Eyes on Guatemala

The Economist has published an article on malnutrition in Guatemala. Hunger is not new in the country, with half of the children population not eating enough Guatemala is the six-worst country in the world, but in some Maya communities children chronic malnutrition can reach 75% (the Economist says 80%). These figures are astonishing, especially because the problem is not food scarcity.

But this as well is hardly new. It was 1981 when Amartya Sen published his Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation demonstrating that hunger is mostly caused by inequality rather than scarcity. There is no lack of food in Guatemala if you have the money to buy it. In Guatemala City is taking place, as we speak, the 14th Festival Gastronómico Internacional so it seems difficult to talk about a famine or about an emergency (according to the Longman Dictionary an emergency is “an unexpected and dangerous situation that must be dealt with immediately”). The problem is the lack of a functioning state. Because a state cannot function with tax revenues estimated at just 10% of GDP.

Democracy is highly unrepresentative in Guatemala. Who should push for a better redistribution of resources has no voice. National newspapers point constantly the finger at the government (presidency, parliament, judiciary) in a impressive campaign of delegitimation. The Rosenberg tape was just part of it. I’m not defending the government, but saying that criticising it and attempting to systematically destroy its credibility are not quite the same thing. While the headlines cover crime, corruption and hunger the real battle within the country is on the tax reform. A battle that so far every government has badly lost.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Understanding Capitalism

Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen argues, in an article published on The New York Review of Books, that the way out from the crisis passes through a better understanding of the ideas that contributed to build the actual economic system. Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Arthur Cecil Pigou, should be read, not just quoted. And I quote

Smith viewed markets and capital as doing good work within their own sphere, but first, they required support from other institutions—including public services such as schools—and values other than pure profit seeking, and second, they needed restraint and correction by still other institutions—e.g., well-devised financial regulations and state assistance to the poor—for preventing instability, inequity, and injustice. If we were to look for a new approach to the organization of economic activity that included a pragmatic choice of a variety of public services and well-considered regulations, we would be following rather than departing from the agenda of reform that Smith outlined as he both defended and criticized capitalism.

We must understand how institutions work and make them work better. But not just aiming at economic growth.

There is a critical need for paying special attention to the underdogs of society in planning a response to the current crisis, and in going beyond measures to produce general economic expansion.

A crisis not only presents an immediate challenge that has to be faced. It also provides an opportunity to address long-term problems when people are willing to reconsider established conventions. This is why the present crisis also makes it important to face the neglected long-term issues like conservation of the environment and national health care, as well as the need for public transport (…).

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Twitter: frbailo



RSS r-bloggers.com

  • RObservations #31: Using the magick and tesseract packages to examine asterisks within the Noam Elimelech
    Introduction Since my last blog on Tesseract-OCR I have been playing around casually with it to see what it is possible of doing. Tesseract supports optical character recognition for over 100 languages. That together with straight forward usage for implementing it in R inspired me to try using it for Hebrew ... Continue reading: RObservations […]
  • How to add labels at the end of each line in ggplot2?
    The post How to add labels at the end of each line in ggplot2? appeared first on Data Science Tutorials How to add labels at the end of each line in ggplot2?, Using the ggplot2 R library, this article shows how to display the last value of each line as ... Continue reading: How to […]
  • Top 3 Tools to Monitor User Adoption in R Shiny
    Can you monitor user adoption for R Shiny apps? What is user adoption anyway? We’ll answer these questions and show you how to do it yourself in this article. Put simply, user adoption is the process by which new users become familiar with your product and/or service and ... Continue reading: Top 3 Tools to […]
  • Artificial Intelligence Examples-Quick View
    The post Artificial Intelligence Examples-Quick View appeared first on Data Science Tutorials - Are you curious about Artificial Intelligence Examples? If you answered yes, then this article is for you.  We’ll go over some Artificial Intelligence instances here. So, spend a few minutes reading this article to learn everything ... Continue reading: Artificial Intelligence Examples-Quick […]
  • Bayesian sampling without tears
    Following a question on Stack Overflow trying to replicate a figure from the paper written by Alan Gelfand and Adrian Smith (1990) for The American Statistician, Bayesian sampling without tears, which precedes their historical MCMC papers, I looked at the R code produced by the OP and could not spot an ... Continue reading: Bayesian […]

RSS Simply Statistics

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • “Stylized Facts in the Social Sciences”
    Sociologist Daniel Hirschman writes: Stylized facts are empirical regularities in search of theoretical, causal explanations. Stylized facts are both positive claims (about what is in the world) and normative claims (about what merits scholarly attention). Much of canonical social science … Continue reading →
  • New Yorker : Spy :: Kieran Healy : Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
    Back in the day, the New Yorker magazine had an Olympian attitude and did not run letters. Spy magazine rectified this with a column, Letters to the Editor of the New Yorker. The New Yorker now runs letters, but Kieran … Continue reading →
  • Webinar: Design of Statistical Modeling Software
    This post is by Eric. On Wednesday, Juho Timonen from Aalto University is stopping by to tell us about his work. You can register here. Abstract Juho will present what he thinks is an ideal modular design for statistical modeling … Continue reading →