Everything from friendships to schools to art and love has been productized and marketized until we no longer have a ready language with which to describe or ascribe value that doesn't have a price. The philosopher Michael Sandel has written brilliantly and extensively on the subject, asking if there is anything left which we aren't willing to buy and sell. Safety? Justice? Freedom? Your children?
The Chancellor may feel he only needs to announce tiny symbolic policy moves, given the recovery the economy is finally enjoying. But the government has so much more to do, particularly on the "PIM" policy areas of planning, immigration and money, if he wants to improve the long-term prospects for the UK's economic wellbeing.
On Friday 6 September, David Cameron refuted a Russian official's summation that Britain was 'just a small island' by delivering a speech that reeked of a Gove-esque approach to popular history entwined with petulant patriotism. He seemed to cry out that "Britain's one of the bigger kids too, even if it wasn't allowed to go to war this time", calling upon the rhetoric of the past as if to prove Britain's place in the present world and reimagining it as it suited him.
Last night's remarkable scenes at Westminster will make precious little difference to the people of Syria. Cruise missiles will still fall on some carefully selected military sites in the coming days - the only difference will be that none of them will be British. The key question remains what it was before David Cameron's dramatic defeat in the House of Commons: what is the best policy to adopt in the light of the ever-increasing horror of the war in Syria?
Have you noticed how much those in power talk of learning lessons? The government, and Desperate Dave in particular, are forever boring on about lessons which must be learned. If a hospital in your neighbourhood is killing more people than cigarettes, someone will say that lessons must be learned, as though they are imparting some higher wisdom that would not have occurred to ordinary men and women.
The moment Clegg got into bed with Cameron and co. was the moment he relinquished all rights to that kind of balanced assessment. It should never have happened; simple as. A token voting system referendum and a few quid added to a tax threshold doesn't make up for the fact he has lost the student vote for his party.
The United Kingdom, which is now the largest bilateral donor to basic education in sub-Saharan Africa, has shown admirable leadership in meeting aid commitments and making basic education a high priority. Having assumed the presidency of the G8 this year, we encourage the UK to ensure that other G8 countries follow its lead.