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Informal Economies

TED Blog

When we hear the phrase “the economy,” often the first images that pop to mind are crisp bills being printed in a government treasury, or suited traders wheeling and dealing on the floor of a stock exchange, or a mall where suburban shoppers buy T-shirts and sneakers before grabbing a Cinnabon. But as journalist Robert Neuwirth pointed out at TEDGlobal 2012, while the luxury economy is responsible for $1.5 trillion a year, there are currently 1.8 billion people across the globe toiling in the informal, unregulated economy.

“If it were united in a single political system — one country, call it the United Street Sellers Republic, the U.S.S.R., or Bazaaristan — it would be worth $10 trillion every year. That would make it the second largest economy in the world after the United States,” said Neuwirth in his illuminating talk. “All of this is happening openly and aboveboard —…

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Lottie Nevin - The Rioja Diaries

One of the most shocking scenes in recent TV drama was played out in an episode of Madmen a couple of seasons back. Unusually for Madmen, it didn’t include the usual suspects of homophobia, sexism, or infidelity; it was something quite out of the blue and unexpected. Can you guess what it was?

It was the 3-minute scene of the Draper family having a picnic. Sitting down on a rug, the family enjoy an outdoors meal in a beautiful park setting. After the meal is finished Don gets up to stretch his legs while Betty checks the children to make sure they are clean before being allowed back into Don’s immaculate new car. Don downs the last of his beer, and then casually hurls the can away into the distance while Betty picks up the corners of the rug and shakes of the paper rubbish and remnants of their picnic…

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What you do not desire for yourself, do not do to others.” (15.24) When one reflects upon oneself, one realizes the necessity of concern for others. The self as conceptualized by Confucius is a deeply relational self that responds to inner reflection with outer virtue.