Monday, November 26, 2012

In order to maximize the power of redistribution in the society, what is the optimum dependents to maintainers ratio?

Is it where the curve of the marginal benefit of the dependents touches the marginal cost curve of the maintainers?

For instance, as an economist, if I wanted to be a dependent, which by itself is not something to sneer at, I would like the number of dependents set at that maximum number which maximizes my benefits as a dependent, or at least where it does not fall under what would be my expected benefit, as the least successful of the maintainers.

Hearing so much about the power of redistribution, it would be interesting to see for instance a study that tries to determines the optimum ratio of dependents to maintainers in a society, and how that ratio might change over time, and under which circumstances. For instance, are there some societal benefits to be expected from educating the dependents to be really good dependents? Like Dependency 101?

PS. As percentages might be discussed, just so there is no confusion, If I could chose, I would of course prefer to be part of the one-percenters, on the top, and this even though I might have to maintain some few more dependents.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Crony academic research

Crony research is when academic researchers cross reference papers that really add nothing to nothing… in “I reference You - You reference me”, “I invite you as a prominent expert – You invite me as a Prominent Expert” and “We publish you – You publish us” rituals. 

Crony research shamefully clogs up the system impeding the view of truly important research, and often leads sometimes for the debate on important issues to be dangerously monopolized by charlatans with a PhD or past luminaries who once in their life had an interesting and fresh thought and have been living on it ever since… thanks to crony research 

I am not an academician and so there might actually be some rules that apply and could stop a runaway crony research, but, if so, I am certain these are not sufficiently enforced.

PS. Other names for that would be: Network Incestuous Research, Mutual Admiration Club Research or 100% Guaranteed Group-Think Research.

Friday, August 31, 2012

It looks like we’re toast!

As a former Executive Director of the World Bank, 2002-2004, living close to Washington, writing articles and being an assiduous blogger, I’ve been in the middle of many discussions about those many challenges our world faces. And, my friends, I am sorry to say, our prospects to solve these problems, do not seem good.

One of the main reasons for that negative outlook, is that I have been able to witness how the discussion of many of these problems, no matter how urgent they are, so often get hijacked by a political agenda, or by a group that decides making a business, or a living, out of it. 

If we cannot break out of this mold, unfortunately, the world is toast, and this is of course not only meant from a global warming perspective.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cantinflas, he really deserved a Nobel Price!

A true radical of the middle… a true extremist of the center

Friday, July 06, 2012

Why should government give a 40 hour job to anyone while there are citizens with not even a one hour job?

If government takes on some responsibility for creating jobs, it should do so by gradually increasing the minimum amount of hours of work for all workers. Start with one hour and move up from there! 

If government takes on some responsibility for creating jobs, it has no role in creating more hours of work to one who already has more than the average hours of work.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Standards and quality rating agencies for Knowledge Networks

How to guarantee the good quality of knowledge networks? was a question posed in the recent Mobilizing Knowledge Networks for Development at the World Bank.

At our table we conversed about the need for a Quality Standard, a sort of an ISO 9000, so that each participant was able to better identify what knowledge network he was getting involved with, so as not to lose his valuable time and efforts, or end up unwillingly exploited.

We also conversed about the possibility of having knowledge-network-quality rating agencies, rate the networks, initially based on some few but important variables, like the following:

Clarity of purpose

Clarity of rules of engagement

How it complies with the above (A network Ombudsman?)

True diversity (and respect for differing opinions)

If there is an interest out there in this community to further the discussions on this issue, at least I would be glad to participate, but someone else would have to manage that process, since because of other engagements I would not be able to get a good quality rating doing so.     

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We might need a Global Web Constitution, and Inspection Panels, to get along well with the Googles and Facebooks of this world

The role of a Constitution is foremost to defend the citizens from government abuses. In this respect, and since one of the most important issues of our time is how to guarantee acceptable relations between us, the small users, and they, the gigantic information and or knowledge dissemination machines that govern so much of how we communicate, and handle so much of private information on us, like Google and Facebook, one could say that we are in a dire need of a Web Constitution. 

Also, “Don’t be evil”, is for instance, a company motto of Google and which supposedly precludes them from manipulating rankings to put their advertising or content partners higher in their search results. That sounds great… exactly how it should be… but, how can we make certain that the supposedly is for real and that a company follows its motto and declared principles, and that we can trust it as much as we should, for ours and theirs benefit? Perhaps Google and Facebook should establish something like the Inspection Panel of the World Bank, which is there to guarantee, to the rest of the world, that the World Bank follows the rules and principles it has itself declared to follow. 

PS. This is a speculation which resulted from a conversation with my daughter Alexandra Kurowski

PS. And, for me, when managing knowledge, it is also extremely important to make sure that does not pose any treat to the biodiversity of knowledge development… as we can never know where the next world saving idea can come from.

PS. The last thing we citizens need is for these to enter into agreements with Big Brother.

PS. Below more comments related to this theme!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Dear Michele and Barack, your accounts must have been hacked!

Little me, not even a US citizen, keep receiving kind emails signed very personally by one of you. Though I would love to think these emails were for real, which might mean I’d be someone important, since they keep asking me for money, not a lot mind you, just a couple of dollars, I still guess I should better inform you that seemingly your emails accounts must been hacked! 

By the way if its serves as any consolation Newt seems to have suffered the same fate. 

Best regards 


Friday, May 04, 2012

What a great business model!

You put up two blogs, one conservative and the other liberal, and you yourself, using two different aliases, make sure your aliases are the ones hitting the hardest and most outrageously against each other, and each of your aliases asks for contributions from their respective supporters… it is all a non-transparent reality show which can’t go wrong in a love-the-divisiveness country!

And though one has quite a good inkling of when one is facing those who are in this business, and those sincere believers and fighters who are not… sometimes it is really hard to keep them apart… and so, if I ever get to be suspicious of an innocent one, please forgive me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The World needs a World Bank

As a former Executive Director of the World Bank, 2002-2004, I assure you that more important than who is the president of the World Bank, is getting the world some representation there. The real problem of the World Bank is that, at its Board of Executive Directors, the world at large, and the human race, are not truly represented there, only geography bound parochial governmental interests are. 

If we are going to have a chance to rally support for such global critical issues as world-wide sustainability and job creation for our youth, I do believe we need some sort of World’s World Bank, and, a good start, just for starters, could be adding to the Board some independent voices who do not report to a government, or, much worse, to a single ideology. 

Would such a proposal be feasible? I haven’t the faintest! But, if we cannot get the human beings to cooperate and work as one, on some vital issues, across the borders, our chances of all humans making it are much reduced… and so let’s not kid ourselves.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

We need worthy and decent unemployments

What politician does not speak up for the need to create decent and well paid jobs for young people? But, if that's not possible, and the economy is not able to deliver that on its own ... What on earth do we do?

Society must of course do its utmost seeking to solve the problem of youth unemployment ... including taking leisure to levels never thought of… six months vacations! But it also needs to prepare itself to handle a growing number of unemployed, not cyclical but structural, that is, those who never ever in their life will have a chance to get an economically productive job.

Two decades ago, concerned about growing unemployment, half in jest, in an Op-Ed in El Universal of Caracas, I asked something like whether it was better to have one hundred thousand unemployed running each on his side as broody hens, or to seat them all in a huge human circle where everyone would scratch the backs of one of his neighbors, charging a lot for his services, while his own back was scratched by his other neighbor, at an equally high price. The tragedy is that this question seems to me now less and less hypothetical.

And is not necessarily an act of desperation to think about what to do with the unemployed ...because sometimes, in seeking to unravel a tangled twine, starting with the other end, may be the best way to release the first. Which is better: educating for a source of employment likely to be absent and therefore only create frustration, or educate for unemployment, and suddenly perhaps reaching, when on that route, the pleasant surprise of some jobs?

The power of a nation, and the productivity of its economy, which so far has depended primarily on the quality of its employees may, in the future, also depend on the quality of its unemployed, as a minimum in the sense of these not interrupting those working.

That the gentleman of the leisure class to which Thorstein Veblen referred did not work, was essentially a result of them being free of economic needs. But that does not also mean that the economy and the social peace of the moment, were not also in need of these men not competing for the fewer jobs to be had resulting from an industrial revolution.

The gentleman was encouraged to study philosophy and art by means of the social status he gained when knowing about such matters. In this respect, one of the most important challenges we currently have as a society is how to create social status and other incentives, for the unemployed to become solid and worthy unemployed citizens?

And we need to imbue the unemployed with special pride, because only this way will we keep them from making impossible economic demands... so far I have found no clues about how to handle a bargaining with their union representatives.

Given that we do all have to guard against the dangers of idleness, since the last thing we need is for the structurally idle to be idle, even circumstantially. Many of the current unemployed youth keeps busy with their smart-phones, and we do not want them not to be busy… and so using what is really their net oil revenues, to help them to immediately upgrade to an iPad, sounds like a good start. 

Friends, Venezuela should aspire to good jobs, but also to have the world's best unemployed.

Translated from El Universal, Caracas
PS. July 30, 2014 the new shareholders of El Universal, friends of Chavez and Maduro censored me, and all links to my 14 years of Op-Eds were erased.
PS. To get more jobs and higher salaries: Call on all capitalists to exploit any low salaries, for as much as they can. J

PS. Throw out the useless credit-risk-weighted capital (equity) requirements for banks and… if you absolutely must distort, then use potential-of-job-creation-weights instead (and throw in some sustainability-weights too for good measure). J

PS. A Universal Basic Income, since that is not a not-having-a-job-or-not related social contribution, could be a part of the efforts needed.

PS. Increased tariffs and minimum wages are superb news… for robot manufacturers L

PS. Perhaps we must put payroll taxes on robots to permit us humans to compete for jobs on more level grounds.

PS. Once social cohesion breaks down it is too late. As a Venezuelan I should know.