Previous month:
March 2005
Next month:
May 2005

April 2005

Simulation study about formation of ethnic enclaves

Via Sepia Mutiny, this post at GNXP discusses a simulation application to study how ethnic enclaves are formed:

Natural Intelligence has developed an application called the "Ethnic Simulator" that models the residential behavior of people in the hypothetical ethnically diverse city of Metropolis....

The premise of the Ethnic Simulator is that ethnically distinct groups have a modest preference to live among their own kind.

Link: Gene Expression: Race Against Time.

Go here to read the details about the Ethnic Simulator and download a freeware copy of the application.

You will find that the different groups congregate relatively quickly in their separate enclaves -- within about ten years. It is important to note that this occurs without any assumption of discrimination by one group against another! All that is required is that each group have a modest preference for its own kind.

One of the counter-intuitive results is that the preferences of the dominant majority do not make as much difference as the preferences of the minorities. Blues are the largest group (about 65%), so that they will tend to have mostly Blues for neighbors, no matter their preferences. But the preference of a small minority will cause its families to clump quickly into segregated neighborhoods.

Forcing firms to reveal information is also coercive to consumers

In response to a reader's question whether the call center employees should be required to disclose their physical location at the start of each phone call, Don Boudreaux points out the absurdity of forcing firms to reveal information:

When Joe from Atlanta calls the Dell help center, he might then be treated to the following greeting: "Hello. Thanks for calling Dell. Im Anokhi. Im answering your call in Bangalore, India. Im an atheist lesbian who always votes for the socialist party. I see nothing wrong with abortion, although Ive never had one myself. I also believe in euthanasia, although I oppose the death penalty. I also feel strongly that the U.S.-led war in Iraq is immoral. How can I help you today?"

This greeting sounds silly. This greeting is silly. But each piece of information offered is plausibly important to some small handful of Americans. Therefore, I see no reason to single out for enforced disclosure information on companies’ extent of off-shoring. Declaring truthfully that some customers might find this information useful is insufficient to justify such enforced declarations.

Those in the favor of such a disclosure argue that it is not coercive to the consumers.

The argument in favor of such a requirement is that its not coercive (at least not to consumers). It merely requires companies with off-shore operations to disclose this fact clearly to consumers. Consumers are then free to patronize or not the firms that have some of their operations in foreign lands. Many consumers, after all, do indeed care about whether or not the company theyre patronizing has off-shore operations.

However, it is indeed coercive to the consumers! First, some consumers may have to spend time listening to information that is useless  for them. Also, companies will have to spend resources on training and monitoring the employees to make sure that they give their location in each call. That will drive up the prices and prevent some consumers from enjoying the full-benefits of outsourcing.

If some customers really care about the location then they can ask that question on each call. If they are refused the answer or the answer is not what they wanted they can always shop somewhere else.
Link: Cafe Hayek.

US can piggyback on globalization-driven innovation

Tom Evslin talks about how US can benefit from innovation happening elsewhere because of globalization:

Globalization isn’t an option; it’s a necessity. The poor need to become unpoor. As they do, they will consume more resources. As other economies grow, a greater percentage of innovation will take place outside the United States. Surviving and thriving on a globe which we do not dominate means learning to benefit ourselves from innovation elsewhere.

Link: Fractals of Change: Globalization and Innovation.
This is a very interesting point! Till now developing countries have piggybacked on US and western innovations. It is time for western and US to be at the receiving end for a change. Note that such benefits are apart from the expected direct benefits of exchange, or increase in the efficiency because of trade. This benefit is because of the positive externalities that flows from increased availability of commoditized technology and know-how in the public domain.

25 for Liberty

Liberty Dog is assembling a list of top 25 libertarians:

What I propose is to have libertarian bloggers send me a list of those they consider to have had the most influence on libertarian thought. I will compile the list and then anyone who submitted a list will be able to vote online via a Condorcet voting script to determine the top 25. Then each blogger (assuming we have 25) will get to write a short 250-300 word writeup on one of the top twenty five. If we have more than 25 bloggers interested in doing a bio, then we will have writeups for honorable mentions as well.

Link: One Billion Red Chinese and a Dog Named Liberty: 25 For Freedom.

How to sneak in democracy using anti-third-party demonstrations

Via Instapundit, Jim Dunnigan writes that the Chinese govt. is worried about the ferocity of popular anti-Japanese demonstrations in China:

This was obvious with  the second weekend of anti-Japanese demonstrations in mid-April. These were not government authorized. but the government feared a violent reaction if they tried to stop the demonstrations by force. Chinese history is rife with spontaneous popular movements that have caused civil war. Chinese leaders are aware of this pattern, as well as what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, and Ukraine last month. During all these protests, the main subject is not Japan, but the growing size and ferocity of the demonstrations themselves.

This demonstrations serve many purposes:

  • These demonstrations allow the people to associate without confronting the Govt. directly. These contacts and associations will come handy when demonstrating against the Govt.
  • By showing that Govt. is afraid or reluctant to break popular demonstrations it debunks the myth of invincibility of the Govt.
  • It acts as a moral booster for the people and gives them a taste of power of association.
  • It draws the attention of the World and especially the media! It shows the World that spirit of democracy is present.

Al-Jazeera repeatedly broadcasted anti-US and anti-war demonstrations in various Middle-Eastern countries both before and after the Iraq war. This was an important influence on the Lebanese movement for Independence from Syria, and even helped increased participation in the Iraqi elections.

For years tyrannical Governments have successfuly used anger against foreigners (or foreign country) to grab the power and to divert attention away from the local issues.

Maybe the people fighting for democracy can also leverage demonstrations against a third-party in their fight.

Welcome InstaReaders! Have a look around the blog and also my original blog on BlogSpot.
Update: Chinese Govt. appears concerned by the protests:

BEIJING A top Chinese state-run newspaper has said in a staff editorial that the wave of popular protests against Japan was part of an "evil plot" with "ulterior motives," suggesting that at least some elements of the Chinese leadership now wish to portray the demonstrations as a conspiracy to undermine the Communist Party.
Officials are clearly concerned that the protests, if left unchecked, could evolve into a direct challenge to the party, especially as a string of sensitive political anniversaries approaches in early May.

Maharashtra Govt. bans dance bars

Maharashtra Govt. has banned dance bars because they suddenly discovered that criminals frequent them! Gaurav has a hilarious take showing the absurdity of the ban:

Mumbai - The Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil today announced the shutdown of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the Domestic Airport, Mumbai Port, Mumbai Suburban Railway, BEST bus services, and all restaurants in the city. The decision was taken after it was brought to Patil's notice that criminals frequent planes, trains, buses and restaurants.

Will Maharashtra Govt. ban itself as we know it is frequented by the criminals? Govt. banning itself, that will be cool!

Link: Vantage point: SomeAchaar - Maharashtra Govt to Ban Airports, Trains, Buses, Restaurants.

India as a superpower

During Condoleezza Rice's visit to India, US and India unveilled a strategic partnership at a whole new level.
The United States unveiled plans Friday to help India become a "major world power in the 21st century" even as it announced moves to beef up the military of Pakistan.

Under the plans, Washington offered to step up a strategic dialogue with India to boost missile defense and other security initiatives as well as high-tech cooperation and expanded economic and energy cooperation.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the Bush administration's outline for a "decisively broader strategic relationship" between the world's oldest and largest democracies, a senior US official said.

"Its goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement."

Inspite of the US decision to sale F-16s to Pakistan, Sam bharose is not alone in feeling that India and US will make great strategic partners.

As I went through the related articles, posts (here, here, and here) and their comments I saw a very keen desire from everybody (both Americans and Indians) that US and India should come together and that US and India are natural partners.

This is a significant development as it shows that irrespective of which party is in power in India, India is ready to come out of its Non-Aligned past. Also, this is the first time US is looking towards India as a strategic partner and not just an annonying emergent power that needs to be contained!

Kashmir's accession to India

Varnam, points to the Aravind Lavakare's article at Rediff on Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India:
Even after its accession to the Indian Dominion, J&K's internal administration was governed, not by a diktat of New Delhi, but by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1939. It was under this Act that Maharaja Hari Singh appointed his former adversary, Sheikh Abdullah, as the emergency administrator for the state. The appointment was a victory for the people who simply loved Abdullah. He began giving them a large share in the administration of the state's affairs.

... On May 1, 1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh issued a proclamation declaring the convening of a State Constituent Assembly, consisting of representatives of the people on the basis of adult franchise, for framing a Constitution for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. For the purpose of elections to the proposed Constituent Assembly, the state was to be divided into territorial constituencies each with a population of 40,000 or thereabouts.

Elections to the Constituent Assembly were completed by August that year with the idolised Abdullah's National Conference Party simply sweeping the polls. Addressing its first meeting held on October 31 that year, Sheikh Abdullah declared that the assembly's objectives and functions included, inter alia, a reasoned conclusion regarding accession and the future of the state. He enumerated three alternatives: accession to India, accession to Pakistan and complete independence.

The 'Drafting Committee' of the above assembly presented its report on February 12, 1954. Its report, adopted on February 15, 1954, embodied the ratification of the state's accession to India, with 64 of the assembly's strength of 75 voting unanimously while 11 members were absent.

The State Constituent Assembly enacted, on November 17, 1956, a Constitution that is, today, the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. It has 158 Sections. Section 3 therein says, 'The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.' Section 147 in it prohibits any bill to amend Section 3 from being introduced or moved in either House of the State Legislature.