in order to make their taxes proportionate to those on the poor. In 1981, “by an eyebrow”, he defeated the left-wing Tony Benn for the deputy leadership of the party. He thereby saved it to govern another day—only to live long enough to see it fall again to leftist Sirens in 2015.

Of course Pope Francis met with Kim Davis. Jesus would have by Todd VanDerWeff (Vox)

….one of the hardest things to do in an era of political polarization is to accept that those whose viewpoints are diametrically opposed to yours are still human beings, who have fears and hopes and desires as surely as you do, and who are capable of both great and horrible things. It’s often tempting to slot our political opponents into boxes that define them as narrowly as we suspect they define us.

But the central idea of Christianity aims to be an end-around of all of that. It’s not about defining people within religious or political or even societal contexts. It’s about approaching them as fellow human beings, travelers on this planet who might spit in your face but still deserve grace and forgiveness. That’s an impossible idea to adhere to, which is what makes it such a powerful one. Regardless of where he falls on the marriage equality opinion spectrum, by meeting with both Cazal and Davis, Pope Francis is at least trying to live up to the standards he ostensibly represents.

The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely by Alex Tabbarok (The Atlantic)

Not every place in the world is equally well-suited to mass economic activity. Nature’s bounty is divided unevenly. Variations in wealth and income created by these differences are magnified by governments that suppress entrepreneurship and promote religious intolerance, gender discrimination, or other bigotry. Closed borders compound these injustices, cementing inequality into place and sentencing their victims to a life of penury.

The overwhelming majority of would-be immigrants want little more than to make a better life for themselves and their families by moving to economic opportunity and participating in peaceful, voluntary trade. But lawmakers and heads of state quash these dreams with state-sanctioned violence—forced repatriation, involuntary detention, or worse—often while paying lip service to “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Wage differences are a revealing metric of border discrimination. When a worker from a poorer country moves to a richer one, her wages might double, triple, or rise even tenfold. These extreme wage differences reflect restrictions as stifling as the laws that separated white and black South Africans at the height of Apartheid. Geographical differences in wages also signal opportunity—for financially empowering the migrants, of course, but also for increasing total world output. On the other side of discrimination lies untapped potential. Economists have estimated that a world of open borders would double world GDP.

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