Monday, January 25, 2010

HBD Denialism kills: Part 2

But there's hope. David Brooks in his column on the underlying tragedy of Haiti.

The simple fact is that the tragedy in Haiti is a tragedy of poverty. It’s a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services.

So, if the 50,000 dead in Haiti is due to Haiti's poverty, what causes Haiti's poverty?

The first hard truths are universally known but rarely acknowledged among economists:
- the countries that have not received much aid, like China, have seen tremendous growth and tremendous poverty reductions. The countries that have received aid, like Haiti, have not.
- There are no policy levers that consistently correlate to increased growth. There is nearly zero correlation between how a developing economy does one decade and how it does the next. There is no consistently proven way to reduce corruption. Even improving governing institutions doesn’t seem to produce the expected results.
-By some estimates, Haiti has more nongovernmental organizations per capita than any other place on earth. They are doing the Lord’s work, especially these days, but even a blizzard of these efforts does not seem to add up to comprehensive change.

This is Brook's explanation:

Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.

So this is why Haiti is poor, in comparison with Barbados and the Dominican Republic, which have had similar cultural influences.

But there are two serious problems with his piece. He points to "intrusive paternalism" as a potential way to salvage the people of Haiti, pointing to the Harlem CHildren's Zone. But what's the reality?

As Steve Sailer blogged last year about the Harlem miracle, he made a key point:

there's no control group of white students in this study. Nobody bothered to check to see how much white students' scores would go up if a huge amount of money was given to a well-known superstar educator

It's the same situation as the Head Start Program

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, authors of Freakonomics, conclude that Head Start participation has no lasting effect on test scores in the early years of school, based on regression analysis of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study

So if we give up on paternalism, David Brooks has a quote hidden in his column earlier by the economist Abhijit Banerjee It is not clear to us that the best way to get growth is to do growth policy of any form. Perhaps making growth happen is ultimately beyond our control

The scary thing is that alot of economists are throwing their hands up in the air and giving up. But to do that is to continue to condemn the millions of children who will die this year because of preventable causes. And that's simply not something we should accept.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

HBD denialism kills

I'm not going to lie to you and say I feel truly saddened and emotionally upset with what happened in Haiti.


Maybe I am a little to unemotional, but to a utilitarian, every person's life is important, every needless death a tragedy. Regardless of whether it's a single incident or spread out over the course of a day .

I think the website has a key quote which we should look at:

The continuation of this suffering and loss of life contravenes the natural human instinct to help in times of disaster. Imagine the horror of the world if a major earthquake were to occur and people stood by and watched without assisting the survivors! Yet every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death."

Does anyone see the irony in this? 50,000 Haitians are dead as a result of this earthquake. It's a tragedy, sure. But this tragedy happens literally every day.

So I was again dismayed by the predictable response to such an event.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What century are we living in?

I have trouble believing that in the age of the apple tablet we have access to all the recent published books and all the information of the world available over a wireless internet signal,

but in this same world we have child sacrifice.

Do people who are protesting democracy and free speech and open markets in Afghanistan have any clue as to how backwards a good chunk of the world is?

Do the invite the world invade the world cohort realize that most of the world still has not internalized the values that western nations have cherished for the last 100 years?

Is the human race any better than animals?

Monday, January 4, 2010

IQ reality and terrorism

So when the HBD-friendly community talks about Islam and terrorism, they make the obvious connections: Islam is a backward, violent religion. I don't deny it. I know that from Paris, New York, and London, to Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia, all the way to Southern Thailand/Phillipines, and Bali, Islam's borders have been violent, and we can point to the Koran and ant secular attitudes of the religion to blame.

But in the course of discussing the < a href=""> recent Christmas terror plot, we've been missing out the role of IQ.

One, is the role of IQ in Yemen becoming a terror haven. Well, let's see:

This Slate article tries to get at it, and they largely succeed. Yemen is poor because of civil war, corruption, and economic mismanagement. And of course low oil reserves.

But they also ask a question:
Lebanon, for example, generates six times as much wealth with no oil at all. How did Yemen get so poor?

Hmmm, just look at the Lebanese diaspora. Lebanese dominate tons of businesses in Africa with a tiny population. The world's richest man at one point was of Lebanese descent, a first generation immigrant in Mexico.

But anyway, does anyone ask WHY Lebanon is so corrupt and mismanaged? Well, let's look at a basic indicator: Average IQ and corruption index!

Top 5 least corrupt countries and their and their average IQ :

1 New Zealand 100
2 Denmark 98
3 Singapore 103
3 Sweden 101
5 Switzerland 101

And the bottom 5:

176 Iraq 87
176 Sudan 72
178 Myanmar 87
179 Afghanistan 84
180 Somalia 68

I'm shock and appalled. Yawn.

This should make us think long and hard about our overseas. post up. Shouldn't the failure of our previous policies in Afghanistan and Iraq make us think a little harder about imagining utopia in other countries?

We are all not the same.

Anyway, I've been profiled before. You learn to deal with it.