Monday, September 26, 2005

Discrimination versus prejudice

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After reading the article, I saw a comment that provided a case-in-point example of the divide in the school of thought regarding this issue. What saddens me is that those in the school of thought that seems to justify social negatives (as within this context, statistical discrimination) do it so passionately (as expressed in their comments) that it leaves you wondering about your neighbours. I mean, do people really think this way? Is it a majority thought? I surely hope not!!!
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Example text from stumbling and mumbling:
"In practice, then, many instances of statistical discrimination are intellectually wrong. In particular, they exaggerate the differences between blacks and whites. Which raises the question. Is there a point at which intellectual error becomes a moral error? "
Example reaction comment to above article:
"The same figures will also show that a black/brown person is y times more likely than their white counterpart to carry out a racist attack."
To see the entire article, click here and leave your comments, it would be interesting to see the schools of thought have it out.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Risk aversion

Is it ever the right time to take risks? If you’re risk averse, the answer will consistently have been NO since the day you could walk.

Without overcomplicating things, risk aversion can simply be described as preferring safer returns, even if they are on average smaller. A person with this trait would be unwilling to take risks unless compensated for additional risk (beforehand) by higher returns. An example; bonds.

When the UK housing market crashed in the late 80s to early 90s, those that caught the property market on the up where lucky, though some were just savvy investors. However, a few years on, there are those who believed that the market would crash again. I am surprised to find out from conversation that there are some individuals who, to this date (25 odd years on), are still holding out to buy at the bottom of the market. Their conviction has obviously been reinforced by the 2000-2003 housing market rally and now they are ever more intent on holding out to buy at the bottom of the market. However, those that bought in the early 90s, whether savvy investor or just "lay-man", are now quids-in (in the money) because almost 25 years later, the market has taken a different shape, some property prices having risen by around 150% over 25 years. The risk averse may well be bitter but they surely missed that boat.

Now with the property market in stagnation, there is now a stand-off between the buyers and sellers. Those who want to buy are frightened about buying at the summit of a very high "mountain" (and have very valid reason to do so) and those that bought are hell bent on making some money and so won’t sell.

Does the same context of risk aversion apply in this case for those waiting to buy?

One thing is for sure, the ride down the "mountain", when it happens, will be quick and recovery from it will take a long while (because once consumer confidence has been dented, it's like waiting for a knocked out boxer to stand-up. When he does is anyone's guess).
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But, will the market rise any further?
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Two years ago, the prospect of higher rises was laughable, but the market rose regardless. It would be unwise however, to base future price expectations entirely on historic data, especially in a the property market where a lot of the "traditional" relationships between indicators have been breached by more than anyone dared to imagine.

Is the risk averse individual vindicated this time around or is it simply a case of "it’s never the right time"?
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Bond markets are doing pretty well, obviously driven by an element of risk aversion as bonds are supposed to be the safest assets to hold. But on the other hand, the FTSE all share index has risen by more than 10% since May, which implies that equity prices have been rising, a sign that investors are taking on more risk. These two facts provide two conflicting views about current investor sentiment.
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Since one cannot foretell at what/which point to jump onto the bandwagon, one cannot foretell whether an investment will turn out to be a loss. The consolation is that financial markets are advanced enough to be termed as near efficient, which means that asset price action covers all relevant information. Those that take high risks (accept a lot more uncertainty) like in owning emerging market debt instruments, get higher pay-offs but can also make higher losses.
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If you don't already own a house, would you buy one now?
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The UK mountain (from housepricecrash.co.uk)
Of course I accept that you just want a place to live in and are not particularly interested in the investment side of it BUT buying at the high of the market gives you a higher mortgage debt burden until such a time (from now until 10-20 year on) that house price inflation erodes your debt in real terms.
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Right now, the cheap/good deals are gone and all that's left is what is at the top of the market. Mortgage lenders have had a many good applications, have secured a lot of future income and can now be very picky (all signs that you are at the top of the mountain).
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Would not buying now be termed as risk aversion or as appropriate prudence?
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Beyond a certain level of risk, the returns begin to look rather uncomplementary to the downside.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Access to medicines

See the page from "Make trade fair":
"Fourteen million people die from treatable diseases every year. Many of these lives could be saved if cheap drugs were available"
Regarding food production:
"Millions of poor farmers can't sell what they grow because rich countries are forcing poor countries to accept imports of cheap, often heavily subsidised, food. Rice provides a good example of the threats that poor farmers face."
"The EU's scandalous system of sugar subsidies and trade barriers has prevented many small farmers from working their way out of poverty and raising environmental standards. Reforms that lead to a sustainable sugar industry are urgently needed."
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Support ethical diamonds. If don't know what ethical diamonds are, there is an entertaining way to learn about it. Watch the music video titled "diamonds are forever" on Kanye West's website.

The economics of martial arts

One can find just about anything for which to apply economic theory, for instance, martial arts.
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When starting out in martial arts, you’re like a fresh business person without prior experience. Just like it is wise in business to take on manageable amounts of risk for an expected level of reward, in martial arts, one has to start at the bottom and as confidence builds, risk aversion diminishes (probably proportionally or even by more).

The learning curve - the time it takes for a person to learn a new task and perform it competently – can be steep or flat in both business and martial arts, but wholly dependent on the individual’s aptitude and attitude. In business, the reduction in time taken to carry out production as the cumulative output rises, is mirrored in martial arts by the reduction of time taken to execute a series of moves as your cumulative knowledge rises.

Of course, the longer you’re in business, you develop business acumen. This means that generally, the learning curve concept, which is based on the doubling of output, can apply. Broadly, a 70% learning curve means that the cumulative average time taken per unit falls to 70% of the previous cumulative average time as the output doubles. The cumulative average time per unit is measured from the very first unit produced. Similarly, the cumulative average time taken to "assimilate" new variations of martial arts and execute them successfully should fall to 70% of the previous cumulative average time as your output (total martial arts product) doubles.

Illustration:

Consider a man assembling flat-pack chairs from Ikea, having never assembled a chair before. He will take the longest time to assemble his first chair and his speed/efficiency will be very slow to start with. Once he has assembled a certain number of chairs (this dependant on his aptitude), he will discover ways in which he could minimise the time taken and still end up with a complete assembled chair. Soon, his production becomes more efficient and takes less time.
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Similarly, in martial arts, the man starts with the basic kick and punch. At this point, this is all he can manage because he may well be very stiff (from not previously working his body in such a way), his ligaments may well be quite tight, which means that even his very basic kick is a poor one – no power, just a fling of the leg. After many repetitive classes, if the man is still attending martial arts classes (because this is the stage at which the first batch of beginners drop out, disappointed that they still can’t move like Bruce Lee - myopia galore), he finds that suddenly his product is increasing with less time taken. The previously known 1-2-3 step is now executed in one move and completed in a position that allows manoeuvring for the next set of moves. Attitude in this case becomes more in important than aptitude. The beginner then reaches a level where the learning is exponential. Suddenly the body (and the mind) is supple.

Achieving your first million is like achieving your first black belt. It has been said that your first million is the hardest to reach (effort and time); the same has been said for your first blackbelt. However, some individuals push further and are goal oriented whereas others are just happy enough to have reached the milestone and leave it at that. After 5-10 odd years in business, you know what works for you, your market, your niche, your risk preference, etc. Similarly, in martial arts, you have honed in to what style of fighter you are. Are you a kicker? Puncher? Or a combination? Can you grapple as well? Are you an all rounder? And most importantly, what is your physical (not mental) limititation as a person and how have you/are you working around it?

Inevitably and invariably, the businessman that survives the longest is the most well-rounded because it implies adaptability. Similarly, in martial arts, those who turn out to be the best (Bruce Lee) are the most well-rounded. Bruce Lee took concepts from judo, fencing, boxing, jujitsu, kung fu, etc, and combined them in a way that enabled him to fight different opponents because no two opponents are alike. Additionally, in combat, one cannot afford to be predictable. In business, what Bruce Lee did is known as strategy. Companies cannot afford to be predictable and their competitors are forever evolving.
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Bruce Lee would have been a fantastic business strategist. He was famous for applying the statement below as one of his principles. He said:
“Become formless and shapeless like water. When water is poured into a cup, it becomes the cup. When water is poured into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Be water, my friend.”
Being a successful strategist (either in business or martial arts) is a competency and I think that there is a direct, positive correlation between the best business strategists and the versatility of their approach to life (adaptability). You have to be able to roll with the ever-changing punches. However, the most adaptable people are not necessarily the most book-smart (though there is a required level of mental acrobatics for both scenarios), because adaptability requires a far broader and multifaceted (hence superior) level of intelligence.
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For instance, as in business, there are those in martial arts that study almost everything but fall short in application. Their reasons for falling short of performance can be mostly due to unexpected stimuli but in the real world, businesses and opponents are not predictable.

If you are looking for a potentially successful business strategist, seek out those whom, from their career progression and lifestyle, have displayed the most adaptability. It cannot be taught at school and it speaks volumes about a person’s attitude, which has a bearing on their performance. Preferably, someone who is successful in any competitive sport (from chess to mountain climbing).
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As a closing note, and at risk of sounding too geeky, martial arts even has production functions but the outcome of the equation is the successful transmission of energy from the attacker to the opponent. That energy has got to come from somewhere doesn't it?
"Energy transmission is a function of power generation. E = f(power).
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Power generated is a function of speed, distance, firm footing (footwork), hip rotation, arm and body alignment"
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...p = f(speed, distance, footwork, rotational force, and the correct alignment of the transmission vehicle)
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Ok, that's quite enough.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Behind America's façade

Dated Monday 19th September 2005, the Newstatesman tells a story that leaves many stones overturned. If you want to be in the know...
"The destruction caused by Katrina has enabled us to glimpse realities that are usually carefully hidden away. And what we discover is that New Orleans and Baghdad are not so far apart."
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"The Facade was how we described the dividing line between the America of real life - of a poverty so profound that slavery was still a presence and of a rapacious state power that waged war against its own citizens, just as it did against black and brown-skinned people in faraway countries - and the America that spawned the greed of corporatism and invented public relations as a means of social control ("The American Dream" and "The American Way of Life" began as advertising slogans)."
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"Behind the Facade, the destruction of democracy has been a long-term project. The millions of poor, like most of the people of New Orleans, have no place in the US system, which is why they don't vote. The same is happening under Blair, who has achieved the lowest voter turnouts since the franchise. As with Bush, this is not Blair's concern, for his horizons stretch far. Selling weapons and privatisation deals to India one day, preparing the ground for attacking Iran the next. Under Blair, MI6 ran Operation Mass Appeal, a campaign to plant stories in the media about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Under Blair, young Pakistanis living in Britain were trained as jihadi fighters and recruited for the first of his wars - the dismemberment of Yugoslavia in 1999. According to the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, they joined this terrorist network 'with the full knowledge and complicity of the British and American intelligence agencies'."
By John Pilger
Read the whole article: Behind America's façade

Monday, September 19, 2005

LDC migrants; the real story

* LDC means Less Developed Countries
I have come across a report titled "Out of Africa: A migrant nurse’s story" by the New Internationalist Magazine based in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom, that paints real truths about the people involved, the western world on the one hand and the developing world on the other.

For far too long we, in the west, have as a whole propagated amidst ourselves the propaganda about the desirability of the west to any migrant from a developing country, citing this collective conviction based on sometimes quasi other times pseudo-economic arguments, but failing to realise that the collective conviction is really the west’s self-absorbed view of itself, driven firmly by the view that the world owes the west, not the other way around.

This story of a Kenyan nurse who relocated to England and was accompanied back to her country by a UK journalist investigating the drivers of the difficult decisions the nurse had to make is a must read for anybody who prefers to be in the know, anybody who would rather live in the real world. A world where people don’t just emigrate to the west because they prefer to do so, but go to the west because they have to. I would certainly wish that the authors of the brain drain article I read in the Economist magazine would get hold of such facts before publishing another self denigrating article about economic migration.

Some points from the report:
1. Brain drain is a symptom of wider malaise.
2. The poor in developing countries would like jobs in their own countries. Emigrating is not the preferred option.
3. The west needs developing country professionals.
4. But the west [wrongfully] sees developing country education as inferior and exploitation abounds.
"…In that passport, crucially, a visa allowing her to enter Britain as a ‘student nurse’. Student - It’s a curious description for a state registered nurse with over 20 years’ experience in a wide range of fields including midwifery, family planning, community health, immunisation. A nurse, moreover, who has been a teacher of nurses. But in order to work in Britain, she must become a student again and do a three-month ‘adaptation’ course before she can start practising.

Nancy did her ‘adaptation’ at a private nursing home in the northern English town of Scunthorpe. Like many international recruits she was disappointed that she would be employed not in a hospital but in a nursing home. ‘I was hoping I might learn some new technologies,’ she says.

She was also surprised to discover that during the three months ‘adaptation’ she would be largely unpaid, though she had to pay for food and accommodation. ‘For the first 35 hours a week you worked for nothing. After that you were paid for overtime.’ According to the nurses’ union, the Royal College of Nursing, this is unacceptable. But it is quite common for migrant workers to be exploited in this way – especially in the private sector – and it does not appear to be actually illegal."
5. In hiring nurses from developing countries, the west saves in training costs about as much as the developing world owes in foreign debt (some $552bn).

6. Even with all the odds stacked against them, developing country migrants survive, much to their own benefit and to the benefit of their families back home through remittances, their respective countries of origin through consumer spending from remittances and their host countries through taxes and the training costs saved.
"…I’d walk around with two hot-water bottles to keep me warm – one strapped to my front and one to my back. She moved into a very small house that she shared with another nurse. Then one day, when the other nurse was away, Nancy slipped in the bathroom and injured her head. ‘I suddenly felt very alone. I thought: if I die here no one will know. "
7. The west has big responsibilities to the developing world for its counterproductive "assistance".
"…Its social and economic effects are clear to see. This has not happened overnight. The negative effects of IMF-imposed structural adjustment programmes and globalisation have been filtering through for many years. The public services have been ‘retrenching’ workers by the tens of thousands since 1993.

But in the 1980s and 1990s – when commodity prices collapsed and debt soared – African governments had to cede control over their economic decision-making in order to qualify for World Bank and IMF loans. Conditions attached to these loans undid much of the progress in public health. Food subsidies were scrapped, health budgets slashed and services privatised.

‘User fees’ were introduced for health services that were previously free to patients. The capacity of African governments to cope with the growing health crisis was weakened. The life expectancy of Africans has fallen by 15 years."
8. Ironically, despite the raw deal, the poor are endlessly giving.
"…When she [the nurse] gets back to Kenya [her country of origin] she wants to set up a health clinic in a poor district which has none."
9. While brain drain is an issue, internal resolutions cannot be met because of – again – the west.
"…While the emigration of health workers is undoubtedly making things worse, Nancy and I are hearing another story as well from nurses we talk to. They say that there are a great many unemployed nurses in Kenya. Most are recent graduates. ‘I find that hard to believe,’ says Nancy.

But Dr Francis Kimani, a spokesperson from the Kenyan Ministry of Health, confirms that there are around 5,000 new unemployed nurses in the country. ‘It’s a disaster,’ he says. ‘All the good brains are leaving because they are promised better salaries and working conditions in the developed world. And we can’t employ new ones because of an employment embargo set by the IMF.

The plot thickens when a spokesperson from the World Bank in Nairobi says: ‘The Bank has not put any embargo on recruitment of nurses or civil servants in general. The overall level of wages and salaries bill is an issue though, and the IMF has been discussing with the Government how the wage bill could be contained."
Conclusion:
It is time we gave rest to this issue any many others like it. The facts are available for all that are interested to see. Unfortunately, many would rather bicker for months and years with little facts and a lot of agenda.

The message for the west is do unto others as you would have done unto you. The current actions beggar belief.
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..............Well done to the New internationalist magazine for this wonderful piece......................
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"Britain's cleaning industry is worth £9bn - but the immigrant cleaners doing our dirty work are increasingly living in a secret world of abuse, intimidation and illegality."

Friday, September 09, 2005

The shaming of America

I will start by saying that racism isn't always conscious. It doesn't always happen in one ceremonious or defining moment, but we (in the community) pretend that we live in an egalitarian society. And for that pretence, some will argue with evidence as clear as a sign post.
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This week The Economist magazine redeems itself by standing in the middle. The article titled "the shaming of America" carfelly avoids claiming a racist motivation for the poor response by the US government and even tries to apportion some blame to the supposedly "nonchalant" majority black inhabitants of New Orleans. However, the article also identifies crippling incompetence by the federal government, the kind described by Paul Krugman of the New York times.
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Within the article, I find a question that I have come across a lot within the last few days. Would the response to New Orleans have been any different had the inhabitants been white?
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America is by large a majority white country, which means that the "system" is basically run by whites (simple law of averages). Given that it is not uncommon in society to find tacit favouritism within groups of the same kind (religion, race, sex, etc), I am inclined to think that a system run by a majority group would favour those who belong to it than any other groups. I hold this theory true for a mojority Chinese, Indian, Black, or other group.
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However, what differentiates prejudice from the simple benefits conferred to a specific group by virtue of their larger numbers, is the product of their actions. Put differently, the fruits of their labour. If the majority group (whichever one) acts in a way that alienates, marginalises or sidelines the minority groups, then quite simply, prejudice is firmly on the driving seat. From this understanding going forward, it is then irrelevant how prejudice is subsequently manifested.
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So do I think the response would have been different had the inhabitants of New Orleans been majority white? I certainly do!
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To quote a comment from Freakonomics:

"If it were even mentioned [that] there was a possibility of 50,000 white people drowning and dying of hunger and thirst, don't you think they [US government] would have organized a massive house-to-house search in New Orleans the very next day and run by the Federal government and the pentagon?"

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The article the shaming of America starts:

"EVEN America's many enemies around the world tend to accord it respect. It might be arrogant, overbearing and insensitive—but, by God, it can get things done.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the world's view of America has changed. The disaster has exposed some shocking truths about the place: the bitterness of its sharp racial divide, the abandonment of the dispossessed, the weakness of critical infrastructure. But the most astonishing and most shaming revelation has been of its government's failure to bring succour to its people at their time of greatest need.

The finger-pointing is already under way, with the federal government blaming local government and local government blaming the feds. But if America is to avoid future catastrophes it needs to do more than bicker."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hurricane Katrina responses

After my recent post on hurricane Katrina, I have since found many bloggers and journalists who share the same view (different means in some cases but the same result).
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Let's examine some examples:
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1. Perfect.co.uk says:
"It’s clear that no one in the vicinity of New Orleans is serious about organising a relief or a rescue. I hope I’m wrong, but it now looks as though the ‘lawful authorities’ in Louisiana are about to ‘do a Fallujah’ on whoever remains. This in response to reports of lawlessness that media outlets have so far been unable to corroborate with filmed footage. Is the flooded city really a nest of outlaw snipers where no policeman can safely go?

God will sort the dead, perhaps. I wonder if God’s a racist. Many of his followers seem to be. If not that, the best that can be said is that those in charge are
disordered, in a state of panic and reacting to rumours rather than facts. Expect the worst."
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2. Boing Boing says:
"The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number — 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn’t leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire [less government interference]. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn’t be able to get out. The resources — meaning, the political will — weren’t there to get them out."
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3. Paul Krugman of the New York times and a well respected Economist says:
"Thousands of Americans are dead or dying, not because they refused to evacuate, but because they were too poor or too sick to get out without help - and help wasn’t provided. Many have yet to receive any help at all."
"Each day since Katrina brings more evidence of the lethal ineptitude of federal officials....Here's one of many examples: The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

Experts say that the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the crucial window during which prompt action can save many lives. Yet action after Katrina was anything but prompt. Newsweek reports that a "strange paralysis" set in among Bush administration officials, who debated lines of authority while thousands died."
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4. The BBC says:
"The only difference between the chaos of New Orleans and a Third World disaster operation, he said, was that a foreign dictator would have responded better. It has been a profoundly shocking experience for many across this vast country [USA] who, for the large part, believe the home-spun myth about the invulnerability of the American Dream."
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5. Perfect.co.uk also says:
"The commander of the Louisiana National Guard certainly knows his mission (“to take this city [NO] back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force).
...the US government now seems to have woken up to the fact that racist weekend warriors don’t necessarily make the best humanitarian relief workers and is also sending in professionals from out of town.Unbelievable."
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6. Harry's place in his post Katrina evaluations says:
"Race and (especially) class still matter in this country [USA], as we are reminded rudely by events of this nature."
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Well there you have it.

Immigration once again

As usual on this issue, no economics, just noise. Actually, it's not so much an issue but people shifting goalposts, suddenly becoming unsettled, etc, all because the cause of the restlessness has not been dealt with.

Complaining about immigrants and even going further to say that they cost taxes (as seen on some papers) when they actually pay taxes and most don't even have access to the welfare system, reveals an undercurrent that has no economic or statistical backing, no empirical backing, just arbitrary reasons for complaining so vehemently about immigrants.

A while back, I watched a Dimbleby show on the BBC where I learnt - to my surprise - that at the time, around 50% of economic migrants into the UK were white American female professionals. It therefore comes as no surprise that this report reveals that there are more American migrants living in Britain than Bangladeshis. However, I also do remember that before Dimbleby revealed the fact (which caught-out many on the panel and the audience with their skewed numbers and skewed thinking), the argument was meandering around race. People came just short of calling it a race thing. But as I remember, Dimbleby did ask the question and somebody (whom I won't mention) confirmed that it was. The responder then went into some nonsense about "integration" or lack thereof as his reason for blatantly citing race as the undercurrent for his argument.

Call a spade a spade, I always say!

We keep releasing report after report on the effects of immigration, etc, but the economic and social pros and cons have been in the public domain for a very long time. You cannot find a sound economic argument, for instance, which will suggest that immigration is hurting the economy. And I am of the view that (like Brazil) the fusion of cultures creates more interesting lives. London is an interesting place with its diverse music, food, etc. So who are these boring people who would like to water down the cultural fusion?

I once read a newspaper poll about a random street survey on immigration. The public was asked what percentage of the population they thought comprised of black people and to my surprise, the average response was well above 20%! That was so shocking given that the Office for National Statistics has correct information, free for everyone to access, that places the total ethnic minority population at just under 10% and in that 10%, we find further breakdown into very small percentages, with Black people coming at around 2%. However, the average Joe will not go to National Statistics to get the facts, he will read skewed reports and listen to agenda-driven politicians and then regurgitate the same wrong thinking without giving it a second thought.

So, given that:
1. Immigrants contribute more to the economy than they cost.
2. A noticeable percentage of the immigrants (though not viewed under this label) are American.
3. When listening/reading on immigration, all we see and hear is about Eastern Europe and ethnic minorities, not the Americans, or Australians, etc

What is the real issue then?

The discussion on immigration is down to:
"more of that lot please, and less of those people. Don't ask why (go figure)".
If you dispute this, read up on the policy and do some maths (using statistics), the devil is in the details.

To quote Chris Dillow from stumbling and mumbling:
"...This doesn't mean there are no arguments against immigration -there are. It's just that the best arguments aren't economic ones."
In writing the above, Chris Dillow was defending his very valid economic point in favour of free immigration. To quote his comments:
" If the "national interest" means anything at all, it can only be the sum of individual interests. If I choose to employ, say, a Nigerian, it can only be because doing this is in my interest. If no-one else's interest is affected, the national interest is enhanced by my decision. Free migration of labour is therefore in the national interest."
"...A third possibility is simply that third parties just hate the idea of immigrants, so their welfare falls when I hire the Nigerian. But politicians would never pander to such racism, would they? "
Well done Chris Dillow, you're asking the right questions.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

100% for social justice?

The foundations of my principle "100% for social justice" have been vigorously shaken by the rude realisation that it could well be a piped dream. Social justice is impossible to enforce in society if people refuse to speak up for themselves and each other. Social justice relies heavily on collective action from a group of people doing the right thing in whatever circumstance. It cannot be left to one individual because in that case, the individual is seen as trying to be a hero and the offence being committed could well be redirected and channelled at this one individual.

I think that my stance represents the ideal response for an ideal society but the latter is far from ideal. In fact, if ideal bit society in the backside I don’t think society would notice, let alone know.

Why?

Because society is full of people who are firstly too scared to stand up for what is right and then secondly, too selfish to think beyond themselves. However, unfortunately for these selfish people, what you're avoiding may find its way to you. Then you will want some help but it will not be forthcoming - as you'll already know having been of the selfish demeanor yourself.

London city was full of bus related crime (crimes committed to passengers on buses) before the city introduced congestion charging (premium pricing to deter drivers that don’t need to drive into the city). The outcome is that roads are clearer but the number of people on the buses has increased, which increases the number of potential targets for crime. These days, you can even get "happy slapped", which is basically a group of youths with a camera phone selecting a random member of the public and assaulting them (slapping them) whilst recording this crime on their camera phones. How sick is that? These juveniles slap anyone.

I blame society for the extent to which these crimes have stretched. These youths are in their mid to late teens which speaks volumes about parenting. I will go further to blame society for doing nothing when someone is being victimised in their presence. I don’t mean take the law into your own hands, but people are too scared to be seen calling the police, too scared to speak out, to scared to do anything other than wish and pray that they are not next. Outrageous!!!

If you don’t act today, tomorrow you’ll be the one on the receiving end and others, just like you, will be watching doing nothing. So the juvenile criminal wins. The juvenile assaults anybody in your presence and walks off with no consequences!! This makes me sick in the stomach.

What should the public do?

When a single person stands up and instructs the juveniles to stop committing the crime, the whole bus should support this by also instructing the criminals to stop.
People should be vigilant in supporting each other as they wait for the police. But what happens instead is the police arrive to one seriously injured victim and many witnesses, which is fine but these witnesses can – in the mean time - deter the extent of crime by simply standing united and asserting instruction at these juvenile offenders.
In society today, people will just watch, and there is a direct positive correlation between the extent of crime being committed and how far away from the victim people will stand.

A woman colleague of mine was attacked on a crowded train but nobody did or said anything. Nobody but an old man who was – as usual – left to assist this woman on his own. He was left to be a "hero" and suffer the consequences of doing the right thing whilst everyone else climbed over each other trying to hurdle away from the ongoing offence. Luckily, the old man reported the incident to the police and when the criminal was spotted on the train again by the woman whom he attacked, there were police on sight to arrest the criminal. But, on the day that she was attacked, I remember that she was seriously hurt.

I really don’t know what to make of our existence in society. In trying to mind our own business, the offenders take root of society and we then have to subsequently change our patterns to avoid being victimised. A real infringement on our civil liberties.

If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
By not assisting the victim, you perpetuate the "easy-target" mainframe, which means that next time, you’d better watch out! You can either be free or live in fear. It seems Londoners prefer to live in fear and this decision means that those of us with enough courage to speak against crime can't because we KNOW that we don't have the backing from anybody. In fact, the minute you speak out, people move away from you so that they don't receive what is perceived to be coming your way - more crime.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina reveals racism

Natural disasters should unite people, not create racial tensions. This is because, in the face of an indiscriminate calamity, it is useless and irrelevant for people to be blatantly trying to enforce some tacit superiority over others.

The article: Black People "Loot", White People "Find" reveals the racist predisposition of the US media. Thankfully, not all media is this way inclined, the British media tell it like it is.
Beyond the media, there is the government, represented by its officials. When one of the people in charge of the ex post response was asked why - if after the Tsunami food aid was dropped in two days - it took them five days to action a meaningful response for New Orleans (their own country), the man just went red in the face. That speaks volumes for itself.

"Repeatedly, reporters refer to white victims clinging to life as "survivors" and "residents," while African-American victims doing the same things are called "looters" and "criminals." Disproportionately, the humanizing, "heart-breaker" stories feature white victims and families. Meanwhile, images of African-American crowds are almost invariably in the background during discussions of "criminal activity."
It took the US a few days to deploy troops in Iraq in their tens of thousands. Not only can the US foretell natural disasters with some reliable degree of accuracy, but I will go further to suggest that the government has enough demographic statistics to have a reliable estimate of how many poor people would have been unable to leave New Orleans. Unfortunately, these poor people are mostly ethnic minorities and this too would also have been known.

So, now that rampage has begun, another predetermined outcome is played. Instead of sending food to obviously alleviate the cause of looting crime (hunger, survival) the US government is sending well-fed troops to people who are extremely desperate to aggravate the situation. A gunfight is obviously inevitable.

I don't believe that a government can be this daft, I am more inclined to call a spade a spade. I thought this sort of blatant discrimination was a thing of the past.
More comments from other sources:
"Judging from the Red Cross's explanation..., government apparently feared that the Red Cross would deliver relief with too much success. So, government decided that letting people die was a better course than risking any success that the Red Cross would likely have at providing disaster relief."
"According to this Knight-Ridder report, the Red Cross isn't alone among well-respected private relief organizations kept, by government, from saving lives in New Orleans. The Salvation Army was stopped from carrying out a planned rescue operation. Here's the key part of the report:
As federal officials tried to get some control over the deteriorating situation in New Orleans, chaos was being replaced with bureaucratic rules that inhibited private relief organizations' efforts."
Some facts about New Orleans:
1. New Orleans population estimated at 462,000 (35th largest US city)
2. About 67% of the population is classified as black (African American) compared with 12% for the US as a whole.
3. The unemployment rate is close to the national average of 4.9%
4. Almost 28% of the city's population is below the poverty line.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Corruption: The West Vs Africa

Well another one bites the dust. Another large, respectable and trusted organisation, a large employer that would have many applicants longing for an opportunity, another company with clout is once again caught with its trousers down. KPMG is the newest addition to the list.

My point being that the next time Africa (or any other developing country) comes up as a discussion, let him who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8: 7). Let those who live in a perfect, crime free world, where everyone and every organisation is trustworthy cast the first stone.

…. I think I hear the footsteps of critics walking away. I hear the sound of rocks being dropped back onto the ground from where they were lifted.

Hypocrisy is the trait that will hinder EVERY single society in EVERY part of the world from true progress. From the enforcement of the law, to healthcare, to jobs, to clean streets, to security, to aid, to etc, hypocrisy stands as the single most important mountain of hinderance.

When making your next decision, from this moment on, think of the bigger picture, think of your real reasons, think of real justice, look beyond yourself and if we all did that, the world will be a better place.

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways,
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer,
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place,
Take A Look At Yourself,
And Then Make A Change!

Michael Jackson, "Man in the mirror"


If you've heard it all before, well, why haven't you acted upon it?

Common sense is not very common.