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
- A better view https://t.co/JhJyHXuTHf
- Another full house for #mediaatsydney and the very interesting Paul @Dourish on accidentally smart cities. https://t.co/6XWYXSmDOk
- RT @MediaAtSydney: Media@Sydney: Paul Dourish - The Pragmatics of Data-Driven Urbanism Part 2 https://t.co/ctECF7u6V0
- RT @MediaAtSydney: Media@Sydney: Paul Dourish - The Pragmatics of Data-Driven Urbanism https://t.co/tila1Fe6sv
- It looks like this might interest @ThomasBWynter https://t.co/PW08lDrn1J
- RT @iamjohnoliver: Stephen Hawking was a brilliant man, but he was also an incredibly funny man. It was a huge privilege to waste some of h…
- RT @NASA: Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities th…
- @Mily_Sun @lexistindall A closer look https://t.co/x1yPnHDga8
- Concise book review by Chrysi Dagoula of the very interesting 'Can The Internet Strengthen Democracy?' by Stephen C… https://t.co/cux5YycDEe
- RT @MediaAtSydney: Hope to see you at Paul Dourish's seminar this Friday 3pm! https://t.co/HlTbjIuWqx
- xts 0.10-2 on CRANThis xts release contains mostly bugfixes, but there are a few noteworthy features. Some of these features were added in version 0.10-1, but I forgot to blog about it. Anyway, in no particular order: endpoints() gained sub-second accuracy on Windows (#202)! na.locf.xts() now honors 'x' and 'xout' arguments by dispatching to the next method (#215). Thanks […]
- RcppSMC 0.2.1: A few new tricksA new release, now at 0.2.1, of the RcppSMC package arrived on CRAN earlier this afternoon (and once again as a very quick pretest-publish within minutes of submission). RcppSMC provides Rcpp-based bindings to R for the Sequential Monte Carlo Templat...
- Exploring the underlying theory of the chi-square test through simulation – part 1Kids today are so sophisticated (at least they are in New York City, where I live). While I didn’t hear about the chi-square test of independence until my first stint in graduate school, they’re already talking about it in high school. When my kids came home and started talking about it, I did what I […]
- R Tip: Use stringsAsFactors = FALSER tip: use stringsAsFactors = FALSE. R often uses a concept of factors to re-encode strings. This can be too early and too aggressive. Sometimes a string is just a string. Sigmund Freud, it is often claimed, said: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” To avoid problems delay re-encoding of strings by using stringsAsFactors […]
- RcppClassicExamples 0.1.2Per a CRAN email sent to 300+ maintainers, this package (just like many others) was asked to please register its S3 method. So we did, and also overhauled a few other packagaging standards which changed since the previous uploads in December of 2012 ...
- What do Fahrenheit, comma separated files, and markdown have in common?Anil Dash asked people what their favorite file format was. David Robinson replied: CSV is similar to Markdown. No one global standard (though there are attempts) but a damn good attempt at "Whatever humans think it is at a glance, they're probably right"— David Robinson (@drob) February 8, 2018 His tweet reminded me a lot […]
- Some datasets for teaching data scienceIn this post I describe the dslabs package, which contains some datasets that I use in my data science courses. A much discussed topic in stats education is that computing should play a more prominent role in the curriculum. I strongly agree, but I think the main improvement will come from bringing applications to the […]
- A non-comprehensive list of awesome things other people did in 2017Editor’s note: For the last few years I have made a list of awesome things that other people did (2016,2015, 2014, 2013). Like in previous years I’m making a list, again right off the top of my head. If you know of some, you should make your own list or add it to the comments! […]
- Wanna know what happened in 2016? We got a ton of graphs for you.The paper’s called Voting patterns in 2016: Exploration using multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) on pre-election polls, it’s by Rob Trangucci, Imad Ali, Doug Rivers, and myself, and here’s the abstract: We analyzed 2012 and 2016 YouGov pre-election polls in order to understand how different population groups voted in the 2012 and 2016 elections. We […]
- The New England Journal of Medicine wants you to “identify a novel clinical finding”Mark Tuttle writes: This is worth a mention in the blog. At least they are trying to (implicitly) reinforce re-analysis and re-use of data. Apparently, some of the re-use efforts will be published, soon. My reply: I don’t know enough about medical research to make any useful comments here. But there’s one bit that raises […]
- What are the odds of Trump’s winning in 2020?Kevin Lewis asks: What are the odds of Trump’s winning in 2020, given that the last three presidents were comfortably re-elected despite one being a serial adulterer, one losing the popular vote, and one bringing race to the forefront? My reply: Serial adulterer, poor vote in previous election, ethnicity . . . I don’t think […]