En plats nära mitt hjärta (personal)

31 Oct, 2020 at 17:38 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on En plats nära mitt hjärta (personal)

östra

Östra kyrkogården i Lund är en plats som alltid betytt mycket för mig.

Hit har jag kommit många gånger för att söka tröst och vila för min själ.

Tre av de människor jag älskat mest i mitt liv ligger begravda här.

I dag tände jag ljus för dem alla — min hustru Kristina, min bror Peter, och min vän Bengt.

RIP.

La laïcité française

31 Oct, 2020 at 14:17 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on La laïcité française

Le régime fondé en 1905 correspondait à une époque où la question religieuse était liée au catholicisme. Cent quinze ans plus tard, l’enracinement de l’islam la pose en termes différents. N’est-il pas légitime d’en réactualiser le contenu ?

France: La laïcité est en danger pour 3 Français sur 4 - Evangeliques.infoJean-Louis Bianco, président de l’Observatoire de la laïcité: Ce serait une énorme erreur, non pas par rapport à l’islam, mais par rapport à la laïcité. La laïcité n’est pas tout à fait une valeur. Les valeurs, c’est la liberté, l’égalité, la fraternité. C’est un principe d’organisation de la société et c’est un principe politique. Il repose sur trois piliers. Le premier est la liberté, de croire ou pas, de changer de religion, de pratiquer son culte. Le deuxième pilier, c’est la neutralité de l’Etat et des services publics. C’est le fait que la religion n’est pas au-dessus des lois civiles. Le troisième pilier est la citoyenneté. Nous sommes tous différents, d’origine, de sentiment d’appartenance, d’engagements…

Dans la République laïque, c’est une source de richesse, à condition qu’on n’oublie pas que nous sommes d’abord des citoyens à égalité de droits et de devoirs. Et ça, c’est universel ! Cette notion de citoyen s’applique à toutes les époques. La liberté de conviction s’applique à toutes les croyances. C’est pour cela que la laïcité a une force extraordinaire. Elle résiste au temps. Elle n’a pas à s’adapter aux religions, ce sont les religions qui ont à la respecter.

La très grande majorité de nos compatriotes musulmans pratiquent leur foi sans que cela pose de problème … Cela ne veut pas dire qu’il n’y a pas des gens dangereux. Ne soyons pas dupes sur l’offensive qui existe. Mais ne disons pas que tout va mal parce qu’il y a des cas médiatisés …

Il faut parler de la laïcité de manière positive. Expliquer les droits qu’elle permet. Il faut toujours commencer par cela. Sinon, on n’est pas audible. La laïcité, c’est un bouclier qui nous protège, mais c’est aussi un outil pour construire la maison commune.

Cécile Chambraud / Le Monde

Olivier Blanchard fordert generöser Subventionen statt Kredite

31 Oct, 2020 at 12:18 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Olivier Blanchard fordert generöser Subventionen statt Kredite

ZEIT ONLINE: Herr Blanchard, Deutschland hat gerade einen umfassenden Lockdown beschlossen, wie viele andere Staaten weltweit. Und der erste Lockdown ist noch nicht lange her. Glauben Sie, dass Unternehmen und Regierungen diesmal besser vorbereitet sind?

Olivier Blanchard (@ojblanchard1) | TwitterOlivier Blanchard: Dieser zweite Lockdown hat ganz neue Dimensionen … Wir müssen die direkt und indirekt betroffenen Unternehmen und Arbeiterinnen und Arbeiter schützen. Europa hat das in der ersten Welle relativ gut gemacht … Es kann aber durchaus sein, dass die Rettung der Wirtschaft dieses Mal sogar noch teurer wird. Da beim ersten Mal die staatliche Unterstützung vielerorts aus einer Mischung aus Subventionen und Krediten bestand, haben sich viele Firmen verschuldet. Passiert das noch einmal, steigt die Verschuldung weiter – mit dem Risiko, dass die Unternehmen die Schulden irgendwann nicht mehr zurückzahlen können. Diesmal sollten die Staaten daher noch großzügiger sein als in der ersten Welle.

ZEIT ONLINE: Noch generöser? Schon jetzt summieren sich weltweit die Rettungsprogramme auf Billionenbeträge.

Blanchard: Aber wir müssen realistisch sein: Die Unternehmen, die sich bereits im Frühjahr verschuldeten, brauchen weitere Unterstützung. Werden das Kredite sein, werden sie diese irgendwann nicht mehr bedienen können. Wir werden viele Bankrotterklärungen von an sich profitablen Unternehmen sehen. Deshalb brauchen wir weniger Kredite und mehr Subventionen.

ZEIT ONLINE: Können die europäischen Volkswirtschaften denn so große Defizite verkraften?

Blanchard: Eindeutig ja! … Haben wir den finanzpolitischen Spielraum dafür? Ja. Das Risiko einer Schuldenkrise besteht, ist aber gering. Diese Wette müssen wir eingehen, weil die Alternative noch schlimmer wäre.

Marlies Uken & Lorenzo Barrio / Die Zeit

Endeavour

31 Oct, 2020 at 11:49 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Endeavour

Interpreting economic theory

30 Oct, 2020 at 13:50 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Interpreting economic theory

2019 George Staller Lecture: Ariel Rubinstein | Department of Economics  Cornell Arts & SciencesThe issue of interpreting economic theory is, in my opinion, the most serious problem now facing economic theorists. The feeling among many of us can be summarized as follows. Economic theory should deal with the real world. It is not a branch of abstract mathematics even though it utilizes mathematical tools. Since it is about the real world, people expect the theory to prove useful in achieving practical goals. But economic theory
has not delivered the goods. Predictions from economic theory are not nearly as accurate as those offered by the natural sciences, and the link between economic theory and practical problems … is tenuous at best. Economic theory lacks a consensus as to its purpose and interpretation. Again and again, we find ourselves asking the question “where does it lead?”

Ariel Rubinstein

Georgy Sviridov

30 Oct, 2020 at 13:32 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Georgy Sviridov

.                                                                                                                                 

Is economics value-free?

28 Oct, 2020 at 07:15 | Posted in Economics | 6 Comments

jp-imgresI’ve subsequently stayed away from the minimum wage literature for a number of reasons. First, it cost me a lot of friends. People that I had known for many years, for instance, some of the ones I met at my first job at the University of Chicago, became very angry or disappointed. They thought that in publishing our work we were being traitors to the cause of economics as a whole.

David Card

Back in 1992, New Jersey raised the minimum wage by 18 per cent while its neighbour state, Pennsylvania, left its minimum wage unchanged. Unemployment in New Jersey should — according to mainstream economics textbooks — have increased relative to Pennsylvania. However, when economists David Card and Alan Krueger gathered information on fast food restaurants in the two states, it turned out that unemployment had actually decreased in New Jersey relative to that in Pennsylvania. Counter to mainstream demand theory we had an anomalous case of a backward-sloping supply curve.

Lo and behold!

But of course — when facts and theory don’t agree, it’s the facts that have to be wrong …

buchC6The inverse relationship between quantity demanded and price is the core proposition in economic science, which embodies the pre-supposition that human choice behavior is sufficiently rational to allow predictions to be made. Just as no physicist would claim that “water runs uphill,” no self-respecting economist would claim that increases in the minimum wage increase employment. Such a claim, if seriously advanced, becomes equivalent to a denial that there is even minimal scientific content in economics, and that, in consequence, economists can do nothing but write as advocates for ideological interests. Fortunately, only a handful of economists are willing to throw over the teaching of two centuries; we have not yet become a bevy of camp-following whores.

James M. Buchanan in Wall Street Journal (April 25, 1996)

Economics — non-ideological and value-free? I’ll be dipped!

Tunström’s epic masterpiece (personal)

27 Oct, 2020 at 19:55 | Posted in Varia | 1 Comment

The Christmas Oratory — based on Göran Tunström’s s epic masterpiece — is a stunningly beautiful and totally heartbreaking movie. Stefan Nilsson wrote the God-given music.

Skolans kris är politikernas fel

27 Oct, 2020 at 17:06 | Posted in Education & School | 1 Comment

Det svenska friskolesvindleriet | LARS P. SYLL Trots alla de väldokumenterade och uppenbara avigsidor som följer på marknadsstyrningen av skolan verkar inget av riksdagspartiernas politiker (med undantag för vänstern) vara beredda på att diskutera alternativ styrning av skolsystemet … Centerledaren har med rak arm förbjudit någon som helst diskussion om vinster i skola och välfärd, istället ska vi prata om kvalitetskrav och stänga skolverksamheter oftare, som om mer kontroll och dokumentation och regelbundna skolstängningar vore en långsiktig lösning för någon alls. Socialdemokraterna verkar lika delar bakbundna och lättade av detta förbud.

Liberalerna däremot stirrar sig blinda på beslut från Barn- och elevombudsmannen samt dåliga kursplaner i ett motsägelsefullt hopp om att väljarna ska glömma både vem som inrättade ombudsmannen och ansvarade för läroplanerna. Rester av den forna alliansen skyller också gärna skolans kriser på Socialdemokraterna, och glömmer då behändigt det enkla faktumet att samtliga stora utbildningsreformer sedan 1980-talet har varit borgerliga, vilket pinsamt nog också har lett oss till den situation vi har idag där likvärdigheten urholkas alltmer dag för dag, lärarbristen eskalerar och kommunernas effektiviseringar rullar på i allt högre takt, år efter år efter år.

Efter åratal där skolans kriser har beskyllts på lärares bristfälliga kompetens, lärarutbildningarnas innehåll, postmodernism och pedagogiska etablissemang, är det dags att säga som det är. Skolans kris är resultat av politikernas misslyckande att förvalta det ansvar de har fått. Det är hög tid för dem att sätta sig ned i bänken och lyssna.

Gunnlaugur Magnússon

I Sverige år 2020 låter vi friskolekoncerner med undermålig verksamhet få plocka ut skyhöga vinster — vinster som den svenska staten gladeligen låter dessa koncerner ta av vår skattefinansierade skolpeng. Dessa smarta välfärdsplundrare har överlag en högre lönsamhet än näringslivet i sin helhet, men när man väl plundrat färdigt lämnar man över problemen och eleverna till den förkättrade offentliga sektorn.

Många är med rätta upprörda och de som är kritiska till privatisering av vård och skola har haft gyllene tillfällen att tydligt och klart tala om att man nu vill se till att undanröja möjligheterna för vinstdrivande bolag att verka inom vård, omsorg och skola.

Men så har inte skett.

Istället har det kommit en jämn ström av krav på ökad kontroll, tuffare granskning och inspektioner. När nu privatiseringsvåtdrömmen visar sig vara en mardröm så tror man att just det som man ville bli av med — regelverk och ‘byråkratisk’ tillsyn och kontroll — skulle vara lösningen.

skolpengEtt flertal undersökningar har på senare år  visat att det system vi har i Sverige med vinstdrivande skolor leder till att våra skolor blir allt mindre likvärdiga — och att detta i sin tur bidrar till allt sämre resultat. Ska vi råda bot på detta måste vi ha ett skolsystem som inte bygger på ett marknadsmässigt konkurrenstänk där skolor istället för att utbilda främst ägnar sig åt att ragga elever och skolpeng, utan drivs som icke-vinstdrivna verksamheter med kvalitet och ett klart och tydligt samhällsuppdrag och elevernas bästa för ögonen.

Vi vet idag att friskolor driver på olika former av etnisk och social segregation, påfallande ofta har låg lärartäthet och i grund och botten sviker resurssvaga elever. Att dessa verksamheter ska premieras med att få plocka ut vinster på våra skattepengar är djupt stötande.

I ett samhälle präglat av jämlikhet, solidaritet och demokrati borde det vara självklart att skattefinansierade skolor inte ska få drivas med vinst, segregation eller religiös indoktrinering som främsta affärsidé!

Många som är verksamma inom skolvärlden eller vårdsektorn har haft svårt att förstå socialdemokratins inställning till privatiseringar och vinstuttag i välfärdssektorn. Av någon outgrundlig anledning har ledande socialdemokrater under många år pläderat för att vinster ska vara tillåtna i skolor och vårdföretag. Ofta har argumentet varit att driftsformen inte har någon betydelse. Så är inte fallet. Driftsform och att tillåta vinst i välfärden har visst betydelse. Och den är negativ.

I mitt tycke låter Magnússon i sin historieskrivning socialdemokratin komma väl billigt  undan. Som jag se det komme historiens dom att falla hård på ansvariga politiker — och inte minst på socialdemokratins Ingvar Carlsson, Göran Persson, Kjell-Olof Feldt och alla andra som i deras fotspår glatt traskat patrull — som hänsynslöst och med berått mod låtit offra den en gång så stolta svenska traditionen av att försöka bygga en jämlik skola för alla!

Till skillnad från i alla andra länder i världen har den svenska socialdemokratins ledning gjort det möjligt för privata företag att göra vinst på offentligt finansierad undervisning. Och när borgerliga regeringar ytterligare stimulerat privatiseringsvågen har socialdemokraterna bara tigit och varit passiva. Och detta trots att det hela tiden funnits ett starkt folkligt motstånd  mot att släppa in vinstsyftande privata företag i välfärdssektorn.

Att socialdemokratin fortsätter bidra till skolans urholkning med sitt stöd för friskolor och deras vinstuttag är inte den enda anledningen till att partiet tappat en stor del av sitt tidigare väljarunderlag. Men säkert en av de viktigare. Ett tydligare självmål inom politiken är svårt att hitta. Att Löfvenregeringen inte kunnat lova att man ska sätta stopp för välfärdsplundrarna att plocka ut vinster på skola och omvård fullbordar bara detta det största sveket någonsin mot de egna väljarna.

The radical façade of randomistas do not help us fight poverty

26 Oct, 2020 at 16:02 | Posted in Economics | Comments Off on The radical façade of randomistas do not help us fight poverty

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the randomista enterprise is their claim to neutrality and objectivity. While knowledge generated by RCTs may be able to generate useful insights in some instances, evidence always requires interpretation … The findings of the randomistas do not speak for themselves; they require interpretation. The randomistas’ interpretation of these results through a neoclassical lens limits their understanding of social phenomena because it fails to understand how structures constrain individual behavior.

dufloParticularly in light of covid-19, this theoretical and methodological narrowing of the field and of what counts as evidence is a problem for our ability to build a more just and resilient society, given the structural fragilities the pandemic has exposed (Alves and Kvangraven 2020). The laureates draw attention to the massive disparities and poverty in the world, and in many instances also the problems with relying on market forces to fix these issues. However, their solutions center on patching the system here and there – with vaccines and social safety nets – rather than addressing the underlying systemic problems that give rise to poverty and inequality …

The randomista enterprise tends to delegitimize other ways of knowing, thereby excluding centuries of insights and research in the social sciences from across the world. While in line with the marginalization of alternative economic theories since the 1970s, the randomistas have helped cement a hierarchical, positivist and Eurocentric field. To decolonize economics, it is nec- essary to challenge RCTs’ claim to objectivity, while pushing to open up space in the field for epistemologies that originate from outside of the West.

Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven

Most ‘randomistas’ underestimate the heterogeneity problem. It does not just turn up as an external validity problem when trying to ‘export’ regression results to different times or different target populations. It is also often an internal problem to the millions of regression estimates that are produced every year.

Just as econometrics, randomization promises more than it can deliver, basically because it requires assumptions that in practice are not possible to maintain. And just like econometrics, randomization is basically a deductive method. Given the assumptions, these methods deliver deductive inferences. The problem, of course, is that we will never completely know when the assumptions are right. And although randomization may contribute to controlling for confounding, it does not guarantee it, since genuine randomness presupposes infinite experimentation and we know all real experimentation is finite. And even if randomization may help to establish average causal effects, it says nothing of individual effects unless homogeneity is added to the list of assumptions. Causal evidence generated by randomization procedures may be valid in ‘closed’ models, but what we usually are interested in, is causal evidence in the real-world target system we happen to live in.

‘Ideally controlled experiments’ tell us with certainty what causes what effects — but only given the right ‘closures.’ Making appropriate extrapolations from (ideal, accidental, natural or quasi) experiments to different settings, populations or target systems, is not easy. “It works there” is no evidence for “it will work here”. Causes deduced in an experimental setting still have to show that they come with an export-warrant to the target population/system. The causal background assumptions made have to be justified, and without licenses to export, the value of ‘rigorous’ and ‘precise’ methods — and ‘on-average-knowledge’ — is despairingly small.

Apart from these methodological problems, there is also a rather disturbing kind of scientific naïveté in the randomista approach to combatting poverty. The way randomistas present their whole endeavour smacks of not so little ‘scientism’ where fighting poverty becomes a question of applying ‘objective’ quantitative ‘techniques.’ But that can’t be the right way to fight poverty! Fighting poverty and inequality is basically a question of changing the structure and institutions of our economies and societies.

Reforming economics

25 Oct, 2020 at 13:43 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Robert Heilbroner Quote: “Before economics can progress, it must abandon  its suicidal formalism.” (7 wallpapers) - QuotefancyThe typical economics course starts with the study of how rational agents interact in frictionless markets, producing an outcome that is best for everyone. Only later does it cover those wrinkles and perversities that characterise real economic behaviour, such as anti-competitive practices or unstable financial markets. As students advance, there is a growing bias towards mathematical elegance. When the uglier real world intrudes, it only prompts the question: this is all very well in practice but how does it work in theory? …

Fortunately, the steps needed to bring economics teaching into the real world do not require the invention of anything new or exotic. The curriculum should embrace economic history and pay more attention to unorthodox thinkers such as Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich Hayek and — yes — even Karl Marx. Faculties need to restore links with other fields such as psychology and anthropology, whose insights can explain phenomena that economics cannot. Economics professors should make the study of imperfect competition — and of how people act in conditions of uncertainty — the starting point of courses, not an afterthought. …

Economics should not be taught as if it were about the discovery of timeless laws. Those who champion the discipline must remember that, at its core, it is about human behaviour, with all the messiness and disorder that this implies.

Financial Times

Molins fontän

25 Oct, 2020 at 13:30 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Molins fontän

Tillägnad alla gamla radikala vänner och kollegor som numera glatt traskar patrull och omfamnar allt de en gång i tiden hade modet att våga kritisera och ifrågasätta …

Blinding lights

25 Oct, 2020 at 13:20 | Posted in Varia | Comments Off on Blinding lights

Sunday morning rituals

24 Oct, 2020 at 11:03 | Posted in Varia | 1 Comment

One of yours truly’s Sunday morning rituals is reading the obituary column of The Telegraph. This obit is rather typical:

Peter Scott, who has died aged 82, was a highly accomplished cat burglar, and as Britain’s most prolific plunderer of the great and good took particular pains to select his victims from the ranks of aristocrats, film stars and even royalty.

Peter Scott, 'King of thee Cat Burglers'According to a list of 100 names he supplied to The Daily Telegraph, he targeted figures such as Soraya Khashoggi, Shirley MacLaine, the Shah of Iran, Judy Garland and even Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother — although he added apologetically that, in her case, the authorities had covered up by issuing a “D-notice ”.

In 1994 Scott wrote to the newspaper to say that he would consider it “a massive disappointment if I were not to get a mention in [its] illustrious obituary column” … He added that he had been a Telegraph reader since 1957, when newspapers were first allowed in prisons, “on account of its broad coverage on crime” …

He identified a Robin Hood streak in himself, too, asserting in his memoirs that he had been “sent by God to take back some of the wealth that the outrageously rich had taken from the rest of us” …

Always a meticulous planner, Scott bought a new suit before each job, so that he would not look out of place in the premises he was burgling. Fear, the possibility of capture, excited him.

In all, by his own reckoning, Scott stole jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million. He held none of his victims in great esteem (“upper-class prats chattering in monosyllables”) … “Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites,” he recollected. “Sophia Loren got what she deserved too” …

In one Bond Street caper alone he stole jewellery worth £1.5 million, and in 1985 he was jailed for four years. On his release he expanded his social horizons by becoming a celebrity “tennis bum”, a racquet for hire at a smart London club where — as he put it in his autobiography — he coached still more potential “rich prats” …

Scott was also a past-master in self-justification of his crimes and misdemeanours: “The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop.”

In his memoirs, Gentleman Thief (1995), Scott admitted to an even stronger motivation than fear as he contemplated another “job”: “Even now, after 30 years, it was a sexual thrill.” There was the additional satisfaction in his assumption that the millions reading about his exploits in the papers were silently cheering him on.

Animal rights — a question of human dignity

23 Oct, 2020 at 15:49 | Posted in Politics & Society | Comments Off on Animal rights — a question of human dignity

1579018857342,saeue-im-kastenstand-100~_v-16x9@2dXL_-77ed5d09bafd4e3cf6a5a0264e5e16ea35f14925

Throughout European history the idea of the human being has been expressed in contradistinction to the animal. The latter’s lack of reason is the proof of human dignity. So insistently and unanimously has this antithesis been recited … that few other ideas are so fundamental to Western anthropology. The antithesis is acknowledged even today. The behaviorists only appear to have forgotten it. That they apply to human beings the same formulae and results which they wring without restraint from defenseless animals in their abominable physiological laboratories, proclaims the difference in especially subtle way. File:Max Horkheimer Theodor W. Adorno Dialektik der Aufklärung 1947  Titel.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsThe conclusion they draw from the mutilated animal bodies applies, not to animals in freedom, but to human beings today. By mistreating animals they announce that they, and only they in the whole of creation, function voluntarily in the same mechanical, blind, automatic way the twitching movements of the bound victims made use of by the expert …

In this world liberated from appearance — in which human beings, having forfeited reflection, have become once more the cleverest animals, which subjugate the rest of the universe when they happen not to be tear­ing themselves apart — to show concern for animals is considered no longer merely sentimental but​ a betrayal of progress.

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and Comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: