Geography, Institutions, State, and Technology: A New Endogenous Approach to Economics

By Deepanshu Mohan (@prats1810), O.P. Jindal Global University

In a recent article published via Mint, the author, Arun Maira, argued for a “new economics” that does away with the economic models of yesteryears designed to cater different expectations in economies facing different stages of development. Economists like Barry Eichengreen, Dani Rodrik, Ha Joon Chang and others have often argued along these lines over the last few years while deliberating on new approaches to growth and development economics.

The old neo-liberal approach to growth has often confused the attainment of economic prosperity with greater economic openness through increased trade and investment per se, contributing to higher growth and per capita income, making everyone “better off.” The focus on making everyone “better off” in an economy thus rests more on increasing productivity levels across all lines of production in a developing economy through greater capital accumulation (by domestic of foreign induced investment). This uniform model prescription has most often been proposed by all international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, etc.) to all late developing economies since the times of the Washington Consensus (of the late 1980s). Continue reading

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Could public safety survive a one-sided gun lobbying for terrorism?

By Carole Audrey Nyemeck (@carolenyemeck)

Cross-post from The Journal of Policy Innovations

Originally posted February 5, 2016.

In the 1700s, Adam Smith made the point that unlike what we might think, letting rich people become richer may have unintended social benefits for the whole society. He illustrated this point with a selfish landlord who, because his sole stomach cannot consume his huge harvest, finds himself unwillingly sharing it with his servants so much that, at the end, nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life are made between the rich and the poor. He further made the point that once the government has administered public works, he should no longer intervene in the market, but rather let people trade freely—and as a result, the economy  will automatically find an equilibrium. He called this whole concept ‘the invisible hand’. Adam Smith was then laying the foundations for an economic theory advocating free competition and a self-regulating market—what we know today as ‘liberalism’. One of the resulting practices of liberalism seems to be the eclosion of lobbies in the public and private spheres.

A lobby can be referred to as a group of people who support some cause, business, principle or sectional interest, and who try actively to influence legislation with regard to that matter. While lobbying is neither fundamentally positive nor negative, there is a type of it where the self-interests of the more powerful country, company, community, or individual preside over the common good of society. I refer to that kind of lobbying as one-sided. Indeed, most oftentimes, one-sided lobbying is achieved through dominance positions (use of money and/or power to win favors) that precondition agreements between constituencies. However, its externalities are not always good for society. Continue reading

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Where Computers and Classrooms Meet – Policy Successes and Struggles in South Korean Education Reform

 

 

By Charleen Chiong (@CNCharleen), University of Cambridge

The tides are turning in classrooms in South Korea. In the 1960s, a wave of industrialization swept the young republic, causing rapid economic and educational growth. The roots of Confucian philosophy remain: the community places a high premium on education, and the system is rigid and hierarchical, known for its high-stakes examinations and infamous hagwon (cram schools), as well as its high PISA ranking[1] and students’ extraordinarily strong work ethic. Incidentally, South Korea is also known for its low ranking of student interest in subjects[2] and high youth suicide rate. Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family reported that suicide was the biggest cause of death among people aged 15-24 in 2011. Career and academic performance concerns were reportedly the most common reasons youths commit suicide.

However, there is evidence that South Korea is remodeling their system to begin seeking students’ holistic development. The Ministry of Education has emphasized that their primary goal is to work with stakeholders to provide education aimed at “happiness” and “[nurturing] dreams and talents.” The future of learning, as portrayed by the Ministry of Education, is one of creativity, collaboration and celebration of individual talent. Continue reading

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On the Harvard Dataverse Network Project – an open-source tool for data sharing

dataverseBy Samuel Moore (@samoore_), King’s College London

Cross-post from LSE

Originally published December 31, 2013.

The Harvard Dataverse Network is an open-source platform that facilitates data sharing.Samuel Moore outlines how this customisable initiative might be adopted by journals, disciplines and individuals.

I am a huge fan of grass-roots approaches to scholarly openness. Successful community-led initiatives tend to speak directly to that community’s need and can grow by attracting interest from members on the fringes (just look at the success of the arXiv, for example). But these kinds of projects tend to be smaller scale and can be difficult to sustain, especially without any institutional backing or technical support.

This is why the Harvard Dataverse Network is so great: it facilitates research data sharing through a sustainable, scalable, open-source platform maintained by the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard. This means it is sustainable through institutional backing, but also empowers individual communities to play a p
art in managing their own research data, especially when coupled with longer-term preservation initiatives. Continue reading

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A Paradigm Shift in Human Services Delivery in the United States: A Change in Approach From the Government to the Governance Model

privatization

Source: makewealthhistory.org

By Shabu Varghese, University of Central Florida

Organized societies experienced dramatic changes in their methods of solving public problems since the mid-nineteenth century. Salamon (2002) has described this movement as a “revolution” that has taken place in the United States and in other countries that has been going on for more than 50 years. During this period, one of the key changes has been a shift from government to governance in the provision of human services—or more specifically, a shift from having government to directly providing human services to a system within which these services are provided by third parties via methods such as contracting, public-private partnerships, purchase-of-service contracting, performance-based contracting, and privatization. This paradigm shift has equipped the service organizations with tools that not only helped them in resolving complex public problems with efficient and customer oriented services but also to formulate measures to improve their performances. Continue reading

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Proposal of a Dignity Scale for Sustainable Governance

Source: lifesitenews.com

Source: lifesitenews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Nayef Al-Rodhan (@SustainHistory), University of Oxford[i] 

In October 2005, two North African teenagers died of electrocution in one of the banlieues of Paris as they were running from the police through a dangerous power substation. An inquiry later established the teens were innocent, and the incident sparked some of the worst unrest seen in France over the past 40 years.  The riots brought about much debate over the tense relationship between immigrant youth and the state, the recurring problems of “fracture sociale,” and a perceived lack of social justice. Above all, the protests were an expression of acute feelings of alienation experienced by a large section of society. The banlieues have been a breeding ground for deep frustration, maintaining a distinctly poor and marginalized status for decades. Unemployment is common and 36% of the banlieu residents are estimated to live below the poverty line—three times the national average.

In a different context, yet similar in spirit, the Arab Spring was triggered by an overwhelming lack of dignity, due to a combination of poor domestic governance and external geopolitical manipulations by external powers.

These two examples share an important lesson about the crucial importance of human dignity. Although often invoked by scholars, theorists, and leaders, dignity and its critical role in good governance remain insufficiently understood or appreciated. More than the need for freedom, democracy and free elections, dignity is fundamental to human existence.  It cuts across North/South (hemispheric), social, ethnical or political divides. Guaranteeing dignity for all, at all times and under all circumstances, is inclusive of all democratic principles in the first place, while simultaneously addressing inequality, something most liberal democracies tackle insufficiently.  Continue reading

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Price-Insensitive Enrollees Could Increase Costs of the WIC Program – Can Reference Pricing Help?

wic cheese

Source: geeklikemetoo.blogspot.com

By Akash A. Desai, Beghou Consulting

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program in the United States that provides grants to states for supplemental food, education, and referral services to low-income pregnant, postpartum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age found to be at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Supplemental food packages are the cornerstone of the WIC program and accounted for approximately 69% of total program costs in 2014.

As opposed to traditional cash-value vouchers, food packages are mainly provided to WIC eligible participants through food vouchers. Participants are given vouchers for specific combinations of food at zero out-of-pocket cost. Consumers may generally pick any brand of food products regardless of the price for the items as long as the WIC-allowed item(s) meet the voucher criteria and are purchased in WIC authorized stores. This means that if there is a $5 gallon and a $3 gallon of milk at a WIC authorized store, consumers can generally pick either; even if there is no nutritional difference between the two. A notable exception to this policy is the WIC program in the state of Texas, which generally requires that consumers pick the least expensive food item available. Texas, by no coincidence, has the lowest food cost per participant of any stateContinue reading

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The Changing Global Perception on the Death Penalty

death penalty

By Eric E. Hack, Walden University

The global perception of the death penalty is definitely changing.  Capital punishment is an age old response to certain crimes.  Some crimes punishable by death once included adultery, blasphemy, and questioning the government (Roth 2011).  In most countries in the world today, especially in free societies, adultery and blasphemy are not crimes at all and speaking out against the government is a protected right.  Crimes such as murder, however, are as illegal now as they were millennia ago.  But a global shift in how to punish crimes like murder has steadily altered perceptions on criminal justice and corrections policy.

To date, the abolition of capital punishment has become so popular that 140 nations around the world have formally abolished it partially or entirely (DPIC 2015).  The charter of the European Union (2000) requires the abolition of the death penalty as a price for becoming a state-party to the union.  Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (2015) view capital punishment as a human rights violation (centrally because it denies people the right to life), and argue that the death penalty has done nothing to deter crime.  In 2014, the UN General Assembly called a fifth time for a moratorium of the death penalty (Cornell 2015).  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declared capital punishment to be a “cruel and inhumane practice” (UN News Centre 2014). Even while the United States federal government maintains capital punishment as a legal practice, several states have banned the death penalty (Roth 2011). Continue reading

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How Exactly Has American and Global Society Benefited From Our 50+-Year “War on Drugs”?

war on drugs

Source: pixgood.com

By Eric E. Hack, Walden University

American society has benefited in odd ways from the “War on Drugs.” Middle-class, middle-aged, suburbanite property owners clearly feel safer knowing the American government is willing to throw the book at outsiders in possession of small amounts of marijuana. I suppose that level of security and the peace of mind is an indicator of success in the fight against drugs. It allows said people the time to focus on winning yard of the month. Prison populations have exploded as a result of the “war,” creating a need for more prisons, which has helped establish the prison industrial complex (HRW, 2000; Stohr, Walsh, & Hemmens, 2013). A complex that is predominantly privatized, meaning incarcerating people is the business and, therefore, people must be incarcerated in order for the business to stay profitable. The federal government has profited from the “war” by tapping into the drug trade in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and Southwest Asia during the War on Terror in order to finance black operations around the world, by not destroying the drugs (namely heroine) but selling the drugs (McCoy, 2003; Weiner, 2008). This exploitation of the drug market has benefited the American tax payers by reducing the amount of the bill they pick up. Additionally, the federal government has profited immensely in South America from the “war” by partnering with specific cartels and dictators to allocate power and the flow of money into the correct and just pockets of the very U.S. organizations sworn to defeat these groups (Weiner, 2008; Villar & Cottle, 2011). Continue reading

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Predisposed Tabula Rasa

 

lizard brain

Source: quirkyworks.co.uk

 

By Nayef Al-Rodhan (@SustainHistory), University of Oxford[i]

Studies of human behavior and psychology have received extensive attention in public policy. Economists, social theorists and philosophers have long analyzed the incentives of human actions, decision making, rationality, motivation, and other cognitive processes. More recently, the study of happiness furthered the debate in public policy, as many governments brought up the necessity for new measures of social progress. The discussion was bolstered when the UN passed a critical resolution in July 2011 inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people as a tool to help guide public policies. It was also hoped that discussions about happiness would serve to refine the wider debate about the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-2030 and the standards for measuring and understanding well-being. The World Happiness Report, a recent initiative, attempts to analyze and rate happiness as an indicator to track social progress.

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