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Posts tagged with government

The word “statistics” was a coinage of German and Italian enthusiasts for state action in the early eighteenth century…..

It became a sort of insanity….[tourists]…Samuel Johnson…. By the 1850’s the conservative critics of capitalism, such as Charles Dickens, were becoming very cross about statistics….

Counting can surely be a nitwit’s, or the Devil’s, tool. Among the more unnerving exhibits in the extermination camp at Auschwitz are the books in which Hitler’s willing executioners kept records on every person they killed.

The formal and mathematical theory of statistics was largely invented in the 1880’s by eugenicists (those clever racists at the origin of so much in the social sciences) and pefected in the twentieth century by agronomists (…Iowa State…). The newly mathematised statistics became a fetish in the wannabe sciences. During the 1920’s…sociology…quantification was a way of claiming status, as it became also in economics…(political economy), and in psychology, fresh[ly] separated from philosophy. In the 1920’s and 1930’s…social anthropologists…counted coconuts.

Deirdre McCloskey

HT @AClassicLiberal




In contrast to copper and tin, iron is very widely spread as the great archaeologist Gordon Childe put it “cheap iron democratized agriculture and industry and warfare too”. So the jump to Iron Age technology may have impeded the development of states in Africa by making it more difficult for elite to concentrate and monopolize power.

Africa never experienced the nascent period of political centralization that Europe did during the Bronze Age, perhaps also with a path dependent legacy.




Right, Americans: in case you’re too lazy to walk yourself through your government’s budget, this guy will do it for you. Couple things to highlight:

  • Income = $2500 billion
  • Spending = $3800 billion
  • Yearly Overspend = $1300 billion
  • Cost of government = $1319 billion
  • Cost of social security + medicare + medicaid = $1500 billion
  • All mandatory programmes = $2250 billion




jkottke:

This video is 13 minutes of traffic accidents in Russia and totally amazing.

  1. Show this to your teenagers before they take the wheel. If it doesn’t scare the p*ss out of them—or even worse, if it excites them—no more Grand Theft Auto and hide the car keys.
  2. Next time you complain about public services, boring orderliness and “safety first”, the desireability of risk, Panglossian everything-optimal economics, or forget how relatively safe you are on your German freeways, …. watch this.

    As someone else remarked (can’t remember the source), the difference between Somalia and the USA is the stuff everybody in the US completely forgets is even possible.
  3. Notice how many of the accidents are caused by people trying to zoom ahead of everyone else—off the side of the road, cutting down a tree without noticing it will land on somebody else, trying to pass on the left or on the right or across the lane. Is your time really that important relative to everyone else’s, people?
  4. Assumptions. You think you can make assumptions, like that someone won’t fell a tree on your head, or a military jet won’t fly over your head, that someone won’t spill military equipment near you, or that people from the other lane (or off the road) won’t drive completely orthogonal and attack your car. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong.
  5. How many of these people do you think actually accepted the blame on themselves for their reckless actions?

via @Alea_, @felixsalmon




How to earn 5 million dollars in 5 minutes. Sincerity + humility + earnestness makes grown men cry.




The last decade’s debt record for several rich countries.
3-month Bond Yields owed by some of them:      (SOURCE: Bloomberg)
Japan   .10%
UK      .41%
Germany .28%
US      .04%
And here’s one of the yield curves (US’):
 
(Remember, higher yield means the debt costs more to service for the country that’s borrowing.)

The last decade’s debt record for several rich countries.

3-month Bond Yields owed by some of them:      (SOURCE: Bloomberg)

Japan   .10%
UK      .41%
Germany .28%
US      .04%

And here’s one of the yield curves (US’):

image 


(Remember, higher yield means the debt costs more to service for the country that’s borrowing.)


hi-res