Haidt on the limits of reason’s ability to convince

Jonathan Haidt, at NYU, whose work is the most interesting I know of in psychology:

Jonathan Haidt: See, the enlightenment project was we could use our minds–we could use the new institution of science from the 17th century–we could use it to answer these difficult questions and to do social policy better. In that sense I’m an enlightenment, I’m a big fan of the enlightenment, and I think this new work is part of the enlightenment project. What it says, paradoxically, is that if you think that reason, individual reason, is the way forward, then you’re wrong. And so for 300 years, the project has been barking up the wrong tree. Because we’re all so crippled by the confirmation bias, because we all as individuals —

Host: Explain what confirmation bias is?

Jonathan Haidt: Basically we use our reason just to confirm what we already believe. If that’s true of all of us, then I think we all have to get a bit more humble as individuals, recognise that as individuals we’re not very good at finding the truth, that we can only find the truth when we’re put into relationships in which other people can question our confirmation bias, and this is what has changed: science works because each of us individually-flawed scientists challenge each other, and so over time the scientific data does update, whereas the state of the religious right may not.

Daily Digest 28/7/2015: More of an annotated bibliography?

Well this is a bit of a cop-out, since I didn’t really have time—or mental bandwidth—to do very much non-thesis reading. But I did come across a bunch of interesting articles on hyperinflation in game economies which I’m saving here for later, as well as two Straits Times articles on an interview with Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan Jin, and a personal account from a Filipino migrant worker in Singapore on a little social ritual of hers.


Daily Digest 27/7/2015: social movements in the global South

Well, yesterday was a very thesis-focused day (I’m completing a dissertation on how a land invasion in Cape Town was organised), so I forgot to publish a daily reading digest, but here it is:

  • Marshall, T.H. 1964. “Citizenship and Social Class.” In Class, Citizenship, and Social Development, 65–122. New York: Doubleday.
  • Thompson, Lisa, and Chris Tapscott. 2010. “Introduction: Mobilization and Social Movements in the South – the Challenges of Inclusive Governance.” In Citizenship and Social Movements: Perspectives from the Global South, edited by Lisa Thompson and Chris Tapscott, 1–32. New York: Zed
  • Motta, Sara C., and Alf Gundvald Nilsen. 2011. “Social Movements and/in the Postcolonial: Dispossession, Development and Resistance in the Global South.” In Social Movements in the Global South: Dispossession, Development and Resistance, edited by Sara C. Motta and Alf Gundvald Nilsen, 1-31. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
    • D’Souza, Radha. 2011. “Three Actors, Two Geographies, One Philosophy: The Straightjacket of Social Movements.” 227-249 (same volume)
  • Creswell, John W. 2007. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

How should we interpret (historically, politically) the emergence and demands of social movements in the global South? There are two standing questions in the literature: are social movements in the global South (generally, the colonised countries) different in character from those in the North (today’s “developed countries”)? and what does “neoliberal” political economy have to do with these social movements?


My First Daily Digest: 26 July 2015

I go through a lot of reading every day without ever actually processing my thoughts on it. This, unfortunately, means that I have gotten into a habit of having many incomplete thoughts which do not link up or lead to conclusions. To force myself to develop better habits of mind, I’m going to start summarising my reading.

Here’re my aims: summarise for an intelligent layman, offer complete thoughts, and illuminate connections that might not have been apparent at first.

Here’re three things I read today


Let’s start a conversation about Singapore’s electoral system

TL;DR? Singapore’s parliament is really unrepresentative of the way people have voted compared to other countries’ parliaments. Instead of (or in addition to) speculating about which GRCs will shrink or disappear, let’s start thinking about switching to proportional representation. The PAP might improve their vote share; the opposition will increase their seat share; we get a more representative parliament. Everybody wins, right?

For some time I’ve been thinking about how Singapore’s politics might change in the coming decades. Here, my focus is electoral politics—the formal, institutionalised politics of political parties, voting, and elections. (I’ll treat things like inter-election parliamentary politics, and socio-political contestation from civil society/social movement organisations as a separate issue.) It’s topical, given that elections are just around the corner. But I’d like to take a step back from elections and examine our electoral system itself. Here, I’ve thrown together a bit of evidence which indicates that at least according to one simple measure, Singapore’s electoral system—the set of rules which transform voters’ preferences into representation in parliament—is fairly unrepresentative compared to other similar systems around the world. Moreover, the evidence suggests that Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs)—the mega-constituencies that send four to six party-list members to parliament—themselves are not to blame for the opposition’s sorry state. Because of that, I think we shouldn’t just look at having smaller GRCs; rather, more radical alternatives should be considered—namely, some form of proportional representation.


Marikana: Both sides to blame

As some of you know, maybe too well, I’ve been doing fieldwork on community organising — the formation of grassroots organisations among residents to advocate for / take care of communal matters like safety and development — in a new informal settlement in Cape Town. That informal settlement exploded in violence over the last week of May, just after I concluded my fieldwork. I sent a letter off to the Cape Times for publication, explaining my view of matters. It was shortened and published on June 8, 2015 as “Active engagement between City, Marikana could’ve averted violence,” but here’s the full version.

The events of the last week in Marikana informal settlement in Philippi, Cape Town, powerfully illustrate the saying that when elephants dance, the grass gets trampled. Innocents died, scores have been injured, many houses burnt, and countless lives disrupted. As a student-researcher who has been gathering information on community organising in the Marikana settlement for the last six months, I have had deep conversations with all sides of the current fracas. In my opinion, both the leaderships of Marikana and the City of Cape Town deserve the strongest possible condemnation; the Marikana side for their actions, the City for their inaction.

Cape Town’s Marikana began as an occupation of undeveloped, unfenced, mostly privately-owned land which was a known hotspot for illegal activity and violent crime. The land occupiers wanted to meet their own housing needs, while denying criminals the space to kill and rape. After intense periods of confrontational eviction activity in April 2013 and August 2014, the land occupiers and the City settled into an uneasy accommodation. As court cases against the Marikana settlers ground on, life in Marikana became more settled, even routine. Local street committees and the SAPS brought violence, infighting, and crime in the community under control. People began to build lives there.

All this changed in the last half of May. Residents in nearby Klipfontein began protesting against electricity cuts, and people from Marikana joined in solidarity. Now, direct action—barricading, stone-throwing, toyi-toying—was back on the table. Even so, a crisis could have been averted—but instead, Marikana leaders decided to ride the momentum, stoke the flames. On Monday, 25 May, they called for their own community to mobilise. But by barricading roads, burning tyres, hurling stones and spreading rubbish, protesters only succeeded in alienating their neighbours, to whom they should have been reaching out as allies. They disrupted the daily routines of people throughout Marikana, Philippi East, Khayelitsha, and other areas, making it harder for honest, hardworking citizens (including many in their own community) to safely get to work and school for a full week. In fact, people of neighbouring Lower Crossroads, fed up of the disruption, retaliated over the weekend. Marikana leaders must ask themselves: was it worth it? (more…)

The first-generation college experience

When I knew I had gotten into Yale, one of my first and most exciting duties was to put in an International Student Financial Aid Application as well as a supplement that the university called its “Biographic Questionnaire.” It was exciting because I knew that with ten or so pages of administrative burden I’d be claiming a scholarship worth a good US$50,000 or so a year; without those forms I wouldn’t have had an ice cube’s chance in hell paying for college.

In that “Biographic Questionnaire,” I came across a funny question, which ran along the lines of “are you the first person in your family to attend college?” Why did this matter? Neither of my parents had. But my stepbrother–whom I barely knew and had never grown up with–was now a psychology professor at a small college in Washington state. How about him? I shrugged it off: Americans have nuclear families, right? Stepsiblings probably don’t count. Unlike me, my mother fretted about the forms. If it was Singapore we’d probably have had to submit supporting documentation for the last ten years of income and expenditure, along with birth certificates and tax forms. (No, I’m only half joking: they would already have the information.)

Thankfully, the money came through. And naturally, I continued checking that box throughout college, and claimed for myself the identity of a First-Generation College Student. If anything, I thought, surely it was an advantage, since it reduced the miniscule possibility that my financial aid would ever be cut. Otherwise, I argued over dining-hall tables and across seminar rooms with the kids of doctors, academics, lawyers, researchers, thinking little about my own patrimony, the son of an administrative assistant and a middling businessman with a late-career turn to property management. Other than that box on a form I had to fill out once a year, that first-generation status was not something I ever noticed.


A fitting legacy for Lee Kuan Yew

This Monday, far away from home, my thoughts are, fittingly, on a person who so thoroughly altered every single aspect of it. Singapore’s first and longest-serving prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew died this morning. While local obituaries in the mainstream media included history lessons reminding us of the progress we made under him, foreign ones emphasised political and media ‘repression’ he engineered. (The Economist‘s, my favourite among the ones I’ve seen, subtly and at times humorously steers a middle course between both.) Instead of looking backward, though, I’m reflecting on the future.

The enormity of Mr Lee’s task at independence is well-known to Singaporeans, as is the audacity of his team’s accomplishments. But he and his team were also placed in a uniquely favourable position in history. There was a demographic transition ripe for the picking (see Leete and Alam 1993, who point out that fertility rates in Penang declined at nearly the same pace as Singapore with a short time lag and, significantly, without a Stop at Two policy). There was a demographic dividend of a youthful population. Globalisation 2.0 was just taking off. And though the HDB justifiably deserves credit for housing so many so quickly in the early years, Singapore avoided the kind of messy urbanisation that happens in so many cities in the global South not just through its efforts but also partly because in 1965, we were separated from a neverending stream of migrants from rural areas aka Malaysia—the kind of neverending stream that crowds Dharavi or Soweto even today. So there certainly were external factors working in Mr Lee’s favour.

Even so, Mr Lee was singularly astute. Failure was not an option, and so Mr Lee made sure that every possible tool at his disposal was geared towards success, right down to his intimidating presence. I think it is fair to say that in 1965 or 1975, Mr Lee’s success or failure was synonymous with Singapore’s own success or failure, simply because it is vanishingly unlikely that any other party could have assembled a team of such visionaries as Mr Goh Keng Swee or Mr Lim Kim San. And so some of these tools included the Internal Security Act, the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act, defamation suits as a means of defending the reputation of political leaders, and later on the Group Representation Constituencies. The human cost of these tools to those people on whom they were used is only starting to become more widely known. What these tools saved us from, we will never know.

In any case, Singapore today is vastly different from what it was in 1965 thanks to the efforts of Mr Lee’s team. But it reflects priorities that they have chosen. We have a variety of state-led capitalism (Hall and Soskice 2001, Ritchie 2009) that has arguably stifled innovation and limited the bargaining power of the labour movement even while it efficiently generated a massive stock of human capital and paired it with financial capital from MNCs. We have a welfare regime (Esping-Andersen 1990, 1999, Peng and Wong 2010) that emphasises individual and familial self-reliance. While keeping social spending and transfers low, the system has also reinforced (whether inadvertently or by design) a feeling of shame around seeking help, as well as left out people who don’t fit into traditional conceptions of family—because according to our Shared Values, the product of a White Paper from 1991, we put society before self. These economic and social policies form a system or regime of government policy choices that show an internal cohesion and logic—choices that were made beginning with Mr Lee’s team.

The pioneering work by Hall and Soskice and by Esping Andersen also makes clear that there are different policy regimes—different welfare regimes, different varieties of capitalism—with their own advantages and disadvantages, and there are trade-offs between them. What’s more, there are countries with similarly high levels of human development which nevertheless exhibit different policy configurations. In other words, we are not in a situation where the only choice lies with the decisions made by the PAP, and the alternative is to be doomed to failure. Rather, there are multiple paths out there with no clearly optimal one a priori.

Moreover, choosing between these paths involves questions about priorities and values. Are single-parent families less Asian, more immoral? Can we afford individualism? And where there are questions, there must be answers. It used to be the case that our top political leadership and civil servants worked together to hammer out the ‘correct’ answer. But it’s unlikely there will be ‘correct’ answers to ever-more pressing questions of priorities and values. And if there’s one thing the Great Immigration Debate has shown us, it’s that we the people can place political constraints on the kinds of answers we will accept. The sustained though still small volume of critical writing online and from the think tanks shows that dissent will not go away. In other words, it is inconceivable that our policies will continue only to reflect negotiated agreements at the top. They certainly shouldn’t.

None of this is meant to demean Mr Lee’s achievements, merely to place them in context. He was helped by external factors, and what he did in order to lay the groundwork for his accomplishments may not be necessary today. It may not even be appropriate if we think that the increase in political participation in recent years is legitimate, as well we might if we accept what I have argued, that different policy configurations may well lead to broadly similar outcomes in the aggregate (though the distribution or the types of people who benefit may be different).

So here’s what my argument’s been building towards. If you think Lee Kuan Yew was a great man, it must be admitted that the system was built for great men. As his generation of giants passes on, as Singapore progresses, and as our wants and priorities diversify, it becomes less clear that his chosen successors will be able to fill those shoes 100% of the time. If they can’t, then we need to quickly build up a vibrant public discourse and a B team that we can trust to govern, for five years if not fifty. And if he was not a great man, even more reason for the people to make the choices (some might say mistakes) they will live with, rather than leave the tools Mr Lee crafted in the hands of those lesser mortals who have followed in his footsteps.

Properly acknowledging the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew involves tweaking our political system to extend the boundaries within which alternative views can be expressed. Our political system was built to be run by great visionaries far ahead of their time, and Mr Lee and his small crew were just such visionaries. Today, the path ahead is far less certain, and the nature of the policy regime we want to see in Singapore far more contestable. No comparable crew of visionaries is readily apparent. And no one leaves heavy machinery in the hands of babies.

What do you give a nation which has everything? It is becoming harder to answer that question. Therefore a fitting legacy for Lee Kuan Yew, paradoxically, involves repudiating part of his legacy—the part of that legacy that was built for great men by a great man.

(Edit 31/3/2015) Other LKY obitmentaries:

Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

———. 1999. Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hall, Peter A. and David Soskice. 2001. “An introduction to varieties of capitalism.” In Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage, edited by Peter A. Hall and David Soskice, pages 1-68. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leete, Richard, and Iqbal Alam. 1993. “Fertility Transitions of Similar Cultural Groups in Different Countries.” In The Revolution in Asian Fertility: Dimensions, Causes, and Implications, ed. Richard Leete and Iqbal Alam, 239–252. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Peng, Ito, and Joseph Wong. 2010. “East Asia.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, edited by Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger, and Christopher Pierson, 656–70. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ritchie, Bryan K. 2009. “Economic upgrading in a state-coordinated, liberal market economy.” Asia Pacific Journal of Management 26:435-457.

Alternate readings; alternate realities: reflections on begging

On Tuesday I was approached by an old man at City Hall MRT for cash, as I was waiting for the northbound Jurong East train.

This happens so infrequently in Singapore that I was immediately thrown. And what made it even more surprising was that it happened in the station. I don’t mean to say that begging or panhandling doesn’t happen in Singapore—it does—but never, ever, have I been approached for money inside a train station.

He walked up to me, making eye contact as he came.

What was immediately surprising was the rapidity at which this guy approached me. I was waiting at one of the narrower parts of the platform, where you have the escalators behind you and maybe five arm-lengths of space between the railing and the platform. I was also waiting behind a pillar. So he had to turn a corner, eyeball the crowd—it was mid-afternoon and all the schools and universities are on break, so there were plenty of people around—make a snap decision as to which person would be the most sympathetic, and home in on me. Which he did.

“Boy,” he began, pressing a finger on my arm so there could be no mistake, no evasion, “listen to me.”

“I’m Singaporean,” he mumbled. (But why should that matter? Did he have a greater claim to my attention just because he was a fellow countryman?)

“I been in prison for ten years, I just got out. I don’t have money,” he opened up the fingers of his right hand, revealing $1.65 in coins—just as I stepped back, wary of panhandlers with clenched fists near my person.

“Can you give me some money…?” I lost the rest of his indistinct mumbling.

“No, sorry—go and ask somebody else.” I said firmly, and pursed my lips. “Please?” “No, please go.” “Boy, please.” “No.” I joined the line for the train and looked intently at the information display. Three whole minutes more.

To my relief, he got the message, and walked off.


It puzzled me why I felt unaccountably harsh and unsympathetic towards him. I write felt advisedly. I didn’t say anything particularly nasty, nor did I waste his time. I communicated unequivocally that he wasn’t getting anything from me—which, if you’re asking for money, is perhaps the median response. Yet in the few moments our interaction lasted, I felt weirdly outraged by him, maybe disproportionately so. I’m trying now to trace the source of this feeling.


Reading 1: I felt cornered

With beggars, the protocol I’ve developed is to refuse, apologise, and then walk briskly away.

But this time, it wasn’t possible to walk away, since I was waiting for the train. Maybe I felt physically cornered; my usual tact wouldn’t work in this novel situation.


Reading 2: I felt targeted

I’ve been living in Cape Town for four months now, and many aspects of life there have taken some getting used to. One of these is the aggressive panhandling. I’ve sometimes joked that I’m the homeless people’s walking ATM: as an obvious outsider, they seem to associate me with money. (I guess they hit up foreigners preferentially, and even white people could be locals in Cape Town, so I’m pretty much the most foreign-looking foreigner.) Like a guided missile, they scan the horizon and close in on their target. “Hey China! Chai-nah! Ching-chong-ching-chong!” For the life of me I can’t figure out why they think casual racism would make me more inclined to sympathise with them, but roughly half of these encounters have started out something like that.

The City Hall panhandler, of course, did not begin with a racial slur. But he likewise scanned the crowd, made his choice and swooped in on me, of all people, so quickly that it made me doubt something about myself: do I just look like a patsy, a sucker, a cross-cultural walking ATM, the Maestro of the marginalised? Neither did it help that he addressed me as Boy. What good would it do him to engage me, a youngster? Indeed, why not the Suit standing right next to me? These intrusive thoughts were naturally unpleasant.


Reading 3: I felt conflicted

I’ve always been slightly impressed by the way some of my American friends—particularly some quite liberal and even left-leaning friends—handle being approached for money. On my part, I feel uneasy about how I should react to beggars. They, on the other hand, seem to have no qualms telling beggars to look elsewhere, combining just the right levels of empathy and reserve. Obviously, they’ve had more practice, because it’s a more familiar social interaction to them than it is to me. Yet my unease (which I imagine I am not very good at hiding) feels wildly incongruous to their indifference, aloofness, even a touch of disdain.

I myself am conflicted about beggars. Does some sort of communitarian solidarity require us to alleviate their suffering? Perhaps so. On the other hand, isn’t that the state’s job? Then again, we know that state-run and charitable welfare systems are full of cracks, through which many people fall through—and those are the ones who need our help the most. Yet it’s impossible to tell simply by looking who really needs help—indeed, the category of need is itself heavily dependent on personal circumstances. Still, bureaucracy is notoriously poor at attaching the appropriate weight to these factors. So perhaps, given the reality of a deeply flawed state apparatus, ‘rewarding’ panhandling is a necessary second-best course of action.

But the City Hall panhandler claimed that he’d gone through the prison system. Like the welfare bureaucracy, I have no doubt that the correctional services have their own cracks. Yet to my mind the key difference is that while not every potential welfare recipient has interactions with the welfare system, every inmate is intensively monitored the moment they enter a prison. In that sense, the support system is opt-out (rather than opt-in). This 2010 document describes the prison service’s rehabilitation efforts. All else equal, the level of attention given to an ex-offender probably surpasses that available to a non-offender, which makes the turn to begging more inexplicable.


Reading 4: I felt threatened

In any case, when he mentioned prison the first thing that came into my mind was actually the last time I met a panhandler who mentioned a prison past.

This was in Cape Town, and the guy was asking for twenty rand. “I did time for murder,” he said, “I just got out. Don’t make me do something we’ll both regret,” his right hand tucked in the front pocket of his hoodie, visibly clenching something outlined ominously against the fabric. Not wanting to find out how long his knife would be, I coughed up the money. Ever since then, I haven’t been entirely comfortable with strangers with clenched fists or hands in pockets asking me for stuff, and perhaps that sense of threat re-emerged.


Reading 5: I felt affronted

In the US, I was once approached by a woman with a baby in a stroller. Could we spare some money for food for her child? It was awkward: I was with a friend and we were quite visibly carrying a couple of large cartons of beer. I swear it wasn’t all for our personal use. We couldn’t spare the money, we said. She swore at us loudly as we walked away. Fuck, you had the money to buy that beer and you say you don’t have money to spare? I guess in a manner of speaking she pushed us into an unpleasant quandary there—I felt morally cornered. Her having the baby and us having the alcohol really didn’t help.

But the point—I rationalised furiously to myself then—was that it was our money to spend. No panhandler has a prior claim on that dollar in my wallet. If I honoured that claim, I would have to disclaim my own plans for that dollar, whatever they might be. And given that money is fungible (no single dollar is distinguishable from any other), to disclaim my plans for that one dollar would be to partially disclaim my plans on any other dollar—to compromise a dollar’s worth of my plans. If we were hypothetically obligated to honour every panhandlers’ claims on our money, resources, time, and sympathy, this obligation would be toxic for our own security, our ability to run our own lives as we see fit. In turn, this insecurity would possibly reduce life satisfaction for the vast majority of us who are targets for panhandlers.

One could even say that the panhandlers instrumentalise his targets, subordinating their goals to his own.


Reading 6: I felt confused

But this argument is vulnerable in several ways. First, panhandlers typically claim small amounts. This makes it unconvincing to argue that our lives would be radically altered if we recognised a limited duty to be charitable. The most immediate trouble with such a “limited duty” is, of course, where (at which dollar) this duty stops. If I am obligated to give away the tenth dollar, why is the hundredth or the thousandth any different? Nevertheless, just because a duty could involve a line-drawing exercise doesn’t necessarily mean we should disregard it—perhaps there is some defensible qualitative standard by which we could decide who to give to. (I don’t have a proposal for this.)

Next, it is a bit of a stretch to claim that just because one dollar (or ten) is demanded, my plans will be thrown into disarray. While for some people every dollar really does count, there is some slack in my budget. Giving a few dollars away really does not amount to throwing away one’s security. Besides, I could actually budget charity into my plans, perhaps by setting aside ten or twenty bucks each month (really not that much). And if it isn’t all used up, I could add the unspent amount to a year-end pot that’ll go to my favourite charity, which all things considered might make me feel quite good about myself. The planning objection doesn’t really work.

Last, diminishing marginal utility implies that after a point, every additional dollar of consumption gives us less happiness. It is probably fair to say that those ten dollars were more needed by that mother with a child than two college students carrying a stash of beer. Even though utility is not strictly speaking comparable between different people (aka the problem of interpersonal comparisons of utility), to argue otherwise would seem crass and arrogant.


What all this adds up to is an after-the-event, ultimately open-ended ratiocination about the guy who said he needed money, which doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t give him any. Having let my mind roam over all the associations I could reasonably make, I am quite sure that the two main contributors to the emotions I had were my experiences of Cape Town, on top of my general confusion about how to handle begging.

I can’t deal with the former, but the best solution I have come up with for the latter is perhaps the following: there are two ways of categorising actions, whether they are praiseworthy or not, and whether they are blameworthy or not. Though praiseworthy actions are good, and blameworthy ones bad, neither category is a perfect converse of the other. There are some actions, like breathing, which are neither. And omissions may not necessarily fall into the opposite category from their corresponding actions. For instance, stealing is blameworthy, but avoiding stealing isn’t particularly praiseworthy. We “do the right thing” most of the time, and can’t expect to be patted on the back about it. Likewise, I think we can agree: giving money to panhandlers is praiseworthy. The proper converse of that is that not giving money to panhandlers is un-praiseworthy. But since praiseworthy and blameworthy are not collectively exhaustive, un-praiseworthy does not imply blameworthy, which means that not giving money to panhandlers is not necessarily blameworthy.

It just isn’t good, but un-good isn’t bad, and morally speaking, I guess I’m fine with being just middling.

The need for a new welfare capitalism: postscript

I wrote a couple of months back about the need for a new welfare capitalism in Singapore. This post supplements it with references to a couple more articles and books, which shed light on my argument.

Essentially I advocated a much more robust approach to ensuring job security and mitigating the necessarily insecure conditions of modern, global capitalism. This would involve unemployment insurance, job training and restructuring, and a minimum wage along with many other minimum conditions; complementary to that, the state would also have to reaffirm meritocracy by investing heavily in early childhood education and care (James Heckman at the University of Chicago is one of the biggest advocates for this, and has quantified, in the US context, the economic, educational, health and crime-reduction benefits of ECEC).