Hanauer discusses the perceived wisdom or false premise that tax cuts for the rich creates jobs.
Whether flipping through channels, listening to the radio, or reading the newspaper, it is evident that crime has secured a mainstay position in today’s media. In order to achieve high ratings, television networks and news outlets must fill their allotted time slots with only those headlines sure to popular attention (see Best, 2004). Oftentimes, those stories and reports are generated by sensationalizing criminal events. However, the seemingly overrepresentation of crime and delinquency is not the focus for this essay. Rather, it appears that crime has become a generalized preoccupation that has transformed a number of U.S. institutions (see Hudson, 2003). More specifically, crime – and societies growing fear of crime – has become a mechanism through which a new mode of governance has emerged. (more…)
There is something curious happening this election season, and it has nothing to do with 47% or Obamacare. Voters in three states – Washington, Oregon, and Colorado – will be casting ballots on whether or not to legalize cannabis. Whether or not these measures ultimately pass, they amount to the most direct challenge to the legitimacy of US drug policy since the War on Drugs began over 40 years ago. Of particular interest here are the similarities between the proposed measures and the varying degrees of their success thus far.
These are not the first ballot measures to legalize cannabis; that honor goes California’s Proposition 19, which failed in 2010. This time, however, the measures are currently poised to pass in 2 of the 3 states (though election day is still a few weeks away). They represent concerted and collective effort by activists, and have much in common. But it is the way in which they are framed and promoted that matter the most this election season.
Axelrod (1984) made a major contribution to Game Theory in his book “Evolution of Cooperation” but thirteen years later he, dissatisfied with game theory, moves onto agent based modelling to rework his view of cooperation in his book in 1997 “The complexity of Cooperation: Agent-based Models of Competition and Collaboration”. In a similar move, the Santa Fe Institute in the US was established in 1984 to grapple with complex social issues and used agent based modelling amongst other techniques to “collaborate across disciplines, merging ideas and principles of many fields — from physics, mathematics, and biology to the social sciences and the humanities — in pursuit of creative insights that improve our world”. Additionally, the EU acknowledges the failure of traditional economics so adopts agent based modelling.
Agent based modelling captures the interaction between agents to simulate emergence whether at the physical or social level. NetLogo provides an extensive library of simulations of both physical and social emergence that shows the diversity of application of agent based modelling. These sample simulations can be readily tailored to meet the needs of social scientists. The software is free and there is a thriving enthusiastic community support group.
Why is there a move by a prominent game theorist, the Santa Fe Institute and the EU to agent based modelling? The article Game Theory as Dogma by Professor Kay (2005) discusses ample reasons to search for alternative techniques to model competition and collaboration and emergence in general. For instance.
The trouble with game theory is that it can explain everything. If a bank president was standing in the street and lighting his pants on fire, some game theorist would explain it as rational. (Kay 2005, p. 12) (more…)
I can no longer stomach certain clichés. Last night at the Democratic National Convention, I heard one of these. A university student, who introduced Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice-President, noted that she “shouldn’t be here” and was “almost a statistic.” My immediate response, to my computer screen, was “You still are a statistic and you don’t understand what statistics are.” I know that she was just rehashing a cliché, but it is a cliché that privileges “self-help culture” and undermines social science.
To be fair, by this point I had listened to a number of speakers say little to nothing of substance for over an hour and was not in the best of moods. Still, the defiant tone of “I didn’t want to be a statistic” and “I shouldn’t be here” treat social statistics (not the social reality but the reporting of such statistics) as some form of oppression from which she, with the help of Dr. Biden, freed herself. (more…)
Four years ago, President Obama was elected, at least in part, because he was able to generate excitement among young voters. In fact, in 2008, some 84% of young people who were registered to vote actually did vote. But recently, I’ve noticed growing apathy among some in my social media circle. While I can’t be certain that my facebook “friends” are representative of today’s young people, this trend on my newsfeed has caused me some concern. Gallup polls also indicate that young people are reporting a lower likelihood of voting in this election than in previous ones. Not good.
Voting is one of our most important rights. That should be reason enough to vote, to protect a fundamental freedom that many have fought for. The year 1869—that’s when black men got the right to vote. It’s been less than a century since women secured the right to vote. Less than 50 years ago, Congress declared poll taxes unconstitutional, removing limitations on poor people’s ability to exercise their voting rights. It has been a long road, but voting rights are now a reality for most American citizens (though, admittedly, there are still serious flaws in our system). And now, instead of seizing that right in significant numbers, my generation is thinking about saying NO to voting. Here’s the explanation I’ve heard from friends: “Why should I vote when my choices are both bad?” “What’s the point of voting, it’s all corrupt.” “If we don’t participate in this flawed system, we can send a message that we want it to change.” “How do I pick the lesser of two evils?”
I understand people’s disappointment and their desire for something different. But not voting is a privileged action, not a revolutionary one. What do I mean by privileged? I mean that the option of not voting is only viable if you have a certain amount of power in our society. Generally speaking, not voting might seem like an option to middle (and upper) class, white, heterosexual, American-born men. For them, the election may not seem particularly important; their rights, power and social visibility aren’t particularly threatened by any elected official. So I’m beginning a list of people who don’t have that privilege, whose freedoms, rights, livelihoods, and maybe even their actual lives, depend on the outcomes of elections. Perhaps if you’re considering not voting, you’ll think of these groups and change your mind.
I’m certain that this list isn’t exhaustive and I encourage readers to expand on it. And, in case it wasn’t already clear, I encourage readers to vote this November. Seriously, go vote.
Sustainability, social progress, environmental protection, economic growth and energy are discussed using the sustainability framework in Figure 1, where sustainability is at the confluence of social progress, environmental protection and economic growth.
Figure 1 Sustainability framework
(Source: IUCN 2006)
There are designs being made toward Ecological Civilization and welcome moves to address the shortcomings of GDP in Completing the picture – environmental accounting in practice by the Australian Bureau of Statistics . Extending the national accounts to include degradation of natural resources makes a measurable target for politicians to focus on rather than purely GDP. However, there are problems when social progress is overlooked in the move toward more environmental protection. (more…)
For many people, from the first-year students traipsing around campus in search of the correct lecture hall to the senior faculty preparing to teach courses for the nth time, the beginning of the academic year tends to be frantic and exciting time. This year, when back-to-school coincides with a heated Presidential race, education and politics are bound to mix. President Obama has made access to higher education – measured primarily by greater access to grants and student loans while trying to rein in the costs of for-profit education – an important talking point on recent campaign stops. Republican candidate Mitt Romney, for his part, seeks greater involvement of the private sector in K-12 and higher education, as well as the student loan business (for a brief recap, see this article from Reuters).
In an election where the economy is front and center, it is not surprising that the costs of higher education dominate the conversation. Yes, the costs of a college education create barriers for students, but expenses are far from the only issue.
One of the latest Romney ads attacks President Obama for removing work provisions from Welfare Reform. In the ad, disappointed-in-himself Obama (pictured left) sneakily gutted welfare reform by dropping the work requirements, so that as the ad states, “They just send you your welfare check.” The ad’s claims are false or, as the fact-checking website Politifact put it, pants-on-fire. What Obama has actually done is allow states to develop their own welfare-to-work programs. The changes provide states with some flexibility regarding how not whether they meet the work provisions in the original bill. Republicans, and Romney in particular, previously supported giving states more flexibility but the narrative not the actual policy is really the point here. (more…)