Thursday, March 31, 2005

Classroom judgments - Dynamist Blog (Virginia Postrel)

------START QUOTE------
If you want teachers to be judged on subjective qualities like their ability to inspire students, you have to let schools hire, fire, promote, and demote their teachers accordingly. That means paying not by objective criteria like degrees and seniority but by a boss's professional evaluation. It means allowing into the classroom great teachers who have subject knowledge but not a lot of idiotic education courses on their transcripts.

Of course, teachers as a group don't want to give their bosses the power to evaluate them. Certainly, the teachers' unions don't want that. So to create any connection between classroom performance and professional evaluations, we're stuck with objective criteria, notably test scores. The alternative, beloved by teachers' advocates, is to have objective measures of teacher 'quality,' including seniority and academic credentials, and no measures of teaching quality. Standardized tests and prescribed curricula are far from perfect, but they're better than no accountability at all.

------END QUOTE------

What would the AAUP say? And do we care? Postrel has in mind primary and secondary schools, but what she has to say applies at the college level as well. And at this level there is plenty of consumer choice -- so choice is not the issue.

The at will standard of employment applied to education. I've advocated it earlier.

(Postrel came via Newmark's Door)
Massive UNDERcounting of Swedish u - Marginal Revolution

What an economic dynamo Europe could be were it not for the scourge of euroslerosis. For moreon, click here.
Massive UNDERreporting of US Foreign Aid - Marginal Revolution

And free of any discriminatory calculus.
Natural gas for Arabs, by Arabs - MENAFN

---------START QUOTE---------
Emirates News Agency (WAM) - 31/03/2005. The Information Affairs Office of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, has published a study entitled ?Natural Gas and the Future of Arab Cooperation?.

The study gives a historical hint on the beginnings of discovering and using the natural gas. It highlights its characteristics, usages, prices, the increasing demand for it worldwide as of 1973, and its economic, political and ecological impacts.

It also sheds light on the world consumption of natural gas at the present and in the future, its strategic reserves and current and future status in the Arab World concerning its reserves, production, problems and challenges facing its feasible usage.

It considers exporting natural gas to be not the best strategic option, rather it says that priority should be given to power generation, and establishing petrochemical industries based on Arab integration as a shield vis-?-vis the unfair international challenges. The study stresses the importance of the political will, the necessity for creating effective mechanisms of cooperation, and the consolidation of the Arab negotiating stance.

Expanding the usage of natural gas, increasing the potentiality of the Arab refineries, encouraging pan-Arab power grids, enacting economically motivating legislations, and the effective participation on the part of Arab private sector and civil society should also be a priority over the option of exporting the natural gas, the study says.

Finally, the study mentions the necessity of reforming this important natural resource, and using it in an optimum way that activates the Arab integration mechanisms required to protect the Arab interests in a world replete with economic blocs.

--------END QUOTE---------

Emphasis added.

The reference to "pan-Arab power grids" is probably an unintentional double entendre.

Can we talk?
The hopes and aspirations in this report are interesting and revealing. But the likelihood of Arab integration founded on reserving natural gas for trade within a given trading bloc are about as likely to bear fruit as The Arab League (see this recent post), or The League of Nations, or The United Nations. What will "activate integration mechanisms?" That's an interesting subject for another day, but the answer starts from a basic question; a universal (that is, Arab or not) question: What is in the national interest? Whatever we may wish to be true, Lord Palmerston's maxim cannot be ignored if you seek to build a coalition of the willing.

We have no eternal allies
and we have no perpetual enemies.
Our interests are perpetual and eternal
and those interests it is our duty to follow.

Lord Palmerston,
British Foreign Secretary, 1848

Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can't help falling in love with you
Shall I say would it be a sin
'cause I can't help falling in love with you
Like the river flows
flowing to the sea
darling so it goes
some things were meant to be
Take my hand, take my whole life too
'cause I can't help falling in love with you
No, I can't help falling in love with you

Can't Help Falling In Love
George Weiss/Hugo Peretti/Luigi Creatore
Google Search: "proud to be an emirati":

The Economist En Su Laberinto may find this profound and encouraging. (Follow link.)

Similar results were found here.
UAE Yearbooks - UAEinteract

Required reading.

Can I have a witness? - The Eggcorn Database (bare)

My profound thought of the day: We should give thanks there is only one omniscient one. If all our thoughts were universally brought to bare, life would be too much to bear.
Protests erupt in Egypt: "Kefaya" - Gulf News


(EPA) Cairo: Hundreds of Egyptians ralled [sic] in Cairo yesterday demanding the departure of President Hosni Mubarak. Protesters heeded the call of the Kefaya movement in Cairo and the northern cities of Alexandria and Mansura, in the largest popular action against the 76-year-old ruler to date.

Security forces were deployed in thousands to thwart what some commentators have suggested could one day lead to Egypt's own velvet revolution.


See also the ObviousNews item on the protest, the similar one attempted in Alexandria, and the "counter" protest in Alexandria.


Heh. Both versions of the inadvertent double posting below will be left up as an object lesson.
Performance Problems on Google's Blogger Service - SearchEngineWatch: "...this InfoWorld article: Google's Blogger faces performance problems quotes an item on Blogger's Buzz Blog that the main issue is electrical power. 'Performance is a huge priority for us and we're adding a bunch of new machines right now to speed things up,' Stone wrote. 'New machines are not an issue because here at Google we can add them quite smoothly as needed. The real issue is power -- actual electricity, if you can believe it. So now we're adding more power in addition to more machines.' Google's electrical power issues have been mentioned in the past. "

Indeed. Thinking that the service problems of recent days were behind me, I went to post this without backing up my work on my PC. I lost my work. I'm saving this one "just" to be on the safe side.

UPDATE: Internal (?whose internals?) error on the second attempt! Glad I saved my work.
Performance Problems on Google's Blogger Service - SearchEngineWatch: "...this InfoWorld article: Google's Blogger faces performance problems quotes an item on Blogger's Buzz Blog that the main issue is electrical power. 'Performance is a huge priority for us and we're adding a bunch of new machines right now to speed things up,' Stone wrote. 'New machines are not an issue because here at Google we can add them quite smoothly as needed. The real issue is power -- actual electricity, if you can believe it. So now we're adding more power in addition to more machines.' Google's electrical power issues have been mentioned in the past. "

Indeed. Thinking that the service problems of recent days were behind me, I went to post this without backing up my work on my PC. I lost my work. I'm saving this one "just" to be on the safe side.
Mohammed issues decree for forming public housing committee - Dubai Interact: " The committee will have the jurisdiction to investigate all issues pertaining to housing and granting of lands and public houses to UAE nationals, and to propose the appropriate solutions to obstacles obstructing allocation of properties to nationals. "

Will it be as successful as U.S. post modern public housing?

Women as Global Leaders Conference: Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Weston Town Crier

During my high school spring break, I went with my mother to the Women as Global Leaders Conference held by Zayed University, a girls' college, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. I was somewhat nervous being the youngest of the 700 delegates from over 40 different countries. But age did not make a difference, I discovered once I arrived. I found it relatively easy to speak to a Nigerian woman whose daughter started a nonprofit organization in Nigeria, a California woman looking for a new job abroad, an Italian woman living in Abu Dhabi teaching at the university, a Moroccan woman who is a noted filmmaker, or a Harvard student in a PhD program presenting complex ideas at the conference. Of course, it was fun to watch their eyes enlarge as they smiled while simultaneously choking on pomegranate juice and a croissant when I revealed my real age.

The conference was held in a beautiful ancient trade city type resort right on the water of the Persian Gulf, beside the Barj al-Arab. Palm trees, traditional Islamic star-tessellations in lanterns and doorways, bridges, fountains, flowering vines and ocean water wound their way around this mini-village resort.

Among the speakers were the former prime ministers of Canada and Norway (both women) and Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President Al Gore. First to speak at the opening ceremony was his Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, minister of education for the country, and the president of Zayed University. Upon entrance of the Sheikh, everybody stood up, and his entourage of about 10 to 15 photographers and cameramen, as well as two companions, entered the room amidst everybody's clapping. I actually had the chance to talk with him at dinner and shake his hand; he was very eager to meet and talk to all of the delegates. He also attended my mother's presentation at the conference and asked her questions about her research.


The author, Alexandra Rahman, is a freshman at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

For my more jaded take on the conference see my post here.
Canadians are nice...

...They have to be.

I was just telling (literally, in the flesh world) The Economist En Su Laberinto that yesterday in connection with his posting Proud to be an American. His thesis:

I always have troubles understanding the real meaning of sentences like this..."Proud to be an American" , "Proud to Be a Bolivian" or "Proud to be an Iranian"?...what are we really saying? One can be proud of winning a tennis tournament or proud to have a kid that behaves well and does well in school. In general, one can be proud of having achieved or accomplished something in life. The dictionary defines proud as "feeling self-respect or pleasure in something by which you measure yourself worth." A necessary condition to be proud, therefore, is to have control over the outcome of some enterprise or venture you pursue in life.

Forrest Gump, in this sense, cannot feel proud of having achieved so many things in his life. They all came randomly to him. He was just lucky.

[Moreover,] Patriotism can have severe pervasive implications when [it] places nations before individuals.

Sequentially (but not with a casual link) in the serendipity that is the cyberworld, EclecticEconomist has posted on the subject of Canadian WMD's. His thesis:

My proposal is that Canada should develop a nuclear weapons programme. The U.S. has shown with both Iran and North Korea, especially when pressured by other gubmnts, that it is willing to try to buy off the gubmnts of other countries that appear to be well along the way toward development of nuclear weapons. For this strategy to work, the Canadian gubmnt would have to get the project well underway, lest the U.S. treat us like Iraq.

The Canadianne spelling of program is a nice touch. One must do everything one can to protect one's cultural identity, starting with bi-lingual cereal boxes and the name of one's post office (Post Canada).

If you read Spanish you may find it interesting to check out the webpage of the first commenter on The Economist En Su Laberinto's post.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Arab League is long past its use-by date - Gulf News: Opinion

I have a package of Sun-Maid (R) California Sun-dried Calimyrna Figs which states "FRESHER IF USED BY NOV 09 1997." Although I'm not sure what is gained by the specificity of the 09, I was reminded of those figs when I read this piece by Amir Taheri. Excerpts:

"I am a philosopher," the Libyan dictator announced. "And I shouldn't be here among all of you. But now that I am here, I have to call on you to wake up to the emerging realities of a new world."
"You are all corrupt," Gaddafi told his fellow-Arab leaders. "You are all opposed to reform. Your system of education is designed to produce a million Bin Ladens".

Gaddafi also called for the disbanding of the United Nations' Security Council, which he branded "the Fear Council", and the transfer of its powers to the General Assembly. Unsure about how to respond to Gaddafi's hour-long diatribe most Arab leaders decided to remain silent. The only reaction came from Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak who called on the Libyan leader to pay his country's membership dues to the Arab League.

"Next time you come to lecture us make sure you have paid your fees," Mubarak said, earning a few chuckles from the Arab chiefs present.
The bizarre nature of the decision was instantly pointed out by both Lebanon and Syria, the two countries most concerned. They wondered how three countries far removed from the Levant and its complex problems would have anything worthwhile to say on the issue. The paralysis of Arab political thought at the highest level was also demonstrated when the summit dealt with the issue of terrorism.

It was clear that almost all the participants recognised terrorism as the number one problem their nations face today. But none were able to abandon the fiction that terrorism could be divided into "good" and "evil". As a result the summit came out with the worn-out cliché about the admissibility of terrorism in the name of "legitimate resistance".

The problem is that all the terrorists fighting against Arab regimes from the Gulf to North Africa claim that they represent legitimate "resistance movements".
The Algiers Summit, however, shows that the Arab League may be beyond reform. It is difficult to see how emerging Arab democracies like Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, and several Gulf states can coordinate their policies with despotic ones like Tunisia, Syria and Sudan.

One idea making the rounds these days is for the Arab states that have chosen the democratic path to form a club of their own alongside the Arab League and as a means of supporting each other in introducing further reform.

Amir Taheri, Iranian author and journalist, is based in Europe.

Remember, of course, that Iranians are not Arabs.

'Bidnal Hakika, Is'alol Shakika' - Naharnet: "Thousands of women from all Lebanese confessions have staged a demonstration at slain ex-premier Hariri's graveside."

Via Publius Pundit's roundup on the wave of bombings in Lebanon, and the public's response.

Want to do something for Lebanon? Take a vacation there. It's a great place to visit.
TV-B-Gone - - Glenn and the ChicagoBoyz debate the reassignment of property rights, and efficiency consequences. Or is it about ethics? No, Glenn, I think it's about efficiency and assignment of property rights.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

International Conference on Palestine Refugees (Paris, April 2000) - Report (27 April 2000)

As I was walking to work this morning I picked up a scrap of paper. On it written in pencil was this statement:

For all Palestinians the Right of Return is sacred. This is built in their psyche. It moved an astonished Israeli writer to note: "Every people in the world lives in a place, except the Palestinians. The place lives in them."
I googled the phrase. It went to one link, which is given above.
Buzz in Western media recently over the pictures of attractive young women at the forefront of opposition demonstrations - Gulf News: Opinion

Mohammad Al Khalil is a lecturer, Arabic Studies, Zayed University, Dubai. He writes in today's Gulf News,

There has been a buzz in Western media recently over the pictures of attractive young women at the forefront of opposition demonstrations in Lebanon.
But how will the pronounced appearance of sexy and politically active Westernised young women be received in the wider context of the Arab world?
However pleasing such scenes might seem to observers in the West, who might interpret them as the signs of the "people power" of liberal and emancipated strata across the Arab world it is more probable that the new image being projected would play right into the hands of the opposing conservative loyalists.

The heavily-Westernised mix-gender scenes of activists out demonstrating, sometimes in very close quarters like the back of a pickup truck, may not sit well with Arab time-honoured tradition of the separation of the sexes.
So it doesn't help the opposition camp, in the larger Lebanese and Arab context, that the majority of their slogans and signs are written in English, even though this is convenient for Western observers.

Just contrast this with the demonstrations called for by Hezbollah where the majority of signs were in Arabic and the women were separated from the men.

Granted, such practice is not "cool"! But Hezbollah is not only flexing its muscles for the benefit of foreign observers, it is also addressing itself to the larger Arab constituency who will not miss the meaning of signs like "This is Lebanon, not Ukraine" written in Arabic.

He writes of the "increasingly conservative Arab population." But is it increasingly conservative? Some parts of the population may be driven towards increasing conservatism in reaction to societal changes. What is true is that the pictures that are fascinating the West are (1) showing a slice of life in the Arab world that many in the West didn't know existed, but (2) that slice is no more representative of the large whole than are Arab stereotypes of the West based on slices of American life.

UPDATE: Welcome PubliusPundit readers. My post on the Bahrain protests may relate to your specific interest in following PubPun's link here. Click on the Emirates Economist header above to go to my mainpage where you'll get my slant on real life in the UAE, or at least the slice of it that I experience.


Islamic banking reaches the UK - The Independent

Esther Shaw reports. Her exposition is to be admired.

UK financial institutions creating Islamic products

Over the past four weeks, Lloyds TSB has launched both a current account and mortgage that comply with Sharia law. The account pays no interest and charges no interest because there is no overdraft on offer. With the mortgage - a five-month pilot project in five branches in London, Birmingham and Luton - the bank buys the home for the customer, who in turn pays for it with a fixed monthly sum plus rent.

Other deals include a Bristol & West mortgage in a tie-up with the Arab Banking Corporation, launched last May, and a pension fund available from HSBC's Amanah finance division. This tracks an index of the top 100 companies engaged in Sharia-compliant activities - avoiding shares in areas such as conventional finance (including Western banks), tobacco, pornography and gambling.

And the Islamic Bank of Britain opened its first branch in London last year and now offers a current and savings account as well as a personal loan that makes an arrangement charge instead of piling up interest.

UK regulators leveling the playing field

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has been busy too. His recent Budget brought tax on Islamic financial products into line with their conventional Western counterparts by scaling down the number of different tax charges. In 2003, in an effort to create a more level playing field for all customers, he also abolished "double stamp duty" for Muslims who were either buying or selling a property. Before, under Islamic financial schemes, they had to pay the tax twice both at the time of purchase and again when they came to sell up.
Complex or just different? (Or, more provocatively, economically equivalent?)

Trying to operate Islamic banking in the UK is a difficult task for providers, which have to comply with both Sharia law and the UK's regulatory requirements for the financial services industry.

One of the problems has been the complexity and extra cost of specialist products that require UK banks to take steps to avoid earning interest. To tackle this issue, Lloyds TSB's new mortgage uses a finance deal called Ijara which operates using Diminishing Musharaka - joint ownership by the lender and the customer. The bank must first buy the property outright and can contribute up to 90 per cent of the overall purchase price. The customer then gives the outstanding amount upfront to the bank - at least 10 per cent - and repays the balance over an agreed term together with a rental payment.

This reminds me of the U.S. regulations that require lenders to disclose to borrowers what the simple sum of their payments ("total of payments") will be over the life of the loan. (The point of the regulation is help naive borrowers understand what it means to pay back a loan with interest.) The simple sum is greater than the present value which is the size of the loan. With the Ijara described above the simple sum is also greater than the size of the loan, yet it is said there is no interest.

Return on savings accounts
The problem of interest earned on money is particularly complex for savings products. The Islamic Bank of Britain offers savings accounts run on a principle known as Modaraba, where a profit-sharing agreement is struck between the bank and the customer. Rather than earn interest on their deposits, savers rely on the bank to use their funds to trade in Sharia-compliant investments and then share out the profits.
Is it unquestioning reliance? What is the extent of the saver's responsibility to ensure that the bank is investing as promised?

(Bold added. Thanks to The Eclectic Econoclast for the pointer.)
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life - Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The EmEco-wife says this book reminds her of the EmEco blog. I see her point.

Economics Roundtable explained to me that that's one reason I'm not among its sampled commentators. I cat-blogged once; which was once too many times. Fair enough.
Oh those wacky economists: Atlanta Journal Constitution: "It appears that the teaching of economics is becoming illegal on the campuses of America."

Relatedly (I like that word, if it is one), The Econoclast recalls a convention where the question was asked (by the bellhop), what do you guys do anyway? The University of Western Ontario Economics Department had quite a reputation when I happened to be there. In more ways than one.
What would Shakespeare say?

As related by a friend with associates in Qatar: The director of the theater was among those who died in the recent bombing. The director had previously lived in Sri Lanka and made a humanitarian trip there immediately after the December tsunami.

More evidence that life is not fair.

The book of life is silent
No turning back
Only the good die young
All the evil seems to live forever
***************Iron Maiden*****************
Noncitizen's access to public education - Arab News: "Instead of viewing education as a right for everyone who lives legally in the country, the ministry bases its stand on diplomatic considerations. We have lost a great deal by turning our universities into Saudi-only institutions. Universities should serve as places where people of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds come together, interact and learn from each other. Turning our schools into Saudi-only institutions means future generations will be denied the opportunity to interact with others."

I am reminded that in my own country children of illegal aliens have the right to public education. I remind myself that I have always found this bizarre. Why should we expect Saudi Arabia to be any different? Well, to start with, we are talking about legal aliens, not illegal aliens.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Saudi Human Rights Group Probes Maid Torture Case - Arab News: "She said the society is not dealing with the case as an individual (personal) case but that it is an issue that concerns and affects the entire community. The society's tenets hold that no person, native or foreign, should be subjected to torture whatsoever."


UAE call for ___ (the d word) - Gulf News

Hence, the council is required to draw up a national programme on reforming the political sphere. The programme should be based on public participation through a parliament that represents the people. This parliament must represent the hopes and aspirations of the people by establishing collective responsibility.

It should also curb the domination of local authorities of the country's federal authority. This is because weakening federal institutions will cause severe harm and lead to adverse results that will take the country back to the doorstep of isolation and division. The domination will also cause an imbalance in the distribution of services and the principle of equality, which will translate into unequal opportunities. Here, it must be understood that the strengthening of the federal authority is for the benefit of everyone.

Dr Khalifa Bakhit Al Falasi is a UAE intellectual and former ambassador to Australia.

As it happens, I've been doing some thinking about Madison, Hamilton, the Commerce Clause, and the UAE.
200 lashes for beard comment - Gulf News: " 'King Saud University used to be the centre of enlightenment in Saudi Arabia,' Al Mozainy said. Female students, now strictly segregated even from male teachers, faced fewer barriers and the university hosted social events, music and film, he said. 'I wrote that something happened to the university in the last 20 years with the Muslim Brotherhood coming into the kingdom,' he added, referring to an influx of Islamists to Saudi Arabia in the 1960s and 1970s."


Annan's embarrassment - Khaleej Times Online

If I was Annan I'd be embarassed. In contrast, he appears to be beyond embarassment.
UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan faces more embarrassment on Tuesday when a new report on the Iraq oil-for-food program takes aim at his son Kojo’s business dealings. The enquiry headed by former US banking chief Paul Volcker will fault Annan for not recognising a conflict of interest in Kojo’s employment by a firm contracted by the program, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Annan and the United Nations have been increasingly mired in scandal over oil-for-food, the UN program that supervised oil sales by Saddam Hussein’s regime from 1996 to 2003 to allow Iraq to buy humanitarian supplies. Last month, the Volcker panel said the program’s director, Benon Sevan, steered Iraqi oil to an acquaintance in what it called a grave and unethical conflict of interest. The panel also cast doubt on Sevan’s claim that a series of large cash payments he had received were from his aunt.

The UN’s woes were compounded when it emerged Annan personally decided to pay Sevan’s legal fees out of a UN account with money left over from Iraqi oil sales.

Tuesday’s report will focus on Kojo Annan, a former employee of Cotecna - a Swiss firm that had a contract to certify the import of goods under the program. The Financial Times reported last week that Kojo had been paid at least 300,000 dollars by the firm, twice the amount previously admitted, and that his father met with Cotecna officials twice before the firm won the contract.
Shouldn't the U.N. set an example to corrupt governments? Yes, but remember: when you wish the U.N. would set an example, choose your words carefully.
IPO fever in UAE - Khaleej Times: " But share analysts are cautious about the schedule of the openings of these IPOs. 'There should be enough intervals in their flotations, and the Ministry of Economy, Securities and Exchange Commission (SCA) and the stock exchanges should devise a policy on it,' said Mohammed Ali Yasin, a share analyst. Otherwise, he warned: 'It can negatively impact the market because IPOs are likely to overlap and since many of these are multi-billion-dirham issues, they can cause serious liquidity problems'. Mohammed Ali Yasin feared that the IPO of Arabian Logistics Company could be the one reason for the current sluggishness in the stock index as it has sucked liquidity from the market, resulting in selling pressure during the last three trading days. "

Teenage runaways in Abu Dhabi - Khaleej Times

Very interesting and very healthy these facts are being aired in public, and uncomfortable questions are being asked. Some excerpts from the article:

A total of 129 teenage girls have reportedly gone missing in Abu Dhabi in three years, according to a recent study released by the Ministry of Interior....The phenomenon of disappearance of young girls is alarmingly increasing, the study warned, quoting official statistics. Among the 129 cases reported between 2001 and 2002, 28 girls were reported missing in 2000, 44 in 2001 and 57 in 2002. In 2002, more than 50 per cent of those reported missing were national teenage girls i.e. 29 cases out of 57....

The most alarming fact is that 40 per cent of those who disappeared in 2002 were girls aged between 15 and 18 years. Among these nationals represented 51.7 per cent. 'This could be attributed to disunion of families and family differences,' the study suggested.

'Running away of teenaged girls is of course not attributed to one single factor. It is a combination of many factors,' it added.

It said that based on the a random sample of study, the majority of those who disappeared come from families that suffer disunion as a result of divorce. This represented 35.2 per cent of the total cases. This is followed by polygamy (43.3 per cent), father's death (24.2 per cent), mother's death (32.4 per cent), marriage of father to a foreigner 54.6 per cent, disappearance of father for a long time (37.7 per cent).

These reasons, the study says, compel teen girls to go out in search for alternative better life that brings them freedom, feeling of self-dependence and convenience.

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Blow on Summers - Concord Monitor

Which comes out smelling better?
Acts of commerce and acts of charity - Cafe Hayek: "Why didn't the hunger-strikers demand that George Mason University or Catholic University extend charity to Georgetown University's janitors? Or why didn't these strikers demand that all merchants in Northwest DC extend charity to these janitors? Why didn't the strikers give their own money as charity to the janitors? (They're students, you say; so they don't have much extra cash. Well, they can take out loans to give charity today to the janitors and then work after graduation to repay these loans.) Or why didn't these hunger-striking students demand that Georgetown University increase its charitable contributions, not to its relatively well-off janitors, but to seriously poor people in sub-Saharan Africa?"

Thank you, Don Boudreaux, for getting to the nub of the question: "Why was the pre-strike janitorial wage as low as it was? Answer: because Georgetown University discovered that, at that wage, it got as many janitors as it needed, of sufficient quality, to perform the desired cleaning services. To pay more would have been an act of charity to the janitors and not a act of commerce."

I am reminded of the pilloring Nike receives for engaging in mutually beneficial transactions with it workers.
Democracy Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio: NYT: "Christian conservative leaders from scores of Ohio's fastest growing churches are mounting a campaign to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations, starting with the 2006 governor's race. In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year. "

Meanwhile, we read this David D. Newsome offers these thoughts: "Bush administration policymakers, who declare democracy and freedom to be the keys to peace and reform in the region, view the opportunity to vote and elect leaders as a path to improve these people's daily lives, release them from oppressive rule, and forward the achievement of goals - including religious goals - often denied by their rulers."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Force Them to Pay: Annals of "people respond to incentives" - Arab News (Ozak)

The colonel and all other traffic officials should realize that what would really reduce the accident rate would be measures that force motorists to cease their reckless driving and force them to respect the law. Drivers continue to violate the law because, when issued with tickets, they never pay the fines unless forced to. And then it is done only when they want to have paperwork done in a government office. Some wait years before paying the fine. Why should they rush to pay the fine as long as they can do it at their convenience and at a time of their own choosing? (emp. added)


In every other country in the world, a deadline is set for the payment of traffic fines. Motorists know very well that failure to pay on time is a further violation and that it, as well as the traffic violation, is punishable by law. Had we introduced a system that obliged drivers to pay their fines on time or face punishment, motorists who regularly run red lights, who speed and endanger others' lives would think twice before breaking the law.

Indeed. It's interesting that compared to U.S. students, students here are quicker to challenge textbook assumptions that laws are costly enforced.

The interesting political economy question is how did the present system of delay without penalty come to be, and why has it been allowed to continue? Is it incompetence?; why? Lack of will to enforce?; why? A way of keeping the voters happy? Compulsary if those left to enforce the law have to cowtow to the speeders who happen to be important people?

I should add: As a practical matter, enforcement of laws relies on the consent of the governed. If no one is paying fines where do you start?
Hidden cameras on Saudi maids reveals child abuse - Arab News


1. You get what you pay for. What did you pay?

2. Who is monitoring the employer's treatment of the maids?

3. How do Saudi children raised by foreign women turn out?

4. Are both parents working? Why is the maid watching the children to begin with? Having a maid watch your children is a choice. What would you have to give up to watch your own children?

5. If you've gone through 8 maids in a short time, you need to wonder "is it me?"


Tariff on export of scrap metal - Khaleej Times

And efforts to cheat on the tariff.

The purpose of the tariff is to keep down the cost of construction materials during the current building boom.
Dubai World Cup 05 - Gulf News

I spoke with these ladies:

Roses in May won $3.6 million last night:

Unlike my previous visit to the DWC in 02 I saw all the races last night. In 2002 we managed to spend all our time in Dubai Village, &c. My companions last night were more domesticating.
Muslim professor plans to keep teaching at VCU - Richmond Times Dispatch: "Despite concerns about her safety, the Virginia Commonwealth University professor who ignited an international firestorm and defied Islamic tradition by leading a prayer service attended by men and women says she will continue to teach at VCU. Amina Wadud, an associate professor of Islamic studies, was on campus yesterday but declined to be interviewed, other than to maintain that she has no intention of leaving the classroom. The soft-spoken Wadud, speaking barely above a whisper, said she was staying unless she was fired. The university seems to have no plans to do that. In fact, VCU President Eugene P. Trani sent a universitywide e-mail Thursday emphasizing 'that VCU respects the academic freedom and rights of free speech and religious expression of all our faculty and students.' "

Some people are inflamed. From the Chicago Tribune comes this story (reg. req.) with this quote: "Only a handful of protesters showed up outside the event, and they conducted a counter prayer service on the sidewalk, led by a young American man who would only give his name as Nussruh. 'These people do not represent Islam,' said the clearly furious Nussruh. 'If this was an Islamic state, this woman would be hanged, she would be killed, she would be diced into pieces.' "


1. Nussruh is not representative.
2. The U.S. is not the kind of state he has in mind.
3. Others have different opinions of what an Islamic state is.
Bahrain protest pictorial - Wefaq

Instapundit and Publius Pundit believe that the presence of women is an essential ingredient to successful revolution, to peaceful revolution. Where are the women of Bahrain?, they ask. I went to this pictorial at Al Wefaq (The Agreement) looking for answers. I came away with the same question.

But, Bahrain's Gulf Daily News story on the protests and the government's reaction does show women participated;
...segregated from their brothers it appears.

The protest in Bahrain looks more like these in Lebanon, than these in Lebanon. Is that merely a coincidence?



Publius Pundit provides a roundup of news stories on the large marchs for democratic reforms in Bahrain.


Clergy look forward to R&R - Richmond Times Dispatch

And so do organists. The EmiratesEcono wife (yes, we are a bicontinental couple) is on the case from...

...Orkney Springs.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The day that racists came to my town?

Ticket to nowhere? Posted by Hello
World Drug Report 04 - UNODC

Field of dreams Posted by Hello

Via Mahalanobis who provides ready access to UNODC's maps of the world showing drug use and trafficing.

Friday, March 25, 2005

World chess championship match to take place in Dubai in Jan - Interfax

January 2005. Didn't happen. And on March 11, Kasparov announced his retirement.
Nomadism just ain't what it is used to be in the good ole days.

Bride of Nomadism Furniture (Satwa, Dubai, UAE) Posted by Hello
Competition is good - Gulf News: "Private taxis operating between Abu Dhabi and Dubai have reduced their fares from Dh25 to Dh15 per person following the introduction of Emirates Express. The joint public transport venture by Dubai and Abu Dhabi Municipalities was launched on March 15 to provide luxurious but cheap public transport. The one-way fare between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is Dh15, the cheapest of all other modes of transport including sharing taxis. According to taxi drivers, they were forced to reduce fares to stay competitive with the bus service."

Those not living in the UAE may not understand why there is so much demand for intercity public transportation. Mostly the answer is that 80% of us are non-nationals and many of those have income so low they choose not to own a car.

And who are the taxi drivers? Expatriates [thanks to Acad for correction], most of whom pay an annual fee to their employer-sponsor, pay to run their taxi and keep all the revenue above these costs.

Taxi service is an interesting education in languages. Most drivers speak Urdu. When the passenger does not speak Urdu the communication, such as it is, between driver and passenger is in English (even if neither speaks English well). English is the common denominator. A friend once arranged for a taxi to come and drive him to the airport 3 hours ahead of time. The driver, "communicating" on his mobile phone with my friend for an hour never did find his apartment. Communication breakdown. And that was after numbers where put on the apartment buildings.

I recently called a cab. After he was on campus I phoned him on his mobile. Where are you I asked. "I am in parking." Yes, I said, but there are 16 parking lots; which one? "I am in parking, I see a building." Doloop 5X. I finally set out on foot to find him.


4X: Women died disproportionately in tsunami - Khaleej Times: "'The impact on the gender balance within the community seems to be so severe that the consequences are going to ripple right through the whole society for many years to come.' The report suggests the imbalance was because many men were working inland or fishing offshore when the waves hit, while the women were at home. It also said men were more likely than women to learn to swim and that men were more adept at climbing trees. The report was based on research carried out by Oxfam in local communities devastated by the tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. In Lam Isek village, west of Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, 182 of 964 residents survived, of whom 47 were female and 132 male. In another Acehnese village, Asonangro, only 30 of the 190 survivors were female. In Cuddalore, a town on India’s southeast coast, 391 women died compared with 146 men. And in Sri Lanka, camp surveys suggested a ”serious imbalance” in the number of men and women that survived, the Oxfam report said. It said aid agencies must be aware of the gender imbalance when planning disaster relief operations." (Emphasis added.)


85% of Oman's oil earmarked for China - The Washington Times: "unlike private Western oil companies who are beholden to shareholders and profit margins, Chinese state-owned oil-traders have been given the mandate to secure long-term energy relationships by offering hugely discounted rates, production-sharing arrangements and technical know-how. The fact that China has overpaid for recent ventures in Oman, Sudan and elsewhere is telling. Rather than investing in money-makers, China is buying footholds throughout the Middle East. These footholds are popping up everywhere. While China's relations with Saudia Arabia and Iran have received the most press, its dealings in countries such as Oman and Sudan are even more extraordinary. In Sudan, China is the single largest shareholder of an oil company consortium that dominates Sudan's oil industry and the chief investor in the country's largest pipeline. In Oman, a phenomenal 85 percent of the country's oil exports is currently earmarked for Beijing."

Emphasis added. (Link via

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UAW vs. The Marines - My Union: "The UAW responded to the change of policy in a statement: While the reservists certainly have the right to drive non-union made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union [U.S.] president since the 1920s, that doesn't mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW.' "
Price controls can be deadly - Future of Freedom Foundation
Dateline: December 12, 2003

Quoting: Who would ever dream that the economic fallacies to which U.S. officials subscribe could turn deadly? Yet that’s what recently happened in Baghdad, where an American GI was shot dead while guarding long lines of angry and disgruntled consumers at a gasoline station in Baghdad. Unquote.

[...For the rest of the story continue reading "Price Controls Can Be Deadly"]


Price controls can be funny - Gertzfile
Dateline: December 26, 2003

Quoting: Getting gasoline in Baghdad is a game of waiting and conniving. And once again, it's up to the American soldier to maintain order as thousands of Iraqis stand or sit in line at various pumps. A couple of anecdotes we received from the field.

•At one station this week, hundreds of Iraqis lined up for fuel in one of the gas shortage's worst days. Everyone carried some kind of container. A soldier observed one guy cutting in line and motioned for him to go to the back. The man retreated, only to re-emerge at another point and jump in front again. The soldier intercepted him and he walked away. When it happened a third time, in this instance in front of elderly people, the soldier took away his 5-gallon can and drove his bayonet through it several times. The crowd loved it.

[...For more funny anecdotes, continue reading "Tales from the Pump."]


March 25, 2005 - The Annunciation

Full Moon

Quote of the day:
God has no religion
– Muhatma Ghandi
Pictures from a revolution: Kyrgyzstan - Publius Pundit

Revolution - Tulip Chapter

Flower power. Image power. The feminine of the revolution against the cold hard masculine of the state. Contagion and communication (verbal and otherwise) power.

Publius's photo essay has the Pictures of A Revolution from the Tulip Chapter, the Cedar Chapter, and the Orange Chapter. The saga continues.

On Kyrgyzstan much more here.

Well I tell you that one day, man, better be your life, man. Because, you know, you can say, oh man, you can cry about the other 364, man, but you're gonna lose that one day, man, and that's all you've got. You gotta call that love, man. That's what it is, man. If you got it today you don't want it tomorrow, man, 'cause you don't need it, 'cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered in the train, tomorrow never happens, man. It's all the same .... day, man.
................--Janis Joplin, Ball&Chain, from side 4 of In Concert

Cover of Janis Joplin, In Concert

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Israel women trafficking soars - BBC: "Between 3,000 and 5,000 women have been smuggled into Israel in the past four years to work as prostitutes, according to a parliamentary inquiry. The report described how the women are sold at public auctions for as much as $10,000 and forced to work up to 18 hours a day. On average the women receive only three percent of the money they earn from prostitution, the report said."

What is the cause?
Bad Boys TV - BBC: "The televised confessions, on a programme called 'Terror in the Hands of Justice', are shown at prime time every night, and are clearly aimed at shocking the Iraqi public. They portray the insurgents as bloodthirsty, venal, morally deviant, and religiously bankrupt. The broadcasts also include interviews with some of the Iraqi victims of the insurgency. 'They fired at the door seven times,' sobs one man. 'Then they shot my little daughter in the hand.' For many ordinary Iraqis, accustomed for three decades to the ways of the old regime, such televised confessions - a local form of reality TV - are normal, and they find them compulsive viewing. Few seem to doubt their authenticity. But the practice of parading prisoners making confessions obtained in questionable circumstances is way out of line with international standards of justice."
Females leading prayer

"This is not acceptable, this is not possible. Is there a new Holy Quran? Are you not happy with the old Holy Quran?" (Muammar Gaddafi)

He was speaking of this:
A professor in the US is thought to have become one of the first Muslim women to lead mixed Friday prayers

Contrast with:

One of the objection to revivals and camp meetings was that women were allowed to pray with men....Cartwright (1856) reports that there were "fashionable objections to females praying in public.
(Source: The Churching of America, 1776-1990)

"Charges were often brought against the Methodists, because women took an active role in their prayer meetings and served as exhorters at camp meetings, as here" Posted by Hello
The Economics of Tang - OpinionJournal, Deidre McCloskey: "It's the balloon theory again, that confusion of 'continual motion' with desirable motion. It is not good in itself to be set to work on raising the Great Wall of China, inventing and improving the sciences and arts that have to do with great-wall making, instead of being allowed to get on with one's life and improve the sciences and arts by making universities and museums, houses and automobiles, for us all. It's what is known among economists as the 'Tang' fallacy, which is not about the Chinese dynasty but about the powdered orange drink of that name, which was asserted in its advertising to be a spin-off of the American space program. The fallacy is to think that we would not have gotten even more innovations if we had left the money in the hands of ordinary people instead of throwing it away on moon shots. 'Job creation' through this or that egregious public project--the Big Dig in Boston, the tunnel under 50 miles of 'The Heart of Holland'--is not the goodness of a market economy. After all, notably poor economies often have plenty of jobs. Unemployment was not the problem faced by the slaves in the silver mines of Attica."

Add publically funded football stadiums for privately owned teams to the litany above. And suggestions that hurricanes are good for the economy.

Heh. Broken windows on the moon.

It was said that in Strom Thurmond's declining years as the senior Senator from South Carolina he maintained his hair color with daily Tang dips.


Middle East CEO of the Year - Gulf News

"Dennis Ross, former Middle East envoy and director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policies, told Gulf News:"

"Dubai has become a service provider with an environment that limits regulation, and what you see in Dubai and the rest of the UAE as well is a very good model, because in the case of Dubai, they developed an economy that doesn't depend on oil."
"Dr Saad Al Barrak, director-general of MTC, told Gulf News:"

"Without competition [in Arab markets] and transparency, businesses will not develop to international standards. The Middle East doesn't have competition even in the relatively free economies, protectionism is high, so they are not mature and as advanced as their international counterparts."
Both could be right. Except I always wonder if the Dubai economy isn't pumped by oil revenues from some source, and what will happen if and when that source gets cut off.

The winners are:

Government CEP of the Year Award:
Qasim Sultan Al Banna, director-general [Dubai Municipality]
Saeed Mattar Bin Beleila, director [Naturalisation and Residency Administration, Dubai]

Industry CEP of the Year Award:
Mohammad Al Mady, vice-chairman and CEP [Saudi Basic Industries Corp, KSA]

Service Sector CEP of the Year Award:
Dr Khaled Al Sultan, director [King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, KSA]

Banking and Finance CEP of the Year Award:
Abdullah Bahamdan, chairman and managing director [The National Commercial Bank, KSA]

ICT CEP of the Year Award:
Dr Saad Al Barrak, director-general [MTC Group, Kuwait]

Young CEP of the Year Award:
Esam Yousif Janahi, CEP [Gulf Finance House, and chairman, Bahrain Financial Harbour, Bahrain]

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Dressing for the races - Gulf News: "Recalling the 1997 Dubai World Cup that saw rain ruin the season’s most anticipated event, and also leave its well-dressed spectators drenched, Emma Vague admits she had vowed that moment 'to ensure that I would always have something to put on if it turned chilly in an instant'."

Glad we cleared that up.

Emma Vague, but that doesn't mean I'm Vague.
Dubai spends $1,000,000,000 on U.S. apartments - Gulf News

21,000 of them. That's $47,619.05 per apartment. Plausible number. Less than 1 percent of all dwellings in the U.S. Plausible.
BLO 101. Prereq E-biz 113 or Junior standing - Catallaxis: "As for my $.02, I suspect that right now somebody is writing that article for HBR, emphasizing the strategic role of corporate weblogs..."
Counter counter Mubarak demonstrations - This is Cairo: "It was a surprise I must say: a COUNTER demonstration in Tahrir square today FOR Mubarak! They too have been watching the Lebanon demosntrations! The police state couldn't tolerate the Kifaya (enough) demonstrations any longer and knew that arresting the kifaya activists would only turn against them (they've been scandalised and humiliated enough because of Ayman Nour), so what do they do? They stage a PRO-MUBARAK demonstration with slogans and all ,'with our souls and our blood we would die for you Mubarak' and more significantly down with 'traitors' in reference to the anti-Mubarak movement."
For the choice makes you worse off files - Commentary Magazine, Ruth R. Wisse

Some folks want their old telephone monopoly back. Choosing carriers and long distance plans yada yada yada is such a hassle. Give me my old AT&T.

Ruth R. Wisse is on the trail of another such case:

As I said in that quote that caught your fancy, whether seen from the angle of career or motherhood, highly educated women face problems attributable to the very freedoms that gave them their options. Greater choices are bound to create greater unease, and sharper regrets over roads not taken. What feminism provides is a framework of grievance for the unease, and a politics to give it expression.
Or maybe we should call it a roadmap to grievance. Those looking for someone to blame for their dilemma have found in Larry Summers an easy target. But doesn't the blame lie with a higher authority?
A history of Arab summitry - Asia Times: "The reasons for so many absences vary, but a main point is that even the Arab leaders themselves have lost faith in their ability to change the terrible conditions of the Middle East, for which they are collectively responsible. (Dr Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst.)"

Don't get mad, get happy - NYT

What examples do we have from the Arab world? I've heard that girls in Iran started a trend of spraying their legs because the police did that to women how should too much skin. #1 below applies to me when I visit the on-campus Starbucks.

Quoting from one of the top 10 most emailed New York Times articles of the week:

  1. When Seth Shepsle goes to Starbucks, he orders a "medium" because "grande" - as the coffee company calls the size, the one between big and small - annoys him.
  2. Meg Daniel presses zero whenever she hears a computerized operator on the telephone so that she can talk to a real person. "Just because they want a computer to handle me doesn't mean I have to play along," she said.
  3. When subscription cards fall from magazines Andrew Kirk is reading, he stacks them in a pile at the corner of his desk. At the end of each month, he puts them in the mail but leaves them blank so that the advertiser is forced to pay the business reply postage without gaining a new subscriber.
  4. After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages. "You wouldn't believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh," said Mr. Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of arriving junk mail.
  5. To coexist with loud cellphone talkers, the Web offers hand-held jammers that, although illegal in the United States, can block all signals within a 45-foot radius.
  6. Mitch Altman, a 48-year old inventor living in San Francisco, said that in the last three months he has sold about 30,000 of his key-chain-size zappers called TV-B-Gone, which can be used discreetly to switch off televisions in public places.
  7. During the Solidarity movement in Poland, people expressed their disapproval of the government-run news media by taking a walk with their hats on backward at exactly 6 p.m. when the state news program started. When the government noticed the trend, it issued curfews, but people then put their televisions in their windows facing outward so that only the police walking the streets would see the broadcasts.
  8. Most people participate in this sort of behavior on some level, Professor Scott said, adding that his own habit was to write "England" rather than "United Kingdom" on letters he sends to his British friends. He described this as his way of disregarding British claims to Wales and Scotland.


Travail: Why doesn't Marie work? - Mahalanobis: "GDP per head in Europe [EU-15] is around 65% that of the United States and the main reason for this gap is the relatively low labour utilisation in European countries. In particular, Europeans work 13% less hours on average than Americans do. While the existence of the gap on hours worked per head is not disputed, there is some disagreement as how to explain it. Some argue that the gap reflects social norms according to which Europeans value leisure more than Americans do, while others put emphasis on the influence of the institutional framework, in particular the disincentive effect of taxes on labour. This paper indirectly contributes to this debate by analysing another aspect behind the relatively low labour utilisation in Europe, i.e. low participation rates. Concretely, it examines the determinants of women’s participation in Europe." (emphasis added)
Form matters: democracy and growth - New Economist: "A new paper by Torsten Persson from Stockholm University argues that it does. Forms of democracy, policy and economic development draws on cross-sectional as well as panel data, presenting new empirical results showing that the form of democracy has important consequences for the adoption of structural polices that promote long-run economic performance."
Diari de camp en el Golf Pèrsic - Cultureshock

Wish it was in English. Looks interesting.
Terrorism Betting Markets: Inquiring Minds Want To Know (Bryan Caplan) - Financial Rounds: "Bryan Caplan from EconLog reports on a very clever study by Robin Hanson from George Mason University, titled The Informed Press Favored the Policy Analysis Market. She analyzes media coverage of the Policy Analysis Market (the "terror futures" market), and finds that whether the article is generally positive or negative is significantly related to how informed the reporter is."

You know what? Economists can be extremely clever and helpful. Hanson provides us with another specific example of that generalization. (Brought to you by the Emirates Economist via EconLog via Financial Rounds.)

By the way: "She" is a "he." Go here to check out his informal persona (with pic). Evidently, there are now enough women in the profession that our Bayesian probability Prob(female ] name = Robin) is greater than 0.5. Presumably the assessment that the idea of the paper is brilliant has no effect on the probabilty "female."
Risky business? - Financial Rounds - "non-economists view markets as place where risks are taken, while economists view them as a place where risks can be laid off."

I wish someone would do something about all the great economist weblogs flooding the market. Don't any of us have any idea of how to collude or create barriers to entry? We need help from government to protect us from competition.
Why good economists make bad diplomats, politicians, university presidents... - Stumbling and Mumbling

As one of the commenters to Stumbling and Mumbling writes, "you pretty much nailed it."

And you've got to love this slightly off-topic comment:
Q: How can you tell you're with an extroverted economist?
A: He looks at YOUR shoes when he talks to you.
‘No stateless people in UAE’ - Khaleej Times

That headline raised my eybrows. 80% of UAE residents are noncitizens, people from other countries, or in a significant number of cases from no country - or at least their status is ambiguous and for them unsettling - not to make a pun. I'm thinking especially of groups such as Palestinian families, and the persons born here whose families have lived in the UAE for a generation or two - who think of the UAE as home, and who may not have established citizenship in their home country.

But the article is about illegal immigrants who are seeking Bedoin status, presumably to eventually claim UAE citizenship:

A senior official at the Ministry of Interior has said that there are no Bedon‘ or stateless people in the UAE. "There is no such a category here in this country. No one can claim that he or she is a bedon. Anyone must be knowing where he or she belongs to. Everyone knows to where his roots go,” Brigadier Hadhir Khalaf Al Muhairi, Director-General of Naturalisation and Residence General Directorate, told newsmen at his office on Tuesday.

Brig Muhairi was talking about the issue of illegal immigrants especially infiltrators who sneak into the country and after years claim they are bedon. "Nobody buys this. This is the age of technology and our systems, entry and exit points, as well as our records show whether a person is a UAE citizen or not," he said.
Concepts: bedon. Look here also.
Sharjah plans complete green cover - Khaleej Times

The focus of Sharjah Municipality is to make the emirate green and preserve the environment for the present and future generations, Engineer Ahmed Mohammed Fikri, Director General of the civic body said on Wednesday.
Is it just me, but for the UAE aren't the aims of "green" and "preserve" deeply contradictory? Note that green here means literally green. I'm not sure that it's been realized that green is not, in this case, environmentally friendly or prudent. Except in moderation.
Political economy of emirate to emirate transfers

The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven emirates. Abu Dhabi is the largest in area and possesses more than 90 percent of the oil and gas. Abu Dhabi transfers a considerable amount of its income to the governments and the ruling families of the other emirates most of which have little or no oil and gas. The ruling families use some of their transfers received for public purposes.

I suspect, too, that Abu Dhabi is the source of investments in major "private" projects in the other emirates. But this is not transparent. Nor is it clear whether these investments are really subsidies for projects that are unlikely to yield a good economic return.

The recent transfer of power in the UAE may have been facilitated by changes in the size of transfers from Abu Dhabi -- both emirate to emirate transfers, and "private" investment.

Is Abu Dhabi being subjected to hold-up by the other emirates?; Abu Dhabi seems to be willing to pay to keep the UAE federation together.

What would happen if Abu Dhabi made the transfers more transparent to the citizens of the UAE, and more of the Abu Dhabi transfers went directly to the citizens, bypassing the rulers of the individual emirates? Could it still keep the federation together and reduce transfers?

Can lessons learned from the Canadian, U.S., and EU experiences with federalism be applied?

Concepts: federalism, hold-up problem, opportunism.

Quote of the day: Oliver Williamson - ‘Opportunism is self interest seeking with guile often involving subtle forms of deceit, especially calculated efforts to mislead, distort, disguise, obfuscate, or otherwise confuse. This vastly complicates the problems of economic organisation. Plainly if it were not for opportunism all behaviour could be rule governed'. The Economic Institutions of Capitalism. (My emphasis.)

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Annals of the Coase Theorem at work - WCPO

Residents of Loveland discuss paying sexual predator to move away.

But where will he relocate? And did he move to Loveland in order to be paid to go away?

Concepts: Coase Theorem.
The Physics Pipeline - Inside Higher Ed

Physics is male-dominated

Physics is among the most male-dominated of disciplines. And while commentators bandy about many possible causes — discrimination, the lifestyle tradeoffs required by graduate school or the academic workplace, and, controversially, innate aptitude — the problem seems most directly attributable to female students abandoning physics in droves between high school and college.
The screening or self selection occurs before women get to college

“For better or worse,” Ivie adds, “by that time they’ve had 18-20 years of socialization already in the perception of our society that the physical sciences are ‘what guys do,’ and physics is the most fundamental of the physical sciences.” (Her report notes, by comparison, that women receive 46 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in astronomy.)
Exit rates after age 20 are the same for

From that point in the academic pipeline on, though, women do not seem to get driven out of physics in any significant way, the AIP report finds. For instance, in 2002-3 academic year, women earned 22 percent of physics bachelor’s degrees, and the following fall, they made up 21 percent of the entering class of physics graduate students nationally.

Similarly, Ivie suggests, women do not drop out of graduate school at higher rates than men do: In 2003, women earned 18 percent of physics Ph.D.’s, and seven years earlier, 17 percent of entering graduate students were women.

And 16 percent of assistant professors of physics are women, even though women earned only 12 percent of physics Ph.D.’s awarded from 1991 to 1997, when the middle 50 percent of assistant professors earned their Ph.D.’s. That means, Ivie says, that “women are more highly represented on physics faculties at the assistant professor level than we would expect.”
Unequal pay

Just because women are represented in physics at the rates that one would expect, Ivie says, “doesn’t mean that they haven’t suffered from discrimination in other ways.” She notes, for example, that “even when working in the same employment sector with the same years of experience, women in physics and related fields on average earn less than men.”
It might be discrimination. But it might not, even with the controls mentioned (sector and experience). And what the implications for policy are.

All of this is good information. I wonder if the same sort of results would be found in economics. I bet so.
Caravan Saray: "Islamic revelation has emphasized the importance of residents to help those who are traveling through the lands looking for Allah’s bounty. Because of this Ottoman sultans established trading posts for caravans traveling in their lands that came to be known as caravan sarays . These caravan sarays were established through waqfs and offered traders free lodging and other valuable services to help them in their travels. It often included within its walls a masjid in order that merchants remain focused on their spiritual being while involved in the world. It is in this spirit we have established Caravan Saray as a home for those taking a journey to their Creator. Caravan Saray is a company specializing in the import, distribution and retail of the finest Islamic goods from around the Muslim world. Its directive is to offer the Muslim community in the West a complete range of Islamic products based on our great tradition."

Impressive presentation and selection. Pay them a visit. Even if you're not part of "the Muslim community in the West." You may find yourself making some marginal changes to your spending plans.

Afterall, people make the most of their limited resources.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene - NYT: "The discovery also raises interesting biological questions - including whether it gets in the way of evolution, which depends on mutations changing an organism rather than being put right by a backup system."

It happens in biology. Can it economics? Doubt it. That's a shame, but that's the way it is.
Has the NBA become color blind? - NYT

The men coaching N.B.A. teams in recent seasons have looked like no other group of head coaches in the history of major American professional sports. Today, 10 of the league's 30 coaches are black, ranging from young former players like Terry Porter in Milwaukee to veterans of multiple coaching jobs like Bernie Bickerstaff in Charlotte. At a time when the National Football League can count only 10 black head coaches in its history, the National Basketball Association has reached a position rare for any business: when a black coach or executive is hired or fired, almost nobody mentions race. Opportunity in the N.B.A. appears to have become color blind.
In the N.F.L., where a majority of players are also black, 3 of the 10 black men who became head coaches have been hired since 2002, when two outside lawyers and an economist released a report showing that black coaches had a better won-loss record, on average, when fired than white coaches did. The league later instituted a rule requiring teams looking for a head coach to interview at least one minority candidate or face a fine.

Over the last decade, black N.B.A. coaches have lasted an average of just 1.6 seasons, compared with 2.4 seasons for white coaches, according to a review of coaching records by The New York Times. That means the typical white coach lasts almost 50 percent longer and has most of an extra season to prove himself.
The competition argument

Some, including Commissioner David Stern, said the numbers surprised them and called them largely a coincidence. Doc Rivers, the coach of the Boston Celtics, who is black, said he thought that owners and general managers now gave white and black coaches equal chances to succeed. The league, some people said, is simply too competitive for race to affect executives.

The pattern holds in almost any important category of coaches. Winning black coaches have been replaced sooner than winning white coaches on average, and experienced black coaches have served shorter tenures than experienced white coaches. The same is true among losing coaches, among rookie coaches and among coaches who played in the N.B.A. and those who did not.
Unexplained gap

But researchers - whether they study sports or the job market - said the pattern in the N.B.A. matched that of many businesses. Across the economy, black workers have shorter job tenures on average than white workers. Some of the difference reflects the jobs blacks hold and the experience they bring. But some of the gap has no clear explanation.
Reason for silence

A number of other coaches, current and former, declined to comment. Agents and team spokesmen said that coaches had little to gain by discussing a controversial topic that made some team executives uncomfortable.
Katz speaks

Lawrence F. Katz, an economics professor at Harvard, said that past discrimination could be contributing to the difference in coaching tenures. With more opportunities to coach in the past, white coaches could bring better résumés to a job vacancy and might be able to negotiate longer, richer contracts, making owners less willing to fire them. "You would think that would erode over time," Katz said. "But 'over time' can take a real long time."
The "is it the coach or the team uncertainty"
A losing record combined with faint doubts about a coach's work ethic or leadership ability can lead to a quick pink slip, they said. "You still fight the myths and stereotypes," said Wayne Embry, a senior adviser to the Toronto Raptors, who in 1971, with the Bucks, became the first black general manager in a major sports league. "I hate even talking about all these things, but that's where it is."
For black coaches, you have to be a Jesus miracle worker," said Butch Beard, who was fired after two disappointing years with the Nets in the mid-1990's and is now the head coach at Morgan State. "With a bad team, ownership wants you to do more than what the team is capable of doing. If you don't pull it off right away, they think it is the coach's fault."
Unexplained: Why is this uncertainty larger for blacks? Because of white owner prejudice?