sábado, 31 de maio de 2014

Explicação sucinta das origens da “Crise Financeira”

Brief explanation about the Financial Crisis.



No caso de estar alguém ainda, no escuro, à procura das causas da crise financeira, escusam de queimar mais neurónios. Aqui se apresenta sucinta e interessante explicação.
Ninguém sabe ao certo onde nasceram estas versões mas quem quer que tenha juntado esta sequencia merece um grande aplauso pela explicação simples de algo que tentam pintar de complexo.
Naturalmente que existem mais detalhes à volta da onda da crise mas, mesmo assim, vale a pena visitar a cratera originária. E de original estes “Esquemas Ponzi” tem pouco – não passando de esquemas de curto prazo que, quando rebentam, distribuem estragos a longo prazo.


E vamos então à explicação da origem da “Crise Financeira” (versão Brasileira):

"O seu José tem um bar, na Vila Carrapato, e decide que vai vender cachaça “na caderneta” (1) aos seus leais fregueses, todos bêbados e quase todos desempregados.
Porque decidiu vender a crédito, ele pode aumentar um pouquinho o preço da dose da branquinha (2) (a diferença é o sobrepreço que os pinguços (3) pagam pelo crédito) e ter um lucro maior.
O gerente do banco do seu José, um ousado administrador formado em curso de Administração e com MBA (4), decide que as cadernetas das dívidas do bar constituem, afinal, um ativo recebível, e começa a adiantar dinheiro ao boteco (5) tendo a pindura (6) dos pinguços como garantia.
Mais adiante, alguns executivos do banco lastreiam (7) os tais recebíveis (8) e os transformam em CDB, CDO, CCD, UTI, OVNI, SOS (9) ou qualquer outra sigla financeira que ninguém sabe exatamente o que quer dizer.
Esses adicionais instrumentos financeiros, alavancam o mercado de capitais e conduzem a operações estruturadas de derivativos, na BM&F (Bolsa de Mercadoria e de Futuros), cujo lastro inicial todo mundo desconhece (as tais cadernetas do seu José).
Mais adiante, esses derivativos estão sendo negociados como se fossem títulos sérios, com fortes garantias reais, nos mercados de 73 países.
Até que alguém descobre que os bêbados desempregados da Vila Carrapato não têm dinheiro para pagar as contas, e o Bar do seu José vai à falência.
E toda a cadeia financeira se desmorona."


(1) – Livro de créditos concedidos / Livro-Razão.
(2) – Aguardente.
(3) – Bêbados.
(4) – Master Business Administration.
(5) – Tasca.
(6) – Divida.
(7) – Dão peso e forma.
(8) – Dividas.
 (9) – Derivados financeiros transaccionáveis em Bolsa..



But there is Greek version too, written in English

(text and photo from unknown sources)
. And here it goes:


 ”Joana is the proprietor of a taverna in Greece. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed Greek alcoholics and as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.
Joana keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers’ “loans”).
Word soon gets around about Joana’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Joana’s bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume (but no actual money) for any bar in town.
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands Joana gets no resistance or complaint when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer – the most commonly consumed beverages.
Consequently, Joana’s gross sales volumes and paper profits increase massively.
A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Joana’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral…
He is rewarded with a six figure bonus for being a clever little banker.
At the bank’s corporate headquarters in Athens, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS. These “securities” are then bundled and traded on international securities markets in Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Rome.

Naive investors who buy into these DRINKBONDS don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AA Secured Bonds” are really debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the leading brokerage houses across Europe including London.
The traders all receive a six figure bonus.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank in Greece decides that the time has come to demand some kind of payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Joana’s bar. He therefore informs Joana. Joana is in turn then obliged to demand payment from her alcoholic patrons but, being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Joana cannot fulfill her loan obligations to her local bank she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Joana’s 11 employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community. This contagion rapidly spreads upwards to the parent bank in Athens and the bank collapses.

These local and national financiers of Joana’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the DRINKBOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt a losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations; her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local brewery and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion Euro no-strings attached cash infusion from the government in Berlin.

All these bankers and brokers involved in the “Rescue Plan “receive a six figure bonus.

The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who’ve never been in Joana’s bar. Most of them don’t even live in Greece.”



Penso que ficou percebido!

quinta-feira, 22 de maio de 2014

O (i)Relevante?- Parlamento Europeu 2014

Mais uma nova rodada de eleições para o Parlamento Europeu.

Passados 5 anos da ultima, voltam novamente os partidos a testar a aceitação e bênção do voto popular a novas caras para os já conhecidos "paraísos" da representação "democrática" - ou da (i)rrelevância e (in)utilidade publica. E este exercício de procura de razões para votar nas Europeias torna-se num duro trabalho para evitar a (i)diotice.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

E se ao menos o Conselho Europeu, ou a Comissão Europeia, nos pudessem representar, ou valer, já não seria mau. Mas, pelos sinais que tem chegado, essa esperança não se tem mantido lá muito sólida.





terça-feira, 20 de maio de 2014

European Union - and Democratic Legitimacy

Memorandum submitted to the UK Parliament by Professor Vernon Bogdanor
(CBE, Professor of Government, Oxford University )


  I.  There is clear evidence that the European Union is losing democratic legitimacy. It faces the challenge of harnessing popular sentiment to the construction of Europe. That challenge can best be met by adapting British ideas of responsible government to the working of the institutions of the Union; and by introducing a measure of direct democracy, in the form of the referendum, not to overcome the institutions of the Union, but to supplement them.

   II.  It has become a commonplace that the European Union is suffering from a democratic deficit, because the European Parliament is unable to hold the executive of the European Union to account. Much of the reform agenda which European leaders are preparing for the next intergovernmental conference in the year 2004 is devoted to the internal relationships between the institutions of the European Union and the appropriate balance between them.

  The main problem facing the Union, however, is less an imbalance between the institutions than popular alienation from its objectives. Indeed, this alienation is coming to threaten the very legitimacy of the Union itself. It is a striking fact that turnout for the European Parliament elections has fallen steadily and continuously since 1979, the year of the first European Parliament elections.

TURNOUT IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS, 1979-99



  In the last elections in 1999, fewer than half of the eligible electorate voted; and this figure itself overstates the true level of voluntary participation, since voting is compulsory in Belgium, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg.


In the two countries which are seen as the motor of European Union, France and Germany, turnout was 47.0 per cent and 45.2 per cent respectively. In the three new member states, Austria, Finland and Sweden, which voted for the first time in European elections, turnout was, respectively, 49.0 per cent, 30.1 per cent and 38.3 per cent. Turnout was lowest in Britain at 24 per cent. In parts of Liverpool, turnout was just 8 per cent. Turnout in Britain, it has been pointed out, was lower than the percentage who were prepared to "vote" in a popular television programme called "Big Brother". It is hardly possible for the European Parliament to claim a mandate to represent the opinions of 370 million people of the European Union when fewer than half of its eligible electorate is willing to vote for it.

  This fall in turnout is paradoxical, since it has occurred at a time when the power and influence of the European Parliament have greatly increased, largely due to two major amendments of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act of 1986 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. In 1979, at the time of the first direct elections, many commentators, dismayed by a turnout far lower than they had hoped, claimed that apathy was inevitable at a time when the European Parliament had so few powers. Voters could not, they suggested, be persuaded to turn out to elect what would prove to be little more than a talking shop. However, the increase in powers for the European Parliament has coincided with a steady decrease, not an increase, in the percentage of European electors willing to turn out to vote for it. There is thus a striking contrast between the progressive transfer of competences to the European level and the lack of popular involvement on the part of the European electorate. This failure to mobilise popular consent is now the principal weakness of the European project.

  There seems, then, little enthusiasm for the European electoral process. Not only is the European Parliament unable to help create a European consciousness, but, far from being seen as the protector of the citizen against the machinery of European bureaucracy, it has come to be regarded rather as part of that machinery itself. Instead of being a counterweight to the technocratic elements in European Union, it is perceived as an element in that technostructure, part of an alienated superstructure.

  This failing on the part of the European Parliament, so it is suggested, is not contingent, but inherent in the way that European institutions have developed since 1958 and on the tacit understandings which underlie them.

  The European Parliament stems from the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community set up in 1952, which was restricted to the exercise of largely "supervisory" powers. It was not at the time seen as central to the European project, but was tacked on to the other institutions of the Community in a somewhat perfunctory way. In the Treaty of Rome, as ratified in 1958, the powers of the Parliament were described in Article 137 as "advisory" as well as "supervisory". The European Community, then, was to be based not on parliamentary government, but on government by wise men and women situated in the Commission, which was perhaps seen as a European analogue to the French Commissariat du Plan.

  The European Union has been very much influenced by the ethos of consociational democracy. This is little understood in Britain where the ethos of the Union is often, and in a rather facile manner, compared to that of a federal state. In a consociational state, however, as it existed in the Netherlands, for example, politics operated by elite agreement, and the various groupings forming the consociation—in the Netherlands, Catholics Protestants and Liberals, in the European Union, the peoples of the member states—remain separate. In such a consociational system, the legislature foregoes much of its classical role of scrutinising government and holding it to account. For neither the legislature nor the people dare untie the packages agreed by elites, since it is elite agreement which holds the system together.[1]

  What both the French technocratic ethos and the Dutch consociational ethos have in common is their denial of the basic principle of parliamentary government, that government should be responsible to parliament. For the French, parliamentary interference would have ruined the European project, as it had ruined the 3rd and 4th Republics. For the Dutch, parliamentary government would have divided Europeans in an unacceptable way, and so hindered the prospect of reaching agreement. Such ideas were, of course more plausible in a period when there was deference to political leaders, when the leaders led and the followers followed. It has become less plausible in an era when the leaders continue to lead but the followers decline to follow.

  The consequence, however, was bound to be a restricted role for the European Parliament. Thus, elections to that Parliament do not, as we have seen, fulfil the functions which elections are normally expected to perform. In Britain, and in most other democracies, elections confer legitimacy because they fulfil three inter-related functions. They offer the voter first a choice of government, second a choice of who should lead that government, so providing it with a recognisable human face, and third the choice of a set of policies.

  Elections to the European Parliament, however, fulfil none of these functions. They do not determine the political colour of the European Union, nor do they determine how it is to be governed, for the government of the Union is shared between the Council of Ministers and the Commission, and the composition of neither of these bodies is affected by European elections. Therefore European elections do little to help determine the policies followed by the Union; nor do they yield personalised or recognisable leadership for the Union. This has important consequences particularly in foreign policy. Henry Kissinger once complained that if he wanted to telephone the spokesman for Europe, he did not know what number to ring. "Who do I call? Who is Mr. Europe? If I wish to consult Europe, and I have a phone in front of me, what number do I dial?" At the time of the Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986, Europe, whose interests were clearly affected, was conspicuous by its absence. "Our old continent is absent from the major negotiations between super powers at which Europe's fate is being sealed", the European Parliament complained. "No single person is in a position to represent it".[2] The situation is hardly different today. The creation in 1999 of the post of Secretary-General and High Representative for Commission Foreign and Security Policy, hardly fills the gap. Indeed, it is doubtful if most Europeans know the name of the current incumbent, Javier Solana, who was not, of course, chosen by anything resembling a democratic process, and is therefore in no sense a political leader.

  The Presidency of the European Commission is decided not by the voters but by private dealings between the governments of the member states. In 1994, for example, Jean Dehaene, the Prime Minister of Belgium, who had been proposed as successor to Jacques Delors, was thought to be unsuitable, not by the European Parliament, but by Britain's Prime Minister, John Major, who believed that Dehaene was too "federalist". Europe's leaders then agreed upon Jacques Santer as his replacement. But this whole process took place without any involvement or even consultation on the part of the European Parliament, which, nevertheless, formally approved Santer as President.

  Yet, Santer, who was a Christian Democrat from Luxembourg, was approved by a newly-elected Parliament containing a majority from the Left. The European Parliament seemed perfectly prepared to endorse a President who did not represent the majority of its members.

  In March 1999, three months before the next round of European Parliament elections, the European Commission resigned en bloc, following allegations of corruption. This led to the replacement of Jacques Santer as President of the Commission by Romano Prodi. It did not seem to have occurred to the leaders of Europe, meeting in private conclave, to await the result of the European Parliament elections before deciding upon Prodi as the next President.

  Moreover, the nomination of individual commissioners by the member states bears no necessary relationship to the electoral success of the political parties. In the 1999 European elections in Germany, for example, the CDU/CSU, the German component of the Christian Democrat transnational European Peoples Party, secured the largest number of votes, but the SPD/Green government nevertheless appointed an SPD and a Green commissioner. It would be difficult to find more striking illustrations of the irrelevance of the European Parliament to the governance of Europe, indeed of the irrelevance of the elections themselves.

  In elections in the member states of the Union, electors generally sees a connection between their vote and the actual outcome in terms of policy and leadership. Elections to the European Parliament, however, do not lead to the choice of an executive nor of an electoral college which chooses an executive. It is hardly possible, therefore, for electors to perceive any connection between their vote and the policy of the Union.

  Thus elections to the European Parliament, although in form transnational, have become in practice a series of national test elections, analysed for their implications upon the domestic policies of the member states, rather than the European Union. They are second-order elections in that their outcome is dependent not on European matters, but on national party allegiances, modified by the popularity or the unpopularity of the incumbent government in each member state.[3] They thus bear some resemblance to transnational opinion polls charting the fortunes of the main domestic forces in the various member states. But this means that they are unable to confer legitimacy on the European project.

  III.  This weakness has become particularly striking since, in Europe, from the late 1960s, as in democracies in other parts of the world, the demand for political participation has grown apace. One consequence of this has been that the mismatch between popular expectations and the performance of government widened during the 1980s and 1990s. For the effects of social change—rising living standards, the gradual embourgeoisement of the working class, the spreading ownership of property, shares and other assets—all served to diffuse economic power more widely and to erode traditional attitudes towards authority. The development of information technology and the coming of an information society seemed to make possible a radical dispersal of decision-making so that centralized, top-down methods of government came to appear outdated. Many, perhaps most, democracies elected governments which sought to move in the direction of a market economy emphasising the importance of individual choice in both the public and private sectors; one consequence was the development of a consumerist culture so that, in social and economic affairs at least, the individual gained sovereignty. The governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, moreover, sought to make public institutions themselves more accountable, both through privatisation, and by encouraging devolution from local authorities to individual institutions such as schools and housing estates. The central theme was the attempt to give individuals more control over institutions providing public services. Britain indeed was a pioneer in the 1990s in a revolution in government and in attitudes to government, a revolution which sought to resolve the paradox that the triumph of liberal democracy, following the collapse of Communism, seemed to be accompanied by growing alienation from government. If one had to sum up this revolution, one could say that its essence consisted in government becoming more consumer and voter-friendly, more concerned with outputs than inputs, more concerned to satisfy the needs of voters and citizens. The "Citizen's Charter", introduced by John Major in 1991 was much mocked at its inception, but its basic principle has been copied in a number of other democratic countries. The reforms, sometimes rather superficially attributed to "Thatcherism" were in fact widely adopted, even in countries ruled by governments of the Left—France, for example, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.

  Nevertheless, the growth of consumer sovereignty was not in general matched by corresponding changes in the political sphere. There was indeed something of a contrast between the return of individualism in economic life and the relatively passive role which individuals were expected to adopt towards their political institutions. Voters, however, have begun to show a disconcerting insistence on untying the consociational packages that their leaders have agreed. That process was apparent in the referendums on the Maastricht and Nice treaties in Denmark, France and Ireland. It might have been apparent in other member states also had they been required to ratify these treaties by referendum. The packages agreed with much effort by political leaders, therefore, are in danger of being untied as the demand for popular involvement in decisions-making asserts itself. Perhaps indeed the concept of "consociational democracy" is actually a contradiction in terms. Perhaps consociational systems only work by denying democratic participation in what are seen as the wider interests of the stability of the system. What is clear is that it is no longer, as perhaps it may once have been, a satisfactory method of governing a community whose members see themselves as active citizens.

  Because the institutions of the European Union are seen as being so remote from the voter, reforms involving rejigging (rearrange) these institutions or inventing new institutions are unlikely to prove of value. The European Union is already cluttered with institutions. It needs a streamlining of institutions, and the reconnecting of its institutions with the people, not more institutions.

  The European Union has, in particular, no need for a second chamber of the European Parliament, composed of national parliamentarians from the member states. Such a second chamber which would be analogous perhaps to the Bundesrat in the German Federal Republic, or the American Senate before direct election was introduced in 1913, would serve to impose the pre-1979 European Parliament on top of the post-1979 Parliament. It would tend not to the clarifying of accountability, but to the blurring of accountability, since national electorates are already linked to the Council of Ministers through their national political parties. The need now is to link national electorates to the Commission through the transnational political parties.

  IV.  If, then, the constitutional structure of the European Union does not yield accountability to the voters of Europe, how might such accountability be secured? Some of Europe's more far-sighted leaders have come to favor the introduction of an element of direct election in European institutions. Ex-President Giscard of France, for example, has advocated that the President of the European Council be directly elected by universal suffrage, while Jacques Delors has called for the direct election of the President of the Commission, and, as a first step towards that aim, the election of the Commission President by an electoral college comprising members of national parliaments and the European Parliament. Jacques Chirac, also, has shown considerable sympathy with the idea of direct election.

  It is, perhaps, not at all surprising that support for direct election comes from France whose 5th Republic finds so important a place both for direct election of the President and for the referendum. Indeed, it may be argued that if the European Community reflects in part the ethos of the French 4th Republic, it should now be replaced by a system based on the ethos of the French 5th Republic, and this is the aim of the French reformers.

  Direct election would explicitly recognise the principle of the sovereignty of the people as the foundation-stone of a united Europe. It seeks to meet the central challenge facing Europe which is that of discovering some means of bridging the gap between the elite and the people so as to construct a European consciousness without which the whole European idea will remain an empty construct.

  Direct election would enable European voters to influence the policy of the European Union and to choose its government. It would provide that democratic base of legitimacy which at present the European Union lacks. There would then be a strong incentive for Europeans to vote in elections genuinely designed to determine the political orientation of the Union. Moreover, direct election would focus popular interest on European issues, giving them glamour and excitement, qualities sadly lacking at present, and it might therefore prove a remedy for falling turnout and electoral apathy.

  But there are two obvious objections to the idea of direct election. The first is that European solidarity is probably not yet sufficiently advanced for the nationals of one member state to be willing to support the national of another as in effect leader of Europe. Indeed, it may be argued that the proposal for direct election presupposes the very solidarity which it is intended to help create.

  Secondly, any alteration in the method of electing the President of the European Council or the Commission would require an amendment to the Treaty. Such an amendment would need to be carried unanimously by every member state. In two member states, Denmark and Ireland, Treaty amendment requires approval by the people in a referendum. In both countries, referendums have led to rejection—of the Maastricht Treaty in Denmark in 1992, and of the Nice Treaty in Ireland in 2001. In another member state, France, where a referendum was not constitutionally required, the government nevertheless called one on the Maastricht treaty in 1993, and this led to but a narrow majority for the treaty. The two rejections and the one near-rejection led to major crises in the European Union.

  It is highly unlikely that, in the current state of Euro-scepticism, unanimous agreement could be secured for an amendment proposing direct election of the President of the Commission or of the European Council. At least one member state and possibly more, would probably reject such a proposal, not only ensuring its defeat, but causing a further crisis in the Union. This would reawaken the same atavistic sentiments which Maastricht aroused. The proposal for direct election is again seen to presuppose that very European solidarity which it seeks to create.

  But, if the French method of democratising the European Union seems too Utopian to work in current circumstances, the same may not be true for the British notion of parliamentary responsibility. Article 158 of the Treaty requires the President of the Commission to secure a vote of confidence before assuming office. This vote is generally a formality, and it would be refused only if someone manifestly unsuitable or corrupt were to be proposed. There is no reason, however, why this should continue to be so. There is no reason why the vote of confidence should remain a mere formality. Instead, it could be used, as of course it is in Britain, to enforce responsibility.

  In Britain, as in other parliamentary systems, a government's existence depends upon its ability to secure a majority in the legislature. If it fails to do so, it must resign. Why should not the same principle apply in the European Union? The European Parliament could, if it so wished, and without the need for any treaty amendment, simply insist that the political outlook of the President of the Commission, and indeed of the Commission as a whole, conform to that of the majority in the Parliament. Thus, a Left majority could insist that the President of the Commission and the Commission were taken from the Left, a Right majority, conversely, could insist that the President and the Commission came from the Right.

  If the Commission were to be dependent upon the majority in the European Parliament, this would entirely transform the role of the Parliament, for it would become an executive-generating body. There would then be an incentive for electors to turn out to vote in European Parliament elections since they would be helping to determine whether Europe was to be governed in a Leftward or a Rightward direction, something which has become of much greater importance with the development of economic and monetary union; electors would also be helping to determine the political leadership of Europe and the broad direction of public policy in Europe. The elections would become a real analogue of domestic elections rather than, as they are at present, a series of domestic elections conducted simultaneously. Elections to the European Parliament would fulfil the same three functions as domestic elections. They would be helping to determine the broad direction of public policy, choosing a government, to the extent that the Commission is in fact a "government", and helping to determine the political leadership of Europe.

  This transformation in the role of the European Parliament would almost certainly lead to further consequential changes. For voters would seek to know who the different transnational parties would nominate as Commission President. The larger political groups would probably nominate candidates for the Presidency before the European elections, thus making the process of choice of President more transparent. This would make the European elections in effect direct elections of the European Commission. The analogy with domestic elections, which, in Britain and many other democracies, have the function of directly electing the leader of the government, would be even more complete. Direct elections would then link voters to the Commission of the European Union through the transnational parties.

  The British contribution, then, could be to show how the fundamental principle of parliamentary government, of a government responsible to parliament, can be applied to the European Union so as both to yield accountability and to clarify the purpose of European elections.

  V.  The idea of responsibility, however, implies not only the responsibility of government to the legislature, collective responsibility, but also the responsibility of individual ministers to the legislature, individual responsibility. This too is an idea which could readily be adapted to the European Union.

  The essence of the notion of individual responsibility was well stated by Gladstone who declared that "In every free state, for every public act, some one must be responsible; and the question is, who shall it be? The British Constitution answers: `the minister and the minister exclusively'."[4] Ministerial responsibility in this sense is a fundamental principle of the British Constitution, defining and prescribing as it does the relationships both between ministers and officials and between ministers and Parliament. Indeed, it has the same importance in the British system of government as the concept of the separation of powers does in the American.

  Under the British system of government, executive powers are, with a few notable exceptions, conferred by Parliament upon ministers and not on officials. It is the concept of ministerial responsibility which buttresses the politically neutral role of civil servants. For it ensures that officials, with very few exceptions, speak and act in the name of ministers. They have no constitutional personality of their own. Everything that they do is, constitutionally, done under the authority of a minister, either express or implied. Thus, civil servants are accountable only to the ministers whom they serve. They have, in general, no direct accountability to Parliament. Ministerial responsibility allows the minister to be both the conduit through which accountability flows, and also the wall protecting officials from Parliament. Thus, the concept of ministerial responsibility sustains a structure of government within which ministers are served by permanent officials who are required to serve governments of any political colour, and who, at senior levels, are debarred from party affiliation. It is in this way that ministerial responsibility helps to sustain a politically neutral civil service.

  The sharp separation of ministerial and official roles which characterises Britain and the "old" Commonwealth countries—Canada, Australia and New Zealand—is not, by and large, met with in Europe. On the Continent, by contrast, there are instead the phenomena of the elected official and the unelected politician. Indeed, one of the reasons why we in Britain find it so difficult to understand the European Union is that in it important decisions can be taken by unelected persons, by European Commissioners. Jacques Delors, for example, a European leader of great authority and significance, was never elected to any position in the European Union, except the European Parliament between 1979 and 1981, when he left on being appointed Economics and Finance Minister in the new government of Francois Mitterrand. Nor was he ever elected to any domestic position, except in local government. It is little wonder that to British eyes the operation of the European Union often seems to blur responsibility and to confuse lines of accountability.

  The concept of responsibility both identifies who is under a duty to respond to questions by Parliament, but it can also be used to attribute blame. Thus, the principle of ministerial responsibility to Parliament prescribes, first, that a minister must answer to Parliament for every power conferred upon him or her; and second, that a minister is answerable to Parliament for the way in which he or she uses his powers. Parliament can, in the last resort, if it is unhappy about the way a in which a minister has exercised his or her powers, compel the resignation of the minister.

  There is a great contrast between the principle of ministerial responsibility as it operates in British government, and the absence of such responsibility in the European context. When, in 1999, various commissioners were accused of mismanagement and corruption, the European Parliament seemed to have no form of redress against the errant Commissioners. The only form of redress was to secure the resignation of the whole Commission en bloc, and that required a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament. At one time, it looked as if an overall, but not a two-thirds majority would be secured. This would have meant that the Commission, despite having lost the confidence of the Parliament, could continue, broken-backed, until the end of its term. But in any case the resignation of the whole Commission would have punished the innocent along with the guilty. It was as if in Britain, the only way to punish a minister who had made a mistake was to require the resignation of the government as a whole.[5]

  To introduce the principle of ministerial responsibility into the government of the European Union would not, it seems, require any constitutional amendment to the Treaty. It could be achieved if members of the European Parliament were prepared to use their existing powers to the full. In addition to a vote of no confidence in the Commission as a whole, it would be perfectly possible for the European Parliament to put down a motion of no confidence in a particular commissioner on the grounds of mismanagement, incompetence or corruption, and to insist on securing access to all the documents relevant to the decisions which were being questioned, in order to debate the motion. This would force the commissioner to defend his or her record, and it would act as a powerful incentive to better administration in the European Union. For, where there has been mismanagement, the Commissioner might well be required to demonstrate to the European Parliament that action had been taken to correct the mistake and to prevent any recurrence, and that, of course, could involve calling officials in the Commission to account for their mistakes, perhaps even subjecting them to disciplinary procedures. Certainly, the European Parliament would need to be assured that appropriate remedial measures had been taken. Thus, the principle of individual ministerial responsibility could be a powerful tool of accountability in the affairs of the European Union.

  VI.  The European Union is, as we have seen, based on conceptions of government that are outdated in the modern world of assertive democracy. It was much influenced by the ethos of 4th Republic France, which legitimised technocratic leadership, and sought to insulate this leadership from effective parliamentary scrutiny; and also by the ethos of consociational democracy which legitimised decision-making by elites, with the role of the electorate being confined to that of ratifying these decisions. It is time for these outdated conceptions to be replaced by the British ethos of parliamentary government, which entails the collective responsibility of the Commission to the European Parliament, and the individual responsibility of individual Commissioners for mismanagement, incompetence or corruption.

  But, even if such reforms were to be implemented, the electors of the European Union might still feel that their institutions were remote from them. For the key decisions on European matters would still be made by political elites, albeit accountable political elites.

  Liberal constitutional theory, however, suggests that power is entrusted to political elites, to legislators, by the people only for certain specific purposes. "The Legislative", Locke claims, "cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated power from the People, they who have it cannot pass it to others".[6] That principle has been broadly accepted as a constitutional convention in Britain, where major changes involving the transfer of the powers of Parliament, either upward to the European Union, or downwards, to devolved bodies in, for example, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, are thought to require endorsement through referendum.

  Constitutional theory, then, seems to require that the endorsement of the people is needed in a democratic polity when sovereignty is transferred. That constitutional principle was well understood by one of the founding fathers of the European Community, Altiero Spinelli, who hoped that his proposed European Union could be worked out by a European Parliament which had been granted a constituent mandate for that purpose through a referendum.

  The implication of this idea is that constitutional changes in the European Union need to be endorsed not only the parliaments of the member states, but also by the people. For the electors of the member states, so it might be said, entrust their leaders with the powers given to them by the Treaties; but they give them no authority to alter the Treaties themselves. That authority can only be given through the expression of popular wishes in a referendum. It would certainly concentrate the minds of European leaders if they knew that constitutional amendments to the Union would have to be put, not just to the legislatures of the member states, but also to the people in referendums.

  Use of the referendum for major constitutional changes in the European Union could perhaps be supplemented by also using it for certain major policy issues. Why should not the Social Chapter, for example, have been put to the European electorate for endorsement in a referendum? Electors in the European Union would have more reason to concern themselves with European issues if their vote was needed to validate them. European Union-wide referendums might then do a great deal to overcome the sense of alienation and remoteness felt by many Europeans; and it could lead to greater identification on the part of the European electorate with the European Union. But, above all, introduction of European-wide referendums into the politics of the European Union would be an explicit recognition of the principle of the sovereignty of the people, a principle without which a united and democratic Europe cannot be built.

  The challenge for the European Union, then, is to find a means to bridge the gap between the machinery of policy-making, which concentrates power in the hands of elites, and the ethos of democratic self-government which entails popular control of institutions. That challenge can only be met by introducing British ideas of responsible government into the European Union, and by a measure of direct democracy, intended not to replace the representative institutions of the Union, but to supplement them and help remedy their deficiencies. A genuine European Union can only be built with popular support. It cannot be built by holding the people at bay.

  VII.  These ideas for making the government of the European Union more accountable are based in part, of course, upon British constitutional experience and the lessons to be drawn from it. But the European Union is not likely to accept British ideas unless Britain can be persuaded to play a more constructive part in European affairs. It is perhaps worth pondering on the words spoken by Winston Churchill at the Albert Hall in 1947, when he insisted that, "If Europe united is to be a living force, Britain will have to play her full part as a member of the European family". These words remain as true today as they were fifty five years ago.

Vernon Bogdanor

September 2001

1   The idea of consociational democracy was developed by the Dutch political scientist, Arend Lijphart. See, for example, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration, 2nd edition, Yale University Press, 1977. Back

2   European Parliament: Committee on Institutional Affairs: Draft Report on The Presidency of the European Community. Part B: Explanatory Statement. PE 119.031/B. Para 6. Back

3   The German political scientist, Karlheinz Reif, was the first to characterise European elections as "second-order elections" in his book, Ten European Elections, Gower, 1985. Back

4   W E Gladstone, Gleanings from Past Years, John Murray, 1879, vol 1, p 233. Back

5   A lurid account of alleged fraud in the Commission, involving misappropriation of funds, corrupt dealings with contractors and "jobs for the boys", is to be found in a book by Paul Van Buitenen, formerly assistant auditor in the Financial Control Directorate in Brussels, Blowing the Whistle; One Man's Fight Against Fraud in the European Commission, Politico's, 2000. Back

6   John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, para 141. Back




sexta-feira, 16 de maio de 2014

A União Europeia - Visão de Natalia Correia

Premonições dos anos 80 - da deputada do PPD - NATÁLIA CORREIA

Natália Correia - intelectual, poeta, activista social açoriana, deputada à Assembleia da República pelo circulo do PPD (Partido Popular Democrático), faleceu em 16 de Março de 1993, com 69 anos de idade.

"A nossa entrada (na CEE) vai provocar gravíssimos retrocessos no país, a Europa não é solidária com ninguém, explorar-nos-á miseravelmente como grande agiota que nunca deixou de ser. A sua vocação é ser colonialista".

    "A sua influência (dos retornados, como o actual Primeiro Ministro) na sociedade portuguesa não vai sentir-se apenas agora, embora seja imensa. Vai dar-se sobretudo quando os seus filhos, hoje crianças, crescerem e tomarem o poder. Essa será uma geração bem preparada e determinada, sobretudo muito realista devido ao trauma da descolonização, que não compreendeu nem aceitou, nem esqueceu. Os genes de África estão nela para sempre, dando-lhe visões do país diferentes das nossas. Mais largas mas menos profundas. Isso levará os que desempenharem cargos de responsabilidade a cair na tentação de querer modificar-nos, por pulsões inconscientes de, sei lá, talvez vingança!"

"Portugal vai entrar num tempo de subcultura, de retrocesso cultural, como toda a Europa, todo o Ocidente".

 "Mais de oitenta por cento do que fazemos não serve para nada. E ainda querem que trabalhemos mais. Para quê? Além disso, a produtividade hoje não depende já do esforço humano, mas da sofisticação tecnológica".

"Os neoliberais vão tentar destruir os sistemas sociais existentes, sobretudo os dirigidos aos idosos. Só me espanta que perante esta realidade ainda haja pessoas a pôr gente neste desgraçado mundo e votos neste reaccionário centrão".

"Há a cultura, a fé, o amor, a solidariedade. Que será, porém, de Portugal quando deixar de ter dirigentes que acreditem nestes valores?"

"As primeiras décadas do próximo milénio serão terríveis. Miséria, fome, corrupção, desemprego, violência, abater-se-ão aqui por muito tempo. A Comunidade Europeia vai ser um logro. O Serviço Nacional de Saúde, a maior conquista do 25 de Abril, e Estado Social e a independência nacional sofrerão gravíssimas rupturas. Abandonados, os idosos vão definhar, morrer, por falta de assistência e de comida. Espoliada, a classe média declinará, só haverá muito ricos e muito pobres. A indiferença que se observa ante, por exemplo, o desmoronar das cidades e o incêndio das florestas é uma antecipação disso, de outras derrocadas a vir"."

    Natália Correia


    

    Nota: Citações retiradas do livro "O Botequim da Liberdade", de Fernando Dacosta.

sábado, 10 de maio de 2014

Sistemas de Educação Públicos


Os actuais sistemas de educação pública promovem ou reduzem?
(Se calhar promovem ... a redução)



Com maior ou menor profundidade, todos nós já olhamos com sentido crítico para o sistema de ensino que vigora no actual regime. Afinal, duma forma ou doutra, com maior ou menor extensão, todos passamos por ele.

E olhamos não no sentido da contemplação de mais uma criação humana mas sim numa avaliação do seu contributo para a melhor realização pessoal, assim como do proveito que aporta a cada um - comparando o imenso tempo e esforço que das nossas vidas foi a ele dedicado - com as alternativas de que poderíamos ter beneficiado em seu lugar.



Para quem já percorreu alguma distância na vida e já consegue ter uma perspectiva dos vários subsistemas por onde passou; quem já tem filhos e vê a continuada metamorfose do sistema anterior, sempre operada no mesmo sentido (subtraindo ainda mais tempo livre às crianças e jovens, ocupando-o com curriculum de relevância discutível), nota, sem grande margem para duvida, que há algo de muito errado, ou ilusório, neste sistema.

O prolongamento do limite da escolaridade obrigatória teve propósitos louváveis mas, passado todo este tempo, foram-se mostrando mais como exercícios de retórica do que outra coisa qualquer; mais uma mascara do que a cara. Não se aprendeu mais mas demorou-se mais a aprender o mesmo; não se acrescentou matéria útil aos curriculum’s mas subtraiu-se tempo livre para viver a adolescência e procurar talentos próprios; não se libertou os jovens para a vida e para a realização pessoal mas reteve-se-os o mais possível num pântano de "irrelevâncias" até terminar a melhor e mais brilhante fase das suas vidas; não se prepararam jovens criativos e activos mas contribui-se, atrasando o fim da escolaridade,  para mascarar as estatísticas e imagem do desemprego.

  



Ninguém tem grandes duvidas acerca do imenso valor dos instrumentos de comunicação desenvolvidos pela humanidade (fala e escrita), do imenso valor das conquistas tecnológicas e cientificas facilitadoras da vida humana, do grande valor que foi a expansão cultural e o desenvolvimento dum sentido de realização e de propósito transcendente da espécie humana.
E todos sabemos que ninguém nasce aprendido e que há necessidade de passar o testemunho, às gerações que se seguem, daquilo que já foi conquistado. Mas por regra esquecem-se os antecessores (ou aqueles que conduzem o processo institucionalizado de passagem do testemunho – pedagogos e/ou mestres) que a passagem dessa herança não convêm ser feita a seres incapazes de se adaptarem às suas próprias circunstâncias, de  ajuizarem, inventarem, decidirem ou executarem o que lhes convêm e o que necessitam para se ajustar às eternas mudanças da vida.



Naturalmente que os sistemas de ensino (publico) tem o seu quê de ideológico e que essa ideologia habitualmente tem por objectivo a manutenção do vigente equilíbrio social e politico. Num sistema estável, onde a pirâmide hierárquica de poderes e privilégios se encontra definida e auto-reprodutível, não é habitual as lideranças favoreçam soluções que gerem alternativas fora do seu quadro de interesses. Os sistemas devem servir, bem, quem dirige e qualquer alternativa a eles pode por em risco o valioso “status-quo”. Daí que os sistemas de ensino aplicados às “massas” não são, nem de perto nem de longe, aqueles que lhes serviriam melhor mas sim aqueles que servem quem dirige e, naturalmente, quem tem o poder para os desenhar e impor.


Assumindo que é assim porque "manda quem pode",  esse "conforto" tem o seu tempo de vida; não dura sempre. Quando explorado até ao limite corre sérios risco de encontrar o dia em que não tem soluções nem alternativas. Um adulto moderno, capaz e responsável demora quase duas décadas a preparar ... e se se chegar a um tempo em que eles já não existam com suficiência, a humanidade será conduzida com aquilo que houver ... correndo os prováveis riscos que a história claramente mostra.


Assim enchem-se as escolas e universidades de crianças e jovens, acenando-se-lhes com o “engodo” de ser condição necessária (sacrifício prévio) para uma futura vida afluente, fácil e socialmente relevante - sem notório propósito de incluir algo que potencie a capacidade pessoal criadora, inovadora e realizadora.



E vemos o segundo ciclo do ensino publico impor um horário de 33 tempos semanais (quase 7 tempos diários) a crianças de até 12 anos de idade, com algumas disciplinas tão irrelevantes como “Cidadania” e “Viver em Sociedade” (só assistindo a essas aulas e á proverbial preparação/motivação de alguns professores, se compreende a sua irrelevância), com disciplinas de Educação Artística e Tecnológica que, frequentemente, promovem mais o retrocesso do que progresso e avanço; com quilos de bibliografia e cadernos na mochila - e com um horário que, de tão denso, pouco ou nada deixa à livre iniciativa, à diversão, à experimentação e socialização de cada individuo.

E se é assim no primeiro ciclo, não é muito diferente nas universidades, nomeadamente nas técnicas. Nestas, onde a pretexto de agilizarem as tacanhas mentes mal trabalhadas pelos inferiores graus do ensino, carregam-se os curriculum dos primeiros anos com ciência pura, com cálculo integral e diferencial desmesurado, com séries de Fourier e teoremas de Lagrange, Laplace, Euler e Cauchy, com linguagens  informáticas obsoletas, enfim, com um comboio de matérias basicamente inúteis a 99% dos formandos. E tudo isto sempre organizado de forma a se ocupar o tempo do estudante e não lhe deixar grande margem para expandir e expressar as suas particulares potencialidades.

Enfim um sistema universitário que serve os seus interesses e egoísmos corporativos (dos seus profissionais), mascarando esse propósito dominante com o interesse publico e com o dos alunos.



E neste entretanto consome-se a melhor parte da vida de uma geração. Vinte e quatro anos voam na correria entre casa e a escola e chegam os formandos ao fim constatando que, do necessário, útil, interessante ou do prático, nada sabem. E começa ai a nova aprendizagem da vida real ... um quarto de século após o nascimento ... o melhor terço da vida já consumido.



Trata-se de uma caricatura ou exagero mas, com muita frequência, a citação abaixo aproxima-se da realidade.
"Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent."
John Maynard Keynes



E valerá a pena, assim, investir muito na excelência da prestação académica quando se não tem qualquer garantia de que "dessa moita possa sair coelho"?


A enorme aceitação pública do álbum abaixo (Roger Waters - Pink Floyd) é uma prova incontornável da pertinência que o assunto já tinha nos idos anos 70!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhgE5bfcFTU



A propósito desta organização do ensino no mundo moderno ocidental retive três excertos de livro ou palestras que valem a pena aqui expor: Duas palestras de Sir. Ken Robinson (autoridade global na matéria), e o outro de Carroll Quigley, uma das mentes brilhantes mais abrangentes do ultimo século.
 

A primeira palestra, intitulada "Do schools kill creativity?", dirigida a lideres do sistema (e publicada no youtube), reza assim: 

  



""And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents.
And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.
So I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.


When my son was four in England ... He was in the Nativity play.
 ... But James got the part of Joseph ... He didn't have to speak, but you know the bit where the three kings come in. They come in bearing gifts, and they bring gold, frankincense and myrhh.
This really happened. We were sitting there and I think they just went out of sequence,
because we talked to the little boy afterward and we said, "You OK with that?" And he said, "Yeah, why? Was that wrong?"
They just switched, that was it.
Anyway, the three boys came in - four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads -
and they put these boxes down,
and the first boy said, "I bring you gold."
And the second boy said, "I bring you myrhh."
And the third boy said, "Frank sent this." (Laughter)
What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance.
If they don't know, they'll have a go.
Am I right? They're not frightened of being wrong."

"Now, I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative.
What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.
And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity.
They have become frightened of being wrong.
And we run our companies like this, by the way.
We stigmatize mistakes. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.
And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.
Picasso once said this - he said that all children are born artists.
The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it."

 



“ … we lived in a place called Snitterfield, just outside Stratford, which is where
Shakespeare's father was born. Are you struck by a new thought? I was.
You don't think of Shakespeare having a father, do you?
Do you? Because you don't think of Shakespeare being a child, do you?
Shakespeare being seven? I never thought of it. I mean, he was seven at some point. He was in somebody's English class, wasn't he? How annoying would that be?
 (Laughter) "Must try harder, William". Being sent to bed by his dad, "Go to bed, now" and "put the pencil down and stop speaking like that. It's confusing everybody” (Laughter)."



"But something strikes you when you move to America and when you travel around the world:
Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects.
Every one. Doesn't matter where you go. You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't.
At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth."

 
 
 "And in pretty much every system too, there's a hierarchy within the arts.
Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children
the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not?
I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance.
Children dance all the time if they're allowed to; we all do.
We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a something? (Laughter)
Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them
progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.
If you were to visit education, as an alien, and say "What's it for, public education?"
I think you'd have to conclude - if you look at the output, who really succeeds by this,
who does everything that they should, who gets all the brownie points, who are the winners - I think you'd have to conclude the whole purpose of public education
throughout the world is to produce university professors. Isn't it?
They're the people who come out the top.
And I used to be one, so there. (Laughter)
And I like university professors, but you know, we shouldn't hold them up as the high-water mark of all human achievement. They're just a form of life, another form of life. But they're rather curious, and I say this out of affection for them.
There's something curious about professors in my experience - not all of them, but typically -- they live in their heads.
They live up there, and slightly to one side.
They're disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way.
They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads, don't they?”(Laughter) It's a way of getting their head to meetings.”
 
"Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability.
And there's a reason.
The whole system was invented - around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century.
They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism."



"So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas.
Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right?
Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician; don't do art, you won't be an artist.
Benign advice - now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.
And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image.
If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance.
And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at. at school wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized."

And I think we can't afford to go on that way."


"In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO, more people worldwide will be graduating

through education than since the beginning of history.

More people, and it's the combination of all the things we've talked about -

technology and its transformation effect on work, and demography and the huge explosion in population.

Suddenly, degrees aren't worth anything. Isn't that true?

When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job.

If you didn't have a job it's because you didn't want one.

And I didn't want one, frankly. (Laughter)

But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games, because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other.

It's a process of academic inflation.

And it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence."

"We know three things about intelligence.
 One, it's diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically.

We think in abstract terms, we think in movement.

Secondly, intelligence is dynamic.

If you look at the interactions of a human brain, as we heard yesterday from a number of presentations, intelligence is wonderfully interactive.

The brain isn't divided into compartments.

In fact, creativity -- which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value - more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.
The brain is intentionally - by the way, there's a shaft of nerves that joins the two halves of the brain called the corpus callosum. It's thicker in women."

A segunda palestra do mesmo autor, intitulada "Bring on the learning revolution?", dirigida a lideres do sistema (e publicada no youtube-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9LelXa3U_I)
 

Transcrição completa em: FLAVIUS ATLANTIKUS: Sir Ken Robinson - Bring on the learning revolution
 E reza assim:
And high among them (explanations why people feel like that) is education, because education, in a way, dislocates very many people from their natural talents.
And human resources are like natural resources; they're often buried deep.
You have to go looking for them, they're not just lying around on the surface.
You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.
And you might imagine education would be the way that happens, but too often it's not.
Every education system in the world is being reformed at the moment and it's not enough.
Reform is no use anymore, because that's simply improving a broken model.
What we need - and the word's been used many times during the course of the past few days - is not evolution, but a revolution in education.
This has to be transformed into something else."

"I came across a great quote recently from Abraham Lincoln, who I thought you'd be pleased to have quoted at this point.
... e said this:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.
The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion."
I love that.
Not rise to it; rise with it.
"As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
I love that word, "disenthrall."
You know what it means?
That there are ideas that all of us are enthralled to, which we simply take for granted as the natural order of things, the way things are.
And many of our ideas have been formed, not to meet the circumstances of this century, but to cope with the circumstances of previous centuries.
....
How many of you here are over the age of 25?
Now, those over 25, could you put your hands up if you're wearing your wristwatch?
Now that's a great deal of us, isn't it?
Ask a room full of teenagers the same thing.
Teenagers do not wear wristwatches.
I don't mean they can't or they're not allowed to, they just often choose not to.
And the reason is, you see, that we were brought up in a pre-digital culture, those of us over 25.
And so for us, if you want to know the time you have to wear something to tell it.
Kids now live in a world which is digitized, and the time, for them, is everywhere.
They see no reason to do this.
And by the way, you don't need to do it either; it's just that you've always done it and you carry on doing it."
"One of them is the idea of linearity:
... that it starts here and you go through a track and if you do everything right, you will end up set for the rest of your life. (and as we have seen previously) ...life is not linear; it's organic.
We create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances they help to create for us.
But, you know, we have become obsessed with this linear narrative.
And probably the pinnacle for education is getting you to college.
I think we are obsessed with getting people to college.
Certain sorts of college.
I don't mean you shouldn't go to college, but not everybody needs to go and not everybody needs to go now.
Maybe they go later, not right away."
"You know, to me, human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability.
At the heart of the challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence.
This linearity thing is a problem."
"The other big issue is conformity.
We have built our education systems on the model of fast food.
This is something Jamie Oliver talked about the other day.
You know there are two models of quality assurance in catering.
One is fast food, where everything is standardized.
The other are things like Zagat and Michelin restaurants, where everything is not standardized, they're customized to local circumstances.
And we have sold ourselves into a fast food model of education, and it's impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies"
"One is that human talent is tremendously diverse.
People have very different aptitudes.
I worked out recently that I was given a guitar as a kid at about the same time that Eric Clapton got his first guitar.
You know, it worked out for Eric, that's all I'm saying. (Laughter)
In a way, it did not for me.
I could not get this thing to work no matter how often or how hard I blew into it.
 (Laughter) It just wouldn't work.
But it's not only about that.
It's about passion.
Often, people are good at things they don't really care for.
It's about passion, and what excites our spirit and our energy.
And if you're doing the thing that you love to do, that you're good at, time takes a different course entirely.
You know this, if you're doing something you love, an hour feels like five minutes.
If you're doing something that doesn't resonate with your spirit, five minutes feels like an hour.
And the reason so many people are opting out of education is because it doesn't feed their spirit, it doesn't feed their energy or their passion."
 
"So I think we have to change metaphors.
We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people.
We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture.
We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process;
it's an organic process.
And you cannot predict the outcome of human development.
All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish."

There's been a lot of talk about dreams over the course of this few days.
I wanted to read you a quick, very short poem from W. B. Yeats, who some of you may know.
He wrote this to his love, Maud Gonne, and he was bewailing the fact that he couldn't really give her what he thought she wanted from him.
And he says, "I've got something else, but it may not be for you."
He says this:

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with gold and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet.
And we should tread them softly."


O ultimo, extraído do livro “Tragedy and Hope” (1966), de Carrol Quigley, inserido no capitulo “The United States and the Middle-Class Crisis.(pag. 1274 e seguintes). Integrando o assunto num contexto mais vasto, reza assim:

Versão completa em:  FLAVIUS ATLANTIKUS: Education and the Middle-Class Crisis


"In his farewell report the Chairman of Harvard's Admissions Committee, Wilbur Bender, summed up the problem this way: 

     "The student who ranks first in his class may be genuinely brilliant or he may be a compulsive worker or the instrument of domineering parents ambitions or a conformist or a self-centered careerist who has shrewdly calculated his teachers prejudices and expectations and discovered how to regurgitate efficiently what they want. Or he may have focused narrowly on grade-getting as compensation for his inadequacies in other areas, because he lacks other interests or talents or lacks passion and warmth or normal healthy instincts or is afraid of life. The top high school student is often, frankly, a pretty dull and bloodless, or peculiar fellow. The adolescent with wide-ranging curiosity and stubborn independence, with a vivid imagination and desire to explore fascinating bypaths, to follow his own interests, to contemplate, to read the un-required books, the boy filled with sheer love of life and exuberance, may well seem to his teachers troublesome, undisciplined, a rebel, may not conform to their stereotype, and may not get the top grades and the highest rank in class. He may not even score at the highest level in the standard multiple choice admissions tests, which may well reward the glib, facile mind at the expense of the questioning, independent, or slower but more powerful, more subtle, and more interesting and original mind.

     These remarks bring us close to one of the major problems in American culture today. We need a culture that will produce people eager to do things, but we need even more a culture that will make it possible to decide what to do. This is the old division of means and goals. Decisions about goals require values, meaning, context, perspective. They can be set, even tentatively and approximately, only by people who have some inkling of the whole picture. The middle-class culture of our past ignored the whole picture and destroyed our ability to see it by its emphasis on specialization. Just as mass production came to be based on specialization, so human preparation for making decisions about goals also became based on specialization. The free elective system in higher education was associated with choice of a major field of specialization, and all the talk about liberal arts, outside electives, general education, or required distribution were largely futile. They were futile because no general view of the whole picture could be made simply by attaching together a number of specialist views of narrow fields, for the simple reason that each specialist field looks entirely different, presenting different problems and requiring different techniques, when it is placed in the general picture.
...

     Means are almost as difficult as ends. In fact, personal responsibility, self-discipline, some sense of time value and future preference, and, above all, an ability to distinguish what is important from what is merely necessary must be found. simply as valuable attributes of human beings as human beings. "