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

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RSS r-bloggers.com

  • r/finance, 1 year later
    The prominent conference R/Finance, held annually in Chicago, had a great program yesterday and today. As I wrote following last year’s conference, the organizers were criticized for including no women in its speaker lineup. The problem was that no women had submitted papers for consideration; no input, thus no output. I’m a member of the […]
  • A new package for panel data analysis in R
    It has been a long time coming, but my R package panelr is now on CRAN. Since I started work on it well over a year ago, it has become essential to my own workflow and I hope it can be useful for others. panel_data object class One key contribution, that I hope can help […]
  • The never-ending editor war (?)
    The creation of this blog post was prompted by this tweet, asking an age-old question: @spacemacs— Bruno Rodrigues (@brodriguesco) May 16, 2019 This is actually a very important question, that I have been asking myself for a long time. An IDE, and plain text editors, are a very important tools to anyone writing code. Most […]
  • Earthquake Analysis (4/4): Cluster Analysis
    Are you interested in guest posting? Publish at DataScience+ directly from your editor (i.e., RStudio). Category Basic Statistics Tags Data Visualisation Maps R Programming This is the fourth part of our post series about the exploratory analysis of a publicly available dataset reporting earthquakes and similar events within a specific 30 days time span. In […]
  • Mapping Tornado Alley with R
    I caught a re-tweet of this tweet by @harry_stevens: THREAD: I wrote a post on @observablehq about a map I made today. It shows a typical day in the life of a graphics journalist: You never know what problems you'll have to solve on deadline! https://t.co/yRhW1wbLxN #d3js #dataviz 1/7 pic.twitter.com/7N6mmK0nz3 — Harry Stevens (@Harry_Stevens) May... […]

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Generative and Analytical Models for Data Analysis
    Describing how a data analysis is created is a topic of keen interest to me and there are a few different ways to think about it. Two different ways of thinking about data analysis are what I call the “generative” approach and the “analytical” approach. Another, more informal, way that I like to think about […]
  • Tukey, Design Thinking, and Better Questions
    Roughly once a year, I read John Tukey’s paper “The Future of Data Analysis”, originally published in 1962 in the Annals of Mathematical Statistics. I’ve been doing this for the past 17 years, each time hoping to really understand what it was he was talking about. Thankfully, each time I read it I seem to […]
  • Interview with Abhi Datta
    Editor’s note: This is the next in our series of interviews with early career statisticians and data scientists. Today we are talking to Abhi Datta about his work in large scale spatial analysis and his interest in soccer! Follow him on Twitter at @datta_science. If you have recommendations of an (early career) person in academics […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Vigorous data-handling tied to publication in top journals among public heath researchers
    Gur Huberman points us to this news article by Nicholas Bakalar, “Vigorous Exercise Tied to Macular Degeneration in Men,” which begins: A new study suggests that vigorous physical activity may increase the risk for vision loss, a finding that has surprised and puzzled researchers. Using questionnaires, Korean researchers evaluated physical activity among 211,960 men and […]
  • Hey, people are doing the multiverse!
    Elio Campitelli writes: I’ve just saw this image in a paper discussing the weight of evidence for a “hiatus” in the global warming signal and immediately thought of the garden of forking paths. From the paper: Tree representation of choices to represent and test pause-periods. The ‘pause’ is defined as either no-trend or a slow-trend. […]
  • Data quality is a thing.
    I just happened to come across this story, where a journalist took some garbled data and spun a false tale which then got spread without question. It’s a problem. First, it’s a problem that people will repeat unjustified claims, also a problem that when data are attached, you can get complete credulity, even for claims […]