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Tag Archives: metaphor for development

What aid critics could learn from movie critics

The Wall Street Journal yesterday had an article on “2010: worst movie year ever?”. Movie critics have a way with words that leaves us aid critics in the dust.

Hollywood is fighting a war on numerous fronts, and losing all of them.

And movie critics are even worse at something aid critics are often accused of: much more focus on the negative than on constructive positive suggestions — “just stop.”

Stop making movies like “Grown

Posted in Big ideas, In the news | Also tagged 16 Comments

How skill beats luck in the World Cup of Development

This blog periodically points out the role of randomness in development, much to the frustration of many readers. This post is how to set things up so that skill triumphs over luck.

Today’s official metaphor is, of course, for us sports-obsessed nuts, the World Cup. Early rounds have seen remarkable upsets: Switzerland beats Spain, Japan beats Cameroon, Serbia beats Germany. Yet no super long shot team has ever won the World Cup. In fact, 14…

Posted in Economics principles | Also tagged 15 Comments

Miracles of spontaneous order: where to get a cab around NYU

The New York Times has this wonderful interactive feature today, where you can see where most cab pickups and dropoffs happen at any time of day on any day. It confirms a puzzling feature that I had already observed: getting a cab is hopeless at one corner, but if you move just one block over you are sure to get one. The map shows the number of cab pickups around NYU at 5pm on a…

Posted in In the news, Language, Maps | Also tagged 9 Comments

Do what you’re actually good at? or what you should be good at?

We have just finished the annual ritual in which Hollywood pretends that its job description is making quality indie movies,  instead of what it is actually good at — producing crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Avatar was not only in the latter category by $2.5 billion or so and counting, it even got good reviews from critics. But it couldn’t win Best Picture under Hollywood’s hypocritical self-fantasy that rewards what they think they SHOULD be doing.

Wait, I feel another Aid…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | Also tagged , , , 13 Comments

Lincoln’s Birthday Valentine’s Day Declaration: I ♥ Democracy

Democracy doesn’t attract as much love as it deserves in aid and development circles.

Many wonder if benevolent autocrats might be better for development than messy elections, even though there is no evidence to support benevolent autocracy. There is a strong positive association between democracy and LEVEL of per capita income, which at least some authors argue is causal. (It’s true there is no robust association between democracy and GROWTH of income, but then…

Posted in Democracy and freedom, History, Language | Also tagged 17 Comments

Who gets the Last Seat on the Plane? Why Aid Hates Economics

Not long ago, I was returning home from a trip when the airline bumped me from my flight due to overbooking. The airline rep was very sympathetic, but I didn’t want her sympathy, I wanted A Seat On the Plane. She had traded off my wishes against those of other passengers, and I lost.

Economists are unpopular because we say there is always SOME resource that is overbooked in aid, and aid is Forced to…

Posted in Metrics and evaluation | Also tagged , , , 15 Comments