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

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    Governments and COVID-19: Which one stops it faster, better, has fewer people dying? These questions get answered with my dashboard. A contribution to the shiny-contest: https://community.rstudio.com/t/material-design-corona-covid-19-dashboard-2020-shiny-contest-submission/59690 Intro How did Corona spread? Using the animation feature of R-shiny this can be easily tracked.COVID-19 is the major topic in all news channels. The place I live in […]
  • RcppSimdJson 0.0.4: Even Faster Upstream!
    A new (upstream) simdjson release was announced by Daniel Lemire earlier this week, and my Twitter mentions have been running red-hot ever since as he was kind enough to tag me. Do look at that blog post, there is some impressive work in there. We wr...
  • C is for coalesce
    For the letter C, we'll talk about the coalesce function. If you're familiar with SQL, you may have seen this function before. It combines two or more variables into a single column, and is a way to deal with missing data. When you give it a list of va...
  • Introductory videos for Explanatory Model Analysis with R
    Remote teaching at my university encouraged me to prepare some video materials for Explanatory Model Analysis techniques, i.e. techniques of exploration, explanation and visualisation of predictive models.The pyramid for Explanatory Model Analysis. Lef...
  • Custom Power BI visual for Line chart with two Y-Axis
    Power BI support certain type of visuals that are by default available in the document. These are absolutely great and work perfectly fine, have a lot of capabilities to set properties and change the settings. But every so often in…Read more ›

RSS Simply Statistics

  • Is Artificial Intelligence Revolutionizing Environmental Health?
    NOTE: This post was written by Kevin Elliott, Michigan State University; Nicole Kleinstreuer, National Institutes of Health; Patrick McMullen, ScitoVation; Gary Miller, Columbia University; Bhramar Mukherjee, University of Michigan; Roger D. Peng, Johns Hopkins University; Melissa Perry, The George Washington University; Reza Rasoulpour, Corteva Agriscience, and Elizabeth Boyle, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. […]
  • You can replicate almost any plot with R
    Although R is great for quickly turning data into plots, it is not widely used for making publication ready figures. But, with enough tinkering you can make almost any plot in R. For examples check out the flowingdata blog or the Fundamentals of Data Visualization book. Here I show five charts from the lay press […]
  • So You Want to Start a Podcast
    Podcasting has gotten quite a bit easier over the past 10 years, due in part to improvements to hardware and software. I wrote about both how I edit and record both of my podcasts about 2 years ago and, while not much has changed since then, I thought it might be helpful if I organized […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Noise-mining as standard practice in social science
    The following example is interesting, not because it is particularly noteworthy but rather because it represents business as usual in much of social science: researchers trying their best, but hopelessly foiled by their use of crude psychological theories and cruder statistics, along with patterns of publication and publicity that motivate the selection and interpretation of […]
  • Conference on Mister P online tomorrow and Saturday, 3-4 Apr 2020
    We have a conference on multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) this Friday and Saturday, organized by Lauren Kennedy, Yajuan Si, and me. The conference was originally scheduled to be at Columbia but now it is online. Here is the information. If you want to join the conference, you must register for it ahead of time; […]
  • More coronavirus research: Using Stan to fit differential equation models in epidemiology
    Seth Flaxman and others at Imperial College London are using Stan to model coronavirus progression; see here (and I’ve heard they plan to fix the horrible graphs!) and this Github page. They also pointed us to this article from December 2019, Contemporary statistical inference for infectious disease models using Stan, by Anastasia Chatzilena et al. […]