Monday, December 30, 2019

Milícias anti-governo e milícias anti-imigração nos EUA

Militias, Patriots, and Border Vigilantes in the Age of Trump, por Jesse Walker (Reason):

If you remember the days when George W. Bush was president, that story may have given you a gust of déjà vu. Several civilian border patrols cropped up back then too, most famously the Minutemen. These weren't the first paramilitary groups to go hunting for unauthorized border crossers—that had been happening for decades—but the Bush years were a boom time for the practice.

That, in turn, was part of a larger pattern. When Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office, the social space that would later be filled by the immigrant-fearing Minuteman movement was filled instead by the government-fearing militia movement. When Barack Obama became president, the Minutemen fell into factionalism and '90s-style militias began to grow again. Donald Trump's reign has seen a new surge of border patrols by nativist vigilantes. What do these shifts mean?

 The easy reply is that this is just a matter of which party occupies the White House: Camo-clad right-wing populists are more likely to be afraid of a Democratic president than a Republican one, so they turn their guns outward rather than upward when the GOP is in power.

There is truth to that, but it doesn't explain everything.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Os seres humanos são naturalmente monogamicos?

Are We Monogamous? A Review of the Evolution of Pair-Bonding in Humans and Its Contemporary Variation Cross-Culturally, por Ryan Schacht e L. Kramer (Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution), via Razib Khan:

Despite a long history of study, consensus on a human-typical mating system remains elusive. While a simple classification would be useful for cross-species comparisons, monogamous, polyandrous, and polygynous marriage systems exist across contemporary human societies. Moreover, sexual relationships occur outside of or in tandem with marriage, resulting in most societies exhibiting multiple kinds of marriage and mating relationships. Further complicating a straightforward classification of mating system are the multiple possible interpretations of biological traits typical of humans used to indicate ancestral mating patterns. While challenging to characterize, our review of the literature offers several key insights. 1) Although polygyny is socially sanctioned in most societies, monogamy is the dominant marriage-type within any one group cross-culturally. 2) Sex outside of marriage occurs across societies, yet human extra pair paternity rates are relatively low when compared to those of socially monogamous birds and mammals. 3) Though the timing of the evolution of certain anatomical characteristics is open to debate, human levels of sexual dimorphism and relative testis size point to a diverging history of sexual selection from our great ape relatives. Thus, we conclude that while there are many ethnographic examples of variation across human societies in terms of marriage patterns, extramarital affairs, the stability of relationships, and the ways in which fathers invest, the pair-bond is a ubiquitous feature of human mating relationships. This may be expressed through polygyny and/or polyandry but is most commonly observed in the form of serial monogamy.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Como os indios Creek da América do Norte foram obrigados a ter um governo

 The Creek Nation and the Culture of Consent, por Amy Sturgis (Reason):

Under threat from the United States, Creek people replaced consent with coercion. Then they lost everything.

In the decades after the United States achieved independence, its representatives compelled the Creek people of present-day Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to reorder their social system into a coercive state. This, officials said, would make the Creeks "good neighbors" to U.S. citizens, and especially to the country's problem child, the unruly state of Georgia. The U.S. then proved to be a poor neighbor itself, systematically humiliating and undermining the very Creek government it had demanded, effectively pushing the Native Americans into civil war, and ultimately abandoning all pretense of respecting the sovereignty of—or its treaties with—the Creek Nation.

Monday, December 23, 2019

As alterações à "constituição" britânica

Boris Johnson is planning radical changes to the UK constitution – here are the ones you need to know about, por Stephen Clear (The Conversation):

With a very large majority in parliament, Boris Johnson is planning radical changes to the UK constitution. His party claims that far reaching reforms are needed because of a “destabilising and potentially extremely damaging rift between politicians and the people” under the last parliament. The issue at the centre of this “damaging rift”, however, is whether the proposals for constitutional change are a democratic necessity or a cynical attempt by the Conservative government to bolster its power.

These are the most important changes the Conservative government is proposing. (...)

The Conservatives have been clear about their opposition to holding a second independence referendum in Scotland. (...)

It is likely that Johnson will try to meet this challenge by devolving more powers to the regions and offering them more money. (...)

The Conservative government has detailed plans for changing the way the UK elects its members of parliament, starting with redrawing constituency boundaries to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600. (...)

But it has been noted that moving boundaries could have a greater negative impact on Labour and the Scottish National Party than the Conservatives – which perhaps tells us why the plan features so highly on Johnson’s agenda. (...)

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act is on the chopping block, too. This act stipulates that general elections must be called every five years, with early elections held only in exceptional circumstances. (...)

But there is also concern that repealing the act hands the prime minister discretion to decide when to call an election – and, in the most extreme interpretation, could mean that this government’s term lasts a decade. (...)

The Conservatives have long talked of repealing the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a “British” bill of rights. (...)

The UK is also about to see its justice system “[updated]” – including judicial review, the process through which people can challenge decisions made by public bodies. This process was famously used in two high-profile Brexit cases in which the Supreme Court ruled against the government.

Some therefore question whether the prime minister’s displeasure with these rulings is the real motivation for “updating” the justice system. The Conservative manifesto says the idea is to ensure the process is not being abused “to conduct politics by another means”. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A "economia do lado da oferta" como "noble lie"

Ainda a respeito disto, duas (bem, uma e meia) teorias minhas sobre a "economia do lado da oferta": -

- suspeito que a economia do lado da oferta na prática não foi mais do que uma maneira de fazer keynesianismo disfarçado (como já escrevi aqui)

- também me ocorre que pode ter havido uma cadeia de "noble lies" (e recorde-se que a economia do lado da oferta foi inicialmente divulgada nas revistas dirigidas pelo neoconservador Irving Kristol, que era também um discipulo de Leo Strauss) nisso tudo, com políticos a apresentarem aos eleitores a economia do lado da oferta mas eles próprios a acreditarem no starve the beast, e por detrás deles intelectuais a apresentarem aos políticos a economia do lado da oferta ou a starve the beast mas eles próprios a acreditarem no keynesianismo (pensando algo como "o keynesianismo até pode estar largamente correto, mas isso deve ficar entre nós, os intelectuais que buscam o conhecimento pelo conhecimento; para os homens e mulheres comuns, que sucumbem facilmente aos baixos prazeres, a ideia que os orçamentos devem estar equilibrados - mesmo que não esteja totalmente certa - é útil como forma de lhes incutir auto-disciplina; sem isso, vão votar por cada vez mais despesas e mesmo na sua vida privada vão se comportar como se não fosse necessário sacrificar o curto-prazo ao longo-prazo e mergulhar numa vida de drogas, sexo casual e jogo. Assim, na nossa condição de sábios por detrás do trono, deveremos aconselhar os governantes a porem em prática políticas keynesianas quando tal for necessário, mas sem nunca deixarmos ninguém perceber que é isso que estamos a fazer").

Uma coisa parece ser verdade - Kristol não levava muito a sério a teoria de que os cortes de impostos se pagavam a si mesmos, ao contrário do que é normalmente associado à teoria do lado da oferta; a posição dele parecia mais de achar que, mesmo que desse origem a deficits, não haveria grande problema desde que criassem crescimento económico (claro que essa posição é tão compatível com o keynesianismo como com uma versão moderada da economia do lado da oferta)

Politicas orçamentais ao longo do espectro político

Este post no Facebook de Alexandre Mota lembra-me de algo que tenho pensado há algum tempo - é que há 3 tipos possíveis de políticas orçamentais que tendem a ser indistintamente chamadas "política de direita":

a) Qualquer política que reduza a despesa pública, mesmo que aumente os impostos

b) Qualquer política que reduza os impostos, mesmo que não reduza ou até aumente a despesa

c) Uma política de redução simultânea da despesa e dos impostos

Compare-se, p.ex, Reagan (com uma política largamente do tipo b) com Thatcher (com uma política largamente do tipo a), ou talvez nem isso), que muitas vezes até são apresentados como se fossem quase gémeos ideológicos.

Isto que vou escrever agora talvez já seja um bocado arrevejado, mas até me parece que poderemos associar essas diferentes politicas orçamentais com diferentes correntes especificas:

- A política a), cortar primordialmente na despesa, penso que é mais típica dos democratas-cristãos e conservadores europeus, frequentemente com grandes evocações de "contas em ordem", "não podemos gastar mais do que temos" ou até "temos que fazer como uma boa dona-de-casa.."

- A política b), cortar primordialmente nos impostos, sem grandes preocupações com a desesa, parece-me mais típica do conservadorismo norte-americano, por um lado, e da direita "populista", por outro, com argumentos diversos - umas vezes abertamente keynesianos, outras vezes recorrendo à supply side economics, outros com argumentos starve the beast;

 - A política c), cortar nas despesas e nos impostos, parece-me mais típica dos liberais.

Diga-se que as políticas a) e b) têm, perante a c), a vantagem de serem vendáveis a um eleitorado em que a maior parte das pessoas recebe mais em subsídios ou sob a forma de serviços públicos do que paga de impostos - e provavelmente muitas pessoas que sonham com c) acham que a melhor maneira de o atingir é mesmo alternar b) com a) em vez de dizer abertamente que se quer c) - a tal estratégia de starve the beast.

E à esquerda, não haverá também várias políticas orçamentais? Bem, à partida eu conseguiria imaginar quase o simétrico:

a1) Aumentar a despesa pública sem aumentar os impostos

b1) Aumentar os impostos sem aumentar a despesa

c1) Aumentar a despesa e os impostos

Mas o problema é que aqui a margem é mais estreita - por norma basta um governo baixar os impostos ou a despesa para ser considerado "política de direita" (a menos que se trate de baixar impostos específicos - como impostos regressivos sobre o consumo - ou despesas específicas - como as militares - que sejam particularmente impopulares à esquerda), logo seria necessário manter os impostos milimetricamente idênticos para fazer a política a1 (se os subisse um pouco estaria a fazer a política de esquerda c1), e se os descesse um pouco estar a fazer a política de direita b) ou a despesa milimetricamente idêntica para fazer a política b1 (mutatis mutandis).

Assim diria que a diferenças entre políticas orçamentais de esquerda acabam por se resumir a

d) aumentar mais os impostos que as despesas, reduzindo o deficit

e) aumentar mais as despesas que os impostos, aumentando o deficit

Mas aqui não sei se será fácil associar as duas políticas a correntes definidas - a esquerda mais radical (nomeadamente a mais entusiasmada pela "Teoria Monetária Moderna") tende a preferir a política e) e a moderada a d), mas não me parece que seja uma regra muito rígida; e, por outro lado, isto leva-me a duvidar da minha tentativa de associar os vários tipos de políticas orçamentais de direita a ideologias específicas - afinal, se na área que eu conheço melhor não consigo fazer essa associação, é duvidoso que a consiga fazer com precisão para a área que eu conheço pior.

Outros posts que acho que podem ter alguma relação com isto - Keynesianismo e Estatismo e o acabado de escrever A "economia do lado da oferta" como "noble lie"; e acho que o clássico  Political Aspects of Full Employment, de Michael Kalecki também interessa para aqui, ainda que de forma à primeira vista algo indireta.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

O declinio dos blogues

Já há algum tempo que penso nisto que o Paul Krugman escreve aqui - os blogues largamente quase morreram porque a) grande parte da conversa passou para as redes sociais (penso que mais o twitter do que o facebook); e b) os bloggers mais destacados passaram para os jornais e afins

O segundo efeito suspeito que será cíclico; já o primeiro talvez seja mesmo uma mudança estrutural.

O "Trumpgate" como um filme cómico de espionagem

Laughing Through the Trump Era, por Ross Douthat, comparando toda a investigação à volta de Trump ao filme Destruir depois de Ler.

É raro eu concordar com alguma coisa que o Ross Douthat escreva, mas achei bastante interessantes algumas passagens, como:

Trump has indeed hurt vulnerable people, but between the leaven of incompetence in his cruelty, his rejection of some of the disastrous ambitions of his predecessors and a certain amount of fool’s luck, his administration is arguably responsible for fewer human tragedies so far than more high-minded, less personally degraded presidencies. (...)

The second answer, meanwhile, is a mild suggestion that a little more laughter might actually be good for the anti-Trump Resistance. In particular, anti-Trumpists might be a touch more effective if they could recognize how humorlessness and constant self-important dudgeon frequently helps the Trumpian cause, by setting up the dynamic I just sketched in my movie pitch — where the country is asked to choose between two kinds of folly, one squalid and corrupt but the other pompous, insufferable and paranoid in its own self-important way.

The latter sort folly is at its worst, not on the far left, but on the establishment center-left and the Never-Trumper center-right.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Como os sindicatos alemães combateram uma crise de habitação

When German Unions Built Housing for the People, por David O'Connell (Jacobin):

In postwar Germany, a cooperative run by trade unionists created Europe’s largest housing company. Building over 400,000 homes, “Neue Heimat” showed we don’t have to live on the terms dictated by landlords — we can take control for ourselves.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Os gangs têm benefícios para a sociedade?

Should We Legalize Street Gangs?, por Dan Bier (Freethink):

The theory behind suppression strategies is that the gang itself is the problem. If we get rid of the organization — capture its leaders, disrupt recruitment, seize assets, etc. — it will crumble and evaporate, because it won’t be able to sustain itself. Problem solved.

But that’s almost never what actually happens. In Chicago, police tried a similar zero-tolerance approach and “decapitated” the old gangs, and the result was the same as in Mexico: smaller, less organized, and more numerous gangs, fighting a dizzyingly complex war. Chicago’s violence has been difficult to quell precisely because there is nobody to call a ceasefire — or rather, there are now too many people who have to negotiate and agree on it.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Centralização versus descentralização da web

The Decentralized Web Is Coming, na Reason:

Google handles 88 percent of search traffic in the United States. Facebook has more than 2.4 billion active monthly users worldwide. Half of all U.S. online retail is projected to go through Amazon by 2021. (...)

Berners-Lee and other web pioneers intended for their creation to be decentralized and open-source. "The cyber-utopian view was not merely that seizing the means of information would make you free, but that failing to do so would put you in perpetual chains," says Doctorow.

There are many theories about why the web became centralized. Doctorow largely blames the abuse of intellectual property law to defeat the decentralized "free software" movement championed by the programmer and activist Richard Stallman. Stallman helped create the popular open-source operating system Linux after freely modifying Unix, Bell Labs' proprietary system.
Uma hipótese alternativa é que seja uma situação de grandes economias de escala - afinal, desenvolver um sistema informático para um conjunto de atividades tem quase o mesmo custo, independentemente de ir ser utilizado por 10 mil ou 10 milhões de pessoas (é verdade que esse problema fica um pouco anulado com o recurso a software livre desenvolvido por voluntários, em que várias organizações independentes podem usar o mesmo software - talvez algo como isto? -, havendo assim economias de escala no software sem ser preciso criar organizações à escala).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Os mitos da frente anti-pornografia

5 Myths That Anti-Porn Crusaders Keep Repeating, por Elizabeth Norman Brown (Reason):

1. Claim: The rise of online pornography and digital marketplaces for sex work has coincided with a rise in violence against women.
In fact, the last several decades have seen decreases in all sorts of violent crime rates, including rates of rape and sexual assault. (...)
People who commit rape appear to consume less porn than the general population. (...)
2. Claim: Teens who watch porn are more likely to engage in sexually risky behaviors.
In fact, the proliferation of online porn and minors' easy access to it has coincided with asignificant drops in just about every negative outcome connected to young people and sex. (...)
Falo em frente anti-pornografia, porque temos de novo do mesmo lado a direita religiosa e parte do feminismo.

Porque é que a Revolução Industrial ocorreu em Inglaterra?

The Crucial Century, por Anton Howes:

If a peaceful extraterrestrial visited the world in 1550, I often wonder where it would see as being the most likely site of the Industrial Revolution – an acceleration in the pace of innovation, resulting in sustained and continuous economic growth. So many theories about why it happened in Britain seem to have a sense of inevitability about them, but our extraterrestrial visitor would have found very few signs that it would soon occur there. There were many better candidates, on a multitude of metrics. (...)

So Britain’s precocity would have seemed unlikely in 1550. But the exercise potentially also gives us a few clues as to what was important for growth. Indeed, 1550-1650 increasingly appears, to me, to be the crucial century. It was by 1650, for example, that a critical mass of influential inventors and scientists in England were already plotting the creation of what would become the Royal Society – one of the most important institutions in Europe for the promotion of useful technical and scientific knowledge. And it was by 1650 that London had become one of Europe’s largest cities, a major trading centre, and a hub of innovation. More on that another time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A perseguição aos norte-americanos naturalizados

The New War on Naturalized Citizens, por Amanda Frost (The American Prospect):

The Trump administration is seeking to denaturalize and deport longtime U.S. citizens, seizing on tiny mistakes in the process and putting the status of every naturalized citizen at potential risk.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Cogestão ou co-propriedade?

Why Labour should focus on putting workers on boards – not inclusive ownership funds, por Ciaran Driver, acerca das propostas dos Trabalhistas britânicos para transferir gradualmente 10% da propriedade das principais empresas britânicas para fundos controlados pelos trabalhadores.

O Estado nasceu dos cereais?

Book Review: Against the Grain, por Scott Alexander (Slate Star Codex):

Someone on SSC Discord summarized James Scott’s Against The Grain as “basically 300 pages of calling wheat a fascist”. I have only two qualms with this description. First, the book is more like 250 pages; the rest is just endnotes. Second, “fascist” isn’t quite the right aspersion to use here. (...)

Scott argues that intensive grain cultivation was a natural choice not for cultivators, but for the states oppressing them. The shift from complicated and mobile food webs to a perfectly rectangular grid of wheat fields was the same sort of “progress” as scientific forestry and planned cities thousands of years later (...)

Scott’s great advantage over other writers is the care he takes in analyzing the concrete machinery of statehood. Instead of abstractly saying “the state levies a 10% tax”, he realizes that some guy in a palace has resolved to take “ten percent” of the “value” produced in some vast area, with no natural way of knowing who is in that area or how much value they produce. For most of the Stone Age, this problem was insurmountable. You can’t tax hunter-gatherers, because you don’t know how many they are or where they are, and even if you search for them you’ll spend months hunting them down through forests and canyons, and even if you finally find them they’ll just have, like, two elk carcasses and half a herring or something. But you also can’t tax potato farmers, because they can just leave when they hear you coming, and you will never be able to find all of the potatoes and dig them up and tax them. And you can’t even tax lentil farmers, because you’ll go to the lentil plantation and there will be a few lentils on the plants and the farmer will just say “Well, come back next week and there will be a few more”, and you can’t visit every citizen every week.

But you can tax grain farmers! You can assign them some land, and come back around harvest time, and there will be a bunch of grain just standing there for you to take ten percent of. If the grain farmer flees, you can take his grain without him. Then you can grind the grain up and have a nice homogenous, dense, easy-to-transport grain product that you can dole out in measured rations. Grain farming was a giant leap in oppressability.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Efeitos da cogestão

Labor in the Boardroom [pdf], por Simon Jäger, Benjamin Schoefer e Jörg Heining (IZA Institute for Labour Economics Discussion Paper nº 12799):

We estimate the effects of a mandate allocating a third of corporate board seats to workers (shared governance). We study a reform in Germany that abruptly abolished this mandate for certain firms incorporated after August 1994 but locked it in for the older cohorts. In sharp contrast to the canonical hold-up hypothesis – that increasing labor's power reduces owners' capital investment – we find that granting formal control rights to workers raises capital formation. The capital stock, the capital-labor ratio, and the capital share all increase. Shared governance does not raise wage premia or rent sharing. It lowers outsourcing, while moderately shifting employment to skilled labor. Shared governance has no clear effect on profitability, leverage, or costs of debt. Overall, the evidence is consistent with richer models of industrial relations whereby shared governance raises capital by permitting workers to bargain over investment or by institutionalizing communication and repeated interactions between labor and capital.
 Uma thread no Twitter sobre este estudo (que já havia sido falado aqui).

Sunday, December 01, 2019

2020 - um ano ainda mais agitado na América Latina?

Prediction: 2020 will be worse for instability in Latin America, por James Bosworth.

As falsas alegações de anti-semitismo na esquerda britânica

Uma thread no twitter de Noah Smith sobre o assunto.

Alguns dos posts:

Invasão turca dá origem a limpeza étnica no Curdistão sírio

‘When they come, they will kill you’: Ethnic cleansing is already a reality in Turkey’s Syrian safe zone (Independent):

The brutal killings were not hidden, nor were they meant to be. From the very beginning of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the fighters it sent across the border to carry out the mission have proudly documented their own war crimes.
Videos posted online by soldiers of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) – showing summary executions, mutilation of corpses, threats against Kurds and widespread looting – have struck terror into the tens of thousands who find themselves in the path of the offensive.

The ethnic dimension to many of the crimes has resulted in a mass exodus of Kurds and religious minorities from these once diverse borderlands.
Já agora, o que o PSD, CDS e CHEGA dizem disto?