27 May 2006

Current Affairs Quote of the Day

[After the PAP won its 10th election in a row with all but 2 of the seats:]

Mr Lee senior, still in the cabinet as “minister mentor”, aged 82, ... [said] recently that Singapore needed “a world-class opposition, not this riffraff”.


Less is More

When it comes to government spending, less is more. Less government spending and involvement in the economy - both in terms of regulatory interference and taxation burden - are associated with higher rates of economic growth, better productivity and more diverse markets for products. This is supported by country-specific evidence and several long-running international indices ranking economic environments.


Overall, the study concludes that "It may be surprising, even counter-intuitive, to find that countries with leaner governments spend more on health and education than those with larger governments (and have been growing that expenditure at a faster rate), that they have a better standard of living, better employment records and similar spending on income support. But the data... should give policy-makers some confidence in arguing [that] ...the leaner governments clearly benefit their citizens more than the narrow illusory benefits offered by larger governments."


The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

An African journalist calls for aid donors to stop propping up repressive, corrupt and incompetent governments.

Tren: Jeffrey Sachs, Bono and Bob Geldof all call for massive increases in aid transfers to African countries. What do you consider the consequences of this will be?

Mwenda: The road to hell is always paved with good intentions. The calls by Sachs, Bono and Geldof fall into that category. First, their calls for more aid assume -- and wrongly so -- that the primary problem in Africa is lack of a resource base to generate revenue to invest in what the World Bank prefers to call "poverty reducing expenditure areas" -- free primary education, basic health care and infrastructure like roads. ...

The primary problem for Africa is one of governance. The poor in Africa do not have basic social services because they are ruled by repressive, corrupt and incompetent governments. These governments spend millions of dollars annually on their corrupt and ineffective militaries, on ostentatious consumption by the political class, and on obese, profligate and highly incompetent bureaucracies. The institutions are very corrupt and incompetent that they stifle both domestic entrepreneurial initiative and frustrate foreign direct investment. ...

Foreign aid is the subsidy governments in Africa employ to avoid facing the consequences of their own folly. Without aid, many governments in Africa would stare regime collapse in the eye. Some would be stupid, retain the old ways and collapse. But many would be forced to reform their monetary and fiscal policies, to be frugal and prudent, to put in place public policies and political institutions that favor rapid economic growth and capital accumulation. They would have to listen more to their own people and foreign investors in policy making and policy orientation. In short, they would be forced to establish good, effective, accountable and democratic governments. Good and accountable government is not a product of altruism, but enlightened self-interest. Sachs, Bono, Geldof, Tony Blair -- and all the many good but naive people of the West -- need to learn that simple, commonsense logic.



Nations are not built. Nations emerge.

Group Power
Arnold Kling
from Tech Central Station
4 May 2006


Kohn arrived at his theory of associational government in the process of undertaking a broader study of the economic history of late medieval Europe. He describes it as a contest between two types of polities, beginning in the latter 1400's.

On the one hand, larger territories had economies of scale. They were badly ruled by autocrats, but their sheer size enabled them to raise powerful armies. These were predatory states.

On the other hand, city-states had an advantage in that they were well run. Rulers were not absolute. There were many checks and balances within the smaller polities. These were associational city-states.


17 May 2006

Current Affairs Quote of the Day

Obviously, George W. Bush is no Lincoln. Of course, it must be remembered that during the Civil War, no one realized that Abraham Lincoln was a Lincoln. A lot of people in the North thought he was a Bush.

- Civil Liberties and National Security, George Freidman, Stratfor, 16 May 2006

14 May 2006

Quote of the Day

To sum up: 1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute. 2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it. 3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.

- HL Mencken

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken

(There are plenty more Mencken quotes to come.)

13 May 2006

Hitting Your Peak: Mental Power

Interesting basic discussion from askmen.com about when your mental powers peak.

According to research, you’ll reach your mental peak when you achieve a balance among the following three facets:

1- Your ability to absorb new information.
2- Your ability to produce ideas and concepts.
3- Your ability to put ideas in motion through critical thinking and experience.



Quote of the Day

Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face, there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face, does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.

- [apparently] George Orwell