Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Rich Stay Healthy, the Sick Stay Poor

Health and Economic Development Primer in one easy lesson (via SocProf’s Twitter feed):

This is not surprising to see the contrast between the prosperous (at least until now) areas, in green where chronic illnesses prevail but are diseases tied to aging, as opposed to the semi-periphery and periphery where infectious / parasitic diseases are prevalent along with accidental deaths. Obviously, to be born and live in a prosperous society makes life more secure on different levels.

Extending lifespans and expanding health has been, for the most part, a Macro story of discontinuities.

The rise of vaccines (with a possible contribution from the coincident rise of people getting a high school education) got the Developed World to the point where Major Organ Failure became a primary factor.

Lungs are first: pneumonia and tuberculosis don’t kill the young so often as they did. (Vaccines, testing).

The heart was next. Major advances in the immediate post-WW II (what the Europeans tend to call “post-war”) period—up to and through transplants and ever-advancing bypass surgeries—made it more difficult to die because your heart was weak or flawed.

The next step is the brain; rather more problematic, though progress gets made.

Note that the key assumption in all of the above is access to and use of the available advances. In a system that de facto rations by ability to pay (the U.S.), there is a greater likelihood that the rich will live longer—or, more accurately, that the poor will die unnecessarily sooner. Which is what has been happening.

This post dedicated to the memory of Isaac Asimov, who survived a heart attack for fifteen years and a triple-bypass that gave him nine more years of writing (though with collateral effects that would not occur today).

Tags: , , , , , Comments (20) | |

Economic Development Made Real

Via David Roodman‘s Twitter feed, the Economic Development video to watch if you’re watching only one:

Pull Quote: “We have several unintended consequences that show that while we were growing Pakistan economically, we retarded our community, we retarded our ability to innovate, we retarded our ability to think. Those things are coming back to haunt us.”

(Aside to Ryan Avent: if you treat economics only as a matter of money, it ceases to be a social science in any real sense. Is that really what The Economist wants to claim?)

Tags: , Comments (1) | |

CGI, Day 3 – Addressing Cancer in the Developing World: Health Equity and an Overlooked Public Health Crisis

The panel is preceded by this video.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta (Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN) leads the panel, featuring:

Lant Pritchett’s old point notwithstanding, the reality has become that the “developing world” now originates 56% of the cases of cancer in the world, up from ca. 14% a decade ago.  (Actually, this somewhat presents evidence for Mr. Pritchett’s point about trade-offs; the developing world is now able to live long enough and well enough that death from cancer has become important.)

Dr. Gupta starts by celebrating that some cancers that were not able to be treated anywhere in the world are now treatable everywhere in the world.  But the developing world cannot afford treatments for some types of cancer to the level needed. Dr. Gupta is a Board member of Livestrong, and speaks about the way the organization—especially through the discipleship of Lance Armstrong—has changed the way many people think about cancer.

HRH Princess Mired notes that much of the progress in Jordan occurred after King Hussein himself went very public with his battle with cancer, putting a public face on the disease.  HRH Mired notes that since then, the major cancer treatment center—the King Hussein Cancer Center—now includes the word “cancer” in its name and provides access to consultations, information, and treatment for people who live near the center and those who can communicate with it through a regional center.

She notes that there are areas in which they would like to make progress in Jordan, such as establishing Cord Blood Banks, and other things that people in the developed world “take for granted.”

Dr. Gupta asks Dr. Paul Farmer to speak specifically about Haiti.  Dr. Farmer notes that there is one (1) oncologist in Haiti, and none in Rwanda or Burundi.  It is difficult to use preventive measures once one already has leukemia—but need to make that much more of an effort in prevention and early detection.  Dr. Farmer notes that cervical cancer is a communicable disease;  there is a “cervical cancer belt” in the developing world.  There is a vaccine, there are preventive care activities, and there are many other possibilities for reducing the rate of death from cervical cancer—it is delivery mechanisms and education that need to be provided. (Dr. Farmer notes, for instance, that Partners in Health teamed with Gardasil to provide vaccinations for young girls and women in Haiti.)

Next up is Dr. Charles-Patrick Almazor, who reaffirms that there is significant progress that has been made, and notes some of the “on the ground” successes in post-earthquake Haiti.

Felicia Knaul and Lance Armstrong join the group.

Dr.Gupta notes that Lance Armstrong came to CGI and announced that he would be racing again, primarily to extend the reach and successes of Livestrong.  Armstrong notes that he wasn’t worried so much about the idea of winning another Tour de France or any “knock on [his] legacy” as he was in extending the work of the Livestrong Foundation.  And he believes that the effort has paid off well in those terms.

Ms. Knaul (who has a Ph.D., and therefore might be more properly referred to as Dr. Knaul), whose original commitment was “enhancing and empowering women health care workers,” notes that breast cancer is now the #2 killer of young (ca. 30-54) women in Mexico and the developing world. Ms. Knaul is a breast cancer survivor herself, and notes that what is worse than “having to take it in the vein is not being able to because you don’t have enough money to be able to pay for it.”  (Note: Ms. Knaul’s last round of treatment was last Wednesday; technically, she is not yet “a cancer survivor.”) She moves on to speak of “other kinds of failures,” such as the women who do not get mammograms because they expect that their husband will leave them if they are diagnosed with breast cancer. In that context, the Commitment made yesterday to teaching men is most encouraging for her.

Ms. Knaul also notes that she was in the audience when Lance Armstrong announced his Commitment in 2008, and that she herself was inspired by his actions to expand her own efforts.

Dr. Gupta highlights a few people in the audience who are also working to reduce cancer, including John Noseworthy of the Mayo Clinic, who “established the Healthcare Alliance for Tobacco Dependence Treatment” to work to support realization of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Dr. Lawrence Shulman of Dana-Farber and Harvard, which is working in several of the developing areas; HRH Princess Ghida Talal, who is leading an effort to establish a “personalized medical center” at the King Hussein Medical Center; and Letha Sanderson of Uganda, the founder of Wrap Up Africa.

Dr. Gupta asks Dr. John Seffrin of the ACS to talk about the American Cancer Society’s efforts to reduce tobacco use in developing countries. Dr. Seffrin notes that cancer is becoming the #1 cause of death in the world “for the first time in all of history.”  Livestrong and the ACS published a study about a month ago, noting that the cost to the world is about $895 Billion per year, “not including health-care costs associated with the treatment of cancer.”  The economic burden of the top fifteen diseases shows clearly that cancer is far and away the worst.  And the spread of smoking tobacco has clearly exacerbated this in the developing world.  Killed 100 million people in the last century; will kill 1,000,000,000 in this century if there is no intervention.

The first question from the floor is about possibility of using of local herbs and natural

Fran Drescher, a CGI regular whose own commitment in this area can be found at the link,  follows, asking how we educate and motivate women to go from “My husband will leave me if I have cancer” to “What will happen to my family if I die of cancer?”  Princess Mired notes that taboos don’t come from nowhere; they come from ignorance. People start from the expectation that cancer is contagious, that prevention and early detection are not possible.  Need to have the information disseminated, and especially to work on the men to change both the social behavior.  In four years, they have reduced the rate of people in Stage 3 and Stage 4 cancer from 70% to 35% through an”early detection” program that was started after people started to see survivors. Need to show survivors.

Ms. Knaul notes that the mortality rate in Mexico from cervical cancer has gone from 16% to 8% in the past ten years—primarily because of earlier detection and treatment, but also because of improvements in the treatment itself.  She notes that this especially can be applied in the Developed World, where opportunities for research and

Jonathan Quick of Management Sciences for Health noted the parallel between treating cancer and treating AIDS in the developing world. In the case of AIDS, they got through the four “barriers”: (1) the mental barrier (“it can’t be done”), (2) the cost barrier (treatment costs reduced from $12,000 to $3,200), (3) the money barrier (addressed by a global fund), and (4) the “practicality barrier.”  Where are we with cancer?  Dr. Farmer notes that those four barriers have been overcome in many cities, but that rural areas still need all four barriers to be overcome.  “People who say “there is no market” are trying to stop a conversation, not start one.”  When you don’t know any survivors in your neighborhood, it’s more difficult to accept that one can survive.  (The examples of King Hussein and, especially, Lance Armstrong seem especially relevant.)

Dr. Gupta asks Lance Armstrong about Livestrong’s decision to “go global.”  Armstrong notes that they were responding to demand: discovered that the idea of Livestrong resonated in places such as Mexico and India.  It is left to Mr. Armstrong to note that cancer is such a diverse disease—“we talk about cancer—boom, six letters—but it’s different than that.”  It’s correct to be honest about it:we’re going to have to knock of this disease on type at a time.  We know the diseases we can cure today (testicular cancer, some lymphomas, cervical cancer and breast cancer with early detection).  “It’s not a simple three-page document, but it is doable.”

With straightforward chemotherapy approaches, have been able to cure kids with various sarcomas.  We do have to scale up the program.

Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala asks about geography: having to travel reduces ability to treat rural cancer patients..  She notes that more than fifteen years ago, Egypt set up regional cancer centers and flew oncologists to those areas once a month—a great political and popular success. (There were also pay incentives for the oncologists, to cover the travel requirement.)

Ms. Knaul notes that. when you add the technologies available, you don’t necessarily have to move the patient or the doctors so much; St. Jude’s is able to offer pediatric cancer care in Jordan while the oncologist remains in Memphis.  Princess Mired re-emphasizes this, nothing that the Jordanian doctors have weekly “training sessions” with the doctors in Memphis.

Have to understand that cancer has potentially become the most curable of all diseases; could be saving 10,000 lives a day if could apply the advances in the United States alone to the rest of the world.

Lance Armstrong again takes it down to a human level:  if we teach a kid never to pick up a cigarette, we just “cured” cancer.  Need to re-emphasize sharing: information, resources, programs.

Ms. Knaul notes that there are some countries, such as Mexico, that are considering financing reform so that people have access to cancer treatment—a move that will strengthen the health care system itself.

Dr. Farmer talks about competition, competing for scarce resources.  Only a partnership will work.  Resources are less limited than at any other time in human history.  Cannot make the same mistake—contrasting prevention with care—that was made in the past.  One of the main causes of death is that people become destitute providing care.  Need for that not to happen.

Dr. Almazor presents optimism; Princess Mired notes that we cannot change our future without change.  “Cancer does not even appear as a line item on any Global Health Agenda.” All of the successes and survivors—AIDS, TB, etc.—have the specter of having to face cancer and heart disease.  She closes by noting that we need to measure the cost of cancer not in human deaths, but prefer to see hospitals and treatment centers that remedy the problem.

Tags: , , , Comments (0) | |

CGI Day 3 – Harnessing Human Potential, or The Bush Family Extravaganza

The original schedule for this program was Riz Khan of Al Jazeera English moderating

  • Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States
  • Jack Ma, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alibaba Group
  • Shakira Mebarak, Founder, The Barefoot Foundation
  • Rajendra Pawar, Founder and Chairman, NIIT Group

but Shakira was unable to attend, and was replaced by

  • Jenna Bush Hager, and
  • Barbara Bush

Mr.Khan opens with a joke about a policeman who pulls a woman over who is driving very slowly, having confused the Route sign (10) with the speed limit.  “Why do your passengers look so scared?”  “Oh, we just came off Route 120.”

Mrs. Bush starts by talking about how great things are for women “since the fall of the Taliban.”  Mentions one who has opened about forty schools in Afghanistan in cooperation with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.

Jenna Hager speaks of girls who “escaped early marriage.” She’s very enthusiastic, but appears to have problems dealing with being on-camera with a microphone.  (What she lacks in presence she tries to make up in enthusiasm.)  She speaks about the need for education to address the problem, referring to her experience as a teacher. (My impression from her presentation was that she is currently teaching; Wikipedia’s mileage appears to vary; anyone know?)

Barbara Bush—who does not have her younger sister’s problem—notes that she worked at a children’s hospital in South Africa, and that one of her jobs was basically “staying with the babies” so that the mothers—who otherwise would have lost their jobs—could go back to work.  The story in itself tells us about the impediments to harnessing human potential, but those who have attended for the past two days know these tales well enough, and probably would have preferred hearing from someone at the Barefoot Foundation who could get into more specifics.

Jack Ma of the Alibaba Group, a for-profit enabler of small businesses, declares that we are entering “the century of the small,” and that small businesses create not just jobs but hopes.  (Given the relative success of “small businesses,” he may have that backwards.)  Hope is his theme; sees good things occurring when now that the worldwide Solvency Crisis is over.

Rajendra Pawar starts with a discussion of how Bhutan (“the world’s youngest democracy”; two years) has for the past thirty-plus years concentrated on GNH (Gross National Happiness), not GDP. This includes constitutionally limiting the destruction of forest area in the country, educating the leadership in creating opportunities, and expanding connectivity and computing (leveraging solar energy) to make the society more horizontal.

A question comes in regarding the opportunities in alternative energy. (Also discussed yesterday by Governor Jennifer Granholm.)  Jack Ma notes that people recognize the issue and the benefits of alternate-energy: he has polled workers in coal-intensive China and never yet found a person who does not know someone who has or had cancer. “This has become a skills issue” in much of the world. (The U.S. currently exports slightly over $1 billion worth of solar panels each year;; China produced almost twice as much revenue from solar panels two years previously.)

Khan asks Laura Bush (“I’m asking you, not your daughters”) whether there is a generational complaint.  Ms. Bush notes that her daughters and their friends are all enthusiastic about working with and helping the world.

Khan ends, as he began, with a joke.  I will spare people it, since it wasn’t even as funny as the one with which he opened.

Tags: , , , Comments (1) | |

CGI, Day 2 – Securing the Health and Safety of Girls and Women

Tina Brown introduces:

  • Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, BD
  • Geeta Rao Gupta, Senior Fellow, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Richard C. Holbrooke , Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Department of State “and, of course”
  • Ashley Judd, Board Member, Population Services International

Starts with Geeta Rao Gupta, who declares the primary issue to be that hundreds of thousands of women are dying because of entirely preventable causes, such as 350,000 worldwide due to complications from pregnancy.  (Fifty million [50,000,000] child—under 18—brides worldwide.)

Tina takes the microphone away to talk about Ashley Judd’s discoveries in the Congo. (If this organization wants to concentrate on policy, not celebrity, Tina Brown should not be moderating.)  Judd, though, rises to the bait, nothing that Secretary of State HRC’s visit was not productive, and the people on the ground in the Congo did not believe that they were heard.  Only 6% of DRC has family planning ability; those who want to use family planning solutions but do not have access to such will have hundreds of thousands.  “100% of the women Judd met had been gang-raped more than once.”  Tells story of woman whose husband said “you have been raped too much” and left.

The word “fistula” was used extensively during Ms. Judd’s presentation, including a couple of times about “fistula repair operations.”

Gary Cohen notes that he was pulled into the issue of sexual violence against girls because of his work in fighting HIV/AIDS.  Found that 1/3 of girls in Swaziland who had experienced sexual violence, and that 29% of those became pregnant—effect is that about 10% of the female population is effectively eliminated from being part of the productive workforce, even if they are not part of the ca. 2% of the total female population that will die in childbirth.

Now working through other organizations, including a partnership with PEPFAR (about which Mike Kimel is more enthusiastic than I am, but which abides in either case) to try to empower women to facilitate AIDS/HIV relief.

Richard Holbrooke notes that he has never seen a State Department initiative to educate the men in leadership positions about the dangers of sexual violence against women.  They are trying to change that, but facing political issues. (We need to work with the [corrupt, violent] police in Afghanistan, but they have until recently been the largest part of the problem.)

Discusses the flood in Pakistan; shows a map of the affected area superimposed over U.S. and Canada—very little not covered.  International community is not going to be able to raise enough;Pakistani government is going to have to increase its revenues just to be able to pay them out.

The biggest problems will be now: 4-5,000 schools, hundreds of hospitals, countless homes have been washed away.  People will go back and they—especially the kids—will start drinking the stagnant water, resulting in dysentery at best. We are in a massive new round of fundraising to address the flood.  “Not one child I talked to knew how old they were.”  Information must be disseminated by radio—need portable radios.  Water purification: working with P&G, but do not have 10-gallon cans that can be used with P&G’s PUR product.  Need to teach people to use part of a packet.

Ms. Judd notes that the water issue is key to PSI; do monitoring and real-time data analysis and “barefoot entrepreneurs” (people on the ground) to emphasize the issues, and deal with “the chlorine taste” (if the mix is not ideal) as “the taste of health.”  Work toward a positive result, not the “if you drink this water, you will die” so much as developing social capital. (Dysentery is the #2 killer of under-5 children in the developing world.)

Geeta Rao Gupta notes that programs have been developed on the social level—cites several projects that have emphasized male education activities.  If you can provide services where women get a return on their labor, the household income is increased.  Needs to be cast as initiatives to improve the welfare of the households.

Mr. Cohen notes that they categorize “sexual violence against girls” as a human rights issue. Notes that Swaziland is the most leading respondent to their initiative, which also has cooperation from UNICEF.  Transfer to community level, which directly deal with organizations that educate men and boys about the opportunities when women have the opportunity to earn as well.

There is more data, and it is getting more attention, so it is easier to talk about the problem. Mr. Cohen notes that the Soviet rape in Berlin in 1945 (“a drunken orgy of revenge”) while Bosnia was a “calculated use of rape as an instrument of war.”  (Maybe John Barnes’s painful phrase Serbing should be used more generally.) Clearly becoming more systematic.  Geeta Rao Gupta notes that she works with efforts such as GEMS to provide information and educational opportunity to people.

Tina Brown finally proves her value by noting that need to make these points through stories and narratives.  That gets the young people involved in an issue.

Ashley Judd lists several organizations with which to work, such as Women 4 Women, Girl Up, Girl Effect (which, as Tom Watson notes, released a marvelous PSA today), and The Enough Project (which is directly related because a substantial amount of the  most egregious sexual violence against women occurs in “conflict mineral” countries).

She also notes that there is a female condom available worldwide (though not so much in the U.S.), which they promote through dialog with hairdressers (who then speak with their clients).

Best route to a good result is to provide access to contraception, planning, and information.  Will not help to “wag the finger from the top”; need to enable control with the people who want to have control over—freedom for—their own bodies.

Mr. Cohen is optimistic, partially because we have seen much progress made on this issue over the past few years at CGI.  Tina Brown notes that we’re probably not at a “tipping point” yet, but certainly getting closer to achieving awareness.

As Nick Kristof twitted earlier today (again, via Tom Watson, translated from Twitter into English), “Clinton Global Initiative this year seems very focused on investing in girls as cost-effective strategy to fight poverty.”  As strategies go, this one is—or, more accurately would be, in a world where economic models worked well—Most Likely to Succeed.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (2) | |

Clinton Global Initiative, Day 2 – Empowering Girls and Women (Plenary)

Moderator is Katie Couric, News Anchor and Managing Editor at CBS News. Panelists are

  • Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah , Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia
  • Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

Mr. Kent’s favorite book is Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat.

Queen Rania notes that the women are working very hard, but their time is not sufficient for everything that needs to be done. Part of this is the mindset (marriage > human capital development), but a significant portion is lack of available infrastructure.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: We started by focusing on women in the “informal sector,” providing educational opportunities and the like.  But this wasn’t enough in either respect: needed to provide more opportunity for work out of home and more protection on government level.

Mr. Kent notes that 70% of his customers are women.  Looked into future development and realized there was a significant mismatch in the company’s efforts, philosophy, and customer base.  “It’s a journey; it doesn’t happen overnight, but we are making good progress.”

Queen Rania notes that “no country can make any progress in spite of its women…They need to be injected into the supply chain.” Have contributed more to GDP than technology gains over past 20 years.  The greatest issue is the amount of time it takes to get an initiative in place and to see positive results from it.

Katie Couric asks how important a role is it to educate boys.  Queen Rania notes that the social attitudes harm boys as much as it does girls.  Girls get married instead of getting a job—but boys are forced to drop out of school to provide for their family.  So both lose in that situation.

Mr. Kent speaks of “microdistribution,” which actually originated at last year’s CGI, when Mr. Kent committed to 1,500 more projects, and that half of those would be women.  Not only passed that target, but they now employ an additional 18,000 people—total of 20,000 employed through 1,500 micro projects.  Barriers that had to be overcome—access to finance and land, especially—resulted in development of Best Practices that is now being spread as the model to South America and other locations.  Next goal: empowerment for 5,000,000 additional women between now and 2020.  Will involve both the distribution and retailing sides of Coca-Cola’s business.  Have mobile support for teaching “the basics of retailing” (e.g., stock rotation).

Some of the symbiotic relationships that enable that: In India, for example, carry water miles to their village.  We provide Clean Water which frees up the women’s time and leads to them to start their entrepreneurial work. Most “become leading citizens in their communities,” which leads to opportunities for expansion. (Gives example of a woman who started with one location and is now franchising and employing sixteen [16] people.)

Asks President Johnson Sirleaf about the “ripple effect,” and what the critical first step is.  For us (Liberia), we started with the first step of education—not formal education so much as access to knowledge.  Schools, literacy training, and a have a program that came out of a program from the CGI a few years ago, in cooperation with the World Bank and Nike, to train adolescent girls to go into the particular job that are currently in demand.

Question from YouTube: access to seeds and market information?  Mr. Khan has a project in cooperation with the Gates Foundation to create entrepreneurship for 50,000 farmers to create juice concentrates needed by Coca-Cola.  Have been working with the farmers—and discovered that only 1% of the land ownership was by women.

Queen Rania notes that in twelve countries in the Middle East, have more girls in school than boys. Biggest challenge is how to get women into the labor market, which (as this paper notes) helps both, as it did in the past.

President Johnson Sirleaf notes that there is no legal restriction in Liberia against women owning land, but there may well be structural issues.  Most farmland development now is being driven by women, “the men rather just play drums.”  (Mr. Khan, in response to a question from Couric, notes that competition makes the entire sea go up—helps both.)

How do we end violence against women and girls?  President Johnson Sirleaf says “we are going to stay the course. Make the penalties more intense—and enforce them. (Her example is making the rape of a four-year-old girl equivalent to murder.)  Queen Rania notes that the Community and Religious leaders need to cooperate as well in this effort to facilitate change. She found that when she started working about the subject of child abuse in Jordan, the first problem was that people denied it existed.  Have to have people confront problems before can solve them.

60% of women and girls in developing countries will be married before they are 18, and will have four children before they are 20.  Why does the issue of child marriage continue to travel under the radar.  Leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries is complications from pregnancy.  Jordan just raised the minimum age for marriage to eighteen (18) in reaction to seeing teenaged girls who have four children and ten years of “work experience.”

Biggest issue in Liberia is the transition into and through secondary school.  Mr. Khan focuses on “golden triangle”: collaboration between government, businesses, and civil society to lead to greater belief in the future and expectations of a future.

Katie notes that she has two teenaged daughters.  Other than bringing international attention to it, what can we do?  Queen Rania recommends Girl Up (which needs a website developer), a project of the United Nations Foundation that supports school supplies, medical checkups, and clean water to facilitate opportunities for girls in other areas.

Mr. Khan reiterates the obvious: families have to believe in the future, that there will be a better future,to make any progress toward long-term development. With a coordinated effort through the “golden triangle,” we will see improvements and developments.

We can only hope he is correct, and that people will find other jobs than just being a Coca-Cola franchisee as the 21st century develops.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (0) | |

Clinton Global Initiative, Day 2 – Plenary Session

The second day of the conference, and the first full of the Initiative, is devoted primarily to E&E.

Random notes:

  • President Clinton noted in his opening statement that the Haitian disaster’s immediate effect was to eliminate (kill) 17% of the Haitian workforce.
  • Melinda Gates notes that her efforts are mostly aligned with MDG #4, but it is only through achieving that that they can possibly achieve MDG #1.
  • President Clinton notes that, as an economy develops, age of marriage goes up and birth rate goes down. (Collaterally, this dovetails well with Melinda Gates’s point that we have made great strides in reducing infant mortality.)
  • Eric Schmidt notes that mobile telephony/devices facilitates business, communications, and knowledge; “allows the world to be one world.”
    • Schmidt compares this with President Clinton’s initiative fifteen (15) years previously to put wired computers in all public schools.
  • Melinda Gates notes that smaller groups have to work through goal-oriented process and adapt/learn “on the ground.”
    • Gates Foundation works to reduce risk, but ultimately need to be working with and have the cooperation of the local Government.  (Examples: Ethiopia and Malawi, both of which are working toward goals and identifying the steps along the way, not just declaring the overall view.)
      • Smaller organizations can do the same thing—but really need to pay attention to the facts on the ground. (Example from Ms. Gates was Save the Children.
  • Bob McDonald of P&G works with the governments and other partners.
    • Have reduced the cost of water purification to about $0.01/liter—a “dime a day” to provide clean water for a family of four.
  • What should all the leaders of countries be thinking about with respect to technology?  Eric Schmidt: Goal is to create as many new jobs as possible through using and leveraging the technology that is available. The concentration shouldn’t be on the educational and analytical part so much as “creating jobs.
  • President Clinton asks President Tarja Halonen of Finland what she would do if she were elected the President of Haiti.
    • Encourage creativity; even the smallest entrepreneur is an entrepreneur.
    • “I would speak to the women….I would ask that the President of Haiti would [take] the good counsel of the women.”
  • President Clinton asks the key question: “Why, in 2010, do we still have to have these sessions about the need for female empowerment?”

Tags: , , , , Comments (0) | |

When You Don’t Spend Any, the Velocity of Money becomes Zero

Edmoney is tracking the allocation and spending of education-related stimulus grants. The map is here. Some states have gotten the funds into circulation better than others. Selected states below (GA was highlighted by them):

  1. California, 78%
  2. New Jersey, 63%
  3. Georgia, 62%
  4. Indiana, 60%
  5. Oklahoma, 50%
  6. Mississippi, 42%
  7. Massachusetts, 41%
  8. Michigan, 41%
  9. Kentucky, 39%
  10. Pennsylvania, 35%
  11. Ohio, 29%
  12. New York, 25% (but NYC 60%)
  13. Texas, 25%

Tags: , , Comments (5) | |

Infrastructure and Human Capital Interlude

Busy week, so just a couple of things of note.

  1. Via Dr. Black, my old neighborhood gets a chance to build a better future:

    “It’s a great partnership among a number of researchers from academia, the private sector and national laboratories. It’s a great collaboration for a solid project that will help the environment,” said Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz.

    Foley said the project “will spur real innovation and job growth for Philadelphia, the region and the nation. We have a world class team of universities, corporations, and economic development entities that made this proposal come to life. There is no better place to do this work than in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.”

    My mother would have agreed, but she stopped working there (coincidentally) around the time Tom was born. Indeed, the renovation of the Navy Yard has been an American Success Story (driven by a Norwegian shipbuilding firm and a clothing retailer), and we can almost pretend that the area has “recovered.”

  2. Similarly, the results of the Race to the Top came in a couple of days ago. You may have heard that our Superstar Governor was cruelly betrayed by Washington bureaucrats and/or the evil NEA.

    Well, until the actual video was released, after which point yet another Republican decided to prove that people collecting unemployment are Just Lazy (though he does claim not to have lied to Superstar Governor, leaving the question of where the story from the Governor should be sourced).

So the old area is gaining because of Federal government management, and the current area is suffering because of State government mismanagement. It’s almost enough to make me think that there’s a difference when people want to accomplish something.

Tags: , , Comments (0) | |

John McWhorter on James Patterson and Some Odd Numbers on Black Childhood Poverty

by cactus

John McWhorter on James Patterson and Some Odd Numbers on Black Childhood Poverty

I’m kinda in the home stretch for the fact checking on my book – we’ve revised and rewritten and rechecked so many times I’m ready to plotz, but even so, I’m willing to bet some mistakes will creep in. Its inevitable in a book as data driven as this one. But I don’t like mistakes, so I recheck again…

Which brings me to this review of James Patterson’s new book by John McWhorter in the New Republic. The point of the book seems to be that welfare was bad for Black families. The review cites some interesting, er, facts, which presumably come from the book being reviewed.

For instance, after a few paragraphs about how welfare destroyed the Black American family, we’re told this:

As such, the refashioning of AFDC in 1996 into a five-year program with required job training was the most important event in black American history between the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the election of Barack Obama. In that light, Patterson is too saturnine about the Moynihan’s report’s legacy. By 2004 the welfare rolls had gone down by two-thirds, and contrary to fears that people off the rolls would starve or languish in squalor (Moynihan was among those who thought they would), black childhood poverty went down to 30 percent from 41 percent, and ex-recipients have regularly reported greater self-esteem and are thankful for the new regime.

Well, if the 1996 refashioning yada yada yada “was the most important event in black American history between the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the election of Barack Obama,” its something worth a look. Since I don’t have a clue where to find data on self-esteem and thankfulness, let’s have us a look at the bit about how, by 2004, “black childhood poverty went down to 30 percent from 41 percent.” We can check out data on Black childhood poverty from this table at the Census.

First, an aside – as of 2002, the Census started differentiating between two definitions of “Black” which is self-evident from the key to the graph above. Other things evident from the graph…. if something in ’96 caused a big drop in Black childhood poverty, it was powerful enough for its effect to work its way back in time all the way to ’93, which is the year Black childhood poverty began its decline. That drop did reach a bottom of 30.2%, but in 2001, not in 2004. In fact, unfortunately, the rate of Black children in poverty rose since then. And when the real facts are placed on a simple graph, its extremely difficult for a rational person to reach so and so’s conclusion.

Now, if this seems like someone was trying to bamboozle, there’s all sorts of “facts” like this in the review. Perhaps the one that is most frighteningly wrong is this one:

That momentous factor is this: After the 1960s, the percentage of black children with one parent exploded from a quarter to—by the 1990s—nearly three-fourths, vastly out of step with the availability of work, the prevalence of racism, or equivalent single-parentage figures for any other race.

Now, I should graph this, but I’m in kinda a hurry, so I’ll just let you know… data on the percentage of Black children’s living arrangements can be found at yet another table at the Census. One of the columns in that table gives you the total number of Black children, and another gives you the total number of Black children living with one parent. Using some of that fancy learnin’, I divide one column by the other and discover that….

1. 54.7% of Black children lived with a single parent in 1990.
2. That rate peaked (for the 90s) in ’96, at 57.4%, and then dropped to 53.3% in 2000.

Now, the ’96 peak might help make Patterson’s point… but if he made that point, its not in the review. (Of course, ignoring the ludicrous “three quarters” number isn’t an outright invention, giving Patterson the benefit of the doubt, what we would conclude is that he might be right about Black children living with one parent, but clearly not about Black children in poverty.)

Anyway, if McWhorter’s review is remotely accurate, call this an “unrecommendation” for Patterson’s book. And a suggestion to McWhorter – if the book cites facts that seem obviously false, check those facts. Because if the key points in a book are ludicrously inaccurate, that’s a big problem that should be mentioned in a book review. And agreeing with stuff that is just plain wrong makes no sense at all.

Tags: , , , Comments (1) | |