Saturday, January 30, 2010

Essential Reading#1

All rights reserved by Economist Magazine.

Arab_Special Report_The Economist July 25th - 31th 2009.pdf

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

GP_Virtual_Self_Study Series 1

Aging and Society
Examine the changing needs of an aging society.
Will there be enough retirement savings?
Health care? Mobility issues? Insurance?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Self-Study - Compre Papers

Compre Practice 1 - Challenges for Society

Compre Practice 2 - Individual in Society

Compre Practice 3 - Change and Progress

Compre Practice 4 - Global Society and Politics

Please practice this in a group. Discuss, collaborate and learn.

Self-Study - Learning Inference from History

Here is a first of hopefully many self-study series for GP students.

Learning inference is not easy, but hopefully this lesson on
Learning Inference from History
will place things in perspective.

Download - work on it and comment for any improvements.

Haiti in Asia

The lessons of Haiti apply to Asia as well. We have several earthquake faults close to several important cities. Japan aside, Istanbul and Mandalay are very close to fault lines. One fault line that has not been broken; Naypyidaw, Myanmar's new capital (I personally prefer the name Burma) straddles a section of the Saigiang fault. Padang is just 40 kilometers from the Sumatran fault line. Wellington has a fault line running through it, and so does Manila.

Unless we embrace a new man-Nature paradigm, we are in for an endless litany of what happened in Haiti.

Friday, January 8, 2010

It will NOT get cooler

The Copenhagen global warming conference involved 193 nations getting together to discuss the threat that global warming poses to our planet and what can be done about it. The goal was to create a global agreement that extended and expanded the Kyoto Protocol so that a global organization could influence and monitor all nations' efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions.

Global warming believers did not get their way, either in extending the Kyoto agreement or in forming any global organization to tell all of the world's people how to lead their lives. But developing nations did get something:

  • A promise of support for $30 billion over the first three years and a goal of growing it to $100 billion annually by 2020.
  • The developing nations saw climate change as an enormous financial bonanza if, under the banner of the environment, they could get wealthy nations to transfer wealth to them.
  • The wealthy nations of course saw this as a trap: Why would they want to depress their economic growth by giving money to developing nations?
  • The truth of the Copenhagen agreement is that developing countries want cash from other countries with few strings attached.

So the final Copenhagen deal did not establish greenhouse gas emission targets or specifically address how nations must limit temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, but it did agree that CO2 emissions could be measured, reported and verified by . . . well, someone. That, in China's terms, means "developed countries must take the lead" in making emission cuts and providing financial and technical support for developing countries.

In truth, the world dodged a bullet in Copenhagen. There could have been significant damage to many nations' economies if the warming alarmists' full agenda had been adopted. But of course the game has not ended. President Obama, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency all seem committed to regulating our behavior and consumption under the guise of addressing a crisis that is not a crisis. They will do so in a way that will not meaningfully reduce global temperatures, but will substantially hurt the economies and opportunities of the world's people.

Global warming - does anyone care?

Free Trade in 2010

As the United States dithers, East Asia has moved forward on market liberalization with a vengeance, creating the biggest free trade zones seen in years.

Largely ignored, the arrival of the world's third-biggest free trade area has been formed.

  • China and Asia's Tigers -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, scrapped 7,000 different tariffs to form a $200 billion open market for about 2 billion consumers, one-third of the world's population.
  • Jan. 1 also heralded another ASEAN free-trade pact with mighty India, ending tariffs on 4,000 products staggered through 2016; this deal will expand a $50 billion market for 1.5 billion consumers into something even bigger.
  • ASEAN also signed off on free trade with Australia and New Zealand, tacking on another $50 billion market to expand for their 600 million consumers.
  • It follows ASEAN's Dec. 1 agreement with Japan, which created a $240 billion market for 670 million.
  • In addition, Thailand and South Korea completed the last step of 2007's ASEAN-Korea pact, finalizing expansion of the zone to a $72 billion market for 600 million.

ASEAN's six freest members, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei , even enacted a free-trade deal among themselves on Jan. 1, ending tariffs on goods sold to each other, freeing a $60 billion market for 500 million consumers.

All this points to something major: While the Obama administration has put its energy into trade wars with China, enacting punitive tariffs on steel, tires, nylon, paper, and other goods and has signed no new pacts in 2009, free trade is marching on without the United States

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice. As economies started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the "root causes" theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over millions of lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant, says Heather Mac Donald, a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.

In late 2008, the New York Times urged President Barack Obama to crank up federal spending on after-school programs, social workers, and summer jobs. "The economic crisis," the paper's editorialists wrote, "has clearly created the conditions for more crime and more gangs -- among hopeless, jobless young men in the inner cities."

Even then crime patterns were defying expectations. And by the end of 2009, the purported association between economic hardship and crime was in shambles, says Mac Donald. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports:

  • Homicide dropped 10 percent nationwide in the first six months of 2009.
  • Violent crime dropped 4.4 percent and property crime dropped 6.1 percent.
  • Car thefts are down nearly 19 percent.

The crime plunge is sharpest in many areas that have been hit the hardest by the housing collapse, says Mac Donald:

  • Unemployment in California is 12.3 percent, but homicides in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Times reported recently, dropped 25 percent over the course of 2009.
  • Car thefts there are down nearly 20 percent.

The recession crime free fall continues a trend of declining national crime rates that began in the 1990s, during a very different economy. The causes of that long-term drop are hotly disputed, says Mac Donald:

  • An increase in the number of people incarcerated had a large effect on crime in the last decade and continues to affect crime rates today.
  • The number of state and federal prisoners grew fivefold between 1977 and 2008, from 300,000 to 1.6 million.

Source: Heather Mac Donald, "A Crime Theory Demolished," Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2010.

Time Flies

My last post was April 30, 2009. Talk about time flying. It was a busy and productive year and I suspect this year will be no different.