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
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
- RT @LanceBennett1: Just out: #TheStrengthofPeripheralNetworks. Tracking information and attention flows in multimedia ecologies. How does n…
- RT @MaxGroemping: New article using @ElectIntegrity data to map #ElectoralIntegrity in #Asia. https://t.co/aCw4kIgB3a. Recommend: (1) curb…
- RT @mtracey: Trump’s preference to pull out of Afghanistan is depicted in the Woodward book as yet another crazy impulse that the “adults i…
- RT @prof_nch: Please RT if you have ever conducted a manuscript review for a journal while not employed in a tenure-track/permanent academi…
- .@ManfredWeber, leader of the European People's Party, will vote in favour of sanctioning the Hungarian government… https://t.co/FoWdX1Ot5F
- To file under @Google failure + reflections on why the Age of Machines is still far away. This is what Google retur… https://t.co/dJS6BxVI5d
- @PSA_IPSG @FilippoTronconi For color figures, see the replication package: https://t.co/bDpKDe4frZ
- My paper with G Abbondanza on Lega, in which with a longitudinal analysis we find significant association between v… https://t.co/m959Zb5aCX
- https://t.co/zBcssrIpEm Mmm… Interesting, but: It doesn’t really seem to tap into the Humanitarian Data Exchange f… https://t.co/hOAaXTF8xH
- @giannigipi Per lo meno le password sono salted, é un passo avanti.
- November 8th & 9th in Munich: Workshop on Deep Learning with Keras and TensorFlow in RRegistration is now open for my 1.5-day workshop on deep learning with Keras and TensorFlow using R. It will take place on November 8th & 9th in Munich, Germany. You can read about one participant’s experience in my workshop: Big Data – ...
- I’ll be talking about ‘Decoding The Black Box’ at the Frankfurt Data Science MeetupI have yet another Meetup talk to announce: On Wednesday, October 26th, I’ll be talking about ‘Decoding The Black Box’ at the Frankfurt Data Science Meetup. Particularly cool with this meetup is that they will livestream the event at www.youtube....
- Le Monde puzzle [#1066]The second Le Monde mathematical puzzle in the new competition is sheer trigonometry: When in the above figures both triangles ABC are isosceles and the brown segments are all of length 25cm, find the angle in A and the value of DC², respectively. This could have been solved by R coding the various possible angles […]
- «smooth» package for R. Intermittent state-space model. Part I. Introducing the modelIntro One of the features of functions of smooth package is the ability to work with intermittent data and the data with periodically occurring zeroes. Intermittent time series is a series that has non-zero values occurring at irregular frequency (Svetuknov and Boylan, 2017). Imagine retailer who sells green leap sticks. The demand on such a […]
- Not Hotdog: A Shiny app using the Custom Vision APII had a great time at the EARL Conference in London last week, and as always came away invigorated by all of the applications of R that were presented there. I'll do a full writeup of the conference later this week, but in the meantime I wanted to share the materials from my own presentation […]
- Divergent and Convergent Phases of Data AnalysisThere are often discussions within the data science community about which tools are best for doing data science. The most recent iteration of this discussion is the so-called “First Notebook War”, which is well-summarized by Yihui Xie in his blog post (it is a great read). One thing that I have found missing from many […]
- Being at the CenterHilary Parker and I just released part 2 of our book club discussion of Nigel Cross’s book Design Thinking and it centers around a profile of designer Gordan Murray, who spent his career designing Formula One race cars. One of the aspects of his job as a designer is taking a “systems approach” to solving […]
- Constructing a Data AnalysisThis week Hilary Parker and I have started our “Book Club” on Not So Standard Deviations where we will be discussing Nigel Cross’s book Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work. We will be talking about how the work of designers parallels the work of data scientists and how many of the principles developed […]
- A couple more papers on genetic diversity as an explanation for why Africa and remote Andean countries are so poor while Europe and North America are so wealthyBack in 2013, I wrote a post regarding a controversial claim that high genetic diversity, or low genetic diversity, is bad for the economy: Two economics professors, Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor, wrote a paper, “The Out of Africa Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development,” that is scheduled to appear in the American […]
- The hot hand—in darts!Roland Langrock writes: Since on your blog you’ve regularly been discussing hot hand literature – which we closely followed – I’m writing to share with you a new working paper we wrote on a potential hot hand pattern in professional darts. We use state-space models in which a continuous-valued latent “hotness” variable, modeled as an […]
- Why, oh why, do so many people embrace the Pacific Garbage Cleanup nonsense? (I have a theory).This post is by Phil, not Andrew. Over the couple of months I have seen quite a few people celebrating the long-awaited launch of a big device that will remove plastic garbage from the Pacific ocean. I find this frustrating because this project makes no sense even if the device works as intended: at best […]