- I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).
30 April 2016
Dullstroom is well known as fly fishing destination and it is a great destination for a relaxing weekend in general. The village itself is quite small with a few shops; and it can also be a great base to explore this part of Mpumalanga. We stayed in a self catering farm chalet (Dullstroom Cottages), a few km out of town; and that was really part of the charm. I don't think it's a place that merits a return visit if you are not into fishing; but definitely works for a few days away.
Having "gourmet" as part of your name usually implies trying very hard to be posh, but not quite getting there. Art of Food in Dullstroom lives up to this stereotype- it's more Tashas than Test Kitchen. The food is very good, and very well priced; but portions are quite large and so is not very conducive to a multi course meal. Of the three dinners we had in Dullstroom, this was the best - so if you are staying over in Dullstroom- make a reservation.
Pilgrims Rest lies on a spectacular twisting mountain road between Graskop and Lydenburg - and it's a great drive despite the potholes and slow trucks. Sadly, the town itself is a bit of a let down. Not all old houses and buildings need to be maintained - and this is one such case. There are the requisite curio stalls, some restaurants and pubs, and a great pottery and glassware shop. Maybe, I just don't find the era interesting, Pilgrums Rest is a nice curiosity; but it's nothing special.
29 April 2016
Graskop is a strange location to have a shop specializing in African Art - not just the curios that every tourist attraction hosts; but really impressive sculptures from across the continent. But there is a steady stream of visitors that go to God's Window and surrounds, so there is a market.
The quality and range of items is amazing - masks, fertility artifacts, statues, bead work, sculptures - it's worth visiting just to see the great range of artwork. And the prices are very reasonable - in fact for some items it may be cheaper to drive to Graskop, stay the night and buy the artworks than buy equivalent works in Johannesburg.
28 April 2016
26 April 2016
One platform that I really liked (and perhaps the only one) from the EFF in the last elections, was their proposal for the Mandatory Basic Income. For some reason, I have seen two very interesting articles on the same issue in the past two weeks - the first discussion was on the Freakonomics podcast, while the second was an article on Vox.com on an experiment in Kenya.
The concept is simple - give every citizen of a country a guaranteed base income. Some models have the income go down as the citizen gets paid by other sources (employment, investment); while others have such income as supplementary to the guaranteed income. In most models, there is no other state support (such as unemployment insurance). South Africa already has something that can be used as a base - the child support grants and other similar social grants; but the amounts are minuscule and sometimes may incentivise the wrong things.
In my mind, basic income should be a foundational platform. In South Africa's Bill of Rights (Chapter 2 of the Constitution), as well as the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights envisage that all persons have the right to shelter, food, water, health care and education - and this is an area that most countries fail. The basic income, as expanded upon by the Freakonomics podcast manages to be the rare initiative that makes sense both as a libertarian and a liberal - it manages to address freedom of choice and meet the social need.
If the basic needs are met - it frees up capacity for individuals to pursue their ambitions - be the best artist they can be without wondering how to put food on the table; or train to be the best sportsperson as you don't need to worry about how to put in 8 hours a day at work and 6 hours a day in training; or start the business you want without fear of living on the streets; or send your children to school because you don't have to rely on them to get work.
Funding basic income is obviously a problem. For the tax payer - it's easy - it's a tax break. But the approach may spur innovation and small business; so it's not necessarily a tax hole. And off course, how much is basic income? A basic income of R4500 (which I think was the EFF value) per person in South Africa equates to roughly 225 billion Rands, a month - a fifth of South Africa's annual budget! One can take the approach of - basic income but nothing other than basic infrastructure (roads, airports etc); or adjust the income parameters to have different values for children than adults.
As the Freakonomics podcast highlights, there is potentially a very big looming robotics and automation revolution - one that might further reduce job security; and further entrench the gig economy. In such a scenario, basic income may not be a luxury - it may become a necessity. It is something that needs further investigation.