Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

הבית שלי הבית שלך – keep families together

April 24, 2010

ever been rejected? not a nice feeling

what about kicked out?

and taken away from your parents?

if you believe being an Israeli, or a Zionist, or a human being means being an example to others; if it means not repeating things we did not like when they were done to us;  here is a chance to take 4 minutes and help 1200 kids stay in Israel rather than be deported from Israel because they are a liability. why are they a liability?

תקדישו כ-4 דקות לראות קליפ מרגש שבו חוברים
אנשים מפורסמים
למקהלת הילדים שלנו בשיר שחובר עליהם ולכבודם.
אולי אם נגיע ל100,000 כניסות ננצח את אלי ישי
ואנשיו ונסיר מעליהם את חרב הגרוש.


April 10, 2010

a big dilemma

we have hot triple play. no HD yet.

it is a good practice to call them once a year and re-negotiate the extra packages: sports, HBO, kids…

will try it next week and update if anything good happens

a big issue for me is movies. who offers the best ones?

seems to me YES is the big winner here. HOT movie channels are abysmal. few countries or regions in the world offer such a shitty package for such a high price as HOT. same on them and the regulator who is supposed to protect us. VOD is better, but they can really improve the selection. and the selection process. it still takes about 20 movies for several people sitting around the living room to decide on a movie. and then someone falls asleep.

Magic is a wonderful product. Magic.

if you read haaretz movie recommendations every friday regarding what to record in the following week, for many many weeks in a row, most of the recommendations where exclusive to Yes with some movies shared on both HOT and YES at similar times or slight difference (Friday vs Saturday). this happens too often and also raises a question as to why. i have a sneaky feeling there is some coloration, or perhaps anti-trust issues involved, but i may be really ignorant on this matter. what do you think?

anyhow, this friday’s haaretz summary has  much more HOT movies than YES’. this is great! keep it up, HOT. do not stay HOT, stay hot.

first to market? Stigler’s law of eponymy!

January 26, 2010

One of the greatest takeways from my semester at Yale was that no matter how original you think you are, or an idea you have, someone has thought of it before, and has a little academic activity established around that thought already.

some, hundreds of years ago.

so, a bit of humility

Stigler’s law of eponymy is a process proposed by University of Chicago statistics professor Stephen Stigler in his 1980 publication “Stigler’s law of eponymy”.  In its simplest and strongest form it says: “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.”

Stigler’s Law was discovered many times before Stigler named it

Historical acclaim and reputation tend to be allocated to people unevenly. Scientific observations and results are often associated with people who have high visibility and social status, and are named long after their discovery. Eponymy is a striking example of this phenomenon. Particularly important scientific observations are often associated with a person, as in the case of Gaussian distribution, Halley’s comet, and Planck’s constant. Nature never works in isolation. Ideas arrive in parallel, and theoretical or practical works/experiments too are near simultaneous in time-space. It is the publicizing and recording of the work that assumes identity relationship with the one most famously connected with it. Indeed many ideas never see fruition for their time has not come or they are not fully recognised, appreciated or properly advertised.

Often the person who is associated with the particular observation, theory, or result was not its original inventor. Based on his studies on the history of statistics, Stephen Stigler therefore proposed his own “Stigler’s Law of Eponymy.” Stigler attributes the discovery of Stigler’s Law to sociologist  Robert K. Merton (which makes the law self-referencing).

merton, by the way. was a distinguished American sociologist perhaps best known for having coined the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy.” He also coined many other phrases that have gone into everyday use, such as “role model” and “unintended consequences“. his son, robert merton is a noble prize winner in economics. he is the one of black scholes fame and long term capital management LTCM.

press here for a good article about how great ideas are not rare

who usually gets the credit? the most popular or powerful person at the time at which it gained wide acceptance.

the lesson here is:

  • there is already a principle named after a person for this. the  matthew principle, (more will be given to those that already have, matthew 25:29)
  • for israeli startups,  to invest in marketing

and time markets,

and get lucky.

freedom of speech

November 10, 2008

in the United States

has an effect on human rights around the world. in europe ‘scope of right’

key takeaway:

  • difference between speech and action
  • democracy requires suspension of community norms. but requires it first. a ‘person’ requires socialized community norms. self governance precludes community. democracy has to understand the public sphere in which differences are worked out. marketplace as the origin of public sphere. (had to have standard weights and measures). newspapers are the first creation of a public sphere. public sphere, requires respect.
  • broadcast media and internet interfere with socialization by parents of kids.
  • mobility as a measure of democracy (and weakening of community)


what do we mean by speech. every contract is a form of communication, but that is regulated by contract law.

wittgenstein – all words are deeds.

  • cognitive – marketplace of ideas. greater access to truth. all ideas are equal. knowledge and progress. in science there is a distinction of quality.
  • ethical – persons are equal, ideas are not. autonomy. but often we do not let autonomy. we value autonomy when people are equal. that is not always the case. e.g. doctor patient. so autonomy is not a good predictor. a better predictor is when do we ascribe autonomy. that is in the formation of public opinion
  • political – needed for communicative processes essential for a democratic form of government. self government and the general will. formation or participation of public opinion. necessary but not sufficient. perpetual outvote of minority or lack or delay in response by the state.

the right to have rights. hannah arndet.

John Locke (1689) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762) are the most famous philosophers of contractarianism, which formed the theoretical groundwork of democracy. Although the theory of natural rights influenced the development of classical liberalism, its emphasis on individualism and its rejection of the necessity to subordinate individual liberty to the sovereign will stand in opposition to the general tenets of social contract theory.

bad tendency test. eugene debs vs united states. any sppech can have a tendency to cause harm. direct causual. clear nad present danger is a test. this line is moving. in the short-term governement has a tendancy to supress.

community or social norm – an inherit ‘law’ socialized into your personality. law enforces what you already are. chicago in 20th century is a public of many different communities.

‘heckler’s veto’ – your speech will make me riot

you can always go, down town

October 30, 2008

look at several lenses:

social stratification, the global economy, culture&consumption

key takeaways:

  • revenge of the push cart – in the past dirty, now fun.
  • even art in all the revived downtown are the same – painted cows (started: local, chicago) have become generic. you got to have it if you want to compete. sophisticated, ‘with-it’
  • boston: ‘the big-dig’, from highway to greenway
  • a hierarchy of global cities is forming. a celeb architect helps.
  • in revived festive market places there is a commodization of local knowledge. e.g best restauarants have a branch in tel aviv port.

discussion and terms:

duke ellington, ‘tourist point of view‘, far east suite

check also the song, ‘down town‘ by petula clark

the difference and hierarchy between people who work in highrise and those we clear the waste baskets

a place to stroll. icon of the city.from authentic view of a city, to becoming the same across the globe. e.g. harbor place baltimore md, fisherman’s wharf, SF, CA

a man scaring people tipped by others. if you are frightened, you wait to see another frightened


‘the point’, blue to white colloar, industry to office, rail to road, dirty to clean, hapazard to planned

james rouse, developer, ‘cities are fun’ the festive marketplace. e.g. harbor place baltimore. architect, benjamin thompson, cities are safe, fun. rouse needs to be researched. an admirable figure

fulton fish market, lower manhatten. recently moved to bronx. no longer appropriate city activity. rouse turns it into pier 17

riverfront walk in san antonio, tx.

The other side

the immigrant express, queens new york. you are travelling through worlds, cultures and values to the other side of the city

i dream of gini

October 8, 2008

discussion with Gustav Ranis. leading development economist who helped build HDI. not wikipedia entry. maybe i should create one.

key takeaways:

balanced growth (diversification) driven by strong agricultural growth. p (see below) should grow, people should be absorbed.

dutch disease – in foreign aid donor countries want to give aid, recipients are eager to receive. money flows fast. little reason for change.

dutch disease is an economic concept that tries to explain the apparent relationship between the exploitation of natural resources and a decline in the manufacturing sector combined with moral fallout.

protection of infant industries is addictive. botswana and diamonds is interesting case study. can they move upstream? not many cases of success

you can eat the cake and keep it two- growth with labor intensive jobs eliminates poverty and keeps income distributions fair

poverty lines are poor measurements – they are set low. can mis-align focus on crossing the line.

remittances, especially domestic ones are under researched

see also:“Causal Chain between Human Development and Economic Growth,” HD Insights, March 2007, Issue 6. Development: Beyond the HDI,” with Frances Stewart and Emma Samman in Poverty in Focus, Dec 2006, pp.12-14.

Composition of Human development index and related indices explained:

Key terms:

MEG – modern economic growth

classical theory, new growth theory. new classical school (chicago school)

there should be an agricultural revolution prior to an industrial revolution

urban informal sector – agriculture surplus of labor moving into urban area, not finding a job. provide low level services (watch your car for a cigarette) and are income sharing – bring some money back home for people to eat – not real income earners – often supported by family back in rural area

see works of simon kuznets 1971 economics noble on economic development

if you are not familiar with HDI, please take a look

human development index (HDI)

growth is necessary but not sufficient. GDP

rather than measuring income, measure what income can buy:



infant mortality rate (IMR)

inequality and income distribution

some countires who have done well, do it post tax, not pre-tax (scandinavian)

inequality as measured by gini coefficient:

who gets the benefits of growth? gini coefficient.

why is gini (ineqaulity increasing)

taiwan is an exception. chimneys in the countryside. labor intensive non-agriculture.

labor intensive agriculture means lower gini.

industrialization is less equally distributed. higher gini

strong natural resources. elite gets a hold. uses is as they like. higher gini

education is a key role, primary, secondary and tertiary.

see also Kuznets curve is the graphical representation of Simon Kuznets‘s theory (‘Kuznets hypothesis’) that economic inequality increases over time while a country is developing, then after a critical average income is attained, begins to decrease.


agricultural Surplus and its uses

L= V+B

Labor= V people still in agriculture + B people out of agriculture


p (population increase)


consumption (assumed average)

O= B/L

theta is amount of people out of agriculture.

1-O= V/L

p=Lc/L(1-O)= c/(1-O)

so if there is growth, how is it distributed. consuption adjustment and allocation adjustment

a random walk through current issues

October 7, 2008

doug rae. world economic transition.

his wife ellen schuman, in endowment business. best performing last year:

‘never pay fees’ (unless managers money is in and in a big way [dependent on net-worth]). you want the pilot on the plane.

key takeaways:

demography matters. great challanges for phase 4,5 countries. (but better than phase 1). huge policy consequences.

human development can be viewed as increase of available talent pool

current trend: destruction of historical cultures. languages: very rapid urbanization.

2 forms of religion. chronic and acute. acute we kill each other over


angus madison premiere quantifying economist

first volcano in western countries in 1870. countires where christianty took over indigneous people?

hans roslings – the best stats you ever saw. 2 ted talks

must see – a moving graph of gdp/capita development vs longevity thru time


world economic transition

1. upto 1800 – many children, many death, short lifespan. enough children to keep enough survivors. nearly uniform life lived in material misery. number of people who are able to learn (1%). recruitment of world talent was infeasible from biological point of view.

2. death rates fall. different times at different places. in europe, 1800. rapid change in death rate and same birth rate. infant mortality. infant mortality rate drop: clean water and public sewage, food, infectious disease is under-control. cities.prenatal nutrition a crucial predictor.

so clean water (in,out) available to mass populations in urban centers. huge growth in popluation

3. birth rates fall

4. equilibrium again at another point. long lives and human development

5. japan and east asian rich countries and western european ones (italy, germany poland russia). US (except for immigration [black br down, hispanic still high]). huge consequences.

china and ireland in sweet spot right now, but will age fast in 20 years. ireland (laps of faith in irish catholic church – all of a sudden use of birth rates). dependency ratio – people of working age vs total population. officially 15-65/total. can argue about increasing top end.



1850-1920. trains, immigration, industrialization, large labor pools.

in new haven, take a look at grand ave, fair haven and hispanic revitalization of ex italian neighborhoods.

equador has a consulate in new haven.

catholic churc is vey succesful because of great mangement. note its supra-state structure and ability to make exceptions to territorial parishism. e.g. italian church vs irish church in new haven.

lorcio italian restaurant best italianin new haven, ct

2 forms of religion. chronic and acute. acute we kill each other over. tony blair thinks differently. he is acute.

see william james, wrote influential books on the young science of psychology, educational psychology, psychology of religious experience and mysticism, and the philosophy of pragmatism


principle agency theory or agent dilemma.

sweetheartning. company in ct, builds sw systems to detect it

30% of cashiers do it. hard to detect it. giving benefits to shoppers. e.g. not scanning (non-)purchased items.

principle agency theory. ownership (principle) vs employees (agent). interests are different. problem when not performance based. employee has more information than ‘shop’. asymmetrical information. e.g. extremely unlucky dealers in casinos.

current economic crisis can be attributed to PAT or accountability problem. mis-alignment of incentives.

sub prime morgages vs redlining post homeowners act of 1934.

mortgage loan officers were incentivized by volume. no evaluation or measurements. fee basis on volume leads to problems.

simplicity – complicated structures create measurement problems


US elections:

US has no significant left-wing party. populism is getting out of hand and will be difficult to manage.

Palin winking at the camera during a debate

disconnect about much of the country and the elite institutions.

human development

October 7, 2008

A few thoughts (by Nicola) from conversation on development:

Definitions of development: Human Development concept focuses on enlarging people’s choices.
3 essential capabilities:

– to lead long and healthy lives;

– to be knowledgeable;

– to have a decent standard of living.

If these basic capabilities are not achieved, many choices are simply not available and many opportunities remain inaccessible.

Human development goes further to emphasize choice – from political economic and social opportunities for being creative and productive to
enjoying self-respect, empowerment and a sense of belonging to a community. Cultural liberty a vital part:  being able to choose one’s identity is
important in leading a full life.

Goal of human development = human freedom – freedom  to exercise choice and participate in decision-making.

Aristotle: “Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.”

Has progress been made?

YES … Looked at over a 25-30 year span, remarkable progress: The number of
people living in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day fell by about 400
million. Many more children, particularly girls, complete primary school.
Illiteracy rates fell by half. Life expectancy rose by nearly 15 years, on
average, over a 40 year period. Some diseases such as polio were almost

BUT not enough …
PROGRESS and                                                          DOWNSIDE

130 million people lifted out of extreme poverty  2.5 billion still live on less than $2 a day;

3 million fewer child deaths a year                              10 million preventable child deaths every year

30 million more children in school                              115 million children still out of school

1.2 billion people gained access to clean water          More than one billion people still have no access to safe water

*       Most recent projections anticipate the proportion of people living
in extreme poverty will fall from 29% 1990 to 10% 2015. However, that masks
significant regional variations – huge progress in large Asian countries
lifts the global numbers but masks the fact that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
lags behind.  I.e. There has been strong- but regionally uneven-progress
toward reducing overall poverty.

*       Education: Global target – all boys and girls complete primary
schooling by 2015.  Significant progress in literacy since 1990. In East
Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America, primary
school completion and literacy rates are close to 100%.  Significant
progress in the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia. SSA Africa is
off track for primary school completion for both boys and girls; South East
Asia is on track for girls’ completion of schooling but not for boys. I.e.
There is good progress, but again it is uneven: crises such as the 2005
earthquake in Pakistan opened up new opportunities for schooling of girls in
affected regions.

*       Access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation: key to
environmental sustainability and a key indicator for human development.
Over 1 billion individuals lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5
billion individuals lack access to basic sanitation.  Improvements in these
two areas could help to reduce dramatically the burden of disease,
particularly diarrhea, which contributes to approximately 1.8 million deaths
annually. The growing urbanization exacerbates the problem.

*       Climate change: already starting to affect some of the poorest and
most vulnerable communities around the world – > natural disasters, –
already undermining poverty reduction efforts.

*       Important gaps remain in delivering on global commitments undertaken
as part of the Millennium Development Goals, in the areas of aid, trade,
debt relief, and access to new technologies and to affordable essential
medicines. See the UN MDG Gap Task Force report

For those interested in measurement issues,

the World Bank just revised its measurement of poverty. Its new estimates indicate 1.4 billion people in the developing world (one in four) were living on less than US$1.25 a day in 2005, down from 1.9 billion (one in two) in 1981:

poverty has been more widespread than previously estimated, but also there has been strong-if regionally uneven-progress toward reducing overall poverty. Note most dramatically East Asia (drop from 80 to < 20% in poverty rate).

click here fro UN report

Culture matters – the myth of progress

September 29, 2008

evolutionary thinking about the world

history of development: evolution or exploitation?

franco: progress is a myth. if you want to live in that myth, that is ok. how do we structure humanity? there is a bottom line and it is treatment of earth. think in circles

dapo: development is dignityty

the need for new world institution. move the UN from US.

in the west: civilization, progress, great chain of being, modernization

is international trade good for all? how much government intervention is good

key takeaways:

think circle not upward sloping line

how is development defined? just economic terms? culture matters

individual responsibility as a success factor for fighting poverty. social fabric and adaptations to it

poverty is relative, to your neighbor to your neighbor country

in some peoples there is no notion of progress, only a notion evolution. it is circular and has to do with giving back to mother earth. they prefer no competition, retribution. we are inside a tale.

rural vs urban. it seems that with economic indicators people in urban areas are doing well. over time?

is culture just a coat that you take off when you want something warmer?

summary and terms:

dependency theory (andre gunder frank, samir amin, walter rodney, immanuel wallerstein):

all societies are part of one world capitalist system which benefits the core by appropriating the surplus value produced by the periphery. international trade benefits one side and exploits the other

marxist evolutionary thinking

primitive communism to to feudalism to capitalism to socialism. feudal societies are poor because they are still trapped in feudal relations of production. socialists societies bring an end to capitalist exploitation.

world-system (wallerstein)

there are no feudal societies anymore, and not yet truly socialist societies, because all societies are still in one integrated global capitalist world-system

vicious cycle of poverty and widening gap (bauer)

there is no exploitation because most countries and most people are getting wealthier all the time. international trade is good for everybody.


international trade may be good, but only if the government plays its part by promoting health and education, nurturing new industries, and regulating markets. by forcing governments to shrink, the World Bank and IMF have actually made conditions worse for capitalism, not better


the idea of development and the evolutionary thinking upon which it is based is not only inaccurate, it legitimates the capitalist world-system and conceals its exploitative nature. it is also euocentric.

The vicious cycle of poverty

September 25, 2008

this is a summary of the article by P.T. Bauer, “The Vicious Cycle of Poverty and the Widening Gap”

About Bauer

Peter Thomas Bauer, Baron Bauer (1915May 2, 2002) was a world-famous developmental economist.

Bauer is best remembered for

  1. his opposition to the widely-held notion that the most effective manner to help developing countries advance is through state-controlled foreign aid; foreign aid not only fails to promote economic progress but may actually retard this process
  2. private property rights are necessary and sufficient (in addition to smith’s rudimentary baseline).

Adam smith wrote in the ‘wealth of nations‘ in 1776, that “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things” . Bauer echoed Smith’s sentiment. According to him, “Emergence from poverty requires effort, firmly established private property rights, and productive investment.”

Bauer was born in Hungary, taught at LSE,  Prime Minister  Margaret Thatcher was his his friend and admirer.

Nearly all of Lord Bauer’s greatest contributions concerned development economics, international development and foreign aid. Bauer sought to convince other development experts that central planning, foreign aid, price controls, and protectionism perpetuate poverty rather than eliminate it, and that the growth of government intervention politicizes economic life and reduces individual freedom.

For Bauer, the essence of development was the expansion of individual choices, and the role of the state to protect life, liberty, and property so that individuals can pursue their own goals and desires. Limited government, not central planning, was his mantra.

state or central planning implies concentration of power in the hands of an elite that ultimately leads to corruption and abuse.

sounds familiar?

About the article


the article challenges popular themes that

  • ‘countries are poor because they are poor’
  • that there is a ‘vicious cycle of poverty’ and
  • that to get out of it what is required is
  1. drastic sacrifices at home
  2. massive aid from abroad

the above ‘wrong’ themes serve as basis for academic, government and literary thinking and for most current policies and measures.

1. the ‘invalid’ vicious cycle theory

developing nations can not get their heads abouve water- poverty itself set obstacles to its own conquest

  • low level income makes savings impossible, thus no capital accumulation neceassiry for increase in income
  • narrow markets obstruct specialization, needed for higher income
  • demand is too small to permit productive investment
  • government revenues are insufficient for effective public services
  • malnutrition and poor health keep productivity low
  • lock of profitable opportunities for private investments

it is this thesis, or accumulation of reasons, that the article would like to challange

2. invalidity

argues that empirical evidence refutes the theory

3. empirical evidence

evidence is provided to the contrary, showing that developing economies are developing

4.  international demonstration effect

demonstration effect states that should the vicious cycle be broken, another one is waiting: contact with advanced economies is damaging to underdeveloped economies, is encourages consumption vs savings

5. consideration of objections

3 considerations that may be objections to the anti vicious cycle theroy:

a.  thesis does not argue that there is progress throughout the underdeveloped world

b. recognition of material progress in some parts of the under developed world is not a plea for laissez-faire or any other policy

c. advanced sectors in under-developed countries are outposts of advanced economies which do not improve the economic prospects of the local population

6. aspects and implications of change

cash crops as insturment of material advance is discussed

7. impact of change

discussion of difficulties of adapting insitutions and attitudes to fast changing conditions

8. appeal of the vicious cyle

discussion of why the vicious cycle has become so popular

widening gap?

9. the vicious cycle and the widening gap

developed countries are developing and under developed countries are stagnating. so there is an ever-widening gap.

not true without looking at a broad set of issues including:

  • concept
  • interpretation
  • measurement
  • comparison

10. ambiguities in the Concept of the Gap

11. distinction between Developed and Underdeveloped countries

12. problems of international income comparasons

13. population growth and the widening gap


14. further implications of population growth

15. the national income as index of welfare

16. wider considerations on the Gap

some groups may be adjusting better than others. so need to consider widening of relative differences of average incomes between groups over time with adjustments for age.

17 conclusion

arguments for ever-widening gap do not indicate or consider:

  • what is measured (changes in differences, ratios)
  • between which groups
  • over what period

these arguments (vicious cycle, ever-widening gap) are used to promote policy

the gap arguments’ limitations are less clear and therefor more effective to promote policy and course of action. it adds fear to guilt of the West. it promotes urgency and an attendant feeling