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The open nature of Wikipedia makes it possible to edit entries related to ones own financial, political etc. interest. WikiScanner has, for example, revealed that corporations, political parties, or government agencies are actively editing information related to themselves. A recent column in AlterNet discussed the problems that this poses for the Wikipedia. The column correctly points out that some statements might be factually correct, but the meaning we associate with the statement depends on the context and on the frames we have in our mind. Especially, whether we understand some statement as a “good” or “bad” depends on more than just factual correctness.

“The idea that a collection of facts doesn’t equal neutrality and doesn’t lead to truth could be Wikipedia’s undoing, discrediting open-source information as a reliable democratic force.” Hmmm… it is unclear what Haas suggests as an alternative. I hope his underlying idea is not to establish a de facto censorship of the ideologically pure. After all, it is a good thing to let human minds be susceptible to different points of views so that they would not be slaves to a single one. The most important thing is that history of the edits in wikipedia should be clearly available and open. Also, maybe some diversity should be allowed in the edits. Why is it that we should always have only one article about something? When it boils down to values, it could be better to represent both factually correct statements even if they might give rise to different meanings in our minds. If, for example, Walmart pays 20% lower salaries than competitors, but that this is still twice as much as the minimum wage, why not tell both facts and let the reader decide how much weight he/she gives to each piece of information?

I found a nice article about the dangers of communication in a marriage 🙂 Interestingly, also desperation can be of some use. . And last but not least, once you have spend your whole life with someone, you start to appreciate the little things 😉

Gender equality is of course mainly an ethical and political issue, but it is good to realize that the inequality also has a substantial economic cost.

The Guardian columnist George Monbiot wrote a thought provoking column, where (among other things) he advocates a recession in the rich world in order to buy time to prevent runaway climate change. Even though I often find myself agreeing with Monbiot’s positions, I found some points in this column too simplistic. First of all, I have little trust on peoples interest in protecting the environment when they see their personal well-being eroding. When that happens, people will start worrying about themselves and their families more and care less about others. Such circumstances promote tribalization rather than collective responsibility and are more likely to create societies with even less regard for environment than what we have today. Also, such societies would probably see even stronger polarization than what we have today, as people start fighting for their share of the ever decreasing pie.

Monbiot also points out the fact, that no society has managed to increase its GDP while at the same time reducing its energy consumptions. While this is probably true, it does not follow that growth in the energy usage implies growth in CO2 emissions. Also, decreasing GDP does not always imply decreasing CO2 emissions. There are, after all, ways to produce energy (renewables and nuclear) without dumping CO2 into atmosphere. This option he conveniently ignores for what I believe to be purely ideological reasons. (For example, finnish CO2 emission declined substantially in the beginning of 80s while the economy was growing. However, our CO2 emission did not change substantially during our severe recession in the beginning of 90s.)

Furthermore, I don’t see how “carbon eliminating” recession could be confined to a rich world. The economic growth in the poor world is largely dependent on exports to rich countries and this source of income would vanish if rich countries face serious recession. It would be interesting to have an example of a recession which would have caused hardship primarily among the rich. The crap usually drains downward and rarely percolates upward.

Löysin netistä keskustelua pohjoismaiden talouden toimivuudesta ja siitä missä määrin “pohjoismainen malli toimisi muualla”. Löysin sieltä pari minua kiinnostavaa huomiota

“2. Societies differ a great deal in their innate level of cooperativeness. This is a key to making the Nordic model work. I wouldn’t try the Swedish model in France, much less in the United States.”

Tämä varmasti pitää periaatteessa paikkaansa tosin en tiedä päteekö se esimerkkeinä mainittuihin maihin. Se mikä toimii jossain kulttuuri ympäristössä ei ehkä aina toimi muualla.

“3. The Nordic countries generally take a light hand in regulation, capital income taxation, and many of the public welfare programs pay people to work and not to sit at home on their behinds. In fairness to Sachs, he does mention these points. Furthermore given the extensive subsidies to child care, which encourage female labor force participation, the high marginal tax rates do not discourage labor supply as we might at first think.”

Lisäisin vielä, että meillä ihmiset kokevat saavansa jotain verojen vastineeksi ja tämän vuoksi korkea verotus ei toimi samalla tavalla jarruna kuin ehkä USA:ssa, missä ihmiset yhdistävät julkisen sektorin epäpätevyyteen, tehottomuuteen ja haaskaamiseen.

“4. Government policy is often most usefully thought of as endogenous. Higher levels of cooperativeness, and lower levels of corruption, mean that people will choose more government. The government they get will work better than government works elsewhere. The point is not that all choices are efficient, but rather there is a selection bias in the data we observe on government size and performance. Nordic welfare states are large, in part, because they work relatively well.”

Tämä on erittäin hyvä huomio. Feedback-efekti talouden ja politiikan välillä on varmasti olemassa. Ihmiset eivät ole aina tyhmiä ja he voivat järkevistä syistä valita suuremman julkisen sektorin, koska ovat huomanneet sen vastaavan kohtuu hyvin heidän odotuksiaan sellaisella hinnalla minkä he ovat valmiitä maksamaan.

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