Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jesus in Yarlswood, and the Economics of Sharing.

Wasn't sure whether to be heartened or depressed by yesterdays news.

A few weeks ago I tried to support a campaign for a Ugandan asylum seeker, who was deported by the UK authorities. One of the issues highlighted by the campaign was the inhumane treatment of children and families by the immigration system. A new report has found, effectively, institutionalised child abuse at Yarls Wood detention centre: infant children separated from their parents for 3 weeks, and a high rate of emotional and behavioural problems occurring in children at the centre.

Here's one summary: The report raised serious concerns over child protection issues after finding that at least 12 of the children had been separated from a main carer, two placed in detention with an adult with whom they had never lived, and one mother and her 20-month-old baby separated for three weeks during an outbreak of chicken pox.

The UK Border Agency are disputing the report, and saying it's dated, but if that's true, why would the Childrens Commissioner - following a visit just 6 months ago - be calling for the place to be sorted out?

Meanwhile, there is a campaign to change the way children of asylum seekers are treated. Matthew 25. One of them is Jesus. If the people in charge of the system knew that, would that change the way it operated?

On the plus side, following the Peace Prize that Passeth All Understanding, the Nobel Prize for Economics has gone to Elinor Ostrom, a woman studying the economics of sharing.

The findings of her research have been striking, as the Nobel committee pointed out, because they have challenged the established assumption that common property is poorly managed unless it is either regulated by government or privatised. She has shown how disparate individuals can band together and form collectives that protect the resource at hand.

That is an important message at a time when policymakers are grappling with how to cope with global warming. Again, it challenges a conventional assumption that without regulation or the action of private enterprise, no progress to change individual behaviour can be made.

about flipping time. I'm staggered at that last sentence - the 'conventional assumption' that only business or government can change individual behaviour. Thank God it's not true.

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