Monday, October 31, 2016

Tunísia 2010 - Marrocos 2016?

Morocco protests after fisherman crushed to death in a garbage truck (The Guardian):

Thousands of people have joined protests against police abuse across Morocco after a fisherman was crushed to death in a garbage truck in an incident some are comparing to the death of a Tunisian vendor in 2010 that sparked the Arab spring uprisings.

According to Moroccan news website and magazine TelQuel, police in the northern town of Hoceima confiscated and destroyed swordfish belonging to a fisherman, Mouhcine Fikri, because it is not permitted to catch swordfish at this time of the year.

Footage circulating online appears to show Fikri jumping into a garbage truck to retrieve his fish, before being crushed to death by the truck’s compactor.

Fikri’s death on Friday in the ethnically Berber Rif region prompted outrage on social media, and calls for protests in several cities over what is seen as police violence. King Mohammed VI called for a thorough investigation.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Efeitos da representação dos trabalhadores na gestão

Does good corporate governance include employee representation? Evidence from German corporate boards[pdf], por Larry Fauvera e Michael E. Fuerst:

Within the German corporate governance system, employee representation on the supervisory board is typically legally mandated. We propose that such representation of labor on corporate boards confers valuable first-hand operational knowledge to corporate board decision-making. Indeed, we find that labor representation provides a powerful means of monitoring and reduces agency costs within the firm. Moreover, we show that the greater the need for coordination within the firm, the greater the potential improvement there is in governance effectiveness through the judicious use of labor representation. These benefits do not appear to hold for union representatives.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cidades ilegais

Illegal Cities, por Robert Nelson (Reason):

Since 1950 the population of the world has increased from 2.5 billion to 6.1 billion. Many of these newcomers earn less than $1 a day--far below the U.S. poverty standard--and live in sprawling megacities such as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in India, and Nairobi in Kenya. They are frequently beset by bad governments and corrupt officials. How do they survive?

Investigative reporter Robert Neuwirth gives the answer in his fascinating book Shadow Cities. About a fifth of Rio de Janeiro's residents, half of Mumbai's, and two-thirds of Nairobi's live as urban squatters, a category that includes an estimated 1 billion people around the world. They don't hold title to the land on which they live; they are loosely if at all regulated; they do not pay taxes; they seldom receive postal delivery, water, sewers, roads, or other public services; and, in general, they live with a minimal legal order.

Anarchist political theorists have long dreamed of such a society; some of their ideas are today being put to the test. As Neuwirth reports, squatter anarchy can work surprisingly well. In the favela squatter settlements of Rio, law and order is privately maintained by local drug lords, and there is hardly any crime, comparing favorably in this regard with most Rio neighborhoods served by the city police. The housing is built one small step at a time. Although the exterior appearance is typically ramshackle at first, the interiors are surprisingly neat and comfortable, and after a few decades the outsides are often attractive as well. (...)

Neuwirth studied life in squatter settlements by living in four of them for a few months each. The physical conditions of life were most difficult in the Kibera settlement of 500,000 in Nairobi. Nevertheless, a strong sense of neighborhood community was present. Neuwirth reports that "many women...developed communal self-help networks" and "churches are a growth industry"; it sometimes seemed that "everyone in Kibera belongs to one church or another." Business dealings based "on trust" worked almost as reliably as those based on legal contracts. One Kibera resident who became a multimillionaire businessman chose to remain there because he liked the friendly and unpretentious people so much.(...)
[Via Jesse WalkerWhen the Olympics Crush a Community - In defense of the favelas]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Inteligência e doença bipolar

Childhood IQ and risk of bipolar disorder inadulthood: prospective birth cohort study[pdf], por Daniel J. Smith, Jana Anderson, Stanley Zammit, Thomas D. Meyer, Jill P. Pell e Daniel Mackay:

A higher childhood IQ score, and high VIQ in particular, may represent a marker of risk for the later development of bipolar disorder. This finding has implications for understanding of how liability to bipolar disorder may have been selected through generations. It will also inform future genetic studies at the interface of intelligence, creativity and bipolar disorder and is relevant to the developmental trajectory of bipolar disorder. It may also improve approaches to earlier detection and treatment of bipolar disorder in adolescents and young adults.
[Via Tyler Cowen]

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A opressão no local de trabalho

Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace, por Chris Bertram, Corey Robin and Alex Gourevitch (Crooked Timber):

Libertarianism is a philosophy of individual freedom. Or so its adherents claim. But with their single-minded defense of the rights of property and contract, libertarians cannot come to grips with the systemic denial of freedom in private regimes of power, particularly the workplace. (...)

That is what we are about to argue, but it is based on months of discussion with the Bleeding Hearts. The conversation was kicked off by the critique one of us—Corey Robin—offered of libertarian Julian Sanchez’s presignation letter to Cato, in which Sanchez inadvertently revealed the reality of workplace coercion. Jessica Flanigan, a Bleeding Heart, respondedtwice to Robin. Then one of us—Chris Bertram—responded to Flanigan. Since then, theBleeding Hearts have offered a series of responses to Chris and Corey.

Life at Work
To understand the limitations of these Bleeding Hearts, we have to understand how little freedom workers enjoy at work. Unfreedom in the workplace can be broken down into three categories.
1. Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace
On pain of being fired, workers in most parts of the United States can be commanded to peeor forbidden to pee. They can be watched on camera by their boss while they pee. They can be forbidden to wear what they want, say what they want (and at what decibel), and associate with whom they want. (...)
2. Abridgements of freedom outside the workplace
In addition to abridging freedoms on the job, employers abridge their employees’ freedoms off the job. Employers invade employees’ privacy, demanding that they hand over passwords to their Facebook accounts, and fire them for resisting such invasions. Employers secretly film their employees at home. Workers are fired for supporting the wrong political candidates (“work for John Kerry or work for me”), failing to donate to employer-approved candidates, (...)
3. Use of sanctions inside the workplace as a supplement to—or substitute for—political repression by the state
While employers often abridge workers’ liberty off the job, at certain moments, those abridgments assume a larger function for the state. Particularly in a liberal state constrained by constitutional protections such as the First Amendment, the instruments of coercion can be outsourced to—or shared with—the private sector. During the McCarthy period, for example, fewer than 200 men and women went to jail for their political beliefs, but as many as 40% of American workers—in both the public and private sectors—were investigated (and a smaller percentage punished) for their beliefs. (...)
Libertarians at Work
Despite this systemic abridgment and denial of freedom in the workplace, libertarians have a difficult time coming to terms with it. Which is ironic given that Robert Nozick cited the following example in his classic article “Coercion”—on page 2 no less—as so obvious an instance of coercion as to scarcely require explanation or elaboration: “You threaten to get me fired from my job if I do A, and I refrain from doing A because of this threat….I was coerced into not doing A.” (...)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Simplismos da economia?

On the Principles of Economic Principles, por Don Bodreaux (via Bryan Caplan):

The typical politician does not oppose free trade because he took an advanced econ course and learned there that, under just the right combination of real-world circumstances, an optimally imposed tariff can be justified on economic grounds. No. The typical politician opposes free trade because he doesn’t understand the first thing about economics. (...)

The typical politician doesn’t support minimum-wage legislation because she has concluded, after careful study, that employers of low-skilled workers have sufficient amounts of monopsony power in the labor market (as well as monopoly power in their output markets) to nullify the prediction of basic supply-and-demand analysis and, instead, to create real-world conditions that enable a scientifically set minimum wage actually to improve the welfare of most low-skilled workers without reducing the employment prospects of any of them. No. She supports minimum-wage legislation because she believes that raising the minimum wage will result simply in all low-skilled workers getting the stipulated pay raise without any negative consequences befalling these workers.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Davos versus Bilderberg

Comentário que alguém (mais exatamente, Steve Sailer, um dos principais ideólogos da extrema-direita blogsoférica nos EUA) deixou neste post do Marginal Revolution sobre as reuniões de Davos:

The Bilderbergers are an invitation-only group of rich and powerful people who have been getting together secretly in expensive hotels since 1954 to discuss how to make the world a better place for rich and powerful people. Not surprisingly, the Bilderbergers are the subject of much conspiracy theorizing.

In recent years, they’ve been overshadowed by the Davos confab, which cleverly took the opposite tack: maximize publicity. Sure, it’s fun to secretly hang out with your fellow Bilderbergers, but it can be more fun to boast about your invitation to Davos. The Davos strategy is to invite journalists to lecture rich and powerful guys. The rich and powerful guys treat the journalists like peers with fascinating insights, then the journalists go home and write articles about how today’s crop of rich and powerful guys are so much more wonderful than you might think.

There is less conspiracy theorizing about Davos than Bilderberg because Davos hires platoons of PR flacks to tell everybody that, yes, the people who get invited to Davos do Run the World. So that takes all the fun out of it for the conspiracy theorists.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

O estatuto legal dos extra-terrestres

The Legal Rights of Extraterrestrials, por Robert Freitas Jr. (inicialmente publicado em Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact: Vol. XCVII, No. 4, Abril de 1977):

When an alien lands on the White House lawn, who should greet him (her? it?): someone from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or someone from the Fish and Wildlife Commission?
O artigo é possivelmente um bocado datado (de 1977) e (como é provavelmente natural num artigo sobre questões jurídicas, em que as leis mudam de país para país, e portanto um autor tenderá a escrever sobre as leis do seu país) centrado na legislação dos EUA.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sindicatos versus salários mínimos?

Learning to Love the Government: Trade Unions and late Adoption of the Minimum Wage, por Brett Mayer (World Politics, Volume 68, Issue 3):

One counterintuitive variation in wage-setting regulation is that countries with the highest labor standards and strongest labor movements are among the least likely to set a statutory minimum wage. This, the author argues, is due largely to trade union opposition. Trade unions oppose the minimum wage when they face minimal low-wage competition, which is affected by the political institutions regulating industrial action, collective agreements, and employment, as well as by the skill and wage levels of their members. When political institutions effectively regulate low-wage competition, unions oppose the minimum wage. When political institutions are less favorable toward unions, there may be a cleavage between high- and low-wage unions in their minimum wage preferences. The argument is illustrated with case studies of the UK, Germany, and Sweden. The author demonstrates how the regulation of low-wage competition affects unions’ minimum wage preferences by exploiting the following labor market institutional shocks: the Conservatives’ labor law reforms in the UK, the Hartz labor market reforms in Germany, and the European Court of Justice's Laval ruling in Sweden. The importance of union preferences for minimum wage adoption is also shown by how trade union confederation preferences influenced the position of the Labour Party in the UK and the Social Democratic Party in Germany.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ascenção e queda do Rendimento Básico Incondicional no Irão

IRAN: On the verge of introducing the world’s first national basic income, por Karl Widerquist (agosto de 2010)

The “Basic Income” Road to Reforming Iran’s Subsidy System[pdf], por por Hamid Tabatai (agosto de 2010)

IRAN: Economic reforms usher in a de facto basic income, por Hamid Tabatai (novembro de 2010)

IRAN: Basic Income Might Become Means Tested, por Hamid Tabatabai (janeiro de 2012)

From Price Subsidies to Basic Income:The Iran Model and its Lessons[pdf], por Hamid Tabatabai (2012)

Iran’s Subsidy Reform: from Promise to Disappointment[pdf], por Djavad Salehi-Isfahani (junho de 2014)

IRAN: Parliament slashes cash subsidies to citizens, por Kate McFarland (junho de 2016)

Diga-se que foi largamente uma experiência involuntária de RBI - o governo de Ahmadinejad decidiu cortar com os subsídios aos preços do combustível e da energia e compensar esses cortes com subsídios em dinheiro às famílias de menores rendimentos; a dada altura chegaram à conclusão que estar a decidir quem teria direito ao subsídio era na prática demasiado complicado, e o melhor era mesmo darem a toda a gente. Mas depois afinal não havia dinheiro para toda a gente - embora pelo que li, não tanto por razões específicas do RBI (pelo que li, não me parece haver problemas de muita gente deixar de trabalhar, p.ex.), mas sobretudo por causa das sanções ao Irão e da queda do preço do petróleo, e também porque pelos vistos o valor do RBI foi logo à partida estabelecido a um nível mais elevado do que o possível com o dinheiro poupado com os cortes aos subsídios ao combustível.

Claro que é possível que esteja aqui uma instabilidade intrínseca do RBI, que o leve a desaparecer a prazo, onde quer que seja implementado - quando haver falta de dinheiro e seja preciso fazer cortes, a tendência será sempre para, em vez de cortar em toda a gente, cortar só nos que ganham mais (veja-se, aliás, o que aconteceu em Portugal com os abonos de família), e assim o RBI tenderá a se transformar num RSI.

Onde é melhor as mulheres muçulmanas serem oprimidas?

Where Would You Prefer that Women Be Oppressed?, por Bryan Caplan (a respeito do argumento que se deve limitar a imigração muçulmana por causa da atitude de grande parte dos muçulmanos acerca dos direitos das mulheres):

Immigration restrictions are a great way to make sure that Muslim women are not oppressed in Europe. But that does less than zero to improve the lives of Muslim women. The regulation simply forces them to stay back in their home countries where conditions are worse and far harder to escape.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A personalidade dos programadores informáticos

The surprising truth about which personality traits do and don’t correlate with computer programming skills, por Christian Jarrett (BPS Research Digest):

What do Lisbeth Salander, Chloe O’Brien and Elliot Alderson have in common? They are all expert computer programmers or hackers, and (like most fictional portrayals of people with their skills), they’re all, well, rather odd and socially awkward. In other words, they all conform to the commonly held stereotype of the IT guy (or girl) – which must be one of the most stereotyped occupations in the world – as good with machines and programming code, but lousy with people and emotions. Is this stereotype fair? A new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Research in Personality, combining data from 19 previous studies involving nearly 1700 people, suggests the answer is (mostly) “No”.

Timo Gnambs trawled the research literature looking for relevant studies that had measured people’s programming ability objectively (e.g. based on the number of errors in their programming code), and had measured their personality traits and intelligence. (...)

Unsurprisingly, and somewhat in line with the programmer stereotype, the strongest correlate with programming ability was intelligence. Cleverer people make better programmers. Also, introversion was correlated with programming skill – which makes sense seeing as introverts generally prefer a quiet environment away from crowds, and working on a computer and writing code fits with that preference. Conscientiousness was another relevant trait. Again this makes sense, because conscientiousness is about attention to detail.

However, the personality trait most strongly correlated with programming ability was not introversion or conscientiousness, but openness: a trait that’s related to being creative and imaginative. What’s more, over time to the present day, openness has become a more important correlate of programming ability, while conscientiousness has become less important. This is speculation, but perhaps more creative people are today drawn to careers in programming because of all the opportunities for imaginative expression in a world of apps, video games, snazzy websites, and social networks. Finally, the traits of agreeableness (essentially how friendly someone is) and neuroticism (how anxious and emotionally unstable) were not correlated with programming ability, pretty much refuting the tired stereotype of the socially awkward programming geek.
[Via Tyler Cowen; o estudo é este - What makes a computer wiz? Linking personality traits and programming aptitude, mas está fechado]

Sinceramente, acho algumas dessas observações sem grande sentido; o autor (o do post, e suspeito que também o do estudo) alega que a não existência de correlação entre "agradabilidade" e "neuroticismo" e a habilidade para programar desmente o estereótipo do programador sem aptidões sociais; mas um dos fatores com uma associação mais forte é "introversão", o que na minha opinião implica quase automaticamente ser considerado como tendo poucas aptidões sociais; sim, pode-se contra-argumentar que há pessoas sociáveis e comunicativas sem aptidões sociais, mas penso que a inversa não é verdadeira: alguém que em situações sociais se limite a fazer ocasionais comentários monossilábicos e tenha uma interação fria e distante com os outros é, quase por definição, "sem aptidões sociais" (além disso, as tais pessoas sociáveis sem aptidões sociais podem ser muito comuns nas comédias da TV e do cinema, mas duvido que o sejam no mundo real) - mas se calhar é outra instância desta questão.

Quando à parte das "opportunities for imaginative expression in a world of apps, video games, snazzy websites, and social networks" não vejo em que é que programar um jogo, uma rede social ou uma app seja mais ou menos criativo do que programar outra coisa qualquer (p.ex., um suplemento para uma folha de cálculo para importar automaticamente dados de um programa de gestão de inventários) - eu suponho que o autor está a confundir duas coisas: um programa requerer criatividade de quem o faz; e um programa ser divertido de usar para os seus utilizadores.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

O futuro da Tailândia

Artigo escrito ainda antes da morte do rei - The King is (nearly) dead: long live the King? 

While the yellow shirted ultra-royalists prostrated themselves, most Thais went on with their lives with only cursory notice of the anniversary.  The reality is the monarchy means less to average Thais than it did in the past for three key reasons:

First, the King has largely been out of their lives for the past five years, if not more.

Second, while journalists often phrase it as the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn “not enjoying the same levels of support for his father,” the reality is he commands almost no respect from society.  The moral authority and legitimacy of the monarchy will plummet, and as such, so will its importance in the lives of ordinary Thais.

Third, there is growing fatigue of the political upheavals done in his name, including coups in 2006 and 2014, and the rampant abuse of the lèse majesté law and Computer Crimes Act.  In the two years following the coup, 68 people have been charged with lèse majesté (Art. 112 of the Criminal Code).  If the monarchy is as revered as Thai ultra-royalists and the military say it is, then why must it be so vigorously defended by draconian laws?  A robust monarchy could handle criticism, whether in principle or satire. (...)

First and foremost, the succession is about Thai elite politics. The May 2014 coup was thrown, in large part, in order to control the succession. Neither the military nor the ultra-monarchists could fathom the Pheu Thai under direct, or even indirect, control of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be in power during the transition. The political instability was simply their justification to seize power, which they show no sign of relinquishing, now in the third year of military rule.

We know there were rifts between the junta, led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and the ultra-monarchists, led by Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda. Under the 1924 Palace Law, which predates the establishment of the constitutional monarchy in 1932, the 63-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn should ascend the throne as the male heir. The ultra-monarchists cannot countenance the Crown Prince be-spoiling the institution of the monarchy. Despite desperate attempts to clean up his image and make him appear more kingly, his reputation will be a hard one to whitewash. (...)

Prem probably still views the Crown Prince as an existential threat to the wealth, power and privilege of the ultra-monarchists, but their ability to orchestrate Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s ascension to the throne is limited. (...)

The junta believes that the Crown Prince can be managed. Or to look at it another way, they truly fear what the Crown Prince is capable of should he be passed over;

Friday, October 14, 2016

O subsidio de natal dos funcionários públicos

Fala-se em passar a pagar metade do subsidio de Natal dos funcionários públicos em novembro em vez de repartido pelo ano inteiro.

Eu há anos escrevi algo sobre isso:

Pela lógica, os empregadores deveriam adorar a instituição dos subsídios de férias e Natal - afinal, se em vez de pagarem 1.166,67 euros todos os meses, pagarem só 1.000 euros por mês, e mais 1.000 euros em duas ocasiões especiais (em Junho e Novembro, p.ex.), dá para, ao longo do ano, ir pondo de lado o dinheiro para os subsídios, investi-lo em aplicações, e quando chega finalmente a altura de pagar os subsídios, já se embolsou alguns juros. Pela razão oposta, os trabalhadores deveriam detestar esses subsidios - se em vez de receberem 1.000 euros pelas férias, e mais 1.000 pelo Natal, recebessem mais 166,67 euros todos os meses, daria para investirem esse dinheiro, e quando chegasse a altura já teriam mais do que os 1.000 euros de subsidio que recebem.
Diga-se que, quer pessoalmente quer nos comentários da internet, já ouvi muita gente zangada com essa medida, porque o seu ordenado mensal vai descer - se for um sentimento generalizado, quer dizer que as pessoas já estão a agir mais racionalmente do que quando escrevi esse post (em que a seguir dizia "no mundo real, as preferências de empresas e trabalhadores sobre isso parecem ser exactamente o oposto da lógica."). Diga-se que nem é preciso o meu cenário do investir o dinheiro para ser melhor recebé-lo em janeiro do que em novembro - para quem tem despesas que tem que pagar já, é melhor receber o dinheiro todos os meses do que receber tudo por atacado em novembro; e para quem não tem despesas urgentes, tanto faz a altura do ano em que o recebem - logo no agregado é sempre preferível começar loga a receber o dinheiro a partir de janeiro.

Não seria melhor transpor para a função pública a regra em vigor nos privados, e passar a ser à escolha? O argumento de ser tecnicamente difícil não vale, porque se pode ser feito nos privados (terem regras de pagamento do subsídio de Natal diferentes para trabalhadores diferentes), também pode ser feito no Estado.

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

O primeiro "pânico moral"?

The Media’s First Moral Panic, por Frank Furedi (History Today, Volume 65, Issue 11):

When cultural commentators lament the decline of the habit of reading books, it is difficult to imagine that back in the 18th century many prominent voices were concerned about the threat posed by people reading too much. A dangerous disease appeared to afflict the young, which some diagnosed as reading addiction and others as reading rage, reading fever, reading mania or reading lust. (...)

What some described as a craze was actually a rise in the 18th century of an ideal: the ‘love of reading’. The emergence of this new phenomenon was largely due to the growing popularity of a new literary genre: the novel. The emergence of commercial publishing in the 18th century and the growth of an ever-widening constituency of readers was not welcomed by everyone. Many cultural commentators were apprehensive about the impact of this new medium on individual behaviour and on society’s moral order. (...)

The consensus that emerged was that unrestrained exposure to fiction led readers to lose touch with reality and identify with the novel’s romantic characters to the point of adopting their behaviour. The passionate enthusiasm with which European youth responded to the publication of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) appeared to confirm this consensus. (...)

The scale of the reaction to Werther perturbed authorities throughout Europe. (...) The novel was blamed for the unleashing of an epidemic of copycat suicides throughout Europe among young, emotionally disturbed and broken-hearted readers. The numerous initiatives to ban the novel indicated that the authorities took these claims very seriously. In 1775 the theological faculty of the University of Leipzig petitioned officials to ban Werther on the grounds that its circulation would lead to the promotion of suicide. The city council of Leipzig agreed and cited the increased frequency of suicides as justification for banning both the novel and the wearing of Werther’s costume. The ban, which was introduced in 1775, was not lifted until 1825. The novel was also banned in Italy and Denmark. (...)

Warnings about an epidemic of suicide said more about the anxieties of their authors than the behaviour of the readers of the novels. An inspection of the literature circulating these warnings indicates a striking absence of empirical evidence. The constant allusion to Miss. G., to nameless victims and to similarly framed death scenes suggests that these reports had little factual content to draw on. Stories about an epidemic of suicide were as fictional as the demise of Werther in Goethe’s novel. (...)

The association of the novel with the disorganisation of the moral order represented an early example of a media panic. The formidable, sensational and often improbable effects attributed to the consequences of reading in the 18th century provided the cultural resources on which subsequent reactions to the cinema, television or the Internet would draw on. In that sense Werther fever anticipated the media panics of the future.
[Versão de acesso livre]

Isto fez-me lembrar o meu post A opinião socialmente correta sobre os jogos de computador.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Indústria e sindicatos

Americans Don’t Miss Manufacturing — They Miss Unions, por Ben Casselman (FiveThirtyEight):

U.S. manufacturing jobs, I argued a few weeks ago, are never coming back. But that doesn’t stop politicians from talking about them. (...)

Candidates talk about manufacturing because of what it represents in the popular imagination: a source of stable, well-paying jobs, especially for people without a college degree. But that image is rooted more in nostalgia than in reality. Manufacturing no longer plays its former role in the economy, and not only because there are far fewer factory jobs than in the past. The jobs being created today often pay less than those of the past — sometimes far less.
A new report this week from the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a third of production workers — non-managers working on factory floors and in related occupations — earn so little that their families receive some form of public assistance such as food stamps or the Earned Income Tax Credit. (...)

On average, manufacturing jobs still pay better than most jobs available to people without a college degree. The median manufacturing worker without a bachelor’s degree earned $15 an hour in 2015, a dollar more than similarly educated workers in other industries.1 But those averages obscure a great deal of variation beneath the surface. Average manufacturing wages are inflated by high-earning veterans; newly created jobs tend to pay less. And there are substantial regional variations. The average manufacturing production worker in Michigan earns $20.80 an hour, vs.$18.86 in South Carolina, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why do factory workers make more in Michigan? In a word: unions. (...) In Michigan, 23 percent of manufacturing production workers were union members in 2015; in South Carolina, less than 2 percent were. (...)

But this much is clear: For all of the glow that surrounds manufacturing jobs in political rhetoric, there is nothing inherently special about them. Some pay well; others don’t. They are not immune from the forces that have led to slow wage growth in other sectors of the economy. When politicians pledge to protect manufacturing jobs, they really mean a certain kind of job: well-paid, long-lasting, with opportunities for advancement. Those aren’t qualities associated with working on a factory floor; they’re qualities associated with being a member of a union.
Diga-se que, como algarvio, sempre me causou alguma sensação de estranheza essa tendência, sobretudo no discurso norte-americano, para associar "indústria" a "bons empregos" - afinal, no Algarve pré-turismo eram a terras industriais (como Vila Real de Santo António, Olhão ou Lagos) que tinham fama de serem terras de miséria, enquanto eram as terras mais viradas para o comércio (como Faro ou Loulé) que eram as terras ricas.

Ver também Why Are Politicians So Obsessed With Manufacturing?, por Binyamin Appelbaum (New York Times, via Economist's View).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Em que altura se deve ensinar macroeconomia nos cursos de Economia

Em tempos houve alguma discussão na internet sobre o assunto (ver aqui ou aqui).

Como eram as coisas no meu tempo (ISEG, 1991-95)? No primeiro semestre do primeiro ano, em Análise Económica I ensinava-se a teoria da vantagem comparativa e depois macroeconomia (basicamente o tal modelo keynesiano mais simples; nas aulas práticas também se falava da NAIRU); no segundo semestre ensinava-se microeconomia, com os modelos da concorrência perfeita e do monopólio (se me lembro bem, no primeiro ano só se falava de microeconomia do ponto de vista das empresas e das curvas da oferta; a referência às famílias e às curvas da procura era só no segundo ano.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Palhaços assustadores?

O Zap faz referência a uma suposta epidemia de "palhaços assustadores" que estaria a provocar alarme (a Business Insider também falou disso ontem ou hoje).

Na verdade há vários meses que a Reason anda a seguir essas notícias, e ao que tudo indica não passa de uma fantasia:

As is often the case during these phantom-clown scares—yes, this isn't the first one—the incidents generally fall into four categories:

1. Someone, usually a kid, reports that he spotted a clown lurking or that a clown attacked him. No one finds the clown. The episode never gets resolved, but it probably didn't really happen.

2. Someone reports that he spotted a clown lurking or that a clown attacked him. No one finds the clown. The episode does get resolved, because the person who made the report confesses to making it up.

3. Someone circulates a clown threat or clown sighting or clown something on Facebook or another social media platform. No clown actually shows up.
4. A prankster decides to take advantage of the fear spread by #1-3 by dressing as a clown and scaring people. He does not kidnap, molest, or shoot anybody.

In other words, the scare is almost entirely a mix of hoaxes and hysteria.

Ainda o porquê da existência de empresas

Nobel Prize 2016 Part II: Oliver Hart por Kevin Bryan (A Fine Theorem) - o post é essencialmente sobre a "teoria da firma" e o contributo do premiado para ela.

Como são os jihiadistas europeus?

Who Are the European Jihadists?, por Jesse Walker (Reason):

...the political scientist Olivier Roy delivered a fascinating talk at a conference sponsored by the German counterpart to the FBI. Drawing on data about Europeans who join jihadist groups, Roy argues that they're primarily driven not by theology, nor by deprived backgrounds, but by a particular sort of youthful alienation. (...)

They come from a wide range of sociological backgrounds, but the majority are "second generation Muslims born in Europe, [and] the others are converts; almost none came as a young adult or as a teenager to Europe from the Middle East." Many of them "have a past of petty delinquency and drug dealing" followed by "a sudden and rapid 'return' to religion (or conversion), immediately followed by political radicalisation. There is a clear 'breaking point,' often linked with a personal crisis (jail for instance)." (...)
almost all of them [were] radicalised to the dismay of their parents and relatives (a huge difference if we compare with Palestinian radicals). Most parents not only disapprove of their children's radicalisation, but actively try to bring them back or even to have them arrested by the police. This pattern is found as well among parents of converts (a fact we can expect), but also among Muslim parents (Abaaoud in Belgium). In this sense the radicals do not express an anger shared by their milieus or by the Muslim "community."

It is a peer phenomenon: they radicalise in the framework of a small network of friends, whatever the concrete circumstances of their meeting may be (neighbourhood, jail, internet, or sports clubs). This puts them often at odds with the traditional view of family and women in Islam. These groups are often mixed in gender terms, and the women play often a far more important role than they themselves claim (Boumediene in the Charlie Hebdo killers' team). They intermarry between themselves, without the parents' consent. In this sense they are closer to the ultra-left groups of the 1970s.

Empresas e incentivos

The Firm as an Incentive System[pdf], por Bengt Holmstrom (um dos "Prémios Nobel" da Economia deste ano) e Paul Milgron, há volta da velha questão "Porque é que existem empresas e não apenas trabalhadores independentes vendendo bens e serviços uns aos outros?".

[Via Tyler Cowen e Kevin Bryan]

Monday, October 10, 2016

Os grandes filósofos eram realmente grandes?

Are History’s “Greatest Philosophers” All That Great?, por Gregory Lewis (Daily Nous):

In the canon of western philosophy, generally those regarded as the ‘greatest’ philosophers tend to live far in the past. (...)

[M]ost would think (e.g.) Plato and Aristotle should be there, and near the top. (...)

Consider this toy example. Let’s pretend that philosophical greatness is a function of philosophical ability, and let’s pretend that philosophical ability is wholly innate. Thus you’d expect philosophical greatness to be a natural lottery, and the greatest philosophers ever to be those fortunate enough to be born with the greatest philosophical ability.

The Attican population in the time of Plato is thought to have been 250 to 300 thousand people (most of whom weren’t citizens, but ignore that for now). The population of modern day Attica (admittedly slightly larger geographically than Attica in the time of Plato) is 3.8 million. If we say Plato was the most philosophically able in Attica, that ‘only’ puts him at the 1 in 300,000 level. Modern Attica should expect to have around thirteen people at this level, and of this group it is statistically unlikely that Plato would be better than all of them. I am sure there are many very able philosophers in modern day Athens, but none enjoy the renown of Plato; were Plato alive today, instead of be recognized as one of the greatest of all time, perhaps he would be struggling to get tenure instead.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Liberdade de expressão

Freedom of speech in the digital age, por Noah Smith:

Obviously this has upset the alt-right a great deal (though with those guys it's hard to tell). The bannings of Ricky and Milo have been met with frantic cries for Twitter and other platforms to uphold "free speech." Many on the left respond that "freedom of speech" only applies to the government, and that private companies can and should do as they please. (This is an interesting reversal of the traditional position...)

Friday, October 07, 2016

O que poderia ser o gun control nos EUA

Liberalism’s Gun Problem, por Ross Douthat (New York Times):

With 300 million guns in private hands in the United States, it’s very difficult to devise a non-intrusive, “common-sense” approach to regulating their exchange by individuals. Ultimately, you need more than background checks; you need many fewer guns in circulation, period. To their credit, many gun control supporters acknowledge this point, which is why there is a vogue for citing the Australian experience, where a sweeping and mandatory gun buyback followed a 1996 mass shooting. (...)

Does that make “getting to Australia” a compelling long-term goal for liberalism? Maybe, but liberals need to count the cost. Absent a total cultural revolution in America, a massive gun collection effort would face significant resistance even once legislative and judicial battles had been won. The best analogue is Prohibition, which did have major public health benefits … but which came at a steep cost in terms of police powers, black markets and trampled liberties.

I suspect liberals imagine, at some level, that a Prohibition-style campaign against guns would mostly involve busting up gun shows and disarming Robert Dear-like trailer-park loners. But in practice it would probably look more like Michael Bloomberg’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, with a counterterrorism component that ended up heavily targeting Muslim Americans. In areas where gun ownership is high but crime rates low, like Bernie Sanders’ Vermont, authorities would mostly turn a blind eye to illegal guns, while poor and minority communities bore the brunt of raids and fines and jail terms.

Here the relevant case study is probably not Australia, but France. The French have the kind of strict gun laws that American liberals favor, and they have fewer gun deaths than we do. But their strict gun laws are part of a larger matrix of illiberalism — a mix of Bloombergist police tactics, Trump-like disdain for religious liberty, and campus-left-style restrictions on free speech. (And then France also has a lively black market in weaponry, which determined terrorists unfortunately seem to have little difficulty acquiring.)

Thursday, October 06, 2016

O Estado Islâmico é um estado?

How much of a state is the Islamic State?, por Quinn Mecham (Monkey Cage):

Rather than assessing the “Islamic” qualities of the Islamic State group, I will focus instead on the “stateness” of this group as it has developed in early 2015. The contemporary name of this group implies both that it is Islamic and also that it is a state. My principal argument is that while the Islamic State does not have all of the characteristics that we usually attribute to states, it does have many of them, and that its trajectory to date is toward increasing levels of stateness. (...)

Scholars and practitioners of international relations often view states as the primary unit of interaction within the international system and as legitimate components of the international order. To date, the Islamic State does not align well with this notion of statehood. A second, and in this case more productive, way of viewing states, however, rests in the understanding of states as institutions that carry out specific functions to be successful. Effective states have a wide range of functions, including “rule of law,” “administrative control” and “creation of citizenship rights,” among many others. For my purposes, I have divided the key functions of a state into six broad categories (...) 1) tax and labor acquisition, 2) defining and regulating citizenship, 3) providing international security and managing international relations, 4) ensuring domestic security, 5) providing social services and 6) facilitating economic growth. (...)

#1 Tax and Labor Acquisition—

Capable states have developed the means to extract wealth (in the form of taxes) and labor (in the form of military or other service) from their citizens. By all accounts, the Islamic state group has been highly extractive from the population in the territory it controls. (...)

#2 Defining and Regulating Citizenship—

Capable states invest significant energy in defining the rules for citizenship and in enumerating the rights and duties of their citizens. In the June 2014 announcement of the Islamic caliphate, there are some signs of an emergent set of norms around citizenship in the Islamic State, although it is not defined explicitly in those terms. (...)

#3 Managing International Relations—

One of the core functions of a state is to manage relationships with other states in the international system and to provide security from external threats. This is an area where the Islamic State has done a very poor job of behaving like a normal state in the international system. Indeed, the Islamic State explicitly rejects the validity of the contemporary state system (...)

#4 Providing Domestic Security—

This is the area by which viable states are most often measured – can they exert an effective monopoly of violence and establish the rule of law over their territory? In the case of the Islamic State the answer is mostly, but certainly not completely. The Islamic State in early 2015 operates much more like a military organization than either a rebel insurgency or a local police force, although it also plays both of those roles. It has tactical units that report to a central command, that are highly metrics-driven and that are designed to clear and hold territory, ensuring subsequent security within that territory.

#5 Providing Social Services—

Capable states provide a wide range of social services in addition to security, including health care, education, sanitation, utilities and support for the vulnerable. Additionally, Islamic groups are historically known for their investment in social welfare provision in their societies. How does the Islamic State group do on social service provision? It is clear that the group has attempted to use a portion of its extensive resources to provide social services in the territory that it controls, although it has not always had the expertise to provide those services in an effective or lasting way.

#6 Facilitating Economic Growth—

Finally, capable states have institutions that effectively manage the economy and facilitate economic growth over the long run. (...) Because the Islamic State has been flush with cash that has allowed it to create its own economy and because oil resources have provided substantial economic rents to the organization to date, it is difficult to measure its success in this area. However, there are a number of early indications that its economic policies are neither productive nor sustainable in the long term. (...)

When taken in comparison with established neighboring states, the Islamic State’s performance across a range of core state functions is decidedly mixed. When compared with other Islamist insurgent groups, or even to where the Islamic State group was with regard to these issues one year ago, however, progress towards development on many of these functions is nothing short of remarkable.
Interrogo-me até que ponto os critérios 5 e 6 não serão um pouco "falácia do escocês".

Sinais que o seu filho pode vir a ser um terrorista

Is Your Kid a Terrorist? Watch for the Warning Signs!, por Jesse Walker (Reason):

Keeping Children and Young People Safe from Radicalisation and Extremism: Advice for Parents and Carers lists some of the warning signs that you—yes, you!—might have an extremist under your roof.

Some of these signs, the authors note, "could describe general teenage behaviour." So if your kid has been "losing interest in previous activities and friendships" or "switching screens when you come near," you needn't fret unless it's happening "together with other signs." On the other hand, the "following signs are more specific to radicalisation":
  • "Owning mobile phones or devices you haven't given them"
  • "Showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and belief in conspiracy theories"
  • "Appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policy"

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Israel, Brexit, Espanha, Colômbia... Trump?

Israel, Britain, Spain, Colombia . . . Trump? por Scott Sumner

Is it just my imagination, or are we starting to see a pattern here?  A set of election surprises ranging from mild to shocking, with the right always coming out ahead. Polls making modest or even large errors—in some cases even exit polls.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Uma nova "-fobia"?

Há tempos, a respeito das polémicas sobre o "politicamente correto", eu escrevia:

Vamos imaginar um exemplo hipotético (com uma situação que no mundo real em que vivemos não é objeto de polémica política ou social, para podermos ver o assunto de forma desapaixonada); vamos supor que alguém escreve um artigo a atacar as pessoas que usam óculos modelo "aviador", dizendo que são uns foleiros, que vivem mentalmente no principio dos anos 80, que são serial killers em potência, e que nos lugares em que é "reservado o direito de admissão" deveriam ser impedidos de entrar para não dar mau ambiente...
Lembrei-me disso quando algumas pessoas tentaram, há alguns tempos, lançar uma cruzada contra os "calções-cargo" (Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa; The Incredible Wall Street Journal about Cargo Shorts and the Women who Hate Them).

Ainda o casal que poupa 500.000 euros

Ainda a respeito disto e disto, quanto é que um casal em que os membros começassem a trabalhar aos 18 anos e se reformassem aos 66 esperando morrer aos 80 deveria ter poupado no momento da reforma?

Vamos supor um modelo super-simplificado, em que os juros são zero (muito próximo da realidade atual), não há inflação; o rendimento da família não cresce ao longo do tempo; não há segurança social; e as pessoas pretendem ter um fluxo de despesa constante ao longo da vida.

Nesse modelo, se as pessoas vão trabalhar 48 anos e viver ainda mais 14 anos depois de se reformarem (ou seja, o trabalho + reforma vai ser de 62 anos), irão gastar por ano 48/62 do seu rendimento anual; por outras palavras, enquanto trabalharem vão poupar 14/62 do seu rendimento. Assim, uma família que tenha um rendimento mensal (depois de contribuições e impostos - ao longo deste post as referências a "rendimento" serão sempre ao rendimento líquido, salvo se dito explicitamente o oposto) de 2.000 euros irá poupar por ano 5.419,35 euros (assumindo 12 meses de rendimento por ano); quando chegar aos 66 anos irá ter acumulado um pouco menos de 260.000 euros. Neste modelo, faria sentido um casal ter uma poupança acumulado de 500.000 euros na altura da reforma se tivessem um rendimento mensal de 3.844 euros (enquanto trabalhavam gastariam cerca de 2.976 euros por mês e poupariam cerca de 868 euros; ao fim de 576 meses de trabalho - 48 anos x 12 meses - teriam acumulado uns 499.968 euros, que iriam gastar ao longo dos 168 meses da reforma, ao ritmo de 2976 euros por mês). Note-se que, se considerarmos que alguém é "rico" a partir dos 500.000 euros, isso quer dizer que um casal será rico a partir do milhão de euros (ainda não se conhecem os pormenores do eventual imposto sobre o património, mas será lógico que, para casais, se divida o valor do património por metade, tal como é feito com o rendimento no IRS, em que um casal com um rendimento de 30.000 euros fica aproximadamente no mesmo escalão que um indivíduo com um rendimento de 15.000 euros), o que será um rendimento mensal de 7.688 euros.

Agora vamos complicar um pouco mais o modelo e assumir que existe segurança social, e que esta paga cerca de metade do que as pessoas recebem enquanto trabalham. Assim, o rendimento total ao longo da vida será de 48*X+14*X/2 (sendo "X" o rendimento anual), pelo que seria de esperar que gastassem por ano 55/62*X, ou seja (48*X+14*X/2)/62. Desta forma, voltando ao tal casal que ganha 2.000 euros por mês irá gastar mensalmente 1.774,00 euros e poupar 226 euros; ao fim de 576 meses (48 anos) de trabalho terá poupado 130.176 euros; durante os 168 meses esperados da reforma irão retirar 774 euros dessa poupança, a que irão juntar os 1000 euros da reforma para continuarem a fazer a sua vida de 1774 euros mensais. Neste modelo, um casal com um rendimento mensal de 7.690 euros iria ter uma poupança de 500.000 euros aos 66 anos (para o milhão, seriam uns 15.375 euros de rendimento mensal).

Poderá argumentar-se que algumas das minhas premissas são irrealistas a longo prazo (juro zero, rendimento igual aos 18 e aos 66 anos) mas penso que mudar essas premissas não deve alterar muito o resultado final, até porque muitos dos efeitos serão ambivantes (p.ex., se os juros forem positivos, pode aumentar o incentivo para poupar, mas também reduzir a necessidade de poupar - como durante a reforma o casal vai ter, não apenas a poupança acumulado, mas também os juros, precisará de acumular menos para manter o seu anterior estilo de vida).

Então onde é que o Ricardo Campelo Magalhães foi buscar a ideia de que um casal com um rendimento mensal de 2.000 euros deveria poupar 500.000 euros? Basicamente, dá-me a ideia que ele assumiu que o casal iria, durante a reforma, fazer despesas equivalentes ao seu rendimento durante a vida ativa (enquanto o meu modelo pressupõe que pretende fazer despesas durante a reforma equivalentes às despesas que fazia durante a vida ativa) - note-se que isso implica gastar mais dinheiro na reforma do que na vida ativa (já que antes tem que se poupar para a reforma). Mais exatamente, um casal que ganhou 2.000 euros por mês durante 48 anos teve que poupar 868 euros por mês, sobrando-lhe 1.131 euros. Durante a reforma poderia gastar 2.900 euros por mês das poupanças acumuladas, e mais os 1.000 euros de pensão - ou seja, durante a reforma iria ter um nível de vida 4 vezes mais elevado do que enquanto trabalhava.

Uma nota final acerca do argumento da inflação ("Se tivermos em conta a inflação, um casal a meio da sua carreira precisará do dobro para manter a sua qualidade de vida, pelo que precisarão de 2.000 euros cada") - mas então assim o que o RCM está a dizer é que quando se reformar, daqui a umas décadas, esse casal precisará de ter uma poupança de 500.000 euros em dinheiro da altura, não a quantia equivalente ao que hoje valem 500.000 euros; hora, creio que o que se está a discutir é se quem tem neste momento 500.000 euros é "rico", não se, em 2036, 500.000 euros (aos preços de 2036) será uma fortuna ou não.

Um problema dos subsídios em dinheiro?

Giving poor people cash makes them happier — and their cashless neighbors miserable, por by Dylan Matthews (Vox):

There's a large empirical literature on cash transfer now, and the results are very positive, with various studies finding that just handing out money increases consumption, encourages investments in important assets like metal roofs, encourages more people to start working, boosts earnings, and doesn't lead to more spending on things like alcohol or tobacco. (...)

But one side question has gotten less attention: What happens to people in a given village who don't get the money? The evidence is tentative, but a couple of recent studies suggest that transfer programs can actually leave those people left out worse off.

This isn't an argument against cash — if anything, it's an argument for giving cash toeveryone, since people getting it are definitely left better off. But it does suggest that absolute income isn't the only way money makes you happy. How much people were making in relation to others, or relative income, matters too.

Monday, October 03, 2016

A decadência da civilização ocidental

Desde pelo menos o fim da I Guerra Mundial que há quem argumente que a civilização ocidental está em decadência, e quem diga que não.

Mas suspeito de que uma coisa que atrapalha a discussão é que haverá muitas coisas (p.ex., irreligiosidade; predomínio da família nuclear sobre a família alargada; uma cultura que valoriza os direitos sobre os deveres; uma estratégia reprodutiva mais parecida com a dos pinguins – ter poucos filhos com alta probabilidade de sobrevivência – do que com a das tartarugas-marinhas – muitos filhos com baixa probabilidade de sobrevivência, etc.) que para umas pessoas são o que define a civilização ocidental, e que para outras são sintomas da decadência da civilização ocidental.

[Comentário feito há uns tempos n'O Insurgente que decidi promover a post]

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Re: O terrivel mapa das ditaduras

Alguém me explica que estranho mapa das ditaduras é este que o Expresso publica, em que a Arábia Saudita é uma ditadura, mas o Catar, Oman e os Emirados Árabes Unidos não o são? A China e a Coreia do Norte o são, mas não o Vietname, Laos e Cuba  (embora pelos visto a Venezuela já o seja)? E a Tailândia? E os países da Ásia Centra ex-soviética? Ou é simplesmente um mapa de ditaduras que apareceram recentemente na televisão (bem, se fosse por aí, também não se percebia Fiji, Suazilândia e Gâmbia...)?

Se querem mapas, sempre é melhor o da Freedom House: