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What are the big global and national issues that you think you ought to understand better, but don't?

(34 Posts)
MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 12:27:03

I am trying to come up with some ideas for my work!


- Who really controls the world - governments or corporations?
- How did the Israel/ Palestine conflict start in the first place?
- Why are women still struggling for equality with men?
- Why is the UK the lapdog of the USA?



DoNotPressTheRedButton Mon 21-Sep-09 12:40:38

'How did the Israel/ Palestine conflict start in the first place?'

shall I pop you next door- chap there lectures in that at the Uni.

Why the Bankers are still laughing all the way to the bank (mostly) in big cars and bigger houses, and instead they're looking at cutting services used by poor people to make up the financial deficit.

Harimosmummy Mon 21-Sep-09 12:46:07

I'd like to know HOW it is possible to reconcile the environmental needs of the planet (and therefore out own survival as a human race) and the need to continual economic growth

I mean, the world is panicking because of a 'global recession' but surely it's impossible to keep producing crap we don't need and, at some point, we all need to face up to buying only what we need and want.

tryingherbest Mon 21-Sep-09 12:47:30

Yep those

How the EU works and why have auditors refused to sign off accounts for EU for so many years
Why the life expectancy of African's is so pitifully low and why we tolerate it.
Why we haven't found a cure for cancer.

What's this for?

MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 13:07:03

Trying, it's hopefully for a killer radio programme. <<fingers crossed>> Am self-emp so have no colleagues to brainstorm with!

DoNotPressTheRedButton Mon 21-Sep-09 13:38:52

tryingherbest one of the many reasons we haven't found a cure forcancer is that the term actually covers @200 diseases with their own characteristics

(sorry, ex amcmillan employee LOL)

choosyfloosy Mon 21-Sep-09 13:45:21

How policy and national culture interact so that ideas that allegedly work really well in one culture allegedly wreak havoc in others (or do they?)

Whether there is any potential future for the British fishing fleet, and if so what, based on what changes?

How the hunts are doing these days? And what are the saboteurs up to?

What the true economic impact of second-home ownership is in this country? Is it a tiny issue and a complete red herring, does second-home ownership revitalise communities, or is it a serious drainer of vitality from areas where it is common?

tryingherbest Mon 21-Sep-09 14:28:23

Ok based on that - my interest would be the EU, how it's structured, how it helps us, who and what decides the agenda ie until recently the idea that fruit had to be a certain shape/size but yet no common foreign policy which kinds of begs the question what actually makes us a union.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 14:43:15

choosyfloosy - v interesting first question; what aspects of culture and policy are you thinking of?

Also like your second home qu - I once gently suggested to a friend who was buying a second home in Eastern Europe that perhaps her actions would have the same effect on the housing market here (this was in the context of a convo in which she was complaining about excessive house prices). Needless to say, she didn't take kindly to that suggestion!

DoNotPress - ooh, who's your lecturer neighbour?

These are all great questions, by the way!

Trying - I think your EU question is fab but deserves its own mini-series so sadly is too big for what I'm planning.

DoNotPressTheRedButton Mon 21-Sep-09 14:47:14

MerryHenry if I out him (his specialism is apparently Islamic Terrorism) I'm giving my address aren't I? LOL (do ahve CAT though)

I don't know why I keep saying apparently about him, he elctured me for three bloody years PMSL hmm

MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 14:50:09

Ah, of course! I will CAT you!

potplant Mon 21-Sep-09 14:53:01


I am quite ignorant about it and I should know about it.

Bleh Mon 21-Sep-09 14:53:56

Economics, just in general. Why is/was there this assumption that economies always grow? DP tried to explain it, saying that you assume that populations grow, and hence production grows, but what happens when population growth falls over a cliff? And is it necessarily a good thing that an economy always grows?

choosyfloosy Mon 21-Sep-09 15:03:07

mmh - health and education mainly. It's interesting that the US is grappling with trying to extend health coverage without the downsides of universal provision. They obviously won't have an exact copy of anybody else's system, but why? What would happen if the French system, for example, were transplanted whole to the US? Or to here? Who pays for clinical training in those systems?

Also training - these days, employee training takes place mostly in universities I think- employers complain constantly about the quality of school-leavers/graduates' skills, but also if you get any training except very organisation-specific 'inductions' you're doing well - surely this has changed. What do other countries do?

and mmh again - I don't think leaving the Eu out of it is good enough. There's got to be a more specific angle that comes out of trying's question, surely? How about the 'who decides the agenda' one? I am infuriated that as far as I could tell, no major party even attempted to put out information to counteract the UKIP adverts at the last election.

Another question - I have skimmed a book or two that says aid to the developing world is worse than useless. Usually they actually mean government-level aid, rather than charity-led aid. How do these two interact? Why is government-level aid so much worse (if it is) and what would be the consequences of its removal, or rechannelling?

another question - i saw a programme on the 70s recently which said that in the early 70s over 70% of the UK population considered themselves to be working class. What's the figure now, and what makes people decide they are a particular class? My first husband sometimes said he was working class despite having a management-level job in an IT firm and teachers for parents - did he have a point nonetheless? Who talks about class now and why?

MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 15:13:15

choosy - I was referring to trying's second EU question, as this really is huge and you couldn't do it any justice in a single episode, which is what I'm planning. I think there's more scope within her first question - perhaps this is the 'specific angle' you're hoping for?

It's interesting, the issue which you've raised concerning US health provision - I really know very little about it except that apparently it helps to regard each US state as a dominion in its own right, with the Senators operating as little kings with no accountability to the Party or just about anyone else. They apparently act entirely on the interests of their rich constituents, and to hell with joined-up government.

Your aid question is interesting - I have heard from reliable sources about the debate over whether the concept of aid in itself is worse than useless. Is that what you're asking, or are you referring to the quality of aid?

choosyfloosy Mon 21-Sep-09 15:25:51

1. yup fair enough. Just wouldn't want the Eu left out - it's a big blur to me - the most useful session i ever had on it was a Quaker-led information session at a religious explorer's weekend. I wonder what other religious input there is to the EU.

2. Yes, I understand that many states do in fact have universal provision anyway. I would maybe agree with that description of the Senate, but it would be easy to turn that view around and say that the Senators are not whipped like representatives here and therefore have true accountability?? Hard to make that case maybe... have you read Master of the Senate by Robert Caro? What a book.

3. Erm... I suppose both (equivocating). The books I picked up said in their 'headlines' ALL AID IS POISON but in the small print they actually meant government-level aid only. I only skimmed the books though. I would also feel that I would rather donate to small organisations run by local people than to large ones with international presences. Is there potential for abuse there? I have a further problem with VSO - if there is a job to do and funding to make it happen, couldn't somebody from that area be, like, you know, employed to do it?

I love the sound of the series and hope it goes ahead!

Another question: is there any conflict of any kind, anywhere, to which at least one of the answers is not IT'S THE BRITS' FAULT? Somebody once told me that one or two things in South America could conceivably be off our balance sheet.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 21-Sep-09 15:39:04

You clearly know much more than I do about the US health situation, choosy!

Re aid - like you I'd generally rather give to a local organisation than a big UK charity. Also good question re VSO. Far better to train someone local to be a physics teacher, for e.g.

grin I love your last question and am actually hoping for some more light-hearted ideas, thanks!

choosyfloosy Mon 21-Sep-09 15:55:33

us healthcare - no - i just watch the daily show online - it's the only topic they run - even jon stewart looks bored of it but i love it...

DoNotPressTheRedButton Mon 21-Sep-09 16:04:10

If you want to go back to the very start of the Israel thing you'r elooking at Abrahamic Tradition anyway- and the of Ishmael / Isaac.... read the Qur'an and The Bible or Torah and you will find that both sides have the same (almost) story with themselves as that faith.

Bung in a measure of persecution, land ownership dispute and the like and it's a very complex mnix that goes far before the 1947 partition.

'Another question - I have skimmed a book or two that says aid to the developing world is worse than useless. Usually they actually mean government-level aid, rather than charity-led aid. How do these two interact? Why is government-level aid so much worse (if it is) and what would be the consequences of its removal, or rechannelling? '

That's a good question; time after time in Ethics we were shownw how Governmental aid is opfetn usurped by the status quo in the country aid is aimed towards- is cahrity aid any better? Is it actually a harmful thing to send aid there if it is usurped in this way, or does a useful percentage get through? Is there a better way to help people and what is that?

cherryblossoms Mon 21-Sep-09 18:50:49

Another vote for aid in Africa. I read an article (Guardian) saying that a number of right-wing-type people were experimenting with new ways of delivering aid. It sounded fascinating and I meant to keep the article and do a little research but ... it made its way into the bin.

I was interested because I'm just so cynical about r-wing aid. But who knows? Maybe this was different.

Background on why Africa would be great, too. I always think Africa suffers a lot with the tendency to short-term news reporting, rather than longer, more in-depth pieces.

potplant Mon 21-Sep-09 19:18:03

Reading above I would also like to know more about Africa - why doesn't the aid help, how much effect does things like Band Aid/Live Aid/Comic Relief actually have?

wahwah Mon 21-Sep-09 19:57:53

I'd like to understand why we tolerate war, famine and genocide in some areas of the world, yet get very flustered about it in others (as we should, of course).

tryingherbest Mon 21-Sep-09 20:37:37

Well Cherry - people are always thinking of new and better ways of delivering aid.

My understanding is that policies on this do change- there's giving aid, then giving aid with lovely strings attached (like we give you money - you have to buy EU produced food), now it's all about fair trade etc.

I'd love to know what right wing aid would be - philanthropy possibly?

squeaver Mon 21-Sep-09 20:41:25

Why are so many people in Africa still starving to death?

cherryblossoms Mon 21-Sep-09 20:54:30

tryingherbest - yes, I know! that's what was so fascinating about this article. It claimed that these r-wing-ers seemed to think they'd got it sorted this time. And I'm absolutely intrigued as to why they think so. And how it's getting on. Fwiw, I'm sure they haven't.

I suppose the other thing that hooked me was because it was in the Guardian and wasn't pouring scorn on the whole idea. I was raised in that hard-left tradition of seeing "aid" as the work of the devil, so I suppose I am just very ... intrigued.

The other reason, i think, was because I spend a lot of time hanging out on the fringes of academia and with other like-minded souls, i have noticed that my acquaintance with r-wing and neo-liberal takes on various pressing issues is quite loose. So i was very curious to find out more about a world-view that is so at variance with my own and those of others I encounter.

Just thought it might be an interesting angle into an old, complex issue.

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