Wednesday, July 31, 2013

O despejo do Bairro do Nicolau

Lendo esta noticia, algumas coisas que me ocorrem:

- A descrição faz lembrar aquelas deportações forçadas que ocorrem em países em guerra e afins: chega a polícia (ok, nos outros casos normalmente é o exército), pegam nas pessoas e levam-nas para outro sítio

-Alguns comentadores dizem "ainda lhes dão uma casa"; bem, o facto é que os retiraram das casas em que eles viviam, provavelmente construídas com o seu próprio trabalho

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

As recessões irlandesas ( e europeias)

Ireland’s (and Britain’s, and Italy’s…) long recession, por Kevin O'Rourke, em The Irish Economy:

Jeff Frankel has a terrific piece here on the unsatisfactory way in which recessions and recoveries are called in Europe.

The current European definition of a recession (two successive quarters of declining GDP) is particularly unsuitable in Ireland, given its dodgy and volatile GDP statistics — looking at a broader range of indicators over a longer period of time would surely make more sense here.

There is an additional cost to the two-quarter rule of thumb in the Irish and Eurozone context: it implies that Ireland is periodically proclaimed to be out of recession. This then allows Eurozone politicians and central bankers to defend the status quo monetary and fiscal policies prolonging the economic crisis in Ireland and elsewhere. (And to express “surprise” when Ireland tips into recession “again”, despite its model pupil status.)
One Recession or Many? Double-Dip Downturns in Europe, por Jeff Frankel (o artigo acima referido):
The recent release of a revised set of GDP statistics by Britain’s Office for National Statistics showed that growth had not quite, as previously thought, been negative for two consecutive quarters in the winter of 2011-12.  The point, as it was reported, was that a UK recession (a second dip after the Great Recession of 2008-09) was now erased from the history books — and that the Conservative government would take a bit of satisfaction from this fact.    But it should not. (...)

The right question is not whether there have been double or triple dips; the question is whether it has been the same one big recession all along.  As the British know all too well, their economy since the low-point of mid-2009 has not yet climbed even halfway out of the hole that it fell into in 2008:  GDP (Gross Domestic Product, which is aggregate national output) is still almost 4% below its previous peak, as the first graph shows.   If the criteria for determining recessions in European countries were similar to those used in the United States, the Great Recession would probably not have been declared over in 2009 in the first place.  

Recent reports that Ireland entered a new recession in early 2013 would also read differently if American criteria were applied.  Irish GDP since 2009 has not yet recovered more than half of the ground it lost between the peak of late-2007 and the bottom two years later.  Following US methods, the end would not yet have been declared to the initial big recession in Ireland.   As it is, a sequence of tentative mini-recoveries have been heralded, only to give way to “double-dips.”

Similarly, it was recently reported that Finland had entered its third recession since the global financial crisis.  But the second recession (two negative quarters that were reported for 2009 Q4 and 2010 Q1) would be better described as a continuation of the first.

Worse, Italy under U.S. standards would clearly be treated as having been in the same horrific five-year recession ever since the shock of the global financial crisis:  the recovery in 2010-11 was so tepid that the level of Italian economic output had barely risen one-third the way off the floor, before a new downturn set in during 2012.  And the two downturns have been severe:  Italy’s GDP is now about 8% below the level of 2008, as the graph shows.

15 benefícios da luta contra as drogas

Fifteen Benefits of the War on Drugs, por Kevin Carson (no Center for a Stateless Society) - a maior parte só se aplicam aos EUA, mas algumas têm validade universal:

1. It has surrounded the Fourth Amendment’s “search and seizure” restrictions, and similar provisions in state constitutions, with so many “good faith,” “reasonable suspicion” and “reasonable expectation of privacy” loopholes as to turn them into toilet paper for all intents and purposes.

2. In so doing, it has set precedents that can be applied to a wide range of other missions, like the War on Terror.

3. It has turned drug stores and banks into arms of the state that constantly inform on their customers.

4. Via programs like DARE, it has turned kids into drug informants who monitor their parents for the authorities.

5. As a result of the way DARE interacts with other things like Zero Tolerance policies and warrantless inspections by drug-sniffing dogs, the Drug War has conditioned children to believe “the policeman is their friend,” and to view snitching as admirable behavior, and to instinctively look for an authority figure to report to the second they see anything the least bit eccentric or anomalous.

6. Via civil forfeiture, it has enabled the state to create a lucrative racket in property stolen from citizens never charged, let alone convicted, of a crime. Best of all, even possessing large amounts of cash, while technically not a crime, can be treated as evidence of intent to commit a crime — saving the state the trouble of having to convert all that stolen tangible property into liquid form.

7. It has enabled local police forces to undergo military training, create paramilitary SWAT teams that operate just like the U.S. military in an occupied enemy country, get billions of dollars worth of surplus military weaponry, and wear really cool black uniforms just like the SS.

8. Between the wars on the urban drug trade and rural meth labs, it has brought under constant harassment and surveillance two of the demographic groups in our country — inner city blacks and rural poor whites — least socialized to accept orders from authority either in the workplace or political system, and vital components of any potential movement for freedom and social justice.

9.In addition, it brings those who actually fall into the clutches of the criminal justice system into a years-long cycle of direct control through imprisonment and parole.

10. By disenfranchising convicted felons, it restricts participation in the state’s “democratic” processes to only citizens who are predisposed to respect the state’s authority.

11. In conjunction with shows like Law and Order and COPS, it conditions the middle class citizenry to accept police authoritarianism and lawlessness as necessary to protect them against the terrifying threat of people voluntarily ingesting substances into their own bodies.

12. Through “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” rhetoric, it conditions the public to assume the surveillance state means well and that only evildoers object to ubiquitous surveillance.

13. In conjunction with endless military adventures overseas and “soldiers defend our freedoms” rhetoric, it conditions the public to worship authority figures in uniform, and predisposes them to cheerfully accept future augmentations of military and police authority without a peep of protest.

14. It creates enormously lucrative opportunities for the large banks — one of the most important real constituencies of the American government — to launder money from drug trafficking.

15. Thanks to major drug production centers like the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, the opium industry in Afghanistan, and the cocaine industry in South America, it enables the CIA — the world’s largest narcotrafficking gang — to obtain enormous revenues for funding black ops and death squads around the world. This network of clandestine intelligence agencies, narcotraffickers and death squads, by the way, is the other major real constituency of the American government.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Consequências não-previstas da proibição da sharia

Sharia law ban and Muslim wives, por Rafia Zakaria (Al-Jazeera):

When Kansas State Senator Susan Wagle voted for Senate Bill 79 that would ban Sharia law in Kansas, she said that a vote in favour of the legislation was "a vote to protect women". "In this great country of ours, and in the state of Kansas," Wagle said, "women have equal rights."

Her words echoed the sentiments of many of the 33 Senators in Kansas, in March 2012, who voted in support of the law. The Bill passed and was signed into law by the Governor of Kansas. On July 1, 2012, the application of foreign or Sharia law was effectively banned in the State of Kansas.

A mere month later, in August 2012, a court in Johnson City, Kansas, faced the consequences of the ban whose intent was to "preclude[s] the courts from applying foreign law, legal codes or systems that violate the public policy of our state or federal constitutions". It has been widely viewed as precluding courts from applying Sharia law.

Before the Johnson City District Court came the Soleimanis, both from Iran and now divorcing in Kansas. The wife, Elham Soleimani asked the court to enforce their Islamic marriage contract which stipulated a payment of $677,000 from the husband to the wife in case of divorce. (...)

In the first heady months of romance, the newly married Elham and Faramarz Soleimani revelled in wedded bliss. To prove the eternity of his devotion to his new partner, Soleimani had her name tattooed on his chest. To prove she was a loving wife, Elham tried her best to get used to Kansas.

The divorce case of the Soleimanis

Based on the story told by court records, the end came hard and fast and with an avalanche of court proceedings. On June 1, 2011, less than two years after her marriage to Soleimani - the man she had found on the internet and followed across the world - Elham filed for divorce in the courthouse in Johnson City, Kansas.

Surrounding the divorce petition were allegations and pleadings of domestic violence, assault and battery, rape and even a marital tort case for spousal abuse.

By the time she filed for divorce, Elham, the once beloved bride, was alone, destitute, living in a domestic abuse shelter and looking to American courts to help her after her marriage became a harrowing ordeal.

Her account was one of betrayal, of having been wheedled into marriage by a man who boasted about his great wealth and promised her a fairy tale life in luxurious America. What she had found instead, like so many immigrant women arriving with little known and hardly seen husbands, was a domineering and abusive old man who wished to keep her in servitude.

So, betrayed Elham relied and asked for relief from the Johnson City court on the one thing she felt was in her favour: the Islamic marriage contract signed between the parties - which delineated a mahr (dowry) - during their wedding in Iran.

Based on its stipulations, Elham Soleimani, the wife, could demand the payment of 1,354 gold coins (valued at $677,000) from her estranged husband in the event of divorce. With no other recourse and little prospect of help under the rules of marital property division under Kansas law, she asked the court to enforce the agreement and make her husband pay up.

She was about to be disappointed again. On August 28, 2012, nearly two months after Kansas' much touted Sharia ban went into effect, the District Court in Johnson County refused to enforce the agreement between the parties and grant Elham Soleimani the money she believed was due from her husband under the terms of Islamic marriage contract.

One of the most significant reasons offered by the court for its refusal to do so was the religious nature of the agreement, the precise sort they felt the Kansas Legislature had wanted to ban.

Enforcing the agreement, the court concluded, would "abdicate the judiciary's role to protect such fundamental rights, a concern that was articulated in Senate Bill No 79". If they enforced the mahr agreement and force Soleimani to pay it, the court felt, they would be violating the ban on Sharia law in Kansas.

Here is where the court in Johnson City, Kansas, went wrong. While it is indeed true that separation of Church and State provisions under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States prevents US Courts from interpreting religious texts, the court in Kansas disregarded longstanding precedent that insists that when the stipulations of a contract are clear, its religious origins do not preclude enforcement by a US Court.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"Prometemos não torturar Snowden" (ou "Qual dos clientes pediu o whisky num copo limpo?)

Is It Legal Malpractice to Fail to Get Holder to Promise Not To Torture Your Client?, por William Black (via Brad DeLong):

One of the things I never expected to read was a promise by any United States official that a potential defendant in a criminal prosecution by our federal courts "will not be tortured."

The idea that the Attorney General of the United States of America would send such a letter to the representative of a foreign government, particularly Russia under the leadership of a former KGB official, was so preposterous that I thought the first news report I read about Attorney General Holder's letter concerning Edward Snowden was satire. The joke, however, was on me. The Obama and Bush administrations have so disgraced the reputation of the United States' criminal justice system that we are forced to promise KGB alums that we will not torture our own citizens if Russia extradites them for prosecution.

The standard joke that came to mind when I read Holder's letter was the bartender who brings out glasses to three customers and asks "which of you ordered his whiskey in a clean glass?" We take it for granted that no restaurant or bar will knowingly serve us our drinks in a dirty glass. I always took it for granted that no U.S. attorney general would knowingly allow a criminal suspect in U.S. custody to be the victim of torture, raped, branded, or a host of other forms of brutality.(...)

 More likely, Holder is under so much pressure from the intelligence "community" to punish Snowden that he thought he was being clever by promising Russia that we would not torture our own citizens -- in this particular case. Holder phrased his explanation in a manner that suggests he was trying to be clever: "Torture is unlawful in the United States." "Gitmo," of course, is not "in the United States." The locations of the many secret prisons the U.S. established in other nations were chosen so that we could torture suspects. The infamous historical parallel for this is that it was unlawful to hold slaves in England -- but England could dominate the Atlantic slave trade and hold millions of slaves in the Caribbean islands because slavery was unlawful only "in" England under English law.

More subtly, note that Holder says that torture is "unlawful" -- not "illegal." An act that is merely "unlawful" cannot be prosecuted as a crime. It may provide the basis for a civil suit. An "illegal" act can be prosecuted. After World War II, the United States prosecuted members of the Japanese military for torturing U.S. POWs (particularly by "waterboarding" our men). Those found guilty received severe sentences, often execution by hanging. (...)

Holder's letter promising the Russians that we would not torture Snowden also raises a practical question for the defense bar. Is it malpractice for defense counsel not to demand written assurances from the U.S. attorney general in any extradition case that the United States will not torture the suspect -- in any nation? Do defense lawyers need to extract a written promise that the suspect will not be assassinated by the U.S. prior to trial? How about a promise that the United States will not hold the suspect's family hostage (or worse) if they agree to waive extradition? It is obscene that Holder promised not to torture Snowden, but the underlying obscenity is that the United States did torture suspects and Holder has refused to prosecute those who ordered and conducted the torture. When a nation engages in torture, the consequences for its honor are long-standing and lead to a series of disgraces.

Prometeu robou o fogo dos deuses?

Acerca disso, um comentário de um dos leitores de Brad DeLong:
Actually, it would seem to qualify as technology theft unless Stickman independently developed a practical appliation of said fire.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Argumentos pelo imposto sobre os terrenos

The case for a land-value tax, por Duncan Stoddard (Institute of Economic Affairs):

The UK economy is beset by three compounding problems: no growth, a high deficit and a constricting straightjacket of regulations. I posit that a reform to land-use planning, partnered with a land-value tax (LVT) substituted for business rates and council tax, offers a potential solution to all of these.

The unique merits of a land-value tax have pressed on the minds of economists for over 200 years. Economics has taught us how to analyse taxes against the criteria of efficiency, equity and revenue raising potential. The taxes most heavily applied in the UK today succumb to the theory of the second best: for example, income tax damages efficiency by perverting labour supply decisions; business rates distort firms’ input decisions, such that scarce resources are misallocated and final goods are not produced in the least-cost way. The key driver of inefficiency in both cases is the responsiveness of the payer, or the elasticity. High elasticities imply a greater distortion and greater efficiency loss. (...)

The LVT is an annual levy on the underlying value of land. What is on top, whether it’s residential housing, a factory or wheat is of no importance, so that an empty plot of land next to a plot with a mansion on are valued the same ceteris paribus. This value is derived from the amenities and infrastructure which surround it, or Ricardian economic rent monies accruing not by virtue of work or returns to capital but by virtue of exclusive rights over the land’s use, or ownership. As described by Henry George in 1879, and more recently by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the Mirrlees Review, this value is borne out of community effort, rather than individual effort, and therefore its returns should properly be redistributed back to that community.

Since the supply of land is finite and fixed, it is perfectly inelastic. This means that economic decisions are unaffected by the tax and that the incidence coincides with the legal payer (landowner). When a landowner builds a swimming pool on his plot its value increases but his LVT payment remains unchanged; when a public swimming pool is built a short walk away and the value of his plot increases, so does his tax liability. There is no efficiency cost.

Eu não diria que a oferta de terra é totalmente elástica, mas anda lá perto.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A crise dos misseis em Cuba - revisitada

The Real Cuban Missile Crisis, por Benjamim Schwarz, em The Atlantic:

On october 16, 1962, John F. Kennedy and his advisers were stunned to learn that the Soviet Union was, without provocation, installing nuclear-armed medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. With these offensive weapons, which represented a new and existential threat to America, Moscow significantly raised the ante in the nuclear rivalry between the superpowers—a gambit that forced the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. On October 22, the president, with no other recourse, proclaimed in a televised address that his administration knew of the illegal missiles, and delivered an ultimatum insisting on their removal, announcing an American “quarantine” of Cuba to force compliance with his demands. While carefully avoiding provocative action and coolly calibrating each Soviet countermeasure, Kennedy and his lieutenants brooked no compromise; they held firm, despite Moscow’s efforts to link a resolution to extrinsic issues and despite predictable Soviet blustering about American aggression and violation of international law. In the tense 13‑day crisis, the Americans and Soviets went eyeball-to-eyeball. Thanks to the Kennedy administration’s placid resolve and prudent crisis management—thanks to what Kennedy’s special assistant Arthur Schlesinger Jr. characterized as the president’s “combination of toughness and restraint, of will, nerve, and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated, that [it] dazzled the world”—the Soviet leadership blinked: Moscow dismantled the missiles, and a cataclysm was averted.

Every sentence in the above paragraph describing the Cuban missile crisis is misleading or erroneous. (...)

Scholars, however, have long known a very different story: since 1997, they have had access to recordings that Kennedy secretly made of meetings with his top advisers, the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (the “ExComm”). Sheldon M. Stern—who was the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library for 23 years and the first scholar to evaluate the ExComm tapes—is among the numerous historians who have tried to set the record straight. His new book marshals irrefutable evidence to succinctly demolish the mythic version of the crisis. Although there’s little reason to believe his effort will be to any avail, it should nevertheless be applauded.

Reached through sober analysis, Stern’s conclusion that “John F. Kennedy and his administration, without question, bore a substantial share of the responsibility for the onset of the Cuban missile crisis” would have shocked the American people in 1962, for the simple reason that Kennedy’s administration had misled them about the military imbalance between the superpowers and had concealed its campaign of threats, assassination plots, and sabotage designed to overthrow the government in Cuba—an effort well known to Soviet and Cuban officials. (...)

Remarkably, given the alarmed and confrontational posture that Washington adopted during the missile crisis, the tapes of the ExComm deliberations, which Stern has minutely assessed, reveal that Kennedy and his advisers understood the nuclear situation in much the same way Khrushchev did. On the first day of the crisis, October 16, when pondering Khrushchev’s motives for sending the missiles to Cuba, Kennedy made what must be one of the most staggeringly absentminded (or sarcastic) observations in the annals of American national-security policy: “Why does he put these in there, though? … It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs [medium-range ballistic missiles] in Turkey. Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.” McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, immediately pointed out: “Well we did it, Mr. President.”

[Via Jesse Walker - Reason Hit and Run]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Criatividade e Incentivos

Incentives & creativity, por Chris Dillow:

Incentives matter" is a cliche. But is it true? One new paper suggests not. German researchers got subjects to find words from a set of letters - a task requiring some creativity and inventiveness - and found that their ability to do so was barely affected at all by whether they were paid a flat fee, by results or by giving a prize to the better solvers. They concluded:

Neither on the aggregate nor on the individual level do we find effects of incentives on performance.

This is consistent with a claim made by Daniel Pink - that financial incentives can actually be bad for creativity:

For more right-brained undertakings - those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness or conceptual understanding - contingent rewards can be dangerous. Rewarded subjects often have a harder time seeing the periphery and crafting original solutions. (Drive, p 46)

Research by Theresa Amabile, summarised here (pdf), corroborates this.

All this, though, runs into a question. Tim Harford and Robert Allen say that the industrial revolution - the burst of creativity that most transformed human life - occured in Britain because of incentives; high wages gave inventors an incentive to look for labour-saving machines. How can we reconcile this with the laboratory evidence that incentives don't spur creativity? I suspect there are two ways.

One is that attention (pdf) is a scarce resource, and incentives act to draw our attention to problems. So, for example, England's high wages in the 18th century drew attention towards the question of how to save labour costs, in a way that didn't happen in lower-wage nations.

Secondly, there's a selection effect. Incentives might not motivate a given group of people to be creative, but they might change the composition of that group, by - at the margin - attracting some able people to the task.

Sintetizando, eu diria que os incentivos talvez não afectem a produtividade do trabalho criativo (o número de ideias que se tem por cada hora passada a pensar) mas afectam a quantidade de trabalho criativo efectuado (o número total de horas passadas a pensar), e assim sempre afectam a produção total de ideias.

Aliás, há uma coisa que eu acho muito dúbia naqueles testes de "pensamento divergente" que se fazem para ver se uma pessoa é "criativa", do estilo "tens dez minutos para dares todos os usos possíveis que te lembrares para este objecto" - a criatividade de uma pessoa é largamente dada por "ideias que essa pessoa tem por hora x horas que essa pessoa passa a pensar"; mas nesses testes o tempo para pensar é um dado, logo não captam o que, no mundo real, talvez seja um dos principais determinantes da criatividade - a inclinação pessoal para passar (ou não) muito tempo com "a cabeça na lua".

O "populismo liberal"

Um tema que tem estado em discussão nos EUA (muitas vezes, mas nem sempre, como uma possível estratégia para os Republicanos, eventualmente associada a uma candidatura presidencial do senador Rand Paul).

A favor (com diferentes graus de entusiasmo):

Republicans pick Wall Street over free markets e Libertarian populism is viable and necessary, por Timothy Carney

The Libertarian Populist Agenda, por Ben Domenech

Big Business, Big Government, and Libertarian Populism, Cato Policy Report , contribuições de T. Carney, Uwe Reinhardt e Ross Douthat

Paul Krugman Attacks "Libertarian Populism," Ignores What Libertarian Populists Actually Say e Three Lessons for Libertarian Populists, por Jesse Walker

Republicans and the Rich e Libertarian Populism and Its Limits, por R. Douthat

The Farm Bill & ‘Libertarian Populism', por W. James Antle III


Delusions of Populism, por Paul Krugman

Libertarian populism: Unpopular and impolitic, por Will Wilkinson

Can libertarian populism save the Republican Party?, por Mike Konczal

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

O que fez Cavaco?

Não o que eu estava à espera. Mas, para o meu post anterior não ser um fracasso total, reafirmo que «talvez a recomendação presidencial de negociações tripartidas PSD-PS-CDS tenha contribuído para melhor as relações entre o PSD e o CDS: nas negociações bilaterais entre o PSD e o CDS, gerava-se automaticamente uma dinâmica de "eu contra ti", com cada partido a tentar extrair concessões do outro; a partir do momento em que passaram a trilaterais, provavelmente gerou-se uma dinâmica de "nós contra ele", com o PSD e o CDS a fazerem "frente unida" contra o inimigo comum (aliás, a existência de um inimigo externo sempre foi, ao longo da História, uma das melhores receitas para juntar facções até então desavindas) ».

[O meu historial de acertar em previsões políticas: para aí em julho de 1991, expus a um amigo meu a minha teoria que ia haver um golpe na URSS.]

A dificuldade de identificar trabalhadores talentosos

Superstars and Mediocrities: Market Failure in the Discovery of Talent, por Marko Terviö (Review of Economic Studies, nº 2, 2009):


The basic problem facing most labor markets is that workers can neither commit to long-term wage contracts nor can they self finance the costs of production. I study the effects of these imperfections when talent is industry-specific, it can only be revealed on the job, and once learned becomes public information. I show that firms bid excessively for the pool of incumbent workers at the expense of trying out new talent. The workforce is then plagued with an unfavorable selection of individuals: there are too many mediocre workers, whose talent is not high enough to justify them crowding out novice workers with lower expected talent but with more upside potential. The result is an inefficiently low level of output but higher wages for known high talents. This problem is most severe where information about talent is initially very imprecise and the complementary costs of production are high. I argue that high incomes in professions such as entertainment, management, and entrepreneurship, may be explained by the nature of the talent revelation process, rather than by an underlying scarcity of talent.

Monday, July 22, 2013

David Cameron e os motores de busca

Editado: afinal a proposta é para serem os ISPs (e não os motores de busca) a bloquarem os sites. Isso, sim, faz sentido

Post original:

Segundo o site da Rádio Renascença, David Cameron terá defendido que "os principais motores de busca na internet devem bloquear o acesso a imagens com pornografia infantil".

Eu tenho uma esperança que o que Cameron tenha dito tenha sido algo como "os principais motores de busca devem deixar de indexar páginas com imagens com pornografia infantil" e que algures um jornalista tenha alterado a mensagem - é que as pessoas não acedem a sites (seja de pornografia seja sobre jardinagem) através dos motores de busca; os motores de busca limitam-se a indicar o link para seja o que for que se procura (as pessoas acedem aos sites através de um browser, não através de um motor de busca).

Deizer que os motores de busca devem bloquear o acesso a pornografia infantil é como dizer que a lista telefónica deve bloquear o acesso a certos números de telefone: a lista telefónica até pode deixar de listar certos números, mas se alguém os marcar efectua a chamada à mesma. Da mesma maneira, os motores de busca podem deixar de, nos seus resultados, listar sites com pornografia infantil, mas não podem "bloquear" o acesso aos sites - se alguém escrever o endereço na barra de URL vai lá parar à mesma.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

O caso Zimmerman

Creio que a única razão porque alguém está a dar alguma importância a isso foi a decisão inicial da policia de libertar logo Zimmerman e aceitar como válida a sua versão. Se o caso tivesse seguido logo para o "Ministério Público" (em vez de só após a vaga de indignação) e, após algum tempo, este decidisse arquivar o processo concluindo "dois ex-delinquentes envolveram-se à luta numa noite e um acabou por matar o outro; não há mais testemunhas e não se sabe verdadeiramente quem começou a luta - até é possivel que ambos estivessem sinceramente convencidos que estavam agindo em legitima defesa; assim, e pelo critério da «dúvida razoável», não podemos acusar Zimmerman" (ou se o processo tivesse mesmo indo para tribunal, e este concluísse o mesmo - substituindo "acusar" por "condenar" -, o que, aliás, foi mais ou menos o que acabou por acontecer), se calhar o caso apenas seria falado nalgum jornal local da Florida.

O que lançou o caso para a fama foi a decisão inicial de (pelo que percebi) nem sequer ter havido um processo judicial sobre o ocorrido (e este só ter ocorrido depois).

Uma observação final - às vezes surgem propostas do género "mortes ou danos corporais causados em legitima defesa não devem ser alvo de processos"; mas, se não houver alguma espécie de processo, como é que é possivel determinar realmente que se tratou de "legítima defesa"? A esse respeito, recomendo os pontos 18 e 19 desta critica de Paul Birch ao livro Guns, Crime and Freedom, de Wayne LaPierre.

O que irá fazer Cavaco?

O meu palpite - manter o governo actualmente existente (e não o governo imaginário em que o Paulo Portas é vice-primeiro-ministro, o Pires de Lima ministro da Economia, etc.).

Porquê? É a maneira de ele sair menos derrotado - se nomeasse o governo "remodelado" (que implicitamente rejeitou há duas semanas) estaria a admitir que fez o pais parar este tempo para nada; se dissolvesse o parlamento (depois de ter dito que era melhor não fazer eleições agora) estaria também a voltar atrás com o que tinha dito.

Claro que se poderá perguntar - e Portas? Irá aceitar o governo actual, depois de o ter quase deitado abaixo para o mudar, e após as longas negociações que foram necessárias para acordar a remodelação alargada? Há duas semanas, claro que não (foi exactamente por isso que tomou a decisão irrevogável). Mas o CDS, junto com o PSD, passou estes últimos dias apresentando-se como o guardião da estabilidade, opondo-se a eleições antecipadas, participando na defesa do governo contra a moção do PEV e acusando o PS de querer a instabilidade. É difícil, depois disto, voltar imediatamente ao modo "temos estas exigências e estamos dispostos a derrubar o governo se não forem aceites".

Outra maneira de ver a coisa - talvez a recomendação presidencial de negociações tripartidas PSD-PS-CDS tenha contribuído para melhor as relações entre o PSD e o CDS: nas negociações bilaterais entre o PSD e o CDS, gerava-se automaticamente uma dinâmica de "eu contra ti", com cada partido a tentar extrair concessões do outro; a partir do momento em que passaram a trilaterais, provavelmente gerou-se uma dinâmica de "nós contra ele", com o PSD e o CDS a fazerem "frente unida" contra o inimigo comum (aliás, a existência de um inimigo externo sempre foi, ao longo da História, uma das melhores receitas para juntar facções até então desavindas)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Classes sociais e despedimento disciplinar

O que acontece (no Reino Unido; em Portugal será diferente?) se alguém comete um erro grave e é preciso arranjar uma maneira de o pôr a andar:

What is certainly true, though, is that senior executives are far less likely to get sacked than most other employees – at least, not sacked in the sense that most people would understand the term.

As I have said before, the closer you are to the centre of power, the more the ‘People Like Us‘ factor and the ‘There But For The Grace Of God’ factor come into play. Your peers will want to treat you as they would like to be treated themselves, even if you have seriously messed up.

Therefore, when executives get to a certain level, certain things are beneath their dignity. They don’t have disciplinary hearings, they don’t get formal warnings from their bosses and it is very rare for them to be fired. Instead, they negotiate compromise agreements under which they are paid large amounts of money to resign. They waive their rights to make unfair dismissal claims in return for large payoffs and an agreement to go quietly. That way, everyone saves face and there is a minimum amount of fuss.(...)

Here, then, is Rick’s handy guide to the British class system. (For the benefit of foreign readers, the British upper classes don’t work – or, at least, they are not employed in the way most of us would understand the term. The guide therefore starts with the Upper Middles.)

ClassLikelihood of disciplinary actionMethod of dismissal and severance terms
Upper Middle Class (Private Sector)Very unlikelySeven figure payoff
Upper Middle Class (Public Sector)Very unlikely, unless a politician is looking for a scapegoat.High six-figure payoff. After a discreet interval, a non-exec role on an obscure public body.
Middle Middle Class (Private Sector)Unlikely, unless someone more senior needs a fall guy.Low six-figure payoff (more if long service or in financial services) plus extended period of ‘gardening leave’
Middle Middle Class (Public Sector)As above.High five-figure payoff (more if long service), plus extended period of suspension on full pay while your bosses plead with the finance director to sign off your compromise agreement.
Lower Middle ClassModerate – though lazy/cowardly managers more likely to go for compromise agreement or sham redundancy. Working close to senior people is likely to get you a better deal.Low five-figure payoff, if your managers are lazy or cowardly and/or you have a good union. Otherwise, dismissal with pay in lieu of notice.
Skilled Working ClassHigh. Disciplinary procedures were designed with people like you in mind.Dismissal with pay in lieu of notice. Union likely to oppose sham redundancy on principle. Militant union may get you a reinstatement deal.
Semi-skilled & Unskilled Working ClassHigh. If non-union employer, procedure may be rattled through with unseemly haste.Dismissal. PILON negligible due to short notice period.
PrecariatLow. What would be the point? You are on a fixed-term, agency or zero-hours contract anyway.Phone call to the agency saying “don’t send Jo Bloggs next week”.

A direita é maléfica?

Evil Tories?, por Chris Dillow:

Sunny Hundal has caused a stir by calling right-wingers "evil." For me, this raises a distinction between the Marxist and non-Marxist left: whereas the non-Marxist left often claim a moral superiority over the right - see Comment is Free, passim, if you can bear to - Marxists do not.

For us, the problem isn't that Tories are bad, or liars or stupid. Sure, some are - but a glance at Simon Danczuk, Liam Byrne or Siobhan McDonagh will remind us that Tories hardly have a monopoly here. Instead, for Marxists, immorality is an attribute not so much of individual agents but of the capitalist system itself. (...)

You might object here that Tories are "evil" in that austerity is doing real damage. True. But this omits two points. First, they are not pursuing austerity because they want to hurt people, but because they believe it will do good; this is an intellectual error, not a moral failing.

Secondly, austerity is not the only - or even main - cause of our woes. Capitalism was ailing well before Osborne became Chancellor. In this sense, talk of "evil" Tories does capitalism a favour, by deflecting attention away from its systemic shortcomings.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Os Verdes nunca foram a eleições?

Nos últimos dias têm surgido frequentemente artigos argumentando que o PEV nunca foi a eleições, não tem qualquer representatividade, etc.

Até é capaz de ser verdade, mas, pelo mesmo raciocinio, também se pode dizer que desde finais de 1976 que o PCP também não vai a eleições.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Portugal é a Grécia

Em Novembro de 2011, era empossado o governo Papademos, baseado numa acordo entre o PASOK, a Nova Democracia e a Aliança Popular Ortodoxa, e com uma prazo de vida predeterminado de 6 meses, após o que se realizariam eleições.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Re: Bullying Ideológico

De acordo com a própria definição de "bullying ideológico" que Rodrigo Constantinoaqui, o seu artigo é "bullying ideológico". Afinal, o seu artigo consiste essencialmente em "ataques às intenções" e não em discutir ideias.

Ver também "Purgatório", escrito em 2008.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Exército, democracia e islamitas no Mediterrâneo oriental

The Egyptian Paradox: Saving Democracy and Setting It Back, em Why Nations Fail:

The first freely elected government of a country, where a large fraction of society is disenfranchised, disempowered and made to feel like second-class citizens, is ousted, in the name of saving democracy, by a military coup supported by former elites and “liberals”.

And the outcome? Three more military coups and more than 50 years later, a deep chasm in society that is still preventing the emergence of truly inclusive politics.

No, we are not talking about the future of Egypt (not directly in any case).

This is just a description of what happened in Turkey in 1960 as we described previously.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

"Perderam-se milhões em juros"

Há quem diga que esta espécie de crise, com o aumento dos juros a que deu origem, terá originado um "prejuizo de milhões" (ou qualquer outra unidade) ao país.

A esse respeito, repito o que escrevi aqui:

Já agora, um parentises acerca dos juros - quando se diz "hoje os juros de Portugal atigiram um novo máximo", há que comente "isso não devia ser assim; os juros deveriam ser fixos!"; ora, isso é um equivoco acerca de como funcionam os mercados de dívida - na verdade, o juro que o Estado português paga e os credores recebem é fixo; quando se diz que os juros "chegaram aos 9%", isso não quer dizer que o valor dos juros pagos subiu, mas sim que o preços dos titulos da dívida portuguesa desceu (logo a taxa de juro, medida como [juros a pagar / preço da dívida], subiu).
Ou seja, o Estado não perdeu nada com esta "subida" dos juros (o que aconteceu foi que o valor de mercado dos titulos de dívida portuguesa se desvalorizaram, mas quem perdeu com isso foram os nossos credores - ou pelo menos os credores que venderam a dívida nestes dias)

Revolução Americana?

Há uma escola de pensamento que defende que a chamada  "Revolução Americana" não foi revolução nenhuma, foi apenas uma guerra de independência que manteve o essencial das instituições sociais e politicas pre-existentes nas "colónias", apenas substituindo, no topo, a autoridade britânica pela do Congresso e do Presidente.

Nomeadamente, durante a "guerra fria", creio que tal posição era bastante popular tanto entre os conservadores e liberais-conservadores como entre os marxistas. Os primeiros apoiavam a sua tese de que os grandes projectos de transformação social conduzem ao "Terror" nos exemplos das revoluções Russa e Francesa, e dava-lhes jeito poder tirar a Revolução Americana da equação; os segundos porque, sendo os EUA os lideres do mundo capitalista, também gostavam de ter um argumento para não por a Revolução Americana no mesmo patamar que as "gloriosas" Francesa e Russa.

Mas, será que a Revolução Americana não foi mesmo uma revolução? Sobre isso Robert Nisbet apresentou uma versão que talvez possa ser considerada "dissidente" - Was there an American Revolution?