#SoftHeadsHardHearts on long-term unemployment

Image result for long-term unemploymentThe HALE index got a bit of attention this weekend owing to the way in which it highlights the cost of long-term unemployment. It’s certainly a graphic illustration of the way in which GDP hides important developments from us. Mostly what people like about the HALE is the way in which it tries to adjust GDP to take account of large and strong impacts on subjective wellbeing that are not picked up by GDP.

Because it’s an index and will ultimately be published as a single number, there’s no point in including things that are not large – as they’ll never get their signal through the noise of everything else. So the main things which are adjusted for known, large and widespread non-economic wellbeing effects are inequality, unemployment, obesity and mental illness. But these things rarely change sufficiently between quarters to generate much news unless the journalist covering the story decides to make them the focus of coverage in some way.

By contrast the things in the index that really drive substantial deviations from GDP are related to the ways in which GDP is a bad measure of economic wellbeing. Because it’s an index of wellbeing, the national accounts series on which the HALE is based is real net national disposable income. This picks up the terms of trade which has been an important part of our economic story particularly lately and the depreciation of capital. This quarter falling terms of trade reduced national income by around 0.7% reducing the quarterly GDP figure from 0.9% to 0.2%.

And one of the things I was most pleased to work out in the methodology of the HALE index was trying to take into account the growth and decay of human capital or the economic value of knowhow on a quarterly ‘accruals’ basis something GDP assiduously avoids as it measures recurrent or income transactions and not capital transactions. I had been highly critical of the leftist stitch up index – the GPI for this reason. Continue reading

Dances with wolves

I met Adam Goodes very briefly in a restaurant in Randwick in 2000. He was then not well known but my sports-mad son Oliver noticed him and pestered me to let him request an autograph. I eventually relented and, when he trotted over, I signalled to Adam my apology at interrupting his dinner but he was very gracious and gave Oliver more time than I might have in the same circumstance. I had no idea he was aboriginal at the time, not that it was relevant. Anyway, I am predisposed to like him.

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The sins of the fathers …

Embedded image permalinkHold the presses – Coal may not be good for humanity. OK that was a cheap ideological shot – the kind you might see on our rival ideologically aligned blogs but surely not here at Club Pony.

In any event, the graphic above is a remarkable illustration of the long lived effect of the culture and economy that grew up around coal in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. If your area mined coal, chances are you voted Labour in the election and you’re more likely to die young (the map on the right being one of life expectancy).

Ratings: the downside

online reputation management

This is the framework all Troppo authors use in their online reputation management (ORM). KPIs are reported monthly. If you notice any Troppo authors going off track, please shoot an email to [email protected]

This article by Maureen O’Dowd on the stress of getting a good rating as a user of a service like Uber is worth pondering. It’s important what ratings are for. They’re supposed to be for the exchange of information. But sometimes they become strategic – like they are, or can become on RateMyProfessor where professors get threatened with strategic strikes against their ratings if they won’t give students what they want – ie good marks or whatever else they’re after.

There’s another problem. Even when the players are not motivated by strategic considerations, they might not be rating each other in a way which is generating the most important information for those who stand in their shoes and who are influenced by their ratings. I had one bad experience on oDesk where a guy I’d hired got irritated with me because I wasn’t giving him clear directions. For me that was a feature, not a bug. I was both trying to optimise my time but also seeking to just gradually explore whether I could work with the guy – was he resourceful, could he figure out what I was after etc. I also asked him to look up some material on a paywalled site. I told him that he could subscribe free for an introductory period of two weeks.

Anyway, all this ended badly. He thought I was trying to exploit him and was insisting that he pay subscriptions to work for me – which I wasn’t. And he was frustrated that my instructions were not clear and copious. But here’s the thing. I was buying a service from him. So the way I see it, so long as I was prepared to underwrite any horsing around, any incomprehension of his of my mysterious ways, that is so long as I was paying him for all the time he claimed to be taking, then I think it’s not that relevant to my rating as an employer if, on the first project, he found me less clear than he would like. (A lot of jobs on oDesk, and a lot of the jobs people are looking for, involve instructions like “copy the data from this website, and paste it into this spreadsheet from cell A1 down to cell A1000.)

Over time if we develop a working relationship and he continues to find my style a pain in the arse, well then that might be relevant to other contractors. In the upshot, while I’m all for the democratisation/equalisation of the employer/employee | contractor/contractee relationship and see ratings as a very powerful mechanism for doing so (why didn’t economic reform develop in that direction years ago?) that has to be oriented around their respective and different needs. People paying for services generally want quality work and a range of ancillary attributes to do with effective cooperation with the person paying. The overwhelming need for the contractor is to have an contractee who won’t be trying to pressure or short-change them – and in the case of my situation on oDesk who will underwrite their claims to work, however useless, while they work out whether they can work together.

 

The generative commons of generalised social capital

Paul Krugman has an interesting blog post on the extent to which there might be contagion from one area of social capital (or lack thereof) to another. He’s responding to the claim CEOs made to him that they only started arcing up their pay demands when they saw sportspeople doing it. And we can all understand the micro-foundations for rises in superstar sportspeople – local sub-urban live audiences morphing into TV audiences at the city, national or global level.

One of the things that’s gradually been happening over the same period is a kind of leeching away of general social solidarity. The most striking aspect of this is a stat I heard on Radio National’s All in the Mind. Asked of the importance of “being very well off financially”

The latest data from 2013 for entering university students here in the US, 82% say that that is an important life goal. And back in the late ’60s and early ’70s only about 45% said that was an important life goal.

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The best films of the German Film Festival

Top Picks

Benjamin is a socially inept nobody. Max is handsome and charismatic. What these strangers have in common is computer hacking. After proving his skill, Benjamin is invited to join Max and his friends in a subversive hacker group. Identifying themselves as CLAY the gang carries out a series of spectacular attacks on political parties and even the ‘Federal Intelligence Agency’. For the first time in his life Benjamin feels like he belongs to something. Benjamin now wants recognition and status in the shadowy corner of cyberspace where hackers communicate-“the Net inside the Net.” To achieve this he will need to impress MR X, reigning king of the hacking world. The road to MR X involves an extremely dangerous Russian group known as FRI3NDS. With European cyber police also on his trail, Benjamin and CLAY will need to execute the most brilliant of plans just to stay alive.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:

Every year without fail Hannes, his wife Kiki and their closest friends go on a bike tour. It’s Kiki’s turn to choose the destination and for some strange reason she’s selected Ostend in Belgium. Why Belgium? What does Belgium have to offer besides chocolate and fries? Shortly into the journey Hannes makes an announcement. He is terminally ill, and assisted suicide is legal in Belgium. This will be his final ride. After the shock has subsided the group decides to pedal hard and enjoy a wild time in celebration of Hannes’ life. For his younger brother Finn, womanizing Micha and bickering couple Mareike and Dominik, this will be a ride to remember.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:

In the last days of Apartheid in South Africa four photographers from The Star newspaper in Johannesburg risked their lives daily to document the country’s frequent and appalling outbreaks of violence. Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva were collectively known as the “Bang-Bang Club”. Today, only Marinovich and Silva are alive. Their candid testimony reveals how camaraderie, extreme bravery and sense of personal and professional duty results in the capturing of extraordinary and frequently disturbing moments in time. We also discover how violence and its aftermath claimed the lives of Carter and Oosterbroek.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
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A documentary that analyzes the modern educational system and argues that it squelches children’s capacity for imagination, creativity, and independent thought. Our economic and social system is increasingly jeopardized by crises and there is no answer in sight. The politically and economically powerful were largely educated at the best schools and universities. Their cluelessness is tangible and long-term prospects have been replaced by hectic knee-jerk activity. It is becoming terrifyingly clear that the boundaries of our thinking have been too tightly confined from childhood on. Regardless of what school we attended, we follow thought patterns that date back to the early era of industrialization where what counted was forming people into well-functioning cogs in a production-line manufacture-driven society. Since then, learning contents may have greatly changed since then, and the school is no longer a place of authoritarian drilling. Nonetheless, the fixation on normed standards determines lessons more than ever. For some time now a harsh wind blows at schools. “Performance“, the maxim of the competitive society, has become the inexorable measure of all things throughout the world. But the exclusive orientation towards technocratic learning goals and the accurate repetition of context-free information is the death of precisely that playful creativity which might help us, without fear of failure, to seek new solutions. Alphabet concludes a trilogy that featured We feed the World and Let‘s make Money; it reverts to the themes of both, concentrating them in its lense and magnifying them to the point of ignition.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
Show Timings:

Politics in the Courtroom: Political Ideology and Jury Decision Making

by Shamena Anwar, Patrick Bayer, Randi Hjalmarsson. Publication is available here.

This paper uses data from the Gothenburg District Court in Sweden and a research design that exploits the random assignment of politically appointed jurors (termed naemndemaen) to make three contributions to the literature on jury decision-making: (i) an assessment of whether systematic biases exist in the Swedish naemndemaen system, (ii) causal evidence on the impact of juror political party on verdicts, and (iii) an empirical examination of the role of peer effects in jury decision-making. The results reveal a number of systematic biases: convictions for young defendants and those with distinctly Arabic sounding names increase substantially when they are randomly assigned jurors from the far-right (nationalist) Swedish Democrat party, while convictions in cases with a female victim increase markedly when they are assigned jurors from the far-left (feminist) Vaenster party. The results also indicate the presence of peer effects, with jurors from both the far-left and far-right parties drawing the votes of their more centrist peers towards their positions. Peer effects take the form of both sway effects, where jurors influence the opinions of their closest peers in a way that can impact trial outcomes, and dissent aversion, where jurors switch non-pivotal votes so that the decision is unanimous.

Showdown at the Supreme Court corral

Queensland’s judicial system looks to be in quite a bit of strife at present. The former Newman LNP government’s ill-advised appointment of an utterly unsuitable Supreme Court Chief Justice in Tim Carmody is continuing to cause serious problems.

Mercifully, at least Carmody CJ has been belatedly bludgeoned by his judicial colleagues into recusing himself from further hearing an appeal against conviction by Brett Cowan, who was convicted last year of the murder of Daniel Morcombe.  Carmody CJ  grudgingly admitted when pressed that he had held a private meeting with Hetty Johnson, outspoken founder of child sexual abuse lobby group Bravehearts, while considering the Morcombe appeal.  Simultaneously the DPP is appealing Cowan’s sentence as manifestly inadequate.  Daniel Morcombe’s parents apparently don’t agree, but Carmody’s colleagues may have actually done them a favour.  Had he not recused himself, there is a significant probability that an appeal to the High Court on grounds of reasonable apprehension of bias would have succeeded. The Morcombe family would have been faced with a least a couple more years of litigation pressure and lack of “closure”.

Holding private meetings with parties and their associates during court proceedings is one of the classic bases for disqualification on bias grounds. Bias decisions on this ground almost always cite McInerney J in R v. Magistrates’ Court at Lilydale; Ex parte Ciccone [1973] VicRp 10; (1973) VR 122:

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Irreducibility: the micro-foundations

I’ve written about what I call irreducibility at least twice before. Then along comes this nice article in the excellent new publication The Mandarin on the “19 reasons why agencies find it hard to hire technologists“. It’s a classic case of how top down systems don’t manage the irreducibility of work at the coalface. Anyway, I’ll leave the list below, though the further explanation of each point is in the original via the link. I also haven’t included all the reasons as they require explanation – which you can get from the original.

  1. You force developers to use tools designed for lawyers
  2. You distrust your employees
  3. You tether developers to their desk
  4. You prefer government-specific service providers
  5. You still see waterfall as a viable option [rather than agile development]
  6. You don’t place process on a pedestal
  7. You erect a moat between developers and servers
  8. New technologies are guilty until proven innocent
  9. You use open source as a verb
  10. Working in the open is a novelty, not a best practice
  11. Speaking at conferences is tightly controlled
  12. Geeks are the bottom of your food chain
  13. Culture only happens outside of your working hours
  14. You measure your hiring process in months
  15. Onboarding is an afterthought
  16. Recruitment is unheard of
  17. You block half the internet