Sunday, September 30, 2012

A guerra cívil síria

Não, não vou escrever sobre isso.

Vou escrever é sobre uma coisa que me interroga: o que levará alguém, que (ao que tudo indica) não parece ter qualquer simpatia por nenhuma das partes em confronto, a dedicar à situação na Síria para aí 97% dos artigos que escreve?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Experts Speak Out

Sept. 8, 2012, 90-minute PBS documentary, over 40 scientific experts share their professional insights about the events of 9/11.

Obama's drone wars and the normalisation of extrajudicial murder

Isto já dura há muito, o silêncio da esquerda é ensurdecedor. Via

Executive privilege has seduced the president into a reckless 'kill first, ask questions later' policy that explodes the US constitution.

Políticos de Munique com pretensões artísticas e fãs de Wagner

É no que me faz pensar este parágrafo do psiquiatra alemão Ernst Kretschmer (em Psyque and Character, creio que escrito originalmente em 1921) sobre Luis II, o Rei Louco da Baviera:

One need only imagine the licentious cruelties, which Ludwig II of Bavaria has written down in dreamy desire in his diary, transferred in reality to a slightly more active nature, in a despotically governed state, to obtain some conjectural insight into much that happened in actual fact, in earlier centuries, through the activities of semi-psychopathic emperors.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Menos um manifestante em Atenas

Parece que Loukanikos/Thodoris foi adoptado, e aparentemente a sua nova família não o deixa continuar a ir às manifestações.


Interessante, os velhos temas que críticos das cândidas versões oficiais na história sobre casus belli costumam citar, reunidos numa exposição só.

“I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough,” said Patrick Clawson, who also heads the Washington Institute’s Iran Security Initiative, in response to a question about what would happen if negotiations with Tehran fail. “And it’s very hard for me to see how the United States … uh … President can get us to war with Iran."
As a consequence, Clawson said he was led to conclude that “the traditional way [that] America gets to war is what would be best for US interests."
Intriguingly, he went on to recount a series of controversial incidents in American history — the attack on Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the blowing up of the USS Maine — that US presidents “had to wait for” before taking America to war.
“And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal army until Fort Sumter was attacked,” Clawson continued, “which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack."
“So, if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise, the Israel lobbyist concluded with a smirk on his face, “it would be best if somebody else started the war.
"One can combine other means of pressure with sanctions. I mentioned that explosion on August 17th. We could step up the pressure. I mean look people Iranian submarines periodically go down someday one of them may not come up. Who would know why? We can do a variety of things if we wish to increase the pressure. I'm not advocating that but I'm just suggesting that ... this is not a either or proposition.... We are in the game of using covert means against the Iranians. We could get nastier at that."

WTC7 -- This is an Orange

about Arab Springs

Monday, September 24, 2012

Militares espanhóis prometem "esmagar os abutres" ( e não estão a falar de grifos)

Spain risks break-up as Mariano Rajoy stirs Catalan fury (The Telegraph):

A serving army officer, Colonel Francisco Alaman, has fuelled the flames by comparing the crisis with 1936 – when Gen Francisco Franco seized power – and by vowing to crush Catalan nationalists, described as “vultures”.

“Independence for Catalunya? Over my dead body. Spain is not Yugoslavia or Belgium. Even if the lion is sleeping, don’t provoke the lion, because he will show the ferocity proven over centuries,” he said.

Retired Lt-Gen Pedro Pitarch, a former army chief, said the words reflect “deeply-rooted thinking in large parts of the armed forces”. He also accused Madrid of bungling the Catalan drama disastrously.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

As medidas que vão ser anunciadas amanhã

O grande problema é que, como nunca chegamos a saber exactamente qual ia ser o conjunto global do pacote de austeridade que ia incluir as mudanças na TSU (falava-se muito em alterações dos escalões do IRS que iriam fazer subir os impostos, mas nunca se soube nada de concreto), quando forem anunciadas as próximas medidas não vai ser muito claro distinguir o que são medidas para substituir o aumento da TSU, e o que são medidas que seriam apresentadas de qualquer maneira.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Más notícias para os coelhos

O “vale dos linces” está em treinos para a liberdade (Público)

Passos encurralado? (Visão)

Finalmente a Helena Matos diz alguma coisa de jeito

Suspensão da democracia

A escola austríaca e os produtos financeiros

Ron Paul on Money Market Funds, por Paul Krugman:

But the Ron Paul link, in which he condemned fractional reserve banking, prodded me to ask a question I’ve been meaning to ask: How do the Austrians propose dealing with money market funds?

I mean, it has always been a peculiarity of that school of thought that it praises markets and opposes government intervention — but that at the same time it demands that the government step in to prevent the free market from providing a certain kind of financial service. As I understand it, the intellectual trick here is to convince oneself that fractional reserve banking, in which banks don’t keep 100 percent of deposits in a vault, is somehow an artificial creation of the government.(...)

But consider a more recent innovation: money market funds. Such funds are just a particular type of mutual fund — and surely the Austrians don’t want to ban financial intermediation (or do they?). Yet shares in a MMF are very clearly a form of money — you can even write checks on them — created out of thin air by financial institutions, with very few pieces of green paper behind them.

So are such funds illegitimate? What about repo, which has many of the same features?

One of the key lessons of the 2008 crisis was precisely that banks are defined by what they do, not by what they look like, and there are a whole range of financial arrangements that in economic terms act a lot like fractional reserve banking. So would a Ron Paul regulatory regime have teams of “honest money” inquisitors fanning across the landscape, chasing and closing down anyone illegitimately creating claims that might compete with gold and silver? How is this supposed to work?
Pelo que tenho visto, nomeadamente pelos textos que o Carlos Novais tem escrito sobre o assunto, grande parte da objecção tem a ver com o que consideram a fraude implícita em chamar "depósito" a algo que não é realmente um depósito; logo, como os fundos e outros produtos financeiros que Krugman refere não se dizem "depósitos", não haveria problema por aí.

No entanto, com ou sem fraude, o problema de que a reserva bancária fracional criaria ciclos económicos manteria-se à mesma, parece-me; imaginemos que os bancos deixavam de chamar aos depósitos à ordem "depósitos à ordem" e passavam a chamá-los "aplicações financeiras liquidáveis a pedido" - todas as consequências económicas que supostamente a existência de depósitos à ordem (não garantidos a 100%) têm continuariam a ter, mesmo com o novo nome.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quantos metros quadrados ocupa um manifestante?

Uma discussão recorrente em dias de manifestações.

Eu andei fazendo uma medidas - se uma pessoa medir 60 cm de envergadura largura (eu meço 47) e 40 cm das costas ao fim da barriga (eu meço 32), ocuparia 0,24 m2. Claro que isto seria se as pessoas nas manifestações ficassem coladas umas às outras. Se assumirmos que numa manifestação 2/3 da área está vazia e 1/3 está ocupado por pessoas, temos um manifestante por 0,72 m2.

Outra maneira de vermos a coisa é pensarmos qual a distância entre os manifestantes - se assumirmos que um manifestante está a meio metro da pessoa que está ao seu lado e a meio metro da pessoa que está à sua frente temos, por manifestante - largura: 110 cm (60+50); comprimento: 90 cm (40+50); área: 0,99 m2 (ok, 1 m2). Um problema de um cálculo destes é que muda muito com pequenas alterações das premissas - se o meio metro passar para 40 cms, a área já é de (60+40)*(40+40)=0,8 m2

Temos aqui uma fotografia de uma manifestação (em Portimão, junto ao café "Casa Inglesa"), mas não é muito fácil estimar a distância entre as pessoas; se as pessoas fotografadas medirem cerca de 1,80, dá-me a ideia (fazendo umas medidas com uma régua...) que a distância de ombro a ombro será de 30 cms.

Assim, a área será de (60+30)*(40+30)=0,63 m2.

De qualquer forma, a minha estimativa para a questão original será algures entre 0,6 m2 e 1,2 m2

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Steve Wozniak contra a "guerra das patentes"

Co-fundador da Apple declara guerra à guerra das patentes (Público):

"Não acredito que a decisão da Califórnia se mantenha”, disse Steve Wozniak, em declarações ao site da Bloomberg, referindo-se ao veredicto de um tribunal de San José, no estado norte-americano da Califórnia, que obrigou a Samsung a pagar mais de mil milhões de dólares à Apple por violação de patentes. A empresa sul-coreana anunciou que iria apresentar recurso.

Para além de dizer que não acredita numa vitória final da Apple contra a Samsung, Steve Wozniak faz questão de sublinhar que não concorda com os argumentos da empresa que ele próprio ajudou a fundar, nem com a decisão do tribunal da Califórnia: “São coisas insignificantes, nem sequer considero que sejam inovações.”

A posição de Wozniak não podia estar mais distante da vontade expressa por Steve Jobs na sua biografia oficial. Numa das conversas com o autor do livro, Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs afirmou que estava disposto a declarar “uma guerra termonuclear” contra a Google por causa do sistema operativo Android.

Default/restruturação da dívida - o caminho para salvar o euro?

Why early sovereign default could save the euro, por Harald HauUlrich Hege (Voxeu):

The recent announcement by the ECB that it will start to buy Spanish and Italian sovereign debt has been warmly welcomed throughout Europe. But this column argues that by doing so the ECB is digging the euro’s grave. It says the solution is default, either through inflation or debt restructuring – and that debt restructuring has many advantages if it is done early enough.
[Via Desvio Colossal]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mais-valias de depósitos?

Eu sei o que são juros de depósitos e o que são mais-valias de acções, mas o que são mais-valias de depósitos?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Um blog e um site para quem esteja interessado nas eleições holandesas

Political quirks e Dutch politics - a primer for foreigners, por Peter-Paul Koch.

Os Democratas e as liberdades civis (II)

The Democratic Party Joins The GOP In Abandoning Civil Liberties, por Doug Mataconis (Outside the Beltway):

To all of this, of course, we could add the extent to which President Obama has not only continued the Bush Administration’s policies with regard to the War On Terror, but he has expanded upon them significantly. At the top of the list, of course, is the President’s decision to assassinate an American citizen without any due process and, indeed, while blocking any efforts by family members of that individual to require the Administration to present evidence in Court justifying a death sentence without trial. The President has also expanded the Bush Administration practice of using the Constitutionally suspect “states secrets” document to prevent any judicial review of its actions in areas such as warrantless wiretapping. As Serwer noted, he failed to make any effort to amend the PATRIOT Act tone down it’s more unfortunate provisions. Finally, just last week, the President’s Justice Department declined to prosecute two CIA agents involved in the torture of terror suspects (...)

By sweeping these abuses of civil liberties under the rug, the Obama Administration has essentially guaranteed that it will happen again in the name of “national security.” It’s bad enough that we have one political party that has this much disregard for civil liberties, now it seems as though we have two of them

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012)

Morreu o "heterodoxo" psiquiatra Thomas Szasz.

Um link para um dos seus textos mais famosos: The Myth of Mental Illness.

"Obesidade infantil"

Hoje o SAPO tem uma notícia "Portugueses falam pouco sobre obesidade infantil quando estão online"; já de sí é de pensar se isso é uma notícia (deve haver ziliões de assuntos sobre as quais os portugueses pouco falam online, desde a estrutura narrativa dos contos tradicionais até ao ciclo reprodutivo da filoxera, passando pelos efeitos do calcário na formação de grutas) - falar-se muito de um assunto pode ser notícia; falar-se pouco tenho as minhas dúvidas. Depois nem é muito claro o que os investigadores contam como "falar pouco": quando comecei a ler o artigo ainda pensei que fosse em comparação com os outros países estudados, mas depois parece-me que o termo de comparação é o "Justin Bieber"; bem, mas se formos por aí provavelmente fala-se mais da "obesidade infantil" na internet do que do filósofo medieval Maimonides. Onde é que eu quero chegar com isso - definir se se fala muito ou pouco de "obesidade infantil" comparando com o que se fala sobre um assunto que não tem rigorosamente nada a ver não me parece fazer grande sentido.

Já agora, interrogo-me se a "obesidade infantil" será um problema tão real como isso - é verdade que posso estar a cair na falácia "eu sou o mundo", mas quase todas as crianças directa ou indirectamente no meu circulo de conhecimentos tendem a caír, ou no tipo "bem constituido/pré-atlético" ou no tipo "franzino" (para falar a verdade, os comportamentos que o "pânico" acerca da "obesidade infantil" apresenta como causas - "sedentarismo", "sempre agarrados ao computador", etc. - parecem-me, no mundo real, estarem associados fundamentalmente ao tipo "franzino").

Ao contrário do que é usual nas guerras

CNN - UN's official: Killings, violence are new norms in Syria's war

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cortar na despesa?

Numa espécie de "oposição de direita" que está a surgir, é frequente a conversa "temos que reduzir a despesa, não aumentar os impostos". Deixando de lado a questão que a despesa pública está realmente a diminuir, não é muito claro onde é que se pretende fazer esses grandes cortes.

Sobretudo há quase 10 anos que há um pensamento liberal "pujante" a nivel dos blogs, com grandes discursos de "libertar a sociedade civil" e "reduzir o peso do Estado", mas, se vermos bem (e se deixarmos de lado a ala anarco-capitalista), muitas poucas propostas têm saído daí para reduzir a despesa pública (a única que costumo ler é a de aproximar o valor das propinas universitárias ao custo real) - parece-me que o que os liberais têm defendido muito tem sido o direito dos utentes dos serviços públicos irem ao privado (na educação, na saúde, etc.) e o estado pagar o equivalente ao que gastaria se eles fossem ao Estado. Isso até pode ter vantagens (e inconvenientes...) mas não me parece que reduzir a despesa fosse uma delas (a curto prazo, suspeito que até a aumentaria).

Adenda - talvez isto refute o que escrevo aqui

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Mitt Romney, o keynesiano

Saturday, September 08, 2012

O Estado Novo e o fascismo (pela énesima vez)

Ao que me parece, a polémica Loff/Ramos (que não me parece particularmente interessante, diga-se de passagem) é mais uma instância da velha discussão sobre se o Estado Novo foi uma forma de "fascismo". A esse respeito, repito o que escrevi aqui:

A respeito da questão sobre se o salazarismo foi uma forma de fascismo, primeiro temos que estabelecer uma coisa - qual é a diferença entre o fascismo e os outros tipos de ditadura de direita? Poderemos considerar que uma diferença é que os regimes fascistas apoiavam-se num movimento de massas mais ou menos organizado, e não apenas (como os regimes da direita "clássica") na repressão policial e militar e na influência da Igreja estabelecida e dos caciques locais.

Se irmos por aqui, dá-me a ideia (com os limites de análise a que alguém nascido em 1973 está sujeito) que Salazar está mais próximo da ditadura "clássica" do que do fascismo.

Outra questão é sobre se isso faz uma grande diferença; afinal, se formos ver, a essência da discussão sobre o "fascismo" ou não do salazarismo acaba por ser algo como "Catarina Eufémia foi morta pela GNR; num regime fascista possivelmente teria sido morta pela Legião Portuguesa"; mas será que a ela lhe faria alguma diferença?

Diria que as diferenças entre fascistas e "conservadores-autoritários" são mais relevantes antes de chegarem ao poder (uns organizam manifestações e usam uniformes, enquanto os outros conspiram com generais em restaurantes selectos). Depois de chegarem ao poder, as diferenças tenderão a esbater-se: uma ditadura clássica, se tiver ambições de continuidade, tenderá a organizar os seus apoiantes (criando, assim, uma espécie de "partido do governo"); por seu lado, depois de um movimento fascista chegar ao poder, muita gente irá entrar para o partido ou para a milícia apenas para fazer carreira, diminuindo o seu vigor ideológico e tornando-os como um mero prolongamento do aparelho de Estado.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Os Democratas e as liberdades civis

Democrats Retreat on Civil Liberties in 2012 Platform, por , na Mother Jones  (via Jesse Walker):

What a difference four years makes.

In 2008, Democrats were eager to draw a contrast with what they then portrayed as Republican excesses in the fight against Al Qaeda. Since then, the Obama administration has in many cases continued the national security policies of its predecessor—and the Democratic Party's 2012 platform highlights this reversal, abandoning much of the substance and all of the bombast of the 2008 platform. Here are a few places where the differences are most glaring:

[resto do artigo]

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A questão

Porque é que, de repente, uma carrada de gente começou a comentar um artigo que a Margarida Rebelo Pinto escreveu há 2 anos?

Tema para uma tese de economia regional e urbana?

Move, por "Sandmonkey"/Mahmoud Salem:

Why do we still live in Cairo?

I ask myself this question every day, as I , like millions of others, curse every god in heavens as I try to navigate my way through the streets of Cairo to get from one neighborhood to the other. Every morning I am filled with dread before heading out into the ever-shrinking streets of this gloriously overpopulated city, and the tweets of the #cairotraffic hashtag on my phone, filled with curses, pleas for help and the rare glimmer of hope of an not overly populated route, compound the stress and the misery. Every morning I feel as if I am about to willingly enter a psychotic mega game of bumper-cars, while only hoping that I make it to my destination not overly late and with my car intact. And every morning, as hours of my life keep passing by, I ask myself that same question: Why do we live in Cairo? (...)

There really isn’t a single reason to live in this city outside financial opportunity, and with its rising costs, even that reason is becoming suspect. Everything is so expensive that we live on credit, which, if you take a look at Spain, Greece, Italy or even the US, is not a good idea long-term wise. Yet everyone stays, unless it’s to get out of the country completely, and more keep coming to this glorified mouse-trap, because all the companies are here; and the companies are here because the other companies are here. And nobody ever questions the logic of this, even though it’s very easy to

Sure, Cairo is the business center of Egypt, but that doesn’t mean we need to be based here to do business here. In reality, other cities offer cheaper rent, cost of living, and all of the amenities that we need, and since most of us do our work via email anyway, there is literally no reason why people of capital choose to start new businesses here. The question of why not move the businesses elsewhere, while maintaining satellite/virtual offices or shared work spaces here-which would minimize the costs dramatically- is one that somehow never gets answered convincingly. We are here, because everyone else is here, and we envy and hate on anyone who manages to set-up their business elsewhere. (...)

Yes, some people have family ties and responsibilities that make it impossible to leave Cairo, but for the rest of us, there is no excuse not to get out. Down with New Cairo and 6 October compounds, for they might give us a reprieve from traffic when we get home, but any trip into the city- whether through the always crowded Mehwar or the Death trap called the ring road- becomes a crucible, and if we are going to live desert land anyway, we might as well have a beach nearby. I know that Big Corporations will probably require things like government planning and tax incentives to move elsewhere, but Small and medium enterprises don’t. So dear SME owners and people intent on opening new businesses: Do us all a favor and move. We are all waiting for our way out, and, right now, you are our only hope.
Parece-me que o autor está a minimizar um pouco os problemas de "QWERTYeza", como se ultrapassá-los fosse uma simples questão de alguém dar o primeiro passo ou de força de vontade...

Documento oficial dos piratas somalis

To Whom It May Concern
Subject: Congratulations to the Company/Owner

Having seen when my Pirate Action Group (P.A.G) had controlled over your valuable vessel we are saying to you Company/Owner welcome to Jamal's Pirate Action Group (J.P.A.G) and you have to follow by our law to return back your vessel and crew safely...

"Do not imagine that we are making to you intimidation," the memo says, before signing off with "Best regards" and the signature of Jamal Faahiye Culusow, the General Commander of the Group.
Lest there be any doubt about who Jamal is or what he does, his signature is accompanied by his seal -- yes, Jamal has a stamped seal -- depicting a skull and crossed swords with the name of the group.

[Business Insider: Somali Pirates Now Have Form Letters And Company Stationery]

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Ainda sobre "Gun control"

Controlling Guns, Controlling People, por Thaddeus Russel, na Reason:

I first learned about the contradictions of gun politics when I was about 10 years old, growing up in the radical milieu of 1970s Berkeley. My mother and stepfather were members of a revolutionary organization called the International Socialists. Although the group’s members were mostly bookish nerds with little taste for violence, their inspiration was Leon Trotsky, who led the Bolsheviks’ armed insurrection in 1917 and then headed up the Red Army, which killed hundreds of thousands of the Soviet regime’s opponents in the ensuing civil war. Because my parents’ politics were primarily an exercise in middle-class intellectual fantasy, I was never exposed to real violence or even violent rhetoric, and they never owned a gun.

My stepfather’s best friend, Jeff, who lived in a cottage behind ours, was a member of the Spartacist League, a rival Trotskyist organization that was less shy about the violent implications of its rhetoric. The Spartacists were known for physically attacking strikebreakers and Klansmen and for rumbling with Maoists over the imagined turf of the Bay Area’s revolutionary working class. One day I happened upon Jeff cleaning a pistol at his kitchen table. Despite the fact that his and my parents’ hero was one of the greatest perpetrators of gun violence in the 20th century, I somehow saw guns as not only scary but also right-wing and politically “bad.” I told Jeff I hated guns and wished they all would be rounded up and melted down. “But we can’t have a revolution without them,” he said with a sanguine smile.

As an adult I continued to fear and hate guns and to generally align myself with the gun control cause, but Jeff’s suggestion that the regulation of people’s access to guns is essentially conservative nagged at me, unresolved, until I read UCLA law professor Adam Winkler’s stunning new book Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. At the heart of his narrative, Winkler convincingly argues that the people who began the movement against gun control operated not out of the National Rifle Association’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C., but out of a nondescript two-story brick building three blocks from where I sat staring at that pistol: 3106 Shattuck Avenue, in the heart of radical Berkeley. It was there, in 1967, at the headquarters of the Black Panther Party, that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale planned an armed march into the California State Capitol that “launched the modern gun-rights movement.”

Despite my feelings about guns, even as a child I admired that the Panthers made their name shortly after their founding in 1966 by patrolling West Oakland streets with rifles and shotguns and confronting police officers who were detaining blacks. It seemed to me that there was no more effective means of curbing the daily police brutality being meted out to the residents of Oakland’s ghetto. But I did not know until reading Gunfight that the Panthers’ armed patrols provoked the drafting of legislation that established today’s gun regulation apparatus, or that the champions of that legislation were as conservative as apple pie.

In 1967 Don Mulford, the Republican state assemblyman who represented the Panthers’ patrol zone and who had once famously denounced the Free Speech Movement and anti-war demonstrations at the University of California at Berkeley, introduced a bill inspired by the Panthers that prohibited the public carrying of loaded firearms, open and concealed. As Winkler puts it, the text of what became the Mulford Act “all but pointed a finger at the Panthers when it said, ‘The State of California has witnessed, in recent years, the increasing incidence of organized groups and individuals publicly arming themselves for purposes inimical to the peace and safety of the people of California.’ ” The law made California the first state to ban the open carrying of loaded firearms.

 Shortly after Mulford introduced his bill, a contingent of 30 Black Panthers arrived in a convoy of cars in front of the Capitol in Sacramento. They loaded ammunition into .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols, then brought the guns up the steps of the statehouse, where Bobby Seale read a statement denouncing the Assembly’s attempt “at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror and repression of black people.” Seale concluded that “the time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late. The pending Mulford Act brings the hour of doom one step nearer.” With that, the Panthers marched with their weapons through the front doors of the statehouse and into the viewing area of the Assembly chamber. Carrying loaded guns into the Capitol building was perfectly legal—until three months later, when Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford bill into law.

The Panthers weren’t the only black people using guns for political purposes. Two months after the invasion of Sacramento, riots erupted in response to instances of police brutality in the black sections of Detroit and Newark. From rooftops, windows, and doorways, gunmen fired on police, National Guardsmen, and Army troops sent to quash the rebellions. Congress responded by passing the Gun Control Act of 1968 and its companion bill, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. Although Winkler chastises “extremists” on both sides of the current gun control debate who characterize their opponents as totalitarians, he does note that while drafting the 1968 bills, Sen. Thomas Dodd (D-Conn.) had the Library of Congress provide him with an English translation of the gun control regulations that the Nazis used to disarm Jews and political dissidents. (...)

Although contemporary gun control moralists such as Michael Moore portray their cause as being on the right side of history, Gunfight establishes that the first gun control organizations in the United States were the posses that terrorized freed slaves after the Civil War. Many freedmen came into possession of guns that were confiscated from former masters and Confederate soldiers. But organizations with names like the Men of Justice, the Knights of the White Camellia, and the Knights of the Rising Sun roamed on horseback across the South, shooting, hanging, and disarming blacks. “The most infamous of these,” Winkler reports, “was the Ku Klux Klan.” (...)

Despite Winkler’s apparent fondness for modern liberalism and consequent blind spots, he presents a history that turns on its head the modern liberal’s conceit that those who side with gun control necessarily side with the people.

Igualdade de oportunidades e crescimento económico

 Equal Opportunity and Economic Growth, por Timothy Taylor:

 A half-century ago, white men dominated the high-skilled occupations in the U.S. economy, while women and minority groups were often barely seen. Unless one holds the antediluvian belief that, say, 95% of all the people who are well-suited to become doctors or lawyers are white men, this situation was an obvious misallocation of social talents. Thus, one might predict that as other groups had more equal opportunities to participate, it would provide a boost to economic growth. Pete Klenow reports the results of some calculations about these connections in "The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth," a Policy Brief for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.(...)

 Much can be said about the causes behind these changes, but here, I want to focus on the effect on economic growth. For the purposes of developing a back-of-the-envelope estimate, Klenow builds up a model with some of these assumptions: "Each person possesses general ability (common to all occupations) and ability specific to each occupation (and independent across occupations). All groups (men, women, blacks, whites) have the same distribution of abilities. Each young person knows how much discrimination they would face in any occupation, and the resulting wage they would get in each occupation. When young, people choose an occupation and decide how much to augment their natural ability by investing in human capital specific to their chosen occupation."

With this framework, Klenow can then estimate how much of U.S. growth over the last 50 years or so can be traced to greater equality of opportunity, which encouraged many in women and minority groups who had the underlying ability to view it as worthwhile to make a greater investment in human capital.

"How much of overall growth in income per worker between 1960 and 2008 in the U.S. can be explained by women and African Americans investing more in human capital and working more in high-skill occupations? Our answer is 15% to 20% ... White men arguably lost around 5% of their earnings, as a result, because they moved into lower skilled occupations than they otherwise would have. But their losses were swamped by the income gains reaped by women and blacks."

At least to me, it is remarkable to consider that 1/6 or 1/5 of total U.S. growth in income per worker may be due to greater economic opportunity. In short, reducing discriminatory barriers isn't just about justice and fairness to individuals; it's also about a stronger U.S. economy that makes better use of the underlying talents of all its members.
Pelo que me parece, a essência do modelo proposto pelo autor é de que os negros e as mulheres, sabendo que têm possibilidade de ser aceites em profissões que antes lhes estavam, na prática, vedadas, têm maior incentivo para estudar, e por esse mecanismo (aumento do "capital humano") haverá mais crescimento económico.

[Via Economist's View]

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Quem inflaciona mais as notas - o ensino público ou o privado?

Nos comentários a este post da Maria João Marques, surgiu a questão de quem é que inflacionava mais as notas (no sentido de dar aos seus alunos "favorecimento" na entrada da universidade, se o ensino privado - nomeadamente as escolas de elite do ensino privado - se o público). Embora haja um estudo que indica que o ensino privado inflaciona mais as suas notas, pode ser argumentado (como faz Maria Marques) que uma coisa serão "os privados espertinhos" e outra "àqueles com tradição, que estão no cimo dos rankings e que mandam alunos para as melhores universidades do país".

Assim, vou fazer, não uma comparação entre o conjunto do privado e o do público, mas entre duas instituições especificas, uma privada e outra pública:

Comparando o Colégio de S. João de Brito e a Escola Secundária Manuel Teixeira Gomes, e usando como referência os resultados do exame de Matemática de 2007 (os que serviram de base a isto), e contando só com os alunos internos, os números parecem dar razão à Maria Marques - enquanto os alunos da ESMTG tiverem, em média, no exame nacional, menos 1,8 valores do que na classificação interna, os do CSJB tiveram mais 2,1 valores (se nos limitarmos aos alunos que fizeram exame com intenção de ingresso ao ensino superior, os dados mal se alteram: -1,7 na ESMTG vs. +2,1 no CSJB).

Possivel contra-argumento:  escolha da ESMTG como "representante" do ensino público foi largamente arbitrária (a do CSJB foi por ter sido o exemplo apontando no post original); talvez outra escola tivesse resultados diferentes.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Empresas americanas preparam-se para o Grexit?

U.S. Companies Brace for an Exit From the Euro by Greece (New York Times):

Even as Greece desperately tries to avoid defaulting on its debt, American companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece could soon be forced to leave the euro zone.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.

No one knows just how broad the shock waves from a Greek exit would be, but big American banks and consulting firms have also been doing a brisk business advising their corporate clients on how to prepare for a splintering of the euro zone.

[Via Keep Talking Greece]